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4TH & SHORT: WEEK 11

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IN WHICH WE START PACKING ON THE WEIGHT FOR A LONG WINTER

Welcome back to 4th & Short, America's Finest College Football Column Ghostwritten By A Dog. I can't prove that, actually. There's a good chance Pat Forde is actually a Labradoodle. Anyways, Happy Monday! What's so happy about it, you say? Well, for one, I didn't play Alabama this weekend.

Also, I'm a dog and have no responsibilities. I'm almost certainly sleeping as you read this.

It was another eventful weekend across the sport, so let's not sniff around the bushes too much - let's dig right in.

SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR PLAYOFF HOPES, STANFORD

Just know that we're going to build something beautiful out of them. (We're going to mulch around Washington State's swingsets.)

THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU REALIZE THAT IOWA CONTROLS THEIR DESTINY IN THE TITLE RACE AS MUCH AS ANY OTHER TEAM RIGHT NOW

It feels funny, and wrong, but also kinda good. It's like when they scratch that spot on my belly that makes my leg kick. I might fall over, but I don't necessarily want it to stop.

LIFE IS FULL OF SURPRISES

That's right, the Iowa Hawkeyes are 10-0 for the first time in program history. Joining them in the "this wasn't in my preview magazine" corner are the undefeated Houston Cougars, who've moved to the pole position in the Group of Five and gotten sassy on social media in the process. There's also the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who dodged a pitfall on the road against Iowa State. Boy, an undefeated team's season collapsing in Ames. It's hard to imagine that. (It helps when your attention span is limited to knowing where they keep the treats, though.)

THAT FEELING WHEN #PAC12AFTERDARK IS STILL GOING AT 2AM EST

You want to relax and go to bed, but you know something terrible and fascinating is going to happen. It's the same reason I'm vigilant about the vacuum cleaner. Never know what that guy's gonna do.

GET OFF THE FLOOR, DAD, GREAT NEWS: CINCINNATI'S BOWL ELIGIBLE

They said we're probably going to go to either Birmingham, or to Miami Beach. It's like being offered the choice between "going to live on a farm upstate" and actually going to live on a farm upstate.

SPEAKING OF THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD

A bunch of other mediocre-to-okay teams crossed the 2015 College Football Season Participant Trophy threshold this weekend, and let's celebrate their adequacy:

Louisville held on for a 38-31 victory over Virginia, bringing the Cardinals' record to 6-4, a pleasant turnaround from their 0-3 stumble out of the gate. In fairness, UofL was never as bad as they looked: two of those three season-opening losses were to still-undefeateds Clemson and Houston. Counterpoint: the other one was to Auburn. Anyways, they're going to a bowl.

Meanwhile in Tampa, South Florida stunned #22 Temple 44-23, bringing the Bulls bowl eligibility for the first time since 2010.

Cal stanched the bleeding on what had been a four-game losing streak, beating Oregon State 54-24 to reach a bowl for the first time since 2011.

New Mexico pulled out a shocking 31-24 victory on the blue turf in Boise, bringing the long-suffering Lobos to their first postseason since the 2007 season.

Texas Tech and Tennessee also reached six wins this weekend, so, uh, good for them too.

LET'S NOT TALK ABOUT WHO DID WHAT OR WHY, LET'S TALK SOLUTIONS

Hmm. I wonder how things are going over in Lexington. Let's pause and take a look:

Okay, see, that sounds bad, sure. But why's my ball under the dresser right now? Dog reasons, that's why, and you wouldn't understand that either. So are you gonna stand there and criticize? Or are you going to lay on the floor, squeeze your arm back under there and get it for me? And then do the same thing again in five minutes when I put it back there?

What? Dog reasons.

COME TO BLANKET MOUNTAIN, HOOSIERS, THERE'S NO PAIN IN BLANKET MOUNTAIN

There's no long winter of what-could-have-been. There's no dwelling on missed chances, no parsing of probabilities. Maybe in some alternate universe the chips fall different, and Indiana's got seven or eight wins right now. We don't live in that universe. All we've got is this mountain, Hoosiers. There's just blankets and dog farts. Come on in.

LET'S PAUSE TO THINK ABOUT HOW THAT ALABAMA-FLORIDA SEC TITLE GAME IS GOING TO LOOK

See, now, I would take this as a compliment, Florida. I survived this day. That's like, best-case-scenario stuff for you.

OUTSTANDING IN YOUR FIELD: THIS WEEK'S "SHORT LEGS, TALL ORDER" WINNER

I've celebrated the efforts of many a miniature marvel in this space so far this year, and most of them have been great efforts in big wins. You know, though - you don't always end up the winner. It's important to remember that sometimes you're the lonely dog in a barren, muddy field, just doin' your best while the humans make a mess of things.

So this week I'm throwing a bone to Joe Yearby, the 5'-9" sophomore running back for the Miami Hurricanes who amassed 153 total yards of offense this weekend in the Canes' 59-21 loss to North Carolina. Shine on, my dude, and when the axe swings, it'll swing at taller necks.

I FEEL LIKE I'VE LEFT SOMETHING OUT

Oh yeah, it's the Big XII's playoff chances once again, once Oklahoma wins Bedlam and their loss to Texas lets Notre Dame tiebreak their way into the final four.

If only there was something the Big XII could do to change their situation.

SPEAKING OF LEFT OUT

I don't care what you think you saw this weekend, but it's not basketball season yet, you monsters.

Personally, I've got a little trick I use to tell which season it is. Look at the standings. Is Auburn good? No?

Dang, this used to work.