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Traditional Powers with Motivation
by Bryan Leonard - 09/07/2009
This past week in college football we saw something to keep an eye on in the future, as teams with strong traditions coming off a disappointing season had something to prove. And when playing at home against a inferior opponent they took out an offseason of frustrations.
Michigan was the first team on the list coming off a 3-9 season after winning 83 combined games the previous nine seasons. It's the second year of the Rich Rodriguez regime and he finally had a chance to recruit some players to fit into his type of scheme. The Wolverines took advantage of a plus two turnover margin and beat Western Michigan 31-7 easily covering the -14 spread. Extra motivation for the host with all the controversy surrounding the program the past few weeks did nothing but unite the team.
Notre Dame was another squad who has had a great tradition that has been down the past two years. Off of 3 and 7 win seasons many in the media had suggested that the Irish would never again achieve greatness. In fact, Nevada +14 1/2 was a popular upset play as the game approached. But Notre Dame never faltered with an easy 35-0 victory over the Wolf Pack. The Irish averaged 8.4 yards per play and dominated time of possession keeping "The Pistol" in its holster.
Auburn had won 75 games the previous eight years before a 5-7 season a year ago. The team brought in former defensive coordinator Gene Chizik to bring them back to prominence. While his hiring was questioned all around the country based on his lack of success at Iowa State, the Tigers took no prisoners in opening the season hosting Louisiana Tech. Auburn won 37-13 easily besting the -12 tariff while holding the Bulldogs to only 3.5 yards per play.
Tennessee rounded out our motivated foursome with an easy 63-7 victory over Western Kentucky. The Vols under new head coach Lane Kiffin had all kinds of controversy in the offseason, but put it all aside to blow past the -31 price against the Hilltoppers. Tennessee had won 80 games the past nine seasons before a 5-7 record last year cost Phil Fulmer his job.
Other teams with good histories coming off a bad season also had strong showings at home with something to prove. Purdue, Texas A&M and Washington also took home the money in the opening weekend.
Keep in mind what we learned last week when these type of plays present themselves in the future. Motivated teams playing at home with plenty of time to prepare are what we want to back, especially considering the talent level of recruits still being brought into the system.