Your weekly installment of football stuff and gratuitous cheerleader photos after the jump.
The alma mater kept the ball rolling in a 27-8 win against Youngstown State. In the last two games between the Salukis and Penguins, Southern Illinois has outscored The Fightin' Tressels (h/t for the nickname goes to Jon. I) 61-7. However, SIU's win comes at a cost.
Junior quarterback Chris Dieker suffered a broken collarbone on his non-throwing arm and looks as if he might be out indefinitely. Listening to head coach Dale Lennon's post-game radio interview wasn't encouraging as Lennon noted Dieker was very emotional after finding out the injury and that he couldn't blame him for being so emotional because of the extent of the injury which could be season ending before changing course and saying he wasn't sure if it was that serious yet.
In his stead, Paul McIntosh completed 10 of 14 passes for 133 yards -- including an 86-yard pitch-and-catch from McIntosh to Joe Allaria, the guy Dieker beat out for starting QB job last year. It wasn't a classic bomb, but it was a sideline route in which the speedy Allaria used some fine footwork and some downfield blocks to explode into the end zone.
Before anyone goes jumping off the clocktower on campus, McIntosh is a more-than-capable back-up. In fact, there were some people in some circles that thought McIntosh was a better fit for Phil Longo's pseudo-spread offense. In addition to his 133 passing yards, McIntosh rushed for a team-best 81 yards on 12 carries. It's just another wrinkle tSIU could use down the stretch.
Running back Deji Karim, who was held under the 100-yard mark for the first time this season, surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau and became the third fastest Saluki to do so. However, he missed a chunk of the fourth quarter and will be watched very closely as the Dawgs will square off against Indiana State which actually won a game, defeating Western Illinois 17-14.
While Illinois' best college football team improved its record despite losing its starting quarterback, Illinois' biggest school continued its free fall. The Fighting Illini fell to Purdue 24-14 on Saturday. At this point, that magical Rose Bowl run is nothing but a figment of your imagination. Juice Williams, other than the drive that cut the Illini's deficit to 21-14, looked like a shadow of his old self. And to think, this is his senior year.
The calls for Ron Zook's head are starting to get louder and louder, and there is reason. The U of I has seen a decrease in production since the Rose Bowl year despite several highly touted recruiting classes. And while Illini AD Ron Guenther says there won't be any changes at the top, but I think Illinois needs a little more than some window dressing to take this team out of the gutter.
Think SIU has a shot to knock 'em off at Memorial Stadium next year? You bet your ass I do.
Cedric Benson has been talking $#!% again and claims the Bears lowballed, blackballed (and blueballed?) him. He said the Bears went out of their way to make him look bad. How? By showing game tape? Benson struggled in Chicago because he was so concerned about getting his mula. That is it. That's where the story begins and where it ends.
Why is Benson the NFL's third leading rusher right now? Well, it's not as if the talent wasn't there when he was in Chicago. But the effort and the desire weren't. Things change when you blow a $17 million signing bonus, and Benson is a better football player because of it. Do I wish he would have put it together in Chicago? Yes. Would he have been able to do so? Absolutely not. Benson is a changed man on the field, off of it, it's the same old Ced.
There are seven undefeated college football teams competing in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Florida and Alabama will likely represent one half of the national championship scenario, but it takes two to tango. Texas is in the driver's seat despite the Big Twelve Conference having a down year compared to what it was a year ago. And even though it plays in the Big Ten, Iowa has a legit case to a spot in the national title game. Same can be said about potential Big East representative Cincinnati. Then there's Boise State and TCU, who has no other big time opponents in the wings, so there is a distinct possibility that the Broncos and Horned Frogs could go the rest of the year without losing a game and still be on the outside looking in -- possibly to a one-loss team.
And as much money as college football makes by having bowl games, I wonder why it can't bring in that kind of dough by using those bowl games as playoff sites. College hoops rakes in the greenbacks hand-over-fist when the NCAA Tournament rolls around. Not to mention the lucrative television deal it has not only with the Big Dance ... but also with the NIT.
Then there is USC, who always falls flat out of the gate with some sleeper Pac 10 team, but always seems to get better on a week-by-week
Soccer doesn't excite me. But the idea of soccer cheerleaders does. Sometimes the best action is on the sidelines, and not on the field.