We all love our antidotes. Throwing the ball around the front yard relieves me of television poisoning, self-loathing and general lethargy on a fall day that started just fine, proved incredibly frustrating through the afternoon, but will at least end with a September cold front, which will allow me the antidote of punishing myself on the middle school’s running track in the morning. But for now the ball flies through the air and either Ben or Charlie are on the receiving end. They say life gets better when your youngest kid turns four because they can now communicate and you have a house full of little people, instead of toddlers. Maybe. But life gets better for dads when the youngest knows how to throw and catch.
I remember this with Zach, who’s now in high school. He’s taking geometry this year. I mention this because geometry is the antidote to algebra. Algebra is the complicated act of discerning the unknown from the known. It’s also the first course that presents a student with the concept of abstract thought. Geometry is order: rules and proofs and the sum of all angles constant. Geometry is truth. Algebra says your team has some known variables that can be put together in the correct manner to solve for "x."
Geometry says your team stinks.
This was not the best game of the day, but it was the most significant result. Every Saturday matters in the absence of a playoff and this was the first contender to be eliminated from the race (come now, you didn’t really think Virginia Tech was a contender, did you?). For their part, the Longhorns are not great—in kind of an 8-4 Alamo Bowl not great way. Their run has ended for now. Although they did plenty to lose this game on offense, special teams (which were atrocious for the first time in years under Mack Brown) and even defense in a second half collapse, UCLA did just as much to win it. The Bruins are big and talented and perhaps starting to click. No fluke here. I am guessing Texas won’t invite UCLA back. Unless, of course, it is a future conference game.
Setting aside Texas (please), great games filled the day.
In Fayetteville, Mark Ingram extended the middle finger of human kindness to those who believe a) Trent Richardson is a better player than he is and b) no one other than Archie Griffin should win the Heisman twice. I mean, Lord, if Tim Tebow didn’t deserve it…
Ingram scored early and scored late for Alabama as the Tide washed away a 20-7 deficit to Arkansas with doggedness (a six-minute field goal drive) and timely defensive plays. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett is a good one, but his two picks down the stretch sealed the Hogs’ fate. ‘Bama 24, Arkansas 20.
Like the poor, Boise State will always be with us. The Broncos weren’t perfect, but they were better than Oregon State, putting away the Brothers Rodgers 37-24. The Broncs outgained the Beavers by over 200 yards and the score could have been much worse.
Boise State can clearly play with anyone, but now their hibernation starts, right up to their trip to Nevada on November 26th. Nevada did their part for the Broncos’ SOS by beating BYU, 27-13. But whatever advantage the WAC gained was quickly returned by Fresno State; the Bulldogs were awful in a 55-38 loss to Ole Miss.
Another Saturday night, another thriller in Auburn. Just like their land grant brothers at Clemson, the University of South Carolina jumped all over the Auburn Tigers...and the Tigers roared back. Cam Newton, maybe the best quarterback in the SEC, ran for 176 yards and added a couple of fourth quarter touchdown passes to close the deal. Farmers 35, Roosters 27.
Elsewhere in the SEC, the Georgia Bulldogs are done. In a game they had to have, Georgia could not overcome an improving Mississippi State, losing 24-12. If Mark Richt is replaced, Texas fans should now worry about losing Will Muschamp. Of course, after Saturday, Georgia may not want him.
Florida unlocked a bit of its offense by turning to freshman back-up quarterback Trey Burton in the red zone. Burton scored five TDs on five rushing attempts and caught a sixth TD in a 48-14 rout of Kentucky. No word yet on whether he can restore sight to the blind and health to the leper.
LSU earned a needed out-of-conference win over West Virginia, 20-14.
Oregon found itself facing a defense with at least a weak pulse playing at Arizona State. The Ducks pulled away with a 42-31 win, which doesn’t even begin to tell the game story. Oregon gave up 597 yards to the Sun Devils, but benefitted from seven turnovers, including three fourth-quarter picks. It was just like not watching a Tom Landry lecture on the fundamentals of football.
Both Oklahoma and Nebraska are writing thank you notes to UCLA today. Because of the Texas implosion, no one really noticed that the Sooners and Huskers played some pretty sorry football at times. Nebraska was completely forgettable in a 17-3 win over South Dakota State. Oklahoma was competent enough against Cincinnati, except when they weren’t, holding off the Bearcats late for a 31-29 road victory.
The Texas/Oklahoma game just has you beside yourself with anticipation, doesn’t it?
Arizona and Cal played and an SEC game broke out. The Desert Dwellers beat the Hippies 10-9 on a late TD pass from Nick Foles to Juron Criner, which was set up by a spectacular leaping catch by Criner three plays before.
There are two major ways the Big Ten irritates me. The first is their practice of ending the conference season before Thanksgiving. The second is the week where everyone takes the day off to play a MAC team. Saturday was "MAC day," unless you couldn’t find a MAC opponent, which then led to absurdities like Wisconsin 70, Austin Peay 3. Ohio State scored 73 on Eastern Michigan; MSU crushed Northern Colorado; Iowa shut out Ball State and on like that. Of course Nebraska only scored 17 on South Dakota State, so I guess you take what you can get.
Denard Robinson, for his part, gained 129 yards on five carries before he left with a minor injury, letting the other two young phenom QBs, including prodigal son Tate Forcier, mop up in a 65-21 whipping of Bowling Green.
There was one close game. Temple gave Penn State all it could stand, before falling, 22-13, to the Nittany Lions.
USC destroyed Washington State 50-16 and the AP noted that USC "looked like its old powerhouse self in the blowout win." Wonderful. The AP does not mention that Washington State may be the worst major state school football team since the 1997 Illinois Illini went 0-11 and scored single digits six times. Or they may just be the worst team since the 2008 Washington State squad. Or maybe the 2009 one.
"Hey, honey, Virginia Tech’s here!" Hokies 19, Boston College 0. BC was allegedly one of the better bets to win the ACC after the first three weeks of the season.
Speaking of the ACC: Miami 31, Pitt 0. Who the heck is going to win the Big East? Maybe we were too hasty in our criticism of the ACC.
Utah erased San Diego State, 56-3.
Stanford crushed Notre Dame as fullback Owen Marecic scored a rushing touchdown followed by middle linebacker Owen Marecic returning an interception for a TD. They’re the same person, get it? You can read about him in this week’s SI.
If you are a medium-sized football program, there are few better coaches to get than June Jones. Unfortunately for SMU, Gary Patterson is one of them. And he has better players; although they weren’t particularly sharp in a 41-24 TCU win over Southern Money on Friday night.
Impressive Showing of the Week: UCLA
1. Alabama: The Tide’s young secondary growing up is bad news for the SEC.
2. Stanford: I can only go on what I have actually watched. I think Stanford is better on defense than Oregon, better on offense than Ohio State and better all around than Boise State or TCU. We shall see.
3. Ohio State
6. Boise State
10. Could it possibly be LSU?
Florida at Alabama will tell us a lot, but Stanford at Oregon may be the better game. The Red River Rivalry is on the second shelf, all of a sudden.