Monthly Archives: October 2007

Blogpoll, courtesy of Phil Knight

Rank Team Delta
1 Ohio State 1
2 LSU 1
3 Oregon
4 Arizona State 2
5 Boston College 1
6 West Virginia 5
7 Kansas 2
8 Oklahoma 1
9 Missouri 1
10 Georgia 16
11 Boise State 5
12 Connecticut 12
13 Michigan 4
14 Virginia Tech 2
15 Alabama 3
16 Tennessee 10
17 Wisconsin 9
18 Southern Cal 5
19 Auburn 7
20 Hawaii 3
21 Texas 5
22 Wake Forest 4
23 South Florida 13
24 South Carolina 10
25 Florida 16

Dropped Out: Kentucky (#15), Rutgers (#19), Virginia (#20), California (#21), Penn State (#22), UCLA (#25).

Georgia. Every Gator fan I talked to hated what Georgia did after their first touchdown. Understandable. But I was there, and it was incredible. It was a much more intense – spoken in the voice of Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords – version of UCLA charging the field at the Rose Bowl in 2006, begging USC to just come on and fight them. USC and Florida, athletically, were better than the teams that beat them. USC and Florida both mounted attempts to get themselves pumped up, but no response could ever be effective as that initial moment of “Wow, those guys really want it.” Georgia’s record outside of the Fulmer mugging looks pretty good – and they now lead the SEC East.

UConn! I’m a believer. Nice win. Unbelievably, Syracuse is the least intimidating of a remaining schedule consisting of Rutgers, Cincy, the Orangemen and West Virginia.

I still don’t know what to do about Texas. Peter Bean should stop complaining about rankings, since the ‘Horns had to come from behind to beat the worst Nebraska team in half a century – but, hey, they are 7-2.

This poll makes me want to cry. Michigan – without Henne and Hart – is somehow a consensus top-15 team despite the two worse losses of the season’s opening couplet. I, too, don’t know what to do with them. Oregon and Arizona State are the cream of the Pac-10? Ohio State is somehow number one again? (I have a feeling it’ll be just like Oklahoma circa 2003-2004: unanimous #1 suffers humiliating end of season, surges back to BCS title game, suffers humiliating end of season….) Poor Hawai’i can’t schedule anyone, so I’m stuck wondering what to do with them. And Mark Mangino gets to wear whatever the damn hell he pleases because his team is undefeated.

But at least there’s the Sun Bowl! Ahhh, El Paso. So lovely in late December. I doubt USC ends up at what’s apparently now called the Brut Sun Bowl (3rd place Pac-10 team), but that doubt is based on my belief that the Trojans will beat Oregon State, Cal, Arizona State and UCLA, because I am an unrepentant homer. The winner of the Oregon-ASU game is the obvious front runner for the Rose and an almost surreal darkhorse for the BCS title game; with the addition of the fifth BCS game who knows what the hell is going to happen. The loss to Oregon hurt, but it wasn’t a surprise. (See: We lost to fucking Stanford?!) It’s still possible for USC to be in a BCS game without winning the Pac-10, especially with the SOS improving considerably in the latter third of the schedule. But, again, the Sun Bowl is also a possibility. Sad smiley goes here.

And in case anyone was wondering, Everywhere Else > El Paso.

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OH NOOOOOOS

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The Big Question, answered

It’s the Cocktail Party.

The latter portion of my schedule now reads:

Thursday, October 25
Boston College at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA); 7:30 PM

Saturday, October 27
Florida at Georgia (Jacksonville, FL); 3:30 PM

Sunday, October 28
UCF at Southern Miss (Hattiesburg, MS); 8:00 PM

Saturday, November 3
Wisconsin at Ohio State (Columbus, OH); TBA

Tuesday, November 6
Central Michigan at Western Michigan (Kalamazoo, MI); 7:30 PM

Wednesday, November 7
Ohio at Akron (Akron, OH); 7:30 PM

Thursday, November 8
Louisville at West Virginia (Morgantown, WV); 7:30 PM

Saturday, November 10
Auburn at Georgia (Athens, GA); TBA
OR
Arkansas At Tennessee (Knoxville, TN); TBA

