C.O.W., Part 2 - Nebraska's Major Problem
Texas RB Cody Johnson
Why isn't Nebraska getting punished more for it's home loss to Texas? This and more in part two of the November 2nd Cavalcade of Whimsy.
Cavalcade of Whimsy
Nov. 2 - Week Eight, Part 2
Nov. 2, Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One.
The Notre Dame Tragedy
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances followed by the feats of strength
The ten things about the world I'm grouchy about …
10. Turner Gill
How did Turner Gill get the job at Kansas? He became hot by turning around a woeful Buffalo program, and that 2008 MAC Champion was good because 1) it was loaded with veterans, led by four-year starting QB Drew Willy, 2) it got every break in the book, including a Hail Mary to beat Temple, and 3) it scooped up every takeaway possible. The 2008 Buffalo Bulls were third in the nation in turnover margin behind Oklahoma and Florida. Yeah, the Oklahoma and Florida that played for the national title. Buffalo came up with 33 takeaways including a whopping 25 fumble recoveries. To put that in perspective, the No. 2 team in the nation that year in fumble recoveries was BYU with 21, and No. 3 was Wake Forest with 19. How many takeaways does Kansas have this year after eight games? Five. Three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Ironically, BYU is second-to-last this year in takeaways with a mere six, and Wake Forest has come up with just ten.
9. Terrelle Pryor's interceptions
Let's not get carried away over Pryor completing 34-of-44 passes for 492 yards over the last two games. Throwing against Purdue and Minnesota is like throwing against air, and while the Buckeyes were never threatened and Pryor could take a few chances, he threw three picks over the last two games to go along with his five touchdown passes. As crazy as this might sound, Ohio State might be the best team in the nation with Pryor along for the ride, and not always because of him. He has been fine, but hardly special this year. He'll have to be special to beat Iowa in Iowa City in a few weeks.
8. Manic coaches
Coaches always set the tone for the team and the program, and if the team full of young players is sensing its coach is going batspit, then the results are never consistent. Take the case of the ever-wacky Urban Meyer, who wrongly gushed that beating Georgia was "the biggest win we've ever had." Great, now how do you get up for Vanderbilt? And then there's the curious case of Steve Sarkisian, who beamed after the USC win that it was the greatest feeling ever, only to be in charge of the worst Washington home performance in close to four decades and whining that the team "obviously hit rock bottom." Coaches always preach the idea of staying on an even keel, and if they can't do it themselves, then neither will the team. Which leads to …
7. Jake Locker's supporting cast
How much longer do we have to make excuses for Washington? This was a program that was a national title superpower 20 years ago, and it was a Rose Bowl winner as recently as 2000. The Dawgs haven't gone to a bowl in seven years, and it went from being one of college football's most consistently strong players to an afterthought. And now the common whine after Washington came up with a 107 yards of total offense against Stanford with Jake Locker completing 7-of-14 passes for 64 yards and two interceptions is that the talent isn't there to succeed. How long is that supposed to take? Stanford went from seven straight losing seasons into a Pac 10 title contender in the last two years under Jim Harbaugh. Put it this way, if Boise State can contend for the national title, then Washington should be able to be merely average. And as for Locker, I know he's hurt and will be out with a rib injury, but anyone worthy of starting in the NFL has to make the team around him better. Chris Polk, Jermaine Kearse, Devin Aguilar, and D'Andre Goodwin aren't that bad.
6. The Biggest Losers are too big
The Biggest Loser marketing machine is amazing. Everything the program touches turns to gold. Little girls buy anything Disney Princess, Bart gets anything with the Krusty endorsed products, and fat people go gonzo for the Biggest Loser brand. But there's one problem … the Biggest Loser people are fat. It's one thing to get something endorsed by the trainers, but if you're one of the contestants on that show, you have to bust through the wall and make the transition from morbidly obese to obese to merely overweight to in shape if you're going to be believed that the diet food works. They're always looking great on the results show, and then one Twinkie goes down the hatch and the game is over. To be fair, yeah, once you stop working out four hours a day, your metabolism is going to change.
