Thursday, October 4, 2012

Throw Back the Throwback Uniforms

The throwback uniforms worn by the Wisconsin and Nebraska
football teams last Saturday night were appallingly ugly.

I sort of liked the concept of the throwback jerseys when the NFL introduced them for the league's 75th season.

But enough is enough.

I found the uniforms worn by the Wisconsin and Nebraska football teams last Saturday to be so bad that I couldn't watch the whole game — which was a shame because it had such an exciting second half.

I still don't mind the throwback unis — but some should remain buried in the past.

Which raises an interesting point.

Many of these so–called "throwback" uniforms were never actually worn by teams in the past. They are, in fact, "alternate" uniforms, many of which have the appearance of a uniform that might have been worn in the 1930s or 1940s.

But they were specially designed long after those decades ended.

For some teams, these alternate uniforms have been seen as some kind of harbingers of success. But not for the two teams who played in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday night.

Idle: #1 Alabama, #19 Louisville

  • #13 USC at Utah, 8 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: USC has never played at Utah before.

    Before they were conference rivals, USC won five home contests against Utah, and Utah beat USC in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl.

    Is home field an advantage for the Utes? Well, it wasn't so much last year (3–3), their first in the Pac–12, but they were 5–1 at home the year before (with their only loss being to undefeated TCU) and 22–3 in the previous five seasons.

    I don't think that will help them this time. I pick USC.
  • #23 Washington at #2 Oregon, 9:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: This series has done an about–face in recent years.

    All time, Washington holds the edge both at home and on the road (51–37–4), but Oregon has won the last eight meetings. I think it will be nine after Saturday's game, although Washington will put up a fight, I'm sure. I predict an Oregon victory.
  • #3 Florida State at North Carolina State, 7 p.m. (Central) on ESPN2: At the moment, undefeated Florida State has a Top 10 offense (behind quarterback E.J. Manuel) and a Top 10 defense.

    North Carolina State, on the other hand, has an offense and a defense that are serviceable — but do not seem capable of going the distance with someone like Florida State.

    Even at home, where NCSU is 5–9 against FSU — although the Wolfpack beat the Seminoles the last time they met there.

    I think Florida State will make it two in a row.
  • #4 LSU at #10 Florida, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on CBS: Of all the games on this week's schedule, this one may be the most intriguing.

    I don't know how many schools can claim to have winning records against LSU both at home and away, but the Florida Gators can.

    They've been even more successful at home (14–11–3) than in Baton Rouge (16–14), and the Gators are the host team this year. They will be trying to avenge their loss to LSU on their home field two years ago.

    It may be regarded as a mild upset, but I'll take Florida to win this one.
  • #5 Georgia at #6 South Carolina, 6 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: These schools were familiar foes long before they became conference rivals in 1992.

    This will be the 62nd time they have met, and Georgia has won nearly three–quarters of their contests — but South Carolina has won three of the last five.

    There's plenty of star power in this one. Georgia boasts the third–rated passer in the land (Aaron Murray); South Carolina counters with the 10th–rated QB (Connor Shaw).

    The SEC isn't as much of a rushing league as it once was, but Georgia's top running back (Todd Gurley) ranks in the top 20, and South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore is rated 48th.

    I'kk give a slight edge to Georgia.
  • Kansas at #7 Kansas State, 11 a.m. (Central) on FX: This will be the 110th edition of the Sunflower Showdown, the in–state series between Kansas and Kansas State.

    Historically, Kansas enjoys a huge margin in the series, 65–39–5, but Kansas State is 15–4 since 1993 — and Kansas has been victorious at Kansas State only once since 1991.

    It seems to me that KSU is the superior team so I have to pick Kansas State to prevail.
  • #8 West Virginia at #11 Texas, 6 p.m. (Central) on Fox: It's been more than half a century since these schools faced each other on the football field.

    Fifty–six years ago Saturday, West Virginia left Austin with a 7–6 victory. On Saturday, the Mountaineers return, and I expect a lot more points to be scored this time. West Virginia has the third–rated offense in the nation, and Texas is #23 nationally in offense.

    West Virginia has the nation's top–rated quarterback in Geno Smith, and Texas has the second–rated quarterback (David Ash). Quite a matchup. And neither defense appears prepared for the aerial onslaught it is likely to face.

    This may be regarded as something of an upset as well, but I'm going to go with West Virginia. I think the Longhorns may be looking ahead to their game with Oklahoma, but after West Virginia's shootout with Baylor last week, you overlook the Mountaineers at your peril.
  • Miami (Fla.) at #9 Notre Dame, 6:30 p.m. (Central) on NBC: The late 1980s probably represent the high point in this series. In fact, the teams have only met once since 1990 — in the 2010 Sun Bowl.

    But back in the late 1980s, a match between these two schools meant the balance of power in college football was at stake.

    Today, Notre Dame has a Top 20 defense whereas Miami isn't even in the Top 100. But Miami's 35th–ranked offense may challenge the Irish.

    Not enough, though. I predict Notre Dame will win the game.
  • #21 Nebraska at #12 Ohio State, 7 p.m. (Central) on ABC: Before Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the Buckeyes and the Cornhuskers hadn't faced each other since the Eisenhower administration.

    The teams have only faced each other three times in all, but the home team has always won, which may be good news for Ohio State.

    Not so fast, my friend.

    If the game is decided on the ground, Nebraska has the eighth–ranked runner in Ameer Abdullah. If it is won through the air, the advantage may belong to Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez — although Ohio State's Braxton Miller may have something to say about it.

    Nebraska also enters the game with a higher–ranked defense than Ohio State, which makes me think Nebraska will win the game.
  • Washington State at #14 Oregon State, 5 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12: Historically, Washington State has the edge in this series.

