Friends, the only thing better than Football U. on a chilly Friday is an early three-martini lunch. Ahh...
Er, anyway, this week, our pigskin pundits Richard Connelly and John Nova Lomax do the unthinkable: they agree. On Notre Dame. Hath hell frozen over? Let's find out. Lomax kicks off, Connelly gets the ball in the second half:
Truth be told, there are a few teams I will pull for Notre Dame to beat. Oklahoma, is one, USC is another. And then there's Miami. When the Irish take on the 'Canes, I bleed as Kelly green as Ara Parseghian. At least when Notre Dame stomped a mudhole in Texas in the Cotton Bowl in 1978, they had the decency not to rack up 16 penalties (most for unsportsmanlike conduct) for 202 yards, as Miami did.
And while the fan fallout from last week's brawl is a bit overblown (The death penalty, for a fight they didn't even start? C'mon people...) that ugly fracas certainly is of a piece with certain other chapters in Thug U's ongoing litany of shame.
Which made this reader comment we received at Football U by txcanes on October 10, 2006 all the more amusing:
"Go ahead and hate Miami. A program that gradudates 77% of its kids. A program that is now recruiting kids who do not make the news for their arrests. Go ahead and hate a probram that has kids that get a Bachelors degree in international finance and a Masters in Business in 4 years. That would be Eric Winston, ever heard of him yahoo? Or another kid who gets his Bachelors degeee and Masters degree in Business, that would be Vilma , ever heard of him. But I can understand why you would hate Miami, because they are doing it right and have won it all while doing it right, like Ohio State with Maurice. Right. He would not have even played for Miami his freshman year because of his academics. Hate us, we like it!"
That, my friends, is what you call impeccable comic timing.
Editor's note: Amen, JNL! For more on the genius of Miami fan, we bring you this brainiac:
For me, the best part of this whole scandal was not Lamar Thomas's asinine commentary -- "I was about to go down the elevator and get into that thing,' and '''Why don't they just meet outside in the tunnel after the ball game and get it on some more?'' are our favorites there -- but that it showed just how far the once-mighty 'Canes had fallen. Back in the day, they only used to brawl against ranked teams on national TV. Now, they're reduced to whooping ass on directional schools on regional broadcasts. As I told "Txcanes," it's like seeing Mike Tyson pop up in a brawl on Cheaters.
After the jump: Lomax makes his picks and Connelly smacks Thug U a wee bit more...
UCLA - Notre Dame. UCLA's inept defenses foster the Heisman campaigns of their opponents like stagnant ponds breed mosquitoes. Fact: of the last eight Heisman winners, only two — Eric Crouch and Chris Weinke — didn't get to pad their stats against the toothless Bruin D. (Okay, Ron Dayne's 250-yard day came in the Rose Bowl, after he'd already won, but still...) One of the major reasons USC players have won that trophy three of is that they get to play UCLA a couple of weeks before the voting, but this is not just a USC thing — Ricky Williams and Jason White just so happened to play UCLA the years they won the Heisman. So what I'm saying here is that if Brady Quinn is gonna get back on track for this thing, he'd better do it this week. Notre Dame 35, UCLA 24.
Texas - Nebraska. As a Texas fan, I have an uneasy feeling about this game. Colt McCoy has yet to prove himself in a 100 percent hostile environment, the weather is gonna be cool and wet, and the Huskers really, really want this game. But like Mick Jagger says, you can't always get what you want. The Horns win 26-20.
Colorado - Oklahoma. I can't believe the Sooners are 14 point favorites here. Their offense broke its collarbone last week and their defense is not up to par this year, and Colorado opened a shockingly potent can of whoop-ass on Tech last week. I think Colorado will actually win this game 20-17. Another wheel falls of the Sooner's little wagon.
Texas A&M - Oklahoma State. We keep poking fun at Aggie cornerback Jordan Peterson, and last week it looked like he was gonna prove me the genius my mama always told me I was. On Mizzou's very first play from scrimmage, he got toasted like a pumpkin seed by Chase Daniel, but then Peterson managed to run down the Tiger receiver and knock the ball out of the back of the end zone for a touchback. No such luck this week — Okie State WR Adarius Bowman is coming off a 13 catch, Big 12 record 300 yard performance, and he (along with QB Bobby Reid and WR D'Juan Woods) is licking his chops. The irrational exuberance in Aggieland comes to a screeching halt Saturday. Okie State 34, Aggies 21.
Texas Tech - Iowa State. Defensive back DeAndre Jackson, the Cyclones best (some would say "only") cover guy, went down for the season against OU, and that would seem to bode ill for Iowa State with Mike Leach's flying circus coming to town. But the Red Raiders have been one of the season's biggest busts and the forecast calls for a miserable day — rain possibly turning to snow, gusty wind — so expect plenty of turnovers from these two passing teams. Especially from Tech, whose QB Graham Harrell has been combining Dave Krieg-like fumbling skills with a Ryan Leaf-like knack for throwing picks, and that is in sunny Texas weather. The Cyclones win in a real cyclone 19-13.
