If the pounds of fried turkey and sweet potato pie that you ate on Thursday didn’t give you a heart attack, this week’s college football games certainly were going to do their damnedest to finish the job.
Rivalries, by nature, raise the blood pressure of those involved… if they didn’t it would be called a “friendly tiff” or an “untimely spat”. Add the magnitude of what was on the line for some teams, and you’ve surely got the makings for one of the most memorable weekends of the year, if not all times.
We’ve already discussed the awesomeness that was the victory in The Game, and join the rest of Buckeye Nation in sending Tyvis Powell the kinds of “thank you” that would be approved by the NCAA. TWTW doesn’t often spend time rehashing Buckeye wins, but man… that’s one to savor. Right, Eddie?
Kudos to Coach Hoke and his team in their preparation and gameplan, and for the decision to go for it all at the end. It didn’t work out, but it was a great call. Kudos to Devin Gardner as well- after a rough year, and on a bad wheel, he really put it all on the line for his team. I’m not gloating, but that’s how the game is meant to be played… win or lose, you leave everything on the field.
While I’m here, I can’t figure out how only one of these guys was ejected from the game, and that it wasn’t the first one to throw a punch (#34). The Buckeye reaction was understandable, but inappropriate given the program and the magnitude of the game. That being said, if you’re looking for Christmas gifts for me…
But this amazing weekend started well before kickoff in Ann Arbor. Thursday’s rivalry action in the Egg Bowl saw an injured quarterback enter into Mississippi State legend status, leading his team to an overtime win with a touchdown run on fourth and 1 from near the goal-line. Sometimes, gutsy calls work out for the home team. Also on Thursday, Texas fans saw another big win… one big enough to celebrate with a shirt and a Mack Brown contract extension? Yeah, probably not.
Friday’s game that should be called “Farmageddon” but isn’t saw the start of the Christmas season in Lincoln Nebraska. At least that had to be what the Huskers thought, since One Weisman was enough to do a ton of damage to the Blackshirt defense. That Nebraska lost was surprising enough, but for me the really interesting part of the game was the media response during and after. Coach Pelini has been on a hot seat, and you could sense his frustration even during the typical halftime “let’s chat on your way to the locker room” interview.
Postgame, someone asked him about his job status and… well, listen to his response here.
Essentially, he says “look, you’re making a story out of something that I have no control over, and your decision to do so is hurting our players and our team. If the people in charge want to fire me, they can.”
The storyline from the game? “If they want to fire me, go ahead“, as if he was calling his AD and the University leadership out. Of course they didn’t talk about his comments ripping the media for impacting the program… it’s like they say.
Friday’s other games were well worth the time spent not shopping to watch them as well. LSU managed to overcome a deficit and hand Bert his latest loss, making him winless in the SEC and winless since a certain karmic tweet. Maybe she was right…
The nightcap was Oregon and Oregon State playing in a game that seemed to have been sponsored by Crayola… although I will say that I love the “let’s both wear our home uniforms” idea, and wish that The Game could return to that as well. Interesting that the story from that game was that Oregon won a close matchup in a gutsy Civil War game, and not “the Ducks barely won… they suck” as other teams’ successes received.
I want to stay with the uniform thing for a minute- UCLA blew out the Trojans in the Coliseum, but if there’s ever any reason to consider allowing both teams to wear their home threads, then this photo should be permanent reference point.
Georgia managed to tape enough of their players together to hold of Georgia Tech in a game that had a ton more points than anyone could have ever imagined. Kentucky lost the “Kissin’ Cousins” game against Tennessee; let the “Wait ‘Till Basketball” chants ring throughout the bluegrass.
The Old Ball Coach managed to defeat Clemson for yet another time, which is what I guess happens when Clowney decides to try. The Clemson loss certainly didn’t help Florida State’s resume; although the beating that they put on Florida more than covered for it, I’m sure.
