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:

Boston College - They killed Buffalo this week, effectively pissing off the World Wildlife Fund and the American Indian nation.  BC's backup quarterback Chris Crane came in for an injured Matt Ryan.  The game went on despite the inclement weather of heavy rain and wind, which proved two things.  Baseball players are pansies for quitting in the rain, and so are about half of the Boston College fans.  Only a little over 25,000 people showed up for a game of 40,000 tickets.  I would have gone.  Mudbowls are awesome.  And what's wrong with a little rain?  Only cats hate water, and cats suck.  As for the wind, after living in Lubbock, I fear no wind.  We invented wind.  Just like Al Gore invented the Internet, and like how Aggies invented being football fans.  I have to go ahead and give the Ags some credit, though.  I'm fairly sure that they really did invent this tradition.

Notre Dame - (Sigh.)  They had to keep winning stuff.  Anyway, they beat Navy and quarterback Kalpo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada this week.  All I have to say about that name is that it better mean something really cool.  I don't want to write about Notre Dame, but the media shoves so much ND down my throat that I can't swallow it all.   At least someone else besides me is sick of Notre Dame, as this article is one of the best things I've seen in a while because a national media story doesn't bow down to Notre Dame.  Did you hear that their safety is also a boxer?  Or that Brady Quinn is a Heisman candidate?  Or that Lou Holtz once coached there?  I totally didn't know that.  As if that weren't enough, 60 Minutes goes and interviews Charlie Weis.  The only good thing that came out of this was that the show mentioned a Texas Tech student that I know.   Shout out to Mike. 

Rutgers - The Scarlet Knights just continue to win.  However, their next game might be the one that ends it all as they have to play Louisville.  Rutgers has a bye this weekend, but the Big East hierarchy will be a bit clearer following Thursday night's huge West Virginia/Louisville game.  I suppose that fans of the Scarlet Knights should cheer for Louisville, as the Cardinals are the team that they will get a chance at in their own backyard.  My prediction is that WVU gets the win on Thursday, though, simply because they have more versatility.  I'm still hoping for a BCS-wrecking Big East trifecta of ranked, one-loss teams.  I want to see Louisville beat West Virginia, Rutgers beat Louisville, and West Virginia beat Rutgers, but my gut is telling me that the Mountaineers are going to run the table.  Still, the BCS is probably having Big East and Boise State nightmares.

Ohio State - The Buckeyes are really, really good.  I can't remember there being this clear of a #1 team in a long time.  They punished the Minnesota this week, basically paralleling what this girl is doing in the carnival game to gophers.  During the game, Jack Nicklaus dotted the "i" when the Ohio State band spelled out the name of the school, which is apparently a great honor.  Anyway, the Buckeyes won 44-0, and solidified their place as a completely dominant team when compared with the rest of the teams in college football.  That makes a grand total of ten points scored by their last three opponents.  I still think that they will blow out Michigan in a few weeks in the most hyped game ever, and that the Buckeyes are easily headed for the title game.  However, I wouldn't be entirely surprised if the Wolverines did the exact opposite just to spite me. 

Temple - TEMPLE WON!  After 20 games of the letter W being useless in the Owls' alphabet, they pulled one over on Bowling Green with a 28-14 victory this past Saturday.  Temple saturated their coach with the cooler, and this week the Owls get to call themselves winners.  They got sweet victory over the Falcons, who had hung 70 points on them the past two years.  In a heartfelt moment, the team had a tear-filled group hug as they celebrated with their coach, Al Golden.  It was unfortunately a short-lived moment, as Golden had to rush off to see his wife, who is experiencing mild complications with their pregnancy.  I wish them the best, and congratulations for the victory.  I doubt that anyone enjoyed a win last week more than the Owls.  The feeling that they experienced was what college football and sports as a whole is all about.  Way to go, Temple.

 

On the Decline:

USC - Haha!  Oregon State beat USC on Saturday, and proved me right.  I floated the possibility of the upset last week, and have claimed for a few weeks now that USC's time was going to come.  I can't believe that the Trojans couldn't handle the Beavers.  Usually they can.  Not-tOSU got their biggest win in a long time, and I found it rather amusing.  Let's see some other losses by USC to Cal and/or Oregon.  That way, I can hear about some new teams instead of listening to the media rehash the same stories about how great USC is.  No more title game for SC.  There will be at least one undefeated team, and a 1-loss team with a much more quality loss.  Maybe now they won't hype the USC/Notre Dame game.  And maybe someone will give me $12 million dollars.  This Ed McMahon guy seems to think I have a pretty good chance, so you never know. 

