Let's take a look back at what the Big XII did this week, with all of the expertise of a Friday morning quarterback. Especially a smart-alec one with ADD.
Kent State 23 – Iowa State 14
You simply cannot expect to finally play with the big boys in the Big XII when you get beaten by the Golden Flashers from the Mid-American Conference (I actually had to look that up). Oh wait, they are the Golden FLASHES. Just as silly, but at least it is more family friendly. I think. They do play in Dix Stadium (giggle). Not a very good start for new head coach Gene Chizik. A little different when you aren't playing with those UT blue chip recruits, huh, Gene?
Colorado 31 – Colorado State 28
Okay, as numerous posters and emailers pointed out, this was an INTRAstate rivalry game, not an INTERstate rivalry game. Yes, I know the difference, but I was busy thinking about car batteries and federal highways, so those of you that feel the need to keep hammering me on this can go have intracourse. Meanwhile, another game that always seems to be close comes down to the wire with Kevin Eberhart kicking the game winning field goal.
Nebraska 52 – Nevada 10
Not a whole lot to say about this yawner, except that it is interesting to note that Nebraska did it by returning to their roots, piling up over 400 rushing yards. Have we seen the end of Air Husker? Let's wait until they play someone with a pulse.
Missouri 40 – Illinois 34
Chase Daniels looks like the real deal as many people's favorites of the North division takes care of business. I don't know much about Illinois, and it is after 11:00 at night so I'm not looking it up. Go Tigers.
TCU 27 – Baylor 0
I guess TCU prays harder?
Georgia 35 – Oklahoma State 14
Oklahoma State is simply overmatched by the talent of the Bulldogs. My wife is griping at me for still being awake, so I'll just leave it at that. (No, I don't write this thing in order. I saved this hard hitting gem for last.)
Oklahoma 79 – North Texas 10
Another new coach, another poor debut, only this one was really bad. I guess coach Todd Dodge finally got a taste of what all of those other poor Texas High School football coaches felt like. Only to further rub salt in the wounds, Stoops did it with almost all Texas recruits. As far as Oklahoma goes, they shut my mouth for a week about their lack of a quarterback, as some guy named Bradford throws for 363 yards and 3 touchdowns, almost all of it in the FIRST HALF. One for one for 13 yards in the second half? Looks like Todd Dodge finally figured you out, tough guy.
Texas A&M 38 – Montana State 7
The Aggies win in convincing fashion on the scoreboard, but the stat book tells a different story. The Aggies struggle a bit in the passing game, but I-AA (I don't care what they are calling them now, the Suburban Subdivision or whatever) Montana State passes for over 300 yards on the allegedly improved Aggie secondary. Somewhere Mike Leach is getting a chubby. And wearing an eye patch.
Texas 21 – Arkansas State 13
This game was a blown call away from being really interesting. Arkansas State recovered a late onside kick to give them a chance to win, but the ball was turned over to Texas due to an illegal formation penalty. A penalty that the league later admitted was incorrect. Everyone is used to the orange getting the questionable calls against the big boys of the Big XII, but when you need help from the zebras to beat Arkansas State, that doesn't bode well for the rest of the season.
Kansas 52 – Central Michigan 7
Does it not surprise anyone else that Coach Mark Mangino loads up his non-conference schedule with creampuffs? Yeah, I went there.
Auburn 23 – Kansas State 13
Kansas State just didn't want to win this game. They looked like they had it all wrapped up until the last few minutes when stupid turnovers and stupid penalties did them in.
Texas Tech 49 – SMU 9
Pony up, indeed! After all of the talking that SMU has done about their improved team and how they were going to stick it to the big boys this year, they crapped the bed at home against the lethal Tech spread offense.
Around the Nation
Outside the Big XII, everyone is talking about the Michigan Wolverines falling out of the top 25 after getting beat by Division I-AA Appalachian State in a game that was so big of an upset that the visiting team went home and tore down their goalposts. Yes, this is the same Appalachian State that is the future home of Miss South Carolina and her wicked cartography skillz. I wish for poor App State's sake (I get tired of trying to type the full name and having the spell checker stick that red squiggle under it) that this were a joke, but she is really going there. Imagine having your school's most proud moment and most embarrassing moment in the span of two weeks.
