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I sadly put the column back on the shelf for another season, but first look forward to the upcoming bowl season with the usual eye towards the lopsided, shorthanded, or just plain visually offensive. But first:
Nothing exciting happened in the Big East, which actually shouldn't be that noteworthy given the rest of the season. So instead, we'll review the Arizona/Arizona State debacle. In the first half, nothing happened. Well, lots happened, just very little of it was good. Two field goals, maybe seven first downs, and 14 punts worth of "action." In the second half, Arizona managed a 14-6 lead but gave up two FGs in a long day of FGs and ASU's lone TD to fall behind 14-20. Arizona scored a late TD, but had the extra point blocked to tie at 20-20 and go into overtime. Both teams traded FGs in the first OT, and ASU scored first in the second OT. Arizona scored a TD as well, but had their second extra point blocked, giving the win to Arizona State.
The "Racial Integration is a State Right" Bowl, aka the BBVA Compass Bowl, brings us Pitt versus Kentucky. Kentucky has beaten everyone they should have beaten, and lost to everyone they should have lost to. Wins: Louisville, Western Kentucky, Akron, Charleston Southern, and Vandy. Losses: Florida, Mississippi, Auburn, Georgia, MissState, Tennessee to finish 6-6. They do have the win against South Carolina but managed only one more conference win. Pitt, was two Big East-shenanigans games away from a BCS bowl, even though they lost to both of the teams that they would have moved a head of. The best thing I can say about Pitt is that they're not better than UConn or West Virginia.
The New Mexico Bowl is the "Someone gets to be over .500" Bowl for the second year running, pitting BYU against UTEP in the Alphabet Soup game of the week. UTEP limped in with a 3-5 record in Conference USA. They ended their season with a loss to Tulsa and also have a loss to Tulane on their record. BYU has first week win against Washington and a season-ending close loss to Utah to bookend their season.
I propose some sort of playoff between the winners of the Meineke Car Care Bowl, the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, and the Autozone Liberty Bowl to play for some sort of "Symbol of the American Economy - Rusted-out Car On Blocks" Trophy. Oh right, I forgot, there already is one:
The "Great Game - 20 Years Ago" Bowl is a toss-up between Florida v Penn State and Notre Dame v Miami. Florida and Penn State are both "offensively challenged," Penn State and walk-on QBs moreso. Miami has been bi-polar all season, so it's anybody's guess as to which team will show up: the one that beat Maryland and Pitt, or the one that lost to USF and Virginia.
The "Perseverance in the Face of Insurmountable Odds aka The Bunny in a Chipper-Shredder" award is between Michigan State against Alabama, or UConn against Oklahoma. Both of these games look like the results of picking sides for a game at recess: both teams are left standing in their Horace Grant glasses, knee socks and bony white elbows. "I had UConn last time!" And yeah, I don't care that State is ranked higher. Alabama is the 5th ranked scoring defense. It's going to look like this:
So goodnight until next season, and now maybe I'll get a chance to work on the OSU UFR.
It's the Turkey Day Special! One team gets a three-peat, one team goes for a win and has a chance!, and two teams are happy it's basketball season. Unfortunately, Florida managed to avoid HORROR, so therefore there is no God. I was right all along. Bonus game: the Lions play the Patriots for all to see on Thursday. I know very little about the NFL, but I know that 8-2 versus 2-8 equals bad. But first:
Rutgers took possession of the Big East basement in impressive fashion by getting smoked by Cincinnati 69-38. Rugters gave up 660 yards of total offense, and had -9 yards on 27 carries. That's not very good. In fact, that's outstandingly bad. If I had post-season awards, that would get one. In fact, I may create post-season awards just to be able to give one to them for that. I don't remember ever seeing a negative total yardage. I don't think I've done that in NCAA football. Tecmo Bowl, maybe.
Idaho took care of Utah State (motto: What do you mean Utes is already taken?) 28-6 in a punt-fest that saw Utah State's punter outgain the offense. Utah State left their QB in for the entire game, even though he was 14 for 35 for 103 yards and 2 INTs. C'mon, throw a halfback pass or something.
Last, Tennessee limped past Vanderbilt and can become bowl-eligible if they beat Kentucky this week. Both teams were offensively ineffective, but Vandy's 20 for 41 passing, for 222 yards gets the "Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing" award for the week.
