Pacific 12 northwest weather hit old mountain west country. Utah has assimilated nicely into the new conference and today’s rainy weather had Ute fans hoping it would thwart Arizona’s desert comfort zone. The Wildcats reportedly conducted practices under the sprinklers to better prepare.
Daaaaaaaaaaa Illini. That sure doesn’t have the same ring to it, but with tonight’s game taking place at Soldier Field – it’s quite fitting. Add Ditka administering the pregame coin toss, and it’s practically a scene on SNL. This game really wasn’t supposed to be a threat for the incoming Huskies. But, a surprising 2-0 start had Illinois fans imagining the possibilities. A strong contingent from Seattle filled the south loop bars while Illinois fans combated with their ILL-INI chant.
Driving across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco to Berkeley provides the first indication that you are in for something special when visiting the home of the Golden Bears. Once on campus, you are immediately permeated with a dose of California coolness – that perfect blend of eclectic eateries, shops, and personalities. Driving deeper into town and further up the rising picturesque landscape will make you wish you went to college here.
When it comes to the Cal football team, the vibe in Berkeley has been one of impatience – lots of opportunity and little to show for it. This year fit that same mold. The Golden Bears would have to win out against Washington, #4 Oregon, and #11 Oregon State in order to become bowl eligible – a monumental task for sure. A gorgeous early November afternoon morphed into a chilly Friday evening of football inside Memorial Stadium. Even though the stadium was not quite a sellout, loyalty and pride didn’t take a backseat. The band played with the same passion, the fans cheered with the same energy, and the players fought with the same amount of heart.
The Badgers are one game in and already rolling much thanks to QB phenom Russell Wilson. The Beavers are one game in and already sunk. An embarrassing loss to FCS team, Sacramento State set the bar very low for Oregon State. Starting the game with a negative four yard punt didn’t help matters. Punter, Johnny Hekker, proved that the Beavers were a bit off their game when an early drive stalled and his punt awkwardly shanked to the right four yards behind the line of scrimmage.
The hallowed grounds of Notre Dame have become hollowed out by the weak and the mighty. Teams that are not traditional powers (Navy, Tulsa, etc.) have been undaunted by the mystique of Notre Dame Stadium. Coach Kelly is all about retrieving that mystique and making a win over the Irish in South Bend a rarity. In comes hobbling Utah (8-1) and reeling after a pounding from Texas Christian. Ranked fourteenth and seemingly overrated, this could be the Irish’s chance at toppling a ranked team for the first time in a long while.
Dear Jay Valai and Shelton Johnson,
We certainly are aware that Arizona State outplayed the Badgers in many facets of the game on Saturday. However, because of a few timely plays by you, Wisconsin was able to escape with a one point victory. Shelton, we are very impressed by the “never give up” attitude displayed on the 95 yard kickoff return by the Sun Devils. By tackling ASU’s Kyle Middlebrooks at the one yard line right before the half, you kept momentum on Wisconsin’s side and perhaps saved the game. I’m sure that coaches across the country will roll that footage as you have now become 2010’s posterboy for “never giving up on a play.” The team certainly experienced difficulty covering kickoffs as the Sun Devils returned one for a touchdown and smoked the Badgers on a few more impressive returns. It even got to the point where the crowd gave out a cheer of sarcasm with any kickoff coverage tackle. Nevertheless, you managed to maintain your poise and scrape away the stigma that comes with being a freshman.
T-shirts around the stadium proclaimed, “Fill the Bill,” and the purple followers came through. The crowd sent rumbles through the Great Plains as Kansas State took the field in front of a record opening day home crowd. As if there wasn’t enough roar in the crowd to start the game, Harley Day in Manhattan sent more noise bouncing off the walls of Bill Snyder Stadium. With Snyder’s return to the sidelines, much anticipation has grown for the Wildcats and having UCLA as an opponent only increased the excitement.
The Boilers were out in full force this weekend. Duck fans from Oregon made a nice percentage of the day’s attendance. They came blowing their duck kazoo noisemakers and wearing shirts like, “Hooked on Quack.” The sounds of “Boiler Up” hovered in the air drowning out the kazoos. This was setting up to be an outstanding collision between the Big 10 and Pac 10.
First game jitters were not a factor in the opener for the Badgers and Cougars. Both teams had every right to be anxious. Wisconsin held its highest preseason ranking in seven years and title talk has swept the state. Washington State had to play their opener over two thousand miles from home in a hostile environment. Yet, no nervousness could be detected as the Cougars silenced the 81,000+ partisans in Camp Randall Stadium with a solid opening march for a touchdown. Undaunted, the Badgers returned the favor on the next drive. The way these two teams fired out of the gate made them seem more like well oiled mid season machines.