Around the Nation

RaiderPower takes a look at the teams around the football nation. Who is on the rise, and who is experiencing a decline? Who are the unknowns at this point? Which teams are looking like contenders in their league, and who looks like they have a real shot at the national title? Come inside to read more.

On the Rise:

Texas - Well, Texas got an impressive win this weekend.  Nebraska blew it, though.  First, they miss the two-point conversion on their last score, which would have provided some nice insurance points against a possible game-winning FG.  Then, on a third down when they are trying to run out the clock, Terrence Nunn fails to protect the ball and fumbles.  Texas is handed good field position, and wins the game on a kick by some walk-on.  I'm sure he was a blue-chip, though, since he plays for UT.  Still, score one for walk-ons.  Maybe Yahoo is on to something with their hard work pays off article.  However, I'm sticking with my plan of skating through life on my rugged good looks.  Add my acerbic wit, and I'm set.  People pay well for that stuff.  Furthermore, I take comfort knowing that I have my "make Jessica Alba my sugar mama/concubine" contingency plan.

Michigan - The Wolverines keep winning games, and it seems destined that Michigan and Ohio State will play in an matchup of the undefeateds for the Big Ten, and possibly, the national championship.  The network executives are praying for this to happen and salivating at the thought that it actually might.  The hype has already begun for this one.  However, as much as this game is going to be talked up, I don't even see it being close.  Millions of people are going to tune in to see a blowout that is far from exciting.  Here's hoping that Northwestern, Indiana, or Ball State pulls a huge upset and saves us the trouble.  It's not that I have anything against Michigan or OSU, I just don't want to hear about them 24/7.  It's not like either team is ever hurting for media love anyway.  This kind of stuff is what makes me want to pull for an underdog team like Rutgers.

Rutgers - The Scarlet Knights got a good win on Saturday against Pittsburgh.  At least it's supposedly a good win, since they weren't favored in the game.  Count me impressed if/when they beat West Virginia or Louisville.  At least Pitt has the Wannstache going for them.  Still, the BCS standings find the likes of LSU and Nebraska looking up at Rutgers in the polls.  I like the "little guy" teams as much as anyone, but there is no doubt in my mind that NU or LSU would beat the life out of Rutgers in a game.  The Scarlet Knights are yet to play a ranked opponent, so it's hard to judge their accomplishments.  Then again, they are one of seven unbeaten teams left; the others being Michigan, Ohio State, Boise State, Louisville, West Virginia, and USC.  Still, we won't know how good the Rutgers really are until after they pass or fail their only tests at WVU and Louisville.

Missouri - The Tigers moved to 7-1 this week with a dominant win over Kansas State.  Chase Daniel continues to punish opposing secondaries, and his play elicited a "you stole my lollipop" face out of this cheerleader in what might be the greatest photo of all-time.  Anyway, Mizzou has a big game this week as Oklahoma comes to town.  The Peterson-less Sooners did not look nearly as dangerous last Saturday against Colorado.  RB Allen Patrick was given a ridiculous 35 carries, and still barely cracked a hundred yards.  You just know that Stoops gave him all those carries to make it appear like OU can be good without Peterson.  We aren't falling for it, Bob.  Mark Mangino could probably run for a hundred yards if he was given 35 carries.  Wait, I take that back.  After three steps, he would have a heart attack.  Luckily, an IV of liquid cheeseburgers would resuscitate him.

Texas A&M - TAMU is 7-1, so I guess they're doing a good job of making our latest victory over them into a quality win.  However, the Ags have a tough rivalry game this weekend against Baylor.  (insert stifled laughter)  Seriously, the last two matchups between the two have gone into overtime, though, so I see no reason why this one shouldn't be a close game.  A&M is playing better than usual this year, but so is Baylor.  Furthermore, Tech has already proven that the Aggies still haven't figured out how to handle a passing offense.  Add in that this year's game is in Waco, and there is some serious potential for weekend hilarity.  Maybe we'll get another creepy Guy Morris comment thrown in as an added bonus.  Or perhaps a Fran/snack cake sighting.  Or 'Tellus embarrassing himself.  Or another arrest.  Or this.  You never know what's next with these guys.

 

On the Decline:

Oregon - If there is such a thing as ugly uniform karma, it caught up to the Ducks this week.  Washington State got a big win over the Ducks last Saturday, ending Oregon's hopes for a Pac-1 title.  And yes, their conference is still the Pac-1, as Cal had to go to overtime to beat Washington  at home.  I'm beginning to feel sorry for the Huskies.  Tyrone Willingham really is a great coach, and his Huskies have had several close losses, which is always painful.  I'd like to see Washington continue to improve for the next few years and challenge for the title.  Hopefully, Washington can beat ASU and Oregon and make a bowl appearance, because they are one of those teams that I find myself cheering on.  Go Huskies, and go Tyrone Willingham.  I'm sick of hearing about USC, Oregon, and California from your conference, so step it up and become a major player.

