Monday, December 22, 2008

Biology FreakOUT Index

4: Current known species of Hyenas
70: Species for which fossil records exist.

This is apparently pretty well known among people who, ya know, study hyenas, but I found out today reading the bio of a Fulbright Scholar at USC (who is neither Ray Malauga nor Mark Sanchez, neither of whom even applied but instead polished their essays for the Noble Prize in Applied Ass Kicking). Another thing well known among hyena people but that absolutely blew my mind is that back in Evolution High School, Hyenas went to Cat Poly, not Dog Tech.

From the wikipedia
The Feliformia ('cat-like' carnivores, also Feloidea) are a suborder within the order Carnivora and includes the 'true-cats' (large and small), hyenas, mongooses, civetstaxa. The other suborder of Carnivora is Caniformia ('dog-like' carnivores).

So the meanest dog in the world... is a cat.


And now to dispell a more football-and-the-holidays related myth - Poinsettias: NOT POISONOUS!.

I warned ya - don't come soft to Biology FreakOUT Day, bitches!

THe Poinsetta bowl is tomorrow (Tuesday) night. It features undefeated Boise State and 10-2 TCU. THe last time these teams met was 2003, in the inaugural Ft. Worth Bowl, dubbed that year's "non-BCS Championship". That game was a home game for TCU and Boise State was at the apex of Dan Hawkins run. I think it may be the best college game, whistle-to-whistle, I've ever seen or heard about. I've included at the bottom of this email my post-game email from that game, if you're interested.

But with the rematch looming, let's continue with Biology FreakOUT day, and....

The Poinsettia Index

1919: Year in which the child of an Army officer stationed in Hawaii died of poisoning. THe death was inaccurately blamed on the boy eating poinsettia leaves. The belief that the plant is poisonous has spread and survived since.
500, 50: Number of leaves and pounds of child that would have to eat those leaves to reach toxic levels.
66: Percent of Americans who believe poinsettias are poisonous, according to a 1995 survey by the American Florists Association. By all means, do as the Enemies List bids and Do the Research! Go online and look up the facts!

Perhaps not as shocking as learning that hyenas are cats, but I'm glad we got this poinsettia-thing straightened out. Safety note: poinsettias will make you puke and have bad No.2s.

0: Boise State losses.
2: TCU losses, both to BCS teams, No. 1 OU and Utah.
48: Seconds remaining in game when Utah scored TD to take final 13-10 lead, at Utah.
416: Total yards, TCU in that Utah game (versus Utah's 275)
11: TCU penalites. So they're good, and chippy!

Slingin' Sammy Baugh
1935: Year Slingin' Sammy Baugh, who died last week, led TCU to a national title, beating LSU in the Sugar Bowl.
3: Total number of quarterbacks to win national championships in college and the NFL. Baugh was one, matched only by Joes Namath and Montana.
14: Number of punts Baugh, the punter as well as QB, kicked in that game with, history records, "a water-logged ball"
45: Avg yards/kick.
5: Total points scored in TCU's 3-2 win.

INDEX LOCK OF THE YEAR: the Poinsettia Bowl will see more points. Bank it!

Maybe this is the "dominance" of college football the Wall Street Journal Was Referring to
13: LSU sugar bowl appearances.
4: Sugar Bowls, including the TCU game, in which LSU has scored less than a field goal. LSU also won a Sugar Bowl by the thrilling score of 7-0.
2: Rank of 1935 Sugar Bowl among low-scoring Sugar Bowls
2: Total points scored by Fordham in shutting out MIssouri in 1942 game.

Your Final non-Biology all-FreakOUT stat of the day to Tie IT ALL IN A BOW!:

3: plays credited to Baugh introducing to the NFL, having learned them at TCU: the hook and lateral, the halfback option toss and the Statue of Liberty.
14: Points scored by Boise State against OU in final seconds and overtime of 2007 Fiesta Bowl, running the hook and lateral (final play of regulation), the halfback option toss (overtime touchdown) and the Statue of liberty (game winning 2-pt conversion).

