The Alphabetical: College Football, Week 7

Each Sunday during college football season, Spencer Hall offers a letter-by-letter analysis of Saturday’s college football games.
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↵A is for Alabama. Teams at the top of the polls continue to rise and fall like so many lottery balls in a tumbler: Missouri and Oklahoma both fall this week, leaving voters with Penn State, Texas, and Alabama as the serious BCS conference choices for the No. 1 slot. Voters, being the nitpicky perfectionists that they are, in theory should put Alabama first because the Tide made no mistakes this week in a flawless performance against the bye. OR NOT! ↵

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↵B is for Baleful. Definition: "Deadly or pernicious in influence." This is the proper descriptor for the Oklahoma State defense, which served as national heroes Saturday night by playing several levels above their pay grade in alternating coverages, showing new blitzes and flummoxing Chase Daniel and the Mizzou Tigers in a 28-23 upset in Columbia. ↵

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↵Even in defeat, Daniel remained telepathically bonded with his receivers. In fact, he only failed to complete one pass in the second half, though three of his "completions" went the other way as interceptions. Mizzou also had, in the second week of October, its first three-and-out of the season. Don't worry. It happens to everyone, Tigers. ↵

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↵C is for Colt. The game of the year thus far was Oklahoma-Texas, where you, the viewer, were battered in legitimate hype, rolled in a savory dough of first-half heroics, then deep-fried in a hot oil of Longhorn intensity. ↵

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↵ Colt McCoy's icy management of the Texas offense was magnificent, but it would have been impossible without Jordan Shipley. The senior receiver had 11 catches for 112 yards, a TD, and a 96-yard kickoff return to keep Texas counterpunching until the defense could catch up to the offense . . . which, thanks to Oklahoma's complete lack of a run game, it eventually did. ↵

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↵Let's divert this back to McCoy, though. Where McCoy would have forced a ball in the past, he largely didn't; and where he wouldn't have taken a chance in coverage before, he did, threading balls through Oklahoma's zone patiently and with pinpoint accuracy. ↵

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↵D is for Dropoff. Wisconsin's 48-7 hammering at the hands of Penn State was its worst loss since 1989. At 3-3, the delayed post-Alvarez dropoff watch has officially begun for the Badgers. ↵

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↵E is for Egregiously Bad Officiating. This is just a short list of the atrocious calls seen Saturday: Anything and everything called in the Red River Rivalry, including both Oklahoma's first touchdown and most especially the "incomplete" pick of Colt McCoy in the end zone; the mass confusion at the end of the Notre Dame/UNC game; numerous calls in the UGA/Tennessee game; and the LSU/Florida crew's holding-friendly no-calls for both sides in the Swamp. ↵

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↵It was a good day for myopia, cataracts, astigmatisms, and whatever other visual impairments you want to claim caused the particularly noticeable ineptitude on the part of zebras around the country. ↵

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↵F is for Fury. Florida played like someone had its families tied up in a dark basement somewhere, especially the offensive line, which took a new wide-split, Texas Tech look and blew up the nation's consensus No. 1 defensive line for 265 rushing yards. Read that again: LSU's ballyhooed defensive line was gashed for 265 yards rushing. ↵

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↵G is for Gardner-Webb. Credit where credit is due: Georgia Tech took the opportunity of playing a Division I-AA opponent to empty its bench and coast. Gardner-Webb came for blood and a D-I scalp. Only a blocked field-goal attempt kept Georgia Tech from going to overtime with the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, a team that held the Yellow Jackets to nine first downs and could have scuttled much of the momentum Paul Johnson has cobbled together at the North Avenue Trade School. ↵

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↵I is for Impotence, Continued. Firing Tony Franklin solved everything! Auburn tallied 193 yards, 11 first downs and three interceptions in losing 25-22 to a smoking, derelict Arkansas team. Tommy Tuberville is in real vocational jeopardy for the first time since 2003. ↵

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↵J is for Jimmeh! The college football commentariat has plenty of stock material to use when laughing at Jimmy Clausen: He’s the 142nd Clausen to play quarterback in college, he wore a pinky ring to his announcement to attend Notre Dame, he has a funny haircut, HARHARHARHAR etc. ↵

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↵His team lost Saturday, yes, but Clausen had a phenomenal game as Charlie Weis put the onus on him to win or lose almost singlehandedly against a resilient UNC team. As unfair as this may have been, the sophomore very nearly succeeded: 31-for-48, 383 yards, two TDs, two picks. ↵

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↵K is for Kettlebell, the prehistoric Russian weights Brian Orakpo throws around with the greatest of ease in the Texas weight room. The Longhorns defensive end flat-out embarrassed future first-rounder Phil Loadholt on numerous occasions in the Texas-OU game. Stats elucidating said embarrassment: six tackles, four for loss, a forced fumble and two sacks. Russian hard men are nodding in your direction and singing great patriotic songs, Brian. ↵

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↵L is for Lacking. Oklahoma’s rushing yards against Texas: 46. ↵

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↵M is for Missing. As in Rashard Mendenhall. The glaring lack of a consistent running game ate up the Illini against Minnesota. QB Juice Williams racked up huge yards through the air but the offense could not move the chains in the same steady, tempo-controlling way the 2007 Rose Bowl team did. ↵

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↵Williams and Sam Bradford had similar Saturdays: strategically overburdened due to deficient run games, spectacularly productive nonetheless, and ultimately guilty of key turnovers that crippled their teams’ chances of victory. ↵

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↵N is for No-huddle, No Problem. The single best hire in college football this past offseason was Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, whose brilliant game plan hinged on stopping any and all running by Oklahoma, harassing Sam Bradford, and letting the QB have his yards but not without being hit or throwing into zones where defenders were waiting to crush receivers after the catch. The strategy slowed the bleeding enough to let Texas catch up, and in the end wore down Bradford enough to make the difference. ↵

