"I dreamed I felt the presence of God last night."
"You probably were in the presence of God."
"No, it was just a dream; it wasn’t real life."
"Dreams are real life. They belong to you."
The voice says East Texas. The vocabulary says Vanderbilt. No wonder I fell in love. She ordered a Bass Ale on our first date. She suggested we buy Longhorn season tickets together. She loved Truman, the Brittany rescued from the Town Lake Animal Shelter. Her friends threw an engagement party for us at Dart Bowl. She bought me a Martin guitar as a wedding gift. She was far angrier at Mack Brown for the 2002 Oklahoma game than even I was, seething over post-game margaritas at the Blue Goose on Greenville.
It’s a wonderful life with Mrs. Jones Top Ten. But, henceforth, I am putting aside one of the great pleasures I enjoy. The jibes about her alma mater will cease, at least the ones having anything to do with the football team (there is, naturally, other comic territory to explore concerning Vanderbilt). Never have I supported a team as passionately as she supported hers on Saturday night.
At one point, screaming for a defensive stop that the boys in black and gold delivered, young Ben Jones said:
"Mommy, I think they are listening to you."
Of course they are. Our teams always listen to us
We delineated no specific language in our marriage vows, but it was at least implicit that She always cheered for My team
Now I find myself cheering for hers.
Pick whatever demarcation of time you would like (my personal favorite is that Vandy last started 3-0 in conference play in 1950, anybody can have an off half-century, right?), the ‘Dores have not done this in a while. But, if you haven’t noticed, the last three Vanderbilt squads under the highly underrated Bobby Johnson have played solid football, far above the standard of play that made them every team’s favorite homecoming date for the last 50 years. This game required some clutch efforts by back-up quarterback and instant legend Mackenzi Adams (yes, he’s a guy) and dozens of plays by a pugnacious defense with a knack for creating turnovers, the last of which on Saturday was a beautiful game-sealing interception by Myron Lewis. No one will much remember that the deciding point was a missed PAT by Auburn. If anyone brings it up, just tell them that Nashville is a city defined by all of the dreams floating around the ether. Sometimes maybe they change a ball’s trajectory.
Oklahoma and Texas preserved a highly anticipated Red River Shootout by remaining undefeated after respective conference road trips. Oklahoma did it with a sublime offensive opening, fairly gliding to a four-touchdown lead by the end of the first quarter on the way to a 49-17 result at Baylor. It was defense for Texas; the young Horns brought the hammer down on Colorado in a physical 38-14 bludgeoning in the Rockies.
In front of the Tuscaloosa faithful, Alabama rolled out to a 14-0 opening against Kentucky, but then made the loveable Nick Saban nauseous, hanging on for a 17-14 throat-tightener. On one hand, UK is likely better than most people who see the final will know. On the other, ‘Bama was truly atrocious at times, racking up penalty yardage and special teams errors that would make the Bear spin wildly around in his plush, custom-made, crimson-colored casket.
"iz yew o-kay down thar, Coach Bryant?"
EDITOR’S NOTE: The above should be construed as satire and in no way should be characterized as a defamatory attack on the people of Alabama, Crimson Tide football fans, or the Bryant family. I know very well that Paul Bryant’s material and spiritual forms both ascended into heaven where their embodiment at this very moment trades old stories with Wallace Wade while listening to Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Jesus pick guitars in the background.
The Legend of Terrelle Pryor grew by at least a few paragraphs as the wunderkind freshman led two late scoring drives to lift Ohio State over Wisky, 20-17. Guess who ran for 168 yards on 22 carries for the Buckeyes? If you guessed Beanie Wells, you are correct. If you believe that stat line is the difference between the Buckeyes winning and losing games against upper-shelf competition, you are also correct.
The Wisconsin band was suspended for the game for a series of alleged abuses. Shockingly enough, alcohol may be involved. In Wisconsin. You betcha.
