There are 3 parts to this column: A look back at last week's games, a discussion of some topic I deemed appropriate, and a look at the games ahead.
Actually, there are 4 parts if you count the introduction. 5 parts if you count this part that explains the introduction. I'm bogging down, let's get moving.
So strap on your vintage leather helmet, and let's run student body right.
TCU 17 Oklahoma 10: A Big XII frontrunner falls at home to a mighty Mountain West Conference foe. Now, I live in Fort Worth, and let me tell you, there are no mountains. If you wanted to see mountains, you have to go much further West, which I guess is where the name comes from. One day, I will understand the 11-team Big Ten Conference.
Apart from the complete quarterbacking ineptitude, one thing that struck me as odd was that there seemed to be a lot of people getting hurt in this game. In fact, the last time I saw so many injuries in a three hour period was in the mosh pit at the Dokken concert when they played Shady Grove Retirement Home.
Clemson 25 Texas A&M 24: A close game that was decided by an unlikely hero. Freshman kicker Jad Dean, a grown-up Bobby Hill look alike, booted 6 field goals, including a game winning 42-yarder.
Meanwhile, ABC enrages football fans across the regional viewing area by interrupting the game-winning drive in order to run the complete life story of former Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist, beginning with his father putting Lawrence Welk on the Victrola with a twinkle in his eye, and ending as an elderly William clutched his chest and muttered, Go for two, ya idiot!
Texas 60 ULa-La 3: Texas ran all over the Ragin Cajuns in a rout, rushing for over 400 yards. However, it was hard to gauge just how good Texas runners were, as the Cajuns tackled with worse form than Michael Moore performing a triple-lutz. Several times we flipped the channel on what looked like a 3 yard run into a pile, only to flip back and find them lining up for the PAT. Im not saying that the Cajuns are bad, but if Texas had a decent extra-point kicker, they might have covered the spread.
In other games, Missouri pounded Arkansas State 44-17, and Colorado won in an intrastate barn burner against rival Colorado State 31-28, but the rest of the Big XII struggled against weaker non-conference foes. However, for most teams these were tune-up games and so some rust is to be expected. Nebraskas new Air Raid Offense is mired in turnovers as they are intercepted twice and fumble thrice, yet still beat the mighty Black Bears of Maine 25-7.
In Intra-Genus matchups, Kansas State spares Florida International to death as the Wildcats beat the Golden Panthers 35-21, while rival Kansas gives up almost 300 yards in the air to Florida Atlantic but the Jayhawks beat the Owls 30-19.
Elsewhere, Oklahoma State struggles at home against Montana State with the very odd looking 15-10 final. Oh yeah, and Baylor beat SMU and almost 30,000 people showed up to watch it. You can find the score elsewhere, Im not looking it up. Im already ashamed that I looked up the attendance.
My 98 cents:
I call this "My 98 Cents" for two reasons. The first is that I am class of '98, and the second is because I encourage you to add your 2 cents and together we can make a 20 minute phone call and have a penny left over. My email address is at the bottom. Each week, I will address a different topic in this section, as well as include some of your comments. Using the word "tard" will get you automatically disconsidered.
Man some of these non-conference games are boring. Im talking Howards End boring. I can understand scheduling a patsy early on so that you can iron out some wrinkles, but it seems like most teams nowadays schedule nothing but spares on life-support and Division I-AA schools. Why? Who is to blame? The coaches? The ADs? Personally, aside from Ryan Seacrest, who I blame for everything from global warming to athlete's foot, I blame the NCAA and the much maligned BCS.
The BCS has generated fear among the coaches, much in the way that spiders generate fear with me. I don't like anything with 8 legs. Not even barbershop quartets. Too many times, a national championship bid has been derailed by an early season loss to an opponent with a detectable pulse. Now, coaches and ADs from the bigger conferences schedule laughable non-conference foes, usually with a direction or an adjective in their name, in order to ensure a 3-0 start, and at least a chance to remain in the hunt for a title that nobody officially recognizes.
