EUGENE OR - OCTOBER 21: LaMichael James #21 of the Oregon Ducks runs the ball against the UCLA Bruins on October 21 2010 at the Autzen Stadium in Eugene Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
This week's Alphabetical conveniently provides you with your regional mass reactions to the weekend's events, presents the horrible underworld of a bowl season waiting for you, and shows you Sean Connery in a jockstrap.
A is for Acetone Peroxide. A cheap and popular explosive, a good description for a college kicker since, if current prices are to be believed, this is the current valuation of positions and the kicker's place in the scheme.
- Unstoppable Tyrannosaurus QB: $200K ($180 with discount)
- Running back: $150K
- Wide receiver: $120K (Financing available with pass-happy offenses.)
- Offensive lineman: $80K
- Defensive Tackle: $150K
- Linebacker: $100K
- Kicker: $75.50 and a year of streaming Netflix.
The cheap part for kickers should be obvious enough. Mike Leach recruited one out of the stands in 2009. In the NFL they're often hired and fired based on single kicks. I knew one who dropped out to become a fishing guide because the market for kickers was less fickle than life on the open water. Please reread that: making a living on the whims of mother nature's cruelest and least forgiving environment made more sense than trying to make a living as a kicker.
Sometimes the disrespected squirrel removal men of the football men do get their moment in the sun. Please listen to the noise this kick makes.
That sound isn't unlike the noise of a pot full of black powder going off at a distance. From the endzone cameras Dustin Hopkins' game winning kick in Florida State's 16-13 win over Clemson doesn't clear the bar: it sails past it on its own demon-raven farting flame and shooting middle fingers of pure hellfire in all directions, flying a good five yards past the bar. In the dead, humid air of Tallahassee, the kick would have been good from 60. In Colorado it would have hit the scoreboard at Folsom Field.
An awe-inspiring cannonade from Hopkins is the most spectacular moment of athleticism seen in week eleven that did not involve Cam Newton being himself or Aaron Murray surviving several instances of unflagged aggravated assault at the hands of Nick Fairley. The boom belongs to you, oft-neglected kicker.
(Even the Quad God Hopkins has had his moments of disrespect. A kicker's moments of glory remain fleeting, and evaporate in lieu of continued slapping by their coaches and indeed by life in general.)
B is for Bandito. Kellen Moore, dork assassin.
The Kibbie Dome took its share of mockery on Twitter, but you really all should let up on the poor old barn. It's a multiuse facility for a university in one of the least populous states in the Union, and if Idahoans are anything it is economical. For instance, in that silvery barn/quonset hut/overgrown toolshed, Boise unleashed a full game's worth of points on their in-state rival in the span of a single half, ensuring you wouldn't have to watch the remainder of the game by turning it into a 31-0 blowout at the half. And yet all you do is vote them down, East Coast voters, even when they're trying to get your fat pampered asses to bed by eleven o'clock. The lack of gratitude towards the most deadline-friendly team in the nation here is sad but not surprising, plush-bottomed sportswriters of America.
C is for Curio. A relic of an event that never happened: on the first play of the fourth quarter, Cal kicker Giorgio Tavecchio kicked a 24 yard field goal. Cal took a 16-13 lead, defeated Oregon, ruined the Pac-10's national title chances, became bowl eligible, and struck one of the most thunderous blows to the general order of 2010's college football cosmos. The curio is that moment when Tavecchio struck it, and the Cal student section did that roller coaster cheer that crescendoes and then immediately dies and scatteres when the tiny scrap of yellow fabric is spotted out on the field. Tavecchio's stutter step is called, the kick is moved back five yards for the retry, and the shank seals Cal's fate. If Oregon wins the national title, remember that no championship season is without its stutters, and that sometimes they can be a miraculous thing.
D is for Desultory. On a day with some reprehensible offensive performances, Oregon's power outage was the most inexplicable: 324 yards, 20 first downs, and a single TD on the day. Applause and cookies are awarded to Cal's defense, who for the most part did a very simple thing very well: stayed put, played their assignments, and with discipline and good tackling turned LaMichael James' budding 20 yard runs into manageable three and four yard gains. Jeers and naught but the rankest garbage (and some giggling) are given to Cal's blatant lolling on the ground to slow down the Oregon hurry-up. You'll get a red card for that, Pac-10 defenses. You say those are only given out in soccer? Consider how much Pac-10 refs actually know about the game of football and their past atrocities, and then tell me it's an impossible dream.
E is for Equivocations. Oregon will, by Monday or Tuesday, have its national polling data in a neat crystallized pattern. The reactions to this by region follow in convenient graph form.
