Sometimes the parallels between life and these splendid sport displays are too loud to ignore.
Yesterday, when walking around the city (Austin) I came across a couple random dudes that’d just jumped (illegally) off the main (Congress) bridge into the frigid Colorado River which bisects the downtown portion of the city. It was a random moment in a rapidly-changing town that I just happened to catch, yet it contextualized the city and the day in its own special way. Two bike-kids popping off their wheels to flee the scene of cement and soar into unknown waters far beneath, for glee. It reminded me of this weekend’s football significance, with college teams hopefully plunging into waters of uncertain depth and temperature, hoping to return to the surface as league champions and playoff participants. Similarly, the NFL action called for the consistent competition that comes with our beloved professional game; pitting healthy, hot teams against the those lurking in the coldest waters, always looking to strike despite what the record beside their nickname might say.
‘Tis the season for organizational heathens leaving pink slips on the desks of disappointing coaches country-wide, and championship pursuit pictures getting clearer with Time’s guide. Regardless of the ugly sides of this football guide, we thankfully sigh knowing entertainment lies once again on the full weekend’s tide with Saturday, Sunday, and Monday offering welcome rides to the truths turf-tussling provides.
In the college ranks, we’ve already seen the coaching turnstile spinning round and round, with massive shake-ups at schools big and small. We’ve also heavily anticipated this championship weekend, as if the weeks leading to this Saturday were conjecture-filled opening/closing arguments for who belonged in the College Football Playoffs, this weekend would provide the jury’s decision, finally offering the truest clarity of the Four-tunate teams that’d go on to compete for college football’s holiest grail.
In the NFL, games continue chugging along with each week promising the delight and defiance showcased in a league built on the ideal of parity, in loud contrast to College Football’s “Mostly Big, Old Powers Rule” system. Post Sunday-Monday-smashing we’d learn if the Seahawks or Vikings were more for real, if the Panthers could remain the NFL’s sole undefeated in New Orleans, if Philadelphia is as bad as they seem facing the Super Patriots, and more and more and more.
So here’s what happened…
COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM
Championship Saturday’s here! The conjectured smoke we’ve made will finally clear. On. The. Field.
College Football Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week
The College Football Playoff is set…HEAD COACHING TURNSTILE UPDATE: Mark Richt heads to Miami, where I think he’ll dominate…Alabama’s DC Kirby Smart off to replace Richt in Georgia…Nice SI (Staples’) piece on Smart’s potential at UGA…Will Muschamp gets another HC shot at South Carolina…DJ Durkin leaving UofM(ichigan) for another UofM(aryland)…BYU’s Mendenhall off to mend Virginia…Syracuse to hire Bowling Green’s Dino Babers…Rutgers to hire OSU DC Chris Ash?…LSU to hire the coach they already had, Les Miles (great article)…Standout PITT RB James Conner, already out for the season w/a knee injury, diagnosed with Lymphoma
CFB Game of the Week
#4 Iowa vs. #5 MSU (B1G Championship Game)
Of all the championship games taking place Saturday, this one was the only clear-cut “win and you’re in the playoff” scenario for both teams participating. MSU, coming off a massive win over at-that-time-undefeated for 23-games Ohio State and a pummeling of Penn State, was rolling strong and appeared to be on a warpath to the Playoff. Meanwhile, Iowa’s been humming along in relative obscurity all year, except for those taking potshots at the Hawkeyes’ mediocre schedule and claiming they lack proof for being counted among the nation’s elite. For each, this game was a chance to quiet naysayers. In MSU’s case, forever playing second-fiddle to the University of Michigan in its own state (even as MSU’s been superior for years) has created a little-brother complex the Spartans seem ready to shed, and this game’s potential for granting MSU a spot in the CFP would lift any lingering question marks about their legitimacy as a national power. On the other hand, Iowa’s vanilla offense and vanilla schedule have created a mostly vanilla reception from the national audience relative to their elite status. If they could beat a mostly-proven opponent in MSU, on the Big Ten championship stage, it’d quiet almost each (but not all) negative Nancy and push them into the even brighter lights of the College Football Playoff.
