Texas A&M Saves us from Boredom

When I was looking into journalism in college I read that newspapers were 10 percent actual news and 90 percent filler. This Saturday in college football was filler.

College GameDay was at Missouri vs. South Carolina. Two teams with a loss each and Missouri’s came to lowly Indiana. Yet, Missouri won the game. Go figure.

Heck, Michigan State’s rout of Wyoming somehow made it to ESPN 2. The ABC primetime game involved Syracuse, a school who nearly lost to FCS Villanova and was humbled by Maryland. ESPNU showcased a SWAC duel between Alcorn State and Southern. In other words, quality games were not there.

Next week will be different but today we were left with Texas A&M rallying to beat Arkansas and Florida State surviving NC State on the road. The only bout between ranked teams was No. 11 UCLA lighting up No. 15 Arizona State 62-27 and that game was on… Thursday.

Here are the winners and losers from the week.

Winner: Texas A&M

The Aggies had to deal with “trap game” talk all week and needed two fourth quarter touchdowns to bail them out against the Razorbacks. Arkansas had 484 total yards but only 73 came in the fourth quarter and overtime. The Hogs will also have to question this slow developing run on fourth down in overtime that was quickly stuffed at the line of scrimmage.

What Arkansas fans see in Hades.

What Arkansas fans see in Hades.

Bottom line: Texas A&M players don’t have to worry about trap games anymore. Mainly because they know No. 14 Mississippi State can beat them without anyone in the media telling them so.

Loser: Penn State

Penn State was excited to be eligible for the Big 10 title game this season but not anymore. Losing to 1-2 Northwestern at home takes care of that. The Wildcats had lost to a MAC school and their only win was against a FCS team. Yet, Northwestern never trailed as it scored two touchdowns in the first quarter to win 29-6. PSU quarterback Christian Hackenberg averaged over 300 passing yards per game coming into the contest but had just 216 today to go along with an interception. The only school that stands in Michigan State’s way in the Big 10 East now is … Maryland? Maybe Ohio State? Maybe?

Winner: Air Force

The Falcons went 2-10 in 2013 and a depressing 0-8 in Mountain West action. Not this year, as Air Force took it to perennial Mountain West favorite Boise State and won 28-14. It has to be the school’s biggest win since topping Georgia Tech in the 2010 Independence Bowl. One thing is for sure, the Mountain West is going to be interesting this season.

Loser: Pittsburgh

When you lose to Akron at home 21-10 it’s going to be tough. It was the first win for Akron against a power conference school since defeating NC State six years ago. The Zips kept star Panther running back James Conner in check, holding him to just 92 yards. Coach Paul Chryst has damage control duties to do in Western Pennsylvania.

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College tennis tries to steal the show

Spring championship season for the NCAA is here and the sport on deck this weekend is tennis. The men’s and women’s titles will be on Tuesday in Athens, Georgia. Why does the NCAA have all their championships on Mondays (football, men’s basketball) or a Tuesday (women’s basketball)? For an organization that values academics, they sure do put a lot of big events during class time.Obscurity Report new It’s also interesting that out of the top 16 seeds in the field of 64 for the men only two failed to make it to the round of 16. So if you’re looking for upsets in “May Madness” you might need to find a different spring sport. The fact that upsets are rare makes the failures of No. 8 Texas A&M and No. 11 Duke that much more embarrassing though.

The phrase “hard-fought” is PR speak for “we screwed up.” The good news though is that the elite eight of the field will truly be elite. Get your Cinderellas out of here because the big guys need room for the next three days in Athens. USC is the No. 1 seed but it did lose to Ohio State and twice to UCLA. Both are still in the field. On the women’s side parity is even harder to see as 15 of the top 16 seeds made it to the round of 16. Only No. 15 Northwestern faltered as it was edged out 4-3 by Notre Dame.

The attitude on the Northwestern side was just a little bit down in comparison.