Tuesday, November 13
Toledo at Ball State (Muncie, IN); 7:30 PM
OR
Thursday, November 15
North Texas at Arkansas State (Jonesboro, AR); 7:00 PM

Saturday, November 17
Ohio State at Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI); 12:00 PM
OR
LSU at Ole Miss (Oxford, MS); TBA

Thursday, November 22
USC at Arizona State (Tempe, AZ); 8:00 PM

Saturday, November 24
Notre Dame at Stanford (Palo Alto, CA); TBA

Saturday, December 1
UCLA at USC (Los Angeles, CA); 4:30 PM

The Toledo/Ball State game would happen if I choose Ohio State/Michigan, and the North Texas/Arkansas game would happen if I choose the Grove, aka LSU/Ole Miss.

So the plan is to now leave Blacksburg at about 2 or 3 AM on Friday morning (giving me enough time to sober up, hopefully?) and get to Columbia, SC where I’ll overnight. And then a straight shot to Jacksonville where, if my luck holds true, I will be adopted by a house boat ownin’ sorority keen on deepening their Asian-American relations as part of an admirable commitment to Poly-Sci, which isn’t a useless major after all, and God Bless America and all the states therein!

Also, as an aside:

Spotted the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile on Virginia Tech’s campus today. After talking to one of the young women who drives America’s Favorite Phallic BBQ Confection, I’ve concluded that there really are some sweet jobs in this country. Apparently they “just drive around, promoting hot dogs.”

Seeing the Wienermobile was, for me, on par with seeing the 1960s Batmobile at Penn State’s Homecoming parade. I suspect that things like the Weinermobile and the Batmobile occupy a mental and spiritual “mythic space” in the three pounds of gray matter in my skull in much the same way that Athena and the many manifestations of Zeus occupied a similar space, in, say, a citizen of Thebes not too long after Cadmus decided to follow a cow there – which is to say: the Theban and I have never really believed we would walk through a hayfield one day only to find Ares rutting with a maiden in a ditch or that we’d park next to the Wienermobile, but to no one’s surprise, there’s the personification of bloodlust squirting god juice into some poor future mother and there’s that 20-ft. long orange hot dog mounted on a mustard yellow bun. It feels like an occultation: the narrowing of real life into something suspiciously divine and certainly not-of-this-world.

It also makes me think of our very human fascination with anything absurd, ridiculous or extreme. That’s why we celebrate pygmies and Andre the Giant. And that’s why I’m here on Thursday, where 66,233 people have constructed, in just ten or fifteen years, the very real myth of their own invincibility when the Hokies play at home. I expect the absurd, the ridiculous and the extreme to make an appearance.

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Not to pile on or anything…

That’s Desmond Reed. He’s running past Notre Dame/Green Bay safety Tom Zbikowski, on the same field where he injured his leg in 2005. If this picture looks eerily similar to the (former) banner picture, think nothing of it except this: it holds almost exactly the same kind of emotional significance for me, which is to say a lot. I dunno how long I’ll keep this as the banner. Probably for just a few days/weeks/months/years, depending on my mood.

Thanks for the ticket, by the way. Sweet ass seats!

[Photo courtesy of Joe Andras of WeAreSC.com.]

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Blogpoll week 10? I seriously need to find out what week it is.

Rank Team Delta
1 LSU 4
2 Ohio State
3 Oregon 5
4 Boston College
5 Kansas 7
6 Arizona State 3
7 Oklahoma 4
8 Missouri 7
9 Florida 9
10 South Florida 9
11 West Virginia 5
12 Virginia Tech 1
13 Southern Cal 11
14 South Carolina 8
15 Kentucky 4
16 Boise State 2
17 Michigan 5
18 Alabama 8
19 Rutgers 7
20 Virginia 5
21 California 14
22 Penn State 4
23 Hawaii 4
24 Connecticut 2
25 UCLA 1

Dropped Out: Texas Tech (#10), Cincinnati (#17), Texas (#20), Tennessee (#21), Auburn (#23).

