Too much red wine, that’s the epigram for November 1, 2008 in the Jones household. Serves a variety of purposes, red wine. Purpose one was relaxation on this Saturday night. Then we moved to stress relief, then local anesthetic. The second half brought out the joyful qualities. It even fueled buoyant celebration, the kind brought about by relief at a remarkably kind outcome we didn’t expect.
Then it simply became a sedative, relieving a terrible turn of events we didn’t foresee.
I can’t tell you, readers and aficionados, of any particular quality of the evening’s grape. Don’t know much about nose or bouquet or drinkability (well, I guess I can vouch pretty good for the drinkability). Can’t tell you the region or the reputation of the vintner. Don’t know what to pair it with or its level of pretension. But I do know one thing.
It was damn sure red.
Texas Tech 39
Tech’s Graham Harrell threw a gutsy pass, as clutch a throw as you will see in college football. Michael Crabtree made a reception and escape for the ages, the kind that wins Biletnikof awards. The prayers of Raiderland answered with one second on the clock. A final kickoff (from the seven yard-line due to multiple unsportsmanlike field rushes by the home team, but it was hard to blame them), a special teams tackle (not to be taken for granted on this night), and number one was done.
The final second doesn’t tell the game story. The incredible urgency and intensity of the Red Raiders out of the locker room tells half the story. "Playing with their hair on fire" rightly describes them, I believe. The lack of quit from a Texas team that, with this hayseed playing quarterback anyway, never seems to know when they are beaten, told the other half. Great football all around.
Texas Tech played masterfully on the South Plains; they’ve never been better than they are right now. The Texas Longhorns, for their part, have now played in three of the best games of the season over the span of the last four weeks, echoes of the 2007 LSU Tigers. My guess is that the Horns would probably like to rest now.
But they can’t. Miles to go before any of us sleep, you know. The BCS stops for no one. As my friend, Reverend Robert Hall, said today, "If we believed in only the things we could explain, then our creed would be very short."
Texas Tech and Texas played a great game. Florida and Georgia did not. The Gators cashed in on early opportunities; the Dawgs let a few slip by. Then the rout was on, 49-10, Florida. Nobody with any sense wants to play Tim Tebow and his boys right now.
Oklahoma blasted Nebraska, starting the game a cool 35-0 on their way to a 62-28 embarrassment. College football historians note that this was once a great rivalry.
Oklahoma State thrashed the hapless Iowa State Cyclones 59-17 behind Dez Bryant (surely Gene Chizik had film on Dez Bryant?) who caught nine balls for 171 yards and four touchdowns. He appeared to be fairly open on most of them.
Looking through the schedule, this was a blowout Saturday all around. USC clobbered the Tyrone Willingham "led" Washington Huskies, 56-0. TCU beat up on UNLV, 44-10; Boise State gave New Mexico State the 49-nothing blues. Alabama scrimmaged Arkansas State, 35-0, and everybody beats the French.
In the "blowout that wasn’t" category, Missouri had all kinds of problems with Baylor, whose sensational frosh quarterback, Robert Griffin, kept the Bears alive right up to the point he threw his first pick of the season—after an NCAA record 210 attempts for a player starting his career—in crunch time to let Mizzou of the hook. 31-28, Tigers.
Utah, perhaps looking ahead to the titanic battle with TCU on Thursday, struggled all day in a jim-jammy effort against New Mexico. Utes 13, Lobos 10.
BYU had similar troubles with Colorado State, finally winning on a great strike from their underappreciated quarterback Max Hall to make it 45-42 for the secret underwear fraternity.
I guess it’s not really a secret, is it?
Don’t look now, but West Virginia has apparently visited their local Andy Granatelli’s Tune-up Master and found fourth and fifth gear. The Mountaineers ripped UConn 35-13. Regrettably, they get no do-overs of their horrendous start. At least Pat White is worth watching in a BCS game.