Miami - Duke. Of all the 120 or so Division I-A schools, why does Miami get to play Duke this week, when half their roster is in the time-out corner? Duke, the same team that got blanked at home by the frickin' Richmond Spiders...If there is any team that can't take advantage of a team with half its secondary, punter and return man suspended, not to mention nine other players, it's those hapless Blue Devils. Miami will shut them out and roll 31-0.
UTEP - Houston. The reeling Cougars should get things back on track this weekend. One thing's certain — UTEP coach Mike Price should be excited about coming here. Our strip clubs are vastly superior to those Pensacola Skankatoriums he's used to, although they are likely less exotic than those in Juarez. Coogs 27, Miners 24.
Rice - UCF After four straight losses to begin the season, things are looking up for the Owls, who have won two of their last three. The Golden Knights are a very bad team and they just got pasted by Pitt 52-7. The Owls go into Orlando and snatch a victory 34-17.
John: Admitting that you can cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame (under some pretty strict circumstances, of course) is a good, solid first step toward accepting the fact that deep inside lurks a Weis-loving Touchdown-Jesus fanatic who chokes up just a little bit at even his 14th viewing of Rudy. Shit, my inability to root for UT is so ingrained that I was pulling for USC in the Rose Bowl, and that's tough for an Irish fan to do. But as a newly christened member of the ND Nation, you should know that any time you talk about Miami and ND you need to mention the 1988 game where they whipped Jimmy Johnson's Number One-ranked Hurricanes as the student section all wore t-shirts reading "Catholics vs. Convicts."
Last week's Miami brawl was utterly stupendous on so many levels. Firstly, who the hell brawls with Florida International University? (I should ask "Who the hell schedules Florida International?", but that's a lost cause.) What, FIU players are talking smack? Did Willis beat up Gary Coleman every time he asked "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout"? Some smack is meant to laughed at, not responded to.
Secondly, when you've got an FIU player entering the fight by wildly swinging his crutches, you've got the battle won on style points already. No amount of helmet-whipping or head-stomping is going to change that, so Miami should have just admitted defeat at that point.
Thirdly, you have an ugly, ugly out-of-control riot that needs the cops to be called in; you have the analyst on your TV crew, an alumnus, heartily endorsing the idiots for everyone to hear; you have the team wildly celebrating the brawl on the sidelines afterward. What do you do if you're the school president? Hand out some one-game suspensions. Donna Shalala, we salute you. We don't understand you, but we salute you. Feel free to pick up your "Stop Snitchin'" t-shirt on the way out.
This week's games:
Notre Dame - UCLA: After hearing about JFK's assassination, future Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously declared "I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually." I can't escape the feeling that ND will blow a game between now and the USC showdown, but I don't think this one is it. ND 42-14.
Texas - Nebraska: After hearing about JFK's assassination, former Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson said "Now I'll show the world what Texas foreign policy looks like." Or maybe he didn't. Longhorn fans seem to think the Big 12 is beneath them, but the Huskers still believe no one comes into Lincoln and wins. Look, Nebraska has a receiver named Hunter Teafatiller, perhaps the only Big 12 player whose family name honors a Cat Stevens album. You can't beat that. Nebraska 24-21.
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UH - UTEP: The Coogs had another awful loss last week, to Southern Miss. Interestingly, the Golden Eagles' top receiver and top rusher were suspended — for the first half only — because of curfew violations. Donna Shalala, there's someone out there even more lenient than you. UTEP opened its season by losing to Portland State, which is tough to do. UH 31-10.
Iowa - Michigan: Iowa is coming off a loss to Indiana, and unless you're wearing baggy shorts and watching as Bobby Knight chokes his players, you have no business losing to Indiana. Michigan, on the other hand, is looking pretty damn good. Chad Henne has made some of the season's prettiest passes, and the defense has been ferocious. Michigan, 35-10.
Rutgers - Pitt: Speaking of undefeated teams, how about some Garden State love for the Scarlet Knights? As a New Jersey native, I understand the inferiority complex that leads to having a state university that doesn't actually include the name of the state. But you cannot deny the power of the Scarlet Knights!! Well, you can, and pretty easily, but I'm hoping Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt's not the man to do it. Rutgers 24-17.
Miami (FL)- Duke: For the first time in its gridiron history, Duke is not the best-behaved team on the field. The uber-scrutinized Hurricanes do everything but shake hands after each spine-snapping sack of whoever Duke's QB is. Miami 56-3.