Don’t look now, but there are a few teams in the Big 12 that can score. Texas Tech and Oklahoma State both threatened to bring the old Houston Cougar air-raid siren out of storage, laying 58 and 56 points on Kansas State and Texas A&M, respectively, two teams that, at some point in their recent history, had a reputation for defensive excellence.
Missouri followed suit in the Big 12 nightcap by waxing the Nebraska Cornhuskers 52-17 in Lincoln. Just like Oklahoma against Baylor, Missouri scored easily on its first four possessions. The difference between Nebraska and Baylor of course is that…well, I am not sure what it is. Seriously, Nebraska looked for resurgence this season, but so far the Huskers simply aren’t very good against quality opponents.
Only Kansas stammered out of the gate among the Big 12’s ranked teams. The Jayhawks found themselves in a 20-0 half-time crater at Iowa State. In the second half, Jayhawk quarterback Todd Reesing was cooler than Sarah Palin’s child names in leading a 35-33 comeback victory.
Ole Miss took down Florida last week, but got outslugged by South Carolina this week, losing 31-24. Mississippi has a bad habit of putting the ball on the carpet at some inconvenient times.
You know what South Carolina and Mississippi have in common? They’ve both lost to Vanderbilt.
Georgia Tech shut out Duke 27-0, which I only mention because the Yellowjacket’s QB is named Jaybo Shaw. But get this, Duke embarrassed Virginia last week. This week, Virginia embarrasses Maryland, 31-zip. I thought Maryland was gunning for at least the Carquest Bowl. Guess not.
The best team in the ACC still might be Nawth Klina. The Tar Heels blistered 24th-ranked UConn, 31-14.
Virginia Tech beat Western Kentucky 27-13.
Penn State beat Purdue 20-6 as Joe Paterno watched from the press box to relieve his aching hip. Last week I noted that Derrick Williams still played for Penn State. This week I noticed that Deon Butler does, as well. Somebody needs to tell me these things. Those two must be older than half of BYU’s linemen.
BYU killed somebody on Friday night, by the way. Utah State perhaps?
LSU did not play, but they will next week at Florida. The Gators are still pissed about last week, but Arkansas made them feel somewhat better by offering token resistance in a 38-7 loss.
Oregon scored the first ten points against USC on Saturday night. Then USC scored the next 44. No truth to the rumor that Oregon tried to sneak Jacquizz Rodgers onto the field in the second half (not that it wouldn’t have been fairly easy to do).
Speaking of Jacquizz Rodgers, Utah was having none of Oregon State’s "upset the ranked team on Thursday night" BS. The Utes pulled a Houdini, scoring twice in the final two minutes and change to shock the Beavers, 31-28.
South Florida wasn’t so lucky. The home favorite Bulls got thwacked by Dave Wanstache and the Pitt Panthers, 27-21 on Thursday.
Illinois made a real mess of Michigan 45-20, leaving Rich Rodriguez thoroughly depressed that a player like Juice Williams doesn’t run his offense.
The Papists beat the Trees 28-21, getting 347 yards passing from Jimmy Clausen in what would be considered a ho-hum day for Chase Daniel, but will likely get Clausen an automatic Heisman invitation, an appearance on Jay Leno, golf with Paul Hornung, and an on-campus statue with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus playing 24-7 from speakers mounted in his hip pads.
Impressive Showing of the Week: Cornelius Vanderbilt, the original commodore
Here’s my best guess:
6. USC, I feel terrible about it, but what do you do?
7. Penn State
9. The New and Improved Ohio State University
Texas Tech is eleven, but Oklahoma State is almost equally frightening. Wither Georgia?
My objective analysis shall cease for the next six days; to the extent that lack of bias is required, I will simply note that I do not care to what particular region of hell the Oklahoma Sooners may go. Just go.
Rose Bowl Dreams: A Memoir of Faith Family and Football is the new book by Adam Jones.