The Alphabetical: NCAA Football, Week 3


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↵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 Again.
They had time of possession, they had new formations, they had a freshly foaled Vince Young clone in the backfield ... and they still got obliterated. The real shame coming out of the Ohio State/USC game falls on the pollsters, the same ones who have consistently overvalued this Ohio State team for two and a half years running.
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↵The syndrome has repeated patterns: the defensive coaching staff gets outcoached; the offense first loses the run, then their ability to protect in the third quarter, and then the sanity of their quarterback; and in the end, an Ohio State team loses a high-profile game on national television in humiliating fashion.
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↵If it makes them feel any better, though: the Big Ten title is wide, wide open, and comes with complimentary bratwursts for each member of the winning team. (Yay!) And if USC drops a game or two along the way, the Buckeyes can face them again in the Rose Bowl, and lose spectacularly. ↵
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↵ ↵B is for Bob Griese Is Your Turnover Vulture. I have no problem with Bob Griese waving a Purdue flag out of the booth, since no one who covers college football is “objective,” especially announcers. ↵
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↵The objections? The use of “Shout” outside of a Caucasian wedding is some kind of musical fashion foul, and that Bob Griese clearly is a turnover vulture. He roots for a team, and they suddenly cough up the ball. If I were a Purdue fan, from here on out I would have him stuffed in a trunk for the duration of any games on the schedule. He clearly has powers. ↵
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↵ ↵C is for Coupon-ball. SEC watchers were waiting for it: the masterpiece of offensive suck that would play out if, on one special moonlit night, a Tommy Tuberville team and a Sylvester Croom team met and decided to play the game both teams had been waiting a lifetime to play, a game with the lowest score possible (with both teams actually scoring, of course.) ↵
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↵Slapstick looks like this, and features Mississippi State going 0-for-14 on 3rd down, 0-for-3 on 4th down conversions, and gaining 116 yards of total offense. Auburn, appearing in a role as a hilarious old man who dances like a pro, went 3-16 on third down and fumbled three times. ↵
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↵Tommy Tuberville has no problem with winning games like this. I suspect it might actually please him since a.) he’s an avowed non-stats guy, and b.) his teams specialize in adding up points in odd, coupon-like strikes. (“I have ads for a free safety, a 2-for-1 field goal block/return for TD, and a two-point conversion return, ma’am.”) Next stop: the elusive 2-0. Make it happen, boys! ↵
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↵ ↵D is for Done. The Spurrier Pro-Am is scheduled to begin sometime in the next year or so, and will feature one golfer competing on eleventyzillion beautifully manicured holes forever after deciding that losing consistently at South Carolina hurts more than the paycheck is worth. A 14-7 loss to Georgia at home will do that to a man. So will rushing 16 times for 18 yards on the day. ↵
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↵ ↵E is for Excellence in Internet Commenting. From user rico99913 under the Hayes Vs. Hall entry where, with uncustomary moderation and politeness both myself and Matt Hayes decided Ohio State would actually compete for a while in this game. ↵
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↵just in case you didn't know it, you're both idiots (hayes and hall). ohio state will dominate this game from start to finish but i'll bet you a buffalo nickel that they won't jump to number 1 come sunday ↵
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↵Buffalo nickels for everyone! ↵
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↵ ↵F is for Finished. Oh, you won’t believe it now, but come November, when Ohio State has rolled through the Big Ten, and sits at undefeated, and we’ve all had conference games to get everyone properly tunnel-visioned into their own little regional college football worlds and lose perspective completely, someone will say it: “Hey, Ohio State early loss better now title shot yes?” ↵
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↵It seems preposterous now, but someone will say it. Then, you will show them this picture. ↵
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↵Remember: when Ohio State plays big games, heads roll. Literally. You don’t want to see that again, and pending a period of probation, neither does the rest of college football. Just remember this when the unthinkable happens ↵
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↵ ↵G is for Grothe. The best game of the weekend was Kansas at USF, a manic affair capped off when Kansas qb Todd Reesing saved his one mistake of the night for the last series: tossing a pick on the final series to set up USF for the game-winning field goal. Reesing made one mistake; Grothe made none, going 32/45 for 338 yards and 2 TDs. Usually, Grothe’s good for at least two baffling “pilot error” crashes during a game, but his effort against Kansas was a shining testament to economy and intelligent decision-making. Huzzahs and ovations all around, even if I still miss last year’s “Gro-Hawk.” ↵
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↵ ↵H is for Horror. UCLA’s second quarter against BYU: three fumbles, all turned into BYU touchdowns. A blocked field goal, converted into a touchdown for BYU. Kevin Craft, sacked twice. 35 points surrendered in a single, bloody flurry. ↵
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↵ ↵I is for Incomplete. Patrick Pinkney is slipping: after completing over 80 percent of his passes against West Virginia and Virginia Tech, he fell to a mortal 68 percent completion percentage against Tulane. Bench him and stop this madness now! ↵
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↵ ↵J is for Jokery, Cont’d: Near losses of note: Illinois almost loses to UL-Laf, which I always like to imagine is pronounced phonetically as “you’ll laugh”, 20-17, and that was with the Ragin’ Cajuns giving Illinois three fumbles. Illinois’ post-Rose Bowl letdown: long, extensive, and properly Zook-ish. ↵