Stanford - The Cardinal moved to 0-8 this week.  No, I didn't make a mistake with the plurality there.  Apparently, cardinal references the color, not the bird or Catholic kind.  And it's always singular.  Stanford 1, English 0.  Also, that tree that graces their logo is apparently a member of their band, but not their mascot.  Uh, yeah.  They don't actually have an official mascot, although the students tried to make the mythical griffin creature the mascot once.  Way to refute the smart nerd stereotype.  And I'm sure that right now some kid that looks like The Simpsons nerd is probably scoffing because he thinks I should have spelled it gryphon or something.  Still, Stanford is a great school.  However, they are not exactly what I would call great at the sport of football.  And yet, somehow, they still have scoreboard on the University of Texas.  Go Stanford Cardinal Griffin Tree!

Florida International - Not only were they a part of the near-riot last week, they are still winless.  Only now am I realizing that we were fortunate to get all of our players out alive in the OOC game against FIU last season.  What is also fun is that Miami is struggling as well, and almost lost to Duke.  I'll get to that later.  Let's have some FIU roster fun.  Their running back is named A'Mod Ned.  Not Ahmad, A'Mod.  This is probably a misattribution considering last week's events, but A'Mod sounds like the nickname of the guy in prison that all of the other inmates are afraid of.  As in, you gotta run any transactions on C-Block by A'Mod.   Also, there is a Wendy Napoleon on their roster.  So, not only does that poor guy have gender identification issues, he's got little-man syndrome.  That's gotta be rough, especially since he already has to deal with the nonsense of FIU.

N.C. State -  It's official; the Wolfpack are bad.  They suffered their second-straight loss in the game against a mediocre Maryland team last Saturday.  Fear the turtle, indeed.  Chuck "Dynamite" Amato might be in for a canning after the season is over.  Since I don't really have anything new to write about after blasting N.C. Statle last week, I'll make fun of some names on their roster.  Guerlin Dervil is fun.  Honesty, when my eyes first glanced over this, I thought it said "Goblin Devil."  My eyes are bad.  Still, that would have been much cooler.  Next up is Jamesley Jean.  Congratulations on turning the name James into an adjective.  And finally, there is Orick Quick.  This was another name that I read wrong at first, thinking it said Quick Quick.  Again, that would have been better.  And having the same first and last name is possible.  See OU's Longar Longar.

Northwestern - This week's D'OH! award goes to the Northwestern Wildcats.  They were up 38-3 in the third quarter, and somehow managed to lose.  Michigan State scored 38 unanswered points to get the victory and cap off the largest comeback in D-I football history.  It's good to see that the Spartans have that "never quit" mentality.  That is, unless they are playing Notre Dame.  On a related note, Northwestern and Michigan State have terribly uncreative logos.  Northwestern has a block-letter N on their football helmet, and the Spartans school logo is a block-letter S.  At least 'ol Sparti tried to be original and put a picture of a helmet on their helmets.  If only the helmet's helmet logo had a smaller helmet on it, much like a Russian nesting doll.  I know; I'm self-imposing a temporary revocation of my man card for knowing what a Russian nesting doll is.

 

The Unknowns:

Arkansas - Are the hoggies for real?  We all know about their big win over Auburn, but some have forgotten about their blowout loss at the hands of USC.  Still, the Razorbacks are playing pretty well on the arm of blue-chip QB Mitch Mustain and the legs of talented running back Darren McFadden.  However, squeaker wins at Vanderbilt and against Alabama leave a bit of doubt as to how good of a team the Razorbacks actually are.  I'll be honest; I'm looking for a reason not to think that Arkansas is a good team because I'm not a huge fan of the Hoggies.  It's probably because of things like this.  Where I come from, we shot hogs.  They are, after all, extremely tasty.  Anyway, the Razorbacks are putting together a nice little season in the always-tough SEC, so I guess I should give them credit for that.  However, that doesn't mean that I have to like one bit of it.

Boston College - The good 'ol Eagles beat Florida State this week, which made me smile.  This puts Bobby Bowden and his 'Noles at the bottom of their division.  Aw, shucks.  That breaks my heart.  Walk-on kicker Steve Aponavicius added six points on 3 extra points and a FG for Boston College, which turned out to be the difference in the game.  Way to go, Steve.  Also admirable was the BC players who were playing through the pain.  Quarterback Matt Ryan was battling a foot injury, and defensive back DeJuan Tribble was fighting through leg cramps.  I knew there was a reason that I liked Boston College, and I figured it out today.  It's not just because it's the alma mater of Doug Flutie, it's because those boys play with heart.  Florida State's all-black uniforms are interesting, though.  Looks like they're working out about as well for them as they did for us. 

