THE ALPHABETICAL 2009, WEEK ONE

A-Z, the weekend in college football reviewed. Go.

A is for ACCident. When ghosts in frilly collars bearing blunderbusses show up to claim the deed to UVA from the "radical colonists who stole this land from the queen and the people of olde Englande," it has been a horrid week for the conference your foot craves kicking, the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Richmond Spiders topped Duke (who threw the ball a stunning 55 times) 24-16, William and Mary satisfied the crown by unveiling Al Groh's inner Al Groh, NC State continued its tradition of entering the season facefirst against South Carolina, Maryland lost by 39 to Cal and Jahvid Best's 10 carries for 137 yards (do the math,) Wake Forest lost to Baylor, and standard bearer Virginia Tech lost their shot at defending the conference's honor in the Georgia Dome. A plague weekend for the conference, one highlighted only by the Miami/FSU spellbinder on Monday night...which even then had its moments inviting extreme skepticism.

B is for Bitchcraft.

A horrible call on a clean hit that even Sean McDonough can say "Let 'em play football" about.

The intent of the rule is to keep all of us, the viewing public, from enjoying the enlightening but tragic sight of a football player leaving the field paralyzed or dead after a helmet-to-helmet hit. No one in their right mind thinks a helmet-to-helmet hit is something the game is going to miss: it's sickening, and when it happens the crowd recoils in this kind of mass simian fear response.

Preventing a clean hit from the shoulder on a pass play is inexcusable, though, and only complicates the already complex set of rules referees are forced to process in real time during a game scenario. It's a bit like dance class for the clumsy: you have the meringue down, but the instructor asks you to throw in a hand twirl, and suddenly you're completely lost, and wondering how your wife talked you into this in the first place, and why can't I just grind up on people at a formal dance? YOUR GRANDMOTHER LOVED IT LAST TIME.

So, yes: Rule sucks immensely, and is a damn un-British thing to do to the fine sport of rugby-what-go-boom. As a side note, UGA would have lost that game anyway, because Mike Bobo likes to confuse defenses with "plays that don't work," and because Dez Bryant is "beastly and uncoverable."

C is for Cookie. Cookie cookie cookie starts with C(harleston Southern): Three of the top five teams played teams pulled from the bin labeled "Puppies To Be Kicked Into Incinerators." The total margin of victory for USC, Texas, and Florida against San Jose State, UL-Monroe, and Charleston Southern: 151 points, with Florida pulling the worst act of overkill in beating CSU by 59 points. Not that we care: more fire, Cletus! That thang ain't dead yet. Florida did somehow allow 228 yards passing, something we can only chalk up to Wondy Pierre-Louis seeing playing time due to Janoris Jenkins' suspension, and thus injecting his unique and vibrant blend of pass interference, theatrical celebrations of routine pass defenses, and coverage as loose as a whale's twat to the mix.

Debacl'd, This Week In: Oklahoma The loss of Bradford isn't so much the big deal (especially as he may return in four weeks,) but is rather the loss of last year's monumental wall of protection and lane-paving run blocking, the OU offensive line. BYU played really well, but even prior to the injury and Coleby Clawson asking Sam Bradford if he was familiar with the good work the Shatter Day Saints were waiting to do for him the OU offense had issues with blocking and Bradford looking less than comfortable with his new strange cast. Bob Stoops' Oklahoma teams come in two flavors: national title contenders with eleven wins in the bag, a game with Texas to coin-flip for the win, and a BCS slot waiting, or the other kind, the 8-10 win high variance team capable of blowing games to TCU, BYU, and Boise State. This team is clearly the latter, and Sam Bradford did lose money by coming back, something your local talk radio host is surely too polite and genteel to mention for fear of paining young Mr. Bradford.

E is for Edgy: Ohio State teetered on the brink of being far too courteous to the Midshipmen, picking off a game-tying 2-pt. conversion for the win late against Navy. You should be concerned about this if you didn't know that Jim Tressel gets nervous with double digit leads because, on his request, his contract rewards him for low margins of victory. That's just how good the Sweatervest is: he can play football strategy like contestants play the Showcase Showdown, trying to make the lowest bid without going over for victory. (He should just bid 420, dude!)