The Alternative Thanksgiving Protein award this week goes to Akron versus Buffalo. Mmm, delicious Buffalo. Akron is the only team in D-I without a win, and Buffalo only has wins against Rhode Island and Bowling Green. Plus Buffalo is on the road. I didn't even realize that Buffalo's mascot is the Bulls, not the Buffalos. I mean, who else gets a chance to be the Buffalo Buffalo?
Hooray, it's basketball season in North Carolina, as Duke plays UNC in... football? Well, UNC's basketball team isn't doing much better. UNC has scraped out wins against the likes of William and Mary and Rutgers, but been competitive against FSU and Clemson. Duke, well, is Duke. They won shootouts with Virginia, Navy and Elon and that's it. Right, that takes care of that one.
Last, Vanderbilt gets an Award for Excellence in the Field of Outstanding Achievement for being mentioned three weeks in a row. This week they play Wake Forest who is holding down the ACC basement. Like the Big East, being at the bottom of the ACC is an accomplishment. Speaking of Duke, Wake Forest's last win came in week two against the Blue Devils, and has been off track since. Three points against NC State? Vandy has been equally bad, hosting a six-game losing streak of their own. I look forward to handing out my own Madden Golden Drumstick award to at least one of the punters in this game. Boom! Turducken-ed!
Twelve Vandals Vandalizing? Twelve Aggies, um, agging? Also, I avoid picking on two teams in consecutive weeks only out of the goodness of my heart.
Western pulled out a barn-burner against Eastern, locking up second place in the MAC Trophy. Signs of life from the EMUs/Eagles/Hurons for next year? Both teams were +/- 500 yards of offense, but Eastern was a more grind-it-out than the Western air raid.
Speaking of track meets, Tulane beat Rice 54-49. Our boy Sam McGuffie had 15 carries for 71 yards and a TD for the Owls. I'm not sure what a Rice Owl looks like, but can't help but wonder if it's anything like a Corn Snake.
Last, Tennessee clobbered Ole Miss 52-14 and is now awarded the title of Tennessissippi. Karma continues to catch up to Jeff Masoli, and he was 7/18 for 80 yards and 3 INTs. Tennessee was up 21-0 after the first quarter, and cruised from there.
Rutgers plays Cincinnati for sole possession of the Big East basement. That's saying something given the way the Big East has gone this year. Rutgers has lost to North Carolina, and squeaked out close wins over the likes of Army and FIU. Cinci can't point and laugh at that resume, either. Since their close loss to Oklahoma, they've been pounded in conference by West Virginia and Syracuse. Rutgers is offensively challenged, and Cinci is equally fair-to-middlin' on both sides of the ball.
Out in the WAC (slogan: The WAC is the new MAC!), Idaho plays Utah State in another leg of the Mormon Bowl. Idaho got thumped, as expected, by Boise State last week. Utah State is on a two game win streak, but the wins are against New Mexico State and San Jose State. So that's like keeping count of the number of times you hit the floor when you drop a ball. Aww yeah, three in a row, baby!
This week's "Sir Not Appearing in this Diary" award goes to Eastern and Tennessee. Eastern plays Buffalo in what is sure to be an ugly game. For no reason other than sympathy, I'll avoid making that a game to watch (or, rather, not watch). Maybe it will be snowing as well. Tennessee versus Vanderbilt also avoids the eyeball for the week, if only because Tennessee seemed like an actual football team last week, and may just paste Vandy and move on.
One last note goes to Appalachian State against Florida in the "If There's a God, Smite The Gators" bowl. I've got no good way to handicap D-IA schools, but still, c'mon, karma!
Well, last week was a spectacular mess. Too bad the Kansas/Colorado game wasn't on tv anywhere. I feel bad for all my Buff frends, but not bad enough to forgive '94. This week brings more exciting second-tier mediocre team action, and one game that's geographically challenged. I also get tired of typing Tennessee, even if it does help my character count. But first
Tennessee versus Memphis went almost exactly how you'd expect. A below-average SEC team pounded large lumps onto a bad Conference USA team. Boxscore? Boxscore. Tennessee had 500 yards of total offense, Memphis had 5 turnovers. The End. Tennessee may end their season on a "hot streak" after playing Ole Miss, Vandy and Kentucky. If they win out, they're bowl eligible. Just not bowl-worthy.
