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The Alphabetical, Week 1: Alabama, Again

The Alphabetical this week says nothing is special about being annihilated by Alabama, everything is underwhelming about Oklahoma and that some things are hopeless already.

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Again, it is not a Big Ten thing: disabuse yourself of that notion immediately, Michigan fan. The last thing we want you feeling is special, because what happened to you on Saturday night in Dallas was not special. Slightly different than in past years? Perhaps: Doug Nussmeier's offense appears to be a bit more happy to turn A.J. McCarron loose, particularly in early innings, and the defense didn't pressure so much as constrict Michigan into tiny, useless spaces turning Denard Robinson into a doomed sub captain. Depth charges: Alabama has them.

But that's all quibbling. The gameplan at Alabama is to score 31 points in the first half, and then erase the second half with runs and punts. That's what they did to a good Michigan team. We still want to see Alabama and USC in the national title game just to see what Alabama has to do to adjust to a team with a quarterback who can throw the ball and two wide receivers who present horrible matchups on the perimeter. The only teams to beat Alabama in the Saban era have done just that: peeled the "bumpers" off the sides, opened up the field, and then exploited the resulting gaps in the defense. USC is the only current team with an obvious chance to do that.

Because that seems simplistic, is. Strictly theoretical at best, this how-to-beat-Alabama blueprint doesn't even account for the offensive line, the unit that might be the strongest on the team right now. Michigan's d-line, if not obstructed by the bounds of the rules, stadium, and geography, would be in the Gulf of Mexico right now. They would slide through layers of settled oil, and pass through the dark desert plains of the Caribbean's underwater world. Passing a shipwreck, they might wave, and then receive curious glances from sharks passing overhead.


When the Alabama offensive line finally pushed them to the surface somewhere around Veracruz, Mexico, they would then brush away the seaweed, thank them for the ride, and walk to a beach bar for a desperately needed drink. You know this did not happen for two reasons: a.) people cannot breathe underwater, and b.) the Alabama offensive line stops pushing the Michigan defense around when they hit Veracruz. In reality, they'd keep going until they hit the Pacific, and then perhaps beyond.

Shutdown Fullback on Week 1!

Charity. Denard Robinson did not die in this game. Al Borges' gameplan was the continued struggle of an orangutan handed the keys to a F1 car. Confused with this "dual-threat quarterback," or whatever the hell Denard is, Borges defaulted to his panicked lizard-brain pro roots, and had Denard courteously sit in the pocket while running Vincent Smith into the teeth of DT Jesse Williams. Jesse Williams is a 340-pound Australian he-beast with a tattoo on his hand that reads:

"I stopped checking for the monster under the bed when I realised the monster is me."

None of these were good ideas, and when you watch an ape crash an F1 car into the first chicane, you just hope no one dies. (Which no one did! Hey, bright sides all over the place.)

Dehhhhhbuts. BYU flattened Washington State's Mike Leach Coming Out Ball and did so by holding Jeff Tuel to an endless series of checkdowns. Tuel did not throw a touchdown, and averaged only 5.1 yards per completion as a Mike Leach offense scored zero touchdowns in a football game. In related news, Nebraska's Taylor Martinez threw for 354 yards, five TDs, and no interceptions against Southern Miss. If both of these trends hold, we are officially on Earth 2.

Engineers. Some of my favorite people because of their constant work against a tableau of error and failure. Engineers are fond of saying things like, "You want to make a perfect valve, and then you make the perfect valve, and then...that valve leaks." Engineers do not understand humans or their odd "fee-lings," but they do understand the human condition of constant error and imperfection mitigated by the human intellect and will.

So if you hate the helmet rule, you are not insane because no, thousand dumbasses I saw on Twitter saying there was a perfect helmet, there is no such thing as a perfect helmet. It will come off for no reason whatsoever because no matter how well you design something, it is coming off. We now have a rulebook that takes players off the field for equipment failure and also can remove points off the board for excessive enthusiasm. Congrats, college football: you continue to turn the rules governing the sport into the world's most arcane homeowner's agreement.

Foretelling. And Mr. Rick Muscles of Twitter is correct: if anyone is going to lose a game because of this rule, it is Tennessee under Derek Dooley.

Grand (Mal Seizure). David Amerson, all night versus Tennessee. Amerson bit on every double move, gave up long TDs and receptions all night to the Volunteers offense. Amerson will now rack up misleading INT totals on the year by being overly aggressive against lesser quarterbacks, attain a high draft pick, and go to the Pro Bowl every year despite giving up a scorching number of TDs in man coverage. It is the DeAngelo Hall business plan, and it is BRILLIANT.

