Lots of holiday options for this week’s soundtrack, but I’m that guy that thinks Christmas music should be banned until at least December. So, given all of the rumors of this past week and the results from yesterday’s Ohio State game, the R&B genius of Sam And Dave make a return as we give thanks and look to the future.
Ah, Thanksgiving weekend. When thoughts turn to leftover turkey and pie and… football. While the NFL takes front stage on Thursday, and even with the “exciting news” that the NBA is “back, baby!!!”, this weekend was all about the college game. It’s the weekend that puts the best of both worlds together- family and friends gathering together to break bread and then scream at each other because someone had to go to that school just to be different.
And we got three days of amazing games, starting with the end of an era. Because of future schedule issues between the SEC bound aTm and the Big Integer anchor Texas Longhorns, the Turkey Day Tradition saw its last episode end in a classic fashion. This was supposed to be THE year for the Aggies, but failure after failure on their farewell tour led to a mentality where the UT game was a must win to maintain dignity before heading to the 4-8 seasons that SEC play was sure to bring.
Texas’ struggles are also well known (and well documented), and there was a contingent of Longhorn faithful who were as tired of their staff’s decisions regarding offensive and defensive play as some Ohio State faithful have been as of late. For this to end the way that it did highlights the beauty of the rivalry and the reason that college football is the heart of the lives of so many:
Yeah, I know someone who will not have to buy their drinks for the next several years (after graduation, of course… otherwise that’d be an illegal benefit, and lord knows Texas doesn’t have any of that going on.) Congrats to the Longhorns… and, “wow” to the aTm failures throughout this season.
What was especially interesting to those of us watching the coverage was the Four Letter Network bending over backwards to talk about how sad it was that this great tradition had come to an end… without also owning up to the fact that it was their financial manipulations which were behind all of it collapsing. As has been discussed here in the past; if it wasn’t for ESPN’s work in creating the Longhorn Network, aTm would not have been encouraged to look elsewheres for conference allegiance- and where should they land but firmly in the arms of the ESPN connected Southeastern Conference.
Thursday’s kickoff led to Friday’s day of chaos as well… although not on the football field. Hopefully all of our wonderful readers have managed to get in and out of their favorite retail emporium with minimal harm… and lest you think this is a “Walmart Phenomenon”, here’s folks in my neck of the woods mobbing an Urban Outfitters.
As ugly as that is, it’s certainly better than Friday’s early game between Iowa and Nebraska. Not that the Huskers’ victory was awful, but it’s just that watching Taylor Martinez “throw” the ball makes my brain hurt- and this is from someone who enjoyed Terrelle Pryor for three years. The aerial assault on our senses was probably the reason that Rex Burkhead was called upon to run the ball 38 times in the win over the Hawkeyes- when Tom Osborne wonders if you’re running the ball too much, that’s saying something. Congrats to Iowa coach Ferentz, who lost the game but surely locked up the B1G Coach Of The Year award… wait, he only gets that for teams that are mediocre- what do we give him for having underperforming squads? Oh, that’s right… the highest coach’s salary in the conference. (Note; this will no longer be factually true sometime around Monday-ish).
The big game of the week was number three Arkansas and number one LSU… yet another challenge for the LSU juggernaut. While the game was close for a while, the second half saw both the Tiger offense and defense assert their dominance against the Razorbacks… even to the point that a late field goal by LSU was yet another opportunity for Bobby and Les to become bestest friends ever. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how coaches have no problem running the score up on folks, but certainly don’t want it done to their team.
Congrats to the Colorado Buffaloes, who broke their road losing streak in a win at Utah. I’m sure that will help Ohio State’s points in the BCS somehows…
Speaking of PAC12 Cripple Fights- Cal defeated an Arizona State team that everyone SWORE was for reals this year after their big victory against Southern Cal. Earlier in the week, Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson announced that he would be stepping down at the end of the season (of his own choice? Who knows…) I guess he doesn’t want to face the stiff competition of offensive domination and dignity that’s headed his way beginning in 2012. You know who’d be the perfect coach in Tempe, right? Yeah….
Friday also gave us the Pitt Panthers/West Virginia Mountaineers game, where WVa managed to pull out a 20-21 victory. Via twitter, Vico wondered if WVa attracted students who “fit the part”, or if students “developed” into an archetype the longer they stayed in Morgantown. Ah, Thanksgiving rivalries- where the “Drink from a flask” and “light up a joint” people can live together in harmony.