In MAC-action, Akron lost to Ball State in overtime in a game featuring 3 INTs per QB. And, you guessed it, the last play in OT was an INT as well. Drive home safely. Akron has a chance for a win against Buffalo to end the season, but scoring 15 ppg and giving up 39 is a tough hill to row. Tough row to plow? Tough hill to sled? Something like that.
And in the granddaddy of ugly games, Colorado gave up 35 points in the 4th quarter to blow a 45-17 lead and lose in regulation. The strictures and conventions of my marriage require me to post a large bird at this point.
Rock Chack Jayhawk, Dan Hawkins is So Fired! I think that's how it goes anyway. CU's 4th quarter drives went: fumble (returned for TD), lost onside kick, 2 plays and INT, 3 and out, ballgame. We'll probably revisit Colorado next year when they play Ohio State in the "First Annual Dan Hawkins Memorial Buyout Game."
The Battle For Michigan (which is a title I dreamed up for the Michigan Directional Schools, in case it isn't really a name for a thing) wraps up as Eastern plays Western. Eastern has lost to Central, and Central has beaten Western, so I guess this for second place, but there's still some pride on the line and other cliches.
Tulane plays Rice in the "Find These Teams On a Map Bowl." Seriously, they're like Troy. No one knows where they are. Like Pepperdine or Monmouth in the NCAA basketball tournament, only not as good. But get ready for fun pun headlines like "Tulane Waves Swamp Rice" or "Rice Washed Out By Waves" or other creative headlines. Rice has beaten UGotW regulars North Texas and Houston, Tulane at least has a win over Rutgers on their resume. Which is nice.
Overall, this was a hard week to pick, as there's also Vandy/Kentucky, Cincinnati/West Virginia and Ole Miss/Tennessee games to pick from. Come to think of it, the Mississippi versus Tennessee game gets a "Gratuitous Redundant Vowel/Consonant Face Off" award anyway. The winner gets two mors S's for their name.
(Author's note: sorry I'm late, work exploded on me yesterday).
Before we begin, no, I don't think Michigan versus Illinois belongs on the list. Both teams have functional offenses, and have a measurable level of success. Now that's out of the way, on to the festivities.
If I had a picture of a cupcake with teeth, I'd put it here. Cupcake-apalooza went less well than expected, but at least none of them lost. Auburn only punted once and gave up two TDs in the 4th quarter after the game was well in hand. Oregon had a game against USC until Oregon ended the scoring with 3 TDs and a field goal. Boise State double up on LaTech, and TCU dutifully stopped UNLV, holding the Rebels That Probably Have Little To Do With The Civil War to under 200 yards as a team. TCU also only punted once. Going 7-11 on third down, plus 2-2 on 4th makes things like that happen.
I'm probably in for some karmic schadenfreude somehow as Kansas plays Colorado in a "Someone Gets a Conference Win, And Someone Gets Fired" game. My wife is a Jayhawk, and on a clear day I can see Boulder. I'm still not convinced Colorado isn't playing intramurals. Kansas fans, such as they are, are already looking to dump Turner Gil after such performances as: losing to Iowa State 28-16, and losing to North Dakota State 6-3.
Tennessee versus Memphis is a "The Bad Playing the Really Bad" game as both still need a conference win. Tennessee has been competitive in the SEC, but is only 93rd in scoring. Memphis is 0-5 in C-USA, which should just about sum that up. They are 117th in points for, and 118th in points against, so they get "We're Bad, But We're Consistent" award.
The "It's MAC-tacular" game of the week is Akron versus Ball State. Akron is 0-7 on the season, and The Fightin' Lettermen have losses to Liberty and EMU on the season. I predict the final score to be 4-2, with all points scored on safeties from snaps over the punter's head.
Welcome once again to the Ugly Game of the Week.
We're getting down to the end, I'm afraid, as there are only about seven winless teams out there in Division I, and none of them are in the same conference. So, the word of the week this week is "cupcake."
Penn State v Minnesota did not disappoint. Penn State was 2-10 on 3rd down, Minnesota outgained them by almost 100 yards, and yet Penn State won 33-21. I have no idea how. If you looked at the box score, you'd probably say Minnesota won, but they didn't. C'est la vie. This is not the week to pick on Minnesota; they're playing Ohio State (who just disemboweled Purdue), so go get 'em Gophers!
