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Tire Fire Alert: Week Three

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Over the past few seasons, The Solid Verbal has spoken, retroactively, about the most egregious weekly performances in the world of college football.  These lowlights, referenced lovingly as “tire fires”, have become a regular part of the podcast, as well as the sport’s lexicon.  In late 2011, EA Sports felt compelled to add a “Tire Fire Offense” badge to its NCAA 12 video game, offering a small pat on the back to gamers with poor offensive aptitude.  In real college football, though, tire fires should never be considered notable or noble achievements.  Fans around the country, from Iowa to… Iowa, need some forewarning in order to steer clear, or at least stock up on flame retardant gear.  Thankfully, as technology has advanced, so has our ability to spot danger well in advance.  Starting today, you’re officially on notice…


 

For the most part, Week Two was a scantily clad affair. Outside a few intriguing match-ups, the Top 25 was riddled with an underwhelming card of body bag games.

Perhaps, it’s a tad early to cast judgment over most teams, but now that we’re through two weeks, we’re beginning to catch a whiff… of that noxious scent of tire fires cropping up around the country. There are a few easy ones to spot, but at The Solid Verbal we like to make sure listeners are protected on all fronts as they dive into the weekend’s action.

Slip on your flame-retardant suit and make sure your glasses are polarized.  Here are the tire fires you should steer clear of in week three:

Southern California is a hotbed for tire fires…

Let’s first get this out of the way: Boston College’s offense will most likely be suffocated by a very good USC defense—a defense that is bound to make a lot of offenses look inept. It could be a long day for Steve Addazio and friends.

But it’s not the USC defense we’re dissecting here. Thus far this year, the Trojan offense is a classic tire fire.

Lame duck coach. Poor play calling. Inadequate use of offensive weapons. Lack of talent at the quarterback position. No immediate end in sight. These conditions make for optimal rubber burnin’.

Lane Kiffin must love the way that billowing black smoke looks against the blue skies of Southern California, because between Week One and Week Two he merely stoked the flames of this disaster. The Trojans took a soft 30-point performance against Hawaii and devolved from it, posting a lousy seven-spot against a Washington State squad that’s been living in the dregs of college football for some time.

Boston College encountered a lousy offense the previous week in Wake Forest, so the defense should be familiar with the experience. If they turn in a decent performance, we can count on the Trojan offense to sputter. Bonus embarrassment points for Kiffin if we hear “ACC! ACC!” chants from the 11 Boston College fans at The Coliseum.

The wildcard in all of this is whether either USC quarterback wakes up Saturday morning realizes Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor flank him on the football field. Whenever that happens, the Trojan offense might be able to upgrade to a more palatable “dumpster fire” offense. In the interim, let’s play it safe and keep our eyes turned away from both offensive sides in this game.

Tennessee’s upcoming schedule…

I came across Tennessee’s schedule this week and it made me a little sad. Beginning Saturday, the Volunteers embark on an insane stretch that features the current No. 1, 2, 9, 13 and 18 ranked teams in near-consecutive weeks. Its only reprieve will be a paycheck game against Southern Alabama on September 28.

Seeing Oregon, Florida and Alabama on the road, and Georgia and South Carolina at home, the first thing that came to mind was the term “slaughter alley.” Upon further review, that wasn’t entirely appropriate. Last week, I compared the barren slate of games to a burning Kuwaiti tire field. With this schedule, it seems appropriate to bring this incredible, yet, incredibly dangerous sight back to the forefront.

The Volunteers are trying to clear their basement dweller status in the SEC and Butch Jones had the offense rolling against Austin Peay (Let’s go Peay!) and Western Kentucky. But what lies ahead of them is potentially disastrous.  It seems inevitable that Tennessee will start off this perilous journey by being savaged in Autzen by a Ducks team that hung 557 yards of offense on Virginia.

Let’s check in on the Volunteers and see how charred they are in a few weeks. Tennessee isn’t exactly in flames at the moment, but its schedule is. And when you are consumed by a tire fire, you become one with the tire fire.

Poor Southern Miss…

Throughout the summer, you’ll commonly come across stories of rampant wild fires decimating the western portion of the country. There is a sight, however, that the mainstream media has (Perhaps justifiably so) shielded its sheep-like viewers from:  There’s a fire raging in Southern Mississippi and it seems unlikely to end.

Southern Miss is the longest running tire fire in the country, owning a 14-game losing streak dating back to last year’s opener against Nebraska. Last week—a little more than a year after the streak began—Nebraska again torched the Golden Eagles in Lincoln for 56 points.

It was evident in Southern Miss’ opener that there’s still a lot of fuel to these flames, as it coughed the ball up six times to Texas State at home. Things will only get worse as they head to Arkansas and Boise State during the next two weeks. For a team that allowed at least 30 points in nine contests last year (with a highly regarded defensive mind in Ellis Johnson, now with Auburn), fans might want to avert their eyes until an October 5th date versus Florida International. FIU’s fire engineering program is top notch and should give the Golden Eagles a chance to subdue the flames—at least for a week.

Taylor Schwink hails from Maryland, but his college football fandom was forged during his time Morgantown, WV, where he witnessed the Mountaineers gag on a shot at the national title. He’s a connoisseur of sport and is capable of growing one of the finest beards you’ve ever seen. Follow him on Twitter @CTSchwink or listen to him spout Terrapin nonsense on Red Shell Radio.