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jones Top Ten - Week 13 - 2008

We improve things far beyond their utility in this country. That’s my thought while I watch a vending machine slowly engage an elevator device, moving both horizontally and vertically, carefully select a 16 ounce bottle of Dasani water and gently bring it down to the vending window. Heaven forbid a bottled water drop too violently in our modern culture. Heaven forbid we drink tap water, for that matter.

My car won’t allow me to reset the clock for daylight savings time. The owner’s manual explains that this is unnecessary; the onboard computer does it for me. No need for me to override it (which I can’t), well, until my 2002 car does not realize that the federal government moved the time change back a couple of weeks. I’ll just pretend to live in Denver for a fortnight.
Don’t get me started on computers. Who in the Pacific Northwest thought that Vista was a good idea? We are addicted to gadgets and indulgences and features far beyond our ability to integrate them into our useful lives. Why?
Style points, baby. Style points.
Oklahoma 65

Texas Tech 21

Send Texas Tech on the road, give Bob Stoops an extra week to watch film, shake, chill, serve ice cold. We probably should have seen this coming. One could almost picture Stoops doing his best General Patton scream across the battlefield to Mike Leach’s Rommel: "I’ve read your book you lousy pirate (expletive deleted)!" By the end of the game, the Sooner running game had pounded out 299 yards, the defense had pounded Graham Harrell’s grey matter into the consistency of shredded wheat, and Sam Bradford had risen to the top of NFL draft list by barely working up a sweat, throwing for 304 yards on only 14 completions, including a 66-yard strike to Manuel Johnson that Sooner fans in 2035 will still be watching on the pre-game highlight video on the Gaylord Family Stadium jumbotron, assuming, of course, that the complex hasn’t been named after Bob Stoops by that point. It was a perfectly splendid evening in Norman, right down to the post-game interview where Bob put aside all of his condescending impulses and was actually charitable, almost likeable. Almost.
As for Texas Tech, the naysayers will present this night as slide one in the "same old Tech" PowerPoint presentation. Not fair. This is a different Tech squad, one capable of playing creditable defense and with far more athletic talent than has ever lived in Lubbock. This is what Leach has been building and…almost…there. The Sooners would have beaten the 2001 Miami Hurricanes on Saturday.

For the second week in a row, Oregon State played in the best game of the day. And for the second week in a row, the Beavers won, keeping alive their dreams of Pasadena. State lost Jacquizz Rodgers early in their game with Arizona, but solved the problem by simply handing the ball to his play-alike brother, James, who gained 100 yards on a variety of wide receiver reverses. After a poorly-timed missed extra point left OSU down 17-16, Beaver back-up QB Sean Canfield had to engineer a desperation drive to win it. Arizona, for some reason, let Sammie Stroughter get behind them for a 47-yard table setter. One last second field goal later…19-16, Oregon State.
Penn State clinched their own Rose Bowl bid, driving through rain, sleet and snow, well, snow anyway, in a 49-18 laugher over Michigan State. Joe Paterno, walking with a cane, assured the crowd that it would not, in fact, be his swan song.
Ohio State didn’t get the Penn State collapse they wanted, but that incentive was hardly needed to thrash the Michigan Wolverines. The 42-7 final gave the Buckeyes five in a row over the Maize and Blue, a first. That’s nine losses for Michigan, if you are scoring at home.

Utah ran away from BYU in the fourth quarter and routed their despised rivals, 48-24. Brian Johnson went 30 of 36 for 303 and four touchdowns to secure Utah’s 12-0 season and a BCS bowl bid. Unlike Hawaii last year, Utah is not a team you want to draw if you want to keep your donor base happy.
There is a bar partial to the Utes in Salt Lake City called Lumpy’s, which used to sell "Polygamy Porter" during rivalry week: "Why have just one?" I love college football.
After needing a miracle comeback against Troy at home last week, the implosion is now finally complete for LSU. The Tigers haven’t been right all year and were barely competitive in a 31-13 pantsing by Ole Miss in Baton Rouge. Mississippi went to 7-4 and is arguably playing better than anyone in the SEC not named Florida, over whom they have an upset win this year.
Florida played the Citadel this week. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Boise State won the WAC, again, with a 41-34 win over Nevada. Ian Johnson, in his 14th year of collegiate eligibility, scored on a 66-yard touchdown run and baptized his first child post-game, followed by cake. The Broncos are now 10-0, their sixth ten-win campaign out of the last seven.
Did you know Northwestern was 9-3? Wildcats 27, Illinois 10.

Did you know Minnesota has thrown in the towel? Iowa 55, Minny 0. The Gophers could try a little harder when the Floyd of Rosedale is on the line? Who can’t get motivated over a bronzed pig?

Oklahoma’s two favorite teams did big things. Cincinnati all but clinched the Big East with a 28-21 win over Pittsburgh. TCU throttled a respectable Air Force squad (squadron?) 44-10. Cincy and TCU have a combined record of 19-4, a stat which will no doubt lead off every Bob Stoops press conference for the next two weeks.

