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jones Top Ten - Week Seven - 2010

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Your life takes on a certain settled quality when you come to understand and appreciate the rhythms of your neighborhood grocery store. I like mine, the HEB just off of Far West Boulevard. It’s not so huge as to require a Sherpa to negotiate the produce section, but big enough to stock everything I want. Even has a kosher deli—not that I am kosher, or even Jewish; I just think it makes the place more sophisticated. I like the people who work there. There’s a wine guy I trust: Gianluca (although part of me suspects he’s just an Italian major from Fort Worth and his real name is Harlon or Cleet). Denis the Russian butcher loves to talk seafood. It’s a good crew, except for one woman, who must be the worst bagger in the grocery industry. I avoid her like teenagers avoid physical labor and meaningful conversation with their parents. That means, of course, I always end up on her aisle—usually there’s a shift change when I least suspect it. I am careful about how I distribute my cart; I just ask that she exhibit the same care. I load the conveyor in exactly the order I intend to unload everything and put it away: produce first, meats next, frozen items together, then the pantry items…if you haven’t guessed I am a bit Type A (INFJ and you can put the J in bold letters if you are a fan of Jungian psychology). She screws all this up. The items come off the conveyor, spill down toward her and she reacts like an incompetent Tetris player. Even when I try to help, she cheerfully waves me off. I should let this go. But I ask you.

How does a bag full of apples end up in the same sack with a carton of eggs? The mind reels. That there is just a recipe for something getting badly broken.

Wisconsin 31
Ohio State 18

Texas 20
Nebraska 13

Mississippi State 10
Florida 7

All three of these games were apples and eggs. Ohio State went on the road and lost to a team that played "Ohio State football" better than the Buckeyes did, right down to a special teams touchdown and Scott Tolzien playing quarterback so efficiently for the Badgers that it made Craig Krenzel’s heart full. As for the more celebrated Terrelle Pryor, he’s kind of a mess, isn’t he? He had little impact in a first half that saw Wisconsin take a 21-3 lead. He caught fire in the second and pulled the Buckeyes to within 21-18, but when Wisky re-asserted themselves and pushed the lead back to 31-18, Pryor’s game was nowhere to be seen. He ended the game with a pick on an atrocious throw. He’s not a transcendent talent; and Ohio State probably needs him to be one.

Taylor Martinez, meet elite athletes on defense. Elite athletes on defense, meet Taylor Martinez. Texas has played the first five weeks like a toddler fist deep in paste (but with less intelligence), but the Longhorns are still very fast. Mix in some disciplined assignment defense and a coherent offensive game plan and Texas ain’t bad. Nebraska played tight, making one wonder if the Huskers put too much into this game. Dropped passes were their death knell.

At this point, I wonder whether the Husker fans in the upper sections politely filed out of the stadium, or simply jumped over the side.

Texas shouted to the college football world that they were not done yet. Florida said: "check please."

Mississippi State was far better coached than Florida on Saturday and that’s largely Urban Meyer’s fault. Not because he did a lousy job leading up to kick-off, but because he did a great one in mentoring MSU’s Dan Mullen, who has a limited Bulldog squad at 5-2 on the season. Mullen might look pretty good on the Florida sideline if Meyer has lost his passion for the game. Two weeks after Texas ended the longest streak of AP poll rankings in the nation, Florida lost the third longest: 88 weeks.

The carnage didn’t end there. South Carolina, newly ranked in the top ten after the win over Alabama, gave it all right back at Kentucky. The Gamecocks never should have lost this one, which they led 28-10 at halftime. Kentucky came back behind quarterback Mike Hartline, who’s not exactly Peyton Manning, and took a 31-18 lead, which held up as Stephen Garcia threw an end-zone pick with his team in easy field goal range. Come now, you didn’t really think Garcia had given up all of his habits, did you?

The upsets didn’t stop there. Nevada traveled to Hawaii and played with jet lag in the first half as Hawaii led 17-0. Nevada’s comeback fell short in a 27-21 loss. Hawaii, of course, is not all that bad (the Rainbow Warriors should have beaten USC in week one) and playing at their place is particularly dangerous. And, no, if you are wondering, Boise State does not play at Hawaii this year.

