Sunday, September 26, 2004

Orton The Leader in My Heisman Clubhouse

The question: How long does it take to get from Altoona, Ia., to the Downtown Athletic Club?

The answer: Eight more weeks.

I’ll bet you think I’m going to write about Kyle Orton, right?

I’ll bet you’re right.

Orton is the kid – well, if you want to call a 6-foot 4-inch, 226-pound quarterback a kid – who played high school football at Southeast Polk High School and now is in charge of a high-octane offense that’s piling up yardage in enormous numbers for Purdue.

If Orton can keep it going and if the Boilermakers can keep it going, he’s going to win the Heisman Trophy.

Call me a homer if you want, but he’s certainly my leader in the clubhouse right now.

Orton completed 35 of 50 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns yesterday in Purdue’s 38-30 victory over Illinois.

That performance so moved the folks who handle the Heisman Watch on to write today:

“Do you believe in Kyle Orton yet? He had another monster game and has yet to throw a pick this year. He’s beginning to make people forget about ol’ Drew What’shisname.”

Drew What’shisname is Drew Brees, a previous passing wizard at a place in West Lafayette, Ind., that has been producing standout quarterbacks for decades.

Orton has completed 74 of 96 passes for 982 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. He’s also run for two touchdowns—including one against Illinois. has Orton listed behind Jason White of Oklahoma, who won the 2003 Heisman, and Matt Leinart of No. 1-ranked Southern California.

Let’s face it, a team must be good—usually very good—for one of its players to stay in the Heisman hunt all season.

So let’s look at Purdue’s schedule the rest of the way to see if Joe Tiller’s Boilermakers have a decent chance of remaining good.

At Notre Dame this week—Could be trouble. Orton and his teammates had better be at the top of their game. I’m saying Purdue wins, 35-31.

At Penn State on Oct. 9—Purdue should win. Football has passed the Nittany Lions’ Joe Paterno by. Boilermakers go home 42-28 winners.

Wisconsin on Oct. 16—It’s a good thing for Purdue that this game is at West Lafayette. Purdue escapes, 28-21.

Michigan on Oct. 23—The schedule-makers remain kind to the Boilermakers. In a classic matchup of Purdue’s offense and Michigan’s defense, Orton sends the game into overtime with a touchdown pass in the final minute. Then the Boilermakers prevail in overtime, 31-28, and Detroit sportswriters ask Michigan coach Lloyd Carr afterward why he can’t win the big one.

At Northwestern on Oct. 30—No problem. Purdue wins, 51-21, as Orton passes for six touchdowns.

At Iowa on Nov. 6—This is one for the ages. [Oops, settle down, Maly. Don’t get too excited. People might think you’re still working with deadlines!] Well, at least one for 2004. Orton returns to his home state to face the team that didn’t recruit him. Orton plays well, but Iowa’s defense plays better. The unbeaten Boilermakers go into the game ranked 8th in the AP poll and 9th in the coaches’ poll, and Iowa’s players are complaining they get no respect. The Hawkeyes play their best game of the season and win, 27-24.

Ohio State on Nov. 13—Another schedule break for Purdue. Another tremendous game. The Boilermakers win, 32-27. After the game, the skies rumble overhead. “Run the damn ball and quit throwing it!” Woody Hayes roars over a special sound system piped into the Ohio State locker room.

Indiana on Nov. 20—Orton closes the regular season the way a guy who’s going to win the Heisman should close it. He passes for 335 yards as Purdue locks up the Rose Bowl bid with a 51-20 romp.

Ten days after accepting the Heisman in New York City, Orton will be honored in Altoona. At the last minute, Des Moines will try to get the ceremony moved to Veterans Memorial Auditorium.

“Not so fast, Des Moines,” Orton says. “We’re having this party in Altoona—preferably at the Southeast Polk gym.”

“What if the gym is being used?” Orton is asked.

“I’d rather have the ceremony at the Casey’s parking lot in Altoona before I’d agree to move it to Des Moines.”


Don’t give up on the Hawkeyes—or the “HOCK-eyes” as TV announcer Brent Musburger calls ‘em--yet.

Obviously, we haven’t been looking at Nile Kinnick and the 1939 Ironmen, and we haven’t been looking at Forest Evashevski’s 1958 juggernaut, but this Iowa football team isn’t finished winning.

Look for the HOCK-eyes to handle Michigan State, 21-14, in Saturday’s homecoming game. One of these days they’ll quit making mistakes and be able to pull a surprise or two [like beating Purdue].

Iowa fell out of the coaches’ top 25 today with its 30-17 loss at Michigan. But I seriously doubt that Kirk Ferentz plans to slash his wrists because his team dropped from No. 24 to No. 34.


This e-mail comes from Al Schallau:

“My name is Al Schallau and I live on the West Coast. But I am NOT your ‘West Coast Correspondent’ who chose to trash the Iowa Hawkeyes in spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs. I agree with you that Kirk Ferentz did not suddenly become a dumb football coach.

“It does hurt badly to lose to the Arizona State Scum Devils. I loathe the Scum Devils even more than Michigan OR Ohio State. On the two occasions that ASU played in the Rose Bowl game, I thought it was like letting the bastard child be the Belle of the Ball.

“But I have two alma maters—B.A. from Iowa and law degree from USC. I am thrilled that on Oct. 16, the Scum Devils will be playing the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum. By that time, Pete Carroll’s new ‘Sack Attack’ will be fully developed. USC will beat the Scum Devils about 45-14, and the Trojan defense will put at least two touchdowns on the board.

“I will continue to support Coach Ferentz and the Hawkeyes. Your other ‘West Coast Correspondent’ predicted that Michigan will beat the Hawkeyes, 25-14. Based on his recommendation, I will be betting my money on the Hawkeyes. If your correspondent is right, I will win because the point spread is Michigan by 13.

“Al Schallau”

[Great hearing from you again, Al. Actually, don’t blame my West Coast Correspondent for picking Michigan to beat Iowa, 25-14. Sorry to say, that was my pick. All I can do is call ‘em the way I see ‘em. But, don’t forget, I’m predicting that Iowa will beat Michigan State, 21-14].


Question Lloyd Carr’s coaching all you want—and I’ve done it plenty.

The man who is in his 10th season at Michigan may not be the second coming of Fielding Yost and they probably won’t be naming the stadium after him any time soon, but evidently he can recruit talented high school players.

The Wolverines have forced 19 turnovers—three fumbles and two interceptions in the Iowa game—to rank No. 1 nationally.

“Our defense was absolutely magnificent,” Carr was quoted as saying in today’s Detroit News by Angelique S. Chengelis [try saying that name 10 times very quickly!].

Carr also told reporters, “We’ve had some great defenses, but we’ve never had a defense that has caused this many turnovers.”


No black cats were seen coming out of either dugout at Shea Stadium in New York over the weekend.

No fans tried to take a foul ball away from the Chicago Cubs’ Moises Alou.

All I can tell you is that the Cubs had a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth against the Mets on Saturday, and some no-name Mets player who had two strikes on him when there were two outs tied the game with a three-run homer.

Then the Mets won the game in the 11th on a home run by another no-name guy.

Then today, the Cubs got three hits in another loss to the Mets—this time 3-2.

This must be why they call the Cubs’ Dusty Baker a genius manager.

Vol. 4, No. 260
Oct. 26, 2004