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OPEN THREAD: FIRST SHIFT

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LET'S TALK ABOUT EMU WARS

After a couple straight weeks with truly mediocre early slates, the noon games today actually offer a few compelling storylines.

The only noontime contest between ranked teams is #17 Iowa (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) heading to Evanston to take on #20 Northwestern (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten), a matchup likely to decide the Big Ten West division champion. Beyond that, however, we've got #2 Baylor looking to avenge their only regular-season loss last year as they face always-feisty West Virginia in a game that promises to feature the best of the collective lunacy we've come to expect from the Big XII Arena League.

There's also an as-yet-underwhelming Louisville team heading to Tallahassee with the hopes of turning their season around against shaky-but-for-Dalvin-Cook's-theatrics Florida State in one of those "well, it's the ACC, anything could happen" matchups. Then we've got #13 Ole Miss, still very much in the SEC West running, heading to the Liberty Bowl, that Graveyard of Empires, for the first time since 2009 to play an undefeated and very-dangerous Memphis team that Power 5 Coaching Candidate of the Moment Justin Fuente has on a beeline for a New Year's Six bowl bid.

We're here to talk about none of these matchups.

No, what interests me right now is #22 Toledo vs. Eastern Michigan. Sure, on paper this matchup doesn't look like much. Toledo's 5-0 and made Bret Bielema eat his words earlier this season. EMU is 1-5 and hasn't shown any indicators of positive change. But use your imagination! Doesn't a clash between Rockets and Emus seem compelling?

Oh, right. See, this is where I explain that I remain under the firm and willful misconception that EMU's mascot is actually the Emus because what the hell, guys, why isn't that your mascot. It's kooky and fun and you could even have a live emu mascot at games (but you probably shouldn't do that they're actually kind of pricks and yes, I have first-hand experience, my uncle raised emus for a stretch in the '90s - Ohio's a weirder place than you give us credit for - BUT I DIGRESS).

Besides, Boston College and Georgia Southern are already Eagles and I hate to say that both of those programs are better than you, but here we are. For a program that seems anxious to catch on in the popular imagination, having a goofy-looking flightless bird as your mascot is better than gray turf or ill-conceived wall-felling stunts, if you ask me.

So, back to my point: emus vs. heavy weaponry. If only there were precedent for- [sound of Foster's oil can being slammed on bar]

On 2 November the men traveled to Campion, where some 50 emus were sighted. As the birds were out of range of the guns, the local settlers attempted to herd the emus into an ambush, but the birds split into small groups and ran so that they were difficult to target. Nevertheless, while the first fusillade from the machine guns was ineffective due to the range, a second round of gunfire was able to kill "a number" of birds. Later the same day a small flock was encountered, and "perhaps a dozen" birds were killed.

The next significant event was on 4 November. Meredith had established an ambush near a local dam, and over 1,000 emus were spotted heading towards their position. This time the gunners waited until the birds were in close proximity before opening fire. The gun jammed after only twelve birds were killed, however, and the remainder scattered before more could be killed. No more birds were sighted that day.

In the days that followed Meredith chose to move further south where the birds were "reported to be fairly tame" but there was only limited success in spite of his efforts. At one stage Meredith even went so far as to mount one of the guns on a truck: a move that proved to be ineffective, as the truck was unable to gain on the birds, and the ride was so rough that the gunner was unable to fire any shots. By 8 November, six days after the first engagement, 2,500 rounds of ammunition had been fired. The number of birds killed is uncertain: one account claims just 50 birds, but other accounts range from 200 to 500—the latter figure being provided by the settlers. Meredith's official report noted that his men had suffered no casualties.

If that Australia bowl game ever gets off the ground, stick with being the Eagles, I suppose.