Louisiana-Monroe - What's worse than being Florida International right now?  Looking up at them in the standings.  Such is the plight of the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.  Ouch.  For those of you who don't know, a war hawk is generally defined as a person who supports war.  Perhaps UL-Monroe should try the route of pacifism, considering that their unit is suffering heavy losses.  At least they have scoreboard on Alcorn State.  And at least they have some fun names on the roster like Zeek Zacharie.  I bet that guy loves events organized in alphabetical order.  Also fun is LaGregory Sapp.  I can only assume that this means "The Gregory."  That's right, I habla the espanol.  Following this theme, we have Quintez Secka.  I think that's some conjugated form of five.  Or is it fifteen?  Okay, fine, my Spanish is terrible.  You don't like it, you can jus' get out.  

Miami - It somehow keeps getting worse.  Not only did they suffer another loss this weekend, reciever Ryan Moore did not travel with the team for an undisclosed reason, which Larry Coker said had nothing to with him beating up women a few months ago.  It may not, but he wouldn't tell the media even if it did.  Guard Derrick Morse seems to have the most sense of anyone on the team, as he stated that "everybody wants us to lose."  And just in case you weren't convinced that the Hurricane players got off too easy for the brawl a few weeks ago, the misguided punishments were levied this week.  They have to do a bit of charity work, speak to kids, work with the police's "join the team, not a gang" program, and outreach to the homeless.  Why endanger the lives of charities, children, law enforcement, and the homeless?  More like Join Miami's Team, It Is a Gang.

Duke - In their quest to prove that "yes, we are still a basketball school," Duke suffered their sixteenth-straight loss this week to the Vanderbilt Commodores.  This moves them to the longest current losing skid following Temple's big win on Saturday.  At least they still have the academics going for them during football season.  And they still have Dick Vitale's unhealthy obsession with everything Dukie.  And their lacrosse team is dangerous.  Wait, those last two aren't attributes.  I'm sure that a Duke student could write some argumentative thesis refuting such in between hits of blow.  Okay, so that's a generalization, but here's how I arrived at that assertion.  Upper-class spoiled rich kids tend to like cocaine.  Upper-class spoiled rich kids tend to attend upscale private schools such as Duke.  Therefore, Duke students tend to have an affinity for cocaine.  It's science. 

N.C. State -  It's looking grim for Chuck Amato to keep his job following a loss to Virginia.  Decent wins against Florida State and Boston College are at the very least offset by losses to Akron, Virginia, Maryland, and Wake Forest.  Also, it is quite possible that the Wolfpack have stolen the title of "biggest difference between play on the road vs. games at home" from us.  Apparently the N.C. State coaching staff is aware of this, considering that they somehow got away with only playing four road games last year and five this year.  This is known as the "try and save my job with home-field advantage" strategy that was employed by Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione for this season.  It may actually work for Fran the man, though, while Chuckie looks to be doomed unless he can pull upsets against Georgia Tech and/or Clemson.  It's hard out here for a coach.

 

The Unknowns:

Tennessee - I still don't buy the Vols hype, even if they are #8 in the country.  It's not that I don't like Tennessee, I just think that they are a bit overrated.  Tennessee had yet another not-so-convincing win this weekend over South Carolina.  Add that to squeaker wins at home over a struggling Air Force team and a mediocre Alabama team, and you have a recipe for impending doom.  I think LSU and talented quarterback JaMarcus Russell are going to bring them back down to earth this weekend, even if it is at Rocky Top land.  Instead of expending a bunch of energy on a football game, I have another idea.  They should just rearrange the end zones so they can decide the game with a giant chess match.  The knights would be the receivers, who are only allowed to do "in" or "out" patterns.  Erik Ainge would be the queen.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Missouri - I was surprised to see the Tigers struggle so much against a Peterson-less OU team.  It seems that Missouri killed themselves with costly mistakes and turnovers.  They've been on the happier side of that this season already, so I don't feel too sorry for them.  I still would have preferred an OU loss, though.  It's looking like the Sooners are going to be a fairly strong team near the end of the season once again, which is unfortunately when we always play them.  Can we just once get OU early in the season when they are bad at football?  It's going to happen again next year, as they have to break in a new quarterback from a weak stock of talent at that position.  Also, Peterson is likely NFL-bound, unless he is just trying to ruin his chance at an NFL career.  Adrian, everyone already knows that you're really good.  Quit beating yourself up for the land thieves.