To recap what you will hear on talk radio this week by region: the West Coast will tout the parity and strength of the Pac-10 as well as laud Oregon's special teams and defense, the South will bellow about Auburn, The Midwest will grumble about that unwholesome brand of football they already beat in the Rose Bowl, the Big East will quietly keep cashing checks and hope no one notices, and Texas and Florida will just ask you to leave them alone and let them die in peace.
F is for Fetish. This is a family website, but in desperate times economics demands diversity. Therefore, ladies of Alabama, we offer up the fetish niche you know you've been craving: young athletes being spanked hard by Nick Saban.
G is for Gigantism. For the moment let's just take the issue of his eligibility and place it in the black box of unverifiable things.* Georgia's defense played the best game against Newton that anyone has in the second half of the season, and that's a necessary qualifier, since Auburn's fearsome rush attack only really exploded into the range of Brobdingnagian production later in the season. (Their 17-14 win over Miss State featured a mere 348 yards of offense. This is the ridiculous curve we're grading Auburn on.)
The best against Newton, however, will still get you gutted for a 12/14, 148 yard and 2 TD passing day to go with the expected rampage on the ground: 30 carries for 151 yards and 2 TDs. Georgia hit him, too, but Newton morphs from long-play guy to short-yardage hammer effortlessly. He falls forward for four yards every time he touches the ball, doesn't need touch on the ball because he throws RPG shots like a teenager on Red Bull in the midst of a Call of Duty killstreak, and is the best offensive football player you will see in college football this year. He's so good Auburn doesn't need defense, which is great for Auburn since they don't have one.
*Just like Schrodinger's Cat, which if you'll recall might be dead. Newton's eligibility is just like this, except without the possibility of being alive.
H is for Hints. THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN THIS IS NOT FORESHADOWING AUBURN.
I is for Imbroglio. If/when Auburn wins the SEC Championship--with Mike Slive handing the trophy over and quietly mouthing "don't get that thing engraved' to his trophymakers--this will be the reaction to the scandal by region.
J is for Jocular. It's not often you see the quarterback holding the Gatorade tub after a victory. Traditionally that's a lineman's job, or maybe a linebacker at the lightest, but brah, Stephen Garcia's a free spirit and doesn't stick your categories, man. A beaming Garcia was on the right side of the Gatorade shower admin team in the Swamp on Saturday night, and fittingly so: after three years of Oedipal, father-son tumult, benchings, public criticism, and enduring beatings at the hands of various shuffling Gamecock offensive lines, a triumphant Garcia dousing his coach was just desserts for all concerned.
K is for Killed. South Carolina's defense is superb in all but one capacity: pass defense, a category where they came into the game ranked ninth off a fresh scorching by Arkansas and Ryan Mallett. Naturally, a Florida offense wanting to score points on this defense would pass the ball, pass it deep, and pass it often. Despite his reputation as a dive addict, Florida's offensive coordinator clearly recognized this, too. He would show them they were all wrong, those who wanted his head for the worst Florida offense since the days of Charlie Pell. He would show them his aerial genius.
Florida had 51 yards of total offense at the half and zero offensive points. Steve Addazio is so horrible at his job that he makes Greg Davis feel better about himself. [There were other sentences here, but they devolved into a serious of profanities so heinous we cannot with clear conscience allow them to be printed. But to summarize: the writer believes this man should be fired, and forcibly ejected from the offices via ejection seat or trebuchet.]
L is for Luby's. The Meat and Three Theory is this; if you have three first-rank players on a college football team and decent beef on the offensive line, you can win ten games. LSU has Drake Nevis, Patrick Peterson, and Kelvin Sheppard. Auburn has Nick Fairley, Cam Newton, and Onterrio McCalebb. (Cam should really count for two, but work with us here.) Alabama has Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, and Trent Richardson. South Carolina has Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffrey, and the combined force of Devin Taylor and Melvin Ingram on the defensive line. Ohio State has Terrelle Pryor, Chimdi Chekwa, and Boom Herron.
The obvious exceptions to this half-brained theory are system teams like Oregon, who seem to get production no matter who they plug into the spots, but on the whole it's a pretty good indicator as to the overall health of your team's chances of winning. I know this because on Saturday night, the only name I could pull together to compare to South Carolina' trio was "Chas Henry, punter." This is its own rule, and an obvious one: if the only quality player you can name on your team is your punter, you are dead in the water and feeling the nibbles of merciless sharks on your toes.
M is for Moors. Hie thee to the moors; there the MAC doth play its most spectral football upon the wastes of the Green of Bowling.
The fog sometimes creeps on little cat feet, and sometimes it stomps in with big cow hooves and wrecks your whole game. Miami somehow ended up winning this 24-21 on a field goal kicked in a dead blind fog, but Miami's special teams coach has the Redhawks kickers practice blindfolded all the time. (Steve Addazio of Florida does the same thing with his quarterbacks, but with drastically different results.)