As we rolled into Saturday, more kudos to the Iowa State Cyclones, who fell to Oklahoma but managed to hang around and make it a game. SEC East Champion Georgia easily defeated their in state rivals, both on the scoreboard and in the “our cheerleaders are more ripped than your cheerleaders” competition. Yikes. Georgia’s season opening foe (seems like just yesterday) Southern Idaho State managed to complete an amazing task- they have never trailed by more than seven points in Kellen Moore’s career Of course, it’s a lot easier to hold that distinction when you’re receivers make plays like this week’s catch of the week:
This week’s “Do what now?” score comes from Tennessee and Kentucky in the “Used To Be Called the Beer Barrel Game”, where the mighty WildKats (as an alum, I’m required to type it that way) upset the Volunteers in Lexington. Yeah, they had a real good time in Memorial Stadium, that’s for sure- you think fans from up north were excited… UK had not won against UT for 26 years. This game also brings us to our weekly look around the world of fashion- the Kats decided to go with a basic black ensemble, while Oregon broke out the fatigue/olive drab look. Staying out west- Stanford decided that the best look was the “fancy alcohol bottle” get up, and UCLA wore their “Surrender Whites” for the cross town matchup with Southern Cal.
Let’s talk a little Los Angeles football… as a reminder, UCLA is your PAC-12 South Championship Game Representative. However, after the game Trojans were wearing “Pac-12 South Champs” shirts after their 50-0 beating of the Bruins. UCLA, who fell to 6-6 and 5-4 in the conference, will face Oregon on Friday for the inaugural PAC-12 Championship- Win, and they get a BCS bid. Lose, and they’re ineligible to play in a bowl with a 6-7 record. Any wonder why Slick Rick’s days were numbered?
Which brings us to this week’s “Yup, they’re totally fired” segment. We know Rick’s gone in UCLA, and that Old Miss is looking as well. This afternoon, Kansas “discontinued”Turner Gill’s contract (and $6 million buy out), and that Paul Wulff at Washington State might also be on the way out. Somewhere, the Pirate Cap’n is going to be a wealthy, wealthy man. The cheap shot of the day, though, has to go to the University of Akron, who informed Coach Ianello that he was no longer on staff by phone… while he was driving to a funeral. Stay classy, Zips.
Speaking of terminated- The Ron Zook era is over in Champaign. When you start your season 6-0 but end 6-6 with a loss to one of the worst Minnesota teams since Luther ran the squad that one time, you’ve got to know that your time is short. Particularly if you were only able to manage a winning record against Indiana in the seven years you led the Illini. No disrespect to Jerry Kill- he’s had a heck of a season, with an almost upset of Southern Cal and health issues as well- his team deserved to win in a big way. Although, the “No More Minnesota Nice” thing might be overstepping it just a tad.
Time for the hit of the week, from the ACC and the matchup between Virginia and VaTech…
Back to Rivalry Games- Florida State topped Florida, in spite of the Gators’ “offensive schematic advantage”, and the Clemson Tigers’ train stayed derailed against cross state foe South Carolina. Purdue maintained possession of “The Bucket” (much to Jim Bollman’s chagrin), and this year’s “Apple Cup” champions are the Washington Huskies. Mizzou beat Kansas, while Mississippi State pounded Mississippi in a game that definitely needed more cowbell.
OK- it’s time to address it. Congratulations to TTUN for their victory yesterday. Any victory in The Game is a special one, but to win for the first time in eight years, against a team with a myriad of season long distractions, one that was missing a starting linebacker and safety, with an injured backup safety and a linebacker playing on one leg, as well as some interesting officiating… well, that’s a moment to be savored. Particularly when one or two better thrown connections between a rookie QB and a receiver that hadn’t gotten playing time for 80% of the season means that it’s a upset loss at home. Personally, I’m glad the rivalry is back, and that now Buckeyes have a hunger for The Game again. It certainly makes this a lot more enjoyable:
In the other “Big rivalry game”, Alabama easily handled Auburn and gained revenge for last year’s come from behind loss. In the current BCS standings, Alabama gets to watch at #2 while #1 LSU faces Georgia. For all of those arguing that Bama/LSU is the matchup that should determine the championship, I have several questions. 1) Why should the Tide get a “bye” this week, while LSU is required to play yet another top team? 2) Would you also be open to a “rubber match” if Bama wins? If not, when any “rematch” argument is moot- particularly given how difficult it was to enjoy the first go around between these two teams. As always, the writers at Oversigning have an interesting take.
In other “Turkey Day” news- With Kirkwood’s varsity playing in the Missouri 5A finals (they lost), this year’s Frisco Bell Game was another JV affair, and was won by the squad from Webster’s Groves, 40-14: Here’s the highlights on Youtube.
Hey- I’ve got some tasty Thanksgiving leftovers- here’s the catch of the week, part two:
It’s “Championship Week” this coming week, with the BCS and Bowl picture clarifying as things progress. UCLA will open as 30.5 point underdogs against Oregon in Eugene (take the Ducks), while LSU/Georgia and VaTech/Clemson will vie for their conference titles. “Bedlam” has national title aspirations- if TBPU can beat Oklahoma solidly, it might be enough to jump idle Alabama and set up the “Les Miles Bowl”. In Indianapolis, Wisconsin’s drubbing of the Fighting Former Paternos means that it gets another crack at Michigan State, and will look to play better defense on the goal line late in the game. Again, a Wisconsin win ties the series- anyone interested in a rematch?
Next week will also conclude this season’s run of TWTW- But before we bid this week adieu, here’s a video that celebrates the season we’re in- Thanksgiving and Presidential Debates: