Thanksgiving weekend is a busy time for all of us. Travel to see family, cooking a big dinner, eating a big dinner, playing flag football in the yard, Black Friday shopping, setting up a Christmas tree: there's a lot going on. We can't let all these distractions cause us to lose sight of the true reason for the season, however:
Blind, frothing, and extremely specific hatred.
Maybe you're a Michigan fan who was looking to finally stick it to the Buckeyes. Maybe you're a Tigers fan who thought Auburn Devil Magic might have one more trick left against Bama's Actual Devilry. Perhaps, even, you're an Oklahoma State partisan, ready for the Cowboys to finally break through to the big one, and embarrass the Sooners in the process.
Me? I faced up to my bitter historical archrival, too.
I hate that cocky son of a bitch.
(Just like everyone else I listed, I took the L and ended up hiding in the half-bath.)
Hi, everyone. As always, I'm Holly, your plucky Corgi Correspondent, here to talk about everything that happened in a jam-packed, thrilling Rivalry Week.
This is: 4TH & SHORT: RIVALRY WEEK EDITION.
It was a long weekend with games on multiple days, so let's approach it chronologically.
WHILE THE TURKEY WAS STILL SETTLING
Thanksgiving's an exciting day for a dog, especially when you've got a human who's as messy a cook as mine. A lot makes it to the floor, and I've got a staggering home-field advantage on that hallowed linoleum. Never lost when it comes to floor potatoes.
And speaking of floor potatoes, we had two games Thursday night!
First, Texas Tech outlasted Texas 48-45, pushing the Longhorns to 4-7 on the season and ensuring another bowl-less season for Charlie Strong's embattled team. Perhaps the bigger story of the evening, however, was taking place in Orlando: could Willie Taggart's suddenly resurgent USF Bulls put the final nail in the coffin of a winless season for directional rival Central Florida, still staggered by the mid-season check-out of longtime Head Coach and erstwhile AD George O'Leary? Or would the Knights rally for a stirring, Necessary Roughness-esque final game victory?
Uh, no. Things don't work like that. I can fail to chase a squirrel up a tree 11 times in a row. Doesn't mean I'm gonna figure it out the 12th time just because it'd be a good storyline. USF dominated in a 44-3 victory, one whose pain might be tempered by UCF's exciting hire of lauded Bowling Green HC and Art Briles disciple Dino Babers late Sunday evening.
ON TO BLACK FRIDAY!
After that light appetizer on Thanksgiving night, Friday offered a full slate of games! Did you miss them because you were brawling in the food court or wrestling over a vegetable steamer? Well, that's your loss, because a lot happened before we even got to GameDay. That's why I stayed cuddled under blankets with the remote and some leftovers. I'll do my shopping during work hours Monday like a normal person. (I stole the human's credit card while he was napping off the turkey.)
In American Conference action, we had Houston - enjoying Tom Herman while he lasts - rolling over Navy 52-31 behind a 3-TD day from QB Greg Ward Jr. The win jumped the Cougars back into the driver's seat for a New Year's Six bowl, should they win in the AACCG next week.
Down Big XII way, TCU pulled out a 28-21 2OT victory over Baylor in a game that lacked the major playoff implications we'd hoped for going in (thanks to Oklahoma) and the fireworks we imagined (thanks to terrible weather). This is why I don't go outside after mid-November. There aren't heat registers you can lay on outside. I just don't see the point.
Friday's biggest story, though, was Iowa winning the historic Heroes Trophy (it's a thing! look it up!) with a 28-20 win against the Cornhuskers in Lincoln, propelling the Hawkeyes to their first-ever undefeated regular season and giving them the chance to clinch a certain playoff spot with a win against Michigan State in Indianapolis.
You can finally talk to me about undefeated Iowa. I'm old enough to know.
RIVALRY SATURDAY, THE GREATEST DAY OF THE YEAR: LET'S GET TO IT
Finally, Saturday. The main event.