Double digit Pac-10 movement?! I am a lush! Cal goes plummeting thanks to back to back losses to the teams that beat the Trojans last year, and USC goes skyrocketing because of a beat down of lowly Notre Dame? I know, seems kinda weird but hear me out:

I still think Cal is scary good, but in two losses the big duo of Desean Jackson (Oregon State) and Nate Longshore (UCLA) each had epic misfires. Jackson’s no-show against the Beavers was particularly troubling since, well, he’s from another planet and as such ought to have used lasers and mind bullets and whatever else is available to the Martian Manhunter, including garish overalls. Cal’s stars just aren’t doing much.

So why does USC jump up so high after beating poor, poor Notre Dame into the ground? Two words: Mark Sanchez. I already said it and am completely unashamed: he makes me tingly.

LSU. Yeah, I know Ohio State didn’t lose. But they didn’t impress. I don’t know what to make of Les Miles’ gigantic testicles, but I do know that I’m impressed.

The bottom three: they’re all very much tenuous. Hawai’i has been free falling due to epic built up spiritual guilt at having initially placed them higher even though they’ve played no one and played them close. The fair catch that wasn’t was one of the worst calls I’ve ever seen, but then again I’ve always loved cheaters so UConn makes its debut! And UCLA. Oh, UCLA. When the Bruins take a Xanax and maybe some bourbon they calm down enough to be good. And then they do things like lose to Wyoming and Notre Dame.

Alabama surprised the hell out of me. Having seen their offense live, I cannot believe they scored more than 40-points on what is apparently the worst Vol defense of all time. I still can’t believe they forced overtime against Georgia. Conclusion: Nick Saban is once again wearing a clown costume, haunting my nightmares.

Everything else was assembled by asking Shanna, the Virginia Tech football game score predicting cow. She is also a serviceable Scrabble partner.

Shanna, coincidentally, refuses to pick a BC-VT score until she finds out whether Tyrod Taylor is gonna play. I, on the other hand, feel perfectly fine saying that Thursday at Lane Stadium is a bad place to be for people not named Beamer. Virginia Tech 27, Boston College 20.

Cue that entrance.

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McNeese State stuns God in double overtime

HEAVEN – With one foot dragging near the northwest pylon of St. Peter Field, little used senior fullback Jordy Johnson made a catch for the ages.

Literally.

Not since the antediluvian period has The Word recorded a more unlikely event than McNeese State’s 46-45 double overtime victory over God Almighty, made possible by Johnson’s acrobatic two-point conversion of sophomore quarterback Derrick Fourroux’s desperate heave into the endzone from the eight-yard line.


God.

“You have to go all the way back to the first six, maybe seven days of Creation [to find something similar],” ESPN college football analyst Brad Edwards said.

“The numbers gets a bit sketchy once you go back that far, but our researchers tell me this is the biggest upset in History since the Spirit of God decided, after moving upon the face of the waters, to create light.  [At the time] darkness was unbeaten unto time immemorial. But, wow. McNeese in God’s House? Talk about a crazy season. It’s unbelievable.”

“I hate to use cliches, but this is Biblical,” Edwards added.

As word spread of the upset-in-the-making fans across the nation scrambled to find a venue with Fox Sports Above, the latest addition to Fox’s sports programming wing.

“It was a miracle we found it,” longtime Michigan fan Daniel Boyd, 43, said.

Added Boyd: “I’m so glad I watched it. I feel absolved. Cleansed. I’ve been reborn.”

The Cowboys (8-0, 3-0 Southland Conference) tied the game at the end of regulation with a Blake Bercegeay 43-yard field goal, sending the small crowd of McNeese State supporters into ecstasy. The home partisans at St. John of Patmos Stadium – with its NCAA leading 312,572nd consecutive sellout – had already been silenced by McNeese’s 58-yard Hail Mary from its own 16-yard line with nine seconds left to put the Division I-AA school into field goal range.

To put it more accurately, they were silenced by the decision to award McNeese State two more seconds after the clock had run down to zero.