There has been some drama though as No. 1 seed Georgia barely survived No. 16 USC 4-3 on Thursday. That would have been a disaster for the Bulldogs to blow their title hopes so quickly on their home court.

Georgia will play 2012 champion Florida on Saturday. The SEC will be going for Georgia vs. No. 2 Alabama championship match. I’m sure Big 10 fans will accuse Alabama of giving cars to their women’s tennis players too.

So check out a sport other than basketball and football for a change this weekend. You might even become a die-hard college tennis fan. Just don’t count on it.

Worried Watch: Week 1

Superior college football teams love to schedule an easy home game, but what if that underdog knocks them off? Here are a few favorites that might be worried heading into the opener.

1. Rice at Texas A&M, Saturday

He's blue and worried. just like Kentucky football fans when their team is the favorite.

He’s blue and worried. Just like Kentucky football fans when their team is the favorite.

The Rice Owls went 7-6 last year but have almost the whole team back. Texas A&M has plenty of distractions with their quarterback Johnny Manziel, and lost most of the their defense. Rice is predicted to be near the top of Conference USA and has a senior quarterback in Taylor McHargue ready to slug it out with Manziel. It would not be too much of a stretch to suggest Rice can steal a win. Crazier things have happened.

2. Western Kentucky vs. Kentucky, Saturday

The Hilltoppers went into Lexington last year and beat the Wildcats 32-31 in overtime. On Saturday they play in a neutral site in Nashville, Tenn. so the odds might be even more in Western Kentucky’s favor. It’s really hard to call this an upset really. I’m sure Kentucky fans would be happy with a win period.

3. Indiana State at Indiana, Thursday

I live in about an hour away from the two schools and this is not a hard one to figure out. Indiana has never been good at football and while some are calling for an improved year their defense is … not good. Most magazines I’ve seen has the Hoosiers near the bottom of the Big Ten in defense. The Sycamores should be able to move the ball and stay close like they did last year before losing 24-17. Just another play here or there and maybe Indiana State wins it.

4. Southern Illinois at Illinois, Saturday

Another FCS school taking a Big Ten neighbor. Illinois, like Indiana has a bad defense. Just three starters back on that side of the ball.  Ouch. In nerd language that’s like playing Call of Duty with a couple of teammates who have never touched a controller before. Southern Illinois may just have a shot here to pull off the upset. It’s hard not to yell for a team called the Salukis anyway.

5. Northern Illinois at Iowa, Saturday

Not to be outdone by their southern counterparts, Northern Illinois plans to down a Big Ten team too. To me a Northern Illinois win at Iowa would not be an upset. For a team that went to the Orange Bowl a year ago the Huskies better beat the Hawkeyes (4-8 last year). Still, Iowa won this game in 2012 on a neutral site and are the Big Ten team going up against a MAC. Will call this a game where both fan bases are worried.

On deck: Utah State at Utah, Northern Iowa at Iowa. FIU at Maryland, Arkansas vs. UL Lafayette, Austin Peay at Tennessee.

Filling air time with nothing

espnTexas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is in the news again and that is not because he did something of note. Manziel and his “Johnny Football” nickname combined with his Heisman trophy is enough star power for national media to make something out of nothing.

That what he is in the news for right now.

Nothing.

National media, like ESPN, is trying to make a big deal about Johnny Football leaving a passing camp conducted by Peyton Manning early. Why? Because they have nothing else to talk about.

July is the dead month of the college sports world. Not to mention the professional world as well. Sadly, these 24/7 networks have to fill their copious amounts of air time with something. Even if it is something as trivial as questioning the maturity of a college student.

You mean to tell me that college athletes are not mature? Thanks ESPN for that great insight. I had no idea. Now let’s spend the next three days talking about it.

Sports is just not something that should be 24/7. Evaluating the pitfalls of the sports media is something I hope to do here on the NC2A Nerd. While jocks are more likely to fall the garbage in tabloids or celebrity culture, us nerds think it’s all beneath us.

And thank God for that.