Speaking of that state, Ohio (NTO) clubbed Miami (NTM) 34-13; Miami did not help their cause with 6 turnovers. Key matchup: STOP THROWING TO THE WRONG TEAM! This game probably didn't ever make the ESPN ticker, so momentary confusion for Miami fans saying "Wait, didn't we already play them, and we're losing?" was averted.
Last, the ESPN headline says it best: "Sparse crowd watches Virginia drop E. Michigan." The EMUs were only down a field goal at half time, but their second-half drives were "punt, TD, punt, INT, punt, punt," whereas UVA scored on every drive of the second half. FTR Ron Enlish is now 1-19 in two years at that other Washtenaw County school.
Mmmm, cupcake mascots...
Speaking of mascots, there's some funny matchups this week, where top-ranked unbeatens go up against a variety of delectible baked goods. Numbers 1, 3, and 4 all play virtual nobodies. Sure, they're in-conference nobodies, but still nobodies.
s vs. s
Starting at the top we have Auburn playing Ole Miss. The Mississippi Rebels finally seem to have caught on to the fact that they lost the Civil War, meaning they're not so much rebels as loser traitors (fun fact: the University Grays, a regiment made up almost entirely of Ole Miss students, were the biggest losers of the entire war, sustaining 100-percent casualties in a single charge):
(Other schools named for warrior groups best known for getting absolutely trounced: Spartans, Trojans).
Since calling themselves Loser-Traitors was going out of vogue, Ole Miss students this year held an Internet contest for a new mascot, which the Internet being the Internet promptly elected Admiral Ackbar. So they chose to be a bear. Had they made Ackbar their mascot (or their head coach), maybe we could yell "It's a Trap!" here, but alas, Ye Ole Miss is #101 in points allowed, and they do have that glaring loss to Vanderbilt, um, glaring out from their schedule. Just hope that Auburn, who are the Tigers (yawn) doesn't get to play Nebraska in a bowl game, or the game may look like a tennis match on TV [Ed-M: except Nebraska apparently overcame their scoring aversion last week]. Auburn falling into the Number One Spot of Doom gets the "It's a TRAP!" award of the week.
s vs. s
Oregon, represented by Donald Duck and dressed by Huey, Dewey, and Louie after a Seattle coke bender, has an actual opponent-type-substance in USC, so they could/should move up to number 1 after pummeling the USC condoms (please please please).
s vs. s
Meanwhile, #3 Boise State plays Louisiana Tech in a game that features two blue and red teams playing on a blue field (I'm waiting for Kansas to get on the blue field bandwagon and paint a huge bird on it). The Broncos are one of seven teams with that name (10 if you include "Broncs" and "Bronchos"). That's pretty lame, but not nearly as lame as being one of 41 teams named "Bulldogs." LT's wins are against Grambling, Utah State and Idaho. They've lost to Hawaii and Southern Miss. Boise State just keeps rolling along with the #4 offense and #2 defense. Seriously, 12 points allowed per game? Bonus: the game is tonight.
s vs. s
Last, #4 TCU plays UNLV. UNLV has losses to both Idaho and Colorado State, and ranks in the 100s in offense and defense. Remember what I just said about Boise State's defense? Well, TCU is allowing 9 ppg. So, three FGs. Got it. As Wolverines, of course, we're all about rooting for the school with the better nickname, and here we have quite the contrast. A Horned Frog is something that might poison you if you step on it (up next: the Fightin' Sea Anemones?), though the last team to "step on" TCU was Boise State and they seem to be fine. The thing looks like a small, tailless Ankylosaurus. Fun fact: Phrynosoma, also known as a "horned toad," a "horny toad," or "horned frog," is actually neither a frog nor toad, but a type of lizard. Cue '80s rainbow thingy again:
As for UNLV, they're called the ... waitaminute ... Rebels? Were there even people living in Las Vegas during the Civil War? No, not really. Actually they took the name in the '50s because they thought of themselves as rebelling from Nevada. It's like Little Brother Syndrome, except a post-loss sin-fest is a hell of a lot more fun than burning sofas and tipping cows. Their mascot is "Hey, Reb." Their colors are "Scarlet and Gray," for the Confederacy. This is what happens when your naming committee just wants to get back to the craps table. Prediction: the Rebels get stabbed, poisoned, and turned into a gooey substance by the purple-wearing, horny-ass not-a-Frogs.