Sunday, November 23, 2003

Week 4 Index (2003), Sept 20 (from Afghanistan)

For openers, the BSG’s mailbox hit it out the yard this week. One of his best efforts in months. Just about every question was terrific. Nobody does Shawshank references like BSG. Read it if ya ain’t yella (BSG is page2’s The Sports Guy, but I was introduced to him back when he was The Boston Sports Guy, or BSG)

Also: Shawshank Redemption; Huddsucker Proxy – two superb movies with totally inaccessable titles. If I told you one was an outer space sex comedy with Kurt Russell and Martin Short and the other was a Manhattan chickflick with Emma Thompson and Freddy Prinze, you’d have no reason – based on the titles – to not to believe me and you still wouldn’t have a clue which was which. Yet they are both mid-century, rural period pieces, narrated by wisely old black guys and star Tim Robbins with an identical haircut - not surprising since – yup – they both came out in 1994.

Each even has a Robbins-in-Christ-pose-in-driving-rain moment.

I’m in post travel, post3am stupor mode now, so plan on a lot of random thoughts cropping up in this Index:

72: Hours it took me to get where I am now, in Uknowheristan, either flying in cramped airline seats or sitting in cramped airline terminals. Still not enough to overcome the shock of last weekend. Consider: The first 3 weeks of this year gave us a seemingly endless stretch of monsterous collisions which left us with a pretty clear picture of the haves and have nots: (goodbye Auburn, hello NC State, etc). And we had a statistically suspicious number of truly Great Games, so what's not to like? Who could complain if it looked like this was the week it all got back to normal, when the lead pack surged from the field and everybody started pointing fingers up and down the polls, mostly because the chance to move was pretty much gone.
And what did we get? Well.... Wait. I don't think you can take it straight. I need to pad it. So I've decided to breakdown each big stunning stat from last weekend with a little stunning stat, from a sport you don't care about, a game between two teams you almost for sure have never or at least some kind of off-field misbehavior.

13: Miles (plus .1) that a chick ran in 75 minutes last weekend, the new female world record!!!! That's even farther than the 461 yards Toledo's Bruce Gradowski passed for to beat Big East Buzz Team Pitt, 35-33. 35-33, of course, couldn't be anything BUT a great game, but I only have the stats to go on, and when TOLEDO goes for 451 through the air, I think that Pitt-knocks-off-Miami hedge a lot of people (like me) were playing looks pretty thin.

2: Thailand Elephant Polo's rank on Chris Berman's Top 10 Plays of the Week.

6: Chick soccer, same list. Man, I hate Berman.

8: the COMBINED ranking Berman saw fit to award the contributions to football history of the state of Oklahoma - a 3-punt return-TD effort from one guy, and a 7 TD-catch effort from another, both NCAA records. Also, the number of snaps Kansas State had from a first-and-goal in the closing minute against Marshall and couldn't convert. Just sorry. What kind of team is that?

70: Points St. Ambrose put up in a shutout of Waldorf -the worst blowout of the weekend, way down there in Div 8 or wherever. Blowouts, of course, are something we're all used to, following Ohio State as we do. Along with that NC State game where the bucks blew out NC State for 3 overtimes - at home - they just gave us the second of twin minor-conference drubbings, first of San Diego State (3 pts) and - this weekend - Bowling Green (7). Break Up The Buckeyes! I guess we should blame it on being distracted by Clarrett, since in 6 of their last 7 games last year, with no such distraction, they blew out their hapless victims by an average of 5 points or overtime.

3: Total points scored by some place called Ripon in its surely-awful shutout of Knox College. So here's the question - if forced to watch one, which would you pick? A hideous 70-0 mismatch, likely played entirely on one side of the 50, or the agony of a 3-0 affair, probably contained between the 35s? Bonus if you can name the home state - I'll even accept timezone - of two or more of those schools.

3: Really good stories I found in my old newspaper, the Newport News (VA) Daily Press - we'll use them to introdude the next 3 items

120: Dollars that Chris Rix now owes the People of Florida for two parking tickets in 2 weeks - both for parking in handicap spots*, which is quite a statement on Rix but also a statement on FSU since that's almost the same number of rushing yards they allowed to Colorado's first-year RB Brian Calhoun in their game (Calhoun got 118. His previous high was 65 against CSU and both UCLA and WSU stuffed him). In short, like the crippled and lame of Tallahassee, I don't like FSU. So they "blew out" Colorado - at home, in the heat, and here's a quick look at CU: got by obviously terrible UCLA by all of 2 and got destroyed by an average Washington State, both at home. Some 'blowout.' And Rix - who gets nailed parking in handicap spots?!?! TWICE!?!?!? He's got a history of team-sinking meltdowns, they struggle with the run, and Bowden is in coaching freefall. NC State, the Index's official Team In Waiting, with Philip Rivers at QB and the scary-good TA McLendon at RB (who didn't play in their loss to Wake), is going to destroy them, ESPECIALLY the week before the Florida game. IF... NCS can stay away from the QB sneak double-dips from the 3.
*: from previous item, to be accurate, Rix's tickets were for parking in a handicap spot and for parking in a spot reserved for patients at a rehab center. Oh. That's not so bad, then.