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↵ ↵L stands for Last Man Standing, Take Snaps. Justin Roper sprained his knee against Purdue, meaning Oregon has lost its second option at quarterback following the injury to Nate Costa in the Ducks’ opener. This leaves freshman Chris Harper as the starter for at least the next two to four weeks. The Ducks schedule over the next three: Boise State, Washington State, and at USC. Yeah, if you could make that two weeks, Justin, that’d be great for us, just super. Yeah. ↵
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↵Speaking of knees that don’t work ... ↵
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↵ ↵M is for McGahee-esque. Charlie Weis, flying football player, knee. ↵
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↵ ↵N is for Necessary. As in this completely conventional triple block against DeMarcus Granger of Oklahoma by three Washington linemen. ↵
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↵ ↵O is for Obstinate. Wisconsin pulled out their game against Fresno with unbent stubbornness, running headlong at Fresno and pounding away at them for a 13-10 win to remain the lone team of proven sexiness left in the Big Ten. ↵
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↵Okay, sexiness is strong here; how about, “has a great personality,” and “knows how to cook.” For all the crowing about the ACC’s impotence, the Big Ten top-to-bottom is in a sorrier state than previously thought. Only Wisconsin
↵and Penn State of course
seem like a safe vote now, and safe is as strong a word as we’ll use for the Badgers after a tough but unimpressive showing against the Bulldogs, whose other win came against Rutgers, who we’ll go ahead and just pronounce as terrible after watching them wilt against the Bulldogs and follow it up with a miserable loss to UNC on Thursday. ↵
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↵ ↵P is for the pACC-10. The conference with their turn at the “one week humiliation trend:” The Pac-10, who went 0-for-4 against the Mountain West in a disastrous week of nonconference scheduling. UCLA died a thousand deaths in Provo, losing 59-0. Arizona State improbably coughed up a loss to UNLV. TCU forced Stanford to bow down. New Mexico beat Arizona, thus possibly lighting the candle that burns Mike Stoops’ tenure there to the ground. Washington played Oklahoma. You don’t really want to hear what happened there if you want to sleep tonight. ↵
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↵Toss in Cal’s nauseating performance against Maryland, Oregon’s near-miss versus Purdue, and Washington State’s loss to Baylor (yes, Baylor) and it was a humbling weekend in sum for the Pac-10, especially with the SEC kickin’ it and takin’ names against ferocious teams like DESTROYER OF WORLDS, UAB and THE BLOODSUCKING SHARK-MEN OF WESTERN KENTUCKY. Who knows how they survived those games! Astonishing! ↵
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↵ ↵Q is for Quantavious. As noted by North Carolina Blogger Mike from Tarheel Mania, the single greatest exchange as determined by name quality occurred in the UNC/Rutgers game with quarterback Jabu Lovelace throwing a pick to UNC’s Quantavious Sturdivant. Awesome score: incalculable by current scientific standards and tools. ↵
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↵ ↵S is for Southerland, Brannan. South Carolina was able to keep Knowshon Moreno under 100 yards, and it looked like the first time the team actually missed veteran fullback Southerland (still healing from a broken foot suffered in the offseason.) Fill-in Shaun Chapas has done a good job, but against a formidable Gamecock defense the lack of Southerland’s block-hammering was noticeable. The Bulldog run game stands at excellent to begin with, but with Southerland they thunder into the territory of the superb. ↵
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↵ ↵T is for Tarantula Hawk. The current reading on the Syracuse Football Pain Index: a 4.0 on the Schmidt Scale of Insect Stings, described as being “Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.” Or you just got the hair beaten off you 55-13 by Syracuse at home. Same thing, really. ↵
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↵ ↵U is for Understated Devotion. If Brent Musburger had to weep into the arms of Jim Tressel on Saturday night, he did it off-camera and tastefully: there was little for Musberger to wax poetic enough about on the Buckeyes side, and his bro-mance with Tressel was a quiet presence in the broadcast. ABC did go crazy-go-nuts by putting two sideline reporters on duty, Lisa Salters and Erin Andrews, which paid off with bits of useful information coming in throughout the game. ↵
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↵ ↵V is for Violence. The hit of the day: Clay Matthews’ horrific, nasty, no good very bad blindside hit on Todd Boeckman. The hit tallied the holy trinity of tackle requirements: energy (Boeckman’s head shot back on his neck like a palm tree struck by a hurricane-force wind,) effect (the ball shot out of Boeckman’s hands on impact), and terror (the cameras caught excellent angles of Boeckman looking obviously stunned.) ↵
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↵ ↵W is for Win, Baby. Missouri, Oklahoma, and USC all tastefully took care of hopelessly overmatched competition. It just so happens that USC’s was hopelessly overrated. Florida beat the Bye with ease, and spent the weekend watching Jonathan Crompton get baffled by UAB’s defense. Charlie Strong is pleased at reading this sentence, and is happier after watching the film. ↵
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↵ ↵X is for Xenophilia. Oregon State and Hawaii featured so many islanders it could have doubled for a scene from a particularly lopsided Hawaiian family reunion pickup game. My envy for Polynesian-style surf-afro hair at this point in the season: growing. ↵
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↵ ↵Y is for Yes. Or the answer to “Did ABC resort to showing long, luxurious shots of the Song Girls during the slack second half of Ohio State/USC?” ↵
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↵ ↵Z is for Zebras. Or a lack thereof; after taking the spotlight in an unfortunate way, there was little in the way of interventionist officiating this weekend. Kudos to a rapid and profession-wide decision not to overlegislate, especially on the “unnecesary celebration” front. Fully expect this positive trend to reverse next week when a player is docked 15 yards for standing up after the ball and clapping following a crucial touchdown.↵

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

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