Ranking the Big XII Mascots
What's in a name? Quite a bit, actually. Especially, when you are talking about your school's mascot. Your mascot is your identity, and has the power to intimidate your foe. Or not, as you will see with some of the examples below. Considering the mascots of the various Big XII schools, I began to study them in order to determine which are the best, and which are the worst. As I started to do so, I noticed some trends developing as the mascots fell into one of several groups. Let's take a look in reverse order. Or don't, nobody is forcing you to read this.
12. The Kansas Jayhawks – According to Wikipedia, "The Jayhawk is a cross between two hunting birds--the noisy blue jay and the quiet sparrow hawk." Unless these birds get their marching orders from one Alfred Hitchcock, I can scarcely think of anything less frightening. Maybe if you are SMU and you all drive freshly waxed sports cars, you may view this as frightening, but even then, it is nothing that daddy's credit card and a quick trip to the auto detailer won't fix.
11. The Nebraska Cornhuskers – You can't be serious. Cornhuskers? I suppose that a Cornhusker would be a man with strong, well-developed hands that may be able to crush tiny bones while giving you a mean handshake, but I'm not going to call that intimidating. Some of the things that the boys from Nebraska have been known as in the past are even stranger. Before establishing themselves as the huskers of corn, they were known as the "Bugeaters", the "Antelopes", and the "Mankilling Mastodons".
10. The Oklahoma Sooners – Apparently some emailers didn't take too kindly to me accusing the Sooners of cheating when I claimed last week that they were "funneling money to players through a car dealership". Okay, maybe it was more like a beer bong, or maybe, just maybe, they really had no idea it was going on. Even still, when you have a name like "The Sooners", one could argue that you had cheatin' in yer blood. The name Sooners came from those people that illegally entered the Indian Territory at night to lay claim to land in advance of those that chose to follow the rules. This unintimidating mascot ranks just ahead of the other two because of the seedy criminal element.
9. The Texas A&M Aggies – Apparently, an Aggie is an underbite-cursed drill sergeant with a dull razor. Hey, drill sergeants are intimidating! Ask Forrest Gump. Ask that guy from Full Metal Jacket. But wait, I thought A&M's mascot was a Collie. Well, it's both, which instantly detracts from any intimidation. The story goes that several cadets were driving back to College Station when they hit a stray dog. They took the dog home and nursed it back to health, and soon adopted it as their mascot. Now the dog gets to sleep in anyone's bed it pleases, has her own cell phone and student ID, is the highest ranking member of the Corps of Cadets, and is surrounded constantly by an adoring entourage as she serves as the symbol of all things Aggie. Every morning, I wake up, get on my knees, and thank God that they didn't hit a sheep.
8. The Iowa State Cyclones – Allright, finally something intimidating. A cyclone is pretty mean, right? Well, technically, a cyclone is "an area of low atmospheric pressure characterized by inward spiraling winds that rotate counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere of the Earth." Well, that isn't exactly as scary as we thought, now is it? To make things worse, their sideline mascot is a cardinal. Much like the Aggie – Dog paradox, I can't quite understand the connection between swirly winds and a bird either, other than the fact that they probably don't get along.
The Lumbering Plains Dwellers
7. The Texas Longhorns – Now we come to our first mascot that actually presents some sort of danger. Unfortunately, this particular mascot spends so much of its time high on goofenthol that the only real danger is that it stumbles backward and crushes you, or that it delivers a pizza sized defecation on your sideline. Plus, you lose some points when your mascot is something you can eat.
6. The Colorado Buffaloes – Okay, Buffalo are intimidating. They are large, and they can trample you. However, they are just content sitting around, munching grass and being brought almost to the brink of extinction. The Buffali also lose some points as an edible mascot for being known as the "other other other white meat". However, while both the Longhorns the Buffalaces lack external gonads, Ralphie the she-buffalo loses fewer points for at least not having any to start with.
