Monday, December 06, 2004

7 Thoughts On the BCS

Now that the BCS train has left the tracks and careened through theholiday-choked mall, I'm actually ecstatic. The disaster has come to pass and, for the second year in a row, I couldn't be happier. Yes, my conference got one of the worst shafts ever handed out, but really, watching the BCS fall apart, again, is getting to be my sports highlight of the year.a few thoughts I haven't seen elsewhere:

1 - The Hurricanes aren't in it, right? We can forget them for theyear, right? Nope. There's still a big fat reason in the middle of the BCS to hate them: had Miami lost to Louisville in what we can now officially call the game of the year, then Louisville would have bumped Texas which wouldhave put FOUR undefeated teams into the system (though probablysequesteredtogether in two games) and we'd have had TWO mid-major conferencesstealingBCS money. That would have been it - why would the BCS conferencesparticipate in a system that gives away 1/4 of their money to twonon-memberconferences? Instead, Miami pulled out a 41-38 game with two lateluckybreaks, and the spectre of a BCS renewal continues to hang around.
2 - USC-OU. Well, USC has beaten - barely - a team like OU (Cal). OUhasn't played anybody like SC - note even close - but the only teamsthathave had success with OU were entirely UNLIKE SC (Ok State and A&M,both ofwhom put 35 on OU, are centered around fast, running QBs - in bothgames, itlooked like OU simply didn't have enough guys to cover the QB, whichwon'tbe a problem against SC). And why isn't anybody talking about ReggieBush'snew favorite hobby, fumbling in key spots? He tried to give away notjustthe ball but the whole game TWICE on Saturday to UCLA (who finallyplayedwith courage after 2 years AWOL).
3 -Auburn. Hmmm... Well.... THEY PLAYED THE CITADEL!!!!! IAA!!!!Sorry.No sympathy, and no tolerance for any argument they got screwed. Mylongstanding policy has been a IAA game should be a BCS-standings loss,andthat's enough for me. You're OUT! The Citadel isn't the technicalreasonwhy they aren't in, but it's terrific karma. And besides, Va Tech isprobably a full tier better than the second best team in the SEC thisyear.If I was going to make one guess in this BCS, it would be VT overAuburn.The rest of the games I'm not touching.
4 -Sorry. It should have been Cal. Not by much, but it should have. I can think of reasons why it shouldn't be Texas - Kansas and OklahomaState,mostly. And then there's OU. But on the Cal side, the actual reasonCalisn't in is the worst reason of all - Southern Miss. Come on... Iwatchedat least half of that game. All we needed was Ron Franklin and a badrerunof Frasier to make a textbook Thursday upset game - a major team withallthe pressure rolling into a mythical Biggest Game In Campus History, toendthe season no less. Cal didn't play great, USM did and the refs (C-USAcrew) gave them every call, including a hideous, possibly prosecutableclipcall that wiped out a touchdown that would have made it a blowout. And did you see that blocked PAT? Cal blocked what would have beenago-ahead PAT for USM, then ran back the rebound for a 2-pt conversion(didn't we just discuss this recently?) to keep the lead. How manyteamsmake that play? So if you're telling me that Cal is out because of the Southern Missgame(which is what happened), then THAT is wrong. To penalize Cal for thatgame- a game in which a desperate, frenzied home dog fought to the deathandSTILL could not overcome Cal's better talent - is absurd. Anybody who changed their vote should lose their vote.
5 - The ABC guys - John Saunders and Craig James - should be fired fortheirtreatment of Urban Meyer during the BCS selection show. It's ahorriblepublicity stunt show with no value at all. ABC should be estatic tohave acoach on such an idiot show. Instead, after blowjob interviews withPeteCarrol and Stoops' O-Coordinator (with Mack Brown still to come in thestudio!), Saunders and James insulted Meyer about as badly as I've everseenan honest man insulted on live TV. Saunders first question, "Coach,defendyour right to be here." Really. That's what he said. Meyer, clearly stunned (I'm sure they told him the whole thing wouldbefluff), quickly said he didn't need to defend anybody and this was agreatday for Utah. Next Q: "Coach, will it be tough to coach Utah while recruiting forFlorida." Meyer, now back on his feet and pissed: "Today has nothing to dowithFLorida, today is about our Utah seniors blah blah blah." Then an easy one from Aaron Rodgers, then the three ABC guys gavethePitt coach an embarrassing, flipant 2 questions then back to Meyer. Saunders: "Coach, we have to ask this, is there something about thesituation at notre Dame that will make it hard for a coach to go thereandwin in the future." Meyer, now clearly livid: "This is not an appropriate place to talkabout Notre Dame." And he was absolutely right. the entire show was a non-news charade to present the non-event of who got in - they didn't even go to the botherofsetting up a hockey 'reveal' stage - and they had absolutely no rightto goafter Meyer like that. None. just awful.
6 -If i had to pick just one bowl to watch - BCS or other - I mightpickLouisville-Boise State. I've seen BSU probably 8 times now, and I'veneverbeen disappointed.
7 -Just how many times are they going to fuck the ROse Bowl? Thismakesabout 5. I gotta believe the Rose Bowl blows this up next year.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Go, Fight, Hell, Texas, Yeah

Bizaro World this week on The Index, two rivalrly games that, as tutorro put it to clooney, don't make no sense.


70: Louisville point total.
15: Louisville passing attempts. Read that again.

83: Points scored in 2003 Louisville-Cincinnati rivalry game.
3: Louisville winning margin, 2003.
77: Points scored in 2004 game.
63: Louisville winning margin, 2004.

16: Minutes remaining in 2004 game when Louisville took a 63-0 lead.
47: Minutes remaining in the game when Louisville starting QB Stephen Lafors took his last snap, replaced for the remainer of the game by freshman QB Brian Boehm.
: Minutes remaining when Cincinnati achieved 100 yards in total offense (2 yds/min).
3: Blocked punts for Louisville.

55: Minimum points scored by Louisville in each of last five games.

Texas-Texas A&M

61: Words in “Texas Fight” (UT fight song)
25: Lyrics accounted for by “Texas” and “Fight”
51: Percent of “Texas Fight” lyrics accounted for by five words (in order of frequency)– Go, Fight, Hell, Texas, Yeah.

88: Yards Texas drove against A&M's defense twice.

1: A&M yard line both 88-yard drives reached.

2: Tds scored on next play.

0: Total point advantage for Texas resulting from both drives.

99.9: Yards in A&M fumble return to take lead with 30 seconds left in first half.

1: A&M yard line Texas was on when Texas QB Vince Young inexplicably attempted to - what's the word? Lay up? Palm? - the ball over the stack of linemen on the goalline. He was stuffed by A&M's line but decided to extend the ball - like a one-handed lay-up - over the stack in an attempt to break the plane. Instead, it was easily knocked from his hand, bounced down the line of scrimmage and was picked up by A&M LB Justin Warren, who ran unchallenged the length of the field for the go ahead TD.

From a 7-point deficit on their own 1-yard line to a returned fumble and 7-point lead in one snap.

All with less than 30 seconds to halftime.

And the key question is: what was Young thinking?

2: Rank of that play among "Weird Plays in That Endzone."

1: Points in safety credited to Texas in 3rd quarter on the new "World Champion Weirdest Football Play I've Ever Seen."

Texas lined up for a PAT and missed (the 4th consecutive missed kick in the game). The snapper fumbled it, which caused the kicker to boot the unset ball directly into the line (at this point, by one reading of the rules, the play should have been dead, but like the Carpenters, we've only just begun). At this point, according to the referees (but lost to TV replays), an A&M player caught/picked up the ball and tried to return it (which is very legal, and if the defense can return such a fumble to the opposite endzone, they get two points, a possibility which- tangentialy - produced the previous Grand Champion Wierdest Football Play I Ever Saw prior to this one when Furman beat Applachian State by 1 point after just such a play). But whoever the A&M guy was who got the ball, he then fumbled it, and it dribbled into the endzone, where another A&M player jumped on it. Now, in football talk: A&M (1) gained possession (after the kick), then was (2) tackled with possession in the endzone - which is actually the definition of a safety (and if you think about it, the whole play is a close cousin to the always-hilarious moment when a kick returner takes the kickoff in the endzone, brings it out a step or two and then thinks better of it and steps back into the endzone thinking he's getting a touchback, only- wait for it! - the ball is still live since he brought it out so he gets drilled by the coverage for a safety. Ha ha). So that should have been 2 points for Texas... but wasn't. As ABC finally posted in the last minutes of the game, there is a rule tucked away in the NCAA football rule book that says that a safety on an extra point attempt is worth only 1 point.

All of which ignores the central idea that Texas missed its extra-point attempt, while all A&M did was chase down a loose ball- and Texas still got a point out of the deal.

And consider: in a real safety, if the team being tackled didn't have the ball, it would be a touchdown for the other team, right? Obviously not the case here, since UT would not have been awarded a TD had they recovered the ball. So, WTF?

13: Winning margin for Texas, thank goodness, which makes it moot.

147: Rushing yards for Cedric Benson, every inch of which came the hard way. I've not been a regular observer of Cedric for his career, and every game I've ever seen seemed to follow this sequence: (1) Cedric gets stacked up 5 times at the line (unimpressive) then (2) peels off a run up the sideline untouched (impressive but only in the 'he's fast' sense).
Benson was tougher than rent against A&M. He had a fourth down - fourth down - pickup early in the game that let you know A&M might as well pack it in right there. He took a quick pass over the middle, 4 yards short of the 1st down, spun out of one tackled, planted his arm on the ground for balance, popped back up to see 3 defenders between him and the must-have yardline and proceeded to run directly into all three, carrying them all a yard past the line. Ol' Cedric, who scored 5 Tds in the Ok State comeback, can play.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Rivalry Week Index

9:02: In the AM (PST), kick-off for Boise State-San Jose State, the earliest local-time kickoff in NCAA I-A history.
15: Tds in game.
15: Successful PATs. I’d be interested to see the last time two kickers put together such a hefty number.
1: Missed field goals, each.
1: Fumbles and interceptions, each.
3: Offensive drives, each, in the fourth quarter that gained zero or less yards.

20: Seconds into Miami/NC State game that devin Hester took the opening kickoff back for a touchdown. It started what was a long night, and not just for NC State.
2: Hester kick return TDs.
32: Real minutes required to play game’s first 5 minutes.
38: Real minutes required for Miami to take it’s 3rd offensive snap.
10: Real Minutes required for first-half’s final 32 seconds.
121: Real Minutes, kickoff to halftime.

4: Consecutive home wins for Missippippi State over Florida.

Only See It Here Stat of the Week:
9.5: Yards/passing attempt for Utah’s Alex Smith.
8.9: Yards/passing attempt for BSU’s Jared Zabransky.
1, 4: Relative rank, nationally, of those numbers among all Qbs with more than 200 passing attempts.
8.6: Jason White’s Y/A, highest among BCS-conference starters. The only other BCS starter over 8.0 is Florida’s Chris Leak.

Only See It Here Stat II
3, 4: National Rank of BSU and Utah in First downs/game (26.2, 25.4).
7, T-8: National rank, same stat, of Cal, OU and Texas, the highest rank of any BCS conference teams (24.1, T-23.6)
2: Positions above LAST in D-1A, same stat, Ohio State (14.9)(!)

2: Wake Forest (4-5, 1-5) games decided by more than 7 points this year (both wins).
2: Wake Forest overtime losses.
7,3,7: Losing margin in other three losses.
Wake is at Miami this weekend.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Index Introduces… The Quiz
- Passing this week: 4/6-percent.

