Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rolling the burgers
Now that college football has gotten "Stiff Saturday" out of the way, we can move on to the real season. In football terms, the word "stiff" refers to a team or player who is near dead, inept, less talented or just awful. Several AP Top 25 teams had stiffs for opponents on Saturday, including No. 9 Penn State (vs. Akron); No. 6 Ohio State (vs. Navy;) No. 2 Texas (vs. Louisiana Monroe); No. 4 USC (vs. San Jose State); and No. 1 Florida introduced itself to Charleston Southern.
All the stiffs got clobbered except for Navy which nearly upset Ohio State in Columbus. The late sportswriter Mal Florence once said, "You roll the burger," meaning a stiff has to be wiped out otherwise, if the game is close or the unthinkable happens, you lose, then it's a stain on the football team's soul for all time. When a ranked team plays a stiff three things can happen, and two of them aren't good.
For Ohio State, nearly getting beat by the roustabouts from Annapolis at home is certainly a Scarlet flag for Buckeye Fans. When Ara Parseghian coached at Notre Dame, the Irish scheduled one or two of the service academies every season. Parseghian was always courteous toward the players from Army, Navy and the Air Force. "We have great respect for them," he always said. Then Notre Dame would go out and crush them.
Maybe the Buckeyes were looking ahead to this week's intersectional clash with USC, which comes to Ohio on Saturday night for the finale of a home-and-home series. Last season, the Trojans blew away the Buckeyes in L.A., 35-3.
Matt Barkley played well enough in his freshman debut against the undermanned Spartans. "It was no big deal for him," said Coach Pete Carroll. However, it was the Trojans' running game that carried the ball, and the day for the Barkleys of Figueroa Street. Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight, Allen Bradford and Marc Tyer made it easy for the 18-year-old Barkley by giving him plenty of run support.
It will be interesting to see how Barkley handles a very hostile crowd at the Horseshoe in Columbus. Also, it will be equally interesting if the Buckeye offensive line can control USC's front seven, which had an outstanding game against San Jose St. The winner of this game will have plenty in the tank in the run for the BCS title game at the Rose Bowl next Jan. 7. With Oklahoma losing to BYU, 14-13, on Stiff Saturday, both the Trojans and Buckeyes moved a notch toward that game.

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