The Devastating Decade

The Devastating Decade

The days go slow, but the years pass fast.

A decade ago, planes crashed into buildings in the heart of our nation’s greatest city. Those attacks not only ended many lives, they also shattered many spirits and damaged our national psyche. Even so, as President Bush promised, the people who knocked down those buildings soon heard from all of us (U.S.). That was a chilling, powerful, and spontaneous remark, his finest moment in office, and a piece of Americana that your grandchildren will learn about and revere.

College football and the other sports games would go on, as they always do.  Perhaps as much as anything aside from time, prayer, and resolve, sports helped America recover some semblance of normality during this devastating decade since the 9-11 attacks. The games went on, our teams won and lost, and soon enough we could again pay attention to fun things in life without crying, cursing, or cowering.  The resiliency afforded by freedom should never be underestimated.

But, we haven’t forgotten that day.  We haven’t forgotten – and we never will.

Welcome back to The Campus Game and week two of the 2011 college football season.

There will be many a solemn salute to the ten-year anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, but I will avoid watching them for the most part. Even these many years later, even though I lost no close relative or friend to the attacks, remembering that day and its aftermath are still too raw for me. I would imagine a lot of other Americans feel the same way.

Professor’s Picks and Around College Football

Professor’s Picks earned a nice “A” in week one, although the early semester assignments were pretty simple. The curriculum stays basic this week so it’s important to keep the marks up because the course accelerates starting in Week 3.

2011 Overall Record: 16-4
Last Week’s Record: 16-4
Best Pick: Northwestern over Boston College (even without QB Dan Persa)
Worst Pick: (Tie) Reversed the winner/loser of the two big SEC games – picking Georgia over Boise and Oregon over LSU. That’s a couple of pretty big blunders.

Around the Nation

The national slate is not stellar this second week of the season, but does serve as a prelude to next week’s blockbusters (OK-FSU, Ohio State-Miami, Mich State-ND, Tennessee-Florida, LSU-Miss State, and others).

East

Alabama travels to Penn State for what will probably be the last meeting between a Joe Paterno-coached Nittany Lion team and the Tide. The two have had some memorable games over the years, and JoePa may be outmanned in this one – but the Tide better not take a win for granted. Keep an eye on Virginia Tech. The more I look at the Hokies schedule, I can see them running the table during the regular season. Beamer’s boys will play on the road at East Carolina this weekend. East Coasters get a chance to see this year’s early season Heisman leader when QB Andrew Luck leads Stanford against Duke at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham.

Midwest

Michigan hosts Notre Dame in the first night game at the Big House in Ann Arbor. Brady Hoke will try and stay unbeaten in his first season coaching the winged helmets, while Irish coach Brian Kelly tries to rally his team from a mistake-filled loss to South Florida.  Oregon State travels to Madison and plays powerful Wisconsin (my vote for best-looking team of Week 1).

Southwest

BYU and Texas square off in Austin. Perhaps the Cougars could earn a Big 12 bid by beating Bevo … or would that aggravate the Longhorns leading to a BYU blackball?

West

New PAC-12 member Utah opens conference play against USC in Los Angeles. The Trojans barely escaped Minnesota last week. Will the Utes get an upset win in their debut?

Around the South

Central Michigan (1-0) at Kentucky (1-0)
12 p.m. ET • ESPNU
Lexington, Ky. • C.M. Newton Field / Commonwealth Stadium (67,942)
Series Record: UK leads, 5-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 30, 2006 (UK, 45-36)
Comment: The Cats struggled past Western Kentucky in the opener, and best be careful with the Chippewas. Go with Big Blue at home.
Professor’s Pick: Kentucky

Mississippi State (1-0) at Auburn (1-0)
11:21 a.m. CT • SEC Network / ESPN3.com
Auburn, Ala. • Pat Dye Field / Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451)
Series Record: AU leads, 59-23-2 • Last Meeting: Sept. 9, 2010 (AU, 17-14)
Comment: Auburn used a rabbit’s foot, a four-leaf clover, and a month’s supply of horseshoes to beat Utah State after getting outplayed for 58 minutes. The Tigers will need to pick up the tempo this week because Dan Mullen’s Bullies demolished Memphis. Auburn improves but does not get so lucky this week.
Professor’s Pick: Miss State

Alabama (1-0) at Penn State (1-0)
3:30 p.m. ET • ABC / ESPN3.com
University Park, Pa. • Beaver Stadium (106,572)
Series Record: UA leads, 9-5 • Last Meeting: Sept. 11, 2010 (UA, 24-3)
Comment: Although Joe Paterno will be in the press box, seeing him coach against the Tide will still be a treat for us old traditionalists. Joe might wish he was sending out John Cappalletti, Lydel Mitchell, Franco Harris, Matt Millen, Shane Conlan, Todd Blackledge, and two or three of those Suhey boys. Sorry Joe – all the stars are wearing the Crimson helmets this weekend. For the Tide, the biggest concern is still at QB. AJ McCarron was clearly the best option for Bama last week, but will need to keep his composure in Happy Valley.
Professor’s Pick: Alabama

