Gag ’em, Aggies

Beauty Contest Standings (Week 4, 2011)

The only good thing about a week without Longhorn football is that it provides a chance to watch some other games and see how the other Beauty Contest contestants stack up. So, naturally, I headed for one of those establishments with multiple televisions, so I could watch four games at once.

There, I caught the end of the Notre Dame/Pitt game. The great thing about the Irish is that no college football fan is neutral about them. Except me. Really. It’s been so long since we played them that I’ve almost forgotten how they’ve managed to ruin our seasons, costing us one and a half Mythical National Championships. Thus, I was thoroughly entertained as I watched them try to give the game away–again–for almost the entire game and then suddenly resemble a good football team late while breaking Pitt hearts 15-12.

The real treat was yet to come, though. Finally, four good games, simultaneously. Finally, I could forget about that Advanced Sports Management course we’ve all been forced to take and watch some real football, with the Tide/Pigs, KSU/Miami, Seminoles/Clemson and Aggies/Okie Lite all kicking off at 2:30.

As the Aggies quickly pulled away from the Cowboys, I turned my attention to Alabama, who simply ground the Razorbacks into some sort of porcine hamburger. KSU had a lead on Miami. (KSU later won 28-24 with a brilliant goal line stand as time expired.) Florida State kept hanging on at Clemson, despite playing without a number of injured starters, including their quarterback. (Clemson eventually won 35-30, tainting OU’s big win in Tallahassee.)

But the most compelling show was at Kyle Field. Trailing 20-3 at halftime, the Cowboys took the second half kickoff and quickly scored to make it 20-10. The Aggies started gagging. 20-17. They couldn’t choke this badly, could they? Uh, they’re Aggies. As the Tide pulled away, so did the Cowboys before remembering that they were once Aggies themselves. All-world Cowboy WR Justin Blackmon dropped the ball for a touchback while trotting in for the clinching score. It didn’t matter. The Aggies suffered three interceptions and a fumble in the second half, including a pick on their final possession. Final: Oklahoma State 30-A&M 29. I’m told that the OSU fans in the endzone started chanting “Big 12, Big 12” as the clock ran down. It warms my heart. Four straight A&M losses to end the Series between the Aggies. Aw, shucks. Maybe they’ll have better luck against M’sippi State.

Time out for a quick sports management fact: Though Aggies appear to believe that SEC stands for Socialist Eden Conference, where all revenues are distributed evenly, SEC teams do not share their third-tier revenues, such as those generated by that evil Longhorn Network. In fact, combined third-tier revenue in the SEC last year was $57 million. How much of that will the Aggies share? None of it. Ha ha.

Later, I switched back and forth between LSU/West Virginia and Missouri/Oklahoma, which were about as compelling as Alabama/Arkansas. All were examples of good second-tier teams playing good first-tier teams, where the second-tier team tries to make a fight out of it, but eventually becomes lunch.

So how does the Top Ten shake out now? My version, in which I try to guess which teams are actually better as opposed to which are more likely to win the games on their schedule, currently looks like this:

1. Alabama. Final was 38-14 over-out-manned Arkansas, a pretty good team. I noticed this morning that the AP voted LSU into the top slot. I think the Tide is better, though not by much. ‘Bama travels to the Swamp next week. No rest in the SEC.

2. LSU. The final was 47-21 on the road, and I think West Virginia is another pretty good team. Rest for the Tigers: Kentucky comes calling.

3. Oklahoma beat Missouri 38-28 at home. That’s a 10-point win over a team that’s not quite as good–by my guess–as the Pigs or the Mountaineers.

4. Wisconsin beat its bum of the week, the South Dakota Fighting Sioux, 59-10. It’s difficult to say how good Wisconsin is, since Boise State has played a tougher schedule. But they look good enough to go undefeated, since the Big 10 is unusually weak this year. Next up? Nebraska. Then more mullets.

5. Stanford was idle, but lost its best defensive player last weekend.

6. Oklahoma State.

7. Boise State beat 1-3 Tulsa 41-21 as Kellen Moore went 23-29 and now has 12 TD’s for the year with only two picks.

8. Nike. Oregon rolled Arizona in Tucson 56-31. It was 35-9 at the half. Don’t be misled by two PAC-12 teams in the Top Ten. The PAC-12 is even weaker than the Big 10 this year, overall.

9. South Carolina beat Vanderbilt 21-3 in yet another Marcus Lattimore Heisman audition (150 total yards.) Garcia threw 4 picks and is rumored to be transferring to A&M. But don’t say “so what?” The Commodores are a tough out this year.

10. Florida. Stomped Kentucky 48-10. Perhaps these guys should be one rung higher.

Close?

Nebraska led 14-7 at the half in Laramie before pulling away late for a 38-14 win over Wyoming. Does this sound vaguely familiar to anyone?

Don’t laugh. Baylor beat Rice and appears to be one of those teams that can score on anyone but cannot stop anyone. They will be a handful for anybody that is having a bad hair day on offense. Actually, they may be a handful for anybody period. Robert Griffin III saw his QB rating drop to 236.2. That’s right, it was even higher.

After South Carolina and the win over Florida State, Clemson gets Virginia Tech, a team that the AP and the coaches think is pretty good.