N is for Nice Catch, Dude. John Brantley completed a pass for a ten yard loss to himself on Saturday night against South Carolina.
O is for Others (Are In Pain And Want To Gouge Their Eyes Out and Do Not Want To Football Anymore.) Texas scored three in the first half against Oklahoma State in a 33-16 loss. If Texas fans want to do harm to Greg Davis, they're going to have to get in line behind the Texas defensive staff, who is waiting in an orderly and determined queue holding wrenches, pipes, and other instruments of frustration.
P is for Phrynosoma Cornutum. The scientific term for the horned frog, a.k.a. TCU who had a tough game--but a win--against a vastly improved San Diego State team. You could make the points about SDSU being a sort of "Cal of the Mountain West," or that every team has a down week and the good ones don't let them turn into losses, but this is most likely how you're going to feel about this because you are a.) partisan, and b.) almost certainly didn't watch this game.
Q is for Quagswag. To shake to and fro, as in the heads of everyone who wonders why we don't have a better way of solving this not requiring LOLmaps and the Billingsley poll having anything to say about this whatsoever.
R is for Raze. Wisconsin's 83 points against Indiana on Saturday confirm which coach cheats at golf on the Big Ten's annual coaches' golf junket: it is Bill Lynch, Bret Bielema saw it, and made note of it for later use. Very rarely, the horrendous blowout becomes the fault of the other team failing to compete on any level, the equivalent of taping your hand to the bully's as he hits you so get twice the beating for half the effort. Additionally, one possible tiebreaker in the Big Ten is BCS rankings, which have a human element, a human element whose eyes goggle when they see 83 points on the board. Don't blame the assassin: blame the system that made him. (And the target wearing a bulletproof vest made of cardboard, a.k.a. Bill Lynch's horrible, no good, and very bad Indiana team.)
S is for STFU. Remember, the internet is a two-way street. Talk all you like on a forum, but remember that after a 28-3 dismantling of Utah, those same players may talk right back to you, message board warriors.
Emeka, you're now our favorite Notre Dame footballer ever.
T is for Tartarus. From the underworld, actual bowl projections for this year. When these actually happen, Bill Hancock will be fired for breaking into an uncontrollable fit of giggling when he says "The bowl system really does benefit college football as a whole HAHAHAHAHAHAH---" When he dies three days later of exhaustion, he will be buried in the many colored coats of the BCS Bowls.
New Mexico Bowl: Texas vs. BYU
Las Vegas Bowl: Miami (OH) vs. Utah
Little Caesar's Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Temple
Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Northwestern
Pinstripe Bowl: K-State vs. West Virginia
Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Miss State vs. Miami
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Pitt
Orange Bowl: Boise State vs. Florida State
This really is the place beneath Hades, but with hourly flyovers of military aircraft and horrible halftime entertainment.
U is for Unanimous National Map Of Reaction To This Potential Future
V is for Valor. UConn' call made mathematical sense, but for Randy Edsall to close out the game on a 4th and 2 on his own 19 late in the game isn't your normal geek's wager. This was the kind of geeky wager made by astronauts sitting on rockets on launchpads in the sixties, unsure if they were going into orbit or become seagull food scattered on the beaches of Cape Canaveral. Jordan Todman made the first down, but he had been doing that all night, as UConn ran on 3rd and long five times in the game with Todman. The extreme dedication to running on any down paid off, and upset the balance of the Big East in the process. Well played, chaos commando Edsall.
W is for Won Easily. Akron, the last winless team in FBS football, had their best week of their season: a victory over the notoriously feisty bye week.
X is for Xenobiotic: A substance foreign to the body, as in the notion of a bowl-eligible team in the Sun-Belt. In week eleven only Tory at 5-4 stands a chance of becoming bowl-eligible, and they're second in the league.
Y is for Yaaaaaaarrrrrr. East Carolina clambered back to a 54-42 victory over the UAB Blazers by scoring 27 points in a quarter under the tutelage of former Mike Leach assistant Lincoln Riley. The pirate himself may be in exile, but his disciples continue to fire cannons on the high seas in the name of swashbuckling adventure.
Z is for Zardoz.
That's Sean Connery in f$#*-me boots and a jock strap with crossed-up suspenders in one of his more bizarre roles in Zardoz. He also has the ponytail you last saw on your community college professor who's overly fond of making uncomfortable and overly sexual literary references to girls in the front row. I've been searching for some way of making sense of all of this, of a year when the Big Ten is in knots, the Pac-10 might be won for the second year in a row by Oregon, where Texas can't score twenty points and where Florida has been diagnosed with Bell's Palsy. Boise State and TCU can go ahead and play for the title: let them, since it would make perfect sense in this year when the sport has played against type and taken the bizarre, be-jockstrapped role we'll all scratch our heads at in retrospect, and occasionally point and laugh at in fond memory.