#5 MSU 16 – #4 Iowa 13
Here’s One Play that Defined the Game, My Way:
- Sparty’s Longest Drive, Longest Yard, Long-Awaited Playoff Berth:
Click here to watch the play of the game.
We could talk all about the defensive slugfest this game predictably turned out to be. We could talk all about the resilience of Michigan State all year exhibited again here, the toughness of Iowa showing up on the big stage proving they belong listed among the nation’s elite, but we should only talk about one play. This play capped the one drive that mattered in this evening’s contest: Michigan State’s game-ending, 22-play, 82-yard drive that took 9 minutes and 42 seconds off the 4th-quarter clock, finishing with a battle comprised within a run that exemplified the entire game up to that point. Two teams playing disciplined, defensive, program-identity-laden football eventually being decided by this amazing gasp of human exertion by MSU’s Freshman RB LJ Scott.
For an outsider, this was the perfect play-nugget to decide and explain this B1G championship contest between two defensive-centric, heavyweight-slugging teams. This running play, given to Scott heading off the right tackle, into a swarm of Iowa defenders, appeared to have been smothered behind the coveted goal line. However, just like Michelangelo’s depiction of spiritual swine Divine and Man touching digits in the “Hand of God”, LJ Scott would not be denied a connection with his fate, with his Ultimate Understanding. Just like Man must twist and collide and pivot and spin and eventually strive to stretch past His hurdles in Life, LJ managed to do so past the Hawkeye’s defensive contingent, reaching the rock over the blessed white line into the end zone, Heaven, Enlightenment, and all that’s holy in the B1G’s championship dossier. Watch it once and you’ll probably see a hard-nosed football play. Watch it twice, perhaps your eyes can catch the human pursuit of peace and perfection, hope’s resurrection, time’s exalted collection of the homo-sapien struggle, all contained within one foray of this funny football snuggle.
At the End of the Day: CFB’s Top 25 Went this Way (Rankings via Official College Football Playoff Poll)
#4 Iowa vs. #5 MSU (B1G Championship)
Spartans strong, win with one loooong final drive and outstretched RB arm, on to the Playoff
#12 Baylor vs. Texas
Charlie makes strong, season-ending statement besting beat up Bears in Koresh’s House
#19 Houston vs. #22 Temple (AAC Championship)
Herman’s Coug’s run Owls back east, clinch ‘ship and hopeful future with new 5-year HC deal
#1 Clemson vs. #10 UNC (ACC Championship)
Tigers remain undefeated, decleating Carolina, Dabo dances finah than Fedora
#2 Alabama vs. #18 Florida (SEC Championship)
Bama whamma’s Gators gains, screams victory from Mobile plains enroute to Playoff
#7 Stanford vs. #20 USC (Pac-12 Championship)
Card’s ride McCaffery’s record-setting (all-time yardage) son, may’ve won himself the Heisman
NFL WEEK 11 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM
Teams Keep Smashing Each Other in Fast, Fun, Frightening Ways
NFL Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week
God-damned Lions lose on this crazy play to the Pack…We know JJ Watt’s good, but outperforming Buffalo’s entire D-Line good?…Great look at how the NFL’s money train keep rolling, no matter what…Rams’ WR Stedman Bailey recovering miraculously from gunshot wounds to the head…Panthers’ CB Josh Norman on how he gets his game face on…
NFL Game of the Week
Seahawks @ Vikings
Minnesota red-carpeted to this game on a roll, winning 6 of their last 8 games, leading the NFC North and riding a rejuvenated Adrian Peterson fresh off his massive suspension last year to a dominant season thus far. Meanwhile, Seattle has struggled to regain the form that saw them to the last two Super Bowls, missing out on a repeat chance due to one (very) questionable goal-line offensive play call against New England. The Seahawks had rebounded from a rough 0-2 start to the season to 2-3, and now regaining their championship form on a 2-game winning streak. Who’s momentum would continue after this meeting of two of the warmer teams in the League? Could the ‘Hawks D slow down the Peterson train (yes)? Could Minnesota contain Russell Wilson (no)?
