Various other notes from around a weekend of football watching.
Nature over nurture, example one: [NAME REDACTED.] The most dangerous game for exactly two quarters this coming week will be Illinois versus Ohio State, because the Illini will take the field, go up by at least ten points, and convince every gullible soul in eye's reach that they are about to pull the upset of the century against Ohio State. (Century only 6 years old--really all that great a statement?--ed. )
Then they will attempt to run out the clock, play a soft zone, and surrender no less than thirty points to Ohio State in a soul-crushing defeat involving two or three strategy decisions of such dubious judgment that Ray Goff will fall from his sofa at home. Which is precisely what we would have told Wisconsin fans when they fell behind 24-10 to the Illini: you've got them right where you want them, boys.
Well-developed triceps. The brain, not so much.
It's astonishing how little a coach can learn about game management and strategy despite having years of ineffective performances by his units as evidence. Then again, perhaps he's just three or four plays away from winning, or sees improvement. Or maybe he just needs his players. Or this is just 'noise in the system.'
Ohio State fans, just remember: a ten point deficit at the half is ideal, as it all but guarantees a win against the Illini. Nature triumphs nurture again, at least when the waterskiing wonder of Champaign-Urbana's flexing his guns in a vain attempt to stop the opposition from gouging his defense in the fourth.
--Terry Hoeppner's Hoosiers don't even make it funny against Michigan State, beating them 46-21 with most of MSU's points racked up in lackadaisical garbage time scoring. Cue inevitable leap to plaudits and bowl predictions: Indiana's last three games are: at Minnesota, Michigan, and Purdue. Minnie and Purdue were both bowl-circling also-rans a month ago, which means Indiana could probably defeat both. They will have to face Michigan, a game where pain will visit them in previously unimagined ways. So they break 2-1, end up 7-5, and go to a bowl game. If that astonishing feat and kicking a tumor's ass does not win Terry Hoeppner some variety of coaching award, we will be forced to drive to Bloomington and give him a pie we baked ourselves.
Mark our words: we're sending Terry a pie if doesn't get coach of the year.
--Missouri's ballyhoo and fooferaw evaporates against an Oklahoma team that wasn't going to take any nonsense. But the grass on the hill in Columbia looked to be an especially deep shade of verdant green, y'all: game ball to the groundskeepers.
--The Chris Rix Award for Colorblind Interception Throwing for 2006 may have to go to Brent Schaeffer, who can toss ballcrushing interceptions of disastrous timing with the best of them this year. He did so against Auburn on Saturday, turning confidently off a play fake and zinging a beautiful ball directly to a waiting Auburn linebacker at a time in the game when Auburn really felt the evil spectre of the Orgeron threatening to stuff them in his sack o' dead varmints 'n whatnot. We like qbs who throw picks with gusto: not just piddly floaters that flop into opponents' hands, but bullets tossed right into the chest of stunned defenders. The kind of throw even quarterbacks think about like, "yeah, it was a pick. But I threw the shit out of it, didn't I?"
Brent Schaeffer, you throw them with pride, son. Almost Brock Berlin-esque, actually.
Throws 'em with gusto: Brent SchaeFFAH!!
--Trevor Matich should frighten you. Last week, the in-booth shots of Matich, Gilmore, and, um, Whathisname the announcer moved Matich, who must be 8'7" in his massive slippers, moved Matich away from the foreground and into the background, where for a single night he appeared to be merely huge. This week Matich was back in the foreground for the Rutgers/UConn game, and poor Rodney Gilmore looked like a seven-year old next to Matich, who loomed so large in the frame he appeared to be angrily eyeing our beer through the television. (Really, dude. Please. Take it and stop staring.)
--Colt McCoy, despite having a fake name, may be the best qb in the Big 12, if you like shiny numbers. (Oh, and we do.) While BON might say that Graham Harrell's numbers are a product of the system, they're still huge numbers; Tech turned the first half of the Texas/Texas Tech game into an ABA game, and then found themselves bound at every turn by some knot the Texas coaching staff had tied them in at halftime. Texas simply settled down, ran the hell out of the ball, and did what good teams do against Mike Leach: stay disciplined and focus on the guys who hadn't touched the ball in the first half.
McCoy was beyond...well, just plain beyond: 256 yards, 4 tds, and 68 yards rushing just because he could. He may set the record for Texas passing tds this year as a freshman. All of that and he doesn't even dance like Vince Young did, and has made no additions to his coach's iPod. Mack Brown just recruited this awesome preschooler out of Lubbock, too. You've got to see his mechanics to believe them.
You haven't heard of Tyrus Stedler yet...but Mack Brown has.