The 2003 Ft. Worth Bowl (link to boxscore)

looking back through my recent emails, it looks like i
never got around to re-writing my call to arms to
watch the Ft. Worth Bowl. I wrote one version, saying
it was probably going to be the best game of the
season, and the computer ate it when i hit send.
and i never rewrote it.
So this morning, i can only gloat so much.
Even so, if you missed the Ft. Worth Bowl - with
once-beaten Boise State hanging on by an eyelash over
once-beaten, defacto-hometeam TCU 34-31, you might as
well turn the TV off until March. It was everything i
failed to claim it was going to be.
TCU missed a 50 yard field goal with 7 seconds to
go, when their kickoff guy had to take it since their
regular kicker pulled a hamstring last week only they
didn't tell anybody (a nice piece of subterfuge, i'd
like to add, from a TCU coach who could be the
distract-the-assassins body double for Karl Rove).
I'll take that. as fun as overtime can be, and as
preferable as it is to a tie, i've come to the
conclusion that its not a format worthy of great games
and this was one.

I'm not sure which was more fun...
Boise State's ferociously clever passing game,
which simply dazzled TCU's defense into submission,
led by a QB named Ryan Dinwiddie who appears to think
himself invulnerable to blitzes...
or TCU's avalanche-like option game, run by QB
Brandon Hassell, which had Boise State's fleet,
discplined defense falling all over itself like it was
a Playstation team controlled by me. I can tell you
that after the fifth time Hassell took off for 10+
yards on a fake pitch that literally spun a BSU
cornerback to the earth, i stopped counting. It was
just such a play - ball fake creating a gaping hole as
BSU's defense suffers a collective "where'd Who go?" -
that hassell ran through untouched for 25 yards to go
up 21-7. In the aftermath, it looked like 13 or 14
Broncos were on the turf, either blocked off their
cleets or faked out of their jocks. Really, it wasn't
so much an option game as a
throw-a-fake-and-run-for-it game, and BSU never
figured it out.
In short, anything you like about football was on
display at some point, and if you think that doesn't
count defense, hold on.
Because there was no less than TCU's Bo By-Gawd
Schobel, a gigantic, cornfed, 6-5, 280 defensive end
from Columbus, TX rampaging through Boise State's
clever draws and screens, and BSU linebacker Andy
Avalos - generously listed at 5-10 - who flew around
like every savage, undersized linebacker you ever saw,
had 11 tackles in the first half and, really, play
after play, was the only thing defending the North
American track and field record book from TCU's
advances. TCU also fielded Destiny Curlee at running
back, who i don't remember taking so much as a snap,
but come on - Destiny Curlee?
Another couple notes - a you might guess, a quick
glance at TCU's 100-man roster shows 5 non-Texas,
while BSU has just a few more than that who ARE from
Yet, when Dinwiddie (california) saw his favorite
target, Tim Gilligan (Nevada), go down in the 1st Q,
in stepped TJ Acree - Pocatello, Idaho's favorite son,
no doubt - to pull in two TDs and 125 yards and keep
things tied at the half. And just for good measure,
just so we can call this game a true collision of
worlds, consider: BSU's total Texans equals its total
Alaskans (1).

I wish i could ilustrate with specifics the clean,
selfless, mechanical way these two teams played, but I
can't really. They reminded me more than anything of
last year's USC - the kind of selfless focus where if
you needed a block 30 yards downfield to break open a
run, it was likely to come from the quarterback.
other than Dinwiddie's arm and Hassell's running,
there wasn't a serious talent on either team. you
just saw tightends leaping over linebackers,
truck-sized linemen running step for step with
corners, running backs finding exactly the right blade
of grass for a first down and on down the line.
If you want to visualize the first 6 TDs, which made
it 21-21, jsut picture both defenses sitting with the
bands. Dinwiddie and Hassell and the rest weren't
concerned with the defenses, so we won't be either.
Just realize that 5 of the 6 scoring drives were over
70 yards, and two of the scoring plays were over 50
and throw in a few Hassell ankle-breakers and you get
the idea. The only hint of D came early in the 2nd
when TCU couragousely went for it on 4th and 3, and
Avalos charged through to pressure Hassell, who threw
his pass at his reciever's feet. Still, that kept TCU
up only 21-7 a few minutes later, and let Boise tie it
up 3 minutes later. It was that kind of game.
Then came the final minute - TCU went from the 50 to
the BSU 13 in 3 downhill plays and then something
happened - the D showed up, and TCU went,
cumulitively, backwards 2 yards in the next 5. Nice
little stand, FG, 24-21, 43 seconds left. OK.
In comes you-know-who, and with the help of a soft
penalty, takes the Broncos to the TCU 6 with 10
seocnds to go. Further testament to how wide-awake
BSU was, they had all 3 timeouts left. But when all
seemed lost, TCU puts on its own stand and holds, BSU
kicks and its 24-24 at the half.

