Beauty Contest Standings (Week 9, 2011)
Halloween in College Football: you are there. Everybody is in costume.
Wisconsin went to the party as Aggies. For the second week in a row, they lost a game to an inferior team on the very last meaningful play of the game. This time, they allowed a 40-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left to an Ohio State quarterback who hadn’t thrown a touchdown all year. The receiver in the endzone had time to call for a fair catch. Wisconsin 29, Ohio State 31. Feel for Badger Fan. Two weeks ago, he was the favorite candidate to play Designated Sacrifice to the ‘Bama/LSU winner. Today, he has a shot at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Sad.
Aggie hosted the Dropout Bowl dressed as Aggie. As usual, A&M built an 11-point first-half lead that should have been even larger. As usual, A&M found a way to blow it in the fourth quarter and lost it in overtime. In the first OT, A&M was driving for a sure TD, down by 7, with an unstoppable running game and third and 2. Instead of running up the middle, A&M faked to a great tailback and pitched to a wide receiver who’d lined up in the backfield. Aggie joke, loss of 4. Fourth down was a desultory incompletion for the Aggies’ third loss of the season. Mizzou 38, A&M 31. I’ve yet to hear whether either side chanted SEC! SEC! SEC! after the game.
I knew that good things were happening in Austin when a tailgater told me that he’d seen tacky guys getting off the Kansas bus carrying hand-lettered cardboard signs reading, “Will Dress Up Like Football Player for Scholarship.” 43-0 doesn’t start to tell the story. Kansas had 3 first downs in the game. Three. The Longhorns dressed up as a Texas football team and played like one. There may not have been a number 60 on the field, but there were a number of Nobis impersonators out there. Guys named Brown and Bergeron did credible Benson/Williams/Campbell/Worster imitations as well.
The clock struck midnight at Clemson, darn it, and Dabo turned into a pumpkin. Georgia Tech dressed up like a football team again and ended Clemson’s run in the crystal slippers 31-17.
It was Fright Night in the Top Ten.
1. Alabama watched it all come down.
2. So did LSU. As you and most of the civilized world know, the Tigers will play ‘Bama next Saturday for–most likely–the right to beat the living ordure out of whatever other team is selected to face them in the Mythical National Championship Game. Their Costumes? Both Tiger and Tide were the hottest at the party, both dressed as Playboy Bunnies overflowing their outfits.
3. That could be Oklahoma State in the MNC game. OSU rang up 59 points on Baylor, while giving up a misleading 24. Baylor gained 622 yards of total offense and 36 first downs, while failing to score more than a field goal in the first three quarters. Make of it what you will. My suggestion runs along the lines of there are winners and there are losers. Baylor is a loser. See A&M for more information.
4. Stanford is sort of like Wisconsin, in that they waltzed through the first half of the season without playing a good team. How would they react when someone punched them in the nose? We found out Saturday night. In the best game of the season thus far, Stanford lined up against a team with as much NFL talent as LSU and Alabama and matched them, then beat them in the third overtime 56-48. Stanford is perhaps the most interesting of the possible ‘Bama/ LSU winner opponents.
5. Boise State sat back and enjoyed the show. TCU? Please. Boise State is perpetually dressed up as BYU, the year they beat a bad Michigan team for the Beauty Contest MNC.
6. Oklahoma. I’m putting the schizoid team in the middle of their capability range. The OU that you saw in Dallas is the best team in the land. The OU team that you saw play Kansas and Tech and play the first half of the KSU game is mediocre. In the second half of the KSU game Saturday, you saw the team that showed up in Dallas. OU put on their Captain America costumes and beat previously 7-0 KSU 35-0 in the second half. I really don’t think that there’s another team in America that could have done that. The final was 58-17.
7. Nike dressed up as Oregon and beat another pitiful PAC-12 team 43-28. Its name was Washington State.
8. Houston? This is where it gets tough. Do I really think that Houston, which ran away from Rice 73-34, is really eighth-best team in the country? Nah, not even close. But the Coogs are 8-0 and nobody else except those previously mentioned is. And if we’re going to give Boise State the No. 5 ranking, what are we going to do with the Cougars, who’ve played a similarly Wisconsin-like schedule?
9. Arkansas, a week after barely beating a terrible old Miss team, needed a Notre Dame-like unforced fumble at their own one yard line returned 90+ yards for a touchdown with minutes left to avoid losing to Vanderbilt. And then needed a missed Vandy chip-shot field goal to avoid overtime. Vanderbilt got its holidays confused and thought Saturday was Christmas. They just kept on giving. So why is Arkansas No. 9? Because the other resumes are even worse.
10. Clemson. Because I cannot bring myself to put some pathetic Big 10 team in the top 10.
Georgia is now 6-2 after starting 0-2 after beating Florida 24-20. Will Muschamp is now 4-4 at once-proud Florida, for those of you who are keeping up. Former Texas QB commit John Brantley, subject to the Curse of Mack Brown, completed 12 of 34 passes for 1 TD for the Gators, costumed as Geckos, in case you were wondering.
Michigan State, still celebrating last week’s big win over Wisconsin, forgot to dress up at all on Halloween and lost 24-3 to Nebraska in Lincoln.
Notre Dame’s team got over Kelly-gate and dressed up like an actual Notre Dame team and beat Navy 56-14.
The team that gets into a Halloween costume every week, UnderArmour, aka Maryland, managed to lose to a terrible Boston College team and drop to 2-6. You think they wish they’d hired Mike Leach yet?
Minnesota managed to get out of the discussion regarding the worst team in America with a 22-21 win over Iowa. Kansas, Kentucky and New Mexico are now alone. New Mexico has a running back named Cursoe Gongbay. No word on his costume Saturday.
As the Big East slowly dissolves into something even less relevant than it recently was, a game last Saturday provided a poignant picture of what is versus what once was. Army defeated Fordham 55-0. Outside of the Cadets, the fans in the stadium at the end of the game could be counted by the dozens. A hundred years ago, college football in the Northeast was the best in the land. Today, the game simply doesn’t matter in that part of the country. College football dresses as zombies every week in the Northeast. And the game played east of the Appalachians and north of the Mason-Dixon line simply doesn’t matter in the rest of the country. It’s not just the league. It’s the region.
At Penn State, which had the foresight to affiliate with the Big 10 a couple of decades ago, Joe Paterno got career victory number 409 with a 10-7 win over Illinois. This makes Joe Pa the all-time winningest coach in Division 1 history. It also puts Penn State in position to play Nebraska in the first Big 10 championship game for a BCS Bowl berth. Pray that the winner gets an ACC or Big East opponent, for in a game against any other league, the Big 10 team will suffer the fate of a promiscuous teenager in a slasher film.
Looking beyond Halloween, we shall spend the week in breathless 24/7 non-stop prognostication of the coming heavyweight bout between LSU and ‘Bama. Who will the winner play for the MNC? Oklahoma State if the Cowboys can win out. They should, unless OU, in their last game of the season, can again summon their Dallas form.
Should that happen, Stanford can bring Luck to the party with wins over Oregon and Notre Dame, both at home. That would make for an interesting MNC game.
Or, if both lose, Boise State could quite possibly stay in front of the one-loss teams and allow us to get to bed early on January 9.
Is that possible? Yes. Because this is still a Beauty Contest and old Unbeaten looks pretty darned good, even if she is unbeaten because she’s spent the last 11 games of the season playing pygmies. Trick or treat? Boise could wind up with the treat.
You and I get tricked. Again.
Photo courtesy UT Athletics