Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (hAppy State  T-shirts sold separately):
The Dash was on the job in Florida on Saturday when Dashette Talisa Soto (2) called, all breathless over the doings in Ann Arbor. Said she hadn't been this excited by anything to do with college football since meeting The Dash himself. Said she was taking The Dash's private jet to Boone to help tear down the goalposts at Appalachian State. Talisa brought back a chunk of post to put on the mantel in the crib. Good girl. And good job, Mountaineers.
It Could Be Worse Well, Maybe
If anyone in college football feels worse than Lloyd Carr (3) right now, it might be the guy in charge of field maintenance at Northwestern College (4), a Division III school in St. Paul, Minn. In Northwestern's game against visiting Cornell (Iowa) College, the Eagles scored a touchdown with 51 seconds left to pull within a point, 31-30. Then things got weird, according to D3football.com:
" The home team's potential game-tying PAT was delayed for nearly 15 minutes by the home team's sprinkler system, which soaked the center of the field."
When they finally got the sprinklers shut off, Cornell blocked the kick and ran out the clock for the victory. So much for home-field advantage.
(Nah, forget it. Nobody feels worse than Carr, and nobody should. He took a career-long penchant for playing down to the level of his opponent to a historic extreme. If Ball State had finished the job it came close to completing last November in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines' slide would include four losses in five games -- and the Appalachian State loss really might have been an immediately fireable offense. Even at Michigan.)
Thanks For Providing Cover, Lloyd
The demolition of Michigan's national championship hopes Saturday allowed several other coaches to fly under the condemnation radar after pitiful performances by their teams to open the season. Guys who should be sending fruit baskets to Ann Arbor include:
Charlie Weis (5), Notre Dame -- Three million dollars a year for Weis. Three points for his offense in the opener against Georgia Tech. Not a great ROI. The Fighting Irish now have lost three straight by an average of 26 points. Getting housed by USC in Los Angeles and LSU in New Orleans? That can happen. Being crushed at home by an unranked team that hadn't won a road game by 30 points in six years? Former Irish coach Ty Willingham never did that.
Al Groh (6), Virginia -- "Groh must go" chants are becoming louder in Charlottesville, and it's hard to blame the dissenters after the Cavaliers were punked 23-3 at Wyoming. Virginia had five first downs and was outgained by 368 yards. Cavs have scored three points total in their last three road games.
Greg Robinson (7), Syracuse -- Head-to-toe, Day-Glo orange uniforms were bad enough. Watching the Orange play in them in a 42-12 loss to Washington was worse. This was the 18th time in 24 games under Robinson that the 'Cuse has scored 17 points or less. The Orange have lost all 18 times.
Gene Chizik (8), Iowa State -- In a fit of offseason overexuberance, an Iowa bank produced commemorative coins with the new head coach's likeness on them, selling them for $15 apiece. They aren't worth a plug nickel now after the Cyclones were beaten in Ames by Kent State, 23-14.
Mike Stoops (9), Arizona -- Losing at BYU is not a sin. Going 59 minutes and seven seconds without a point is. The offense under new coordinator Sonny Dykes sputtered for 11 first downs and 32 rushing yards, which shows that the Wildcats can't run the ball no matter who's calling plays. This was the seventh game in the last 13 that Arizona ran for fewer than 40 yards.
Bobby Bowden (10), Florida State -- And we talk about Michigan being perpetually overrated? What about the Seminoles? Supposedly the problems with Florida State last year were corrected with an overhaul of the coaching staff -- but even with the lavishly compensated Jimbo Fisher calling plays, FSU was offensively inept and disorganized much of the time against Clemson on Monday night. They can't blame everything on Jeff Bowden anymore.
Fightin' Words: Part Deux
Last week The Dash tossed out some tailgate trash-talk tips for fans, then asked for your input. And boy did y'all deliver some input, including a vast array of lightbulb jokes aimed at half the nation. After spending a good chunk of Labor Day weekend reading your best passive-aggressive put-downs, The Dash trimmed the list to a top 10:
Oklahoma (11) -- "Anyone know if they're hiring at the local car dealership?"
Florida State (12) -- "Do you think Florida is a better football or basketball school? I just can't decide!"
UCLA (13) -- "How is it you play in the Rose Bowl six times a year, but never in January?"
Virginia Tech (14) -- "Why aren't you wearing that throwback No. 7 jersey to the game today?"
Florida (15) -- "Dillard's is having a sale on jorts."
USC (16) -- "Any decent running back can make a fourth-and-2."
Texas A&M (17) -- "Stadium-wide group hugs at the end of a game always make the loss easier to take, right?"
Notre Dame (18) -- "Was it on the eighth day God gave you your last national championship?"
Texas (19) in triplicate, as fans of various rivals made sport of the Longhorns' recent spate of legal issues -- "I hear Mack Brown is using a police scanner for recruiting purposes."
"Book 'em, Horns."
Notably missing was any fresh love for the boys in maize and blue. So The Dash had to submit one original for this week:
Michigan (20) -- "At least you guys have your priorities in order. It's clear your players are too busy with those onerous General Studies courses to spend much time on football."
Special Teams, Special Teams, Special Teams
Since Knute Rockne was a pup, coaches have harped on the importance of the kicking game. They always hold their breath when the kicking units take the field in the season opener, because you never know what they're going to deliver.
Quite often the delivery is a disaster. It just seems like it takes that area of the game a little longer to coalesce.
But there were some notable special teams studs Saturday, making plays that helped win games from coast to coast. Now you know why coaches harp on the importance of the kicking game:
Joshua Abrams (21), Ohio -- He was one unblockable Bobcat against Gardner-Webb, blocking three punts his own self. That's one short of the NCAA single-game record.
DeSean Jackson (22), California -- If you haven't seen his 77-yard punt return touchdown against Tennessee yet, find the video. No other Heisman Trophy candidate made a bigger attention-grabbing play to boost his candidacy than Jackson, who also caught passes for 45 yards and ran the ball once for 21 more.
Felix Jones (23), Arkansas -- The best backup in America (by a smidgen over Louisville quarterback Hunter Cantwell) took a kickoff 90 yards to the house against Troy. Darren McFadden's understudy also had 129 yards rushing on just 12 carries.
Cory Lynch (24), Appalachian State -- Physics major wearing John Lynch's number blocked the last-play field goal attempt by Michigan, in a game you might have heard something about.
Will Norris (25), Nicholls State -- Appy State wasn't the only I-AA/FCS team to score a nice victory Saturday. Norris blocked a punt through the end zone for a fourth-quarter safety to give the Colonels a 16-14 upset of Rice.
Since fans have an obsession with comparing and contrasting the strength of the conferences, The Dash is here to separate fact from fiction and offer some clarity on the subject. As a public service, The Dash also provides the necessary spin on interpreting the Week 1 results in the best possible light for your favorite league.
The facts: Went 9-1 in nonconference games. Home games: eight. BCS conference opponents: three. I-AA opponents: three.
The spin: Play up the fact that your league didn't have an Appy State Moment, or even come close to one. Note that Mississippi broke a nine-game road losing streak at Memphis, and Georgia's young team flexed impressively in whipping Oklahoma State. Remind everyone that Nick Saban is just getting started in Tuscaloosa, and Tim Tebow's doing the same in Gainesville.
Don't mention: The fact that California scored the most points on Tennessee in 12 years. And Auburn struggled to gain any traction against Kansas State.
This week's biggie: Virginia Tech at LSU. Time for Les Miles to put up.
The facts: Went 6-2 in nonconference games. Home games: five. BCS conference opponents: three. I-AA opponents: zero.
The spin: Holler ceaselessly about Cal beating Tennessee. Don't fail to mention Washington winning big on the road. Trumpet Oregon, Oregon State and Arizona State beating 2006 bowl teams by a combined 80 points. Emphasize that Washington State was willing to play at Wisconsin.
Don't mention: How Washington State did at Wisconsin. Arizona's no-show. USC sputtering against Idaho.
This week's biggie: Oregon at Michigan.
Big East (28)
The facts: Went 7-1 in nonconference games. Home games: seven. BCS conference opponents: two. I-AA opponents: three.
The spin: Talk up the big numbers, both team and individual. Louisville scores 73, West Virginia 62, Cincinnati 59. Point out the Heisman Trophy candidates who played up to the hype: Brian Brohm throwing for 375 yards and four touchdowns; Ray Rice running for 184 yards and three TDs; Steve Slaton going for 170 yards from scrimmage and three TDs and Pat White producing 289 yards total offense.
Don't mention: With the exception of Syracuse, the entire league played a bunch of nobodies. And Syracuse got drilled by the lone somebody.
This week's biggie: South Florida at Auburn.
Big Ten (29)
The facts: 8-3 in nonconference games. Home games: eight (plus two at neutral sites). BCS conference opponents: two. I-AA opponents: four.
The spin: Celebrate Michigan State and Indiana combining for 110 points in the debuts of new head coaches. Bump fists over Wisconsin playing up to its lofty preseason ranking. Take heart in Illinois pushing Missouri, even with its backup quarterback.
Don't mention: You know what not to mention. Minnesota's loss to Bowling Green should be stricken from the talking points as well.
This week's biggie: Notre Dame at Penn State.
Big 12 (30)
The facts: Went 8-4 in nonconference games. Home games: six (plus two at neutral sites). BCS conference opponents: three. I-AA opponents: one.
