Saturday in Review 11/6/10

It seemed that all top 25 teams were required to flip a coin this week. If the coin landed on heads, they got to blow out their opponent. If the coin landed on tails, then they had to play a tough slog against a theoretically inferior foe. If the coin landed on its side, then Baylor had to go back to being Baylor. You can guess which team got which as we do our rundown:

Washington-16, #1 Oregon-53

Jake Locker was benched for this one, so those of you hoping for a bit of schadenfreude (look it up!) from this section might ought to move on. This is actually a pretty vanilla review, with only one real major point: Oregon has been starting slowly of late. Their offense is averaging 54.7 points per game, far and away the best in the country, yet in 4 of the last 5 games, they’ve started out in a dog fight with their competition. The lowly Washington schools stuck with Oregon through the first half and Stanford jumped out to a 21-3 lead on the Ducks before Oregon launched their comeback. As a matter of fact, the only time Oregon jumped out to an oppressively huge lead in October was when they jumped atop UCLA. Oregon’s slow starts have to be bothersome to their fans, and they could very easily run into late game trouble against Arizona, rival Oregon State, or their bowl opponent. Washington, meanwhile, is still bad.

Chattanooga-24, #2 Auburn-62

There is no excuse for this game to be on here this late. ESPN commentators were saying that Cam Newton had pretty much clinched the Heisman as the highlights of this game rolled. Really? You’re gonna say that his game against a 1-AA team (and a mediocre 1-AA team at that) is the proof that he’s the most outstanding player in the country? That would be the equivalent of saying that since all the ACC teams but Virginia Tech beat their 1-AA cupcake, then Virginia Tech was doomed to finish last in the ACC. Except they won’t. Cupcake games don’t prove very much, and this one is no exception. I just find it funny that SEC teams pull this crap frequently whereas most other schools get their uninteresting opponents out of the way first. And they’re given a free pass, largely because they sneak their games in late. In these waning weeks of the season, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia, and Kentucky play 1-AA schools. That’s…sad.

#3 TCU-47, #5 Utah-7

I only got to watch the highlights of this game, but it would seem that the score tells the story. Utah got hammered from the get-go, and TCU’s defense was rather impressive as well. I guess this is actually for the best if you’re not a Utah fan. Between this win, Boise’s hammering of Hawaii (see below) and Alabama’s loss to LSU, a loss for Auburn or Oregon would all but certainly force the BCS to work some dark magic to get a major conference team over both Boise and TCU. So, good for you TCU. Congrats on hammering a top 5 team. As for Utah, apologies that you had to be a sacrificial lamb.

Hawaii-7, #4 Boise State-42

So much for the big WAC matchup, eh? I guess the real big WAC matchup is still the Nevada/Boise State game, but the fact that Hawaii beat Nevada doesn’t bode well for the Wolf Pack when Boise shows up in Reno on November 26th. You may be wondering why this one is so brief. The answer to that is twofold: 1) I didn’t get to watch this game and 2) you’ll get your schadenfreude in the next review.

#6 Alabama-21, #10 LSU-24

Let’s all pause to savor this for a second. First off, allow me to announce that when I saw this thing last January, I told my roommate “Don’t you have to win more than one championship in the last 15 years to be considered a dynasty?” This is a problem that we have here in American culture: we assume things. We want to be right in advance, we want to be able to say “I knew Alabama was a dynasty back when they’d only won one!” And assumptions such as these are what makes laughable covers continue to be brought out. ‘Bama’s not a bad football team, but they’re not getting the lucky breaks they did last season (example here). And, like it or not, luck does factor into our delightfully stupid system.

In short, the Alabama “dynasty” myth assumed several things. It assumed that they’d be able to keep on winning in the SEC, assumed that they wouldn’t run into trouble on the road, and assumed that teams would see Mark Ingram and Nick Saban and simply roll over and cower in fear. I guess I’m glad that LSU won. It all sort of comes out even, what with Les Miles being almost completely insane, yet defeating the evil forces of Nick Saban and his ilk. Let’s just keep rolling along…

#7 Nebraska-31, Iowa State-30

There’s always those teams that give good squads runs for their money. Case in point: Iowa State and Nebraska. Nebraska is almost always better than the Cyclones, yet Iowa State always seems to be in the game against the Huskers. Nebraska has only beaten Iowa State by more than 14 one time since 2004. In that span, Iowa State has been to 3 bowl games, won one, and been a generally worse team than Nebraska. Yeah, that’s even with the Callahan era of Nebraska football included.

