We Are Penn State

Beauty Contest Standings (Week 11, 2011)


Really? I heard tens of thousands of people chanting that last week. I think I’d keep it to myself.

Penn State, a mediocre football team this year, predictably lost a football game to another mediocre football team, Nebraska, this weekend. That was 17-14 if anybody cares.

The real deal is that, this year, Penn State didn’t matter anyhow. Seriously, the question of who wins the Big 10 this year is less important, on a national scale, than who wins Conference USA. Or who wins the Mountain West. Yes, football this year is that bad in the Big 10.

Wisconsin, the only good team in the Big 10, has lost two games in ways that would shock Mike Sherman. But the Badgers got well at Minnesota, 42-13.

The tragedy of the Penn State debacle is that it is so horrifying that it makes the sins of teams like Oregon–where officials contend they did nothing wrong in cases involving the blatant outright purchase of players–seem trivial.

If you own a big shoe and apparel company, can you buy the best team in the land? Well, you can buy one good enough to beat the best actual student athletes in the land, as the Ducks proved Saturday night in a 53-30 win over a Stanford team that simply wasn’t fast enough to keep Nike from scoring at will.

So what does the Top 10 look like now?

LSU managed to recover from its post-‘Bama torpor at halftime, and a 14-7 lead over Western Kentucky was extended to 42-9.

Oklahoma State turned it off after leading 49-0 at halftime in Lubbock and coasted to a 66-6 win over the suddenly hapless Raiders.

Alabama, in their post-LSU stupor, struggled to a 24-7 win over 5-5 Mississippi State. Trent Richardson came within 4 yards of gaining as many yards rushing (127) as MSU managed in total offense (131).

Oklahoma took the week off.

Arkansas beat up Tennessee 49-7. It is difficult to fathom how far the Vol’s have fallen in little more than a decade.

Oregon, as mentioned, knocked Stanford out of the National Championship chase. To demonstrate the Ducks’ resume, I’ll now list all the BCS Top 25 teams other than Stanford that they’ve beaten this year. End of list.

Houston routinely hung a 73-17 score on a bad Tulane team. Yes, I know, Houston hasn’t beaten a BCS Top 25 team all season. But they’ve beaten everybody they’ve played, and that was good enough to get Boise State into the conversation.

Stanford still hasn’t beaten a single Top 25.

Neither has Virginia Tech, a 37-26 winner over Georgia Tech.

Neither has Georgia, a 45-7 winner over Auburn.


Clemson squeaked out a 31-28 win over Wake Forest and has a 23-3 win over Virginia Tech on its resume. I suppose I should replace the hokey Hokies with these guys.

Boise State has beaten Georgia, though it was early in the year and before the Dawgs started playing well.

TCU defeated Boise State 36-35 in a great OT game, but has lost to Baylor and SMU.

Speaking of SMU, GameDay is on the Houston campus this weekend for the “big” Cougar-Pony showdown. I’ll bet this is the first time an SMU game has been featured since Craig James and Company were setting the pay-for-play bar for Oregon.

Kansas State beat 5-5 A&M in four OT’s 53-50. I’ve noticed that KSU earned so much respect for that win that Vegas has installed the Wildcats as a 10-point underdog in Austin this weekend.

South Carolina defeated 5-5 Florida 17-12.


Texas lost to Missouri 17-5. I wondered all week why Texas was an underdog against the toothless Tigers and found out at game time. Oh, neither of Texas’ stud freshman running backs were able to play. When third string tailback and first-string Wild Foz quarterback and team leader Fozzy Whittaker went down with a torn ACL and MCL on the Horns’ sixth snap, it was all over but the final score. Texas’ defense played gallantly, but it’s hard to win when you cannot score, and it’s hard to score when you cannot move the ball.

I finally learned why A&M decided to go to the SEC. It seems Bowen asked Rick Perry for advice. Ricky thought SEC stood for Securities and Exchange Commission. Poor Ricky just can’t keep his crooks straight.

Speaking of the SEC, Old Miss fired Houston Nutt several days before they lost 27-7 to Louisiana Tech. Meanwhile, Tommy Tuberville told a group of Tech alumni yesterday that the only way he was leaving Lubbock was in a pine box. Afterwards, a smaller group of Tech alumni issued a statement saying “that can be arranged.”

Baylor barely beat Kansas 31-30 in overtime. The Bears actually trailed 24-3 going into the fourth quarter, but scored three TD’s to send it into overtime, winning when Kansas went for two and failed. Kansas is accepting suggestions regarding Turner Gill replacements. Sometimes you feel like a Nutt, sometimes you don’t.

Ohio State lost to Purdue 26-23. It’s not really that surprising, but I just had to note it. How glad should we be that GameDay is not in Columbus for the Penn State game this week? Can you imagine the signs?

So, if you don’t believe in rematches or “do overs,” who do you root for? Oklahoma State. Personally, I hate the thought of rich guys buying college football teams. But Boone Pickens’ squad is the only team that has a shot at LSU that we haven’t seen before. Sorry, Tide and Duck Fan. Been there, seen that. No second chance.

But a repeat game is likely what we’ll get if the Cowboys drop a game. That’s the way it works, when you rely on a Beauty Contest to pick the teams.

Creative Commons photo by Mike Pettigano


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