1. Utah or Boise State?
A) Boise State
a. 1: National rank, points per game.
b. 20: Winning streak, nation’s longest.
c. 24: Home winning streak, nation’s longest.
d. 247: Yards passing needed by Hawaii’s Timmy Chang against BSU for all-time NCAA passing record.
e. 227: Yards Chang gained against BSU.
f. 3: Change interceptions against BSU, putting #1 on THAT NCAA all-time list.
g. 3: Hawaii points, Chang’s career low.
h. 3: Teams BSU has played that were ranked when they met or are ranked now.
i. 19: Winning margin over Oregon State, one week after OSU all-but-beat defending National Champ LSU.
j. 4: Games in which Boise State has scored over 50.
k. 2: Over 60.
B) Utah
a. 30: Winning margin over UNC, the team that went on to hand Miami it’s first loss.
b. 20: Winning margin over Texas A&M, who came within a Jason White-legacy moment of knocking off OU;
c. 67: Total winning margin over 3 BCS-conference teams
d. 3: Games Utah has scored over 50.
e. 2: Over 60.
C) Not Boise State
a. 2: Field goals Boise has lined up against in the last minute that would have beat them (BYU missed and Boise blocked San Jose State’s kick to force OT);
b. 3: games won by 1 point, 3 points and double OT.
D) Not Utah… cuz it’s Boise State.

2. Michigan-Ohio State or USC-UCLA?
A) Michigan-Ohio State
a. 3: Undefeated Ohio State teams in the 1990s that lost to Michigan.
b. 2: Ohio State’s BCS rank last year before losing huge to Michigan (a stat that, though I’m sure painful to Ohio State fans, is mostly reflective of how awful the BCS system is)
c. 3: Major offensive categories in which a Michigan player is either #1 or #2 in the Big 10 – Rushing (Mike Hart, #1, 1300+ yards; receiving, Braylon Edwards, #1, 1049; QB Chad Henne, #2 QB Rating).
d. 1: Ohio State players in the top 10 of any of those categories (receiving yards, Santonio Holmes, #5)
a. 31.6: UCLA’s points per game.
b. 6.7: Yards per carry for UCLA’s Maurice Drew, 3rd best average in the country, behind Cal’s JJ Arrington and Bama’s Ray Hudson (both 6.9).
c. 7.4: Yards per attempt for UCLA’s Drew Olsen (comparison: Rodgers 8.5; Jason White 8.6
d. 16: National rank of UCLA, rushing yards per game.
e. 17: National rank, for comparison, of Oklahoma.
f. 0: from the above carefully slanted items, team stats that surpass USC’s own rankings or individual stats that surpass individual stats of previous USC opponents.

3. ‘Bama or Auburn?
A) Bama
a. 2: National rank, total defense, by a lot (‘Bama holds opponents to 229.5 yds game; LSU is next at 249.8).
b. 1: National rank, passing defense, by a lot (105.8 yds/gm; NC State is next at 119.9 – Bama also holds opponents to 8.2 completions per game; nobody else is under 10)
c. 1042: Rushing yards for Alabama sophomore Kenneth Darby.
d. 4: Total starts
e. 71: Darby carries in the last two games.

B) Auburn
a. 1: National rank, scoring defense, by a lot (9.6 points per game – USC is next at 11.6).
b. 4, 5: Rank among SEC rushing leaders of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown.

4. Texas or A&M?
A) A&M
a. 1: Points by which A&M lost to 1-6 (3-7) Baylor.
b. 35: Points A&M promptly went out and dropped on Oklahoma in a Game of Year Finalist.
c. 2: A&M touchdowns on fake kicks.
d. 8.6: Reggie McNeal’s Yds/attempt, tied with Jason White for #1 in the Big 12 (over 200 attempts)
B) Texas
a. 18: Yards in fourth-down, do-or-die scramble Vincent Young had to make to keep alive a drive to beat 1-6 (3-7) Kansas. Plus the pass interference thing.
b. 49: Unanswered points scored against Ok. State to turn a 35-7 blowout into a 56-35… blowout.
c. 5, 4: Cedric Benson touchdowns in that game and defenders he carried across the line to get the fifth.
d. 1: Benson’s national rank in attempts (270) and touchdowns (18).
e. 3: Rank in Yds/gm (159).

5. Best College Rivalry of All Time?
A) No such thing.
B) Indiana-SC swimming
a. 14: Consecutive years (1964 to 1977) in which either USC or Indiana won the NCAA Swimming Championship.
b. 9: Years in which the other was the runner-up. With the same 2 coaches.
C) There is no C. It’s either the swimming thing, or admit the absurdity of the question.

Did Auburn just peak?
A) No.
a. 57: Minutes Auburn’s defense held UGA scoreless.
b. 1: Auburn interceptions of David Green.
c. 2: Total interceptions thrown by David Green this year.
d. 3: Minutes UGA’s star receiver lay on the groud unconscious after taking a lick coming across Auburn’s middle.
B) Yes.
a. 3: Auburn opponents, to date, with winning records.
b. 3: Consecutive above-.500 opponents Auburn closes with– ‘Bama (see above), Tennessee in a (gasp!) rematch and a bowl.
c. 3: Of the remaining, on the road.
d. 7: Second half points against UGA.
e. Quotes from after UGA:
i. Tuberville: ``One thing I'd say: I'd hate to play us,''
ii. Carnell Williams: “It’s going to be hard not to vote for us.”
iii. Reggie Brown: “We’re for real.”
iv. Tuberville on Williams and Brown: ``Awesome. You can't defense them. You just can't do it.”

1 - It won’t matter. The BCS will find a way to skip them both.
2 – Neither. Cal, Purdue, Oregon, ASU, Minnesota and, yes, UCLA and Ohio State: Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.
3 – Over/under is 9.5, for both points and dead linemen. You basic purist's dream.
4 - 20: Electoral votes for Ohio, the fates of whom were felt nowhere more viscerally than on the campus’ that hold the Presidential papers of Lyndon Johnson and George H.W. Bush. That’s a small, not entirely fair metaphor, but because of it and a thousand other reasons, I firmly believe that of all the games in the all the land, these two schools hate each other the most.
5 – See C.
6 – Kinda sounds like it, don’t it?

PS – Heisman votes went out this week. It’s still Aaron Rodgers’ ‘til somebody takes it away.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Late But Aways On Time

It finally happened. I cliked on an ad banner. How
could you not?

just about everybody reading this would be getting one
of these voicemails if I didn’t think I was setting
you up for a life of marketing calls. I won’t do that
too you, but not because of my respect for you – I
just hate marketers more than I like the idea of
sticking you with them.

Here are some startling numbers for Texas
154.2: Avg yards passing allowed by UT defense.
154.8: Avg yards rushing allowed by UT defense.
And for the Horns…
148.7: Avg yards passing for UT’s O.
- What that means: Texas allows more rushing than
they pass for. Uh oh.

447: Avg passing yards for Texas Tech.

5.5: Created by the Rabbi, and endorsed by the Index,
the line is the over/under on the factor by which
Tech’s passing yards will exceed UT’s. So if Vincent
Younge and company pass for 100 (seems about right,
since they're getting worse), then Tech will have to
pass for better than 550 to beat The Line. Have fun
with that.

Worst Game Of The Year, 2004
5: Rutgers turnovers against Temple in their Annual
Sorriest Game Possible, though The scarlet knights
still won, 16-6. The game’s sole touchdown came in
the last three minutes.

Best Game Of The Year Nominee, 2004
2: Excessive celebration penalities drawn by
Louisville during game with Miami – talk about
tempting karma.
49: Seconds remaining when Miami’s Frank Gore pushed
in from the one to put Miami up 41-38.
1: Losses, all-time, in Louisville’s back-up QB Brian
Brohm’s football career. He was the 3-time MVP of the
Kentucky State Champioship game before coming to
80: Yards in drive Bohm led Louisville in the 4th to
take a 38-34 lead.
97: Yards, in two drives, that Brohm put up against
Miami. He was only in because Louisville’s starter -
Stefan LeFors (3 Tds) - was out with a concussion,
which means non-BCS eligible Louisville demonstrated
that they have two QBs capable of shredding the
defense of the team the BCS computers seem to think is
the second best in the country. BLOW IT UP!!!!
I just decided. Not only is the
Poll-That-Will-Not-Be-Mentioned banished from the
Index, but so is the BCS rankings. It won’t be
discussed from here on.
2: Plays that Louisville failed to make in its own
redzone in the final 2 minutes that would have won the
game – DB Kerry Rhodes dropped a sure-game INT thrown
right at him and two plays later Miami’s Brock Berlin
hit Darnell Jenkins to convert a 4th-and-4. That put
Miami at the 8, Louisville deflated and Gore ran it in
easily 2 plays later.
6: Consecutive possessions No 4. – No. 4 - Miami
scored on in the second half to barely – barely – eek
out that win at home.
1: National rank of defense of Miami’s next opponent,
NC State – who, at 4-2, is 4th in “others receiving
votes.” Come on… Florida State is 5th, and NC State
is 29th?
28: Players on NC State’s roster from Florida.
16: Players from the Miami area. As you may recall,
NC State coach Chuck Amato, prior to taking ove NC
State, was the O-Coordinator at FSU (back when they
were still FSU). He was also the Seminoles’
recruiting co-ordinator for south Florida/Miami.
91: Total yards allowed last week to Maryland – an
effort captured, by coincidence, from the Maryland
side on ESPN’s the Season. NC State’s D is for real.

14,000: Avg home game attendence at Middle Tennessee
15,000: Neccesary attendence to stay D1A. As a
result, MTS has scheduled a FREE Big Boi concert after
this week’s Idaho game – you have to go to the game to
see Big Boi. I can’t think of a better way to insult
your team.

3: Minimum number of undefeated teams Kirk Herbstriet
implied this week that are destined to finish the year
2: Number of times in 20 years that many have done
5: Currently undefeated BCS-conference teams- SC, OU,
Auburn, Wisconsin, Miami.
2: Current undefeated teams in non-BCS conference
that Herbstriet didn’t even mention, ie Boise State
and Utah.
5: Teams whose undefeated streak came to end last
week – Louisville, ASU, Purdue, UVA, Southern Miss.
There may have been some more, but I can't believe it

5: Total points by which Boise State (6-0) won two of
it’s games – 2, at home, over BYU (whose kicker hooked
a game-winner at the buzzer after laying 2 of the 3
best hits of the year) and 3 over Tulsa.
1, 2: Despite Boise State kick, rank nationally of
BYU's kicker's hits on Boise State's punt returners on
two seperate, equally staggering open-field tackles.
2: Losses by for Fresno State, who was projected to
be unbeaten at this point.
60: Total points BSU has beaten Fresno State by in
the last two years. The teams meet this weekend in
what still promises to be a terrific game.
200: Fresno St.’s avg rushing yards per game.
3: BSU’s national rank in rush defense.

197: Yards rushing last week for Alabama’s Kenneth
Darby to lead Alabama past previously-undefeated,
defending C-USA champ, No. 24 Southern Mississippi,
2: Years since Bama beat a ranked team.
60 Million: In dollars that two ex-Bama coaches are
seeking from the NCAA after they were fired stemming
from an NCAA investigation of Bama – an investigation
fanned by Fulmer, who fed the NCAA info on Bama’s
program. The coaches maintain Fulmer fed the NCAA
info so they would overlook violations at Tennessee –
including an accusation of sexual harassment over
Peyton Manning mooning a female trainer.