Also, Missouri beat Johnny Football and Texas A&M following a rather pedestrian set of numbers from Monsieur Football. The Tigers have clinched their berth into the
National Title SEC Championship Game, but we’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Their foe in Atlanta would be decided by the Iron Bowl, as for only the third or fourth time Alabama and Auburn met with both being ranked in the top 5. Ain’t that cute? At any rate, Alabama was not able to exert its will throughout the game, including several missed or blocked field goal attempts. Auburn had the “alligator blood” and wouldn’t go away, tying the game with 32 seconds to play. After several plays attempting to get to field goal range, Nick Saban chose to attempt a 57 yard field goal with the final second on the clock, thinking that the worst that could happen would be a missed field goal and overtime. Boy was he wrong:
If you haven’t seen the replay, here’s a better look at the chaos.
Wow. I think that that may just beat the Hail Flutie for all time fantastic finishes.
Couple of quick thoughts- Do we get to be vocal about St. Nicolas’ decision to try a field goal here after having so little success throughout the game? Even to the point of passing up an easier attempt and getting stuffed in the process? If people are going to (wrongly) question Coach Hoke’s decision to go for two against Ohio State, then we need to point directly at the hubris that Saban brought upon his team.
And now the Tide won’t get to play for their conference title and may not get to defend their national championship as well. I say “may not”, because no SEC Championship Game hasn’t been an obstacle before.
And now, it begins- the “Auburn should jump Ohio State” arguments. Hopefully by now you know where I stand- Worry about what you can control, let the rest worry about itself. That being said, the “They’ve beaten Alabama and (may have) won the SEC!!!” argument to put them into the title game has one huge hole in it… and that hole is the Missouri Tigers.
Here’s the logic: If the SEC Championship is won by an Auburn team that lost by two scores to an LSU team that finished with three losses, they should jump Ohio State with no losses… since they’ll have beaten one loss Missouri. Leaving the fact that OSU will have just beaten a one loss MSU team out of this discussion, the problem comes in that Missouri wouldn’t be given the same opportunity if they win in Atlanta.
No one is saying that a one loss Missouri team that only fell in overtime to a much stronger South Carolina team should be in the National Title game if they win… because Missouri isn’t “real SEC” yet. Nope, they’re still that team that couldn’t do anything in the B12, and hasn’t built up the media hype machine that LSU/Bama/Auburn/Florida/Georgia have.
So you can see that this argument is more about the “new hotness” of Auburn’s big miracle win (the second in two weeks) and not about “what’s right”. Just wait until the final coaches’ votes are made public to see the politics in action… maybe we’ll get a great TV special about it.
“But next year, things will be better!” Not a chance. As I’ve said before, this is part of the fun and frustration of college sports; but it’s just a different argument. Let’s say that this year is next year, and everyone wins out. Who’s your fourth team? FSU/OSU/SEC Champ are in, but what one-loss team is next? Oklahoma State? Baylor? Alabama? The argument won’t be about who’s number two, it’s who’s number four… and it will be just as heated as it is now.
Speaking of the Bears, you’ve got to think that they’re excited about this week’s game against the Longhorns, since it may be a signature win both for a great season and for future recruiting in the state of Texas. Baylor’s win this week against TCU was a lot closer than many had thought initially possible (sounds familiar), and certainly didn’t make Gary Patterson add Coach Briles to his Christmas Card list. Here’s the play in question- and it sounds like it’s been a long standing “strategy” for this young man.
Over in the Bee One Gee, Purdue lost their oaken bucket and finishes winless in the conference. Wisconsin didn’t help Ohio State’s strength of schedule any, falling to Penn State at home on Senior Day. Northwestern defeated Illinois in their huge rivalry game; try though they might, the Illini couldn’t back into a win at home to end their season.
So now we prepare for the last week of the year… “Championship Week” for everyone but the B12. Stanford and Arizona State meet up for Rosey Real Estate, Big Choke Bob and TBPU renew their Bedlam, and we’ve even got Friday Night Championship MACtion. The Tiger Brawl will determine who gets to campaign hardest for the championship game, Florida State meets Duke in something meaningful that doesn’t involve Krzyzewskis, and there may be something going on in Indianapolis.
Until the excitement kicks off though, enjoy the calm before the storm. See you next week.