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jones Top Ten - Week Twelve - 2009

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My house sits on a corner lot, which has no real prestige value, but does afford an extra long expanse of lawn for football games. I have long aspired to own the house where the neighborhood kids play. Mission accomplished. Now I need to talk Mrs. Jones Top Ten into installing the sport court and I will host the basketball games, as well. But today, I have football action. Well, actually, I have organized a "dive into the leaf" pile contest. The kids needed to take a break from bashing each other—the tackling had morphed into hitting and kicking. I assessed personal foul penalties and created a new game. Of course, regardless of the rules of play, boys possess the roughhouse gene. It is who they are. Adults cannot change this. I even went to my local Academy and bought a set of flags and belts. Boys figure out a way to pummel each other in flag football, as well. Running full speed and diving headfirst into a pile of leaves can also produce injuries, but they will be self-inflicted. That takes away the one thing that boys relish most of all: reprisals.

Texas Tech 41
Oklahoma 13

What a mess. This time last year Tech at OU was a top ten match-up and the Sooners took full advantage, embarrassingly dismantling the Raiders on national TV. Tech returns the favor, albeit for smaller stakes. The yards piled up like carpet remnants against an OU defense that was one of the best in the nation earlier this year, but appears to have lost its way.

At the beginning of the season, one might have thought that the Raider/Sooner title would be the game of the day. One might also have thought that Notre Dame would have nine wins, Temple wouldn’t and the golden light of eternal sunshine would be cast down upon the USC Trojans, ranked first by all journalists, in the hearts of men and the cold logic of the BCS. Not so, although the Pac Ten did offer the best of (another) mediocre November week.

Oregon staved off Arizona in a crazy 44-41 double-overtime win in the desert. The Duck QB, Jeremiah Masoli, racked up six touchdowns (ran three, threw three) to keep Oregon one ahead of the rest of the Pac Ten in the Rose Bowl chase. Beat Oregon State (who crushed Wazzu by thirty-two) next week and the Ducks are Pasadena bound.

Stanford failed to keep pace, losing their shot at the conference title in a loss to Cal, 34-28. Cal apparently grows tailbacks in a bio-chem lab somewhere on the Berkeley campus. Jahvid Best out, Shane Vereen in (no, I’ve never heard of him, either). Vereen went 42 for 193 and scored thrice for the Golden Bears.

Quick time management tip for you kids watching at home: you cannot spike the ball with one second on the clock. Who would do such a thing? LSU. Who else, really? The Tigers, exercising game management skills that would drive Roger Staubach to drink, lost at Ole Miss, 25-23. You watch LSU and you think: "My God, shouldn’t they be better than this?" Then you see Houston Nutt on the sidelines and you think the same of their opponent.

So, dear readers, that’s about it for this week’s exciting college football. Michigan, displaying gridiron ineptitude not seen in the state since…well, since the Detroit Lions’ last game, fell to Ohio State, 21-10, which counts as a blowout by Jim Tressel’s definition. Of course this is a man who believes wearing shoes without laces constitutes a daring fashion risk.

Clemson whipped Virginia, 34-21, and they will next play Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship game in front of dozens of screaming fans and a Jefferson Pilot regional television audience. If the Heisman Trophy is for the player who does the most to make his team better (which it isn’t, by the way), then C.J. Spiller certainly deserves one of the five golden tickets to New York City.

It was a rough week for the undefeateds. Colt McCoy became the winningest quarterback in college football history, posting his 43rd victory in a 51-20 throttling of Kansas. That result was the closest margin of victory among the Unblemished Six. TCU worked Wyoming, 45-10 and FloriBama ripped through Chattanooga International, 107-3. Sing it sweetly: "Pardon me, boys, is that the Chattanooga game check? 800 Grand, could you give me a hand?"

Cincinnati saved us another boring Saturday result by not playing. Boise State saved us a boring Saturday result by playing on Friday, beating Utah State 52-21.

The Big Ten teams, desperate to get home for the holidays, finished their season right on time, which, might I note, is the single most idiotic bit of scheduling a conference could possibly implement if it desired to remain relevant in the age of the BCS. Of course, the Big Ten aspires to no such thing; ending football early allows room for gymnastics, wrestling and indoor track on the conference television network (you think I am kidding, don’t you?). So Penn State worked Michigan State, 42-14. That would be Penn State’s signature win for the 2009 season and I can’t tell you whether that depresses the Spartan fans or the Nittany Lions fans more. Iowa shut out Minnesota, 12-0, to take home the bronzed pig, which is not a euphemism for anything. Wisconsin lost to Northwestern, 33-31, but defied the Big Ten by scheduling a game in Hawaii next week; so Wisky laughs last, I suppose. And whiskey quaffs fast, if you’re cold.

Syracuse shocked Rutgers, 31-13, in one of the biggest surprises of the season.

Other than that, everyone held serve: Houston over Memphis, Virginia Tech over NC State, Utah over SDSU, Miami over Duke and on like that.

Oh, then there’s Notre Dame. The Irish lost in overtime to UConn, 36-33, putting their record at 6-5 before finishing next week at Stanford. Their loss to Cal notwithstanding, Stanford is a much better team than Notre Dame.

On Thursday, Oklahoma State was down to their third-string quarterback, but managed to keep their BCS at-large hopes alive by overcoming terrible Colorado, 31-28. With Zac Robinson out due to concussion, State turned to Alex Cate, who attempted nine first half passes without a completion, other than the one he completed to Colorado. Luckily for OSU, the Buffs have no athletes even in the same talent zip code as Perrish Cox, who kept the game close with a 67-yard punt return. Down 21-10 midway through the third, the Cowboys finally caught fire behind third-team QB and erstwhile baseball player Brandon Weeden. Oh, Keith Toston’s 172 yards rushing helped considerably, as well. The Cowboys will take ‘em any way they can get them.
Impressive Showing of the Week: Do I have to pick? Cal?

1. Texas

2. CBS

4. TCU

5. Cincy

6. Georgia Tech

7. Carnegie-Mellon

8. Oregon

9. OSU (the Ohio version if Zac Robinson can’t play; the Oklahoma version if he can)

10. Clemson