114: Total yards in two – two – field goals (60 and
54) kicked by Colorado’s Mason Crosby to beat Iowa
State, 19-14.

SC Honk Of The Week:
4: Undefeated BCS-conference teams USC handed their
first loss (OK, it’s a stretch - ASU, Cal, Stanford
are legit. It was VaTech’s first game).
18-2: Combined CURRENT record of those four teams, not
counting the SC results.
5: Washington losses, who USC’s faces this weekend.
2: Games in which Virginia Tech has shut out an
opponent while scoring at least 60.
2: VT losses – USC and, at home to ‘unranked’ NC
State. Good luck, Miami!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Index Week 7

360: Degrees in backflip executed by Michigan's Braylon Edwards in the Michigan backfield after the final kneedown against Minnesota. Michigan had just scored a - well, let's use the word - fluke TD to beat Minnesota, 27-24, in Saturday's first. A perfect outburst of joy as one of the nation's best 5 players was momentarily reduced to the poise of a benchwarming freshman by the enormity of what he'd just seen. The perfect way to start what quickly became college football's best weekend since 2001.
6: Games last Saturday between Top 25 teams.
4: Of those, games whose final two minutes saw one offense throwing into the opponent's endzone for the win. LSU and Michigan made good, coming back to beat Florida and Minnesota by 3 each, while Cal and Georgia saw win-or-lose passes fall into the endzone incomplete.
58.5: Average number of seconds remaining when decisive pass thrown in those games- Michigan scored on a 31 yard slant with 2:10 left, Cal's Aaron Rodger's missed a fourth-down pass in the endzone pass with 76 seconds to go, LSU's Marcus Randall finished a brilliant length-of-the-field drive with a short TD pass at Florida with 27 seconds to go and UGA's David Greene snapped the ball for a desperate heave into the endzone with exactly 1 second showing.
Not bad.
219: Yards by which Cal's O outgained SC's, 465-219, probably the weekend's most quoted stat behind Aaron Rodger's insane personal numbers (leading to headlines like "California dominates all but final score" in that notorious anti-SC rag... the Daily Trojan) Or if you prefer...
28: Cal first downs.
12: SC first downs. OK, we get it.
102: Yards by which Cal outgained SC including kick returns, 472-370, a much more representative number of how the game went. SC didn't go as far, but SC didn't need to. Now, as Chingy might put it forget wha'cha hurd'bout Aaron Rodgers. Here's his key number.
33: Consecutive Throws by Rodgers that went exactly where he wanted them - 29 to receivers for completions, 2 intentionally out of bounds, 2 just-as-important crossfield swing passes to receivers that were ruled 'laterals'. You call'em laterals - I call'em on balance throws that are catastrophic fumbles if they're not on the money. 33.
3: After a Greatest Performances Of All Time Short List day, consecutive do-or-die incompletions in SC's endzone.
But let's make mention right now....
11: Yards in pass from Matt Leinhart to Dwayne Jarrett pass that was, pound for pound, THE play of the day. It came a) on the first drive (ie: tone-setter) b) on fourth down c) on 4th-and-10 d) was caught by Jarrett who was instantly hit so hard, high and low, that he spun 180 degrees in the air and landed on his shoulders... and hung on. Drive alive, and 5 plays later, SC scored it's first TD.
The other tone-setter that didn't get much attention:
2: Yardline on which Cal had a first-and-goal in the third, and, in three snaps, went backwards five yards... until the refs whistled SC for a particularly soft pass interference, giving Cal first at the 2, which they then turned into a TD.
4-4: SC-Cal series in last 8 meetings.
18: USC's lead in first-place votes over OU, it's smallest of the season. I'm only surprised that OU didn't take over #1.
18: Consecutive Ohio State wins at home prior to losing 24-13 to Wisconsin.
48: Wisconsin yardline Ohio State failed to cross in the second half.
105,090: Attendence figure announced by Ohio State - fifth-largest in Stadium history! - in that school's bid to join Michigan and Tennessee in the fiction-writing business.
3: Overtime games for Northwestern this year in which QB Brett Basanez has performed flawlessly, including Saturday's 31-24 win over Indiana. Basanez picked up a 4th-and-6 in the OT, and was 28-of-48 for 254 yards and a touchdown on the day. Last week, the Cats beat Ohio State, and Basanez did everything necessary to beat TCU in the season-opener, only to watch his kicker miss an extra-point to lose.
It's a banner year for gutty Qbs - sort of like last year and receivers - but Basanez is right there.
2: Consecutive years that NU has beat IU in OT.
5: Sacks against UGA's David Green by Tennessee.
4: Sacks UGA had given up all season prior.
12: Penalties committed by UGA.
82: Officially, the yardage UGA was penalized.
93: Yards in a late-game UGA kick-off return, to UT's 2 yardline, wiped out by a holding penalty (officially recorded as only a 10-yard penalty).
2: Number of UGA drives that went more than 5 plays prior to falling behind 19-7 in the 4th.
27: Combined plays in UGA's last two do-or-die drives, separated only by a 3-and-out for UT.
6: Combined 4th downs and 3rd downs of 10 or more faced in those final two drives, including a 4th-and-goal touchdown run by Dante Ware where he literally bounced off a would-be tackler to get into the endzone and pull UGA to 19-14.
9: Spots UGA dropped in the polls.
14: difference, in seconds, in time of possession between Texas Tech and Nebraska, .
60:difference, in points.
43: Yardline on which Nebraska went for it on a 4th-and-3 in the second quarter. And they threw it, incomplete. But even that horrible idea - going for it on the 43? Passing? - wasn't the trigger. NU got it back 4 plays later on an interception.
No, here's your Money Maker:
7: Number of snaps Nebraska took in a 7 minute span in the late third/early fourth.
5: Turnovers in those 7 plays.
4: Of those 5, turnovers in it's own redzone.
2: Inside it's own 10.
35: TT points off those turnovers.
1: Rank, in Quotes of the weekend, for Nebraska offensive coordinator Jay Norvell ``We lost a game that we had a chance to win. . . I can't make anything more of it than that.''
Coming up:
Louisville at Miami on Thursday (if it was at Louisville, we might be in a for a show, but at Miami...); North Carolina AT Utah; Notre Dame-Navy. Unbeaten and rolling UVA at damn-near-lost-to-Syracuse Florida State; UCLA at Cal... beware the letdown.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Stanford Game

Stanford Game –
It was 2 weeks ago, but SC hasn’t played since, so my thoughts:
I loved it.
I can tell you honestly that not at a single moment was I worried. Trailing 31-17 at the half, I WOULD have been worried if Stanford had come out and planted another 7. THAT would have made me nervous.
But I felt at the half there were strange things afoot that couldn’t possibly hold up for another 30 minutes. Consider: Stanford came in prepared, astronomically motivated and – let’s give them credit – relatively well-armed. That wasn’t Indiana out there. The QB, Trent Edwards, is clearly a terrific leader, and the rest of that team could have trounced any SC team of the 90s, Keyshawn-era excepted. If you give a team like that a reason to play hard, they’re liable to get loose. And talk about reasons… let’s see: in-state/in-conference and the only private schools in the league, which – take my word for it – means something. And all that’s true every year, which this wasn’t – this year, SC’s #1 ranking would have been, by far, enough motivation for any team, but Edwards and the rest had spent the year hearing how SC’s only real test was going to be – yuck – Cal.
All that, at home.
I don’t know what the line was, but anything more than 6 would have been ignorance.
I write off both of the first 2 Tds, and part of the 3rd to all that. Edwards came out firing, the O-line and the entire defense (the knees that SC usually takes out first in opponents) sold out on every play and suddenly Stanford had 14. On their third real drive, they started to run out of steam and, sensing this, Stanford’s obviously switched-on coach called a fake field goal.
Which went for a TD.
Honestly, how often does that work out so well? Once a season?
So now they had a 21-17 lead and got the ball back with less than a minute left. Smartly, the coach told them to run into the line and take it to the locker room. His team had just played as well as they possibly could against a groggy SC. And to show for it, he had a 4-point lead. Better than losing, but not much.
“Get to the locker room,” you could hear him thinking, “Then I’ll think of something.”
And to get there, he sent his fullback on a dive into the line… from which he emerged and went untouched 70 yards to the endzone. The clock expired while he was 30 yards out.
Like they said in Mean Girls, “Shut. Up.”
How often does something like THAT happen? Once a decade?
I was a little shocked, but then I smiled. Cuz if you add it up, in a span of four minutes, Stanford had just cashed in 11 years of good luck. And it had bought them less than a two-score lead. And now they had to make it stand up for 30 minutes against the best 2nd-half team in the country.
I liked our chances.
What I didn’t expect – and which makes me almost detestably smug about our chances with Cal – was the level of Hurt SC came back with after halftime. Pure savagery. By the fourth quarter, Edwards and the rest of his offense was visibly dreading each snap.
At the half, I thought – on momentum and emotion - Stanford had, maybe, 10 more points left in them. In their first three drives after the half, they gained a total of 8 yards.
On their final drive, at that point trailing, they strung together a few passes for 20 or so, but Edwards never saw a single one, clobbered by the Wave. SC hit every ball carrier high and low, knocked blockers to their elbows and clipped receivers in the sternum. It’s been a while since I’ve seen any defense punish an offense like that. Well, actually, Miami does it Florida State pretty regularly, and Oklahoma can, too. But it’s not often.
The score was close – which Stanford wholly earned – but SC took two knees inside the Stanford 15 to finish the game.
Again Reggie Bush stole the show with a playstation punt return where he ran about 150 yards for a 40 yard return, but as ever, it was the defense and Leinhart.
By the way, Leinhart - upstaged not just by Bush but by the drama of Edwards effort - only threw for 308 yards. Yawn. Just another lazy day minding the switch.
So SC was challenged about as stiffly as Stanford’s collection of talent could challenge them – atmosphere, momentum, preperation, want-to and (perhaps most important) outrageous luck.
And SC rolled them up like the rebels on Hoth.
As for Cal, I am wholly out of the prediction business, but that game was – as ol’ Darth put it – “impressive.”

As I sit here typing this, Clemson and Virginia are throwing Thursday Punches. Every time I turn around, somebody is going for 30 yards and then getting knocked out of their cleats. Clemson just went for it on 4th down in the 1st quarter. Get some.

Friday Night Lights

Do me a personal favor: Don't go see Friday Night Lights, the move version of the book of the same name, until I give the go ahead. I can't think of another movie that could possibly ever be made that I'd ask for such veto power (one about Pararescue training, maybe), but on this one, I'm asking.

Here's why I'm the expert: Within .03 milliseconds of seeing the movie poster for the first time (or actually, seeing a TV ad depicting the scene the poster is taken from ) I knew the players were wearing the wrong numbers. ("wrong," from this point forward, meaing "different from the book").
Now, I admit I know this just by coincidence - the actual book jacket shows the backs of three players, the right two of which are wearing 85 and 62 - which was (and still is) the final four numbers of my parent's phone number in Colorado, a number I've known longer than I've known my own SSN, so it kinda leapt out at me.
But the point is, I've read, re-read, studied and devoured that book so many times over, there isn't a detail you can bring up I don't know. In many ways, it remains the defining book of my personal adult life - after staying up all night as a college freshman to read it, it sent me spinning professionally towards sports writing, politically away from strict conservative points of view and physically towards Philadelphia.
And I have been dreading for 15 years the day this book became a movie. Now they've done it. But I demand first-refusal.