    But Oregon State seldom enters this contest with a national ranking so we're kind of in uncharted territory here.

    Since 1999, Oregon State has won about two–thirds of the time. And the numbers suggest that the Beavers will win again (even though Washington State's last two wins over Oregon State have come at Corvallis).

    Oregon State's quarterback, Sean Mannion, is currently ranked 31st in the country, thanks largely to Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton, the fifth– and sixth–most productive receivers (respectively) in the nation.

    I have to go with Oregon State in this one.
  • Georgia Tech at #15 Clemson, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ESPN: Georgia Tech has been something of a thorn in Clemson's side,

    Georgia Tech has won more than two–thirds of its games with Clemson, including the 2009 ACC championship game.

    But Clemson won the last time it hosted Georgia Tech. And Clemson has the 16th–ranked offense in the land (Georgia Tech's, ranked 26th in the nation, isn't exactly chopped liver). So far, Tajh Boyd has completed nearly 70% of his passes, and Andre Ellington is contributing more than 100 yards per game on the ground.

    Just too many weapons in the Tigers' arsenal. I pick Clemson to win the game.
  • Iowa State at #16 TCU, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on FSN: TCU is 3–0 all time against Iowa State.

    But this will be their first meeting as conference rivals, and it will be played in Fort Worth, where TCU beat Iowa State for the first time in 1995.

    Neither team has been very impressive on offense, but TCU does have the seventh–best defense in the country. Iowa State, however, counters with the 18th–best defense, which suggests this will be a defensive struggle.

    But I think TCU will win that struggle.
  • #17 Oklahoma at Texas Tech, 2:30 p.m. (Central) on ABC: It seems to me that Texas Tech ought to be ranked in the Top 25.

    And the Red Raiders have an opportunity, starting on Saturday, to make their case for being included in the rankings. They've beaten some mostly unimpressive opposition en route to a 4–0 start, but the schedule now presents them with five consecutive games against teams that are currently in the Top 25 (Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas State and Texas).

    A sweep would certainly be a statement that could not be ignored, but, as the old saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Saturday's game against the Sooners will be a good test for the nation's top–ranked defense. Oklahoma's offense is ranked 25th in the country.

    Oklahoma also has the 12th–ranked defense, but Texas Tech is ranked eighth in offense.

    Of course, as I say, Tech has compiled its record against mostly mediocre competition. Oklahoma's schedule hasn't been much more impressive — except for the Sooners' lost to Kansas State a couple of weeks ago.

    But the Red Raiders will have the home crowd on their side — and Tech has been more successful in Lubbock than in Norman. In fact, the Red Raiders have won the last three meetings at home.

    This will probably be seen as an upset, but I pick Texas Tech.
  • Arizona at #18 Stanford, 2 p.m. (Central) on Fox: As they head into their 28th meeting, these teams are almost even. Arizona holds a one–game edge, 14–13.

    But, historically speaking, being the home team may not necessarily help Stanford. Arizona has compiled a 7–5 record at Stanford. Stanford has been more successful at Arizona, where the series is tied, 7–7.

    And Arizona has the nation's 10th–best offense, largely thanks to the running of Ka'Deem Carey. That should be a considerable challenge for Stanford's 24th–ranked defense.

    Arizona's defense, on the other hand, is one of the nation's worst, ranked 94th — and, if Andrew Luck was still at the helm of the offense, I would be inclined to expect Stanford to torch Arizona. But, without Luck, Stanford's offense is rated 105th.

    Apparently, the marquee matchup will occur whenever Arizona has the ball.

    I pick visiting Arizona.
  • #20 Mississippi State at Kentucky, 11:21 a.m. (Central) on SEC Network: Mississippi State has beaten Kentucky three straight times, but Kentucky still holds a one–game edge in the all–time series, 20–19.

    And Kentucky is 13–7 at home against the Bulldogs. Consequently, history appears to favor Kentucky.

    But all eyes will be on Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell, who has completed only 55% of his passes but has thrown only one interception so far. Kentucky's 62nd–ranked defense will be hard pressed to stop him.

    Even at home. I predict a Mississippi State win.
  • Connecticut at #22 Rutgers, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPNU: Rutgers holds a one–game advantage in this series, but UConn has been the winner of the last three meetings at Rutgers.

    So Connecticut clearly will have at least a mental edge.

    Both offenses have been anemic whereas both defenses are highly regarded. UConn's defense is ranked sixth in the nation.

    For defensive–minded fans, this should be highly entertaining. And I will pick Connecticut to prevail.
  • #24 Northwestern at Penn State, 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN: For the first time ever, Northwestern will play Penn State without Joe Paterno prowling the sidelines.

    And JoePa was 6–1 at home against Northwestern. This will be Bill O'Brien's first game against the Wildcats. How will he do?

    Well, whatever one thinks of how Paterno dealt with the Sandusky situation, JoePa set the bar pretty high for on–the–field achievements. The sanctions that were handed down stripped JoePa of many of his wins, but it will be long time, if ever, before someone matches his record at Penn State.

    I don't if O'Brien will equal his predecessor. But I do think Penn State will win this game.
  • #25 UCLA at California, 9 p.m. (Central) on Pac–12: UCLA has won more than 60% of the more than 80 ganes that have been played between these two schools, and it doesn't matter where they play. UCLA has the edge in both places.

    UCLA will bring the nation's fourth–ranked offense, anchored by running back Johnathan Franklin (who is contributing more than 150 rushing yards per game) and QB Brett Hundley.

    I think the Bruins have too many weapons, and I pick UCLA to win.
Last week: 12–4

Season: 86–16

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