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The Alphabetical, Week 8 preview edition: Dabo vs. Jimbo forever

Nick Saban orchestrates the ACC from afar, Kirk Ferentz is about to cash in an 18-year contract extension, and it's do or die time for your team. (Your team will die.)

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

ACC. The weirdest thing is happening this weekend: an ACC regular season game with real national title implications.

Florida State players will fly to South Carolina and then get on a bus to Clemson. Clemson players, meanwhile, will wake up in their homes, go to the Clemson football facility, and get dressed. Then they will get on a bus and drive around the stadium to show that Clemson is rich and can waste as much gas as they like. Clemson is powerful and has dominion over the earth and its resources.

Boyd. Maybe Clemson just does it for the most obvious reason: it's cool to get a police escort to drive an eighth of a mile around a stadium with lights ablaze. It's cool to disgorge a humongous roster onto a curb. It's cool to be unmolested by Clemson fans who might get too exuberant along the way and demand hugs while stuffing beer and barbecue into their gloved hands.

Note: this would afford some second-stringer or kicker the opportunity to become a hero by chugging a beer from the crowd before the game. You'd also get kicked off the team, most likely, but glory always has a price.

And one of those players will be Tajh Boyd, the quarterback with an average of 10 wins a season as a starter who was once politely declined by Lane Kiffin as a Lane Kiffin-style quarterback. And who met another happy coincidence in his offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, who just two years prior to his arrival in Clemson had been coaching high school in Austin, Texas. Morris was hired by Dabo Swinney, aka the intern who took over the company after the deportation of the Tommy Bowden regime from the Tiger Republic, aka the guy who really should have never been in the position to be head coach by any stretch of logic, and yet who has won 46 games as head coach, has two straight wins over SEC opponents, and who with a win Saturday, will have Clemson on pace for an ACC title and perhaps more should the universe align correctly.

Aka the guy you'd imagine saying silly, outlandishly country things in his head when this happens.

Cornfeathers! "Well, got a live crowd, good vibes, team feels good--


CORNFEATHERS! Welp, gotta scoot--"

Dragons. That Dabo Swinney jerk-start down the hill has been the better part of six years in the making. The other sideline's current cast of characters has taken even longer. After the 2006 season, LSU offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher nearly became the football coach at UAB, a coach-killing pit of a job that could have prevented this particular Florida State-Clemson matchup from ever happening. The Alabama Board of Trustees blocked the contract, perhaps to keep UAB from ever becoming competitive, and perhaps as part of the job pitch to Nick Saban, who requested it to keep his friend from taking a career-soiling job.

Extras. And Saban's involved in the event tree here, or at least uninvolved to a significant point in two cases.

The first: Saban wanted Fisher as his offensive coordinator, a job Fisher turned down for FSU in 2007, where like Dabo, he had to wait out the waning days of a Bowden to get his head job.

Second, Alabama was interested, but not interested-interested in Jameis Winston, the Hueytown, Alabama native who will start at Clemson on Saturday night, and who will do something spine-tingling. Winston is a loping ball of freshman brilliance too young to be scared, too talented to be stopped, and perhaps too new at this to know how much he's not supposed to be doing this.

Fray. The Fray will be playing Gator Growl, the Florida student pep rally known for abominable music and even more atrocious behavior in the crowd. Their songs include "Over My Head" and "How To Save a Life."

Florida will play Missouri in Columbia, Missouri. This game will only be available on ESPN3 or on the local affiliate of the SEC Network in your area. It features an undefeated Tigers team whose prize for winning their first road game against a ranked opponent since 1981 was losing their starting quarterback to a shoulder injury, and a Florida team decimated by a storm of ACL tears, broken legs, and turnovers.

These things are all connected, somehow, and not just because things were a lot better in 2006 for both the Fray and Florida.

Gazillions. The odds to one if you care to bet on whether WIll Muschamp has ever heard of The Fray, or indeed any other band that came of age after the year 1994. when he graduated college. Even before that, we would be hard cash money that Muschamp's only CDs in possession were worn copies of Greatest Hits by Hank Williams, Jr, Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses, and Damn Yankees by Damn Yankees.

Hatin' Ass Spurrier.

You cannot make anything up about Steve Spurrier that is not trumped by Steve Spurrier in real life.

Ill-favored. Ugly football is a hallmark of the George O'Leary era at UCF by design.

"I like ugly, big kids. They don't bother me with girls and all that crap in my office. Nobody wants to date them."

Just tell UCF that they have nice eyes. This is the consolation prize to all homely men, even if they are football players set to give Louisville the nastiest shot at an upset left on the Cardinals' anemic 2013 schedule. Condescend to them. Tell them how pretty Teddy Bridgewater is, and praise him. Make them hate his pretty face, and his flawless passes, and then... well, they will probably lose to him anyway.

Jarta. A term of endearment, like, "Nearly one of the best teams in college football." Miami is so very close to being right there in the top tier of college football teams by the numbers now, and yet keeps getting sabotaged both by timing -- a weak early schedule on the whole -- and the devaluation of the Florida team it beat early in the season for its biggest win. (The most bitter rivalry move of all: to ruin your strength of schedule, and even in defeat weaken your better.)

Tonight won't help: UNC is 1-4, and will be lucky to qualify for the Belk Bowl at this rate. HAVE A PASSION FOR THE PANTS, TAR HEELS.