And I promise to be fair - as long as they don't give it the Perfect Storm treatment - inventing comic action at the expense of the book's best passages - I'll give you the go ahead. I don't need The Football Godfather. I just want a respectful translation. I don't expect a Hollywood studio - with stars and a budget and not a single high school athlete on its crew - to copy the exact dialogue of the book, to convey 80 years of segregation, to properly capture the weight of the Midland Lee game. Or make a sweep for a gain of 2 look unrehearsed. Or even get the extras to have a decent Texas accent. I'm resigned to a solid helping of fat-guy cliches (you know, the smiling, jackass fat kid choked up to talk to the pretty girl, or something). I know absolutely nobody's "we win!" face is going to look anything like a real "we win!" face

Damn - I said it. Now I gotta have a quick rant: along with Hollywood soldiers' everlasting inability to properly salute, the industry's consistent failure to produce a decent "we win" face remains one of the great mysteries of film. Hollywood's Joyful Response research facilities being sabotaged by Norwegian commandos like they Nazi's heavy water plant? The "we win" faces of Varsity Blues showed no advancement in the art over Reagan's in Knute Rockne All American. Will the next star wars have painted tincans on strings with sparklers for engines? So why can't Hollywood capture a decent "Wide Right!" reaction?
And here's the worst part: nobody throws one arm in the air and goes, "Yeah!" with eyes straight ahead. Nobody even does that watching a game on TV. Nobody does that watching Jeopardy. People in the stands of a real game they are emotionally invested in CERTAINLY don't. There's nothing controlled about the reaction to a dramatic, one-play win. It's focused panic. Arms go wide, or at least uplifted, and eyes and faces dart in a million directions because there's a better-than-25-percent chance that you're about to fall over. Remember one of those Brett Favre wins where, watching the final kick from the sideline, he came sprinting onto the field with his arms out in the airplane, his face dripping with fear? That's "we win." More often than not, a crowd lunges forward. Where do you think the storm-the-field/court thing comes from? People can't help it. You just have to get closer, arms wide to embrace it. WE WIN!
Basicly, the "we win!" face is not much different from the "holy shit, tear gas!" face. It certainly isn't the "Winger Rocks!" face, which is the only thing Hollywood ever gives us.

End Rant. but I'll be watching.

So FNL has been relentlessly promoted not on its own merit but on the fact that Sports Illustrated once called FNL "one of the greatest sports stories ever told" which is deceptive on two fronts.
1 - SI wouldn't know a great sports story unless it showed up on it's writer's expense account.
2 - The story was so good for reasons that absolutely defy movie making - the story was good because it was about race, class, anticipation, pacing, a great deal of luck and - in no small part - because HG Bissinger is an obscenely talented reporter and writer.
None of those things translate well - or at all - to film. Certainly not to a film released in the middle of football season.
Consider this: it takes FNL 50 pages to walk the team - and hence, the transfixed reader - through the collision of worlds that occured surrounding the Dallas-Carter football team in 1988. Keep in mind, the book is 'about' Odessa's Permian high school, not Carter. But as Odessa made its run at state that year, on the other side of the bracket, Carter, an all black school, beat an all-white team (Plano East) in the playoffs. It then emerged that at least two of Carter's players had been passed in classes they clearly flunked when a principal changed thier grades, over the objections of a 20-year career English teacher who thought football players get too many breaks.
So Plano East, losers on the field, then sued, claiming Carter was ineligible, got an injunction and - if i recall correctly - actually played the next playoff game, and won. Carter then counter-sued, got a second injunction and was back in the playoffs instead of Plano East.
The racial (and suburb-vs-city class) overtones of the battle were lost on exactly no one, particularly not on 300-miles from nowhere, overwhelmingly white Odessa.
This all really happened. It's easily the book's best (and, for Bissinger, luckiest) parts. Bissinger brings in decades old school-reform efforts, Ross Perot taking on the football barrons over eligibility rules, and the ever-present spectre of segregation.
And it all got sorted out just in time for Carter to meet Odessa in the state semis.
(emphasis 'semis' - i've read two reviews so far which state the movie puts the showdown in the state finals, though that could easily be a reviewer's mistake).

Now, I went to the trouble of laying all that out so that you can ask yourself: how is that going to translate into a movie? Have some newscaster take the screen and give you a quick synopsis of it, then cut to the Carter-Odessa sideline?
That would be a disservice I could't tolerate.
It's a 2-hour movie. They can give 5 minutes to a microcosm of Texas - and hence, american - educational reform before getting back to the AC/DC soundtrack.

The same is true of the book's other 'big game' the showdown with hated rival Midland Lee. Midland, as in, George Dubya's Midland. The Have Town to Odessa's Have Not.
In a year - 88 - when a Bush was running for re-election.
The structure of the collision - Odessa vs Midland, have vs have-not, oilmen vs redneck, capital vs labor - is probably the closest thing the book has to a thesis.
Is that worth 10 minutes of backstory?

Probably not.
What the movie is likely to be about - fairly - is the five or six characters on the team that dominate the book. Or rather, 5 players and the coach, played by Billy Bob Thorton. And they certainly fit Hollywood - the black star running back who blows a knee, the white punk running back with the bad dad, the white QB with a confidence problem, the spanish tight end bound for Harvard, and the coach, a good man under unbearable pressure and the shadow of his mythic predeccesor.
That sounds like a great football movie, particularly with the two big games. I see great possibility for a James Horner soundtrack.
No reason in the world why you have to drag my book into it.
But they did.
And since they did, they had better pay the rest of it - or rather, the real parts of it - the proper respect.

So let me go see it, and i'll let you know.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

INDEX 4, Sept 23

Quote of the Week:

Bobby Bowden on the Florida State fans who booed Chris Rix:
"I loathe those kind of people; them daggum Playstation experts, them Playstation All-Americans up there who think they know football because they happen to see a television game. It'd be like me watching Dr. Kildare and think I could operate on a brain. He's a pretty tough nut."
Strong words from a coach whose last QB ended his career as a Heisman winner... and on the cover of a Playstation game. Though the Index does play on "All-American" level, anyone who's seen the Index play defense knows he is no "expert." So I'm not sure how much offense to take.
And besides, I've been a Rix fan since the FSU edition of ESPN's The Season, when then-sophomore Chris made his run into confession-camera history as a Real World Las Vegas' Stephen with an accent.
And with that, on with the index:

Stat of the Weak -
2: Public apologies issued by college football characters this week which made the "Apologies of the Week" segment of Harry Shearer's exquisite Le Show, the Sunday news show that must rank as NPR's best program. And they were doozies: Marshall coach Bob Pruett, in his weekly news conference leading up to last Saturday's game with Ohio State, called the Buckeyes "a bunch of Mandingos." He "profusely" apologized this week, claiming to have meant it as a term of physical superiority - a superiority, one black activitist pointed out, which made the Mandingo tribe of West Africa coveted as slaves; USC QB Matt Leinhart, in an interview with ABC broadcast prior to the BYU game, worse a Cardinal and Gold sweatshirt with "F*ck the BCS" across the front. He apologized on his

5: UConn's national television appearances this year (4 ESPN games and a regional broadcast available on Gameplan).

The Mighty Mississippi
3: Points by which Mississippi State squeezed by Vanderbilt in Overtime.
13: Years since I-AA Maine beat a IA school until beating Mississippi St. this week, 9-7.
14: Inches of rain at Southern Miss, likely the state's best team, where the game with Cal was cancelled due to Hurricane Ivan. I totally made up that rainfall number, but that's not the point. The point is, I think a Cal-Southern Miss game would probably have been a hell of a game, and would certainly have answered lots of interesting questions about the Pac 10 race and mid-majors in general.

Texas Goings On
91: Point swing (sort of) in TCU-Texas Tech game. What a game this must have been. TCU led the Red Raiders 21-0 early in the second before giving up 49 unanswered points on the way to a 70-35 loss. That's unbelievable. Does this unmask TCU as a not-ready-for-primetime mid-major or is it the dropping barometer of an approaching season of Texas Tech sweeping through the Big 12 and causing major damage - I need your REACTION!!!!

2: Years in row that San Diego State has played on the road against the defending Big 10 Champion.
3: Points they've lost by each time - 16-13 to Ohio State in 03, 24-21 to Michigan last weekend.
8: Rank nationally of SDSU's defense last year.
130: Yards receiving, with 2 Tds, for Braylon Edwards.
11, 94: Penalties and penalty yards assessed against SDSU in Michigan stadium.
2: Field goals SDSU's kicked missed in the 4th that would have tied the game.
109,432: This week's foray into fiction by the Michigan 'attendence' liars. Again, my take: It's Michigan's stadium and they can say whatever they like about it - but why does the media, whose job is to filter such things, report these plainly fabricated numbers?

Miami Must Feel Even Luckier Now
7: Fourth-and-1 situations Florida State converted against Alabama-Birmingham, including 2 for touchdowns from the 1.
1: Unsuccessful FSU fourth-down conversions, a fourth-and-10.
1: FSU punts, on a fourth-and-29.
1,500: Tickets FSU set aside for those forced to evacuate their homes in western Florida for Hurricane Ivan. Tallahassee sits about 100 miles east of Ivan's worst hit and several miles inland. 1,400 were claimed.

3: Drew's in the news this week - UCLA's Drew Olson, who handed off to Maurice Drew, and Drew Hixson, Tennessee Tech linebacker who spent the week in a coma after taking a big hit a week ago.
322: Yards rushing for UCLA's Maurice Drew against Washington.
75: Players in NCAA history to rush for 300 in a game, including WVU's Kay-Jay Harri's 337 against East Carolina last week.
5: Drew rushing TDs.
52: Inches from goalline UW's Charles Frederick estimated he was from the goalline when hit by 3 UCLA defenders on the game's final play.
1: Yards UCLA needed on a fourth-down 39 seconds prior to Frederick's last gasp. UW's defense held UCLA's Drew to no gain on a QB sneak on the play, keeping them alive for the final drive. To repeat: with a tailback who had spent the day running to within a Red Sox game-winning bloop of the all-time NCAA rushing record, UCLA needed one yard to seal the game - or just a good punt - and UCLA coach Karl Dorrell called a QB dive. Hmmmm.....
44: Points scored in the game's first quarter, with UCLA leading 24-20.
47, 62, 57: Distances of Drew's three first-quarter TDs.
169: Drew's yardage at the end of the first quarter on 4 rushes.

Why the SEC Should Always Go For 2s.
2: Major, season-defining SEC games won and lost on the following sequence: gruesome ticky-tack personal fouls against the visiting team leading directly to a game-winning kick, in each case hit by a kicker who had earlier missed a key PAT.
2: Steps an LSU defender exceeded in his "running start" toward the line in an attempt to block an Auburn extra point. He didn't block it, he just took more than two steps toward the line attempting to - which is a personal foul under a new rule this year. So when the kick missed, Auburn got to re-kick it (from 5 yds closer) on the penalty. Needless to say, that turned out to be a very big deal when Auburn won, 10-9. (And yes, that is very nearly the same useless call that allowed the Colts to beat the Bucs in overtime a year ago on Monday night, following a 21-point (28?) comeback in the game's final minute, when Simeon Rice was whistled for the same thing. One has to wonder if the ref (a Bucs fan? This Was the south) didn't see that game a year ago and think, "maybe one day I'll get to call that" and, in front of a crowd he knew would be happy about it, took his chance).
2: Qbs LSU now seems committed to, 5th year senior Marcus Randall and freshman
2: SEC title game participants, one of which this game defacto decided, since the remaining teams in the SEC West are Mississippi and Miss St. (see above), Arkansas and Alabama, which just lost it's QB for the season.
2: Weeks Georgia now has to prepare for LSU, its next game, to be played in Athens.

SEC Should Go For 2, Part 2
2: Helmet slaps exchanged between a Tennessee Reciver and Florida Dback in the closing minutes of the UT-UF game - and guess which one the ref saw? With Florida ahead, 28-27, and driving to run out the clock, a UT defender took a swing at Florida's Dallas Baker, who took a swing back - and the ref saw Baker. Instant horseshit Flag. The fallout was immense: what would have been, for Florida, a clock-running punt to, at least, UT's 20, was now a clock-stopped punt that ended up on UT's 39. Tennessee took the ball (and those 20 yards and that extra time) and drove 28 yards and then got a game-winning field goal from James Wilhoit. Needless to say, Wilhoit had just minutes before missed a PAT that would have tied the game.
2: Calls the refs actually blew on the play, according to the SEC commissioner of referees. He said (and any fool could see) that the call itself was badly handled (ignoring it or calling off-setting penalties was clearly the correct course). Then, after the penalty yardage was walked off, the refs did not restart the game clock until the snap. According to the SEC ref boss, they should have restarted the clock as soon as the ball was set - which would done one of two things: one, Florida could have bled off a full 25 seconds of play clock before the punt or, two (and more likely) UT would have been forced to use a timeout. Not an insignificant call when you realize that....
2: Seconds left on the clock when Wilhoit hit the kick.
50: Yards in that game-winning kick. That needs to be on the record, just to give the UT guy some credit. So shed no tears for the Gators - Florida could have stopped UT anywhere in the previous 5 plays.
286: Passing yards for Florida's Chris Leak, who would be the national player of the week if they had won. Among other things, he took UF 97 yards on mid-game drive to tie the score at 14 (7-for-8 on the drive) with no help from the running game, threw an 81 yard TD bomb to take a late lead and went overall 22-for-31 with just one sack and one INT.

And now, the long-running Ohio State Pathetic Stat of the Week:
5: Field goals Ohio State used to beat NC State, 22-17.

Joe Paterno Gets Another One Wrong
5: Turnovers Joe Paterno claimed no team could overcome to win a game, after PSU turned the ball over that many times in a loss to BC last week.
6: Turnovers by Penn State - specifically, QB Zach Mills - in a win against Central Florida, 37-13.
10: Turnovers by Zach Mills in 2 games - 6 interceptions (!), 4 fumbles. That's staggering since as a freshman and sophomore, Mills was one of those lazy-smile, follow-me QB warriors who was good for 14 points in 90 seconds when you need them.

Game of the Week: BYU at Boise State. Last real tune-up (and probably last time on TV) for Boise State before the Oct 23 collision with Fresno State.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Olympics, Final Thoughts

It's not that most sports are boring, because I can deal with that. You know going in that if you're watching, say, sailing, you're getting the sports version of a David Schwimmer movie - a mortal lock for unwatchable. If you hear, "next, Women's mountain biking" immediately you have to think, "is it worth watching in case they eat it?" and then you think, "No" and see what's on CNBC. Or Fox News. Anything.
Race walking. Rhythmic gymnastics. Even Kayaking, which you might perk up for expecting whitewarer rapids, turns out to be a straight line dash on flat, open water, ie track with oars.
On down the line through the list of sports which, through no fun- err, fault - of their own, are way, WAY too dull to watch and you know it going in.
So I don't feel cheated by those events.
I feel cheated - robbed - by Tae Kwon Doh. Because it dresses itself up like a mix of wrestling(maybe the Olympics' best sport), boxing and Bruce Lee. The competitors take the floor with more armor on than a 1st Cav patrol in Baghdad - big helmets, flak jackets that surround the entire torso, huge gloves, all over traditional white marital arts robes
It is, to be sure, the equipment of a sport designed to hurt somebody.
And for 10 minutes, they face each other, bounce endlessly in place, take turns throwing a foot in the air, fall over like bad ballerinas, run out of bounds, bounce a whole lot more, draw mystifying penalties and then the clock runs out and the winning American, Steve Lopez, starts in with his best Crash Stephenson impression.
Huh? In 10 minutes of Gold-medal deciding Tae Kwon Doh, very nearly nothing happened.
The only bright spot was the announcer, who grabbed the title of worst honk of the games from boxing's Teddy Atlas. When Lopez bounced his Turkish opponent into a corner of the mat and landed a leg to the umpire-chest plate, the announcer let loose with a "Bang! Take that home with ya!"
Evidently, a similar kick landed in an earlier bout by Lopez had "kicked his opponent down the ramp" leading to the mat. That would have been cool. But all I saw was one akward leg-slap, endless stalling and a lot of bouncing.
If I ran the Olympics, I would take a page from Jackie Chan and force one of the competitors to compete with skis on his feet while the other must complete the match without waking up a mat-side, light-sleeping panther.
On a crashing blimp.

During diving, which the Americans tanked in, they showed a Chinese guy and said, "This is his third Olympics and this is a special one because today is his 25th birthday."
I took that at face value, but Mandy almost immediately said, "Wouldn't the last two Olympics have been on his birthday, too?"
She may not know how to pronouce "Iverson" but Mandy brings some heat to any telecast.

"How will he meet his God when he has slaughtered so many people," - an Iraqi soccer player when asked about the Bush campaign's use of his country's Olympics success in a campaign ad. Same guy went on to say - echoing several teammates - that he would be fighting with the resistance if not playing soccer.
And all that aside, even if everything was a roaring success over in Tigris-Euphrates land, doesn't it strike anyone as deeply disturbing that the President of the United States wanted - maybe still wants - to go to the Olympics to watch a) a soccer game that b) wasn't the US?
I mean, even if you LOVE dubya, a Texan watching soccer?
I haven't seen any other heads of state show up for any event of their OWN athletes - and yet dubya wanted to go watch the Iraqis play soccer.
If he said, "I wanna go meet Amanda Beard," son, let me get my hat, I'll come wit'chee. But to watch some other country's soccer team? A land we currently, violently occupy?
Just put on a toga, call yourself Caesar and be done with it.

Anybody see a better moment than that Moroccon win the 1500 meters? Apparently the guy was the absolute international Hammer of the last 10 years in the 1500. Best ever at the distance (which is as close to the Mile as they get nowadays).
Only, he'd tripped and fallen in Atlanta and got out-touched down the stretch by a Kenyan in Sydney. He owned every title and record available except The Big One.
So as the race started, his teammate, who was supposed to go out as a rabbit, got boxed in and was nowhere to be seen. That was bad, cuz apparently this Morrocan wins by going out fast and holding on. But for 3 laps, he had to pick off the Kenyans at the front, work his way through the pack and finally took over the lead with a lap to go.
And with a fast-looking Kenyan right on his heels. Around the back stretch, the two of them pull away and on the last turn up comes the Kenyan. Down the last 100, the Kenya comes out, edges his shoulders ahead, pushes past the Moroccon and then...
Incredibly, the Moroccon re-surges forward, the Kenyan goes slack in defeat and the Moroccon wins by a stride.
One of sports rarest things - to be caught from behind in the stretch and then to retake the lead.
Finally, called to the Main Stage. Just awesome.

Are you kidding about the basketball uniforms? Are you SERIOUS? If you didn't see it live, the US Basketball team showed up with the wrong uniforms for the Bronze game. Now, by late afternoon, NBC and the officials were spinning at as "bad information for both teams" - yet, when it happened, they pointed out that Lithuania was the designated home team, and should wear white. The Americans, designated as visitors, had brought white uniforms to the game.
So when it happened, it was clear, and clearly reported, who had screwed up.
The hours-later rewrite that it was some inevitable glitch was just that - a rewrite.
Just another bright moment.

Let's see - to the list that now includes LeBron James, the Olson Twins and Lindsay Lohan, we can now add Michael Phelps. I've always said I believe the children are the future.

If you missed the Trampoline event, boy... you missed it.
Probably the highlight of the event was, when the studio host said, "let's go to the trampoline competition," Mandy immediatly said, "Whatever sportsbra they're using, I want that one."
So the stage was set.
What then occurred was just a clinic in jaw-dropping failure. Either trampoline jumping is really hard (my limited experience, and a few viewings of slamball, suggests otherwise), or these girls were just terrible.
In essencse, it's all back at the gymnastics facility, but this is clearly not even the JV of that world. The little girls run out on the middle of this HUGE trampoline and start bouncing straight up and down and are getting circus-crazy heights. Their feet are like 20 or 25 feet off the ground on every bounce. Then they start flipping around through a series of moves and then...
They crash.
I don't know if that's required, but I think so. I only watched - which is to say, i could only bring myself to watch - 3 competitors, but it was the same - they'd be in the middle of the tramp, do a giant 4X double twist flip 30 feet in the air, land slightly off-center, careen back up on obviously a bad trajectory, realize they were heading for disaster, flap their arms for balance in the air and WHAM - right on the side.
Absolutely awesome.

Living in Russia must be like living in the South. You only get two flavors of women: Drop dead knockouts and run-and-hide beasts. Check out their 4X400 team. Or the volleyball team. Or the gymnastics team, not counting Big Bird, the anorexic blonde.
Same with the Greeks. Check out the 4X400 tonight. All or nothing.

Loved the pole vault. Loved "Crash" Stephenson. Loved his helmet. All Olympians should be like that. Brash, loud, fearless (except for the helmet, I guess) and, in the end, joyfull. Of course, if I was anywhere close to the Olympics I'd be exactly like Crash's teammate (who, in the end, won Gold) - eyes ahead, count to 10, both hands on the wheel. It would be the only way to keep from mentally disintegrating.
In fact, that's like my job now - watch anytime I do a freefall jump. There will always be one or two guys jumping around, "whoo, here we go baby!" and I'll be on the ramp with that "It'll be over in 2 minutes - either way"-look on my face.
No doubt - I'd be a boring Olympian.

All obvious problems, and comic mistakes, aside, Allen Iverson has been terrific. On court, he hustled after loose balls, created shots, never quit (arguably, none of the US players did - they just got beat) and, most important, showed great sportsmanship. Off court, he was respectful but proud, didn't complain or make excuses and appeared genuinely invested in trying to win. After winning the Bronze game, he gave one of the most dignified post-game interviews imaginable. Called the entire experience an "honor." Good for him.
You can probably say the same for all of the American players, but he's the public face. In fact, I think he gets the Gold in "Public Relations Nightmares That Didn't Materialize," barely edging the Greek government and Athens' infrastructure.
(I personally never considered "terror attack" a reasonable threat, so it's not eligible).

Once again I'm reminded that traditional volleyball remains the best game on earth. Beach volleyball is a pale shadow - and really, shouldn't it be called "sand volleyball?" Cuz that didn't look like a beach, and I KNOW there isn't one in Bejing for 08. Anyway, the real thing remains one of the best things to watch. Sure, it's the California rich-kid version of basketball, with freakish height being a prerequisite, but no other sport puts teamwork on such obvious display. Soaring talents always fall to the better team. You can know NOTHING about VB, and yet in 2 minutes you can easily figure out whether a team works well together or not.
And on that note, is it a fair corollary to say that if a sports is a) fun to watch and b) features a women's version with slutty outfits, Brazil will be a world power?
And on the beach volleyball front, Mandy on the women's outfits: "fucking ridiculous" (and seriously, where else is there a larger discrepancy between men's and women's dress? Maybe rap videos).

