The Press Buffet: Undefeated

Sunday, October 14, 2007

With several of the unbeaten teams in college football taking their first defeat this weekend, the number of zero-loss teams has finally gotten down to a number I can work with in this space.

I thought it might be interesting to see what local columnists are saying about these teams, most of whom have never been in this position before. Are they euphoric? Cautiously optimistic? Or do they see a wrecking-ball on the horizon?

We start in Columbus, Ohio, where the Ohio State Buckeyes polished off Kent State without wiping the sleep out of their eyes. They're definitely on a roll, but the toughest part of their conference slate lies before them, with Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michican standing in the way of their BCS dreams.

If the Buckeyes (7-0) win their remaining five games, they should get a chance to redeem their loss in last season's national championship game.

"We didn't expect to be ranked this high at this point in the year," said receiver Brian Hartline, who scored the Buckeyes' first two TDs, one on a school-record 90-yard punt return. "We are growing so fast, and it's fun to see us improve."

Then to Boston, where the BC Eagles are getting it done week after week. This Saturday, they knocked off the slumping Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who were only recently removed from the winless list.

In the locker room, the Eagles watched Kentucky knock off No. 1 LSU, and amid the boisterous cheering, you could almost hear a few of the young BC players daring to dream.

“You never know, something special could happen,” said cornerback DeJuan Tribble. “But we have to stay focused and come to play every week.”

Clearly DeJuan knows his media cliches, but he forgot "take them one game at a time" and "give 110% every game".

Now, off to a truly unaccustomed place, for both team and fans - the University of South Florida Bulls are the surprise team in the Big East this season, and they just swamped UCF 64-12. The Tampa Tribune had very little analysis of the team's future prospects, because the big story is about how bitter the in-state feud between UCF and USF has become:

Perhaps the University of South Florida should reconsider making UCF into an annual series. That way, the Bulls will have a guaranteed win on the schedule every year.

Dominating from the outset, No. 5 USF turned the so-called rivalry into the Snore on I-4, rolling to a 64-12 victory Saturday. It was USF's third-highest point total as the Bulls started 6-0 for the first time in school history.

'I hope they like what happened, because we weren't trying to run the score up on them,' USF quarterback Matt Grothe said. 'We're that much better than them.'

Nasty. But apparently someone at UCF made some disparaging remarks about a USF player's wife, so it sounds like both sides are dishing it out. Regardless, the Bulls are flying.

And from there, the journey gets even stranger. It's off to Tempe, Arizona for a look at the 7-0 Arizona State Sun Devils. They took down the once-mighty Washington Huskies to reach 4-0 in the Pac-10.

The Sun Devils (7-0, 4-0 Pac-10) are the only undefeated team in the conference and one of six left in the 119-team Football Bowl Subdivision. They are off next week, then return to Sun Devil Stadium on Oct. 27 against California (5-1, 2-1).

"Our offensive front did as well as they have all year in all aspects," coach Dennis Erickson said. "We did a good job mixing things up in the running game, and we threw it well enough to keep them off balance. I don't know how good we are, but we've won seven games, and we'll take it."

Pretty sedate. And I have to say, the most baffling part of this ASU resurgence is the fact that Dennis Erickson is at the helm. I guess some coaches are just suited for the college game...

And now we'll go as far west as we can to check out the reaction to Hawaii's 7-0 start, in the Honolulu Advertiser:

They danced, and whooped, and hollered. They did both the ha'a and haka to the delight of their fans.

Such was the festive mood that had there been a request, they'd have probably done the hokey pokey, too.

Remarkably these days some of the Warriors' biggest moments and most stirring victories have come thousands of miles from Aloha Stadium where they once strayed from only with trepidation. The dramatic triumph at San Jose, that was a school-record seventh consecutive road victory over two seasons, illustrated just how big a corner has been turned. That UH is unbeaten (7-0) and nationally ranked has everything to do with its ability to win across multiple time zones and foreign end zones.

The best part about researching this quote was the sports section in Hawaii. The Rainbow Warriors take second billing to the Surf Report in the sports section drop-down menu. Good old Hawaii...

And then we go to a place as far from Hawaii (in landscape) as is possible. Lawrence, Kansas and the Lawrence Journal-World. I will confess, this one is extremely sweet to me, as I grew up in Lawrence and attended this fine institution. The Jayhawks are 6-0 after taking Baylor to the woodshed on Saturday, after the Bears did the same to them in 2006.

Mother Nature tried everything short of an earthquake to spoil Kansas University’s football mojo on Saturday.

Fat chance.

All she really did was wear out her welcome, as KU emerged from two significant weather delays to crush Baylor, 58-10, and improve to 6-0 on the season.

Memorial Stadium emptied out 51⁄2 hours after the scheduled kickoff, but the Jayhawks prevented going flat and managed to remain fresh throughout. They are now bowl-eligible, which means surprisingly little in mid-October when there’s so much more to shoot for.

Ordinarily, a KU football story would have finished below a large, above-the-fold story about Midnight Madness. What a season. So far.

Speaking as a mature Kansas fan who has seen the ups and downs (guess which one there have been more of?) I'm cautiously optimistic. Kansas starts a road swing through Boulder and College Station next week, and if they come home unbeaten from that, count me among the believers.

Thanks for joining me on the Press Buffet. Don't forget to check out pre-season basketball on Storming the Floor, and winter baseball news on Bus League Baseball.

--Extra P.

Posted by Eric (Extra P.) at 7:02 AM


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