College football's Week 12 requires us, now more than ever, to root for mayhem, since these games are not very good. However, Spencer Hall is here to steer you toward specific varieties of mayhem.
The Rootability Index attempts to push the uninterested fan surveying the week's action in one rooting direction or another. The basis for these decisions is very scientific and too complex to explain in this space. We would, of course, detail this process. The internet is full, though, and someone is going to have to delete some old Angelfire sites to make room for a full methods section. Sorry. Blame them and Geocities hogging all the room.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State. Contrary to what you might think about this game, Paul Rhoads does have options. the first option? DANCE.
The second thing you should know about Iowa State is that they truly are a lovable underdog, possessing a defense that has to this date done well against the pass (second in the Big 12, and held pass-wacky Texas Tech to 7 points two weeks ago.) The third thing you should know is that their pregame Jumbotron hype reel uses Nickelback. So, um...really, try to focus on the first two, and ignore the third. Let's see if we can ignore that damning musical fashion choice in the space between this sentence and the next one!
LEAN: Oklahoma State. SPOILER: we couldn't!
Nebraska at Michigan. Never in our wildest dreams did we think Brady Hoke would be so successful in his first year, maybe because of many unfair reasons I will be happy to admit. I assumed winning games at San Diego State meant little in the context of larger success, something I was wrong about. I failed to notice the pinpoint accuracy with which Hoke imitated the voice of Lloyd Carr, thus enabling him to hypnotize Dave Brandon into giving him the job. The hiring of assistant Greg Mattison back to Michigan was obscured by all those pesky thoughts of "Did they just hire Mike Golic's stunt double as coach?"
I saw a pizza-eating manbear whose shirt-tail was forever becoming untucked, and Michigan saw a winner, dangit. Root for Ol' Pizzafarts, the lovable galoot that he is, both because you were probably wrong too, and also because a Nebraska team that needs to win a game is the least reliable thing in the world. (Save your confidence for when they have no reason whatsoever to win a game, and then double down.) I say "Ol' Pizzafarts" with the deepest of affection. No, really, I do.
LEAN: Pizza, and its tragic aftereffects.
Penn State at Ohio State. Luke Fickell's in the most freeing position of all for an interim coach: the phase where he knows he will not be hired as the new head coach, knows his effective date of expiry, and can now just start either a.) phoning it in hard-like, or b.) go full experimental and do all the things he's ever wanted to do. Running the old smokestack-I 50 plays a game? Done. Coaching Ohio State in a hypercolor sweatshirt and goat pants? ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED. He's going for two whether you like it or not. No, he's perfectly aware you can't do this on a defensive series when you don't have the ball, but Tom Bradley's in close to the same position. He's sitting at the same existential Pai Gow table, man. See if he wants to make this party interesting and wager a few points on this play.
You go do that, game official. Also, address me as "Colonel Fickell," or I'll go out like Woody by swinging at the first Penn State player who gets close to me.
LEAN: Ohio State, unless Fickell phones it in and goes all "normal" on us.
Virginia at Florida State. The 'Hoos and the Seminoles have the same season record at this point, and both have just two losses in the ACC. Something's got to give! And that something is most likely Virginia, which despite having a very good year to date under Mike London is a bit outmanned in this weekend's matchup in Tallahassee. Please resort in advance to jokes about Florida State's academics in relation to Virginia's, commentary on the spiritual and literal wasteland that is Tallahassee in relation to the cuddly perfection of Charlottesville, and a reminder that your coach (Mike London, former vice cop) could totally kick their coach's ass in a fight.
Oklahoma at Baylor. Pro: Baylor really is just one glamorous sieve of a team, since they have one rock star in Robert Griffin III earning all the money at QB, and the defense spending the earnings plus some out the back end in allowing 458 yards a game. This makes Baylor kind of oddly admirable: not only are they a uniquely American team in their mix of profligate spending and amazing ability to score points, they're also exactly like that guy in Modern Warfare 3 who refuses to hide in corners and only uses throwing knives because "defense is unsportmanslike, and f--- yeah throwing knives." It is ultimately a doomed approach, but one you have to admire.
Contra: Baylor's mascot is not a licensed chiropractor. Do not listen to his lies!
USC at Oregon. Uniform variations, a deafening stadium, the oft-mentioned hellraising mascot, an offense that is as fun to watch as people setting off industrial fireworks twenty feet off the ground, the indomitable dwarf terror of LaMichael James ... it's unfair to compare USC and Oregon in terms of rootability, really. So let's just admit that you, the neutral observer, will be pulling for Oregon, and then say all the things USC fans want you to say about their program anyway:
- [Insert USC player here] is gonna do much better in the NFL than [Insert Oregon Player here.] We're like NFL Prep School!
- Our women are hotter.
- Our weather is better.
- We make more money.
- We enjoy bottle service at exclusive clubs that wouldn't let you look at the door, much less pass through it.
- Lane Kiffin's done a great job this year. That's not even a joke.
Not that Oregon or the rest of the world care about any of these, but Rootability does like to do something for our USC readers from time to time. Don't say we never gave you anything.