5. A concussion is a concussion
Penn State never, ever talks about injuries or the health of the players, it's been a Joe Paterno policy, but when discussion the prospect of playing banged up quarterback Robert Bolden against Michigan, the coach hemmed and hawed a little bit and said he'd rather not play him so soon after a concussion. Then it shouldn't be a thought. Paterno's judgment is unquestioned when it comes to the well-being of his players, but when it comes to concussions, from this point forward, if it doesn't feel right to a coach, then the player shouldn't even dress. A coach shouldn't be the doctor when determining whether or not to put a player on the field, but he should always use his gut instinct when he thinks the player should sit. It's different if this was the NFL and the players were getting paid, but Bolden needs his brain to go to class on Monday morning. He didn't play in the win over Michigan.
4. The Texas Tech pass defense
Last year at this time, Texas Tech was 59th in the nation in total defense, was allowing 233 passing yards per game, and was 43rd in the nation in pass efficiency defense. This year under Tommy Tuberville, the Red Raiders are 119th in the nation in pass defense, and 91st in pass efficiency defense. Everyone's getting fat on Tech with Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill setting a school record with 449 yards and four touchdown last week. Baylor went for 427, Oklahoma State 356, and even Colorado and New Mexico threw for 336 yards. Up next is Missouri (23rd in the nation in passing), Oklahoma (5th), Weber State (20th in the FCS), and Houston (13th). Only Tulsa has allowed more passing yards so far, but that might change over the final month. This would all be fine if the passing game was rocking, but it's fourth in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M.
3. Old trick-or-treaters
My lobbying efforts to get Congress to set the enough-with-the garbage-about-Santa/Easter Bunny/Great Pumpkin age at five have been a disaster, and my attempts to set the legal trick-or-treating age limit at ten have fallen short. I'll compromise when it comes to 12-year-olds, but that's it. If you're 13 or older and you come to my door, you'd better be here to clean my gutters, rake the leaves, or fix the holes created by the freakin' woodpecker that apparently has more rights than I do, and if you're above the age of nine, you have to come really, really strong with the costume. No, ninjas don't count, Boba Fett gets you a face full of door unless you get it EXACT, and anything Harry Potter gets you a rock. If you're older and you want two pieces of candy, you had better have a sister in a wheelchair or a freaked out little brother waiting behind the bush.
2. Counting on spread quarterbacks
Part of the reason the triple-option went bye-bye is because the quarterbacks kept getting flattened. It's not a positive when the 5-9, 185-pound runner is getting hit 25 times a game. The same goes for putting all the eggs in the basket of a spread quarterback. Cam Newton has been able to survive so far, mainly because he's bigger than most of the people trying to tackle him, but two key teams, Nebraska and Michigan, have to go into each week game-planning for the possibility of not having their No. 1 guy. Denard Robinson is being held together by duct tape and well-wishes as he tries to get through the season, and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez got dinged in the Missouri game. The spread, when it's humming, is unstoppable, as Oregon is showing, but no one should be surprised when the machine breaks down without the main man at the helm. Dropback quarterbacks are getting banged, too, with players like Ryan Mallett having problems, but the chances are better from week to week that they'll show up.
1. Texas 20, Nebraska 13
Alabama's loss at South Carolina isn't great, but it's not bad. Oklahoma's loss at Missouri is fine, as is LSU's loss at Auburn, Stanford's loss at Oregon, Michigan State's loss at Iowa, Ohio State's loss at Wisconsin and the Badgers' loss at Michigan State. What do all those defeats have in common? They came to teams currently in the BCS top 20. No, Nebraska losing at home to Texas, with the offense getting stopped cold, isn't allowed as an acceptable one-loss in the national title race. All the way up to seventh now in the BCS rankings, Nebraska is a great team with excellent wins like Oklahoma State on the road and Missouri at home, but the Texas loss has to be seen as more and more unforgivable as the year goes on.
