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The Alphabetical, Week 2: The Week Of The Bulldog

The Alphabetical this week explains the Week of the Bulldog, and knows exactly four things about college football two weeks into the season.

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Aquacise: Because bulldogs need to look more ridiculous, America.

Remember that that happened. Remember also that the weekend of the Bulldog started before any team took the field, and that Mississippi State mascot Bully is merely testing the future of American fitness: incentivized underwater treadmill plodding. Mississippi State not only beat their first SEC West opponent not named "Ole Miss," but also just copyrighted the next million dollar weight loss franchise. (Do not laugh: you would gladly let someone feed you bacon while you ran on a treadmill.)

Bulldog Jarvis Jones may have broken Mizzou on Saturday night, but he did not take their sense of humor.


Jones had nine tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception against Mizzou, and did all of it with an injured groin. Assume the injury just made him angrier, and even more like the invincible 11-foot linebacker you find in various versions of EA Sports. This is a literal and serious comparison: Jarvis Jones made that exact annoying video game pick against James Franklin on Saturday night, and then put a move on a would-be tackler before rolling into the endzone. PRO TIP: the best game plan for Jarvis Jones is not to play against him, ever.

Shutdown Fullback reviews Week 2!

Coming up with new achievement in college football is becoming increasingly difficult, but throwing for a touchdown and a field goal in the same game is just something Tino Sunseri felt duty-bound to accomplish on Thursday night against Cincinnati. Sunseri assumes this year's John Brantley mantle: the prospect quarterback whose now career-long struggle is indistinguishable from his circumstances (three head coaches in three years), and yet still totally his and his alone when you watch it.

I feel bad in saying this, but as a viewer I hate to see Sunseri sacked the first, second, and third times. But when it gets to five? I crave seeing the sixth sack, because if we're going to all watch a car fire, I want to see the tires melt into the pavement.

Declarative sentences about anything two weeks into the season are difficult, but you have to try. These may be the only four statements I could defend at this point:

  • Auburn is terrible. This kind of terrible: not untalented, not inherently bad, but patternless. You know that magical moment when things coalesce, and it looks like all 11 people on a field represent the physical manifestation of a coordinated and intelligent plan? You do not know this if you have watched Auburn football this season, particularly if you watched them against Mississippi State. Without a kickoff return, they would have scored three points against the Bulldogs, and everything but Corey Lemonier is not working for them right now.
  • Notre Dame is competent. This is a cautious statement made in spite of Tommy Rees making an appearance on the field. A competent apperance, mind you. We don't know what planet this is either.
  • Carter Blackburn still looks like Harold (Bud Cort) from Harold and Maude. We hope this means he terrifies Rod Gilmore by faking suicides on the set regularly.
  • Alabama is the only very good team in college football. Everyone else is a double agent ready to turn on you at any instant. Spies abound, and you are warned.

Exempted from consideration as demonstrably excellent: Texas, Florida State, Oklahoma, Oregon, and every other team opening the season by walking into an elementary school playground and screaming, "WHO WANTS SOME?" The usual complaints about soft scheduling bore the hell out of everyone, but if you want to do polls in September, you cannot point to the corpse of Savannah State and demand credit. You can, however, demand a mop, because Savannah State is just all over the place, and it is going to take weeks to clean this up.

P.S. Mack Brown could beat up 40 kindergarteners even at his advanced age, but would probably rather recruit them decades in advance.

Friday Nights were Tessitore's night, yes? And yet there it is, still on the streets even with Tessitore safely in the custody of ESPN's first line crew. As Utah State ground out an error-prone, scrap-iron salad of a win against Utah to beat their in-state rival for the first time in 15 years, the phrase We might have gotten the wrong man may have popped into your head.

Rod Gilmore would have answered your questions, but he was gone with the echoing preludes of the SportsCenter theme, hiding behind the greatest trick the Tessitore Effect ever pulled: convincing you it ever existed, and was not in fact the Gilmore Effect. He then disappeared into the night, smiling quietly and escaping onto the bloody trail of disappeared favorites and the battered hopes of ranked teams who found pain on the week's fifth evening.

Gary Andersen will straight up assault a photographer if he has to, or even if he doesn't. It is a sign of affection in the WAC, which might explain why no one in the WAC wants to hang out with each other after the 2012 season. The photographer in that GIF also does a reasonable imitation of Utah's offensive line this year: terrified, moving backwards, and watching while other people move around them. Utah went two for 16 on third down, or one for eight if you're into reduced fractions, or "is playing very ineffectively" for you qualitative types.

Related: The Alphabetical's More Numbery Cousin, The Numerical

Handsome is one word for Larry Fedora. Just look at him, suited up and thrilling the hundreds of football fans in North Carolina.