Honesty. Beer commercials vary, but a constant is this: beautiful people drinking tremendous amounts of beer and remaining healthy, active people with glowing skin and a labrador's energy. These people look like fantasy vampires on holiday, something you will not look like if you drink tons of beer for years on end.

This is what that actually looks like.


You will have unusually thin limbs, be the color of moldering rutabegas, and will eventually be caught on camera at a sporting event doing this. As bad as it looks, it also is far more fun than you suspect. Beer: because nobody wants to live forever.

Identical. Marcus Mariota's debut for Oregon was even better than expected, and what you expected was a lot because Chip Kelly does not have quarterbacks so much as he has duplicate physical extensions of his tentacled beast of an offensive brain. Mariota ran a bit (24 yards on four carries,) but passed for 200 yards on 18 of 22 passing in a supple, breezy first half spin through the Arkansas State secondary. As Nick Saban cranks out android defenses, so does Chip Kelly construct the Neon Points-Borg in Eugene annually, but as a special precaution put your secondaries in flame-retardant suits, Pac-12: they can pass this year. (Gulp now for theatrical effect.)

P.S. Also, that guy with the blast-furnace beer tan enjoyed the game a lot. Thanks, Chip.

Jabbering. Florida struggled to beat a MAC team in Gainesville, failing on several fourth-down conversions and running an offense an NFL coordinator would call "stuffy and risk-averse." In response to criticism, Muschamp said the following:

"I told Brent, and Brent is a lot more imaginative I can assure you of that, but I told him we're going to run the football," Muschamp said following the win. "You can't talk about it, you have to be about it."


  • Nonsensical response to gameday strategy sniping
  • Admission of counterproductive meddling with offensive gameplanning
  • Bullheaded insistence on strategy counter to available personnel

The current "Zookishness" of the 2012 Gator football team now sits, after one mere game, at "pretty Zookish." We will continue to monitor this situation as it unfolds, drives off a cliff, catches fire, and traps all passengers inside with no chance of survival. Will Muschamp might have been reading Titus Warmsley, but the covers appear to be too far apart for Muschamp's reading tastes. THERE IS NO HOPE.

K is for Killarney. Ireland was kind to Notre Dame, but so was a bad, bad Navy team. Fortunately we've all matured now, and can be reasonable adults in keeping our hopes modest and progressing at a steady rate, not letting one very good game from Everett Golson and the Irish offense against a struggling Navy team get everyone too agitated--


SIgh. Five Heismans, coming up!

Luxurious. Arizona had more than 600 yards in Rich Rodriguez's debut win over Toledo, and only scored 17 points in regulation. Disparage the efficiency, but admire the ballin-ass indulgence. Yo, Rich Rod booked the studio for 800 hours, cost the studio $35 million, and only made nine tracks! THAT'S SOME EMPIRE S*#T RIGHT THERE, DAWG.

Matt. Arizona QB Matt Scott looked phenomenal, though. We mean that. He looked fantastic. There's no snark whatsoever, and there may not be for the year for Arizona as any and all bitchiness one might have ever said about Rich Rodriguez was absorbed and used up by the Michigan press corps. Rich Rod, your skin looked flushed with health, your defense looked not-awful,* and the crane overhanging the stadium bespoke of progress and hope for the building future. When USC hangs 50 on you, we promise to write about how USC just does this to everyone, and not just you because bad defense, etc.

*A compliment for the Arizona defense in recent years.

Nihilistic. The Toledo/Arizona game wrapped about the same time as Oklahoma was busy trying to get UTEP's pickaxe out of its foot in El Paso. Deriving too much from one week's formulas is hasty, but Oklahoma is playing out what is amounting to a trend: no strong run game, Kenny Stills at wideout, and very little else of any consistency on offense. The 24-7 final is deceiving: UTEP held the game at 7-7 into the third quarter, and missed several field goals of a hilarious, 45 degrees-the-wrong-way nature.

Underwhelm is an appropriate response, Land Thieves, but let's also remind everyone this was a game in El Paso, Bat Country, the portal to the ghostly desert underworld where Mike Price (still alive!) leads his team out of what really might be a real mineshaft doubling as locker room with a pickaxe, and people up on Handjob Hill act like extras from the more surreal parts of Paul Thomas Anderson films.


UTEP. Not even once.

On duty. Le'Veon Bell carried the ball 44 times rushing and caught six passes against Boise on Friday night, a breathtaking amount of work for a running back in 1975, much less now in the era of committeebacks and well-diversified carries in the ground game. Bell in this Michigan State attack is the bacon strip in Mark Dantonio's Epic Meal Time: when you use him, the next step is to use more, and more, and then more and more and yes the answer is more, always more bacon, because Mark Dantonio always uses bacon.