Speaking of Dubya, if he wins this year, can he AT LEAST throw an amendment onto "No Child Left Behind" so that among all the unfunded requirements laid on our public schools, every classroom in the country has to spend 5 minutes a day on "baton passing?" What other skill can we just surrender to the world? First math, then telemarketing, now this. It's getting ridiculous.

Why isn't India good at anything? That occured to me last night when i saw the Indian women actually qualify for the final in the 4X400. It struck me that this was the first time I'd even noticed an Indian Olympian.
The more I consider it, the less it makes sense. India has the second-largest population on earth. Yet while Jamaica and the Bahamas are track powers, the Aussies are so good in the pool, Cuba and Iran dominant in wrestling and boxing and Iraq in the top 4 for Soccer, India remains invisible.
I've thought of several reasons, but none hold up:
If you take the cynical, but evident, view that almost every Olympian in every sport from every country is, in some way, a million-to-one genetic freak, then India should have 1,200 Olympic-caliber athletes, three times as many as the US.
Now, certainly, the gene pool of middle-Asia is not the genetic reservoir of size and speed that, say, Brazil is. You could probably select any three square miles in Rio and extract from it an Olympic team better than, say, Ukraine's. But that clearly doesn't matter: look at China, Korea and Japan, countries without particularly well-suited genetics. They post accomplishments roughly commensurate with their populations (Korea and Japan, arguably, do more with less than any country on earth).
Geographically, India has advantages unmatched in the world - thousands of miles of coastline (like swimming-power Australia) and some of the highest population centers, in the Himalayas, of any nation on earth, which should produce excellent endurance athletes. On top of that, almost none of India has a 'winter' climate - so none of its athletic talent gets drained away into, say, hockey or skiing.
Other sports? Too much emphasis on Cricket? Please... In America, what football doesn't weed out, weed, Playstation and pregnancy does. Nobody comes to more forks in the road than American Olympians.
How about economics? Do you need a thick middle class and decent health care to produce a sports power? Well, India is a democracy and has enough money to start a nuclear war. Money isn't the problem. And consider China, where the majority of the population lives in pre-Industrial countryside, yet still produces specimens like Yao Ming. Just today, the Chinese are in the gold medal game for women's volleyball and last night one of the men won the 110M hurdles by DAYLIGHT (tying a world record that's stood since 1993). Daylight? In a 110M? A Chinese guy? He was probably 2 full meters ahead of the American in second place. That has to rank on the short list of all-time amazing track accomplishments, right there with the last guy I know of to win a short sprint by daylight, Jesse Owens.
If a Chinese guy can win the Olympic hurdles by 2 strides, India should be good at SOMETHING. It is politically stable, socially liberal and has large centers of wealth. And, of course, it has the second largest population on earth. There's GOT to be a Michael Phelps in there somewhere.
Every other country with even half of those advantages is a major power. The Chinese are good at EVERYTHING. The Russians are good at everything (which extends to the Winter Games). The Brazilians are good at everything. And, yes, even WE are good at everything, as long as you don't count basketball and baseball. And that about covers it for the world's population centers - except for India.
So where are they? I just don't see any plausible excuse.

Fun facts: This very month, the city of Montreal, Canada paid off the last dime on it's last debt stemming from the 1976 Olympics - 28 years later. Thanks for the show, Athens, and good luck with your school system!

Among your top 10 or so US athletes has to be Cael Sanderson, the only undefeated college wrestler in American history (question: is that record a reflection of Sanderson's skill or the deflated state of college wrestling - I need you REACTION!!!). This is his first Olympics, in freestyle wrestling. Apparently, he couldn't go to the '01 world championships because of 9/11 and couldn't go to the '02 worlds because they were in Iran and the Bush administration wouldn't let us send a team (one Olympic email, 3 shots at Dubya - thankee). Last year at the '03 Worlds, he got silver, to a Cuban - his second loss to that Cuban.
In other words: Every College Wrestler in America 0, One Cuba 2.
Cael beat the same guy in the semis today, though. I'll be rooting for him because - well, because no sport reliably produces epic Olympic moments like wrestling - Americans versus Iranians in 84, Kurt Angle in 96, Rulon Gardner '00.
I've said it before, but no sport demands more than wrestling, and hence, no athletes come more emotionally unglued, in either direction, when they win or lose.
But I really like Cael cuz back when he was closing in on the undefeated career at Iowa State, I read a profile of him that talked about the time the ISU sports info people asked him what song he wanted played over the PA when he took the mat.
The Greatest Wrestler That Ever Lived chose "Believe" by Cher.
After a few matches, the staff changed it to AC/DC or something, but in the profile he stood by it: "I don't care. That's a good song."
Cael, I Believe, too! Get some!

My beef with Israeli politics certainly does not extend to their Olympic team. In fact, as a population, no one deserves a national shot of feel-good Olympic drama more than the Israeli people. I sincerely wish they had the athletic successes that we do. Or even that India does.
But if your nation is going to win it's first-ever Gold of any kind, can you really look yourself in the mirror if it's for wind surfing?

And finally - 45 mintues to kickoff in Blacksburg! Goodbye Olympics, hello AP Poll! Last year was fun, and a final nod of respect to LSU. But as another proud USC product, who I like to call George Lucas, once put it:
"They'll be no one to stop us this time!"

Top 25 Sept 12


I've never seen a worse
Top 25. Yes it's September, but Polls are like internet rumors - they have momentum and once something gets posted, its hard to unpost.
Only the explosion of non-BCS teams keeps it relevent.

0: Wins for Florida State, ranked 8th.
2: Highest possible standing FSU could now hold in the ACC, having lost a conference game.
1: Wins for Michigan, ranked 17th, 9 spots below FSU.
1: Michigan's conference finish last year and still-likely finish in the Big 10 this year.
2: Wins for Ohio State, the next-most likely Big 10 champ, and conference champ prior to Michigan.
9: Rank of Ohio State, one below Florida State.
2: ACC teams the Top 25 implies are better than anybody in the Big 10. I might even accept that premise - but not if one of them is Florida State.
Basicly, somewhere (several somewheres, actually) a sportswriter had to say, "Yeah, the Noles were shaky against Miami, but I think they'd come together against... Ohio State or Michigan or Auburn or Tennessee or Florida. Or Fresno State - I mean beating KSU at home is nice, but how could that defense stop Rix?"
9: Spots Michigan dropped, to 17. Unconscionable. Do you think there are 4 teams in the US that could have beat Notre Dame at home last weekend? I'm SUPER glad that wasn't SC. Yeah, it was a Showdown game, and yes, it was a heavy, heavy loss... but it sure doesn't mean there are now 16 teams in the country better than them. I mean, have you SEEN Braylon Edwards? Have seen that guy? Right now, my All American recievers, one year AW (After Williams, Roy and Mike), are Edwards and Oregon State's Mike Hess.

10: I'll buy into Cal at 10, for 2 reasons - 1) the top 2 in every BCS conference had damn well be in the Top 10 (and that would still exclude FSU) and 2) it's september - they'll piss it away.

5: Ranked non-BCS teams. Utah, Fresno State, Boise State, Louisville and Memphis. I'm not completely up to speed on Memphis or Louisville, but I can't understand them being there and not Southern Miss. Southern Miss finished last year as the C-USA champ (whipping TCU), and beat Nebraska IN LINCOLN this weekend. That's not worth a spot in the Top 25, but beating a sorry Texas A&M on your homefield (Utah) is?

37: Votes recived by DI's premier glamour program, Notre Dame.
31: Votes recieved by Troy in its 3rd year in IA! And that sounds right - along with pummelling Missouri, Troy also beat Marshall in week 1, who came back this past week to take Ohio State to a last-second field goal in Columbus.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

INDEX Sept 12-18

Stat Of The Weak:

86: As the t-shirts say, "Alaska Grown"

"Well-Timed Glances At The TV" Weekend
1: Plays I had to watch in FSU-Miami to watch Chris Rix throw an interception. I turned on the game as soon as I got in from work on Friday and the picture was hardly on the screen long enough for Musberger to say something dumb and up went a pass from the guy in white and down it came to a guy in orange. Say this for Chris Rix – he’s almost certainly the greatest quarterback of all time, as measured by vaulting. Hell of an effort on that mid-game first down, vaulting an honest 18 feet to pick up a first on a busted scramble. Not in the class of the all-time QB vault Gold Standard put up by Elway in the Super Bowl (chills thinking about that one), but right there with Blaine’s effort against UCLA in 2002. Hell of a play by Rix. If it wasn’t for those 12 or 43 interceptions in crunch time against Miami, he’d be a legend. I mean, in a good way.
2: Days after the FSU game it took ESPN to label a struggling QB (UGAs David Green’s wasted first-half against South Carolina) as “Rixian.” There’s lots of reasons to hate Rix, but that seems a bit off-sides.
And that is two items on the Index, about 1 more than that dreary, boring, predictable FSU-Miami game deserves.
2: Consecutive plays I saw in the Texas-Arkansas game where Cedric Benson ripped off a long TD or a long run to inside the 3. I honestly don’t remember if the second was a TD or not, because I was watching the late-night ESPN replay after 2 glasses of wine and 2 Alaska Summer Ales (drink ‘em now, cuz winter’s coming) and fading in and out of sleep on the sofa. But twice I opened my eyes, Young takes the snap, handoff to Benson, and he’s off to the races.
Like I said, it was a good week for random glances at the TV.
0: According to Professional Student Danny Allen, number of passing attemtps Texas has to limit Vince Young to if they expect to beat OU.
2: Pts Mack Brown went for after the go-ahead touchdown hoping to give Texas a 7pt, rather than 6pt, lead in the 3rd quarter.
0: Pts they got out of it when the 2pt attempt failed. which let Arkansas come within a turnover of beating, rather than tying, Texas in the last minute.
120: According to Danny's Rule, max number of seconds that can be left in a game before a team with the lead should seriously consider going for 2. Exceptions can be made, but not on the road with a lead against Arkansas.

1: Weeks The Dream lasted for Rutgers. Blown out by I-AA New Hempshuh?!?!?!? What can that possibly mean for Michigan State?