The spin: Promote the five wins by more than 30 points. Point out the flexing by old-school powers Oklahoma (won by 69) and Nebraska (won by 42). Take note of the neutral-site rivalry wins, Missouri over Illinois and Colorado over Colorado State.
Don't mention: Baylor being shut out by TCU or Iowa State losing to Kent State. Texas limping past Arkansas State, after receiver Billy Pittman became the latest Longhorns suspendee.
This week's biggie: Miami at Oklahoma.
The facts: 5-3 in nonconference games. Home games: six. BCS conference opponents: two. I-AA opponents: two.
The spin: No I-A underdog had a better day than Georgia Tech. Randy Shannon and Butch Davis debuted successfully at Miami and North Carolina, respectively. The two league games (BC-Wake Forest and Florida State-Clemson) were entertaining.
Don't mention: Anything else. NC State took a bad loss in the debut of Tom O'Brien, Virginia was a nightmare and Virginia Tech was unimpressive in victory. And Duke is still Duke.
This week's biggie: Virginia Tech at LSU.
Mountain West (32)
The facts: 5-3 in nonconference games. Home games: four (plus one at a neutral site). BCS conference opponents: five. I-AA opponents: one.
The spin: Talk up the big home wins by TCU, BYU and Wyoming against teams from power leagues. Hold out hope that Air Force is on the comeback trail.
Don't mention: Utah, which lost to Oregon State and was devastated by injuries in the process. Running back Matt Asiata is done for the year and quarterback Brian Johnson is out 3-5 weeks -- and backup Tommy Grady was ugly in relief (9 of 24 for only 59 yards).
This week's biggie: TCU at Texas.
The facts: 5-4 in nonconference games. Home games: six. BCS conference opponents: three. I-AA opponents: five.
The spin: Glamour boys Hawaii and Boise State started strong, combining to win by 106 points. Idaho submitted grudgingly at USC, and Utah State showed its first sign of life in years.
Don't mention: There were no quality wins from the WAC in Week 1 -- just four wins over lower-division opponents and Hawaii mugging I-A newbie Northern Colorado. San Jose State followed its bowl season of '06 with a 42-point loss to start '07.
This week's biggie: Boise State at Washington.
The facts: 4-7 in nonconference games. Home games: five. BCS conference opponents: seven. I-AA opponents: two.
The spin: Point out the high level of competition. Savor Central Florida's win at NC State. Credit East Carolina for hanging tough in Blacksburg without its starting quarterback.
Don't mention: Rice, coming off its first bowl game in 45 years, relapsing to its old self with a loss to Nicholls State. The routs of UAB and SMU.
This week's biggie: Southern Miss at Tennessee.
The facts: 4-7 in nonconference games. Home games: three (plus two at neutral sites). BCS conference opponents: eight. I-AA opponents: one.
The spin: Proclaim the fact that no conference played more big-league opponents in Week 1. Trumpet the upset wins by Kent State (which might be the best team in its division) and Bowling Green (which looks ready to bounce back and an uncharacteristic down year last season). Credit Northern Illinois for making Iowa work for it.
Don't mention: The fact that three teams failed to score a touchdown. Or the fact that the entire West Division is 0-1.
This week's biggie: Indiana at Western Michigan.
Sun Belt (36)
The facts: 0-6 in nonconference games. Home games: one. BCS conference opponents: five. I-AA opponents: zero.
The spin: Reinforce the reality that no league played a higher percentage of road games. Celebrate Louisiana-Monroe's halftime lead over Tulsa, Louisiana-Lafayette's third-quarter tie with South Carolina and Arkansas State's grit at Texas.
Don't mention: The nonconference bagel in the win column.
This week's biggie: Memphis at Arkansas State.
Putting Out An APB For
Former Oklahoma State receiver Hart Lee Dykes (37), the man whose recruitment reputedly put half the old Southwest Conference on probation back in the 1980s. Anyone with information on whereabouts of the No. 2 receiver in Cowboys history, please apprise The Dash.
Meanwhile, The Dash is pleased to report that former LSU great Charles Alexander (38) is alive and well and living in Houston, not far from his boyhood home of Galveston. Alexander works for Southern Steel and Supply, which distributes pipe valves and fittings to oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico and on land in the region. Alexander has been with the company since 1998, after spending 10 years at LSU as an academic adviser and fundraiser.
And yes, Alexander is high on this year's Tigers.
"I watched them against Mississippi State, and I think they'll be No. 1 by the end of the year," he said. "Of course, I'm not a USC grad, so they might see things differently."
Thanks to LSU fans who helped get the word to the classy Alexander The Great to contact The Dash.
When thirsty in Gainesville, The Dash recommends grabbing a bar stool at The Gainesville Ale House (39). Good beer selection, plenty of TVs -- and on Friday night you could even find Gators basketball coach Billy Donovan (40) there eating appetizers with his staff and looking very happy to still be a college coach.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.