But who can blame them? I make fun of Texas for scheduling ULa-La, yet I give them credit for having the guts to play Ohio State. One is ranked 2 and one is ranked 4, but after Saturday, one of them will be well on their way to a national title, and the other will be the Texas Longhorns. But unlike Katie Courics colonoscopy, at least it will be fun to watch.
Thats the problem with a poll driven championship. You dont play yourself IN, you play yourself OUT. Basically, the season is a giant single elimination tournament, with some people playing in a conference of Herculean teams, while others get to play in the Sunbelt. Somehow that just brings to mind images of little kids running through the grass, making wishes, and blowing dandelion seeds everywhere, which inevitably end up in my yard. Stupid kids. Stupid Sunbelt Conference.
I hate to rehash a tired argument, but I think that Mary Ann was far more desireable than the starlet Ginger (RIP Gilligan). I hate to rehash another tired argument, but maybe it is time for a playoff. Thats right, I said it. A playoff. Just like every other real sport. Please dont send me email telling me that it will ruin the bowl games, because I say it is better to ruin a couple dozen games between subpar teams, than a couple hundred games between the big boys. Titles should not be decided by voting. Leave that to the figure skating and the rhythmic gymnastics of the world. I dont want my favorite sport in a position to be held hostage by a corrupt Russian.
Just like I know you hate sitting through your neighbors vacation photos, I also know you are no doubt beaten down by hearing proposals for playoffs. 8 teams, 64 teams, use the bowls, use the home sites, conference champs, use the polls to seed the teams, I dont care. Just get a playoff of some sort. This way the non-conference games can have some real matchups that reward you for sitting on your butt all Saturday watching TV, and you dont have to watch Top 5 teams playing Division I-AA teams with mascots like "the burrowing owls" or "the flaming coal miners".
I will concede that, with the absence of preseason games, you might want one warmup game to get your system in place. Fine. You get ONE Pauly Shore quality team so that the bigger team can work the kinks out of their system, and the smaller team can get a nice fat paycheck to help their program. Call it football socialism if you want. But not too loud. Especially in the South.
Your second non-conference game needs to be a recurring regional rivalry. Much like Texas-OU played every year before they were in the same conference, and Florida and Florida State do so now. Something to get some ill-will started, maybe at a neutral site, maybe an alternating home and home. Texas A&M LSU, Texas Tech Arkansas, SMU TCU, Ford Chevy, Tastes Great Less Filling, things like that.
Finally, the third game is a marquee matchup against a similarly ranked team. Top 10 teams play Top 10 teams, Top 25 plays Top 25, ULa-La plays Screech from Saved By The Bell. I realize that teams fluctuate from time to time, so this game can be set up a max of two years in advance. This way, you should be guaranteed some close scores and some exciting games. And some garages will be guaranteed to not be cleaned out.
I don't care how the playoff works, but let's quit kidding ourselves. If little league baseball has a playoff, so can college football.
Now, lets take a quick look at the week ahead.
The Week Ahead:
The Iowa State Cyclones take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in a regional rivalry pitting a mascot that is offensive to trailer park dwelling midwesterners against a mascot that is offensive to Native Americans in a game that Iowa should win handily, while Texas battles Ohio State in what no doubt should be the key marquee game of the week, and one of the select few worth actually watching. I would insert a clever comment about the mascots here, but I have no idea what a buckeye is.
Texas Tech and Florida International has a chance to be scary for the Raiders (not spider scary, but cockroach scary), as they are breaking in another new quarterback in their season opener, while FIU has one game under their belt, a fairly impressive showing against Kansas State. Still, I think the Raiders start slow, but roll in a laugher. They might even get to use that third digit they recently added to the scoreboard.
All of the rest of the games are so lopsidedly boring that I wont even comment on them. Especially after you had to endure my playoffs rant. I will say that, at the very least, Kansas State plays Marshall at 9:30 AM on ESPN2 if you are awake and simply must watch something. I would also suggest venturing outside the Big XII and watching Notre Dame play Michigan, in what is typically an exciting game.
That's it for this week. Feel free to email any comments and observations to firstname.lastname@example.org . Please put RAIDERPOWER in the subject line to help your email dodge the 300 pound spam filter and glide deftly into my inbox.
Craig L Bickley
The Weakly Retort