Kakidrosis. Body odor, and not the good kind. The midpoint of a season has several opportunities to stop a slight reek before it becomes a proper stink. See:

  • North Carolina. 1-4 and possibly headed for a lot more of a lot worse.
  • Vanderbilt. 0-3 in the SEC and given a prime opportunity to stop that streak versus a gimpy UGA team this weekend.
  • Arizona. 0-2 in the Pac-12, and set up for an upset over Utah after the Utes' win over Stanford last week.
  • Minnesota AND Northwestern. Both 4-2, and both winless in conference, and facing each other this weekend so someone's getting a conference win. See, dirt disinfects dirt, just like your grandfather told you. He also ate a spoonful of vaseline a day for vague health reasons, so he might not be the best medical consult here.
  • TCU. 1-2 in Big 12 play, and facing an Oklahoma team that's previously lost any ability to score against a defense that's half as good as TCU's Oklahoma State.
  • Washington. Yes, 4-2, but 1-2 in the conference, which certainly isn't as good a record as their upcoming opponent, the 2-1 Pac 12 contenders walking around in Arizona State's clothes.
  • Arkansas. At 0-3 in the SEC right now, could go to 1-3 with a historic upset of Alabama! That won't and can't happen! But it's fun to think about, since Bret Bielema would surely handle the win graciously, and by that we mean he would poop on the 50-yard line of Bryant-Denny Stadium in celebration.

Lowered. Terry Baggett of Army will really hurt his rushing average by playing Temple this week, since Temple is not Eastern Michigan and will likely not let him run for 304 yards on only 18 carries. Remember that Ron English told you he was a rapacious bird, and not a football coach, and you still hired him anyway, Eastern.

Minions. Bouncy, unstoppable, and capable of taking the shape their maker wishes them to assume. Gus Malzahn is doing his best Gru imitation with Auburn going into a game against Texas A&M with a former DB at quarterback, an anonymous cast of receivers, and a 5-1 record in his first year as Auburn head coach. The minions are following suit, taking the shape of their creator, and playing far better football than they have any right to be playing. They might not beat Texas A&M, but they can run almost as many plays, and make the sod of Kyle Field more valuable for the memories, but far less valuable as actual sod.

NOTICE FROM LEGAL. We reserve rights to the caricatured Malzahn-as-Gru with the title "Despicable G," but assume no liability because Universal Pictures is probably suing over this as we speak.

Overdue. You pay Kirk Ferentz to win something big every seven years or so: 14 years in the Big Ten, two titles, and a good nine years between the last Iowa win over Ohio State in 2004.

Let's pre-empt you by saying this: there is no sane reason why anyone would pick Iowa over the Buckeyes this weekend. But there's no sane reason to pay Kirk Ferentz that kind of money, or to expect that Iowa will consciously try to do anything at all against Ohio State, so let's rule out sanity as a measure of anything in this game, too. If anyone were to ruin Ohio State's streak, confuse the national title picture, and simply serve a purpose by being the immovable traffic barrier that just happened to jump out in front of a moving 18-wheeler, well... that's Iowa football, where less is more is holy crap how is that team winning a game?

Podolak. Just remember: they only need 11 points to win.

Quasi. As in, "sort of like football," or whatever Cal's going to be playing against Oregon State. Let's take the No. 1 passing offense in college football and put it up against Cal's No. 123 defense, and you know what it looks like when you burn a Christmas tree? The Golden Bears are a whole defense just made up of old, dry, and insanely flammable Christmas trees, and Mike Riley loves the kids. And you know what the kids like? Fires. Huge, spectacularly unsafe ones.

Recalcitrant. Iowa State will hold Baylor to under 50 points. This will seem strange, but only because scoring 70 points for a month straight now has Baylor held to a standard so far out of whack with reality that 45 points, in comparison, will seem meager. This will be used against them by those willing to show how they'll struggle when they play real teams, and that's why you shouldn't be too bent about a College Football Playoff committee.

It's easier to yell at 13 people about bad mathematical arguments than it is to yell at a mob of moronic pollsters.

Sin. As in the city of, where, well look at that: UNLV is 4-2, and that's a serious accomplishment for the Rebels. They'll be 4-3 after facing rampaging Fresno State, because everyone tastes the Fres-tucky Buzzsaw this year, but 4-3 is still an improvement over recent miseries in Vegas.

Now for the giant new stadium, and the best possible home for the Pac-12 Championship visited on the company dime. Per diem placed on the roulette table EVERY NIGHT.

Taken. A speculative flyer on BYU-Houston, both because Houston is quietly undefeated. Also because BYU's Taysom Hill is like watching the CFL Tebow you've been cruelly robbed of by life and cowardly CFL GMs.*

* Or wise ones. Whatever. Sign him just for humor's sake, because Canadians are so funny we've imported them for years for comedic purposes.

Unwinfeated. Among them: Temple, still winless but headed into a winnable game against Army; New Mexico State, who faces Rice this weekend; Southern Miss, likely losers to a good East Carolina team; Hawaii, who will beat the bye week and still remain winless; Western Michigan, still dancing despite being 0-7 and headed to a near-certain defeat to Ball State this weekend.

Vim. Despite the defeats, PJ Fleck still has it, and will still row this boat.

ROW. ROW. ROW. ROW. Row that boat, wherever it's going, Coach.

Wazzu. Mike Leach's 2013 team has 20 turnovers on the season, with 13 of them coming off Connor Halliday interceptions, and three of them coming in a single late burst in a loss to Oregon State last weekend. He does have 14 TDs, so let's call him 1 under on the first nine, with a chance to break even down the stretch. (But not against Oregon this weekend, where he will throw ten picks because Mike Leach doesn't care about your feelings, son.)

Xylophory. Wood-carrying, as in Houston Nutt, cruelly robbed of both the USC job and a spot on the college football committee in the same week.

Ypres. As in the Battle Of, or the best possible nickname for Michigan State's offense.

Zoodikers! An exclamation of surprise, like "Zoodikers! You're watching Georgia Tech and Syracuse play football!"

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