Jim Cramer's out making money. You're reading about college football. But as Mike Leach says, in a hundred years you'll be dead anyway, so go right ahead and keep reading.
Blue-chip, slam-dunk, stodgy but-oh-so-profitable blue-chip Buys:
Ohio State. As obvious as 1982 IBM at this point and honestly, about as interesting, the Ohio State juggernaut grinds on through their schedule seemingly unaffected by swapping out nine players on their starting defense, opponent's gameplanning, weather conditions, the alignment of planets, ball lightning, bird flu outbreaks, or anything short of a hellmouth opening up on the field and swallowing the team whole. (A sight Michigan fans certainly would pay a shiny Susan B. Anthony dollar to see.)
Half-sleeves, full bore: OSU's plowing right now, even with atrocious sideline fashion decisions.
The modified spread they're running with Troy Smith, the improving running of Pittman, and the long/short combo of Ginn/Gonzalez. The fact that Ginn scares weasels out of secondaries has led to the emergence of Gonzalez, the best discovery of the season for the Ohio State offense. They're just a corporation bent on destruction right now, and can see nothing but booming profits prior to the Michigan audit in the third quarter.
Florida. Why the hell not? They've now beaten Tennessee, Alabama, and have a home matchup with LSU, a team they lost to by two points last year in Baton Rouge. The offense still has that Viagra feel to it; about fifteen minutes pass before it goes from iffy to stiffy, and even then you're waiting for the the inevitable detumescence following a score or two.
Positives abound, though. The bend-but-don't-break school is back in session this year, and after spending most of the season on the downside of turnover margin Florida picked 'Bama three times while giving up only one comically inept fumble on a poorly timed snap. The Mancrush Meter on Reggie Nelson is approaching near-homosexual levels following his FINISH HIM! Scorpion chest harpoon interception to finish off Alabama. Nelson wears the 2006 Commemorative Ed Reed crown for "safety most likely to steal the ball, your girlfriend, and your soul" in a single play, having finished off both Tennessee and Alabama with key picks. Reggie Nelson Swindle...it has a fine ring, no? The braids will be a bitch to maintain, though.
We present the pic below both as evidence of his manhood on the field and, uh, now that we're looking twice, um...his manhood?
4th quarter anthrax: do not throw near this man.
Homer us if you will, but they win close games, make crucial halftime adjustments, and are showing a depth and composure we frankly find startling in Florida teams. At some point in the game on Saturday--somewhere around three plays into the first TD drive--we got the strange, certain feeling of victory in our chest, like a firm shelf you could hang hope on with absolute confidence. There were jitters, since D.J. Hall and Keith Brown taking passes from a quarterback as talented as John Parker Tanner Lexus Prestige Stonewall Parker should be enough to scare any SEC defense, but the feeling persisted, even as Florida clung to a 14-13 lead.
If a team has us feeling Amazing Kreskin vibes, they make the Buy list, even with the requisite compensation for homer points.
Georgia Tech. Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson. Calvin Johnson; Calvin Johnson.
Calvin? Johnson. Calvin fucking Johnson. Genus: Calvin, species, Johnson.
There. Since adjectives won't properly cover how good he was against Virginia Tech, an onslaught of variation will have to do. Va. Tech will take a hammering in our Blogpoll this week for violating our trust in the vaunted Hokie system (Jenkins! How could you!), but a certain gazelle-mutant deserves much of the credit for the victory in Blacksburg. (A major special teams breakdown is to blame, too, but more on that in the predicable "Sells".)
Reggie Ball, the target of Chris Leak-scale contempt, has quietly earned his NCAA quarterbacking MBA this year. He's always going to hover around the fifty percent mark in completions, but consider what you've done with your life: have you hit better than fifty percent at anything? If you have, take your Tony Robbins tapes and pat yourself on the back. We'll go ahead and congratulate Ball for being good for two tds a game and not totally screwing up Tech's chances of winning in most of his games thus far this season. Even if his passes look like they're coming out of his hands at a 45 degree angle away from his intended passer, it's working. Hails and huzzahs to the best 50 percent passing turbo-midget in the game.
Rock-Bottom, Foist Them Off in After Hours Trading With Sketchy Egyptian Backroom Broker Sells.
