I've got a cup full of Teddy Grahams, a Diet Dr Pepper and a chair that falls over when I lean back. So let's settle in class for PsychoBlogy 101.
Texas Tech 55 – Baylor 21
And one week later, my how the tables have turned. This week, it is the Baylor Bears getting royally screwed as the crack Big XII officiating crew basically hands Tech the ballgame with several blown calls in critical situations. Nah, I'm just kidding, Tech smoked ‘em. There were no critical situations. However, early on it looked like Tech was the victim of "Backup Quarterback Syndrome" as the Bears scored an early touchdown on a 56-yard bomb. I have no idea why backup quarterbacks seem to do so well. I think it is because you expect to just toy with them and don't take them seriously. Kind of like in city league basketball where you end up playing 5 on 4 against a team missing three players because one guy had a conflict with his bowling league, one guy is still waddling from his botched elective colonoscopy, and the other guy was his doctor who now has a broken finger, yet you still end up almost getting beat because you think that it will be no contest. Yeah, well Tech didn't do that. They rolled up almost 700 yards of offense, and held Baylor to 16 of 30 passing. Hey, but Baylor has a wicked punter.
Kansas State 34 – Colorado 21
Man, Diet Dr Pepper is terrible. No wonder I quit drinking soft drinks. I mean, I guess it is okay as diet stuff goes, but how was I ever able to drink like 10 of these a day. I have nothing more to say about this game between two Big XII North spares. If there is even one reader of this column from either of those schools, I will start covering the games, but I doubt it.
Nebraska 34 – Missouri 20
Why can't Missouri seem to win anymore? Because Chase Daniels eats boogers. There is no reason to ever eat boogers. Especially not on a football field. There are an infinite number of places he could have put that sticky nugget other than his mouth. His jersey. Bottom of his shoe. On one of the Nebraska D-linemen's helmet. But crap-o'-Friday son, not in your mouth. Your body balled that stuff up and sent it to the edge of your nose for a reason. IT DOESN'T WANT IT. Don't put it back in. And what are you doing excavating during a football game anyway? How do you expect your coach to put the game in your hands if there is a booger in them? Oh, and Nebraska had 236 passing yards.
Kansas 41 – Iowa State 10
The misery continues for Dan McCarney's Cyclones as they continue to look up at Colorado in the Big XII North standings. COLORADO. And this one wasn't even close with Kock and Johnson combining in the backfield for minimal success. Moses racks up 79 receiving yards as he covered a lot of ground, but was ultimately stopped short of the endzion (okay that was a reach). Meier throws for two touchdowns, but is unable to hook up with Lamb for the score. Thankfully. Meanwhile, Moorehead stops a key drive with an interception, but the Cyclones are unable to convert. Abbott and Costello would have so much fun with this game. Meanwhile, the Jayhawks prove that there are simply too many bowl games, as they pull within one game of bowl eligibility.
Texas 36 – Oklahoma State 10
Having learned their lesson the past two seasons, the Longhorns decide to put this one away early. Colt McCoy sets the regular season TD record for UT quarterbacks with several games to spare. I must admit, I didn't buy into this kid's hype early on, but he continues to show that he is a playmaker, and I am starting to get on board with him. However, unlike Brent Musburger, I don't want to swill sherry and cuddle with him beside a roaring fire. I mean, c'mon, blue eyes do nothing for me. If the Orange can take care of business the last two games, then they should quickly dispatch with whatever fodder the Big XII North offers up and find themselves in another BCS game. Which one it is has yet to be seen.
Oklahoma 17 – Texas A&M 16
This is the kind of game that makes me crazy. All year long, the Aggies have found ways to win late* (excludes Tech). Yet in this one, the Aggies found a way to lose late. I'll talk a little bit more about the coaching decisions in the next section, but here we had a case with the perfect atmosphere: a night game at Kyle Field (not Kyle Stadium, Musburger, you butternut squash), a Gameday fueled crowd, a matchup of closely ranked teams. And we blew it. Oklahoma jumped out to an easy lead, but after scoring on their first two drives, they only managed a field goal the rest of the game. If only it were a safety instead, we could have at least had overtime. Going for it on a 4th and inches in a make or break play, the Sooners were able to convert and claim the one point victory. Not that it mattered if they didn't because we had 12 players on the field. I think I would be writing this from a hospital bed with wires sticking out of my new baboon heart if we would have stopped them, only to lose anyway because somebody was taking our traditions literally.
The Thin Yellow Line
There is a thin yellow line between coaching genius and coaching moronitry, and it is brought to you by Outpost.com. This past weekend, as A&M battled Oklahoma to the bitter end, Bob Stoops decided to go for it on 4th and inches on his own 25. Let's assume that he had no mystical knowledge that the Aggies would suddenly be unable to count and look at the information he had when he made the decision. If they convert the play, then they can run the clock out and they win the game, and Stoops is hailed as a gutsy genius while Franchione is blasted by his fans for his cowardly play. However, if they don't, then the Aggies with a wind at their back are already about in field goal range, and just need to pick up a few yards of safety margin to kick the game winner. Suddenly Franchione is carried off of the field on the players' shoulders and dubbed a heady coaching genius, while Stoops is ripped by the Sooner Nation for being a senseless risk-taker.