Nebraska - Well, they gave Texas quite a bit of trouble, and had a good chance to upset the Horns.  However, they literally handed them the win on a late fumble, and dropped to 6-2.  Still, give the Huskers some credit.  They will give Missouri a run for their money in the hunt for the Big 12 North title, and will likely play the game that decides who will earn that honor next weekend against each other.  Nebraska is a good team, probably better than they have played thus far.  They may very well win out and make a decent case for a BCS bid.  It appears that NU will be a dangerous team for several years to come, as Callahan has finally overcome the growing pains of adopting the new offense.  I'm not looking forward to our Red Raiders playing them again next season, but at least we will get them at home instead of having to travel to their tough house in Lincoln.

USC - This weekend marks another meeting of the Trojans and the Beavers.  Hopefully the Trojans don't ravage the Beavers too badly.  Booty might be in for an action-packed afternoon as well.  USC has looked vulnerable in several games, and Oregon State is not a team to be taken lightly.  Also of interest is that the game is at Oregon State's place, and that USC could possibly be rusty coming off a bye week.  If OSU can pull the upset, USC will be brought crashing down to earth, which is always fun.  USC is undefeated, but they have the tough half of their schedule still to come.  The Trojans have a talented stable of running backs with Chauncey Washington and Emmanuel Moody, and are capable of running all over the Oregon State defense.  However, talent alone doesn't win games.  Don't be surprised if Oregon State keeps it close or possibly gets the big win.

Texas Tech - Ah yes.  The team finally played what Leach accurately dubbed as a "complete game."  The offense and defense worked together, and it was a beautiful thing.  Had it not been for a bunch of b.s. with the special teams, the game would have been more of a blowout than it was.  Our boys played well and got a good road win against a talented team.  The way our Red Raiders played against Iowa State was plenty of reason to get excited about the huge upcoming game against UT.  If our team can play with the same cooperation, fire, and tempo against Texas, the Longhorns may be in for a hell of a fight.   I'm extremely proud of our team for playing like we know that they are capable of.  Texas Tech has the chance to re-open the nation's eyes by upsetting UT.  We've done it before.  Let's do it again and earn the respect that we as Red Raiders deserve.

 

Random (and possibly offensive) Thoughts:

Holier-than-thou Cross- In what I'm calling "the fight heard 'round the people actually at this game," Dartmouth and Holy Cross got into a bit of a scuffle a few weekends ago.  Holy Cross supposedly pulled a T.O. and started celebrating on the midfield logo, inciting a small ruckus.  It apparently was no FIU-Miami turf war, though.  However, this makes this week's column because the Dartmouth program showed some class and apologized for their behavior.  You could learn something from this, Hurricanes.  Holy Cross appears as if they are going to do their best Miami impression and admit no fault whatsoever in the matter and render minimal, if any, punishment to those involved.  That's not holy.

Punter hunter - This happened a little while ago, but in case you didn't hear, a Northern Colorado backup punter stabbed the starting punter in the leg in hopes of getting the job.  I can understand wanting a starting job, but I can't understand wanting to be a punter at Northern Colorado so badly that one would risk their future and pull a Tonya Harding on the starter.  Anyway, the stabber surrendered on Monday and will be tried for the crime later.  They're getting greedy, though, and going for attempted murder.  I guess the prosecution will use the "he was going for the femoral artery" argument.  The stabber should go with the Mel Gibson defense and claim that he's an alcoholic.

Acronyms - I resent the guy who invented the signs where they make an acronym out of the TV station's letters.  It's one thing to actually put some effort into it and use words starting with same letters of the acronym.  (e.g. Arizona Beats Cal for ABC)  And then you have something like this.  I guess I should give the guy credit for not stuffing filler words in there before, after, and in-between the acronym.  Many of the signs are pathetic, and shouldn't even be allowed in the stadium.  Maybe PsychoAg can convert this into a fan law.  "Thou shalt not make a stupid sign just to get on TV and think that being shown for three seconds somehow makes you awesome."  Yeah, that sounds about right.

FSU wants Bowden gone - This is fun for me.  There are apparently quite a few boosters who wish Bobby would retire, and a www.retirecoachbowden.com website.  When asked about the criticism of himself and his son Jeff, he replied, "I don't think he'd get half the criticism if his name ain't Bowden."  News flash, Bobby.  You would already be out of a job if you weren't Bobby Bowden.  He needs to just call it quits, and be put in an old folks home.  That way, he could bother a bunch of old people instead of the college football nation.  Maybe FSU could hire Tommy Bowden away from Clemson.  He at least seems like a decent coach these days, and would keep the Bowden loyalists happy.

Assault vs. Rape - Miami played Duke last weekend, and the funniest part was that the hapless Blue Devil football team almost won.  Duke was on the 6-yard line with three seconds left, but threw an interception instead of what would have been a game-winning TD.  I realize that Miami suspended about half their team for the FIU debacle, but Miami's scrubs are still about twice as talented as Duke's stars.  If I was on the Duke team, I would have been afraid to play football against the Hurricanes for fear of accidentally becoming a witness, victim, or accessory to a crime.  Then again, I guess hanging out with the lacrosse team carries the same risks.  Especially if you're a stripper.

 

 

-Trent Wycoff

(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at trent@raiderpower.com.)


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