Random thoughts in the aftermath of “do any of you people want to go to New Orleans?” weekend:
Are you not entertained by corners who can stay within two steps of opposing receivers?: All of you from outside the South who mocked LSU and Alabama for the “Lame of the Century” (and I’m thinking first and foremost of the Solid Verbal guys, who coined the phrase), please note the common thread running through the demises of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Oregon. Oklahoma allowed 616 yards on 8.4 yards per play; their in-state rivals gave up 568 yards on 5.6 yards per play to Iowa State; and Oregon surrendered 462 yards on 6.2 yards per play. These three teams all ended up in close games because they have suspect defenses. It might be more fun to watch fights between combatants who only have swords as opposed to fights where the contestants have both swords and shields, but the fun amounts to empty calories. (Sorry for the mixed metaphors.) There is room to criticize LSU and Alabama on offense, but their offenses are way better than the defenses of their nearest challengers.
SEC national title contenders, step forward. Not so fast, Bobby Petrino: I realize that pollsters have some unwritten rule that a team has to drop a certain number of spots after a loss, but someone give me a serious rationale for Oklahoma State being behind Arkansas, other than “Arkansas’s loss was to a better team.” Oklahoma State has the same record against a significantly tougher schedule. Arkansas had to rally from behind to beat Ole Miss and Vandy. The Hogs’ only marquee win outside of the SEC came against Texas A&M, a team that the Pokes beat on the road. Arkansas missed Georgia and played the post-Lattimore and Garcia version of South Carolina. Oklahoma State’s yardage numbers are better and according to Sagarin, the Pokes would be a nine-point favorite on a neutral field.
My obligatory gripe about the team from Blacksburg: And while we’re on the subject of overrated teams, congrats to Virginia Tech on their typical rise up the polls as they play tomato cans, aka ACC opponents, and the teams above them in better conferences pick one another off. The notion that the Hokies are even being mentioned as being considered for one of the top two spots in the polls is an affront to any of us who value offensive competence. Quick, guess how many Sagarin top 30 opponents the Hokies have played. Those of you who said “one,” give yourselves a drumstick on Thursday.* (Yes, I know that they beat Georgia Tech and I have the Jackets ranked. To honor the Founding Fathers’ concept of competing interests in the political sphere, I’m giving a local team the benefit of the doubt.) According to our favorite nerd named Jeff, the Hokies would be a 17-point underdog against LSU in the title game. Admittedly, that would be an improvement over the last time the Hokies ventured to Louisiana to play the Tigers. It would also match Tech’s performance when they made the title game in 1999. So, by all means voters, reward Virginia Tech for abysmal scheduling and send them to New Orleans to play a team that played Oregon and West Virginia before going through the SEC.
* – I’ve never understood why the drumsticks are always available at Thanksgiving. They have just the right amount of meat for one’s plate, they don’t suffer from dryness issues like the breast meat, and why pass on a chance to eat like Henry VIII?
5. Virginia finishes second in the ACC Coastal. 18 returning starters, a promising new coach, massive instability at Miami and UNC, and a home game against Georgia Tech in a series in which homefield matters a great deal. A homer pick, but why the hell not?
Almost every preview had the Hoos tagged for fifth in the division. Now, please ignore the Bama versus Nebraska pick for the title game. It seems like this isn’t the best time to remember that I was high on the Huskers before the season.
In retrospect, the end of the game in Tallahassee was massively satisfying. Virginia took the lead with 1:16 remaining. In classic George Welsh fashion, they kept their opponent alive with a fourth down facemask. Not content with their good fortune, Florida State then literally tried to give the game away by completing a pass inbounds when they didn’t have any timeouts and 12 seconds remained. After Virginia apparently simulated signals to give the Noles five more yards, FSU missed the kick. The ending was quintessential Florida State because they were dumb and can’t kick; it was quintessential Virginia by trying to lose a game that they had won on two different occasions.
By the way, the Hoos are #59 in the country according to Sagarin, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away by ranking them in the top 25. That said, I might disappear in a flash of lightning Quantum Leap style* if Michigan breaks its duck against Ohio State at noon and then Virginia wins the division against Virginia Tech at 3:30. Last year, my two alma maters each lost to the barbarian hordes 37-7. Two wins would be quite the reversal.
* – Yeah, I just spent 15 minutes looking at old TV themes on YouTube. I couldn’t eat just one. Five facts that I had forgotten:
- Blue Thunder featured not only Bubba Smith and Dick Butkus, but also a young Dana Carvey.
- Stringfellow Hawke plays the Cello in the opening of Airwolf.
- There is no meaningful distinction between Rick in Magnum PI and Face in The A-Team.
- The full theme for The Fall Guy is over two-and-a-half minutes (over 5% of the show) and is about the main character’s sexual frustration. Speaking of which…
- Heather Thomas > Heather Locklear.
We’re moving Braxton Miller to linebacker, so plenty of playing time is available: Toward the end of the Michigan-Nebraska game, I started imagining Urban Meyer’s frustration that he was not seeing any useful material to use to get Michigan’s verbals to decommit, other than maybe “they have a good team and are returning 14 starters for next year, so you won’t see much playing time.” There’s fun and then there’s the experience of watching your favorite team put together its best performance of the season in front of two color guys: the arch-rival’s coach-in-waiting and the arch-rival’s legendary linebacker. And the crowning glory is that one of the prevailing criticisms of the teams is “Denard can’t throw” and then his last completion of the game was an inch-perfect deep ball to Martavious Odom to seal the win.
The three best teams in Texas are, uh, uh, oops: Congrats to the administrations at Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. Despite being endowed with the advantage of being the three pre-eminent programs in the Lone Star State (OK, maybe there’s a case that Tech isn’t third), they are all unranked, while Baylor, Houston, and TCU are all ranked. One theme of this season is the revenge of the lower half of the SWC. How much do Mack Brown and Mike Sherman have to be screwing up that their game this week will be for fourth place in the state?
The Bollman hypo: Question for Ohio State fans in light of the unleashed vitriol directed at Jim Bollman and the Walrusfense: assuming for the sake of argument that Urban Meyer chooses to stay retired and there are no NCAA implications for the return of the king, would you take Jim Tressel back if it meant keeping Bollman?
This week in ennui: I can’t remember the last Big East game I watched. I had to look at that conference’s standings to have any idea as to who is going to win the league. It turns out that everyone in the league has two losses. In a related note, congrats to Boise State on accepting a bid to the January 2013 Orange Bowl.