Fourroux’s heave bounced off three pairs of hands before it found wide receiver Carlese Franklin’s grasp at God’s 26-yard line, where he was subsequently tackled. The scoreboard read God 31, McNeese State 28 – and no time left. Many of the 112,119 souls in the stands began cheering, some of them already rushing the field, when the visiting Pacific-10 officiating crew signalled for two seconds to be put back on the clock. After Fourroux quickly gathered the offense to spike the ball, it was up to Bercegeay to send the game into overtime.

“I knew I could do it,” the 2006 Division I-AA All-America junior placekicker said. “[The team] got me down there. There was no way I was gonna let them down. [Head] Coach [Matt] Viator was kinda joking with me before the Hail Mary, asking me if he should pray for a completion or for me making the field goal.”

“I said, ‘Coach, if I make the field goal that means Derrick made the throw. So pray for the field goal.’ He told me I might have coaching in my future,” Bercegeay said.

The Hail Mary gave Fourroux 268 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-26 passing heading into overtime. The only throw the Erick, Louisiana native would complete after that would be his most important: Johnson’s two-point conversion.

“I think I was a little rattled after the Hail Mary. All I remember was letting the ball go and suddenly I’m on my back and everything’s spinning, and I’m thinking, ‘Well, it’s gonna be a while before I know if I’m dead ’cause I’m already in Heaven,’” Fourroux said.

“Coach Viator kept asking me, ‘You okay? You okay?’ on the sideline. Even if my arm was broke I still would’ve said ‘yeah’. But, yeah, some of those [overtime] throws weren’t so good.”

Despite his obvious concussion and poor throwing in overtime, Fourroux was again and again faced with a defense geared for the pass. Even a confused quarterback knew enough to audible to run plays, allowing McNeese to score first and then, after God’s second overtime touchdown, to potentially tie the game with senior tailback Kris Bush’s second score of the day.

By then, though, Viator had had enough. Faced with an imposing home field advantage and a relentless Lord of Hosts, the eighth year head coach decided it was time to end the game one way or another. He was given the idea by a yellow flag, oddly enough.

“We had an offsides penalty [on God's extra point attempt] that put Him on the one. We all figured He’d go for two, but He, in His infinite wisdom, decided to take the point. After that we all agreed that if we scored we were gonna end it right there and then and get the Hell out of this place,” Viator said.

“Pardon me,” Viator added.

That set the stage for Johnson’s spectacular catch of Fourroux’s first completion in seven attempts near the back of the endzone. The stat line will record it as a three yard pass, but those who witnessed it will always remember that the ball had to be thrown nearly eighteen yards and then hauled in by a fullback with six catches to his name.

“Don’t forget the toe drag,” Fourroux said. “My momma used to say that, well…. Maybe I shouldn’t say it, but it has to do with Someone being in the details.”

The soft spoken Johnson said it for his quarterback, instead: “I just wanna thank God for giving me the opportunity.”

Former Cowboy defensive tackle and member of the All-Time All-AFL team Tom Sestak (1936-1987), who watched the game from his place in the McNeese State visiting section, echoed Johnson’s sentiments.

“This is a great feeling. I’m so happy for them. It just proves that when you believe in yourself and put your trust in the Lord to not go for two from His own 1-yard line, anything can happen,” Sestak said.

As per tradition, the Creator of the Universe did not speak following the game.

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QB controversy

This is actually the first mid-season QB controversy I’ve ever been a part of. I didn’t know enough to actually care who started between John Fox and Mike Van Raaphorst in 19-whatever. When Carson Palmer was at USC it was pretty simple: Palmer over Van Raaphorst and Fox, even if #3 threw a bazillion interceptions. Even after the Cal loss Leinart seemed like the guy to stick with (the doubt lasted about 6 days, anyway). Booty’s tipped passes vs. Oregon State and UCLA didn’t really seem like big dents in his resume.

But now? Mark Sanchez looked so good against a woeful Notre Dame team that I just don’t know. He’s exciting. He gets me tingly. I don’t care what that says about me, or you, for that matter.

So this is all pretty new to me. It’s taken about a decade for me to witness a QB controversy. My pick? Sanchez.

