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Cavalcade Of Whimsy: The Pac-12 Needs To Be Better At College Football


Happy Election Day – or something like that – in a very special Cavalcade of Whimsy.


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Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …

It’s Election Day! What could possibly go wro … Это правда, эта колонка действительно сосет. Мы сфальсифицированы его сосать, и нет ничего, что вы можете с этим поделать. Ха ха ха!!!

If a game is played at 1 am, does it really exist?

Keep your Pac-12 off of my lawn, and out of my College Football Playoff – unless Washington goes unbeaten.

Oh sure, the Pac-12 After Dark thing is cool, and it’s certainly a fantastic Saturday night porn break for bored and lonely men in proper time zones, but it’s also a gimmick that – along with a rumor of a Pac-12 Network – prevents most of America from seeing the product.

But when everyone did get a chance to see the league play against other teams of substance and grit, bad things happened. And now, the Pac-12 is hurt (Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA), boring/bad (Stanford, Oregon State), football eye-candy (Washington State, Cal), or just weird (Oregon).

But it’s a whole bunch of fun week-in-and-week-out. That doesn’t mean the league is doing anything to warrant a College Football Playoff spot if the big Dawg isn’t perfect.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course 13-0 Washington should get in no matter what, but 12-1, Pac-12 champion Washington? Ehhhhhhh – and the College Football Playoff committee sort of hinted at that in the first go-round ranking.

If Western Michigan has NO shot, even with two Big Ten wins and an unbeaten record, then why is U-Dub getting a free pass for a non-conference schedule of Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State, and a possible championship in a league full of whatever?

Washington State went 1-2 in non-conference play, with Idaho getting tagged as a Pac-12 payday buddy, and with losses to Eastern Washington and Boise State.

Utah always steps it up in non-conference play, right? Uhhhh, Southern Utah, BYU and San Jose State all get thrown into the basket of no big whoop.

Colorado? Waxed by Michigan, but beat an awful Colorado State as well as Idaho State – because the Pac-12 really does love itself some Idaho.

USC still has to play Notre Dame, but this year, it might as well be playing Idaho – at least the Vandals are going to go bowling. Alabama – blowout loss. Utah State – bad.

In non-Pac-12 world, UCLA lost to Texas A&M, Oregon lost to Nebraska, Oregon State lost to Minnesota and Boise State – but beat Idaho State – and Arizona didn’t play anyone other than BYU.

So what did the Pac-12 actually do right to deserve being mentioned with the real conferences this season?

It dropped the Big 12 like third period French.

Stanford beat Kansas State, Arizona State beat Texas Tech, and Cal beat Texas.

The Pac-12 beat up on the Power 5 conference that’s looking around the poker table wondering who the sucker is, and that’s it.

And it played a lot of games against BYU and things in Idaho.

(And now, the punchline … after all that, yeah, I actually do hope Washington goes 13-0 to see what it can do.)

”No no no, it’s spelled, Raymond Luxury Yacht, but it’s pronounced, Throat Warbler Mangrove.”

Why do you care about the throat slashing gesture?

TCU didn’t lose to Arkansas earlier in the season because QB Kenny Hill got flagged for doing it, but it didn’t help.

And now, this week, Lamar Jackson had to come out and explain that his “zip it” thing after yet another brilliant touchdown wasn’t a throat slash, but so what if it was?

College football players are literally bashing their brains in while playing through injuries that would cripple a normal human being for months, but they supposedly can’t handle a gesture after a touchdown?

“Yeah, the 53-yard butt-kicking scoring run stinks, but that throat slashing gesture hurt my feelings.”

At least the throat slash thing looks cool, unlike vaping, dabbing, and the equivalent ten years from now of Hammer pants, millennials with too-scruffy beards.

Yay! My vote really counts in this election.

I wasted about 13 minutes trying to come up with a There’s Still A Heisman Race angle, without getting all Skip Bayless click-baity, trying to make the race interesting. But it’s not.