Don't worry, Buckeye fans. The Broyhill kitchen suite is up, and judging from the Buckeyes' first game, Tressel's betting a dollar the whole way.

F is for Fleeting. Bumps of little lasting value: Oklahoma State's, who will get credit for a defensive renaissance despite playing a Georgia team with a.) a possibly un-good quarterback under center, and b.) an offensive coordinator calling plays with the randomness of a drunkard with a tub of pennies hitting the buttons on a gas station video poker machine. Next week they face Houston, and letdown is imminent against an offense that openly talked about hitting 6,000 yards passing this year. Also, the game is in Houston, and the Cougars will have the evolutionary advantage of having the gills necessary to breathe the local air, something Mike Gundy is going to have to address before gametime. (Scuba gear, 40 pounds; Dez Bryant still running streaks past stunned DBs in flippers.) OK State earned a days' pay, but don't advance them the month's paycheck yet. They haven't faced an offense yet after playing four quarters with Georgia.

G is for General Mehquivalency Degree. If you wonder at what point Dan Hawkins crossed the rubicon into Dead Man Walking status, it may have happened the instant Colorado State fans stormed the field at Colorado to celebrate CSU's win over the Buffs at home. Though if you wanted to be inclusive about it, you could also take setting ten wins as a goal this season very publicly then retracting, exposing himself to easy criticism by starting his son at qb, putting the best recruit of his tenure, Darrell Scott, on punt returns and screen pass duty, and failing to recruit the sort of linemen who like to hit people and dominate the line of scrimmage. They have a name for those in Colorado, and they are called "Colorado State's linemen." At least Gary Barnett provided the entertainment of corruption, public foolishness, and a complete lack of shame. Hawkins lacks all of that and doesn't have the courtesy to do so much as win.

H is for Hater's Moment. Songs by Kenny Chesney we have rewritten for the pleasure of paying proper tribute to this year's new theme for College Gameday on ESPN.

"No Shirt, No Shoes, No Problem, Because I Have Been Garroted by Orson Swindle and Thrown Off the Lester and Virginia Maddox Bridge, and Am Dead."

"I Will Stand (In A Vat Of Concrete Bound And Gagged While Orson Swindle Entombs Him In the Foundations Of The Swindle Home For Smartass Children with ADD.")

"You Had Me From 'Hello, This Is Tiger With a Taste for Human Flesh, Particularly the Short And Sleeveless.'"

"She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy, Especially When It's Being Hit With An RPG Fired By Orson Swindle With Me On It."

"There Goes My Life" (No editing needed.)

"Guitars and Tiki Bars and OH GOD NOT IN THE FACE."

I is for Illinoize. You don't just walk into this joint and push a man like Blaine Gabbert around, no sir. His parents named him "Blaine" to make him strong, like "A Boy Named Sue" or huge linemen named "Herman" or "Lesley." Also, the first-time starter had the privilege of playing against an extremely poorly coached team with no clear answer at running back, an ongoing and overtaxed enigma by the name of Juice Williams, and [NAME REDACTED} trying to spin plates at head coach. This all ends in broken crockery and you know it, so yes, let's repeat: 319 yards and 3 TDs in his first start for "Blaine." Name your son something effeminate, and he will turn into the biggest asskicker on the block. (Or become a transsexual bartender/ess. Life is gambling and gambling is life.)

J is for Jahvid. He averaged 13.7 yards per carry, but you really have to see what he does to poor Nolan Carroll, 14 for Maryland, to get an appreciation of his dynamic stability control, superb handling, and smooth ride:

That's not particularly fair, but being twice as good as anyone else on the field rarely is. Marshawn Lynch would drive a cart around the field after the game to celebrate your mode and its beastliness, sir.

