Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pigskin Points: Week Two

Week two of college football is in the books, and an intriguing story was written between the yard lines.

A Tale of Two Freshmen

Chapter One

One program is in the best of times, one is in the worst.
One is in an age of glory, the other in an age of questions.
The times -- as always -- are uncertain, but one program can see a clear path ahead, while the other is just able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The first program is, of course, USC.
The classic stalwart, USC is one of the standards of the game, and has been a sure bet to be in the title hunt since Pete Carroll's arrival in Pasadena.
The other is Michigan.
A once-proud program filled with tradition and passion, Michigan has fallen on hard times in recent years.
Long-time head coach Lloyd Carr left in 2007 after the Wolverines finished 9-4.
Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez away from West Virginia, and things were looking up in the Big House.
They wouldn't look that way for long.
The decline was swift and terrible.
The Wolverines went 3-9 in Rich Rod's first year as the head Michigan man, the worst record in the program's 129-year history.
Then came the off-season.
And the questions.
And the emotions.
Now, however, the season is two weeks old and the Wolverines are 2-0, thanks in large part to a man named Tate Forcier.
Forcier happens to be Michigan's quarterback, and he also happens to be the first of the two freshmen in our tale.
The Wolverines desperately needed a win against rival Notre Dame to prove to fans and opponents alike they are, in fact, on their way back.
The entire team made that happen Saturday, besting the Irish 38-34, and Forcier proved he has what it takes to strap on one of the most classic helmets in football and butt heads with anybody.
Forcier had a good day throwing the football, completing 23-33 passes.
Two of them went for touchdowns, including the game-winning five-yard toss to Greg Mathews.
Forcier was unflappable on the final drive.
He's a freshman, who, -- in that moment -- played not like a senior, but like a pro.
Now, at least for a week, Big Blue is back.

Chapter Two

Matt Barkley is apparently USC's present-day version of the Trojan horse.
The Trojans infiltrated the walls of Ohio State's Horseshoe and rode the freshman quarterback to a huge win.
Before the game, Barkley said he was ready for the test and up to the challenge.
Afterword he admitted he was nervous.
If he was, he didn't play like it when it counted.
Comparing present players to those of the past is not uncommon, but it is sometimes difficult to see where those comparisons come from.
After Saturday, it's safe to say people have yet another reason to compare Barkley to a certain Hall-of-Famer.
There are similarities, you know.
The confidence.
The poise.
The talent.
Now there's one more to add to the list.
In the first road game of his college career, in front of thousands upon thousands of hostile fans, Barkley engineered a Drive of his own.
With his back to the Buckeye student section, from the shadow of his own end-zone, Barkley and the Trojans began a classic series that ended when Stafon Johnson walked into the end-zone without being so much as grazed by a Buckeye.
The Trojans converted the two-point try and then the defense stifled Terrelle Pryor's attempt at a game-winning drive.
The night belonged to Barkley and the Trojans, and surely there will be many more like it to come.

On Saturday, two freshmen proved they were ready, willing and able to lead their teams.
In doing so, they each accomplished a far, far better thing than anyone expected -- except them.


If you've been looking for a good college football blog to keep you up-to-date on everything happening on the gridiron this season, look no farther than 4th and Goal.
4th and Goal is a comprehensive college football smorgasbord, complete with the weekly AP Poll, predictions for games and things learned each week.
It's full of useful information, insights and opinions from a man who knows what he's talking about.
If you don't believe me, just look at his Upset Calls record so far.
4th and Goal will be updated frequently, so be sure to check back often, and stayed tuned next week for the third edition of Pigskin Points.

1 comment:

  1. Great column! You even made me appreciate teams I don't like, and that's a real feat! Love the links, too.