Around the Nation

RaiderPower takes a lighthearted 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:

USC - Well, the Rubbers are going to jump in the rankings quite a bit with all of the losses from the top ten teams.  They beat up on Oregon on Saturday, which was fairly impressive.  Oregon had a pathetic end to the game as they tried with futility to score points in the waning seconds so the score would look like less of a blowout.  The officiating was a nightmare, and wasted a half-hour of my life that I will never get back, but I'll get to that later.  I almost felt sorry for the official who had to keep reporting the controversial decisions, even more so because his name was Jack Wood.  No kidding.  Did his parents not think about that, or were they just cruel?  Anyway, the game lasted over 3 1/2 hours from the kickoff to the final whistle, and it was more like four hours with the game coverage.  It wasn't over until 1 a.m. here.  Take that, clock rules.

Michigan - The Hugh Jackmans play Ohio State next week, which I'm sure you didn't know.  I wonder if the game is sold out, or if it will be televised.  I almost want to boycott watching the game out of pure spite.  The media is already making this out to be the national title game, part I.  I really hope it's the worst, most unentertaining game in history, filled with a plethora punts and a final score of 3-0.  Either that, or one team needs to win by 50+ points.  Something that will make everyone change the channel and watch something else.  I suggest an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger or I Pity the Fool.  At least by watching that, you know that your life will be enriched.  That, and you can take comfort in the fact that you weren't a mindless pawn of the media.  Join me, apathetic brethren, and stick it to the college football hype machine once and for all!

Rutgers - Well, Rutgers pulled their biggest win ever over Louisville.  The birthplace of college football appears to have been reborn, as Rutgers proved to the nation that they in fact are the real deal.  The Empire State Building was lit up red, which was actually pretty damn cool.  They're calling it the spread of scarlet fever, which probably isn't the best marketing plan since it refers to a rash/headache/vomiting in medical terms.  Still, I've decided to scrap my three one-loss Big East teams plan in the hopes that Rutgers runs the table.  This way, they will have beaten two top ten teams, be undefeated, and still get screwed out of a title shot for monetary reasons.  A multiple-loss Texas or Notre Dame team would jump them, and prove my theory that it's about the money instead of the sport in the grand scheme of things.  Go Scarlet Knights!  Storm the BCS castle!

Ohio State - I think that they will beat Michigan handily.  I really do.  Chad Henne will prove my "Michigan QBs have been overrated since Tom Brady" theory.  Troy Smith has already won the Heisman, but he will play well.  Ohio State has the better defense, more explosive offense, and they're playing at home.  This is a recipe for a disappointing game for the viewers.  The only way that I see Michigan winning this game is if Lloyd Carr seriously outcoaches Jim Tressel.  Tressel may be too busy worrying about if his patented sweater vest is ever going to be make a fashion comeback.  Anyway, I think the Buckeye defense will be the difference in the game, and James Laurinaitis will get a big interception.  Maybe Ted Ginn will make a big play and prove he isn't overrated after all.  Maybe I'll actually end up watching the latest "game of the century" to find out.

Kansas State - The Wildcats ran two consecutive halfback passes against Texas, which somehow both worked.  This might have been the most awesome thing that I have since Mr. T's math skillsJosh Freeman is going to be a scary quarterback if he continues to progress from the way that he played against Texas.  Kansas State has slipped into second-place in the Big 12 North, but Missouri has a chance to jump them if they win their next two.  However, if KSU expects me take them seriously as a contender, they're going to have to stop doing the that Wildcat roar over their sound system.  Also, they might want to change that purple color.  It's not very intimidating.  Oh, and get rid of whatever this thing is.  It's just creepy.  Not that Raider Red doesn't bear a resemblance to Yosemite Sam.  He does, but at least he doesn't suffer from severe encephalitis.


On the Decline:

Texas -  D'oh!   The Longhorns lost to KSU last Saturday, effectively taking themselves out of a legitimate shot at the title game.  Wow, that's fun to write.  Colt McCoy got hurt, which wasn't all that surprising, considering that he is a walking stick figure who tried to ram defensive lineman out of the way at the goal line.  Jevan Snead almost earned the starting job with a miraculous comeback that came up just short.  Maybe now he won't transfer to Houston because he may realize what he should have known all along, which is that he was one play away from becoming the starter.  With Texas' luck, though, Snead is going to turn out to be some all-world QB.  I remember originally thinking that he was the better QB before the season.  Then again, I guess it doesn't matter who starts, since blue-chips back up blue-chips.  Cash Money Millionaires.

CaliforniaHaha!  Cal lost to Arizona.  Ari-freaking-zona.  Their pro team isn't even good.  The most fun thing about this was that we have officially returned to Pac-1 status.  For a second there, I thought that the conference might have a few good teams, and I was worried.   The "Golden Boy" who was getting all the credit for the wins (while I was attributing them to Lynch/Forsett) threw three interceptions.  I guess it was a happy weekend for the Stoopseseses, which generally translates into an unhappy weekend for me.  On another note, I might have to stab DeSean Jackson in the leg if he gets any closer to breaking Wes Welker's punt return records; Northern Colorado punter-style.  Welker got his record against teams who can tackle.  The Pac-1 doesn't have those, so I feel that the stabbing would be justified to prevent a travesty of NCAA record thievery.