In this one, Iowa State nearly beat Nebraska on a last second fake extra point, but the ball fell into the hands of a Nebraska defender in overtime. Allow me to say that, even though it didn’t work, it was a great call by Iowa State. Yes, I’ll take crap for this. I also don’t care. Iowa State is .500, and their schedule looks like it will allow them to go 6-6 and make another trip to an obscure bowl game. They had a chance to catch a top 10 team off guard, humiliate them for a second straight season, and turn the Big 12 North into anyone’s race. I imagine that there’s an alternate universe where Boise State’s amazing 2 point conversion failed. In that alternate universe, Boise is still criticized to this day by idiots who say they should have kicked the extra point instead of going for two. The point is this: Coaches are criticized for being “too cautious” all the time. When coaches decide to be aggressive, they get criticized. I, for one, like to see aggressive coaching when it’s intelligently aggressive. Let’s put this another way: Boise State’s 2 pointer, Georgia Tech’s frequent 4th down attempts, Michigan State’s fake field goal in OT earlier this season, and Iowa State’s fake PAT here are all good examples of intelligent aggressiveness. Western Carolina’s fake punt on 4th and 14 on its own 20 against #1 Appalachian State is an example of stupid aggressiveness. Any questions?

So, in conclusion, bravo, Cyclones. Here’s hoping you beat Colorado and go back to the Insight Bowl or something. Nebraska…watch your backs.

#8 Oklahoma-19, Texas A&M-33

So this was a weird week for the Big 12. Their top teams kept losing games or getting into close fights. This game is one example. Oklahoma didn’t even score until the 2nd half, and it seems legitimately hard to believe that they were ranked #1 in the BCS just 2 weeks ago. Now they’re in 3rd place in the Big 12 South. Yeah, you read that right. I’m just as confused as you are…

Texas A&M is a tough place to play, so hats off to the Aggies. Congrats on your major upset! Now, I’d beat Baylor if I were you, or you’re gonna wind up playing in the Liquid Paper Obscurity Bowl with Clemson. Actually, that goes for you, too, Oklahoma.

#9 Wisconsin-34, Purdue-13

Purdue held the lead at the half in this game, then successfully blew it in the second half. This is out of character for the Boilermakers. Normally, they suck in the first half and then make a meaningless comeback later. Nice of them to switch things up! Wisconsin’s first half start was pathetic, but they pulled things together and ripped off a win. I, for one, hope the Big 10 has a tie at the top, the better to hear how Ohio State “deserves” the BCS bowl bid they’ll be getting when they leapfrog Wisconsin for no good reason. So go Badgers, go Spartans, and go Buckeyes! You continue to provide evidence that our system rewards crappy nonconference scheduling and elitism!

#12 Missouri-17, Texas Tech-24

So this was weird week for the Big 12. Their top teams kept losing games and–wait, I’ve done this before, haven’t I? Yep, right up there. The Big 12 is screwed up heavily, we just didn’t realize how much so until this week. Case in point:

Kansas State beat Texas who beat Nebraska who beat Oklahoma State who beat Baylor who beat Texas Tech who beat Missouri who beat Texas A&M who beat Oklahoma who beat Iowa State who beat Kansas who beat Colorado.

That’s the whole conference. I’d have gone into more detail, but I had to end with Colorado since they don’t have a conference win. The Big 12 is one big convoluted mess, and Texas Tech’s win is no more indicative of their football superiority than Texas A&M’s over Oklahoma. The Big 12 is a conference where anyone can beat anyone–and they frequently do. No, I didn’t analyze the game. If you need it this late, there’s a site called for that sort of thing. And now, let’s grind out the rest of these with unnecessary brevity.

#15 Arizona-17, #13 Stanford-42

You know, I actually thought this would be a close game that Arizona would pull out in the end. Mind you, I also thought that Virginia Tech would beat James Madison by 40, so what the frick do I know?