Air Force will also lose their place in the AP rankings, losing 27-25 to a pretty good San Diego State team with a very good freshman tailback named Ronnie Hillman, who went 24 for 191.

Someone finally scored against TCU. Well, BYU kicked a field goal anyway. 31-3, Frogs. Not to be outdone, the Style Points pitched a shut out of their own, 48-0 over San Jose State, who put the hap in hapless. Boise State could have scored a hundred.

Some folks noted, presumably with a straight face, that Iowa State was not all that easy an out in the Big 12 this year. Oklahoma…let’s see, I believe the modern term is "curb-stomped," the Cyclones, 52-0.

Arkansas scored a bunch of points. Auburn scored a bunch of points. Ryan Mallett got hurt. Arkansas kept scoring a lot of points. Auburn kept scoring a lot of points. That got us to 37-35 starting the fourth. Arkansas scored again (the back-up QB’s name is Tyler Wilson, if you are still reading at this point), then Auburn scored again. Then Cam Newton let out a big yawn, pressed the hyper-drive button on his chest and Arkansas, in the span of three minutes of game time, mind you, found themselves behind 65-43. Seriously.

Back to Texas/Nebraska, Matt Millen proclaiming that Nebraska receiver Niles Paul will "definitely play on Sundays" tells you all you need to know about Millen’s tenure as an NFL general manager. Paul is a nice player, but he’s not exactly Michael Irvin. As an aside, two first-year starting quarterbacks trying to complete passes against four NFL-ready cornerbacks provided endless comic relief throughout the day.

The Michigan Wolverines 2010 Back to Reality Tour continued as, for the second week in a row, they played a team with a real defense. To be fair to the Wolverines, they did roll up 522 yards against the Hawkeyes, but turned it over four times and found themselves down 28-7 in the fourth. Last year’s phenom QB, Tate Forcier, relieved this year’s model, Denard Robinson, and led a Michigan rally, but couldn’t close the deal. Iowa 38, Michigan 28.

Michigan State started slow, but put away Illinois in the second half, 26-6.

Alabama bored the living daylights out of their fans by slowly suffocating Mississippi in a 23-10 win that "featured" 20 combined penalties and 12 punts, including five in a row on Ole Miss possessions that went for 1, 5, 1, 5, and 5 yards. The next Ole Miss possession went for 8 yards before they fumbled the ball away. Now THAT’S dynamic offense. Houston Nutt loopholed the NCAA rules to death to enroll Jeremiah Masoli for this?

It’s still great to be from Alabama, but how about from LSU? The Tigers gained a whopping 282 total yards and went 3 for 13 on third downs in beating McNeese State, 32-10. The fans booed, and not because McNeese State is a heated in-state rivalry. Les Miles would note that 7-0 is 7-0.

Utah strummed Wyoming 30-6 and tried to keep the game close by throwing two picks in the end zone, and that didn’t even work.

Arizona lost Nick Foles to a sprained knee, panicked, then remembered they were playing Wazzu. 24-7, ‘Zona.

Oklahoma State remained undefeated by rolling over Texas Tech, 34-17. Mizzou did the same, strumming Texas A&M, 30-9. Just when you think Mike Sherman has Texas A&M moving in the right direction, the Aggies do something like this.

Florida State went to 6-1 with a whisper thin decision over BC, 24-19. The Seminoles started the day as the only ranked team in the ACC.

West Virginia beat South Florida 20-6 on Thursday night.

Impressive Showing of the Week: Wisconsin

1. Oregon

2. Auburn

3. Boise State or TCU: You know the old argument that Boise State or TCU couldn’t finish the SEC schedule undefeated? I agree with that. The problem is that none of the other teams in the SEC can, either.

5. Oklahoma

6. Alabama

7. Michigan State

8. Iowa

9. Stanford

10. Wisconsin?

LSU is eleven, just out of sheer entertainment value. Although their thrashing of Mississippi State is looking better and better.

My guess today? Oregon plays Boise State for the national title. The Pacific Northwest has always been the cradle of American college football.

In closing, I have people in Nebraska, the Hares. They raised up my boys’ grandmother and sent her to Texas. They are, unsurprisingly, about the nicest people you could possibly meet. I will miss my team playing theirs, because, at the end of the day, my team playing your team is—more than in any other sport—the essence of college football.