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.