The Rugged Men of Lore
5. The Oklahoma State Cowboys – Now we get back to the human mascots. Everybody likes Cowboys. They are the basis of the Western ideal. Tough, rugged men that work hard for a living and have no trouble taming a wild beast. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to this particular bowlegged Dennis Hopperesque abomination that is the thing of Allsup's-induced nightmares. I am serious, this thing scares the bejeebers out of me, but not because it is intimidating, but because I don't want it left alone with my kids.
4. The Texas Tech Red Raiders – Here is a menacing concept gone awry. Raiders are mean people that pillage and plunder, and that is intimidating. Only, I can't for the life of me figure out why they are red. Perhaps they are very polite and are embarrassed by their hostile acts. While that certainly detracts from their ferocity, it doesn't do so nearly as much as the two physical implementations of this mascot. One of them looks like the Hamburglar of McDonald's fame, while the other takes the form of Yosemite Sam, he the indecipherable swearer of the Warner Brothers universe. Still, compared to some of the other mascots we have seen so far, this is one of the best.
The Stuff That Can Kill You
3. The Kansas State Wildcats – Now we get to the wild animal mascots that can actually kill you. That means something. However, I had to rank them third among the death dealers because they could easily be misconstrued as "wild cats" (two words), which reduces them to a minor annoyance that craps in your yard and leaves dead mice on your porch. Lame, I know, but I needed a tiebreaker.
2. The Missouri Tigers – Again, a tiger is a menacing creature, moving it near the top of the list. And this year, the Missouri Tigers look to live up this reputation by clawing their way to the top of the Big XII North (see what I did there?)
1. The Baylor Bears – Finally, the king of the mountain. The bear. Despite the fact that they share a family tree with the teddy bear and the Care Bears, anyone that has ever seen a real one up close, or watched Grizzly Man, knows what kind of damage a bear can do. Unfortunately, this does not translate into success on the football field, as the meanest mascot of the bunch is connected with the school with the worst record. Still, congratulations, Baylor, at least in this poll, you are number one!
Here is where I break down the upcoming TV games and tell you why you should or shouldn't watch. I will also take a quick swim through the other Big XII matchups. All times are in Central Time because that is where I live.
Nebraska (16) at Wake Forest 11:00 AM on ESPN
Why to watch: Nothing better to do, and the game is in HD.
Why not to watch: There is a better game on ABC.
Oklahoma (5) at Miami 11:00 AM on ABC
Why to watch: A chance to see how the Sooners fare against vastly improved competition.
Why not to watch: You are in prison.
Fresno State at Texas A&M (23) 2:30 on FSN
Why to watch: You are an Aggie and it is your first chance to see your team on TV.
Why not to watch: Your cable company sucks like mine and isn't picking up Fox Sports HD until September 18th.
TCU (19) at Texas (7) 6:00 PM on FSN
Why to watch: Clearly the best Big XII game of the week.
Why not to watch: You have a heart condition or don't like football (like my former former boss, who won't be watching any of these games anyway).
Colorado at Arizona State 9:15 PM on FSN
Why to watch: This should actually be an interesting game, plus it might be in HD.
Why not to watch: Dude. 9:15? Are you serious? I'll be in bed before the cointoss.
Missouri at Mississippi
Northern Iowa at Iowa State
Rice at Baylor
SE Louisiana at Kansas
UTEP at Texas Tech
Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma State
San Jose State at Kansas State
None of these seem particularly interesting, save for the Tech – UTEP game. These two teams battled it out last year in El Paso with the Red Raiders winning in overtime on a 49-yard field goal. Expect things to be much different in Lubbock.
Well, that's all I've got, folks. If you want to send me an email, you can send it to firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to put WEAKLY RETORT in the subject line so I can find it if it gets stuck in the SPAM filter. Not many takers last week, but starting next week, I will begin answering email at the end of the column, so if you want to see your name on the Internets, tell me what you think, good or bad.
Random shout out to trickyleach for his incessant whining.
If you want to comment and share opinions with the community, you can click HERE to go to the RaiderPower.com forum
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