Minnesota-8, #14 Michigan State-31

Minnesota still sucks. Go Spartans! Get that 3 way tie!

#16 Iowa-18, Indiana-13

I think this might be a return to form for Iowa: Narrowly winning close games against vastly inferior foes? Heck, it got them to the BCS last season.

#21 Baylor-28, #17 Oklahoma State-55

Ah, Baylor. Welcome back to reality. We’ve missed you.

#18 Arkansas-41, #19 South Carolina-20

Seriously, I detest talking about Heisman hopefuls, but Ryan Mallett has gone a long way from “that kid who played for Michigan in their defeat at the hands of App State.” Fun fact about Michigan: They could have kept Mallett if they hadn’t fired Lloyd Carr. How are those moves working out for the Wolverines again?

As to this game…eh. South Carolina and Florida play next week to see who wins the SEC East title. I never thought I’d see the day that a game between two ranked SEC teams in early November would be utterly meaningless, but here we are. This game had no bearing on anything. Sad, ain’t it?

#23 Nevada-63, Idaho-17

Good to know that, with the rise of Boise and Nevada, some teams are still lagging behind. Especially in terms of defense. Thanks, Idaho!

North Carolina-37, #24 Florida State-35

Florida State shouldn’t have been ranked in the first place. But the fact that they were lets me write what could be the most vindictive two-word phrase in existence. Indeed, you’d be hard pressed to find any two words that can offend fans faster than these two offend Florida State fans. So, here goes:

Wide right.

#25 NC State-13, Clemson-14

Watching ACC football is excruciating. The second you think you might have an upstart team ready to rise above the mediocrity, they turn around and blow a 17 point lead at homelose in overtime to a C-USA team that they gave 21 points to, and then follow up a win over Florida State with a mind blowingly poor performance against perennially mediocre Clemson. Seriously, losing to Clemson is the benchmark for mediocrity in the ACC. They’re like a friggin’ standardized weight for the conference. In 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2008 the Tigers finished a perfect .500 in conference. 4 times in 8 years? Why, even their record of mediocrity is mediocre! Keep your fingers crossed, boys and girls, because they’re 3-3 right now! The dream of mediocrity is alive!

Speaking of mediocrity, it’s time for…

Tales from the Bottom 95

Tennessee successfully defeated Memphis. If their loss to Alabama was their version of Normandy (hey, his words, not mine) then maybe this was their Battle of the Bulge. Mind you, that doesn’t bode overly well for the rest of the season, but I doubt the victorious SEC divides the Volunteers in two for the next 50 years or so, forcing half into a drab communist system from which they desperately try to escape, as the old coaching staff flees to South America to escape the international response to their crimes against humanity…Think I might have stretched that one a wee bit too far…Speaking of “too far” when are we going to go back to the old overtime system that allows ties? Was there any reason for the 67-65 triple OT game at the Big House this weekend? Do you think Michigan or Illinois really cared that much?…Allow me to answer my own question: Yes, Michigan does, because they are finally bowl eligible again. Funny, I seem to recall them recovering alright from their loss to App, and finishing the season with a bowl win over a Florida team helmed by Saint Timmy himself. But, no, that knee-jerk reaction to a loss in September and the firing of their coach followed by 3 consecutive years of crappy football will be totally worth it when they go to the ExLax Nobody Gives a Crap Bowl in December…Duke took out Virginia. The same Virginia that beat Miami last week. The ACC is screwed up…With 4 weeks left in their seasons, there is not one Big East team that is bowl eligible or ineligible…Florida broke their 3 game losing streak with wins against a .500 team and an awful team. Congrats, Gators! Can’t wait to hear how you’re playing “the best football in the country right now” next time I watch ESPN…Joe Paterno picked up his 400th win. Good job, JoePa. Please retire now…Boston College beat Wake Forest in what was probably the least important game between 2 AQ schools this week…As stated above, Kansas state killed Texas. Not entirely sure what’s going on down where the Longhorns roam, but they’d best get out of that funk quickly…

And that’s it for the week. I hope you had fun!