Scrape off the tailgate grills and hose out the coolers, WDRB's College Football Notebook is moving to in-season mode, and that means there's too much football to watch on Saturday to be messing around with anything that includes the word "book." Well, unless you're talking about bookies or playbooks. The WDRB 'Book, however, is neither. It's purely for entertainment purposes only.
So check for it every Thursday, with news, notes and nonsense not only from around the area football programs, but around the nation.
LOCK OF THE WEEK
The 'Book isn't much of a betting entity, but there's one Vegas line this week that truly can't be ignored. Our friends at Pregame.com inform us that college football's first ever 70-point favorite has been crowned, or maybe clowned, down in Tallahassee.
Florida State is a 70.5-POINT FAVORITE over Savannah State, a figure that not only is the largest pointspread of all time for a college football game, but the first to surpass 70 points. The previous winner, according to Pregame.com, was when Hawaii was favored by 60 points over Northern Colorado in 2007.
This proves a couple of things. First, there is no game Vegas can't find an interest in (Cantor Sportsbook will take bets of up to $5,000 on this game).
The second is that some programs have no shame when it comes to scheduling a sure "W." The 'Book understands why Savannah State would take the game. You've got to pay the bills. Plus, it gives those guys a chance to play in one of the great atmospheres in college football. (One of the 'Book's honchos once suggested that U of L completely rip off the horse and rider theme of the Seminoles pregame tradition, minus the spear planted at midfield.)
But somebody needs to stop the madness. If college football is truly going to a merit system to determine the field for its too-small and convoluted playoff, these games should count against teams under that consideration. Seriously, Florida State is taking a week off.
Don't hold your breath. These kinds of beatdowns have become as much a part of college football tradition as cornhole and rest room lines.
The 'Book, by the way, is hammering Savannah State to cover. Write it down.
[NOTE: Notebook reader and FSU grad Eric Beson would like to add to the record that Florida State originally had scheduled West Virginia for this slot, but that the Mountaineers backed out of the game. Consider the game noted, and the 'Book's disdain tempered. Though not completely dissipated.]
[NOTE, PART II: Savannah State opened as a 67.5 point underdog -- seriously, do they really need the half-point when the line is 67? -- last week against Oklahoma State, but the line was bet down to 58 at game time. Savannah State lost 84-0. So Savannah State stands to be a combined 128.5-point underdog in two games over eight days.]
JOKER HAS THE NATION'S HOTTEST SEAT
Athlon Sports conducted a heat-check for college football coaches after Week 1 of the season, and found the temperature under University of Kentucky coach Joker Phillips' posterior the hottest of them all.
Phillips edged out Frank Spaziani of Boston College, Rock Stockstill of Middle Tennessee, David Bailiff of Rice, Dan Enos of Central Michigan, Jeff Tedford of Cal, Idaho's Robb Akey, Maryland's Randy Edsall and Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville (hey, did you ever notice that outstanding alliteration? No way they can can him.)
Note to Lubbock: If Bobby Petrino shows up at a private airport anytime soon, it's not just to pay his respects to Buddy Holly.
As for Phillips, UK's game against Kent State in Commonwealth Stadium Saturday could be the only one of the weekend where the attendance total is viewed with more interest than the final score.
WDRB Meteorologist Jude Redfield, by the way, an ardent backer of the Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky, already is predicting that Phillips seat is in for a major heat wave when WKU visits Lexington next week. We'll get a full report from him on our next WDRB.com SportsPage Live webcast next Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.
WELCOME TO QUARTERBACK COUNTRY
Yes, the 'Book well knows that you can't take one week's worth of statistics and make anything out of them. But if we wait another week, we might not be able to write this note. So we call the play and run it.
As we speak, University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leads the nation in completion percentage at 90.5 percent (Geno Smith of WVU is second at 88.9).
In 11th in the same statistic is Western Kentucky QB Kawaun Jakes, who completed 18 of 23 passes and threw for four TDs in the Hilltoppers' opener. Maxwell Smith is 29th in completion percentage.
