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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

All those predictions and prognostications? Forget about 'em

Labor Day weekend has already been a hoot and a mess, showing once again that the beauty and bane of college football is that there are no exhibition games to work out the wrinkles.

September 07, 2009|CHRIS DUFRESNE | ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Forget most of what you read, learned, recorded or thought so far about the 2009 season.

As usual, it was just people guessing, fudging, lying and/or trying to sell magazines, newspapers, pop-up ads and/or radio advertisement or billboard space in South Bend, Ind.

"Best Wishes to Charlie Weis in the 5th year of his college coaching internship. -- Linebacker Alumni."

Wait until that wise-guy Weis gets a load of this.

Final score: Notre Dame 35, Nevada 0.

They say the biggest improvement in college football comes between weeks one and two. Let's hope that includes reporters, ESPN talking heads, coaches, cab drivers and South Bend's merry pranksters.

The beauty and the bane of this sport is there are no exhibition games to work out the wrinkles. When the curtain goes up on national television, the coaches and you are seeing the teams in action for the first time.

Labor Day weekend has already been a hoot and a mess -- and the Florida State kicker has yet to boot one wide left, or right, tonight against Miami.

The weekend that was supposed to be about a collective Kumbaya -- players from across the nation exchanging before-game handshakes in a collegial show of sportsmanship -- started Thursday night with postgame punch-out.

For some reason, LeGarrette Blount, the Oregon tailback who had called out Boise State before the game, ended up on a passing route running toward the Boise bench when the game ended. There he met several opposing players, including Byron Hout.

You usually hear coaches talk about putting their players in positions where they can succeed. Had Blount been on the bench in a heated game that had already been decided, or even if Oregon had run the final play toward the Ducks' sideline, Blount might be suiting up against Purdue next week.

Did we mention it was Oregon Coach Chip Kelly's first game?

Citing economic woes, Oregon did not put out a printed media guide this year, so at least the season will leave no paper trail.

* Don't believe a word the old man says: Penn State Coach Joe Paterno before the Nittany Lions' home opener: "Contrary to what people think, Akron is a fine football team." Penn State led, 31-0, at the half.

* Popular theory: Nevada, with superstar quarterback Colin Kaepernick, had a decent chance to upset Notre Dame.

Wrong.

* A premise that got some play: This could be the year the Atlantic Coast Conference finally gets its act together.

Oh, yeah?

The ACC went 0-4 against BCS competition and lost to two 1-AA schools. The Spiders of Richmond defeated the hazards of Duke, while William and Mary shocked Virginia and Al Groh.

"There will be a lot of negativity out there," Virginia Coach Groh said after the game. "Some of it well-deserved. We can either crack or we can stick together."

So far, in the early polling, "crack" has a double-digit lead.

* A sound, logical assumption: Oklahoma lost four starting offensive lineman but, with Heisman Trophy quarterback Sam Bradford returning, it should be in the mix again for the national title.

This just from the Jerry Jones' new stadium in Arlington: Brigham Young, 14, Oklahoma 13 . . . Bradford watches end of game with throwing arm in a sling.

* Dispatch from Columbus: Ohio State needed a late field goal to take a three-possession lead against Navy. Buckeyes Coach Jim Tressel, who is usually Mr. Play-the-Percentages, decided to go for it on fourth down.

The play failed, Navy quickly scored and ended up standing over a two-point conversation that could have tied the game

What could Tressel have been thinking ahead about, other than USC in seven days?

"As I look back, I certainly should have kicked the field goal on fourth and one, which was a huge mistake in my mind," he later confessed.

Ohio State got lucky when Navy, which led the nation in rushing last year, tried to tie the game with a forward pass, which was intercepted and returned for two points for the Buckeyes.

"We came here to win," Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo said. " . . . We didn't come here to experience the atmosphere."

Wait . . . Navy came to Columbus to tie the game on a pass?

* ESPN producer needed to speak into analyst Lou Holtz's earpiece: Holtz, on the air, referred to USC as "Southern Cal."

Wrong.

The school hates being called that. On Page 2 of the media guide, it specifically states: "It's like calling San Francisco 'Frisco' or North Carolina 'North Car.' "

Holtz should know better, having once worked at North Car State. Or, maybe Notre Dame's former coach was just getting a zinger in.

* Watch out for Iowa this year in the Big Ten, people said.

How about winning the Missouri Valley first? Iowa had to block two field goals in the closing seconds to stave off defeat in Iowa City against Northern Iowa.

Everyone goofed, though, even the oddsmakers. Florida was favored by 63 points over Charleston Southern, but the Gators won by only 59.

* Stand back and watch the offensive pyrotechnics, they said: No team in the nation closed faster than Oregon last year. The Ducks averaged 54 points per game in their last three games.

Nevada returned three 1,000 rushers from a team that averaged 37 points per game.

Oregon and Nevada, this weekend, combined for eight points.

* Finally: A guy in Los Angeles wrote that it was risky to play a true freshman at quarterback, just hours before USC's Matt Barkley completed 79% of his passes in a 56-3 win over San Jose State.

Reversing direction, though, that's what makes college football great.

Or maybe you don't remember "Wrong Way" Roy Riegels?

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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