I heard Gene Wojo interviewed on a radio show and they put the Q to him: should the Big East be dropped from the BCS? Now, on the surface, this is a little like should Franky have been thrown off the San Diego Real World – she was a cancer that brought down the level of everyone else’s game, and so is the Big East.
We’re not actually in this mess because of the Big East. In fact, in some sense, the Big East did all it could to prevent this. We are in this mess because of Miami and Va Tech and the holier-than-thou ACC. Collectively, they used The Big East like a drunk freshman. And so you have to ask, after a party with unpleasant outcomes, do you stop inviting freshmen to your parties? Of course not! You NEED drunk freshmen, because juniors are so stuck up and pissed and don’t put out unless you tell them- wait. This metaphor is going the wrong way.
Startin’ again: The Big East did nothing wrong. Its two top teams, behaving like raging sluts, got lured away by the ACC, behaving like raging neo-conservatives. The Big East acted like, depending on your metaphor, a loser boyfriend or France, doing everything it could to prevent it. As much crap as we give pro teams for moving cities, those programs and the ACC have escaped unscathed for their betrayal of the Big East, though I suppose you can (though I won’t) debate just how much of a betrayl it was.
So now the Big East has no real teams. Certainly none that appear capable of beating Boise State (though you could plausibly bend that statement to fit any conference in the country). But that’s not the Big East’s fault, really. And maybe West Virginia or BC or Pitt will actually pick it up and produce a top 10 team. At least now, they’ll get the chance to prove they do belong (good for them if they do) or fail miserably and publicly trying (exactly the punishment you’d wish on a conference unable to live up to its ambitions).
That said: the whole BCS, as I’ve said before, is actually a Big East invention – the commissioner of the Big East is – surprise! – commissioner of the BCS!!!! No Way!!!! You mean, they invented it, precisely because… they couldn’t hack it on the field?
And… there is now clearly a class of western programs superior in every sense to the Big East – Boise State, Utah, Fresno State, TCU… any one of those teams would easily – easily – win the Big East (in fact, I be delighted to see any of them land in the Pac 10). Throw in Colorado State, Marshall, Southern Miss (maybe the best of them all). In fact, there are probably 10 schools in non-BCS conferences who would be favored in every game if they were in the Big East.
So in keeping with my politics, I’m going to be inclusive rather exclusive– make the BCS more, not less accessable. Liberty and Justice for all. “Hope is on the way” (and seriously… where is John Edwards? Almost certainly the most magnetic American politician currently breathing – clearly our nation’s answer to Tony Blair – and he is a distant fourth in public exposure between the top 2 spots on both tickets. The Rs are getting Cheney in public more than the Ds are getting Edwards out there? Fire Bob Shrum. Yesterday).
Let the Big East play for a spot, but open it up to others, too.
And then drop the whole f’in thing into the deepest part of the ocean and forget it ever existed.

17: Missouri's rank last week, behind an All-American-class QB stud who holds several run-pass “only-guy-ever-to…” records and is routinely mentioned at the front of the Heisman pack. It has a defense full of seniors. This is the Prove It year of the coach’s rebuilding run. And he appears to have done it – they have the horses to outright win or raise hell in the fight for the Big-12 North this year.
And that, by implication, puts them within a Big 12 title game of the Show.
So, to warm up for the campaign ahead, the Tigers scheduled a game about as far away from the limelight as they could, in some backwoods hollow called Troy, Alabama, at what used to be Troy State but is now just Troy University which makes it your basic “life skills” school with an Auburn complex.
Troy opened with an upset of Marshall – a big-time win, but an easy one to dismiss – and Missouri headed to Alabama as an 11 point favorite for a sleepy off-week contest.
And they arrived to find themselves in the crosshairs of that most mythical of college events, The Biggest Game in School History.
On a Thursday Night.
Whatdaya reckon happened?

273: Listed weight of Troy’s Junior Loussant, a senior offensive tackle.
52: Yards Loussant ran for a touchdown, outsprinting Missouri’s defense, after a Troy fumble bounced directly into his arms, to tie the game at 14.
24: Unanswered points Troy scored from the second quarter on after falling behind 14-0.
3: TDs Troy scored in that run, which went like this: trick play (halfback pass); Loussant’s surreal fumble return (though “accidental lateral” is more descriptive); and a somebody-please-make-a-damn-play lob into the endzone that saw both particpants – QB and receiver – execute their roles with both feet in the air. As Troy’s QB threw the pass, a Missiour defensive lineman smashed into him in full sprint, driving him up, back and completely off his feet (and three yards back onto his ass – not quite Quinton Coryott, but not far off) and the receiver caught the ball in the endzone at least 2 feet in the air over a defensive back.
3: Years as a Division IA program for Troy, rechristened this year from Troy State.
50: Years, minimum, that Troy’s coach believes“they’ll be taking about this team for,” according to his shouted, post-game, mid-mob interview.
1: Rank, among “hardest jobs in America,” that he claimed he now has in preparing for his next opponent… New Mexico State.
Just another homerun postgame interview for a smalltime southern coach.

0: Number of times I heard ESPN’s Herbstriet or Corso – who can always be counted on to say something stupid – call Troy’s football team “the men of Troy.” Now, Troy’s players are, in a literal sense, “men of Troy,” but their mascot is – predictably – the Trojans. You may have heard that USC, a program that occasionally draws mention in this space, also plays under the monicker of Trojans. The word “Troy,” however, is not in that institution’s title nor that of any obvious nearby geographic formation. Yet let ESPN – or any-friggin’body with a media guide and a Jim Murray complex - cover an SC game and you can’t go 3 snaps or 2 paragraphs without a “second and long at the Irish 34 for the Men of Troy…”
And yet, at a school actually called Troy, nobody said it.

1: Debut spot on the “Classicly Funny Stadium Name” Poll for Troy’s Movie Gallery Stadium. They got the logo and everything on both 20s. Easily displaces Louisville’s Papa John Stadium from the top spot. Movie Gallery, if that doesn’t ring a bell, is basicly the Waffle House of movie rental places. From what I can tell, it has found a niche in the south (maybe elsewhere, too, but that’s where I’ve seen it) in small, back-highway towns too small or remote for a Blockbuster. As an example, if you take the backroads from Valdosta, GA to Tallahassee, Fl, you pass at least two of them in decrepit roadside strip malls (needless to say, no Blockbusters along the same route). It’s the kind of business– from signage to architecture to used movie racks – that just screams mom-and-pop, despite being a chain. And I just LOVE that they are the title sponsor of a the football stadium in desperatly-wants-to-be-big-time Troy, Alabama.

0: Points in my post-Va Tech analysis of SC that were wrong. To recap: the engine that drove SC’s offense in that game was Lendale White, not Reggie Bush (though, obviously, it was the O-Line that matters most); it was the lack of a passing game that was most troubling; the defense is a suffocating curtain against anything except a Vick-type QB.
1: Games I continue to be ahead of the media on SC’s success this year.

CSU runs a distinctly un-Vick-like offense, with a very capable passing QB working with good receivers or handing off to very capable running backs. But the QB himself is not a threat to Playstation-scramble his way upfield for 40 yards on any given snap. And though it is a traditional offense, CSU ran it well enough to come within a yard of beating Colorado at Boulder a week ago.
And SC’s defense devoured it.
Turnovers, sacks, gang tackles, as Petey Pablo put it, “anything you can handle.” Or not handle. And with nothing but pass-pass-handoff offenses ahead on the schedule, things look good on the D side.
Now, on to USC's misunderstood offense:
322: USC rushing yards against CSU, which sounds terrific (and, i guess, is), the most since...
331: Yards USC rushed for against Ohio State in 1990, a game on the road and shortened for lightning (had they played the last few minutes, you could probably tack on 20 or more yards). That was an historic game for other reasons, though - it was the very last dying flicker of the Old SC before the dawn of the Long Dark Era just recently emerged from.
3: TDs rushing for Lendale White against CSU, who had been the driving force behind the Va Tech win, but didn't get much attention when Reggie Bush picked up his scraps to catch - catch - 3 easy TDs.
But just as Bush got his TDs on White's shoulders, all 3 of White's chip shot TDs against CSU were bought and paid for by the remarkable efforts of Matt Leinhart. Forget about the best-since-1990 rushing yards - Leinhart was poison.
123: Rushing yards for White.
84: Rushing yards for Bush
74: Rushing - rushing - yards for Leinhart.
305: Total yards personally accounted for by Leinhart.
7: First downs + Touchdowns picked up by White (passing, rushing or receiving).
7: First downs/TDs picked up by Bush
16: First downs/TDs picked up by Leinhart (pass, rush)
19, 23: Length of Leinhart scrambles to pick up two of them.

4, 3, 11: Same stats (first downs/TDs for each) in the “real” game, everything up until SC took a 21-0 lead and CSU basicly surrendered.
Now, you can write all this off to Norm Chow – reasonably – but somebody has to execute it, and ‘product’ QBs don’t scramble for 42 yards when the system breaks down.
You can also write it off to CSU (backs broken by Colorado or similar) and argue that if USC runs into a secondary well equipped to stop the short-to-medium passing game, then they are in trouble. And that’s a damn good point. Rejoinder: a) against the only team to do just that in 3 years, Va Tech, the running game came through behind White and b) nobody else has.

So what did we learn today?
We learned that if you believe it’s consistent first downs that win games (hint: they do) than it isn’t White or Bush or the ghost of Marcus Allen, but Leinhart that drives the train. And we learned that SC’s passing game – invisible at Va Tech – is fiercely alive, at least against mid-tier defenses like CSU’s (and speaking of the word “fierce” in odd contexts, did anybody catch the Real World Philly debut where Flaming Gay Guy Willie felt up Raging Slut Sarah’s fake tits (on invitation) and pronounced them to be a “fierce” boob job, meaning they felt real? And how about a few seconds later when Sarah, in full predator mode, stalked over to Idiot Party Guy Landon and dared him to grab a handful and he recoiled backwards from her in fear so hard that he knocked over a painting? I have grave concerns about the Philly cast and the prosects for the season which I’ll discuss elsewhere, but that moment was priceless).


Stat of the Weak -
1: First-place votes for LSU in the USA Today/ESPN/Coaches Poll.
That is past absurd. It's so stupid, it almost defies satire. That's like calling Laurie your favorite character on That 70s Show.
Now pay attention, double-oh seven, cuz this is a big moment:
With this latest affront to the game of college football, the Coaches poll is officially, irrevocably Banished from the Index.
I don't care that it's 1/3 of the BCS formula, and I will not change this policy even if USC finishes #1 in it while UCLA wins the AP. It won't matter, you will never read about "in one poll" or "a split champion" on The Index again. From now on, there's the AP, the fraudulent but tragically relevant BCS standings and that's it.
As legendary TCU coach TJ Lambert once put it, "I broke the little fucker's plate."

We'll deal with LSU later on. But first...

151: The now finished, and surely now eternal, all-time high school win streak record. De La Salle, of Concord, CA, finally lost. I don't know how many undefeated seasons that covers, but it's a lot. And De La Salle didn't just beat up on weak northern California teams. They routinely played the factory high schools of Los Angeles and Orange County - ie, the dreaded Southern Section. And, just for spite, the team they finally lost to wasn't even from California. They lost to Bellevue, Washington.

1: With 30 seconds left in the game and trailing 27-24, Colorado Yardline on which Colorado State had a first-down. They'd been there before...
1: With 23 seconds left in the first-half and trailing 17-0, Colorado yardline on which CSU faced fourth-down. CSU coach Sonny Lubeck went for it, the Rams scored and set the tone to take over the third quarter, where they pulled into a 17-17 tie early in the 4th.
2: Consecutive snaps in the fourth quarter on which Colorado scored 10 points - a field goal and a returned interception on CSU's next play - for a 27-17 lead.
31: Yards of CSU ensuing touchdown pass caught by John Walker by out-leaping CU's Garett Burt in the endzone, to make it 27-24.
64: After forcing a CU punt, yards between CSU and the endzone with 2:30 to go.
63: Yards they had covered 2 minutes later, with a first down.
0: Yards gained by CSU's Marcus Houston on a 1st down run at the line.
2: Yards behind the line that CU's JJ Billingsley tackled CSU's Tristian Walker on a sweep - run in confusion as Lubeck called for a spike - which ran out the clock.
15: Years since CU won a game on a do-or-die defensive stand.
189: Yards rushing for against CSU for CU's Bobby Purify, an absurdly symbolic name for a star player on the run-away champion team for Worst Off-Season.
- I didn't see a snap of it, but this game is certainly is the early-season leader for Game Of The Year. A quick recap of all the elements - a nasty, bitter rivalry that hasn't had a bad edition in, what, 10 years?; goal line stands at the close of both halves, one of which ended in a fourth-down TD, while the other was flat do-or-die; bold escewing of easy field goals and overtime; long, money-time drives from both offenses; a tie in the fourth quarter; a game-winng interception runback; a frantic, no-timeouts, everybody-line-the-f'-up-so-we-can-snap-it final 2 plays, the whole damn student section rushing the field at the whistle and holy shit besides!