Now, if you want to talk efficiency rating (and the NCAA's is different from the NFL's), Jakes is No. 2 in the nation (behind Andrew Manley of NMSU) with a rating of 235.06, and Jakes is tied for second in the nation (with USC's Matt Barkley, among others) in TD passes.
Bridgewater ranks 15th in the nation in efficiency rating (183.28) and ninth nationally in yards per attempt (11.0).
ONE TEAM THAT GETS A SCHEDULING PASS FROM THE 'BOOK
Wait. The 'Book just thought of an exception to its desired ban on lower-level opponents. Indiana University should get to schedule whoever it wants.
And besides, even though it scheduled a fledgling Football Bowl Subdivision UMass team for this weekend, Indiana is playing that team ON THE ROAD.
What a world, when IU is scheduling with more risk than Florida State.
The 'Book understands the game plan for most college football schedulers: Play as many non-conference home games as possible.
IU found the loophole in that one -- find a non-conference road game you're convinced you can win. Why should the little guys get all the guarantee money? The Hoosiers are headed to Foxboro, Mass., to play the University of Massachusetts in Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.
How bad is UMass?
The Minutemen lost to Connecticut 37-0 last week. UMass had three first downs. And three net yards rushing. And 56 yards passing. (Why bother?) UMass did not force a single UConn punt. It wasn't totally unexpected. This is the first season as an FBS program for the Minutemen, who have moved into the Mid-American Conference. Indiana has not defeated an FBS opponent since defeating Purdue in the final game of the 2010 season.
BIG WEEKEND FOR THE BIG EAST
Every Saturday may seem like "Show Me" Saturday for the beleaguered Big East Conference, and this Saturday is no different. Here's how it works, for anyone thinking of applying for a job at ESPN. If the Big East suffers an embarrassing loss, talk about it for a whole segment. If it scores a big win, give it 30 seconds.
The league opens conference play Thursday night with Pittsburgh playing Cincinnati. But there are two major non-league games to watch Saturday, both scheduled for noon: North Carolina State visits Connecticut and Maryland comes to Temple.
No need to check the conference standings. Both of those visiting teams compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which too often gets a pass when it comes to conference bashing.
N.C. State started the season ranked in the Top 25 by Sports Illustrated before the Wolfpack lost to Tennessee. But N.C. State is still favored by 4 ½ at UConn.
Maryland is a mess. The Terps rushed for 91 yards against William & Mary last weekend. Actually, they rushed for 90 yards against Mary, but had only one against William. No wonder Temple is favored by 10.
The Big East needs at least a split, although a sweep would make it quite a day for new commissioner Mike Aresco.
John Kekis of the Associated Press crunched some Big East numbers after the first weekend: League teams went 5-2, averaging 32 points a game. Big East teams completed nearly 65 percent of their passes and averaged 399 yards passing.
"There's good players in this conference," Temple coach Steve Addazio said. "Watching some of these teams, there's some dynamic athletes. I think it's great for the conference. We have to go out there and we have to play well."
ONE BIG (LOUISVILLE) WOLVERINE HAS HIGH HOPES FOR HOKE
Louisvillian Doug James accepted Bo Schembechler's invitation to play at the University of Michigan when he was a senior at DeSales High School – and James became a strong advocate of Wolverines' football.
After a long career in radio management in Louisville, James accepted a job with pair of stations in New York City 18 months ago. But he always has time for Michigan football.
James was in Arlington, Texas last weekend with a group of former Michigan players. He attended Alabama's opening week manhandling of the Wolverines., 41-14. But he remains convinced that Brady Hoke, Michigan's second-year coach, will have Michigan back where the Wolverines expect to be – the Top 10.
"I love him," James said. "I've been with him several times and I always come away impressed."
What James loves is Hoke's tenacity and his love for the traditions of Michigan football.
"He has more reverence for Michigan football and the traditions that surround it than anybody I've ever met," James said.