Iowa. Irrational exuberance took a large hit on Saturday for two of our poll darlings who, despite little reasonable evidence, floated in the top 15 for the first four weeks of 2006. Drew Tate will earn hellfire for his three-INT performance, but Iowa's defense and their road-grading (victim thereof, not actor) the Buckeyes put on them. Fans of offensive symmetry, cuddle up with this: OSU ran 50 times and passed for 25 against the Hawkeyes, going for 214 on the ground and totally decimating Iowa undersized defense with beef on the front end and speed on the back.*
We noticed this thanks to some happy broadcasting synergy between commentator and situation. Herbstreit mentions what a great coach Ferentz is, blah blah blah. Buckeyes rip off 15 yard run. Herbstreit mentions that the defense is undersized and constructed of B-list recruits; OSU busts another run. Herbstreit mentions what a great job Ferentz has done again just as Troy Smith teleports a ball on a straight line to Gonzalez for a TD. At this point we imagine Iowa fans stuck behind a television everywhere were praying for Herbstreit to shut the hell up and start denigrating Iowa and their coach, since all the compliments seemed to converting mathematically into Buckeye rushing yards. But being a Buckeye grad himself, perhaps this was Kirk's evil plot all along.
Herbstreit, puppet master.
Michigan State. They're on permanent sell as long as Ol' Slappy, a.k.a. [NAME ALSO REDACTED], is holding down a job title in East Lansing. This is the last time we'll write this, so just mark it down and we'll move on to...
Virgnia Tech. Sean Glennon threw the ball over fifty times on the day. Unless you're Texas Tech or a Big Ten qb in one of those mid-fall tossfests that seems to break out occasionally up there, this means you lost on Saturday, which is indeed what happened. Credit to Georgia Tech's run-allergic defense: 42 yards total rushing for the Hokies in what has been a superb season for Tenuta's defense. Debit to: VT's O-line, who spent most of the afternoon tipping backwards while their backs slammed into Tech's rushers.
The shocking thing for us was watching Tech capitalize on a special teams flub by the Hokies, the Cardinals of the Church of Special Teams as overseen by Pope Beamer. This video shows the leisurely windup of the Hokies' punter in action, accompanied by the suddenly sage commentary of Paul Maguire.
(Tangent: Maguire without Theisman has been a complete surprise in the booth. What sounded too casual and breezy for the surgery of the pro game has become convivial in the somewhat looser college game. Perhaps his avuncular style just meshes better when paired with the sound of a marching band, but Maguire always says something that uncovers the anatomy of a crucial play or scheme. He and Gary Thorne, a fine hockey announcer who's getting the hang of the college game, are earning better than passing grades for announcing thus far. Now if they could just get Gottfried, the Senor Cardgage of the airwaves, off the team, we'd be cooking with extra virgin.)
Georgia. The rage of the Orgeron ("FOOTBAW!") must be nigh-unmeasurable now: he comes within five points of beating a Georgia team whose offense can't eclipse the age of consent at home...and still can't get the victory. We do not advise storing chemicals around the Orgeron, since the heat of his anger will ignite them through the container. He is, however, holding up half the grid of the Oxford Municipal Power System, which should earn him a civic honor of some sort.
Georgia's defense must be in line for civic honors of their own. The offense has dvolved into a Cromag version of the Mark Richt attack, with even the reliable screens and skinny posts stuttering along under the shaky hands of two freshmen and a glorified fullback manning the qb spot. Even the run game hasn't been predictable: despite being strong enough to bend steel bars with his eyebrows, Thomas Brown passed on his chance to seize the starting spot, leaving Danny Ware as the next to perform inconsistently before passing the hot potato to Kregg Lumpkin, who ran well for 100 plus at Ole Miss. Good thing, too: UGA passed for 115 yards against a defense that allowed 290 yards to Kentucky.
Further Review of the Prospectus Needed Holds:
USC. The lack of a run game has discombobulated the Chow-Perfect offense, which might explain why Pete Carroll was barking into his headset and looking less than calm in the rollicking final six minutes of ther 28-22 game against Washington State. With Cal destroying Arizona State and putting Rudy Carpenter's therapy bills into stratosphere, the Trojans look like they're losing some veneer and settling into a post-invincibility mindset straight from the national championship team playbook. They look a lot like Miami '04, Florida '98, and Nebraska '00: good, sometimes great, but with visible hitches in their step. We've heard Shelley Smith won't even sit at the lunchtable with them anymore OMG 1111!
Smith: dating some new Catholic dude from Indiana.
Texas A&M Texas Tech beats them on a last minute heave that had to delight the absurdist in Mike Leach's soul. But we're trying to see this through the low-level fog of hatred constantly blowing into Georgia from Alabama and see Dennis Franchione and his team for what they truly are at this point: improving. They didn't get their annual 60-point whipping from the Raiders, and ground out the clock on the offensive side of the ball, and made Tech beat them with a low-probability toss at the buzzer. They're not good--in fact, we still recommend that you handle all things Aggie with the longest set of tongs you can find--but they're not horrible, either, which the '05 model could rightly claim to be.