Wake Forest - The Demon Deacons are actually in the polls in a sport that's not basketball.  Enjoy it while it lasts, as the next game is against a solid Boston College team.  They struggled against a North Carolina team headed by former Nebraska QB Joe Dailey.  Yes, TTU fans, that is the same guy from the 70-10 blowout that we handed the 'Huskers in 2004.  Anyway, I finally discovered what the seemingly contradictory term "Demon Deacon" means in my research.  It's apparently some hard-ass Deacon who plays with eternal hellfire in his belly.  Uh, yeah; duality of man, and stuff...  What confuses me more is Wake Forest.  I picture a wake, which is this, and a forest, which is this.  It seems a bit mutually exclusive.  Maybe someone got drunk and took a hovercraft through the forest or something.  I don't know, but I don't think anyone else does, either.

Virginia Tech - The Hokies got a good win over Clemson on Thursday, which puts them at 6-2.  Their two losses aren't particularly embarrassing, as they came to talented Georgia Tech and Boston College teams.  Still, I can't decide if I buy into their offense as having what it takes to finish the season strong.  Also, during the VT/Clemson game, a Clemson fan threw a small glass liquor bottle at Tommy Bowden, which bonked him on the back of the head.  Someone's been playing too much Splinter Cell.  I could understand Florida State fans wanting to throw things at Bobby Bowden, but Tommy actually is coaching a good season.  And these guys are inexperienced with throwing objects onto the field.  Don't they know that batteries work best?  That's apparently what we use every time we beat Texas A&M, since we're so bitter from winning nine out the the last twelve. 

Nebraska - The Huskers looked on pace for a blowout early in the game, with RB Brandon Jackson simply toying with the Oklahoma State defense in two quick scores.  However, Oklahoma State proved to have a running back of their own, as Dantrell Savage answered with two touchdowns of his own.  Not-darius Bowman also added a long touchdown reception from Bobby Reid, who is quickly becoming a dangerous quarterback.  T. Boone Pickens graced the TV coverage with his presence, as he reminded everyone that he is the reason for one construction worker tinkering around in the background, while seven more watched him during their 3-hour lunch break.  I wonder how long it will take them to finish the solid gold, diamond-encrusted stadium upgrade.  They just have to focus on keeping those pesky academicians from getting a hold of any of the scarce capital.

 

Random (and possibly offensive) Thoughts:

Navy/ND uniforms are indistinguishable - I blacked out the only way to tell these teams apart in this picture.  If someone forgot who the home team was in this game, and can't read the names on the jerseys/helmets, one could have feasibly rooted for the wrong team all game.  I could have maybe understood confusing an offensive facemask with a defensive facemask and penalizing the wrong team in this game, but not when one team is white/orange and the other is all red.  However, that's a separate issue that I will get to later.  Anyway, what I find odd is that the media loves to talk about how cool Notre Dame's simplistic uniforms are, and yet Navy has the exact same thing going.  I guess in the grand scheme of things, college football is nothing more than just a giant popularity contest.  That would make sense, considering this weekend's officiating events.

John Melancholy - The slightly clever twist of John Mellencamp's name is in reference to how his music makes me absolutely miserable.  It made the column because I had to hear that boring, generic-sounding "our country" song approximately 27,348 times on Saturday.  There are not words to express how sick I am of hearing his attempt at music.  First, he damn near pulls a no-show at the World Series, and then I swear I saw him lip-sync in that "performance."  Plus, I found a fantastic picture of Johnny in a cape, receiving what I can only assume is an award for being the worst musician ever.  Also, Chevrolet loses points with me for propagating the plague upon the earth known as "our country."  For embarrassing the U.S. with this travesty, we should deport Johnny to someplace befitting his greatness.  Like Canada.  Or Jupiter.  Uninhabited Planet Survive!  

(Addendum:  I don't watch anime; I discovered this searching for the most uninhabitable planet for Mellencamp.  I came up with convoluted results, so I guessed Jupiter because it's gassy.  And from experience with our house's bathroom, that is the deciding factor for habitability.  Anyway, if you're morbidly curious about what Uninhabited Planet Survive looks like, click here.  Somehow, it was even lamer than I had imagined.)