After the loss to Baylor, Texas has now lost to UCLA, Iowa State, and the Bears at home, along with the loss to Oklahoma. Nowhere near the BCS top 25, the Longhorns aren't the Longhorns, and the win over Nebraska has to be considered just like a home loss to Iowa State, Colorado, any other also-ran Big 12 team. Just because Texas has the brand name and the right uniforms, that doesn't let the Huskers off the hook. And yes, this does matter.
At No. 7, Nebraska will likely keep moving up with four winnable games against Iowa State, Kansas, Texas A&M, and Colorado to close out the regular season. Considering Alabama could lose this week at LSU, or to Auburn, the Huskers are right there knocking on the door as the possible best of the one-loss teams. TCU or Utah will lose this week, which moves Nebraska up one spot. Alabama or Auburn will lose, and considering the timing at the end of the year, Nebraska could move ahead of the loser. If Oregon loses, it'll certainly tumble at least five spots. In other words, the Huskers are in a fantastic position that'll only get better if they can beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and finish 12-1.
Texas 20, Nebraska 13.
Random Acts of Nutty … Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and every man want to be you (or vice versa) a.k.a. things I didn't feel like writing bigger blurbs for.
- What do you want to set the over/under at for Minnesota over the final three games of its death march of a season? On an eight-game losing streak and coming off a 52-10 loss to Ohio State, let's call it Minnesota +100 at Michigan State, at Illinois, and against Iowa to close.
- With the loss at Oregon State, Cal is now 0-4 on the road losing to Nevada, Arizona, USC, and Oregon State by a combined score of 145 to 61, but it's 4-0 at home against UC Davis, Colorado, UCLA, and Arizona State by a combined score of 189 to 24. Watch out for the trip to Washington State this week, and the date at home against Oregon to follow.
- The national title race is actually over, and I should've known this months ago. Because I'm a slob, I wear hats every day, but I rarely buy them. The last one I bought was a Florida orange thing when I was down in Gainesville in 2008. The Gators went on to win the national championship marking the fifth time in my sports career that a team I don't really care about won a title after I purchased a random piece of sports paraphernalia. I bought an Auburn hat this summer. There's no need to play the rest of the season.
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item … The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world
1) Overrated: Zach Galifianakis … Underrated: Petros Papadakis
2) Overrated: Kurt Warner on DTWS … Underrated: Curt Warner
3) Overrated: Stephen Morris, Miami quarterback ... Underrated: Stephen Morris, New Order & Joy Division
4) Overrated: The whining about the Big East's automatic BCS invite ... Underrated: Syracuse's defense
5) Overrated: The Oregon/Auburn flip-flop ... Underrated: The TCU/Boise State flip-flop
"Tracy did mention we shouldn't let him gamble. Or drink too much."… Really, Ben Chappell. Really?! You're going to tie the spread with that desperation throw? Double-really to Michigan's disaster and Western Kentucky's inexplicable clunker against a UNT program in total chaos. … 1) Michigan -1.5 over Penn State (L, PSU 41-31), 2) Northwestern -3 over Indiana (T, NU 20-17), 3) Western Kentucky -3.5 over North Texas (L UNT 33-6) … Record So Far ATS: 14-9-1
This week's picks: 1) Tennessee -19.5 over Memphis, 2) Boston College -3 over Wake Forest, 3) Missouri -4.5 over Texas Tech
If the college football season ended right now, this would be my Heisman ballot cast for the Most Outstanding College Football Player in the United States for 2010.. … 1) Cam Newton, QB Auburn, 2) Robert Griffin, QB Baylor, 3) LaMichael James, RB Oregon
Sorry this column sucked, it wasn't my fault … I challenged Florida Atlantic play-by-play man Dave Lamont.
You don't challenge Florida Atlantic play-by-play man Dave Lamont.
Nov. 2, Cavalcade of Whimsy, Part One.
The Notre Dame Tragedy