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Saturday National Notes

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Our breakdown of the Texas game will be posted for everyone's reading pleasure on Tuesday morning when they return to work. But there's plenty to discuss across the country over a beer by the pool on Labor Day. So how 'bout it?

Biggest Winner

Tennessee, clearly. The disappointment of 2005 was over-documented, perhaps, but starting the '06 season off with a home loss - even to a solid Cal squad - would have been more than many Vol fans could have handled. Well, they're sleeping just fine in Knoxville this weekend following the thrashing of the Golden Bears. I only saw portions of this game - the crawfish boil occupied a good chunk of my attention span Saturday afternoon - but I saw enough to know that the Volunteer offense exploited speed mismatches all afternoon. Cal's defense was overwhelmed in the secondary. Offensively, the speed and talent for Tennessee completely muzzled whatever Tedford tried to do. This game had to sting the HP, CFR crowd, don't you think? What's the Gang down to these days? Three? Two? Might be time to rethink...

Biggest Loser

California's got every right to argue for this dubious honor, but they lost to a good team in crashing their national title hopes. No, the biggest loser has to be the Colorado Buffaloes, who positively embarrassed themselves with a 19-10 loss... to a 1-AA school. With Iowa State's narrow win over Toledo exposing their weaknesses on defense, Nebraska's road to the Big 12 North crown looks pretty clean after week one. Who knows, though? Maybe Kansas is the team that will give the Huskers a run for their money.

Your Week 1, "Okay, maybe I sold them short" Moment

Watching Steve Slaton blitz through the defense for 200+ and 2 TDs. It's not that Marshall put up a big fight, but the speed and running instincts were so impressive. As much as we want to malign the Big East, it's 1) improving and 2) strong at the top. I don't want to go too far too soon, but watching Slaton for the first time in a while reminded me that this team is dangerous. They need some help from Louisville, though.

About That Schedule...

Everyone's talking about that difficult Notre Dame schedule, and rightfully so. And however strong this team is, their first offering gave little indication that it's one capable of maneuvering all 12 games unscathed. Of course, it's just one game, and the first one at that. Still, it's worth emphasizing that if this team wants to prove that it's taken a step forward from last year, significant improvement better be on the way. Last night's performance, repeated each week, loses at least two games.

Paul Thompson's Debut

The man who replaced Rhett Bomar after being replaced by Rhett Bomar re-debuted with a 14-24 performance for 227 yards, with 2 TDs and 2 INTs. There were times when a second straight embarrassing loss in the season opener looked possible, but Peterson and the Sooners got things done. This was the game I watched most closely, and I wasn't terribly impressed with Thompson. His arm is only average, and though he does show some nice athleticism, it's not something that should give the Texas defense - absurdly speedy - much trouble. After the conclusion of this game I felt more confident than before that Texas has a significant advantage over the Sooners. We'll see.

Stat of the Week

As always, those goofy Texas Tech Red Raiders, who managed to throw the ball 54 times at 6.7 yards per attempt, but achieved a solid balance by finishing with a 6.0 yards per rush average as well. Graham Harrell through 5 touch downs against a pretty lousy SMU defense, but it was a solid debut for the young thrower.

--PB--