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The Big Question

It really is The Big One, and far more important than the meaning of life (42), why we’re here (to face paint), etc.

Do I go to Knoxville for South Carolina @ Tennessee, or Jacksonville for Florida vs. Georgia? Keep in mind the following:

  • The ‘Cocks and the Vols are both coming off stunning losses.
  • Florida and Georgia are both coming off fantastic wins (Florida over Kentucky, and Georgia over Bye. But before Bye, there was that [previously] foul looking 20-17 win over Vandy, now the proud owners of Spurrier’s visor.)
  • If I go to Jacksonville I’ll have seen Georgia play three times by the end of the season. This was something I wanted to avoid for any team not named USC.
  • If I go to Jacksonville I’ll have been to the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. This was something I wanted to avoid for any period of time in which “avoid” means “flock to with great enthusiasm, dread, sexual longing, etc.”
  • The distance between either city and Hattiesburg, MS – my destination for the next day to watch UCF @ Southern Miss. – is, give or take a tenner or two, 450 miles.
  • I do want to see that checkerboard endzone in person.
  • I don’t want to spend $500 in two days at the Landing.
  • I have a standing offer of residency at Daytona Beach, Fla. for the days leading up to Florida/Georgia. This doesn’t mean much, though, since I’ll be driving from Blacksburg.
  • I have a standing offer of residency with a number of fine bloggers in Tennessee for the days leading up to South Carolina/Tennessee. This doesn’t mean much, though, since Knoxville isn’t Daytona Beach.
  • The purpose of this road trip was to discover lunacy, absurdity, surrealism, grandoise gestures, dark and ugly truths, and every other charactertistic that makes college football the greatest game of all. (That’s not the entire purpose, but for this weekend – the dark and gruesome midsome stretch of the SEC season – that’s really all that’s being considered.) Which game offers me the best chance to do that? Which game should I go to?

I am torn. Help me decide. All aspects will be considered.

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“If you cannot find shelter, lay face down in a ditch and cover your head with your hands…”

I was listening to 88.1, the South Bend/Michiana NPR station, when this warning came blaring through a story about former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s triumphant return being attacked by bombing. It was a tornado warning.

Let me emphasize: it was a TORNADO WARNING. Tornadoes are gigantic wind funnels that hurl cows and cars and Jons miles away from their respective starting points. They are terrific mechanisms to demonstrate our keen lack of understanding when it comes to nature and all the terrible, wonderful, ghastly things it can do to softly fleshed vertebrates. I am a softly fleshed vertebrate.

Yesterday, Thursday, started off beautifully. It was actually hot for a little bit. I meandered around. Checked out some books at Barnes and Noble, did some used book shopping, recovered from the previous night, etc. All the while I kept thinking, “If this isn’t nice, what is?” Then it got a bit windy, which was nice. The clouds – huge cumulus things that looked exactly the way clouds ought to look – started rolling in, and I thought, again, “If this isn’t nice, what is? Georgia O’Keefe would be loving this.”

As I left the bookstores, the tornado warning came through. By then I was already in Zen driving mode, and anything that is said to me in Zen driving mode might as well be a koan: philosophical, not meant to be dwelled upon, a stepping off point for the great nether that is Two and Ten O’Clock S.O.P., or at least Two O’Clock. Even through this state, the fantastic surreality of “If you cannot find shelter, lay face down in a ditch and cover your head with your hands…” managed to break through enough where I could write it down afterwards, when the winds were at 55 m.p.h. and I was wondering what I’d do if my car was flung into the Indiana night. (Answer: my thumb, and a sign.) At this point though, I’m dumb as shit.

When I got out of my car to head to Notre Dame’s library for a little series of tubes tubin’, my door was flung open. “Gee, that’s odd,” I thought. “Not only am I thinking in Jerry Mathers’ voice, but there seems to be a tremendous amount of wind. And the sky has gotten very, very dark. I wonder what I should eat tonight?”