He is also not the one who got sent back out onto the field after a vicious hit along the goal line during a game against Wake Forest this past weekend. That person is quarterback Bryn Renner. He looked like this after that hit.


Martin Rickman wrote about this at length already, so let's just leave this here: one of these people is the coach paid a substantial sum of money to coach football, and the other is a football player he coaches, a player who was sent right back into the game after striking this pose on the turf. You are not a doctor, and I am not a doctor, and whoo boy, Larry Fedora is so obviously not one either, but if you watched any of this without getting at least a bit queasy, you are probably the sort of person who would just send Bryn Renner back out there, too.

Interim is a bad word for anything. This quote from Stanley Kubrick is relevant, I swear:

You're an idealist, and I pity you as I would the village idiot.

Stanley Kubrick took something over as an interim-type person once: the film Spartacus, a nightmare for a control freak like Kubrick who found himself working with a story he did not write, actors he did not hire, and an entire process he had to rework his way. The result was Kubrick, one of the greatest filmmakers of his time, making what most agree is a mediocre movie.

John L. Smith is no auteur, but say this about him: in a very short span of time, he has managed to put his imprint on the Razorbacks. With Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson waiting in the wings, Arkansas called 41 passes and 25 runs against a Sun Belt team that, in theory, they should have been able to blow off the ball. The defense never lost contain because in order to lose something it had to have had it to begin with, something the Razorbacks never had.

John L. Smith is an idealist, and clearly believed he could make this team his own. Kubrick was wrong in one sense: John L. Smith came in as an interim, and has made this a team into something that looks a lot like his constantly short-circuiting Michigan State teams. Who's the genius now, Stanley? (P.S. John L. Smith saw Eyes Wide Shut and says that masked ball scene looks eerily like Bobby Petrino's holiday parties.)

Just as spurious as deciding whether teams are good based on two games worth of experience: saying a conference is horrendous based on one weekend. It would be foolish to say that the Big Ten, for instance, was demonstrably horrid as a group after one weekend where all of the following happened:

  • Iowa, failing to score the necessary 11 points Kirk Ferentz needs to win a football game, lost to in-state rivals Iowa State. Iowa State scored nine points, and Greg Davis is Iowa's offensive coordinator. No further explanation is necessary.
  • Penn State lost to UVa, a school where some people still wear ties to football games when they do decide to actually attend football games.
  • Indiana leveled UMass, but lost their starting QB to a gruesome leg fracture for the year.
  • Michigan struggled with Air Force. Patriotic, yes. Disturbing, also yes.
  • Nebraska lost to UCLA, which is disturbing, but not as disturbing as the 344 yards rushing the Huskers gave up on the ground
  • Illinois lost 45-14 to Arizona State.
  • Purdue lost to Notre Dame. (See earlier comments about "game-winning drive with Tommy Rees.")

It's one week in a very long season, but don't think Jim Delany is not at this instant crafting the most carefully worded full-page ad in the Birmingham News congratulating Alabama on their continued football success while also slyly mentioning the state's dismal high school dropout rates.

Killing everything within 50 yards of him: Johnathan Franklin of UCLA who is averaging the modest sum of 215.5 yards a game on the ground. He's been untouchable in two games, a fact made even more enjoyable when you notice he's doing it in a gentle, soothing shade of powder blue. Tackling him or Brett Hundley must be like getting mauled by a Easter outfit: "My, that's just a lovely combination of colors and OW OW OKAY JUST RUN THAT WAY I'LL BE OVER HERE BLEEDING but it really does bring out your eyes."

Last seen in the Rose Bowl: Wisconsin's offensive line, a unit so bad it got its coach fired for their anemic performance in the first two games of the season. Sitting at 103rd in the nation, the Badgers are currently outranked by teams such as Houston in rushing. Houston threw the ball 77 times this past weekend in a loss to Lousiana Tech. Montee Ball, after being beaten up by five guys at once in the offseason, will now have the privilege of getting pummeled by 11 at once for the remainder of the 2012 season.

Mike is a gentleman, so you know he bought dinner first, most likely a box of Raisin' Canes finest chicken fingers and some box wine to set the mood right.

The LSU defensive line, though, did not even have the courtesy to call back the next morning, and ate chicken wings in bed while watching indescribable filth on the television afterwards. I kept flipping over to this game, and one of two images kept appearing: a.) a Washington runner in pain on the ground, or b.) the entire LSU offensive line laying belly-first onto the Husky defensive front. I'm not saying it wasn't sexy, but I will also clear my search history and deny I ever watched this game for pleasure. (I did. It was great. Editor, please delete this.)

N00bs in the SEC, take heart because for you, Texas A&M, there is Johnny Manziel, a ridiculous runner who will be fine once he slows down and stops playing Ritalin football long enough to see his receivers in the field of play. Mizzou should feel fine as well, after going toe-to-toe with Georgia until landlord Jarvis Jones shut out the lights almost singlehandedly.

