Hot Reads: A Scarlet Day

MY  NO. 2 GUY >>> Sort of sad, this. Now that we’ve officially reached the season, the seemingly unending parade of Rex Burkhead love — the profiles, the websites, the anti-Heisman campaign Heisman campaign — will be replaced by actual, hard results. I expect those to be very good as well, but what’s done is done. The fawning is over. Rex was the guy that everyone in college football could agree on and those players are rare.

Anyway, forgive the brief mediation. Here’s how you know the ESPN’s Big Ten bloggers know what they’re doing — they put Burkhead as the second-best player in the conference. If you’re a Nebraska fan you might think, “What could be more obvious?” But it wasn’t an obvious choice. Michigan’s Denard Robinson is a player with a higher-profile than Burkhead. If we were to get Gallup to investigate, my guess is a poll of “who’s better” would come down definitively on the side of Robinson. Maybe even Michigan State defensive end William Gholston, too, though his big and violent and less likable. Here’s why Burkhead ranks No. 2:

What makes Burkhead special is that he approaches every carry as if his scholarship money depends on it. No one runs harder. While he may lack signature highlights, it’s the compilation of effort that impresses. The lasting images of his 2011 season included his fourth-quarter heroics against Ohio State in a record-setting comeback and his school-record 38 carries in a tireless performance against Iowa.

A pretty fitting explanation, no? The No. 1 player hasn’t been announced yet, but, unless the bloggers are going to be really bold, it will be Wisconsin running back Montee Ball.

BREAK OUT THE SCARLET >>> It’s not easy going to work and/or school today. Tomorrow’s season opener looms, who can think about anything else? But, if you haven’t walked out the door already, here’s a reminder: It’s college colors day.

This is an initiative that started a few years ago to encourage people to don the colors of their alma mater or rooting interest to welcome the college football season and I couldn’t be more in favor of it. I’m such a fan, in fact, that I won’t even use generic color descriptions at all today, only official school colors for me.

So, break out the scarlet if you’re a Nebraska fan. the coastal green if you support Coastal Carolina, the cherry if you’re a Temple-backer, the electric mallard if you root for Oregon. Actually, I’m not sure electric mallard is an official color. I’m not sure Oregon has official colors at all any more. Just wear something shiny, Ducks fans.

BRUINS BANG IT OUT >>> In case you were watching the good early football game last night and missed it, UCLA won its season opener over Rice 49-24. The most notable thing from that game might have been that UCLA had three extra points blocked. The Owls pushed UCLA for a half but the Bruins superior athleticism eventually won out. UCLA racked up 346 yards on the ground and freshman quarterback Brett Hundley took page out of Taylor Martinez’s book, scampering 72 yards for a touchdown on his first collegiate carry.

Next week’s game against Nebraska should be interesting. It would be easy to argue that UCLA has more talent, position by position, than Nebraska does right now. That said, it looked like the Bruins still had plenty to work on. UCLA was just 2-for-11 on third down, a particular Blackshirt bugaboo last year.