The Alphabetical: NCAA Football, Week 2

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 Attention!
Always pay attention, especially when your long snapper is feeling frisky in a 42-13 blowout at the hands of the Texas Longhorns. ↵
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↵If you were looking for your favorite visual metaphor for UTEP football under Mike Price in the past two years, you just found it. You’re welcome. ↵

↵B is for Brawn. The brawn of Eastern Carolina’s offensive line and run game asphyxiated any chance West Virginia had of mounting a second-half comeback, and booked the Pirates into this year’s uninvited but charismatic BCS Wedding Crasher slot. East Carolina ran 42 times, ate clock on epic drives in the second half, and kept Pat White and Noel Devine in check with waves of purple-clad tacklers. Book your Skip Holtz career upgrade tickets immediately for 2009, and bring cash. ↵

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↵C is for "Cominatcha": Ugly and fumble-prone as it was, Georgia Tech eked out a win against Boston College on the road thanks largely to the clutch running of Jonathan Dwyer. If you are a college fantasy football type, Dwyer is your dark horse steal, the B-back in Tech's flexbone who gets the dive pitch early and often. ↵

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↵If he doesn't clear the linebacker, he gets three yards falling forwards; if he does, he goes forty, just as he did for the winning TD against the Eagles this Saturday. ↵

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↵D is for Dubious. As in the math used by NBC’s Pat Haden to describe the San Diego State quarterback Ryan Lindley’s throw into double coverage in the third quarter of the San Diego State/Notre Dame slapfight: ↵Pat Haden: “There were more people covering him than live in Calcutta.” ↵

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↵Men in coverage: 2. Population of Calcutta: 15.7 million. ↵

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↵E is for Embryonic. Miami’s still prenatal throughout the depth chart, but that baby looks like it’s going to be huge. The Hurricanes’ defense kept Florida at bay for three quarters, often getting serious pressure on Tim Tebow with a four-man rush and getting straight hellacious with him on blitzes. The offense has miles to go, but the defense alone could get them the ACC title, especially if Shawn Spence continues to wreck shop from the hybrid linebacker spot they used him in during several series last night. He hits people so loudly, you know it’s him just from the sound. ↵

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↵F is for Flounder. Ralph Friedgen joins Dave Wannstedt on the Death Watch. A semantic loss in narrowly beating Delaware, 14-7, in week one nosedives into a 24-14 defeat against the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. Fan favorite Chris Turner returned the love by throwing three interceptions in the game and looking bewildered by a Sun Belt defense and the notoriously savage Murfreesboro crowd. Following Louisville’s early-warning shootout game against the Middle Tennessee last year, the Blue Raiders are on the verge of becoming the canary in the coalmine for troubled BCS programs: lose or struggle to them, and a cave-in is imminent. ↵

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↵G is for Growling. For the Ohio/Ohio State broadcast, Chris Spielman got stuck in Paul Maguire mode, roaming the sidelines and providing headset commentary on what he was noticing. For future reference, do NOT do this again, ESPN, for Spielman at a Buckeyes game. With Ohio State struggling well into the third quarter to do anything against the Bobcats, Spielman appeared close to leaping onto the field and making a tackle himself. ↵

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↵H is for Hope. Ole Miss may have lost to Wake Forest on the road, but considering the dirty bog the Rebels program is clawing its way out of, there is much to celebrate: the emergence of Jevan Snead, a rare breed in that he scrambles and is dangerously accurate; the bullish running of Brandon Bolden; and a defense that in stretches can be stifling. ↵

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↵I is for Icy. Unfortunately for Ole Miss, they faced the ACC’s frostiest quarterback, Riley Skinner. Skinner did nothing spectacular (32/43, 267, 2 TDs/0 INTs), and that may be the most dangerous thing about him. He manages Wake’s short passing game, moves chains, and does so accurately and cold bloodedly. Find a college quarterback who moves a team into field goal position with 30 seconds on the clock and celebrates putting his reliable kicker on the field like he’s just thrown a TD, and you have found a deadly, efficient thing, indeed. ↵

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↵J is for Just. As in the fitting error made by Yahoo!’s scoreboard for the SDSU/Notre Dame game’s box score as of noon today: ↵

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↵It’s factually inaccurate, yes ... but if you watched the game, it felt just like that. ↵

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↵K is for Kneeling, Gasping. NC State, scoreless in eight quarters leading up to their matchup with William and Mary, rang up a whopping 34 points and three hundred and twenty yards of offense against them. Oxygen was administered to players to prevent hyperventilation and also to tamp down the expectations of scoring an equal number of points against an enraged Clemson team next week. ↵

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↵L is for Ludicrous: It’s nice when, in your offensive game plan, you can write down “score 28 points in the third quarter.” Oklahoma State can do that, or at least when playing Houston. Mike Gundy, you are a man, you are now 41, and you called plays to the tune of 56 points and 699 yards against the Cougars. Stopping one yard short of seven hundred was a tasteful gesture; were sure Houston officials will be sending a thank you card in the mail shortly. ↵

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↵M is for Madness. Never bet on an upset simply because you’re bored; Gamblor, the malicious god of odds, has a way of making you look abundantly foolish for doing this, as with our upset pick of Oregon State over Penn State. 45-14 is as clear a rebuke of this practice as one could imagine. Gambling is dumb, kids. Fun, yes; dumb, also. ↵