K is for Keys. Syracuse fans are issued a stern warning for their sissified use of keys as noisemakers against Minnesota. We could say that the reason you lost that game was an inability to cover Minnesota's only viable offensive weapon, "possession receiver" Eric Decker and his 9 catches for 183 yards, or the shart-y throw by Greg Paulus into the endzone for a game-ending pick. That would be logical. Instead, the Office of Proper Spectating shall attribute fault for the loss to key-jangling, a despicable and lazy practice known as "The Michigan Yell" that should be eliminated immediately. Normally this is an instantly sanctioned offense, but it has been so long since anything gave Syracuse fans a reason to cheer that some confusion is permitted. Double sanction: Oklahoma State fans, who not only celebrated first downs, but who allowed Georgia's offense to operate without noise or overt harrassment. Of course, that might have actually helped OK State if you consider the random gibberish being called in by Mike Bobo, so we take that back. Superb job, politenesses!

L is for Laxity. As in Florida State's secondary, who gave up 383 yards to Jacory Harris and the 'Canes. It is quite nice to bask in the madness of that game, even if Jimbo Fisher's busy calling high school plays like Jeff Bowden is still radioing in plays from home, sitting atop his pile of booster cash with an open can of cake frosting watching the game. Yet the sobering news for Miami is that as good as Harris was, he was pitching against a secondary replacing half their starters playing their first game. Going back to Fisher: the clock management on the final drive was {REDACTED] quality clockbotch, with FSU running 20 seconds off to...um...get a weakside option call on the goal line in? Ponder almost pulled out the game despite the deplorable management decisions made by his coaching, but if the people paid immense sums to do their jobs had in fact done them, he would have had more options and time to win the game--something he seemed more than capable of doing last night. Harris, in the end, just had better coaching and management on his side. Miami looked improved, but Florida State looked like the same seven win shambles of a formerly great dynasty they were last year.

M is for Missiles: Air Force has them, scoring 72 points, running for 299 yards before the half and sitting at a 45 spot at the break, and finishing with the biggest margin of victory in history against Nicholls State.

N is for Not Everyone's Perfect. We all kill, really.

Jim Tressel identifies, having stolen a national title with some degree of controversy. It is a matter of local jurisprudence, however, as it is considered legal in Ohio, but is a first-degree felony in Florida.

O is for Overdrafted From the Bank of Being a Total Dick. If LeGarrette's Falcon Punch can give us something to rally around no matter our opinions on Blount's year-long suspension and the lack of punishment for Boise State player Byron Hout, it is that CBS's Gregg Doyel is a dick.

"You guys have done nothing. É If there's a PR battle to be won and lost, somehow you guys are finding a way to lose this thing. How do you feel about that?"

Petersen's response: "We have to do what we feel is right for our kids and our program, and we feel like we've done the right thing."

Doyel's response: "Congratulations." he said, fist-pumping to himself at home to a Godsmack song he had playing in the background. (COMMENTS IN BOLD MAY HAVE BEEN ADDED FOR COMIC BUT POSSIBLY TRUE ACCENT OF WHAT YOU SUSPECT IS TRUE.)

P is for Partankus Planket Pick Pang Paggity. Or something like Houston Nutt's inner monologue when Jevan Snead heaved up a horrific pick early in the game against Memphis, which would have been close if the Memphis offense's metaphorical piss stream was strong enough to do anything but water their shoetops. Snead has a serious case of Sex Cannonitis, heaving the ball into double coverage repeatedly and improv'ing just like a kid out there! in ways reminiscent of Grossman and Favre, meaning he's going to both win and lose Ole Miss several SEC West titles over the course of the season. The defense, however, looked fine, though whether you can get any proper read on a defense playing the Memphis offense is doubtful.

Q is or Queer Headlines. As in strange, mind you. We're not aware of any other meanings.

Picture 14

(HT: Barking Carnival.) It's made even funnier since the active partner here is BYU, and that kind of thing is indeed hard for them to stomach.