Michigan spent all season building the Jim Harbaugh Death Cult, celebrating a stifling defense, a host of odd and stirring proclamations, and peaking with a GRAVEYARD HAMMER WALK. This was going to be the year they finally turned the tide back on Ohio State's 14-year run of near-dominance. Not only that, they could play their way into a possible Rose Bowl (or improbable playoff) slot with a win! We go live to Michigan Stadium, where-
Let's move on to Notre Dame, who despite a season ravaged by key injuries, sat at 10-1 - their only loss by two points, on the road, in terrible weather, to the #1 team in the country. They could make a very strong case to jump the Big XII champion into a playoff spot with a win over Stanford, who I remind you scored six points against Northwestern, and so the Fighting Irish -
Trees can get the better of the best of us, Brian.
OKAY, HOLLY, BUT WHAT ABOUT FLORIDA? THEY WERE STILL ALIVE FOR THE PLAYOFF GOING INTO THE FLORIDA STATE GAME, WHAT HAPPENED THERE?
You freakin' serious? Is this guy serious? I'm not even going to talk about that. Look at the box score. It's right there between Hi & Lois and Garfield. Also, this isn't a Q&A. Hold your questions to the end unless you've got ham.
THAT FEELING WHEN YOU'RE 12 HOURS INTO GAMEDAY AND THERE'S STILL PAC-12 ACTION GOING ON
THAT FEELING WHEN YOUR PERSON'S ALMA MATER BEAT EAST CAROLINA 19-16 AND IT'S NOT REALLY A RIVALRY GAME AND YOU'RE NOT REALLY PLEASED WITH HOW THE SEASON WENT BUT A WIN IS A WIN AND YOU'RE GOING TO A BOWL GAME, HOWEVER MEDIOCRE IT WILL PROVE TO BE
Strut what you got. They don't make geographic or historical sense as a rival, but I can learn to hate ECU. I should be the only one doin' the Ruffin' around here.
SHORT LEGS, TALL ORDER OF THE WEEK: DEMARCUS AYERS, WR HOUSTON
You're going to make me celebrate another cat person, aren't you? It's fine, height trumps species in my book, and no elevationally-modest person had a better day this weekend than the 5'-10" junior wideout Ayers, who pulled in two dramatic and acrobatic catches on his way to 161 yards and a TD in the Cougs' win over Navy.
Oh, yeah, no, I could do that. You just have to throw it a little lower. And a little slower. Right at my head. Use a tennis ball, too. [tennis ball whizzes past head] I wasn't ready. Let's try that again.
AND FINALLY, BLACK SUNDAY
It didn't take long after the games had ended Saturday for the axe to start swinging on coaches who didn't get the job done - whatever that job might be - this year. Shockingly, after weeks of rumors to the contrary, LSU coach Les Miles hung on to his job - surely, there couldn't have been behind-the-scenes intrigue in Louisiana! Anyways, good for Les: he was the lucky one.
Among the firings or resignations on Sunday: Virginia's Mike London stepped down after posting losing records in five of six seasons in Charlottesville; Rutgers' Kyle Flood - who was amazingly still employed up to this point! - was let go in a housecleaning that also swept out controversial AD Julie Hermann; and assistant coaches shouldered the blame at Penn State, Minnesota and Purdue.
Oh, and the other thing.
The Georgia Bulldogs fired head coach Mark Richt after 15 seasons in Athens - 15 seasons in which the respected coach earned 15 bowl bids, a .740 winning percentage, and only one season with fewer than eight wins. On the other hand, he hadn't won an SEC title in a decade and many felt that the Bulldogs had failed to capitalize on the relative weakness of the East division in recent years.
I like you, Bulldogs. You're bulldogs, and I've never had bad experiences with your meaty, gregarious, asthmatic brothers. Maybe you're making the right decision here - maybe it was finally time for a change. I can't say. I just think, it's like when you've been sleeping on one bed for a long time. It's cozy. You've got a nice butt-groove carved into it. You're comfortable. Then one day you decide to chew a hole in it, tear out all the stuffing, and we have to throw it out.
I hope you find a new bed you like, Georgia, and I hope you're happy in the one you've just made for yourself.