There’s really no No. 2 guy, much less another choice for the top spot right now, unless you’re trying to be a pretentious jerkweed – like the guy who doesn’t vote for a Cal Ripken-like baseball legend for the Hall of Fame because he doesn’t want anyone to get in with a 100% first-ballot.

Believe me, I’d love to be that guy, but considering the season started with Fournette, Cook, Watson, McCaffrey and Barrett as the front-runners, this has become the most boring Heisman race ever.

I’ll still try to find a case for someone else, but in the meantime, this Lamar Jackson thing is just too much fun.

Now, if you want to debate whether or not Scott Frost was right, and the real national champion was Nebraska …

Billions of dollars and countless souls have been lost in the war over the 1997 Heisman Trophy argument, and I’ve been a one-man commando force on this.

There are few arguments that I can win as 1986 Larry-Bird-three-point-contest-walk-off easily as the Charles Woodson Deserved The 1997 Heisman Over Peyton Manning debate.

It’s still the most ongoing heated and impassioned college football fight that won’t stop –nicest-guy-in-the-world Charles Davis once yelled at me about this – but it’s also a slam-dunk at every level possible.

Michigan doesn’t go undefeated, and it certainly doesn’t win a piece of the national title, without Woodson in 1997.

He made the key, game-changing plays in all three phases time and again. He stepped up in the biggest of moments, and he deserved the award in an MVP, MOP, best player, and in any other way you want to want to break it down.

And no, it wasn’t some ESPN conspiracy.

So with all that said, I don’t want to hear it, Michigan fans, when I say that no, Jabrill Peppers shouldn’t really be deep in the Heisman race.

He’s obviously very, very good, and he’s going to be a top ten pick and an All-Pro when he’s off to the next level. He’s also a jack-of-all-trades catalyst as the best player on one of the nation’s best teams.

But the Heisman is a different animal.

Would Michigan be unbeaten without Peppers? Almost certainly.

Has he been the signature star of the 2016 season? Nah – at least not yet.

Is he worth more to his team than Jake Browning, D’Onta Foreman, J.T. Barrett and Deshaun Watson are to their respective teams? Not really.

Now, if he dominates against Ohio State and comes up with the game-winning kick return or big pick – like Woodson did in biggest games of 1997 – then it all changes. But for now, he’s just really good on a really great team.

“Saturday night was for wives, but Friday night at the Copa was always for the girlfriends.”

Oh, nooooo, the high school football scene … what’s it going to become if the Big Ten plays football on Fridays?

Whatever. If you want to play a Purdue-Rutgers game on a Friday night, Big Ten, go for it.

However, Big Ten, learn from the NFL’s mistake. As it turns out, people really don’t want football all the time if it’s lousy.

It’s one thing to put the MAC or Sun Belt games on a weeknight to get exposure – you do what you’ve got to do – but don’t ruin the product. Don’t kill the sanctity of the Saturday big game, even if that big game is Northwestern vs. Maryland to some fans.

But at quarterback for one side, not so much.

There’s a reason why Alabama vs. LSU looked and felt different. There’s a reason why it played like a big boy battle, with the teams each looking a little different than your average college football game.

It’s because each team was playing with NFL talent across the board.

This is turning out to be the year when the “recruit to a type” programs are about to take a back seat.

Wisconsin might be the Grand Marshal of the Find Guys Who Fit parade, and it’ll deep in the CFP hunt by winning out, but the five best teams in the country are all there for a reason.

Yeah, having pro prospects doesn’t ensure success – it’s why LSU and Florida State are among the season’s biggest disappointments – but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Alabama had at least six 2017 NFL Draft first rounders on the field in Baton Rouge on Saturday night, and among the starting 22, it had at least 15 guys who’ll be key parts of an NFL camp next season. And that’s not to mention the young talents who’ll be in The League soon after.

