A couple of impressions after Week 1 of college fooball:
- I kind of thought that Nebraska had too much of a chip on its shoulder when it came to the pre-season and their expectations, particularly after an — at least in my opinion — unimpressive 14-point win over South Alabama.
Granted, the Jaguars may be better than anyone anticipated, but if this is the near the Cornhuskers of old return, then there’s a lot of work to do, particularly with the offense. When you get only two offensive touchdowns against a team you should pretty much be able to score at will against, and are outgained 314-276 in total yards, that’s concerning.
The defense didn’t do that badly. Eric Lee Jr. picked off a Jaguars pass and returned it 38 yards for the score, while Alex Davis scooped up a stripped ball inside the Jaguars’ 5-yard line and returned it to the end zone for another score. In between, the special teams got into the act when J.D. Spielman returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
But woe was the offense. Nebraska is just going to have to get better ... and in a hurry. Otherwise, if they’re the Big Ten West champions ... well, it’s scary to think.
- Iowa State is in the same boat. Granted, Northern Iowa is always a tough team ... perhaps one of those teams that always gives certain teams fits. But given the Cyclones also have high expectations, one gets the feeling ISU should have delivered more.
It should not have taken three overtimes to beat the Panthers. Again, it was mistakes, particularly up front, that kept giving UNI enough rope to hang the Cyclones.
Yes, UNI is a good team and will be successful in the Missouri Valley Conference. But Iowa Stae should have had at least a two or three touchdown victory.
- Iowa, meantime, took awhile itself to wake up, but then once things were figured out, rolled to the expected win over Miami.
The most encouraging sign was Oliver Martin, the guy who spent two years at Michigan before the native son of Iowa City returned home. His first-ever catch as a Hawkeye came on his second play, a 9-yard strike that went for a touchdown and allowed Iowa to build on its 17-7 third-quarter lead.
“Yeah, it is (a dream scenario),” Martin told the Associated Press. “I didn’t really envision that coming in, and then the opportunity came where I went in the game, and they called that particular play in the red zone and I was like, ‘I could score on this play.’”
From there, it was really all Iowa. The two “S’s” — Mehki Sargent and Nate Stanley — carried the load, showed good leadership and made it an all-around good 24-point win.
Rutgers is next, and of course Iowa has a few things to tune up. But given the oddsmakers have the Hawkeyes already at a 19-point favorite, this should be a good, solid win.
High school football-wise, there were a few really one-sided games.
And some of those are those traveling trophy games, those games against supposed arch rivals where some sort of trophy — maybe just a trophy, or some symbol as a shoe, a bullhorn or whatever — is at stake.
Reading some of the game stories from newspapers around the state (including at least one trophy game where the winning team stomped their opponent 65-0) I’d say there are some trophy series that should be discontinued. In that case, the trophy game began 16 years ago, and the winner is undefeated in a series that has gotten progressively more one-sided.
To me, trophy games are supposed to be competitive. When the winning team keeps flexing its superiority over their trophy rival, it’s almost like the old schoolyard taunt, “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah, I’ve got something you can’t ever have,” followed by the dreaded blowing a raspberry. That just fuels frustration over the opposing team, players and fans, and does nothing to build goodwill or sportsmanship.
In some losing programs’ cases, maybe winning trophy games (among other things) shouldn’t be the first priority. More realistic goals — at least initially — I’d think would be putting a competitive team on the field, giving your best effort each night out and building a solid foundation for the future. Then, you start thinking about a trophy game and higher goals, such as district titles and the playoffs.
Don’t get me wrong: For trophy rivalries that are competitive, and most of them are, those should by all means continue. Those rivalries justly bring out the best in high school football, and it’s always great to see the trophy move from school to school every few years or so.
But in some series, it’s just unrealistic to believe the losing team will ever win their trophy against their much better rivals. More pressing goals, starting with getting better, should take precedence, I think.
Finally, to vent a few things.
If I’m going back to my native Quad Cities on a given weekend, I do not expect to have to answer to anyone back home why I’m back. I’m usually back to spend time with family and friends, do business and basically go on my way and spend my free time as I see fit.
Seriously, someone had the gall to ask me why I wasn’t in Atlantic this weekend but instead at a Labor Day celebration, which has among other things a road race (where my sister and nephews were running) and car show and pancake breakfast.
Well, I didn’t have to work — I had Tuesday’s paper completed late Saturday night, after the photos and story for the college games were edited and placed — and this is how I had planned to spend time. Other employees at the News-Telegraph office had their own Labor Day-weekend travel plans, yet I suspect they weren’t rudely questioned by others who feel they should dictate their time.
And I will contact whomever I wish to inform them I’m coming. I was asked by someone — other than my mother — recently to call or text them and only them when I would be coming next time.
Unless I know the exact reason why I should contact this someone else, and unless it’s a reason I consider legitimate that won’t be happening.
I realize I shouldn’t bring you, my readers, into personal disputes, and I apologize to you for that. But without getting into hot water, maybe this will get a few of my peeves across without directly embarrassing them or calling them out.