Oh, but Jarvis Jones doesn't own the stadium. Shhh, you say that to yourself, and only quietly, son. He may hear you.

Oceanic images make you play better football: this is established fact after the Pac-12 took spanking new branding and their fancy new network to the field and just continued innovating. Jeff Casteel's invention of adhesive defensive backs really made the difference in Arizona's game against Oklahoma State. Just look at them stick:


Only being able to remove them with kerosene and steel wool is a bit of a problem, Jeff Casteel. You might want to work on that, since you will need all the defensive backs you can get in a Pac-12 schedule.

Perhaps the best moment from this game--beside Rich Rodriguez failing to hide looking really happy at the end--came toward the end when Wes Lunt, throwing with the total confidence of someone seconds away from throwing an interception, did exactly that in heaving the ball to a streaking DB Jonathan McKnight. McKnight was baiting Lunt, and performed the most balletic and heartstopping of INTs: the swooping theft done at full sprint, so far away from the receiver initially that cameras didn't even have him in the frame.

The Raptorception might be the best name for it: the ball is a happy rabbit trotting in the field one minute, and the next its in the hands of a falcon screaming 80 miles an hour the other way.

Questionable Playcall Of The Week: Not that it mattered, but going for it on 4th and 11 with a fake punt against Georgia, a team burned last year in the South Carolina game on a fake punt, might have been playing into the teeth of preparation. Also, South Carolina used giant attack human Melvin Ingram on theirs, and Mizzou put theirs in the hands of Trey Barrow, a fine athlete who is decidedly NOT a giant attack human.

Relevant to this coming week: Florida will attempt to slow down the game against Tennessee, while Tennessee will attempt to speed up the game because of their explosive evidence, and Harvey Dent was right about everything in The Dark Knight Returns. Heroes do become villains, and Florida becomes Tennessee, and Tennessee becomes Florida.

Sent to you on Linkedin: an invitation to connect with whatever person at CBS may have been responsible for choosing the Alabama-Arkansas game over that weird, inverted world of a Florida-Tennessee game. Then again, maybe as an amateur scholar of John L. Smithdom, maybe he knows that losing to ULM is the perfect precursor to a fluky defeat of Alabama, and was banking on this all along. Save his pink slip for Sunday morning, boys. (I'm referring to CBS execs, not Arkansas football people, who don't have to worry about firing John L. Smith because he was never really hired, anyway.)

Thermourology would be the proper term for academic studies of John L. Smith, per the commentariat. Note this in your journal full of "fake science football made me create" along with "Particle Chiziks," "Willinghamerican Studies," and "Leachconomics."

Unremarked on and unnoticed by most, the second leading passer in the country at this point is Syracuse's Ryan Nassib, who has been on a tear against good competition, and now has to play the Big East, and this is where we make the obligatory remark about Ryan Nassib playing in the Big East, and therefore now playing weaker competition the rest of the way after starting with Northwestern and USC. I say that because whatever happens out of this, someone will divine a way to say "LOL Big East" at the end of it, even if Nassib finishes with 4,000 passing and 35 TDs on the year. It is the way of the universe: blame it, not me.

Venn diagrams are an interesting way to explain mysterious things. For example, take the enigmatic Tyler Bray.


Note: not Johnny Manziel, but just his mugshot from some youthful bar tusslin'.

Warily best describes your weeknight viewing, since USF just pulled off a tough road win against Nevada, and Rutgers has booked two straight ugly wins against Howard and Tulane. The question is not "Will this game be decided by a punt snapped over someone's head?", but "Will that punt snapped over someone's head hit a spectator in the eye, blind them, and cost the USF athletic department hundreds of thousands of dollars in a settlement?" And if this is Tampa, like all public events involving more than a thousand people, it will result in a lawsuit.

Xander Crews was the test tube version of Archer. Frisky Dingo died so that show could live, so a moment of silence for the greatest cartoon to ever bankrupt a studio ever. This has nothing to do with football, but X is a bitch and you will have to deal with that.

Your tragic injury case of the week is a tie, really, with both Robert Marve and Jordan Wynn giving up their quarterback careers at the college level due to injury. Sail on, gentlemen, safe in the knowledge you got free educations and a run of sexual marketability in a closed social environment so easy and effortless it will take you the rest of your life to recover, and then develop "game." Love, unathletic normal dudes who've had to try real hard their whole lives.

Zach Maynard plays Ohio State this week, the team with nothing to lose but your blood shed on its silvery pants. When John Simon says anything, just do it, because Jeff Tedford's already fired, and a Cal education is its own reward for taking four hours worth of angry ineligible-for-anything-but-sadism Ohio State punishment in the teeth. Good luck.

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