terrific half of football.

which brings us to the second half, with TCU recieving
and needing some momentum - and, first play, INT at
thier own 26.
Uh oh.
So here comes Boise's offense, tan rested and ready
and on trots the TCU defense like the hobbits in that
last stand outside the walls of mordor and you can
guess what happens - yip, they ring up Boise for 6
yards, the broncos settle for a field goal and its
So on comes TCU's offense to answer and answer they
must. Only... Hassell, the QB, is out, injured somehow
and somebody named Kyle Kummer is in at QB, a whiteboy
passer on a team that lives and dies on the run.
And Kummer - with exactly no passes in his college
career - calmly sets sail on an 8-play, 81 yard drive
- the game's longest - highlighted by a 44-yard pass
to Lonta(!) Hobbs. TCU 31-27, and they're throwing
Sunday punches!
IN the next two series, they trade the game's very
first three-and-outs.
Then Dinwiddie gets his groove back and off they go
on an 18-play drive, picking up a 4th-and-4 at the TCU
15, down to the TCU 5 where - wait for it! - Boise
goes for it on fourth AGAIN and this time TCU holds.
I believe it was on this drive that Dinwiddie stood
in under a dam break of a TCU rush for a solid 2
seconds longer than he should have, drawing the TCU
defense closer, closer, closer and - SNAP - screen
pass over the wave for a PERFECT big play - only TCU's
safety vaulted the reciever sent to block him and made
the stick for no gain.
So overall the drive went 18 plays, 8 inside the
TCU 21, no points.
TCU ball.
Whereupon, they fumble it right back when Hobbs
runs into his own blocker (remember what I said about
blockers flying around?)
Dinwiddie wastes no time, TD, BSU 34-31, and the
4th Q just started.
TCU drive - punt - First BSU play, Interception.
Ryan Dinwiddie will finish his career with an
astounding ratio of 80-odd TD passes to 20 INTs - 2 of
them in this game.
They trade 4 possessions of punts and turnovers,
and then there is 3:29 to go when TCU gets the ball at
its own 20. Three plays later, they haven't moved and
its 4th-and-10.
Hassell hits a 28 yard pass, which opens up a nice
series of plays to the BSU 30, where they face 4th and
Handoff to Hobbs who, as I mentioned, gets about 1
yard and 1 shoelace-width to keep things alive.
We're down to 30 seconds, and 3 plays and 23 seconds
later, we're at the same spot, and on trots the wrong
kicker to kick a 50 yarder.
As he lines up, this will be TCU's 18th play of the
drive including two 4th down coversions, matching
BSU's previous long but ultimately fruitless drive.
Snap, its up and - short.
And finally, FINALLY, somebody has won this game.
BSU draws a meaningless - and i thought silly even to
throw - flag because its players very understandably
flooded the field in Thank-You-Lord rapture. A
kneel-down and that's it.
The coaches of these worlds-apart and
perfectly-matched teams hug at midfield and ESPN's
Adrian Karsten talks to them while their arms are
still around each other. After the TCU coach
confesses that his main kicker was hurt, both coaches
say something glowing about their opponent and the
game in general. from their comments, you couldn't
have picked who had just won.

If you like stats, TCU won the yardage game, 494 to
442, and the rushing stats, 280 to 117. a lot of that
came in the first half, when TCU held the ball for 20
minutes. My key stat is this one:
4th down conversions, TCU 2-for-3, BSU 1-for-2. I
can't remember the last time i saw 5 fourth-down
attempts in a close game.

It wasn't, as they endlessly called it, 'the non-BCS
Championship' game. Boise State - whose only loss was
to Oregon State, by 2 - is legitimately one of the
best two non-BCS teams in the country, but TCU
probably isn't; they were soundly whipped by Southern
Miss to finish the year, and even if they hadn't been,
this game (WAC vs Conference USA) ignores the 2 or 3
hard hitters in the MAC and the Mountain West. I'm
sure Bowling Green, Miami OH or Northern Illinois - or
Southern Miss - could have admirably stepped in and
given Boise as good a game.
But if they had, they wouldn't have been playing on
their homefield, as TCU was. Just a terrific show.

Next up on the must-watch list is Navy-Texas Tech
and then the Rose Bowl. Anything else, you can keep.

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