Around the Nation Week 9

Unwritten Rules

You know the rules, but do you know the unwritten rules?

Pull your starters when you have a big lead in the second half.

Never call for an onside kick when you have the game in hand.

Take a knee when the game is won.

Ah, maybe Texas Tech coach Mike Leach forgot that one.

Mike Leach broke an unwritten rule when he called for a play at the goal line to be reviewed with just 24 seconds left on the clock and his Red Raiders whipping Texas A&M 36-25.

After the review, Tech tacked on a meaningless touchdown for the final margin. Leach (who is just enough of a flake – in an endearing way – to be sincere) claimed he just wanted one of his favorite players to score a TD.

That rules breach by Leach made me wonder if there are other unwritten rules of which we should be aware.

Is it OK to hit Colt McCoy … or any Big 12 quarterback?

The Texas QB is having a masterful season, completing nearly 80% of his passes. Still, the defenses he’s been going against show all the resistance of a wet paper towel. Has the Big 12 instituted a touch football rule on quarterbacks?

Is it illegal for Big Ten teams to compete with Ohio State?

In the past two national title games the Buckeyes got tossed around like the local JV squad by the varsity boys from the SEC, yet the rest of the Big Ten treats them as if they are Lombardi’s Packers. What gives?

When did the ACC and Big East deemphasize football?

Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson, who otherwise appears sane, seemed to argue in the Atlanta papers last week that the ACC was just as strong as the SEC, Big 12, and all other conferences … that it was just uninformed perception that led people to believe the league was down. He said this after his team had beaten Gardner-Webb. 10-7.

As for the Big East, their commissioner was last seen pumping up basketballs for the big season ahead.

Enjoy the games and don’t break any rules.

Around the Nation

Big Ten country offers a premier matchup when unbeaten and #3 Penn State travels to the horseshoe for a game with once-beaten Ohio State. Watch it on ABC primetime at 8:00 ET. The winner figures to take the conference crown and go to either the Rose Bowl or the BCS title game.

In the Big 12, Texas continues its difficult gantlet with a home game against yet another Top 10 opponent, this time the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. Texas Tech travels to Kansas in a dangerous game.

Out West, surging USC tries to stay on a championship path, but must get through a challenging road game with a pretty gritty defensive team in Arizona.

In the wide-open Big East race, two favorites collide when South Florida travels to Louisville. Auburn also travels to West Virginia.

Around the South

The SEC offers two inter-divisional games as Georgia faces LSU in Baton Rouge and Alabama plays Tennessee at Knoxville in their annual grudge match.

The loser of Georgia-LSU is probably out of the national championship race, but still very much alive in the conference.

Houston Nutt’s return to Arkansas should be fun too.

Virginia Tech travels to Florida State in the ACC, while Georgia Tech hosts a hot Virginia team. The Rambling Wreck looks like the league’s best team to me right now.

Conference USA features a Sunday night game between Central Florida and league-leading Tulsa. Keep an eye on Tulsa as a potential BCS buster.

See you at kickoff!

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