Stewart Mandel offers 20 reasons why college football is better than the NFL. I couldn’t agree more. I would simply add two more reasons (both of which, in fairness, fit under the umbrella of Mandel’s #20), and those two are:
Mandel also discusses a pair of substantive football-related topics of potential interest to Irish Trojan readers.
About the Heisman race:
Will a receiver who doesn’t return kicks and punts ever win the Heisman? If Larry Fitzgerald didn’t win it with the year he had for Pittsburgh in 2003 then I don’t see how many would have a shot.
–Eric Howard, Pittsburgh
It’s true Fitzgerald had about as productive a season as a receiver could possibly have (92 catches, 1,672 yards and 22 touchdowns), but he made two costly mistakes: a) He flopped in the one game when most voters were watching (a nationally televised season finale against Miami on Thanksgiving weekend); and b) He played for Pitt. Now don’t get on my case, Panthers fans, I’m just stating the obvious — nearly every Heisman winner this decade has played for a big-name, BCS-contending team and saved his best performances for the big, nationally televised games.
So, is it impossible for a true receiver to win the Heisman? No. This season, USC’s Dwayne Jarrett and Notre Dame’s Jeff Samardzija fit the profile perfectly. Of course, that brings up another Heisman truism, which is the long-time bias toward quarterbacks. If those two have huge years, one can safely surmise that their QBs, John David Booty and Brady Quinn, will have huge years, too, and, being as they are the quarterbacks for USC or Notre Dame, get automatically handed the Heisman if they reach a certain statistical threshold. So in conclusion, a receiver’s best chance is to play for a big-name, national title contender, perform well in big games … and have their quarterback get hurt halfway through the year.
And about USC’s schedule:
Would you be jaw-to-the-ground shocked if USC started the season 0-2? You have to believe that Arkansas (at home) and Nebraska have a decent shot at beating an unproven team early in the year, Arkansas because they have a running game unlike anything USC can prepare for and because they’re at home, Nebraska because of its defense (especially the D-line) vs. a young QB.
–Nate, Olathe, Kan.
Not jaw-to-the-ground shocked but more than a little bit surprised. I don’t doubt that USC’s offense will struggle a little early. And while the front seven should be dominant, there seems to be this universal and somewhat puzzling assumption that the Trojans’ secondary, so mediocre a year ago, will magically be better this season despite losing both starting safeties. Nebraska could definitely give the Trojans a run for their money if the Huskers’ offense is more balanced than last season (otherwise USC’s pass-rushers will tee off on QB Zac Taylor), but I don’t buy your Arkansas argument. The Trojans have faced plenty of good running offenses before, not to mention the Razorbacks’ top runner Darren McFadden is doubtful to play. While Arkansas will certainly be improved this season, I highly doubt it has improved enough and USC has regressed enough to reverse a 53-point margin (70-17) from last season.
I actually think USC’s most challenging early game might be the following contest at (don’t laugh) Arizona. Much like Arkansas, the Wildcats showed dramatic improvement down the stretch last season and are expected to take the next step this season. They’re going to have a really athletic defense and an elite quarterback, Willie Tuitama, who could hurt the Trojans. But most of all, coming off Arkansas and Nebraska, it’s the kind of team USC could take lightly.
I agree about Arizona. As I’ve said before, my prediction (though certainly not my hope) is that USC and Notre Dame will arrive at the Coliseum on Nov. 25 with one loss apiece: USC’s to a team from Arizona, and Notre Dame’s to a team from Michigan. (I’m hedging my bets by not being more specific than that. :)