After the library I decided to take a run, like I’d done the previous two nights, to the Grotto and past the Dome and the Basilica. It’s calming stuff, and one of the reasons I didn’t go to USF at Rutgers: time enough to soak in Notre Dame, and really question why it is I hate this place and these people so fervently, and so blindly, and so happily.

Anyway: running. I get back to the car depressed about my physical state of being. It starts raining. “Odd,” I thought. “The weather was gorgeous not two hours ago. And now there seems to be a Satanic mass of roiling blackness the shape and color and consistency and entropic dissonance of a cloud of ink dropped into a bowl of water, all of which is suspended on the lip of a black hole the size of the Crab Nebula, and it seems to be headed towards me, and there’s lightning, and HOLY SHIT TORNADO WARNING.”

This would repeat itself every thirty minutes for the next six hours or so. I’d be eating spaghetti at Rocco’s and then look at customers coming inside soaking wet and think, “HOLY SHIT TORNADO WARNING,”; or I’d be playing a game of cornhole at Corby’s and wonder why we were playing under an awning when all of a sudden, “HOLY SHIT TORNADO WARNING,”; or I’d be drinking a pint of bitter at Fiddler’s Hearth talking about tornado warnings with a local, who said the proximity to the lake would keep a tornado from manifesting near Notre Dame and that it’s not that big of a deal, sorta like an earthquake warning, when, of course: “HOLY SHIT, HE SAID IT WAS LIKE AN EARTHQUAKE WARNING. WE DON’T GET THOSE, BUT IF WE DID I’D BE OUTTA THERE.”

No one seemed overly concerned that every channel had a miniature map of Indiana with St. Joseph county an ugly, glaring red meant to indicate blood, viscera, etc. being catapulted who knows where by a living manifestation of God’s ill will. I mean, shit: TORNADO WARNING. I could hear the wind, I could see the lightning, I could see a gigantic black cloud where there was clear sky, and, in my mind, my car was a minute away from being sucked up one end of an enormous, natural Hoover. They all took it in stride, which is perhaps something in their favor. I, on the other hand, was freaked out like a bat shit crazy Californian stuck in Indiana during a TORNADO WARNING. But it was nice to know it was just another day in South Bend, where the wrath of God is as tangible as anywhere else in the form of tornadoes and 1-6 starts. One guy told me the last warning was in July, and then he starts talking about how he can’t remember the last time Notre Dame was 1-6. 1-6 is apparently much worse than a tornado.

So I spent that night huddled in my car listening to the winds. I parked, on purpose, between two other cars in Notre Dame Stadium’s parking lot. I figured the tornado would have to get the cars on either side of me first, which goes to show you what an idiot Californian thinks when confronted with a TORNADO WARNING. The next morning everything seemed fine until I start hearing about people being delayed in their flights, or even worse. My own family was stuck in Minneapolis overnight.

It was with no surprise that I read this article not an hour ago, then. This is a text Desmond Reed sent me: “yea man it was the craziest flight ive ever been on… we dropped so fast that everyone hit their head on the roof of the plane.”

It all makes sense. “If you canoot find shelter, lay face down in a ditch and cover your head with your hands” is the kind of advice I needed post-Stanford. USC football seems to be flying into an event horizon marked by a total eclipse of the sun and a funnel of wind half a mile high (not to mention things like Autzen, Strawberry Canyon, Tempe, etc.). Everyone else is focused on whether Boston College or Arizona State deserve to be number two, or maybe LSU? Meanwhile the Trojans flew through what could have been an utter and unspeakable disaster to play the Fighting Irish on the 30th anniversary of the 1977 Green Jersey Game. Perhaps these South Benders aren’t as crazy as I thought. Not only is 1-6 apparently much worse than a tornado, a tornado is just a natural harbinger of a game no one else but me, USC fans and Notre Dame fans care much for. So now I’m sitting here thinking, why is everyone talking about Mizzou/Texas Tech or Florida/Kentucky?, because all I’m thinking is “HOLY SHIT USC NOTRE DAME.”

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Bandwagon!

No, not the cardinal and gold kind. I’m talking the ’08 kind.

I’m liking Ron Paul more and more, true, but man: think of the speech possibilities! My write-in vote is now decided.

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