Spencer Hall previews the weekend's college football matchups with a handy rootability guide, featuring the ever-charming Bret Bielema.
The Rootability Index takes the marquee games on the schedule and helps you decide who to root for in every matchup. Spoiler! Pulling for Florida this week is EMOTIONALLY DANGEROUS.
NORTHWESTERN at ILLINOIS. The differences between Ron Zook and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald are many. Fitzgerald is a homegrown product, a Northwestern grad and former linebacker whose entire career has centered on Evanston. Ron Zook, meanwhile, waterskiied into town from Florida, just one stop on a long journeyman's tour of the coaching world. Am I saying that Ron Zook is a desperate hobo who will steal the dishes from your kitchen? No, not your kitchen, reader. He will, however, steal them from Pat Fitzgerald's kitchen happily, thus displaying the hustle indicative of this entire Illinois team, an opportunistic unit reliant on sacks (tops in the Big Ten), qb pressures, and a steady multipronged run game to grind out close wins.
Also, Pat Fitzgerald does not headbutt inanimate objects when he gets angry, and thus lacks ZOOKISH PASSION. He also does not have minor brain damage, but as Northwestern grad will tell you, they were probably smarter than you before you did that yourself. So yeah, you're pulling for Illinois here.
TEXAS A&M at ARKANSAS. That thousand yard stare in their eyes, Coach Sherman. Don't mess with these men. They've seen things you can't imagine. College safeties running 15 yards downfield to jump short crossing routes. 225 pound running backs moving like 180 pound cornerbacks. You don't get that 1000 yard stare without life burning something nasty into the back of their retinas. Coach Sherman, you don't stand a chance against that kind of battle-scarred psychosis. Well, especially if you just keep passing 15 times in a row when the defense knows it's coming, which is sort of psychotic all by itself right there. (Oklahoma State sure appreciated the crazy, though, and so will Arkansas.)
MISSISSIPPI STATE at GEORGIA. You can't break a potential tie between neutral allegiances with the mascot test here: both teams use the bulldog, albeit different shades and types of bulldog. (MIssissippi State's is the one with a brown coat that looks like he is NOT seconds from cardiac arrest.) Both teams are desperate for a win at this point, have some not insignificant dysfunction on both sides of the ball, and feature quarterbacks functioning without a whole lot of support from other skill players.
That said, we have to rely on the manpurse test to decide between the two. UGA quarterback Aaron Murray, please step this way.
You know, that kind of confidence is what keeps seasons afloat, dreams alive, and a team believing.
MICHIGAN STATE at OHIO STATE. Most people would have you believe the neutral observer would root for Kirk Cousins and Michigan State just because he's pretty, and articulate, and blessed with the moderately strong arm of an approachable god, and because his coach survived a heart attack to come back without so much as a whimper. You would be right, but please also note Michigan State's ability to throw a forward pass, something Ohio State is dead last in the conference in for the 2011 season.
LEAN: MICHIGAN STATE.
AUBURN at SOUTH CAROLINA. We really can't sell you on any aspect of this game save one: disorder. Sheer, swirling disorder in all directions. Auburn's defense has been so bad that three men at a time have been known to gang tackle the man holding the first down marker, since killing this man would be the only way they did not give up a first down. South Carolina's offense has been Marcus Lattimore and little else thanks to Stephen Garcia's regression into the holder who always throws your fake field goals in NCAA 2012, and that is NOT a good thing because he is the holder for a very good reason. He throws the ball like it is a water balloon, and with as much accuracy and consistency.
LEAN: SOUTH CAROLINA. If only to keep the dream of "Stephen Garcia, SEC Championship QB" alive and well.
CLEMSON at VIRGINIA TECH. I know, you've been hurt before by Clemson. To be honest, this team will also betray you, and disappoint you, and leave you weeping with the painful underwhelming hangover of promise unfulfilled. Let's just all be honest about that happening. That said, let's also own up to being infatuated with Chad Morris' offense, and with the convenient triplet production of Tajh Boyd, Sammy Watkins, and Andre Ellington, and also with the prospects of them working some magic in wearing out Virginia Tech's defense late in the game Saturday. Don't be a skeptic about love, baby, or at least not until you have to be. (This moment= "When they lose to NC State in late November or something dumb like that, something you know is TOTALLY going to happen.")
NEBRASKA at WISCONSIN. Bret Bielema met his wife by literally just walking right up to her in a casino, playing blackjack and talking with her for six hours, and then coaching her to a $600 profit before sweeping her off her feet and into the happily ever after. Bo Pelini probably sent his future wife a note the first time he saw her that said "YOU ARE NOW MARRIED TO BO PELINI PLEASE REPORT TO LINCOLN, NEBRASKA FOR DUTY."
LEAN: WISCONSIN. For the lover in you.
ALABAMA at FLORIDA: The master/student relationship is overplayed here, but let's remember how most of those go:
- The master teaches the student
- The student takes an unholy asswhipping at the hands of his master
- The student goes and trains, usually in a montage scene with peppy music
- The student then defeats the master
- They team up together to fight an insane madman.
Per the conventions of this storyline, Nick Saban should annihilate former assistant Will Muschamp this time around. Then Will Muschamp will retreat to the woods, sketch up fifteen diabolical new defenses on the wall of a cave in charcoal, and then return to better his master. Then, under a combined banner of The Florabama GatorTide, they will join forces to fight Les Miles and his team. Oh, and stupid story arcs aside, John Brantley is still Florida's qb, Alabama's defense is still their defense, and Florida has no wide receivers to open up room in the middle of the field for Demps and Rainey. Unless you are a homer bound to this team by blood (raises hand,) pulling for Florida in this game is a dangerous emotional wager you will likely lose.