An impressive array of teams did not play this weekend.

Ball State remained undefeated in a very entertaining Tuesday night game (or was it Wednesday?), 31-24 over Central Michigan.

You all probably had better things to do than watch the Buffalo/Bowling Green game on Friday night. Too bad, Buffalo went to 7-4, an unbelievable accomplishment for a school that set the modern day college football standard for losing. Where will Turner Gill coach next? Tennessee could do worse, but he probably won’t even get a phone call.

In the ACC, naturally, every ranked team that played this weekend got thwacked. We’ll start in Maryland, where the Terps, who do not lose at home, lost at home. Florida State made soup of the turtles, 37-3. Nawth Klina, a team I described as clearly the ACC’s best not three weeks ago, was worked by Nawth Klina State. The Wolfpack have been sneaking through the weeds and waiting for this one. No one ever said Tom O’Brien couldn’t coach.
Nor did anyone ever say that about Paul Johnson. One week removed from an epic, program-defining Thursday night victory over Virginia Tech, the Miami Hurricanes suffered an epic, program-deflating Thursday night loss, having no clue how to stop the triple option in a 41-23 beatdown by Georgia Tech.

BC beat Wake 24-21; Va Tech held serve over Duke, 14-3 and Al Groh led the Virginia Cavaliers in his own particular…idiom sir? Yes, Clemson 13, UVa 3.

According to my newspaper, it is unranked BC and Virginia Tech who control the division races. Weekly Jones Top Ten roll call: Two teams at 5-3, neither of which controls its own destiny, four teams at 4-3, two teams at 4-4 and three teams at 3-4. Oh, and Duke. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Vanderbilt, in its continuing effort to frustrate Mrs. Jones Top Ten, lost at home to the worst Tennessee team in 30 years (the 1977 Vols went 4-7). ‘Dores 10, Fulmer out the Door 20.

Not to be outdone, Notre Dame, also playing at home, somehow found a way to lose to Syracuse. Charlie Weis trivia of the week: This marks the first time in Irish history that ND has lost to a team with eight losses….and Weis will almost certainly be back next year, as opposed to Ty Willingham, who will be teaching comparative literature at Tufts.

Speaking of Ty Willingham, his final coaching epitaph may read: "At least he didn’t lose to the ’08 Washington State Cougars." What’s that? Overtime, you say? Really? Uhm, never mind…

Impressive Showing of the Week: Oklahoma, where DeMarco Murray goes sweeping down the plains, where the defense is fleet, Graham Harrell is meat and Bob Stoops’ glee is unrestrained…

So what to do with Oklahoma and Texas? Obviously, I am not completely objective on this conundrum (UT 1990, and a life philosophy of choosing not to cross the street to piss on a Sooner if he were on fire, otherwise no hard feelings), but I’ll give it a shot. From a pure power poll perspective (alliteration unintended, else I would have added "perfect" or "pusillanimous" or "parliament"…don’t make me get out the thesaurus), Oklahoma is playing the best football in the country this side of Florida. However, I don’t think the gap between the Sooners and Horns is all that great. Routs tend to make a major short-term impression, but they don’t linger forever.
On the resume front, Oklahoma owes Cincinnati and TCU thank you notes. As the season goes on, both wins look more and more impressive. Neither game was close; the Sooners dominated both. Oklahoma did miss Missouri this year and Texas killed the Tigers. Texas is getting surprising mileage from throttling an 8-3 Rice squad that piles up points on everybody. The Longhorns are also already in the clubhouse with a win over Oklahoma State. Texas destroyed Kansas on the road much worse than Oklahoma beat the Jayhawks in Norman. Save for Texas at Kansas, however, all of these resume games happened at home. As for marquee non-conference games, let’s just say Washington (OU) and Arkansas (UT) didn’t exactly live up to their end of the bargain after the contracts were signed.

Oklahoma’s opportunity for a big road win comes next Saturday at Oklahoma State. As for Texas, the Horns failed on the road against Texas Tech, albeit on the last second of the biggest game in Tech history. Oklahoma played the best game anyone has played in college football this year against Tech on Saturday, a devastating display on both sides of the ball.

Then there is head-to-head: Texas by ten on a neutral field. Oklahoma is better today than they were in October, without Ryan Reynolds, but with a fully recharged and operational DeMarco Murray. Texas? The Horns are about the same, better on defense, a few emerging, but not dominant, playmakers and an offensive line that has yet to gel after thirteen weeks.

Here we go (if you believe Alabama will beat Florida, please switch them; I do not):

1. Florida

2. Texas

3. Oklahoma

4. Alabama

5. Penn State

6. Utah

7. Texas Tech

8. USC

9. The New and Improved Ohio State University

10. TCU

Rose Bowl Dreams: A Memoir of Faith Family and Football is the new book by Adam Jones. Buy it for Christmas for the college football fan in your life.