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↵O is for Overplus. An extreme excess, as in the overheated hype surrounding the superb Big 12, which after two weeks of conference play has now initiated the same sequence everyone else kicked a half-month ago: Teams are returning each other to the pack with conference losses and real competition. The Big 12 is superb, but the run on it as the pre-eminent conference in the land was irrational exuberance at its finest. ↵

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↵P is for Proton Gun. Jeff Demps, in addition to splitting safeties on option runs with Olympian speed, played another role for Florida: wedge buster. Demps knifed through on special teams to harry fellow mighty-mite speedster Trindon Holliday on kick returns. Demps as the wedge buster is a bit like the physics behind a proton gun: a very small object fired at high speed exploding things much larger than it in shocking fashion. ↵

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↵Q is for Quan. Texas wide receiver Quan Cosby makes finding the right word for Q this week easy. ↵

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↵Nine catches and 122 yards are cromulent enough, but the Steve Smith impression Cosby put on with his nasty blocking can't get enough commentary. His snarling attitude was infectious; combined with the slamming play of the defense, the Longhorns seemed to grow visibly larger as the game went on, getting bigger and nastier into the fourth quarter. ↵

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↵R is for Ragin', Indeed. Prepare your eyeballs. Put on blast goggles if needed. Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajun wide receiver Jason Chery's stat line from ULL's 59-30 victory: 339 total yards on eight touches. From the Lafayette Daily Advertiser: ↵

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↵⇥The Cajuns (3-3 overall, 2-0 Sun Belt) set the program's modern-day scoring record as Chery finished with 339 all-purpose yards on eight touches. That included two kickoff returns for 131 yards, three receptions for 123 yards and three rushes for 85 yards. He scored on a 97-yard kickoff return, an 81-yard run and catches of 17, 49 and 57 yards, respectively. ↵
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↵Ragin' doesn't quite cover that. ↵

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↵S is for ‘Stutz’ as in My Daddy. The Stutz, a.k.a. Tom Amstutz, head coach of Toledo, succeeded where 42 other MAC teams had failed in beating Michigan 13-10. He did it thanks to a slew of Michigan mistakes and a Herculean performance from Rockets wide receiver Nick Moore, who caught 20 passes for 162 yards. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me 20 times, YOUR HEAD ASPLODE. ↵

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↵T is for Tommy Boy. Clemson fans, you’re riding along with Tommy Bowden in a car. You’re Chris Farley; Tommy Bowden’s David Spade in the passenger seat. You sing “Eres Tu” together--in Spanish! Just like in the movie. It’s a moment, it really is. You’ve had such good times together. Then, in a scene not included in the movie, you shove Tommy Bowden out of the car while it’s moving at 70 mph, leaving him rolling and bouncing off the pavement in the dark, lonely middle of nowhere. Coming soon to a theater near you! ↵

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↵U is for Uncrossed, Legs. Mike Leach was so moved by the Red Raiders’ victory over Nebraska he was forced to quote Sharon Stone. ↵

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↵⇥"It's like Sharon Stone said one time after a movie she did. She said, 'No guts, no glory,' " Leach said. ↵
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↵I can only assume he’s referring to her daring and visionary work in Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol. Graham Harrell only went 20-of-25 for 284 yards against the stubborn Huskers, who held the ball for 40:12 but still lost in overtime when Joe Ganz threw a game ending pick on Nebraska’s first possession. ↵

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↵V is for Vaunted (Allegedly). As in unbeatable Oklahoma, which lost; LSU’s defensive line, which dissolved in the Swamp; Chase Daniel’s unstoppable Heisman campaign, which blew a tire and flipped off a cliff against Oklahoma State; Texas Tech’s offense, which was bound to the bench by Nebraska’s time-swallowing offense; Clemson’s “must-have” mentality, which fizzled into resignation against Wake Forest; Arizona’s status as a dark horse in the PAC-10, dimmed after a correctly called Corso Upset Special at the hands of Stanford. ↵

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↵W is for Wasted. As in, the opportunity extended to Vanderbilt to build on its undefeated record in the SEC. The 'Dores got Croom’d by Mississippi State, which for all I know may be back to the “race to 17 points” formula that got it to a bowl game last year: asphyxiating defense, a few points on offense, repeat until someone gets it to seventeen points. Total yardage for Vanderbilt: 107. The market correction on Vandy as a legitimate Top 25 team begins . . . yesterday, actually. ↵

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↵X is for Xiphoid Process. Anatomy time! From Wikipedia, so you know it must be true: ↵

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↵The xiphoid process, also known as the xiphisternum, is a small cartilaginous extension to the lower part of the sternum which is usually ossified in the adult human. ↵

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↵Good, good. Now you know what we mean when we suggest that Knowshon Moreno should get his xiphoid process and everything else above the waist checked out by medical professionals: ↵

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↵Tennessee still lost to Georgia, but the point remains: Eric Berry is death on two legs. ↵

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↵Y is for Yellow Card. Colt McCoy narrowly avoided receiving a yellow card for simulation by, for lack of a better word, flopping on contact with Oklahoma defenders. McCoy drew two damaging late-hit penalties, taking advantage of officials' reticence to allow so much as a stiff breeze to brush the hair of a quarterback out of place. Look for further floppage in games to come that will leave even the Italian national soccer team writhing with shame. ↵

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↵Z is for Zoinks! Matt Hayes reported the strangest concoction from the Texas State Fair’s assortment of fried evil: the spam quesadilla, which surely indicates that the Dallas Department of Public Health casts a lazy, unseeing eye over the whole heart-exploding smorgasbord surrounding the Red River Rivalry. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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