Clemson’s talent will populate the 2018 and 2019 NFL Drafts, but as is, Dabo fielded at least eight solid 2017 pro prospects in the blowout over Syracuse.

Give credit to Brady Hoke and the former coaching staff for Michigan starting at least seven players – possibly as many as ten – who could go in the top 100 picks, and with a ridiculous 18 legitimate pro prospects who could someday be in an NFL camp.

Washington has an NFL defense. The Huskies have at least seven potential NFLers on D at the moment, and if you throw in the underclassmen like QB Jake Browning, Chris Petersen’s team cranked out around 16 real, live, NFL talents in the blowout win over Cal on Saturday.

Ohio State gave away its entire team to the League of Mercenaries in April, but it still has five top 2017 NFL Draft prospects starting. Like Clemson, it’s stockpiled with terrific pro talent for future drafts.

Yeah, of course chemistry matters. Of course college players can rise up and shine on the right day. Of course coaching, scheme, and momentum play a role.

But in the end, just take the teams with the guys who are more talented at this college football thing than the other guys.

Three interesting tidbits and under-the-radar statistics shaping the college football season and our lives as we know it, and after reading this, you’ll go to bed tonight with a smarter, more informed, more enriched human existence.

1. Western Michigan has turned the ball over three times all season long.

Why is Western Michigan so amazing? It’s No. 2 in the nation in third down conversions and No. 1 in turnover margin with just three giveaways on the year. Throw in that it’s 16th in penalties, and this is as well-coached, air-tight team as any in America. It’s doing all the little things right.

So who’s No. 2 in fewest turnovers lost? Old Dominion has given it up just six times, tied with Michigan and Iowa, who play each other this week. Kansas is the nation’s worst with 29 giveaways.

2. Army is sixth in the nation in total defense.

Why is Army on the verge of bowl eligibility and with a real shot at beating Notre Dame? It’s second in the nation in rushing – nothing new – and is sixth in the nation in total defense. The D was okay last year, but just two seasons ago it was giving up 431 yards per game, and this year it’s allowing just 286.

3. Troy has allowed just two sacks all year.

The Trojans have lost just one game – a 30-24 battle at Clemson – partly because the offensive line has given QB Brandon Silvers time to work. By comparison, Army, Nebraska and Pitt are tied for second in the nation allowing just six sacks. The worst pass protection in the country? San Jose State has allowed 43.

This week’s reason why the Big 12 should’ve considered me for expansion …

I could run for more than 300 yards against the Texas Tech defense, too.

The sure-thing, 100%, rock-solid lock, sell the house, sell the kids, no doubt about it picks of the century for this week

I’m so, so, so, so, sorry America – I actually missed a pick against the spread. Gee, thanks Florida State +6 – I hope you’re happy. But I gave you UCLA +12.5 sans Rosen, and I gave you TCU outright. I’ll forever live with the shame that I wussed out on providing you with Arkansas straight up, but I’ll press on.

Straight Up: 21-12, Against the Spread: 22-10-1

1. Pitt +20.5 over Clemson (but Clemson to win)
2. Oklahoma -15.5 over Baylor
3. Troy over Appalachian State PICK

C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …

The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects of the world

1) Overrated: Washington and Louisville schedules
Underrated: That Alabama matzah ball waiting there in Glendale or Atlanta if either one gets in

2) Overrated: “Hold my baby, man”
Underrated: Rolled chicken tacos

3) Overrated: The utterly ridiculous notion that 5 million people were at the Cubs parade, especially the rally held in a place that holds about 50,000
Underrated: 100,000 at Lollapalooza, which uses all of Grant Park

4) Overrated: Four of the Power 5 conferences
Underrated: The Big Ten probably getting four teams into the New Year’s Six bowls

5) Overrated: Your vote
Underrated: My vote

Sorry if this column sucked, I wasn’t my fault …

Unlike all the past defeated columns before it, I refuse to honor the time-honored tradition of acknowledging the legitimacy of this column sucking.