14: Bevos
- (That's the name of UT's longhorn steer mascot, for those a bit confused. Bevo XIV took over for XIII this week. XIV's real name is "Sunrise Studly")
131: Texas points in their last 2 season openers, vs. 7 for their opponents.
7: UT Rushing touchdowns in 65-0 blowout of North Texas. Last year in a similar season-opening blowout, UT scored 6 different ways, but not this time - they did it all on the ground, getting only 1 passing TD and 2 field goals. And I point all this out soley as an excuse to mention the name of Texas' field goal kicker, Dusty Mangum.
12.1: Avg. yards/carry for Cedric Benson. He came out with 181.
4: Years in a row, at least (I didn't check past 2000) that Texas has scored at least 50 in a game in September.

WORST USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN FOOTBALL (from, predictably, the Big 10)

5: Minutes of delay in the Wisconsin-Central Florida game - a game inherently improvable only by hastening its end - so Big 10 officials could put into action their latest gift to college football, Instant Replay. Keep in mind, this was a game Wisconsin was on its way to lazily winning, 34-6.
1: In yards, change in the outcome of the reviewed play.
5: Plays later that Wisconsin's Jonathan Orr caught a touchdown that media reports say was plainly not a TD and should have been reviewed. And that, of course, is the ultimate lesson of replay - it doesn't reduce heat on bad refs who make bad calls; it just spreads the blame to more refs.

BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN FOOTBALL (from, predictably, the South)

2: Goal posts in Clemson's Memorial Stadium fitted this year with remote control-activated, automatic collapsers to ease the work of field-rushing mobs.
1: Games it took to put them in action. The fans rushed the field after Clemson's 37-30 overtime win over Wake Forest.
24: Consecutive points Wake Forest scored at Clemson to take a 27-19 lead in the 4th before Clemson scored a game-tying TD and 2pt conversion in the last minute.
112: Yards receiving for Clemson WR Chansi Stuckey.

447: Total yards of offense for Oklahoma State against UCLA.
447: Total yards of offense for UCLA against Oklahoma State. That's about where the similarities end.
251: UCLA passing yards.
23: Oklahoma State passing yards (on all of 2 completions). Needless to say, UCLA's rushing defense was about as scary as an unlocked screen door.

96: Yards in punt return for TD ripped off by Boston College's Will Blackmon - most of the difference in the Eagle's 19-11 win over... Ball State.
23,718: Attendence at the game, the all-time Ball State record (that's over 11,000 Muncie Girls!)
2: Place in Big East BC is universally picked to finish. In other words, a team in the very strong running for an AUTOMATIC BCS spot needed a 96 yard touchdown return to beat... Ball State.

6: Undefeated streak Rutgers is now likely to have by mid-October. In case you missed it, Rutgers - Rutgers - beat Michigan State. Rutgers' next 5 opponents are probably the most pulseless collection in America: New Hampshire, Kent State, Temple, Vanderbilt and the smoking wreckage formerly known as Syrcause (51-0 at Purdue? Big East Football - get some!). Anyhoo, Rutgers - Rutgers - is now likely to be 6-0 (ranked? Rutgers?) when it hits a three-game late-October stretch of Pitt, BC and West Virginia. And then they play two more stiffs. So let's stare the spectre of college football's mushroom cloud square in the face: Even if all 3 of those Big East teams are better than Michigan State (unlikely), there is still a plausible chance Rutgers could beat one, or even two, of them. And then, if a few tumblers of upsets elsewhere all aligh, there is the real possibility of Rutgers - Rutgers - appearing in the BCS.
And I would laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
Now before we get too excited...
0: Rutgers offensive touchdowns. They scored 4 FGs and ran back an interception.
147: Yards Michigan State collected in penalties. So it wasn't exactly a clinic for the Scarlet Knights. Let's not make Miami reservations yet. But let's DO keep an eye on it.

And speaking of embarrassingly horrible eastern schools...
44: Yards by which Notre Dame's penalty yardage (55) exceeded its total rushing yards (an astounding 11) in a 20-17 loss to BYU. I didn't see a mention of it, but I can't imagine that ND rushing for only 11 yards in a game is NOT a record (that appears to factor in losses from sacks, since the Irish's leading rusher had 22 yards).
22: Total rushing yards for BYU, which makes 33 rushing yards combined for the whole game (including sacks). Again, surely that's a record.

4: Separate leads of 14 points that TCU built in the first 3 quarters against Northwestern before NU came all the way back to tie 31-31 at the start of the 4th.
28: Fourth quarter points, 14 each.
513: Passing yards for NU's relentless QB, Brett Basanez.
4: Basanez TD passes.
4: Basanez TD passes all of last year.
5: Missed FGs by NU kicker Brett Huffman, including two in overtime.
2: Key penalties committed late by TCU safety Flander Malone to keep NU's trying drives alive.

8: Kicks made, out of 8 attempted, by new Georgia kicker A. Bailey. 6 PATs, 2 FGs, right between the pipes. Not a bad start for young Bailey as his Dawgs walked over Div IAA Georgia Southern. Not a bad start a'tall. Of course, they're used to that kind of thing down in Athens. Nothing to look twice at, really. No, ol' Bailey, got a long, rough row to hoe before we can mention him in the same breath as the man he replaces this year at UGA, the holder of the all-time record for consecutive successful PATs, the highest scorer in UGA history, a 4-year starter and All-American, the just flat Greatest Kicker To Ever Play The Game, no less than Billy Fuckin' BENNETT!!!!!!
(I made up that All-American part up. Sorry (unless he WAS All-American. Then I'm takin' full credit)).

0: Freshmen to ever start at quarterback for Fisher DeBarry's Air Force. Right up until Shaun Carney took the first snap against Cal.
214: Yards Air Force's Carney-led offense rung up in its first 3 drives, scoring 2 TDs.
7: Points in Cal's halftime lead, with a second half at almost 7,000 feet ahead.
1: Yardline on which Air Force's halfback fumbled on AFA's opening second-half drive.
78: In yards, Cal touchdown pass two plays later. 28-14, ballgame.
2: Overall, AFA turnovers inside the Cal 10. Dang. Still, Call did completely adjust to AF's hi-zoot offense, shuttered them in the second half and lobbed easy, long TDs until they got bored. Very methodical. Very troubling.
In fact, does anybody have the unsettling feeling that Teaford's Cal is going to make a serious run at being The Team That Has SC's Number during this dawning age of Perrenial Top 5 Status? Maybe actually handing SC a loss every third or fourth year and annually dragging them through draining, confidence-shattering close calls that take 2 weeks to shake off? Sort of a BC-to-Holtz's Irish thing?

2: Interceptions by WSU's defense in a 14-point, 4th quarter comeback to beat New Mexico, 21-17.
1: Punts blocked by WSU in that 4th quarter.
9: New starters on WSU defense.
12: Freshmen and starters on WSU's defensive 2-deep.

218: Passing yards for... wait for it... Nebraska. I don't guess Western Illinois knew they had tickets to an airshow. All that was missing was the Thunderbirds.
4: Nebraska passing TDs, out of it's first 5.
- By the way, that game was Cornhuskers-Vs-Leathernecks, which begs the question: assuming WIU's mascot refers to the traditional, old-school name for a Marine, can you name another game this year between teams whose mascots are distinctively American white guys? I guess that's an easy one if you count Cowboys, but how about if you don't? Isn't there a Minutemen somewhere up there in basketball-country (New Hampshire? UMass?) that we might squeeze into a bowl against the Sooners?

8: New starters on Boise State' offense, which led the nation in scoring last year, including all the key skill positions.
65: Points the new guys threw up on an obviously out-classed Idaho.
12: Consecutive wins for Boise State, the nation's longest streak, which began after a 2-point loss last year to Oregon State.
1: Losing streak - and oh, what a bitter one it was - for Boise State's next opponent, Oregon State.

Now, as for the team that somebody out there still thinks is the best in America...
2: Spots LSU dropped in the AP Poll - the real poll - this week, from 4 to 6, after it's escape against Oregon St (though that doesn't explain why Clemson, who beat a very good conference opponent with skill and overtime courage, dropped 3 spots).
6: Seconds it took LSU to fumble the opening kickoff.
25: Penalty yards OSU amassed before the game's first snap, which eventually was 1st-and-35 from the 50.
6: Plays - all passes - it took OSU to get in the endzone anyway.
10: Passing plays in Oregon State's first 12.
9: Consecutive 3rd downs LSU failed to convert to open the game.
3: Quarter in which LSU's offense finally crossed the 50.
2: OSU yardline LSU drove to with 3:38 to go and failed to score from.
8: Oregon State lead with 1:38 to go.
64: Yards in ensuing LSU drive led by LSU freshman QB JaMarcus Russell, who entered the game in the third quarter for 5th-year senior Marcus Randall. Russell stands 6-5 and 250 or so. He is gigantic, but runs exceptionally well. It is probably no stretch to call him this year's Vincent Young - good at throwing but an unbelievably slippery and then flat-untacklable runner. And he clearly was clueless what to do with LSU's offense. His only good pass was a 38-yard touchdown to a receiver who apparently told him, "forget the route, I'll get open, you throw it" (really). And that's bad news for everybody else because, all by himself, Russell was the difference between losing and winning against the talented but not at all great Beavers. Once he actually gets trained up as the starter - which he'll surely be after this game - and is truly running the offense, he'll be unreal.
There. I did the honest thing. I pointed out that there is a Silver Lining. What there still ISN'T is a plausible rationale to vote LSU #1. Just contemptable.
2: Points scored by Russell, to tie the game for LSU, on a 2-pt PAT, by running all the way right, finding nothing, then running all the way back to the left corner and beating the OSU defense to the line. Pure busted-play talent, for all the marbles.
19: Length of 4th down, do-or-die pass into the endzone Anderson threw to keep OSU alive. The receiver was in a full-speed streak into the endzone, out-leaped two LSU DBs for the ball and crashed to the ground for the catch. Fantastic play.
3: As mentioned elsewhere, PATs missed, out of 3, by OSU's kicker. Either of the first two would have won it in regulation, and the third miss gave LSU the win in OT.
5: Yards OSU was penalized after a fourth-quarter touchdown because the receiver who had just scored took the ball off the field, thinking he was going to keep it. The refs called delay of game, and made the kicker try the PAT from 5 yards farther back - which he bounced off the upright. It's a lot of 'ifs,' but if he'd kicked the exact same kick from 5 yards closer, defending national champ LSU's title defense would have been over before it began with a loss, at home, to an unranked opponent.
6: Pac 10 wins vs the SEC in their last 8 meetings.

And on that note, we'll finish where we began, ranting about an undeserved accolade directed at LSU with this final, eye-popping stat:
32: Years since LSU - scions of the dreaded 'death valley,' ranked by EA Sports NCAA Football 2004 (among others) as the single toughest homefield in the game - has gone undefeated at home.