As for the ACC champ…exactly who will that be? I liked Florida State last week. Georgia Tech promptly beat the ‘Noles, 31-28 thanks to an awful goal line fumble by FSU tailback Marcus Sims. Virginia, the leader of the Coastal (or the Atlantic—can’t we just go East/West like the SEC?) did their part to torpedo January TV ratings by losing to Miami, 24-17, in a result described as an "upset." Seriously, sports writing community, Al Groh coaching a team to a loss is never an upset. You might as well call it a "random Saturday occurrence" or a "variable negative result" or a "why the hell did we hire this guy event." Upset? Nah.
Steve Spurrier, never one to pass up a chance to hammer another nail into his buddy Phil Fulmer’s jumbo-sized pine box before it is returned to the Tennessee soil where Johnny Majors can then uri…where was I? Oh yeah, South Carolina 27, Tennessee 6.
You know how they sometimes say that a great minor conference team couldn’t handle the rigors of a major conference schedule? Arkansas 30, Tulsa 23.
LSU beat Tulane 35-10, half-price drinks and the ladies get in free.
Penn State did not play. Ohio State did not play. The churls among you are asking: "How could anyone tell?"
Northwestern has a quarterback named Kafka. He ran for a nightmarish 215 yards in a 24-17 upset of Minnesota (Minnesota being upset, that’s rich), that actually ended with a fairly shocking pick six to break a 17-17 tie that had the look of overtime. Northwestern is 7-2, by the way.
Michigan State was terrible for most of the day against Wisconsin, but came back with a fourth-quarter comeback to edge the Badgers 25-24 and stay in contention, get this, for the Big Ten title.
Michigan’s streak of 33-straight bowl appearances leads the nation. Or it did, anyway. Purdue 48, Michigan 42.
You want to know exactly how bad Washington State is? Stanford 58, Wazzu 0. They may well be the worst major conference state school (let’s not bring Duke into this) since the 2003 Illinois squad that went 1-10 AGAINST THE SPREAD. Actually, looking at point differentials, they’re far worse than that.
Cal beat the Oregon Ducks in deplorable conditions, 26-16. It looked like the teams were playing in a giant wading pool.
Dave Wannstedt on one sideline, Charlie Weis on the other. Of course the game goes into quadruple overtime. And the winner in the battle royale of the overrated NFL coordinators is…Pitt.
Impressive Showing of the Week: Texas Tech, yes, Florida has an argument, but Tech played to a collective level of self-actualization rarely seen by anyone in any field of human endeavor.
The following rankings are allegedly supposed to adhere to the "neutral field rule" in accordance to Jones Top Ten practice. The problem is, in a neutral field round-robin, running it through my head, I get about a dozen likely scenarios. For example, I don’t like Texas Tech on a neutral field against Alabama, but I do like them against Penn State. But I like Penn State against Alabama, but not against Florida. I am not sure I would take Florida against Texas, but I am not sure I like Texas in a re-match with either of the Oklahomas, although Texas already beat one of them on a neutral field. Hell, I am not convinced I like Texas Tech, on their own home field, against Oklahoma State this Saturday, but I’m not sure I don’t.
My head hurts.
1. Texas Tech
3. The Ghost of 1978
6. The Two Oklahomas
8. The Three Marlenas
9. The Four Tops
10. The Jackson Five (or TCU)
OK, now it really gets good. Oklahoma State visits Lubbock in a special Big 12 South Texas Death Cage Match. Alabama and Penn State both go on the road to face teams of roughly equal talent, if not accomplishment, in LSU and Iowa. TCU plays the Thursday night game in Utah with a BCS bowl berth on the line. USC hosts Cal, perhaps the only Pac Ten team that can beat the Trojans. Meanwhile, Nawth Klina and Georgia Tech should just decide their conference championship between themselves in Chapel Hill, which would spare us all from having to watch the ACC title game.
All this and Florida goes to Vanderbilt. Hey, stranger things have happened…
Rose Bowl Dreams: A Memoir of Faith Family and Football is the new book by Adam Jones.