Seattle 38 – Minnesoooootaahhh 7
One Play that Defined the Game, My Way:
- Russell Wilson Spins the Game, Vikings, on His Fingers:
Click here to watch the play of the game.
Much has been (rightfully) made of Steph Curry’s dominance of the NBA recently, including this glowing NY Times’ piece getting the similarly glowing reviews from professional ballet dancers on Steph’s footwork and exploits. If there’s anyone in the NFL that can offer such a consistently entertaining, fleet of foot viewing experience it’s Seattle’s QB Russell Wilson. On a key 3rd down play during SEA’s first scoring drive against the Vikings, Wilson’s Curry-like ways were on full display as he rolled left and was rudely confronted by Minnesota’s DE, #99 Danielle Hunter. Wilson, in response to potentially being mauled, chose to feign a quick cut right, seemingly planning to return whence he came for greener pastures. His juke so convincing the ultra-athletic (and jacked) Hunter sought to cut Russell off at the pass, for a likely sack, glory, and end of the Seahawks’ potential TD drive. Unfortunately for Hunter, and Viking fans worldwide, Wilson was merely setting him up, like Reggie Miller getting free for another open 3 or a mark getting took by the Vegas shark that’s lurked longer, better, and quickly spun back to his left, revealing a wide-open patchwork of turf he’d quickly sprint across, gaining a valuable first down and ultimately a Seahawks touchdown. It appeared effortless, perfect balance maintained throughout, as though Wilson was Kasparov playing chess with a beginner, knowing all along the trap he needed to set for a quick victory. This is just one play, but it resembled the entire afternoon of this Seattle blowout victory, as Wilson was at his best all day, controlling the pace of the game, distributing the ball effectively, and being electric when he had to. Don’t count out the ‘Hawks just yet, thanks to Wilson’s balletic brilliance, that’s a play I won’t soon forget.
NFL Results Roundup
Packers vs. Lions (Thursday Night)
McCarthyism wins in miracle fashion, Pack smack Lions back down with shocking Hail Aaron
Texans @ Bills
Rexy’s boys finally get win machine turned on, top Texans and turn tons of pressure on Billy’s butt
Falcons @ Buccaneers
Rookie QB’s rule today, with Winston rolling once more to a win over Matt “Not Good” Ice
Jaguars @ Titans
Mr. Mariota runs looooong past Jacksonville, cast Jags in a losing suit once more
Jets @ Giants
Despite another lovely ODB Jr. long TD, Jets with the battle of New York, see?
Cardinals @ Rams
If you haven’t noticed yet, ‘Zona’s good and they pull the hood over Rams’ heads again
49ers @ Bears
Gabbert shows he’s a fast white dude, excludes Cutler from that category & the one named WIN
Bengals @ Browns
How’s that Manziel punishment going? Dalton’s smash baby Browns, make clowns of CLE frowns
Ravens @ Dolphins
Will Smith’s win over the Poe’s in the city of Southern Sin
Broncos @ Chargers
Brock bowls a nice game again, smacks Future Los Angeles Chargers hard
Chiefs @ Raiders
Reid’s steeds beat Al’s young pals, KC craters Raiders
Panthers @ Saints
Cam’s Cats stay undefeated, gut-punch hope-depleted Stains du Nu Orlosin’s
Eagles @ Patriots
Chip shows college football how much he loves NFL by bringing hell to 2-loss-in-a-row Belichicks
Colts @ Steelers
Big Ben busts Hasselbeck’s butt so bad, the Colts can’t remember Luck ever feeling so bad
Cowboys @ Washington (Monday Night Football Prediction)
(EDIT) Cousins continues climb to kiddie-Canton, leads Terrible Name past the Collarbone’d Cowboys
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