Sports with Shook: The most wonderful time of the year

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson throws and completes a pass against Alabama in the first half of the Cowboys Classic at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, September 1, 2012. Photo by (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press

Nick Shook

Bratwursts were grilled, stands were filled, beverages were chilled and Michigan got killed.

Well, at least they were on the scoreboard.

Either way, college football made its annual triumphant return, starting with Thursday night’s slate of games. Your very own Kent State Golden Flashes were among those to ring in the new season with a 41-21 victory over Towson University. Running back Dri Archer showed the KSU faithful that the wait was worth it, scoring three touchdowns as Kent State dominated the visiting Tigers. But Archer’s performance isn’t the video that went viral on the Internet.

Yes, I’m going to talk about Andre Parker. First off, I feel bad for him. Honestly, I was in the press box at the game and didn’t realize he was running the wrong way until the play was over. Obviously, neither did the majority of his teammates, including the one who threw him a block — the wrong way. Although Parker’s errant return of a muffed punt may have damaged his ego, it did little damage to the Flashes’ fortunes Thursday. And you can’t blame Parker for trying to make a play; after all, he did recover a muffed punt that led to a key touchdown in a turning-point victory over Bowling Green in 2011.

You can’t knock on him for trying to make a play. Don’t call him “Wrong Way” Parker. That’s just wrong.

Akron fans were ecstatic that such a play happened in a Kent State game. “Kent read, Kent write, Kent return a muffed punt” was posted with the video all over Facebook and Twitter.

Thus, I say this to you, Akron fans: please come up with a new derogatory saying about Kent State, because that one has been passed around since my father attended Kent State, which was 30 years ago. Also, Zips fans, didn’t you lose to Central Florida by 42 points? How are those daggum season tickets working out for you?

To continue this college football madness, let’s get back to the Michigan Wolverines and how they were absolutely steamrolled by Alabama on primetime television in the “Cowboys Classic,” (also known as the Jerry Jones Bowl) on Saturday night.

When I arrived at my place and flipped on the television, I wasn’t surprised to see the Crimson Tide putting an old-fashioned southern beatdown on the Wolverines. But the difference in overall ability between the two teams was at least a bit surprising to me. Did I expect Michigan to beat Alabama? No, because I truly think they are highly overrated.

Michigan is coming off a 2011 season in which they capitalized on A) Ohio State’s worst season since 1897 B) new head coach Brady Hoke’s publicity generating an at-large BCS bowl bid, even though they didn’t even appear in the Big Ten title game, and C) the weakest pairing in Sugar Bowl history, facing Virginia Tech, a team that faced only two ranked teams all season (Georgia Tech and Clemson), and lost to one of them twice, including a 38-10 thrashing in the ACC title game.

Michigan’s play was as ugly as its uniforms (they had more maize than a corn field). They weren’t just beaten, but dominated in all facets of the game. Now we may all take off our noise-canceling headphones and enjoy the regular season without endless rah-rah about how good Michigan is. Thank you, Alabama.

The Big Ten suffered over the weekend, with Michigan’s loss and a mildly surprising failure by Penn State, which lost to Ohio (MAC pride!), 24-14. This game taught us three lessons: the road to recovery is going to be much tougher than expected for PSU head coach Bill O’Brien; Ohio and the Mid-American Conference as a whole are on the rise in football; and Bobcats quarterback Tyler Tettleton proved that you can indeed win ballgames with the worst throwing motion since Vince Young dominated our television screens.

The University of Wisconsin had a tough time putting away Northern Iowa, which is much more notable for its basketball program than football. So much for being just fine without Russell Wilson. They’re lucky Ohio State isn’t eligible to win the Big Ten this year.

Speaking of the Buckeyes, I’ll quickly gloss over their 56-10 annihilation of the Miami Redhawks by mentioning two names: Devin Smith and the most outrageous catch I think we will see in 2012 (move over, Aaron Dobson), and Braxton Miller. The sophomore sensation at quarterback had 161 yards rushing, a touchdown on the ground, 207 yards passing and two scores through the air. Gloss-over complete.

South Carolina and Oklahoma each had close calls, but running back Marcus Lattimore still produced 110 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries for the Gamecocks. I still don’t have any expectations for No. 9 South Carolina, mainly because Steve Spurrier hasn’t won anything since he was the Ol’ Ball Coach at the University of Florida.

Also, get me Vanderbilt on line one; I need to tell them that their all-black uniform ensemble they wore versus South Carolina looked really nice — if it hadn’t already been done by 20-some-odd schools already. Throw that set into the furnace, black helmets included.

Cheers to MAC close-but-no-cigar nominees Toledo (24-17 overtime loss to Arizona), Bowling Green (27-14 loss to No. 23 Florida) and Northern Illinois (18-17 loss to Iowa). They say close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades; well now it counts in my column as well.

UMass had a grand old Football Bowl Subdivision debut by getting shutout by Connecticut, 37-0. Not much else to say about that.

I’ll leave you by reminding you that we still have about five months of the most wonderful time of the year (football season) left. Isn’t that just beautiful?

Contact Nick Shook at [email protected].