Chase Daniel loses his mojo - Proving once again that everyone has off days every once in while, Chase had three interceptions and a fumble, for a total of four turnovers in the loss to OU on Saturday.  However, that doesn't change the fact that Daniel will be a great dual-threat quarterback for the Missouri Tigers for a few years to come.  The Big 12 is undoubtedly going to have some phenomenal QBs over the next few years.  Graham Harrell, Chase Daniel, Bobby Reid, Colt McCoy, and Stephen McGee all appear to have some real talent.  And these players are all Sophomores.  It's going to be a few seasons of high scoring games in the Big 12 if these quarterbacks all progress like I think that they will.  They have all experienced a bit of growing pains, but are still playing very well overall and appear to all have bright futures at this level and quite possibly the next.

Today, we spell redemption S-E-R-N-A - If the name Alex Serna sounds familiar, it is probably because this poor kid began his career by missing three extra points in what could have been a huge upset over #3 LSU back in 2004.  He didn't make the same mistake twice.  In Oregon State's big upset over USC on Saturday, he made all three extra points and added four field goals as well.  Serna had two FG misses in the game, but one of them was blocked and the other came from an excusable distance of 42 yards.  Regardless, it was impressive to see that Alex was able to come through in the clutch under pressure.  It shows character to turn it around like he did and never give up.  I'm proud of the kid.  It would have been painful to hear about him missing a kick to lose the game, but nowhere near as painful as our referee-aided loss to Texas. 

Texas gets the calls - Let me first state that I absolutely hate blaming the refs for losing, and abstain from doing so 99.9% of the time.  I hate when others do it, and I hate myself for somewhat doing it now.  For the record, I didn't complain about anything in our similarly heartbreaking three-point loss to Texas in the final minutes of the 2003 game, as I feel that we lost that game on a horribly blown coverage.  Nor did I complain when Alabama's only TD in the Cotton Bowl came on a screen in which our defense stopped their pursuit because the receiver caught the ball with his knee on the ground.  I don't have a track record of complaining after close losses, or even games with one pivotal bad call.  I'm not a conspiracy theorist who thinks that everyone is against us.  I am of the opinion that teams should put opponents away when they have the chance, and we had our chances on Saturday.  However, it's impossible to ignore the biased officiating during the game.  The loss wasn't entirely the fault of the referees, but they sure as hell weren't helping our cause.  It wasn't just the very questionable pass interference call, Chris Hudler's facemask that was meant to be called on UT, Colt McCoy "legally" crossing the line of scrimmage and then throwing the ball, Filani catching the ball and taking two steps prior to momentarily dropping it for an "incompletion," or one of their DBs tackling Hicks while the ball is in the air on a supposedly uncatchable pass that hit the ground a yard out of bounds less than five yards away from Jarrett despite the tackle.  It was the referee warning Colt McCoy about the clock winding down.  It was the line judge making arbitrary spots without marking them with either foot.  It was Texas shoving their own guys down to fake injuries when they needed more time.  It was the official preventing the play from being started until the UT defense made any substitution that they wanted.  It was the entire game of obvious favoritism.  At this point, I'm sure a UT fan is thinking I'm just a homer looking through red glasses.  I considered this as a very real possibility in an introspective reflection of my unflinching love of my Red Raiders, so I did some research on other teams' message boards to find out their thoughts.  Let's ask the Oklahoma board, the Texas A&M board, and the Ohio State board.  Interesting...  Now, I'm sure UT fans are thinking "but those schools don't like us and root against us."  Fine.  Let's look at schools who have little to no emotional stake in the game.  How about the Boise State board, or the West Virginia board, or the Louisville board, or the Florida board, or the California board, or the Auburn board.  Hmm...look at the similarities.  I'll be damned; they saw the same thievery that I did.  It was simply ridiculous, and damn near everyone knows it.  Sadly, that won't make the L turn into a W.  I'm not going to pull an OU and start claiming that we won the game.  We lost.  However, I feel that the refs played a major part in the loss, and it seems that many others, fans of TTU or not, felt the same way.  I will be forever proud of our team for playing a phenomenal game on Oct. 28, 2006, but I will forever be angry with the result.  We deserved to win.  We deserved better, and college football did as well.

 

-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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