6: Maximum Weeks that Norfolk State's tight end - the team's leading receiver - will miss with a broken leg suffered against VMI. If you're not sure who Norfolk State's starting tight end is, meet Goodluck Owi. And who had BetterLuck last week than special teams, where that same number - 6 - of special teams plays won - or lost - the weekend's two most significant games: Oregon blocked both a punt and a field goal and returned both for TDs, and ran back a punt for one to knock off the Big 10's best hope for an unbeaten team; and in what has to be an SEC championship game preview, Georgia missed 3 field goals and lost to LSU, 17-10.
And by the way: if you like defense, you loved LSU-UGA (a friend of mine said it "boring until the end," and I just have to take issue). Both teams played a ferocious, fleet, smart and aggressive defense for 4 hours. UGA's David Pollack and LSU's Chad Lavalais have got to be the best two D-linemen in the country. USC, as a team, might bring more heat, but those two are keepers. They rampaged through the other's offenses. And in the backfield, LSU's Corey Webster made 9 tackles, an interception and 4 pass deflections and was named national defensive player of the week.

93: On field temperature in Baton Rouge for LSU-UGA as Mandy and I watched on the sofa with snow falling in the backyard. Quite a day for the Mandoo - I leave, UGA loses, it snows. Okay - I made up the 93 degrees part; it was just good and hot there and good and snowing where we were. But what I didn't make up was UGA's David Greene, pinned at the 7, dropping into his endzone and throwing a quick screen to Tyson Browning - who promptly turned it into a 93 yard TD, UGA's longest ever TD pass, tying the game, swinging Mandy's mood all the way back to ecstatic and, I thought, punching my ticket for a solid Saturday night.

51: length of ensuing LSU drive to win it. Although UGA could have won it with just a decent day of kicking, and though both defenses were a couple breaks shy of shutouts, LSU won for one reason: their QB, Matt Mauck, in classic Applewhite Theory, couldn't throw hard, long or even very accurately, but he ran around like a warrior and, after UGA's freakish 93 yard touchdown, calmly came on and ripped the game back from them. The key piece was a grotesque lob, a schoolyard heave to the shortest receiver on the field who was on a zero-technique streak he wasn't even supposed to run. Mauck spotted him, ignored the set play and won the game. He summed up that little piece of QBing this way: "that was called, 'what's he doing?'"

Lighter side - Top Six Maxim/Stuff/FHM Covers I've missed in the last year, which was the last time I deployed and, therefore, the last time I even looked at those magazines (needless to say, the dayroom here has the complete library of all 3, but I could only find 6 worth mentioning - I mean, Kelly Hu? On a cover?!?!? Was Ricky Lake busy?):

6: Maxim Feb 03, nameless bikin girl.

5: Maxim Dec 02, "Pussycat Girls" with Carmen Electra in middle of 3 chcks.

4: Stuff April 03, Miller Lite Catfight chicks (teeeerific cover, but a genuinely horrible photo layout inside - the clips from the original commercial are better)

3: FHM March 03, 3-page, 9-chick foldout cover of the Baywatch chicks with - wait for it! - Carmen Electra. Beats the Miller Lite hos pretty much soley on volume.

2: Stuff October 03, Jag's Catherine Bell. Photographed correctly, she's such a fox - maybe my pick as hottest famous chick in America, certainly in the Final 4. I'm beginning to suspect she's probably tough to shoot, cuz sometimes you see her at certain angles and suddenly its not if she was the LAST immigrant grocer on Erf!! But they got the right guy on the trigger for this one, cuz everyshot inside is a homerun
And that's definetly the first time I've called a chick a 'fox' in print..

1: FHM May 03, Leeann Tweeden, which makes #1 not for Tweeden- who is boring on the cover and worse inside - but for 3 other reasons - one, there's a story about some friends of mine pulling off a killer rescue during anaconda (Mark Oswald and Caleb Etheridge were the PJs), then on page 117 is a hot picture of Lauren Bush, Dubya's niece who is WAY finer than Oswald and Etheridge combined, and for the "Average chick" on page 124 who is just SMOKING and is a freshman at.... NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY!!!!! The Captain has officially turned on the Bandwagon Light. Mind the gap.

156: Yards NIU Mark Turner ran for in a 19-16 win AT Alabama, who didn't give up that many yards to OU.

60: Yards punts by NIU punter Anthony Gallagher have gone in both the Alabama and Tennesse Tech games, and if you want to know why NIU is playing top teams close, circle Gallagher in red.. Against Maryland, he launched one 56 and he's averaging 46 per punt.

1: Games against non-MAC teams remaining, an upscale visit from Iowa State. After that, Toledo (NIU's only MAC loss, by 2 pts, a year ago) and Bowling Green are the last major games. I'll say right now that if they finish undefeated or with one loss, they should be in the BCS.

14: Teams in the MAC. You don't hear that much from the "is the MAC for real" crowd. I mean, you take any 14 teams, that's what? 30 games against 'big teams'? 5 or 6 upsets isn't that unlikely.

5: Consecutive home games William and Mary will now play since they cancelled their game with Maine due to storm damage to the stadium - even though the school's other sports continue to play away games and Maine offered to play in Richmond - basicly, they pussed out. They haven't practiced in over a week, so they went home. Understandable, but sorry for Jimmye - with a YE - Laycock.

And now, the Jason Marfell Memorial Section of the Index:

26: Yards Oregon held Michigan's Chris Perry - the nation's leading rusher and just flat-out Michigan's running back - in beating the Wolverines.

0: Interceptions that Oregon's 2-QB system, Kellen Clemens and Jason Fife, have COMBINED for this year.

33: Oregon's average scoring output under coach Mike Belloti.

2: Consecutive years that a Pac 10 team has blown out its BCS opponent in a game that arguably matched two teams better than either national title contender.

0: Games against USC this year. Lots of green between here and there, but a West Coast Iowa-Ohio State thing is now distinctly a dot on the horizon.