Hoke just needs several more recruiting classes to upgrade Michigan's talent. The Wolverines were dramatically outmanned by the Crimson Tide. "Alabama's offense just had their way with Michigan's defense," James said. "They were more physical, faster, stronger."
THE WEEK IN NUMBERS
(negative) 46 -- Number of rushing yards by Minot State in their game against Mankato State last Saturday. The 'Book knows they're used to negative numbers in this part of the country, but not in rushing.
(negative) 5 -- Number of rushing yards for Washington State in Mike Leach's debut, a 30-6 loss to BYU. Swing Your Sword? Might want to put it down and block somebody. In all fairness, it was his first game, and Leach didn't get where he is today by running the ball.
1 -- USC scored on its first play from scrimmage this season. Marqise Lee took a short pass and ran 75 yards.
6.47 -- Yards per play given up by UK against U of L. It ranked 102nd nationally out of 117 defenses in Week 1.
104 -- U of L's national ranking in opponent third-down conversion percentage, out of 117 defenses in Week 1.
THE 'BOOK'S PICKS
If you watch the weekly WDRB.com SportsPage Live webcast, you see our picks every week. In case you missed them, here you go (and we omitted U of L-Missouri Southern because that one was seen as a 'gimme'):
Kent State at Kentucky: Rick picks UK 27-21, Eric picks UK 35-24.
Western Kentucky at Alabama: Rick picks Alabama 49-7, Eric picks Alabama 52-7.
Indiana at UMass: Rick picks IU 24-14, Eric picks IU 28-24.
Georgia at Missouri: Rick picks Georgia 28-27, Eric picks Georgia 27-14.
Florida at Texas A&M: Rick picks Texas A&M 22-17, Eric picks Florida 17-14.
WEEK ONE RESULTS: Rick 5-0, Eric 4-1.
All right, it's just one vote in one list, but the award is the Heisman Trophy, so we'll go with it. ESPN has a panel of experts voting on the Heisman race each week, and here are this week's results:
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:03:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This has a familiar sound. Bobby Petrino takes over a program making a conference change and looks to lift it in stature.The new Western Kentucky University coach was at the ConferenceMore >>
In Eric Crawford's "Morning Line," Bobby Petrino says he's not patient and wants to get WKU "cranked up pretty good" in a hurry, plus John Calipari's storm donation and more.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 10:38 PM EDT2013-05-21 02:38:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Teddy Bridgewater doesn't ask for much. So when he told University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson that he wanted to ask somethingMore >>
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is certainly going to be a Heisman Trophy candidate to start next season, but he has told coaches he doesn't want a Heisman publicity campaign.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 12:41 AM EDT2013-05-20 04:41:21 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The scene is always the same. After every University of Kentucky basketball home game, the coach walks across the Rupp Arena court, puts on his headset and starts talking withMore >>
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari will do things a bit differently with his young but talented Wildcats team this season.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:54 AM EDT2013-05-18 11:54:38 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Longtime golf commentator and 1964 U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi died today, and there's nearly no need to add to the tributes that surely will come, because there's a greatMore >>
Ken Venturi left a lasting memory in Louisville when he opened Hunting Creek Country Club's championship course with a record that still stands, and with a simple gesture to a sportswriter 25 years later.More >>
Tuesday, May 14 2013 5:25 PM EDT2013-05-14 21:25:36 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I like Andrew Wiggins. Here's a kid who didn't want to make a spectacle of his recruitment, despite being the top-ranked basketball recruit in the nation and being hailed as theMore >>
Eric Crawford surveys the carnage of the Andrew Wiggins circus, and ponders what it means for the future of civilization.More >>
Sunday, May 12 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-13 03:30:46 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Alabama football coach Nick Saban simply said out loud what people have been talking about for some time last week during a stop on his offseason "Crimson Caravan."RespondingMore >>
Alabama coach Nick Saban's idea for power conference football team to play only teams from other elite conferences sounds good -- but most programs would never accept it.More >>