Texas Tech -  It's hard to argue that we don't deserve to be here as we moved down to 6-5 this year, which is an unfortunate change from what we were getting used to in the Leach era.  However, here's the good news.  If we beat Oklahoma State this coming weekend, we have a very real chance of finishing third in the Big 12 South.  After all, that would put OSU and us in a tie record-wise, and we would jump them with the head-to-head win.  Still, somehow Copycat U has managed to schedule one more conference game than everyone else, but hopefully they will lose it, as it is against OU.  The same goes for Texas A&M, assuming that they don't pull the upset against the Longhorns in Austin.  Therefore, we somewhat control our own destiny.   The season is not over by any means.  Show your support against Oklahoma State for our final home game of the season. 

Miami - Well, I won't make fun of the Hurricanes this week following the unfortunate death of Bryan Pata.  Believe me, my conscience gave me an extremely hard time for my sadly correct comment in the last Around the Nation about that we should "expect an increase in gang-related homicides" following last week's loss.  I might be going to Hell for that one.  Still, off-the-field issues aside, the Hurricanes suffered another loss at Maryland on Saturday.  However, there's nothing funny about Miami coming up one point short in a game that they had dedicated to Pata.  Nor is there anything amusing about the fact that this game may have been the final nail in the coffin for Coker's job despite the team's heads probably being in another place this week.  It's a sad state of affairs in Miami, but perhaps the program can finally start to rebuild a program that needs changes.

Texas A&M - Yeah, they're 8-3 and having a better season than we are overall.  Scoreboard.  Again.  The Ags have lost two straight and will likely lose their next game as well.  They're on the decline.  They're also scared to play away games, as the game against UT will mark only their fourth road contest of the year.  No, your "Battle for the Alamo" in which you almost lost to Army doesn't count, either.  Oh, and for all the flak that we took for our schedule last year, how about 'ol TAMU?  They couldn't have drawn it up better.  Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri, and TTU at home, and a joke of a non-conference schedule.  And it's not like they've beaten Texas in a long time, so it doesn't seem to matter where that game is played.  At least the "Saw Varsity's horns off" cheer makes sense for once.  However, t.u. continues to befuddle me.  From the inside you can't explain it.


The Unknowns:

Auburn - Well, the Tigers made the mistake of trying to throw the ball.  Why try that?  You haven't had the practice.  It would be like us lining up in the Power I for most of next week's game.  Sure, they only threw 12 passes, but 1/3 of them were interceptions.  And you know what third rhymes with if you clicked the Mr. T link earlier.  Brandon Cox had an very tough afternoon, and from one of the game photos, I discovered that he bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Frodo.  I think he forgot to wear the precious on Saturday.  Tra Battle had three of the game's picks, but I'm going to ignore his good play in lieu of making fun of how you get a pronunciation of "Trey" out of Tra.  Name a word in the English language that ends in "ra" with the pronunciation "ray."  Mothra?  Nope.  Lycra?  Nope.  Bra?  Nope, but apparently my thoughts are drifting to a much more fun place.

Oklahoma State - The Copycats Cowboys are looking like a fairly strong team these days.  The had a semi-embarrassing loss to Houston early, followed by a close loss to a K-State team that is looking far more respectable these days.  Then, they lost a squeaker to A&M, but got blown out by Texas.  The last few weeks have included impressively decisive wins over Nebraska and Baylor.  So, it appears they are earning some of their Boone Pickens paychecks.  Who knows, maybe they'll even use some of that money to create their own traditions and mascots.  Or maybe an original academic calendar.  Anyway, hopefully our Seniors remember the OSU debacle from last season.  I hope Leach shows them the tape.  Raider Power, not Orange Power.  Masked Rider, not Spirit Rider.  Raider Red, not Pistol Pete.  The originals are still the best, so let's remind them why.

TCU - Are these guys good or not?  I can't tell.  They aren't the BCS buster that they thought they would be, as they took themselves out of BCS and conference contention early with consecutive losses to BYU and Utah.  BYU is turning out to be a pretty good team, while Utah is not.  They somehow beat us, but I'm not sure what that means at this point.  Anyway, the Froggies have won four straight, but are a few games behind everyone else because they somehow pulled multiple bye weeks in their schedule.  They'll be playing their regular season through December, so they still have a little ways to go.  I'm not sure where they will deserve to end up, but it will probably be something like the CompanyYou' bowl, playing against a team like us that also failed to live up to expectations.  It pains me to no end to write that.  At least we're not purple.