Cincinnati (1-0) at Tennessee (1-0)
3:30 p.m. ET • ESPN2 / ESPN3.com
Knoxville, Tenn. • Shields-Watkins Field / Neyland Stadium (100,011)
Series Record: UT leads, 4-1 • Last Meeting: Sept. 26, 1992 (UT, 40-0)
Comment: This game is not getting enough attention in my opinion. Derek Dooley’s Vols are really young, but sophomore QB Tyler Bray can sling the football. Butch Jones brings a Bearcat squad to Neyland Stadium that is not intimidated by big programs, UC having played in two BCS games in the past five years.
Professor’s Pick: Tennessee

South Carolina (1-0) at Georgia (0-1)
4:30 p.m. ET • ESPN / ESPN3.com
Athens, Ga. • Sanford Stadium (92,746)
Series Record: UGA leads, 46-15-2 • Last Meeting: Sept. 11, 2010 (USC, 17-6)
Comment: Think Steve Spurrier would enjoy blowing out a reeling Georgia team between the hedges? Does GEICO run those ads with the slick-haired guy all the time? The Gamecocks played poorly on defense against East Carolina, but their offense really clicked once Spurrier inserted QB Stephen Garcia into the game. Georgia got manhandled on both sides of the ball by Boise State and must pass protect for QB Aaron Murray against an aggressive SC front that led the SEC in sacks last year. As much as Georgia and head coach Mark Richt need the win, I just have trouble seeing where the offense will come from … or how the defense can shut down Garcia, Marcus Lattimore, and Alshon Jeffrey.
Professor’s Pick: SC

Southern Illinois (1-0) at Ole Miss (0-1)
5 p.m. CT • Ole Miss PPV / ESPN3.com
Oxford, Miss. • Hollingsworth Field / Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580)
Series Record: UM leads, 1-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 10, 1994 (UM, 59-3)
Comment: This day and age, even SEC teams cannot count any team as a gimme. That said, Houston Nutt and the Rebels should (better) beat the Salukis.
Professor’s Pick: Ole Miss

New Mexico (0-1) at Arkansas (1-0)
6 p.m. CT • ESPNU
Little Rock, Ark. • War Memorial Stadium (53,955)
Series Record: UA leads, 2-0 • Last Meeting: Nov. 28, 1987 (UA, 43-25)
Comment: New Mexico is arguably among the worst five FBS teams, and Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino does not have the reputation of taking it easy on inferior opponents. Expect to see 50 points put up by the pigs.
Professor’s Pick: Arkansas

UAB (0-0) at Florida (1-0)
7 p.m. ET • Fox Sports Net / ESPN3.com
Gainesville, Fla. • Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field (88,548)
Series Record: UF leads, 1-0 • Last Meeting: Aug. 31, 2002 (UF, 51-3)
Comment: Let me go on record as favoring Florida in the SEC East. The Gators have as much talent as anybody (including LSU and Alabama), but they do have the conference’s toughest schedule. UAB is not a part of the toughness aspect of that schedule.
Professor’s Pick: Florida

Northwestern State (1-0) at LSU (1-0)
7 p.m. CT • LSU PPV / ESPN3.com
Baton Rouge, La. • Tiger Stadium (92,400)
Series Record: LSU leads, 10-0 • Last Meeting: Sept. 19, 1942 (LSU, 40-0)
Comment: LSU turned in perhaps the most dominating performance of week one, and now the Tigers get a bit of a breather before the SEC schedule cranks up. LSU cannot sleepwalk through this one, but they don’t need to peak either.
Professor’s Pick: LSU

Connecticut (1-0) at Vanderbilt (1-0)
6:30 p.m. CT • CSS / ESPN3.com
Nashville, Tenn. • Vanderbilt Stadium (39,773)
Series Record: Tied, 1-1 • Last Meeting: Oct. 2, 2010 (UConn, 40-21)
Comment: An interesting Big East-SEC matchup. Paul Pasqualoni got the Huskies to a winning start in his debut, as did James Franklin in his maiden voyage commanding the Commodores. A difficult call.
Professor’s Pick: U Conn

National Picks

Notre Dame at Michigan … the Irish gained over 500 yards but lost to South Florida because of five turnovers and countless mental mistakes. They are favored over Brady Hoke’s Wolverines – even on the road – so somebody must know something. I’ll go one more week on the ND bandwagon. Professor’s Pick: Notre Dame

BYU at Texas … the Cougars ventured to SEC country and knocked off Ole Miss last week, but the Longhorns will be a tougher task. While UT is not fully back to national power status, I think they will handle BYU. Professor’s Pick: Texas

Utah at USC … Kyle Whittingham has a solid program at Utah. NCAA sanctions haven’t really impacted USC on the field yet (just wait a year), but the Trojans sure struggled against Minnesota. I’m going to say Lane Kiffin’s team plays better in Week 2 and wins a close one. Professor’s Pick: USC

See you at kickoff!

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