R is for Rolling. It was an imperfect effort, hampered by some special teams buffoonery and an overwrought gameplan by the offensive coaching staff, but once Alabama decided to run the ball and let Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch kick Hokies in the face for a few quarters, the Crimson Tide looked up and had nearly 500 yards of offense on the board against a very good Virginia Tech offense, and not cheap yards, either. Roy Upchurch may have fumbled at a critical moment, but he also decided it would be more fun to land a touchdown while crushing someone else's sternum instead of just trotting into the endzone like someone whose blood didn't sing and turn fluorescent upon harsh contact with a beaten DB.

Picture 15

Once Greg McElroy settled down he looked better than competent, as well. Hold off on the defense, however, since evaluating a defense based on their play against a Virginia Tech offense is like judging a man's sexual batting percentage by his success rate in a brothel. Where there is no challenge there can be no achievement, and aside from a few solid runs by Ryan Williams, the Tyrod Taylor Experience was as underwhelming as underwhelm could be.

S is for Scarves Make a Champion. The Magical Louis Vuitton scarf was what allowed Jacory Harris to come back from an arm-numbing shot Monday night:

jacory_medium

HT: 3rd and 43>

T is for Transformation. We had no idea Ty Willingham was a class 1 narcotic. This is the only explanation for the passionate, intelligent, and capable play of Washington against LSU Saturday night. Washington outgained LSU 478-321, had 25 first downs to LSU's 17, and came within a pair of turnovers from beating your 2007 BCS champions in their first game under Steve Sarkisian. Jake Locker played well, but you knew he was top-shelf liquor being thrown into cut-rate cocktails by Willingham and company. The pleasantly shocking bit was the impassioned play of the defense, who looked like different people than the morose crew who finished 2008 prone and staring at the ceiling weeping after a loss to Washington State. The whole effect of revival was made better by watching it on tv, where the cameras were shaking thanks to Husky Stadium's suddenly vibrating crowd rocking the upper deck. Lane Kiffin had a solid performance, sure, but Sarkisian gets the early blue ribbon in Pete Carroll's class of Young Coaching Achievers From Camp Win Forever.

U is for Unbroken. The non-throwing arm of Tony Pike, who played last season with a broken bone in his non-throwing arm. 27-34, 362 yards, and 3 TDs in a stake-claiming Big East victory over a punchless Rutgers means he must be feeling the improvement in not playing football with a freaking broken bone in his body, or that Rutgers' secondary is awful, or perhaps both.

V is for Vivification. Notre Dame beating a WAC team is still an accomplishment these days, so beating them 35-0 in a game that could have easily been twice that lopsided without bench players and discreet hitting of the brakes in the second half is still noteworthy. The same may be said for Michigan erasing weeks' worth of DickRod-related drama and beating Western Michigan 31-7. The upside for all of us is a week of solid nerd fightin' smack talk, including such feats as intense taunting over the poor performance of each others' mutual funds! Huzzah, and pass the Johnny Walker Blue Label, because we know you have it because you can afford it and are just holding out on us, you cheap bastards.

W is for Weak. The Bobby Bowden grill would be nothing compared to any number of fat coaches grills with more surface area on which to cook delicious meat, Bergwood. Additionally, the [NAME REDACTED] grill would be far more entertaining, as it would set on fire anything that touched it, and then ask you to credit it for making you get the awesome new shiny Urban Meyer Grill that cooked everything perfectly.

X is for Xenolith, or a rock that becomes embedded in a larger rock during development and hardening, or what sort of happened to LeGarrette Blount's fist on Thursday night OKAY JUST ONE MORE THEN WE'LL REALLY STOP WE PROMISE

Y is for Youngstown State......who did not upset Pitt as we predicted, but nevermind. Please double down said bet for Buffalo this week with an option to continue this process until we exceed the cash value of our mortgage, since the Wannstache will NOT fail us on the upset tip. It's just a matter of time and waiting for regression to the mean to kick in, because this is science, people.

Z is for Zac Who? Not Ron Franklin's finest moment:

(HT: JoeSportsFan.

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