The same thing happened earlier in the game, when the Aggies had 3rd and goal from the 2-yard line and Franchione decided to play-action and try to pass into the endzone. When this failed, he kicked the field goal to go down by four with just under eight minutes left. Most don't question the actual field goal call, because once he passed on third down, he really didn't have any other choice. However, everyone went nuts at the 3rd down call, because the Aggies have the 2nd leading scorer in the nation, a 280 pound giant that has more conversions than a Billy Graham rally, and they don't put the ball in his hands. But Franchione's call is not as crazy as it might look. The Sooners had bottled up Lane most of the day in short yardage situations, and the Aggies have been very successful with the play action this season near the endzone. I am certainly not trying to defend Dennis the Menace, but if the pass is complete, then those two cartoon guys are clinking their Guinnesses and yelling "Brilliant!" Surely everyone in the stadium knew that we were going to hand off the ball to Lane, so he fooled everyone with the pass!
The point is that how a coach's decision is judged has far less to do with the decision itself, and everything to do with the execution. And when you are putting your job in the hands of a bunch of 18-22 year olds, it is easy to see why most coaches have gray hair.
Sports are Crap
I hate sports. This weekend was a horrible weekend for my sports-world. The Aggies lost in a ridiculous game. The Cowboys lost in an even more ridiculous game. The Mavericks went 0-3. Mauralakana finished 6th in the Breeder's Cup. Why do I keep watching sports? They make me crazy. They often put me in a horrible mood. They take up a ton of my time every weekend, and even some weeknights. Heck, I am even sitting here at 10:30 on a Thursday writing about sports while flipping back and forth between the Mavericks, the Stars, and Rutgers-Louisville on my PC video feed. No, my wife hasn't commandeered my column, I am serious. What is it about grown men playing a game that compels other grown men to pay good money and spend valuable time to watch them? Why should I even care what happens as a bunch of "student-athletes" smash into each other for 3 hours like Neanderthals?
Maybe my sports-hating boss has it right. No, I wouldn't give him that much credit. He spent yesterday's staff meeting talking about how cool "Rock-Paper-Scissors" was and mourning the breakup of Britney and K-Fed. For an engineering manager, he sure is plugged into pop culture, even if it does make him seem like a bit of a woman. Which leads me to my next point. Why we DO watch sports.
In the tribal caveman days, men had responsibilities. They had to hunt and kill their own food. They had to move heavy rocks to build structures. They had to defend their family from invaders. All of these things are due to, and facilitated by, testosterone. Now, we can have food delivered to our house. Everything is made of space age materials, and takes patience, not strength to assemble. We don't have to worry about our village being overrun by tribal warlords either.
So we have to create reasons to get our man juice flowing. Our sports teams have become our tribes, and instead of war paint, we wear our school colors. We no longer plunder other villages and steal their booty, but rather watch as our representatives do battle on the gridiron so we can tell our coworkers that we kicked their booty. Most of us even grew up playing the sports that we follow, and in an ultimate act of vicarious living, we share in the success of those that still get to take the field. We experience the thrill of victory right along side them, and we feel the agony of defeat deep within our mushed nuts when our team loses.
So ladies (and my boss), in a society where men have been emasculated by sensitivity training, moisturizing cream, equal rights, and manners, we ask that you allow us to connect with our hairy, flat-footed, slope-browed ancestors for just a small escape each week. All we need is Saturday afternoon. And Sunday. Oh, and don't forget Monday night football. Yeah, and ESPN usually has a Thursday night game. Don't forget our high school games on Fridays, we have to meet up with our buddies from the D-line. But Wednesday is yours. Unless the Mavericks are on.
Finally. Five Big XII games, and four of them are televised. The only one that isn't is better suited for some disaster special on the Discovery Channel anyway.
Baylor at Oklahoma State 11:30 AM on FSN
Why to watch: Two teams battle to see who can slide into one of the remaining up-for-grabs bowl slots.
Why not to watch: It is a bowl slot for a game that will probably change names 3 times between now and when it is actually played.
Iowa State at Colorado 2:00 PM The Big XII TV contract finally got something right.
Nebraska at Texas A&M 2:30 PM on ABC
Why to watch: You never know what that crazy Coach Fran will do.
Why not to watch: Your cardiologist told you not to.
Texas Tech at Oklahoma 6:00 PM on FSN
Why to watch: Big XII South foes go at it to try and climb up the bowl ladder. After last year's last second win for the Raiders, you can bet that there is some hostility in this one. Oh, and maybe that "GOOOOOOOOO! RAIIIIIDDDEEEERRRS!" guy shows up again.
Why not to watch: Your husband is a replay official.
Texas at Kansas State 7:00 PM on ABC
Why to watch: The Longhorns look to finish strong and take their second consecutive Big XII title on the way to an outside shot at the national title game.
Why not to watch: Brokeback Mountain made you uncomfortable and you don't want to hear Musburger verbally hump Colt McCoy for three hours.
It's getting down to the end of the season, and I appreciate all of the kind words and emails you guys have sent/posted. I do have plans to continue writing in the off-season in more of a general topic vein, but I will let you know more about that in the next few weeks. If you would like to discuss this week's column with the Raiderpower community, you can check it out here. Or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org but put RAIDERPOWER in the subject line so I can find it if it gets stuck in the spam filter.
Random shouts out to kezarmyaj, REMOG, and stexraider, just because. Have a good week, and Go Sport! Let's go Outback tonight. Life will still be there tomorrow. But hopefully, this horrible commercial will not.
The Weakly Retort