Lost in the debate over the Blackshirts this week is more T-Magic. I’m talking about Taylor Martinez’s incredible good fortune in avoiding turnovers.
I’ve noted it before — the Huskers, for example, recovered 23 of Martinez’s 30 fumbles in 2010-11. But the UCLA game may have been the most remarkable example yet.
Before intercepting Martinez in the fourth quarter, the Bruins nearly picked him off at least five times.
– In the first quarter, Martinez overthrew Kenny Bell down the middle and a UCLA safety dropped it.
– In the second, an interception was called back because Taylor’s knee was down before he flung it desperately into a Bruin’s arms.
– Early in the third quarter, he rolled out and tried to hit Ben Cotton over the middle. The ball was late and a UCLA safety nearly picked it off.
– Late in the third, a slant to Kenny Bell got tipped by two UCLA DBs.
– In the fourth, he threw high to Kyler Reed and a Bruin DB flat-out dropped it.
I keep thinking, one of these days, probability is going to catch up with Martinez and he’s going to have a four- or five-turnover game. Thankfully, it hasn’t happened yet. What did No. 3 do to gain favor with the football gods?
>> We had a discussion in the press box Monday about how many games UCLA will win this year. A few media guys said eight or nine. But one colleague thought the Bruins could be 10-0 entering their last two games against USC and Stanford. It’s not crazy. UCLA doesn’t play Oregon or Washington. Its toughest game before Nov. 17 is probably at Arizona State. This could be a Nebraska loss — like Arizona State 1996 — that looks a lot better at the end of the season.
>> When the Big East added Central Florida, SMU and Houston, it relinquished any hope of keeping Notre Dame. The Irish were not going to send basketball teams, soccer teams, volleyball teams, etc., to those places for conference games. So it came down to this: Big 12 or ACC?
Both were offering a similar deal: a soft landing spot for Notre Dame’s minor sports, in addition to five football games per year. Notre Dame preferred to go east. It’s the right move. Frequent football contests with Pittsburgh, Boston College, Syracuse, Miami and Florida State will feel natural for the Irish.
(For the Big East, it’s yet another step toward total irrelevance. At what point do Georgetown, St. John’s and the other non-football schools say “the heck with it” and form their own league?)
The big winner here is the ACC, which will benefit from Notre Dame’s football brand, even if it’s only five games a year. John Swofford’s league was struggling to keep up with the SEC, Pac-12, Big Ten and Big 12 in terms of TV revenue. This should help.
If you’re wondering, here’s a sample Notre Dame schedule for, say, 2018:
(Five ACC matchups)
North Carolina State
(Four treasured rivals)
(One national power)
I imagine Michigan State and Purdue — and perhaps even Michigan — will be seeing the Irish a lot less frequently.
>> There’s a very clear line between the top four teams in the country and everyone else. But who’s No. 5? Andy Staples says it’s Michigan State. I would lean toward Georgia.
>> Bruce Feldman’s 10 surprising stats through two weeks of college football. Wisconsin’s run game is No. 1 on my list.
>> Bryan Fischer examines the Big Ten’s chief deficiency: speed
>> Remember the Fabulous Sports Babe? She has a pretty amazing story.
>> Why would I suggest listening to a 1-hour podcast? Because Jason Whitlock interviews John Feinstein about his landmark book, “Season on the Brink.” Fascinating to hear Feinstein talk about Bob Knight.
>> SI’s Jon Wertheim with 50 thoughts on the US Open.
>> The Oakland A’s. The best story in baseball.
>> This Billy Gillispie situation gets weirder by the day. Now he’s going to the Mayo Clinic to receive treatment for high blood pressure. Meanwhile, his players at Texas Tech want nothing to do with him.
>> Finally, I’ve received a lot of great emails lately. Here’s one — from R.J. — worth discussing:
“I don’t know if it’s still lingering depression from the UCLA game or seeing what the rest of Big 10 looks like this year, but I’m starting to finally lament the fact Nebraska left the Big 12 as it stands today. What if just Mizzou, Colorado, and A&M left and we stayed. Then throw in TCU. Now you have ten teams in the Big 12 like this season but the Huskers are in there. How much do you think fans would kill to see this slate of games annually?
“I know we all hate Texas, but man if we had stayed, the OU rivalry would be back on an annual basis, and we would get that shot at Texas every year, along with our old Big 8 friends KSU & Okie-State. Heck, look at what it would be if just Colorado and A&M bailed. Throw out TCU & put Mizzou back in the mix. I know it was a good move for the university financially and academically, but you can’t honestly say as a fan you are psyched week in and week out for the fixed schedule we have in the Big 10 (yawn) vs. would could have been now if Nebraska stayed in the Big 12. …
“There’s no one to hate in the Big 10. That is a problem. There are plenty of characters(villains) to hate back in the Big 12, and that just fueled the passion of the fan base. I’m starting to see more and more of an apathetic outlook from Nebraska fans. I think a lot has to do with not having any teams in our current conference to focus the hate towards. … I loved that Mizzou, KSU and even KU hated Nebraska. I loved the back and forth with their fan bases. That passion and spirited debate seems to be dissipating every week and every season, and that is sad to see. Now we just debate among ourselves about how bad or good we really are more so than at any time I can remember the last 30 years.
“Hindsight is always 20/20, but as I run through this in my head the more frustrated I get. For a man as reserved and patient as Dr. Tom appears to be, I’m surprised he didn’t step back and play out what I presented above in more of a long range outlook. Maybe he did. But if he did and this is what we are left with, then wow. That would be a huge fail. Leaving because of the Texas threat or perceived threat is kind of weak looking back. Our best revenge on Texas for me would have been staying the course in Big 12 (the TV money was eventually coming) and start earning respect on the football field and start beating them at a more consistent pace than 1 out every 9 tries.
“If you can get buyer’s remorse from switching conferences I think Nebraska will start to finally feel that this season. To reference Eugene Levi (car salesman) speaking with Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) at the car dealership in the beginning of “Vacation”- he thought he was getting the blue sports wagon, but ended up with the Wagon Queen Family Truckster. “You may hate it now, but wait ‘til you drive it”. In the case of the Big 10 it’s the opposite- “You may love it now, but wait ‘til you drive it.”