Sunday, September 12, 2004


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.

No comments: