|« Prairie View, TSU see chance to prove ability||With several records on radar, Higgins only focused on wins »|
Four & Out: Missouri-McNeese State
FIRST DOWN: For Week 2 of the regular season, the Song of the Day comes from, well, you’ll find out. It’s dedicated to the McNeese State Cowboys and all the other Football Championship Subdivision teams out there trying to duplicate the unthinkable magic act pulled off by Jacksonville State and North Dakota State last weekend. They, of course, upset Ole Miss and Kansas, respectively.
Does McNeese State have a chance to pull off the same?
Do they have a …
“Reason to Believe,” by Bruce Springsteen
“Seen a man standin’ over a dead dog lyin’ by the highway in a ditch
He’s lookin’ down kinda puzzled, pokin’ that dog with a stick
Got his car door flung open, he’s standin’ out on highway 31
Like if he stood there long enough that dog’d get up and run
Struck me kinda funny, funny sir to me
Still at the end of every hard earned day people find some reason to believe”
(With Saturday night’s snoozer matchup on deck, the least I could do was provide some Friday afternoon Bruce to get the weekend started. Here’s a brilliant YouTube clip of the FCS anthem for the week.)
Bruce Springsteen - Reason to Believe (Milan 28-11-07) by tailschao123
SECOND DOWN: On that note, Saturday delivers a rarity in college football these days: a slate of splashy nonconference showdowns. Alabama-Penn State … Miami-Ohio State … Oklahoma-Florida State … Oregon-Tennessee … Michigan-Notre Dame … Missouri-McNeese State. OK, maybe not so much on the last one. For the fifth consecutive season and the seventh time overall under Gary Pinkel the Tigers are playing host to a Football Championship Subdivision team. Under Pinkel, Missouri is 6-0 in these scheduled clubbings, with an average score of 44-8. Blah.
I wish the athletic directors in the Big 12, or maybe all the ADs in the BCS conferences would get together and agree to stop scheduling teams from the FCS ranks. Yes, not all FCS teams are created equally. Montana, top-ranked in the FCS, or No. 4 Southern Illinois, which plays Illinois on Saturday, are of a higher caliber than, say, SEMO. (McNeese State is ranked No. 12, by the way.) And, yes, it’s getting increasingly difficult for programs like Missouri to lure non-BCS teams to play one-and-done guaranteed pay games, like MU managed with San Diego State for next week. And, yes, there is no genuine incentive under the current system for playing a rigorous nonconference schedule. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I have no problem with games against San Diego State, Miami-Ohio or future matchups with Memphis, Wyoming and Toledo.
But let’s get rid of the FCS/ matchups. They’re bad for big boy college football. They dilute the product, cheapen the sport. There’s no reward in playing them, only risk. (Just ask Kansas and Ole Miss.) But like a lot of things in college sports, the greater good is lost because of peer pressure: Everyone else is doing it, so why not? Plus, as long as non-BCS schools are demanding exorbitant fees for single-game visits to BCS stadiums — Boise State reportedly wanted $1 million to play at Nebraska — then ADs are left with little option but to write a lighter check to the FCS programs. (Missouri is paying McNeese State $450,000 to take a beating on Faurot Field Saturday night — or so the Tigers hope.)
In the SEC, 11 of 12 teams are playing an FCS opponent this fall, Vanderbilt being the exception. In the Big Ten, 10 of 11 teams went dumpster diving for an FCS, Ohio State being the lone wolf. Nine of the Big 12 teams are playing FCS teams, all but Colorado, Oklahoma State and Texas. Congratulations to the ACC for batting 1.000 on the FCS scale: All 12 teams are playing someone from the FCS. Leave it to the West Coasters to be unconventional: A whopping four Pac-10 teams are FCS-free this year: USC, Oregon State, Washington and UCLA. (Special kudos to the Beavers for scheduling TCU, Louisville and Boise State.) All eight Big East teams scheduled an FCS, but they get a pardon for having to play only seven conference games. No pardon for Syracuse, though. The Orange doubled up on FCS opponents, Maine and Colgate. At least Pittsburgh went bold and scheduled Miami, Fla., Utah and Notre Dame, while Cincinnati plays Fresno State, Oklahoma and N.C. State. Not bad.
Here’s my wish: We learned this summer that the Big 12 powerbrokers can’t exactly lock themselves in a room and play nice, but with nine-game league schedules on the horizon, it would be good for their sport if they sat down and agreed to end these glorified scrimmages against the FCS. But they won’t. Not a chance. Blah.
THIRD DOWN: Nevertheless, there are some reasons to watch the Tigers and Cowboys square off Saturday night, even if you’re forking over the $40 to watch on pay per view. Here are a few: Let’s see how many helmets to the chin T.J. Moe can take before his head is literally separated from the rest of his body. And, even better, watch him hop up, sneak past a defender and snatch a pass for the first down. The kid is tougher than woodpecker lips. … Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy. The two mini-backs won’t inspire memories of Zack Abron, but they’re quick and nimble and could boost a running game that’s short on warm bodies. … Aldon Smith is on pace for 26 sacks, presuming the Tigers play in a bowl game. Chances are that won’t happen — the sack total, not the bowl game — but the long odds won’t stop the relentless pass-rusher from trying. On Monday, Pinkel paid Smith the strongest of compliments, comparing his attitude and work ethic to one Sean Weatherspoon. … Speaking of Smith, I’ll be interested to see if the “Candy” personnel comes unwrapped this week or not. Either way, the four-defensive end lineup was lethal against a fairly seasoned Illinois offensive line. “Candy” could put some serious cavities in the McNeese State O-line. … Blaine Gabbert is 83 passing yards away from throwing for 4,000 in his short career. He passed Corby Jones for seventh place on MU’s career list last week. … Barring a flatline effort from the Tigers, Saturday night should mark the college debut of QB James Franklin. If he sees the field in relief of Gabbert, history tells us that Franklin will get some opportunities to move the chains. When Gabbert got in against SEMO in 2008, coaches called 13 pass plays for him to get some game experience chucking the ball.
By Dave Matter, The Columbia Daily Tribune