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↵N is for Nebuchadnezzar, or as Joe Paterno calls him, “My college roommate at Brown.” ESPN had a feature where people outside Beaver Stadium were asked what was older: Joe Paterno or scotch tape? (Scotch tape.) Joe Paterno or the vacuum cleaner. (Vacuum cleaner.) Immensely amusing, especially since most people defaulted to Joe Paterno being older than whatever they were asking about. ↵

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↵O is for Ol’ Burnt-out Coach. Now three days removed from South Carolina’s loss to Vanderbilt, the verdict remains: Spurrier did look like someone who’d rather be playing golf than coaching a frustrating, spotty South Carolina team into the basement of the SEC East. ↵

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↵P is for Palookas. Paterno didn’t make himself sound any younger in this quote from halftime of the slaughter of Oregon State. ↵

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↵“Oregon State is a good football team. It’s not like they’re a bunch of schlmiels.” ↵

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↵Other things they are not: palookas, wiseguys, shysters, bluenoses, dandies, rubes, saps or ragamuffins. Joe Paterno then did the Charleston all the way to the locker room and celebrated with a gin rickey and some peppy ragtime played on the victrola. ↵

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↵Q is for Quizzical. Alabama followed up its hypetacular erasure of Clemson with ... a whimper. John Parker Wilson didn’t even pass for 100 yards, and the Tide didn’t score an offensive TD until the third quarter and was outgained by Tulane while only gaining 11 first downs. This would be troubling if Nick Saban hadn’t planned it this way to stifle meteoric expectations, which he totally did. All part of the plan, Tide fans. ↵

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↵R is for Regression. The Orangemen continue to devolve, losing 42-28 to the Akron Zips. Syracuse Fan Pain Index Reading: Covered in Stinging Ants and Currently On Fire. Next week: Penn State, who swiftly and mercifully decapitated Oregon State, a much better team than Syracuse. JoePa may keep the score down out of respect to his old friend and Syracusan, Archimedes. ↵

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↵S is for “Spleed.” The best mispronunciation of the day comes from Comcast Sports Southeast’s color announcer, whose name we didn’t catch, but who’s malapropism may be our new favorite word: ↵

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↵How’d you like to be a corner seein’ him come at you full spleed?” ↵

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↵S-E-C Spleed! It’s the new buzzword for 2008. Learn it, love it, live it. ↵

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↵T is for Tumultuous. The war for I-4 capped the run on quality mid-tier rivalry games this season that began with the Colorado State/Colorado game and rolled into week two. The USF/UCF game was an overtime anxiety-fest, where UCF made two late scores to come back on a faltering USF defense only to blow it by missing a fourth-down conversion by the slimmest of margins in overtime. ↵

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↵U is for Uppers. Houston Nutt was mic’d up on Gameday, and if you didn’t see it, you missed two minutes of him randomly yelling phrases like, “It’s just the best days of your lives” and “GO GET SOMEWHERE FAST.” In the 4th, ABC’s crew aptly summed up Nutt’s sideline histrionics against Wake ↵

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↵“We’re not sure what Houston Nutt is excited about here.” ↵

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↵Neither are we, man. Ever. ↵

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↵V is for Vitamin Deficiency. Virginia needs iron. Fresh off an invigorating blowout at home by USC, the Cavaliers only managed 16 points and 295 yards against the Richmond Spiders. Al Groh may have won the battle for his job by boring everyone who opposes his continued employment into submission. ↵

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↵W is for Water. The most-wasted resource in the United States is water. The second is Jake Locker, a heroic player with talent shooting from every seam of his being. ↵

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↵Where does the Ty Willingham factor come into the debacled finale of the BYU/Washington game? Not in the final celebration penalty, on which the universe has come to complete agreement. (Complete and total crap, and interventionist officiating at its ticky-tackiest worst.) The Willingham factor comes in the fact that, once it happened, everyone watching knew in their gut that the extra point was blocked, because that’s just what seems to happen to Ty Willingham’s teams in his post-Stanford career: improbable losses in the clutch due to some malaise or neglect at the margins. And in a game of margins, those add up to long-term success or, in Willingham’s case at Washington, failure. ↵

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↵X is for Xerox. As in a carbon copy of the 2007 Tebow/Harvin offense, which Florida’s supposedly more-balanced 2008 offense was on Saturday night. Florida still has not found a tailback, and still has not found a way to take the load off Tim Tebow’s shoulders. Under pressure, the Gators revert to 2007 form, which isn’t bad. But that wasn’t the plan, was it? ↵

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↵Y is for Yep, Spencer forgot to include "Y." -- Editor ↵

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↵Z is for Zod. As in “Kneel before Zod,” the position USC, Georgia and Oklahoma occupy in college football as the indomitable villains looking for a Superman to fight. Ohio State looked anemic against Ohio, Florida had protection woes against Miami, and West Virginia flamed out against ECU. The first big tests for USC (Ohio State) and Georgia (on the road at South Carolina) come next week; Oklahoma remains relatively unvetted until October. For the moment, they’re all essentially tied for first. ↵ ↵

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

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