UCLA certainly isn’t close, as the Bruins stumbled to a 27-19 win over pitiful Oregon State. Anybody wondering why Texas isn’t listed on the “close” list should bear that in mind, along with BYU’s drubbing by Utah last week. These Longhorns are a work in progress and will be all season. I hope they are ready for the next three weeks, because all three opponents are currently undefeated and almost certainly will be when we play. This time three weeks from now, if the Longhorns are 5-1, the Longhorns will be on the featured list above. 4-2 leaves a very good season achievable. 3-3 would be a bummer.

We pause for this announcement. If you’re a Longhorn fan and you live in Houston and you missed Friday’s Longhorn Club meeting, you missed a good one. The speaker was Major Applewhite, who broke down film and provided analysis regarding personnel and coaches and playbook development that you simply will not find on the Web or anywhere else. Manny Diaz will do the same on October 21 and you should schedule that lunch on your calendar.

Closer to home?

Houston recorded their first shutout since 1999 in a 56-0 home win over Georgia State. Have I mentioned that it’s a bad year for football in the Peach State? Case Keenum was 29 of 34 for 419 yards in three quarters. State coach Bill Curry remembers better days.

Texas Tech needed a fourth down late fourth quarter TD pass to salvage a 35-34 home victory over 1-2 paycheck foe Nevada. Bad show, Raiders.

The conferences? Let’s call this “Myth Busters.” You’ve heard these around the water cooler and at your club.

The SEC is always the strongest conference.

The Big 12 (cue Igor, repeating “It’s alive! It’s alive!”) is actually the strongest in the land, top to bottom right now this year. Don’t yell at me, SEC Guy, both the computers and the polls also say so. The Big 12 is a collective 27-2 against all others, 7-2 against BCS schools, 3-1 against the other power conferences, 13-0 against the other FBS schools, and only 5-0 against the FCS teams.

The SEC is 22-4. It has played only 2 games against the power conferences. It’s 6-1 against BCS schools, feasting on ACC and Big East mullets. It’s only 10-3 against other FBS teams, coughing up 2 paycheck games and the Boise loss. It’s 6-0 against the FCS mullets.

The Big 10 is just as strong as any other conference.

Not usually, and not this year. There’s a huge drop between those two and the Big 10. The B1G is 31-13, but only 7-7 against BCS teams. It is 17-5 against other FBS teams and 7-1 against the FCS little kids.

The ACC is really pretty strong.

The ACC, as bad as it is, may nose out the PAC-12 here on the second tier at 21-8 overall. They’re 5-5 against BCS teams including a respectable 4-4 against the power conferences. 4-2 against the other FCS teams isn’t very shiny, and neither is a whopping 12-1 against the Sisters of the Poor. Of 21 ACC wins out of conference, 16 have come against non-BCS opposition.

The PAC-12 just doesn’t get any credit for how good it is because the games are late.

The 20-9 PAC-12 is having The Year from Hades. They are 2-6 against the power conferences, and one of those was USC’s win over Minnesota, which was beaten more soundly this weekend by North Dakota State. Of the PAC-12’s 20 wins, 75% have come at the expense of non-Automatic Qualifying teams and FCS teams.

Big East teams can play with anybody.

I used to call the 19-7 Big East “the Big Least.” Now, they may be better dubbed “the Zombie Conference.” Dead Conference Walking is 1-5 against the power conferences. Of its 19 wins, 15 have come at the expense of non-AQ (7) and FCS (8) teams.

Boise State plays in a pretty tough league.

Some have said that the 15-9 Mountain West belongs with the BCS schools, at least the ACC and Big East. Nope. Against the power conferences, the Mountain West is 1-8, with Boise’s win over Georgia, a middle-of-the-pack SEC school, the only W. Of its 15 wins, 13 have come against non-AQ or FCS teams.

These other leagues can play some football, too.

The rest? Overall, the non-AQ schools don’t qualify because they don’t deserve consideration. It’s pretty easy to beat up the little guys and that’s where the great majority of their wins come from. Together, they’re 5-50 against the BCS power conferences and only 9-63 when you throw in the ACC, the Big East and the independents.

Again, that’s on the field. Today, the SEC finally felt comfortable enough to let the Aggies move in next year. Evidently, Baylor is satisfied that it is not going to be begging Conference USA for inclusion, so the SEC is out of the legal woods. Do you share my concern that a school which has failed to compete in the Big 12 for over a decade, may be in for some rough sledding in the SEC West? Will the Aggies still require some Great Satan? If so, how many years will it be before “saw varsity’s horns off” becomes “saw Tigger’s tail off”?

I do devoutly pray for one thing. I pray that the Aggies keep their “we’re not Texas” persona intact long enough for those in SEC-land to digest this fact. Those in the Deep South, who tend to focus exclusively on the SEC with an occasional nod to the remote existence of the ACC, have some difficulty distinguishing between A&M and Texas. Really. My horror is being confused with these maroon people.

The Aggies. The Anti-Texas. Not us. Gone. Let it be.

Peace.

Read previous Beauty Contest Standings: week 1, week 2, and week 3.

Creative Commons photo courtesy StuSeeger.

 

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