Boston College - They accomplished something truly remarkable last week in beating Duke.  Wait, this isn't basketball.  It's football, and Duke refuses to win.  Go nation's longest losing streak!  Still, Boston College is alive in an ACC title race that is truly up for grabs, with the conference leaders almost all playing each other in these last few weeks.  They will need some help if they expect to get there, but it can happen.  Their walk-on kicker is still doing well, which is fun.  And Duke's running back Clifford Harris is either a complete liar or really delusional, as he said, "We know we can beat teams like BC, Maryland and Florida State.  It used to be like, `Boston College, Whoa!' But we know we can compete with them."  Then again, I guess the word "can" makes the statement slightly true.  As in, "I can win the lottery and survive the subsequent lightning strike."

Wake Forest - Are these guys actually good?  I knew they were playing well, but this week they went into Florida State and pulled off a 30-0 shutout.  Granted, Florida State is terrible and coached by senility in its purest form, but Wake's win is impressive nonetheless.  The best part of this is the FSU fans are completely turning on everything Bowden, as the sign in this picture shows.  Oh, and bonus points on the sign for capitalizing everything except the "r."  I realize that's just a child holding the sign, but come on kid, you're embarrassing yourself out there.  I guess I should give him credit for not writing the r backwards or something with the fine parenting that's going on these days.  Anyway, Wake Forest and Georgia Tech may end up playing each other what would be the the weirdest ACC title game ever.  Go yellow/black color scheme, or something. 



Random (and possibly offensive) Thoughts:

God plays a cruel joke on Marshall - The plane that was carrying the Marshall Thundering Herd to their football game against ECU had smoke in one of the engines, which forced the evacuation of the plane.  The creepy part about this was that the tragic plane crash which took the lives of their football team in 1970 was following a game against East Carolina.  When I read this story, I was like, "Man, that's not cool."  However, after much deliberation, I concluded that this must have been a punishment for dishonoring the memories of the deceased by having a movie about it starring none other than Matthew McConaughey.  Since Matthew might actually be Satan, it begins to make a little more sense.  And I just realized that I just turned this situation into a joke, which probably means that McConaughey will be my dark master one day.  Damn, that will be Hell.

Dan McCarney resigns because ISU is bad - It has a disappointing season for Texas Tech fans considering our high expectations for the season, but we've got nothing on Iowa State.  The Cyclones are yet to win a conference game, with their season's only wins coming against Northern Iowa, Toledo, and UNLV.  Ouch.  What confuses me is that these same Cyclones were the same team that most everyone had picked to challenge a good Nebraska team for the Big 12 North title and possibly the Big 12 Championship.  The ingredients were there.  Talented dual-threat QB in Bret Meyer, talented wideouts in Todd Blythe and Austin Flynn, capable RB in Stevie Hicks, and what was a fairly good defense last season.  The Cyclones might be the underachievement champions for this season.  Maybe an Iowa State fan can explain why, because I just don't get it.

The Rose Bowl was a Mecca of corruption last year - Let me get this straight.  Reggie Bush was receiving all kinds of illegal benefits.  Dwayne Jarrett was living in a free apartment.  And then, Yahoo sports uncovers the fact that the wrong feed was conveniently sent to the replay booth on the highly controversial Vince lateral that resulted in a Texas TD.  The national coordinator of officials then went on to state that Bush's fumbled lateral which appeared to be going forward also may have been affected by this feed problem.  The best part of all this is that there are absolutely no repercussions for any of this.  The way I see it, this so-called greatest game of all-time was just a marked example of the travesty that college football is turning into.  Keep digging, Yahoo.  Follow the trail of guns, marijuana, and improper benefits.  It leads to all kinds of fun.

Reasons A&M deserves not to win - There were forces at work preventing A&M from beating Nebraska, and here's why.  1) I'm fairly sure that Franchione has neuticles where testicles should be, as he failed to play to win once again.  2) The 12th Man is just a novelty these days, as it lost them the game two weeks ago and all three of A&M's losses have come at home.  3) They fly planes over nearly every game so they can keep up the military facade.  4) They still have concrete surrounding their sidelines, which is a marvel of idiotically dangerous engineering.  5) They still waste talent horribly, as they refuse to hand the ball to Jorvorskie Lane in short yardage situations.  Add all of this up, and the Aggies don't deserve to beat a good team like Nebraska.  If that's not enough, then just ponder why these guys should be able to call themselves superior to anyone.

Officials are still terrible at their job - Well, the glaring example this week was the USC/Oregon game.  Those who stayed up late enough to watch this one got a treat.  There was a pass that was deflected in the end zone, and caught by a receiver who had apparently stepped out of bounds and then come back in to make the catch.  It was ruled a touchdown on the field.  The booth took the play to review, and took around seven minutes to rule that the receiver had committed illegal touching.  Then, the Oregon coach had the audacity to challenge that ruling, and they spent another ten minutes to eventually overturn their own ruling because the Oregon coach pointed out that it was a tipped ball.  So not only is the replay booth horribly slow and indecisive, they don't know the rules.  They sound qualified to me.  Especially if they suffer from macular degeneration.

-Trent Wycoff

(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at

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