Puberty. The awkward stage Boise State has reached in their development, which will eventually pass. For the moment, though, Joe Southwick having to play his first game as a starter on the road against a very agitated Michigan State defense is the first shower in high school gym class: a terrifying moment in the uneven and unfair world of human anatomical comparison.

Quint. Paul Johnson calling a timeout with mere seconds left on the clock after a change of possession at the end of the first half Monday night against Virginia Tech? Either trolltastic, or an inspired mistake. Quint Kessenich calling over Logan Thomas for an interview, and then cutting straight to SportsCenter while a confused Thomas stared at what was likely a panicking producer making incomprehensible flapping gestures behind the camera? Inspired and deliberate troll work there, ESPN.

Reservations. It is difficult to compare Tevin Washington to Reggie Ball, and deeply unfair. Washington played a fine game, and made one really ill-advised throw in a clutch situation at the end. Really, all they will ever have in common is an alma mater, a position, and breathing oxygen. Then again, somewhere in NASA, there is an aerospace engineer who makes a mathematical mistake, forgets to carry a one, and then places his head in his hands as an errant rocket crashes into the Pacific instead of soaring into orbit. And at that moment, a circuit panel pops out, and a Georgia fan hiding behind that panel yells out, "JUST LIKE REGGIE BALL GO DAWGS." It just happens now in these situations, and there is nothing Tevin Washington or the world can do about it.

Spheniscidae. The order for penguins, as in Youngstown State, the FCS team Pitt lost to on Saturday night. Youngstown State never trailed, dominated Pitt the entire game, and looked every bit like the only future ACC football team on the field. We could all blame Todd Graham for this, but hell let's blame Todd Graham for it. It still feels right at this point. Pitt will play a talented and aggressive Cincinnati team this Thursday on a short week's preparation.

Tramadol. An effective prescription painkiller available from your local physician if you tell them you are suffering from chronic pain, or also if you identify yourself as a Pitt fan. Both are medically justifiable.

Unholy. Barring injury, USC cannot be stopped in the passing game unless you have two lockdown corners and at least one defensive lineman bent on murdering Matt Barkley. No one in the entire nation has this, much less anyone in the Pac-12, so the best you might hope for is a weird road game, a team known for wearing a chip on its shoulder well, and a pesky offense capable of holding the ball that gets the kind of oddball breaks that happen in home games played against road favorites. That still sounds like Utah, and that still makes this the most interesting game on USC's schedule NOT involving a team named after waterfowl.

Verily. Let it be known, though: USC's offense reeks of brimstone, rocket fuel, and perdition, a Luciferian collection of isolation plays for wideouts, jerk routes, and run plays all run with Lane Kiffin's special touch of extra-skillful dickery. If you are not playing them, it is a mean joy to watch, especially if it is Kiffin carving up former rival coach and co-worker Norm Chow across the field.

Oh, but Lane Kiffin's nice now. Shut the hell up. No he's not, and will never be nice. He is just quiet, and plays in a town that doesn't care enough about other teams to publish inflammatory quotes to rile up other fanbases. You know what Lane Kiffin gets to do? Coach the next three years against Jim Mora. He has no reason to be nice, lenient, or intimidated by anything in his vicinity.

Watch him call plays. There is nothing nice whatsoever about it and will not be for the foreseeable future.

Whimper. Savannah State, fresh off an 84-0 decimation by Oklahoma State, will play Florida State this week. They have an open date the following week, but are expected to fill it by scheduling Medically Induced Coma State.

Xyster. A surgeon's instrument for scraping bones would find very little left to remove after the skeleton of the Jeff Tedford era opened the new stadium at Cal with another loss to Nevada. Remember 2004 when Cal was gonna no shush we don't either no seriously shhhhhhhh that never happened, and we never thought Cal was going to be a thing. Jeff Tedford's nearly beating USC remains the peak of his career at Cal, which sadly isn't a bad peak because Cal football has had very little to be happy about ever.

Yaw. Pitch and roll, all three planes of motion, Devin Smith of Ohio State don't care. He's a helicopter. You tell him to land there with cargo intact, he's gonna park it on a dime will all rotors whirring.

Braxton Miller, by the way, is going to be a problem: a serious, flesh-ripping problem for the Big Ten whether that flesh-ripping counts in 2012. That is all.

Zealotry. Oh, it's gonna be like this, Texas A&M?


YOU'RE IN FOR a low-scoring game Florida loses by ten or so because we--as in my team, which I am entirely unobjective about in any way--have a dyslexic rugby scrum of an offense with as much penalty yardage as we have passing yardage. WHOOP! The bad news is that you have annexed Will Muschamp and his desire to turn Florida football into Alabama's less-gifted dullard accountant brother. JOKE'S ON YOU, SUCKERS.

While we’re here, let’s watch some of the many fine college football videos from SB Nation’s YouTube channel:

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