Sports wrap-up: 31 October 2017

Will there be ranting and some salty, NSFW language? I think we can very much count on that! Read on, good people!

Noted commenter M-Wolverine was largely silent last week, when the Penn State Nittany Lions boatraced his University of Michigan Wolverines, but this week, before the corpse of the Lions was cold, he asked me coyly on Slack whether I was going to write about sports this week. I AM A PROFESSIONAL, SIR, AND I DO NOT SHIRK MY DUTIES!!!! Okay, it’s going to be hard to write about college football this week, but I’ll try to make my cursing as colorful as possible. There may be some references to felching, which is quite possibly the best seemingly-innocuous-but-horrible word in the English language. So what happened?

Well, Penn State went to Columbus and lost, 39-38. If you think a one-point loss was gut-wrenching, we haven’t even started with the intestinal distress this game caused. Saquan Barkley returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and later scored on a nifty long run. On Ohio State’s first possession, Penn State forced a fumble and scored a touchdown. It was 14-0, and all was well in the world. Later, Ohio State kicked away from Barkley (as they did all day after the first one), and Koa Farmer, a linebacker, returned it something like 60 yards to set up another Penn State touchdown. At one point it was 28-10. Then the wheels came off.

Ohio State deserved to win the game, and Penn State would have been lucky to hold on. The Buckeyes outgained the Lions (529-283 in total yards) and played better defense, and as they kept scoring, a loss began to feel inevitable. But it looked like Penn State could do just enough to eke out a win. But then the coaching staff fell asleep, I assume, because the play-calling became a comedy of errors. Early in the fourth quarter, leading 35-20, they forced another fumble around midfield. Usually, when you get a turnover in that part of the field, you want to strike quickly, and Penn State certainly has that capability. But all day, they were forcing the run on first down, and OSU was stuffing it because Penn State’s offensive line, which is essentially the same as last year, has somehow gotten worse since then and even over the course of the season. So the Lions ran the ball, the Buckeyes easily stuffed them, and a Lion forgot to block the outside rusher when they were punting and he easily blocked the kick. Ohio State took it right down the field and scored to make it 35-27. Then the Lions managed a nice drive and got it down to the OSU 4-yard-line. They ran it up the middle three straight times and kicked a field goal. Twice the quarterback, Trace McSorley, ran it up the middle, and then Barkley did. Their tight end, Mike Gesicki, is 6′ 6”, and he was giving OSU defenders fits all day. I get trying to burn some clock, but you couldn’t throw one pass to Gesicki? A touchdown there seals the game, pretty much, and while it’s nice to have an 11-point lead with a bit less than 6 minutes left, the way the defense was playing meant it just wasn’t safe. Of course Ohio State went right down the field and scored a touchdown to make it 38-33. The kickoff return for the Lions got only to the 15, and Penn State ran the ball three more times, losing yardage each time. They punted, and Ohio State, you guessed it, took it right down the field for the game-winning touchdown. The offensive play-calling in the fourth quarter was awful.

The defense was terrible, too. Early in the game, the run defense was bad, but not awful, and the Ohio State quarterback, J.T. Barrett, did most of the damage. Barrett has been around forever and he’s setting all kinds of records for touchdowns responsible for (passing ones + rushing ones), but he’s not a very good throwing quarterback. He needs people to be wide open, and because Ohio State is generally far more talented than the teams they play, he often gets it. If you watch OSU highlights, he often throws short passes to wide-open dudes who then run 50 yards for touchdowns, which makes his statistics look a lot better. He’s a good-to-great college player, it’s true, but even early on in this game, he wasn’t throwing very well. Penn State was getting some pressure on him, too, which was crucial. Then, in the fourth quarter, they stopped putting pressure on him and the poor guys covering the receivers had to chase them all over the place, and Barrett just had to wait because he wasn’t bothered. He completed his final 16 passes in a row, which is insane. Some of them were great passes, but a lot were the kind he always completes – guys were wide open. Why didn’t the coaches try to put more pressure on him? NO MAN CAN SAY!!!!! It was ridiculous, though – he led three touchdown drives in the fourth quarter, and PSU never tried anything different. It was maddening. Everyone is talking about how great Barrett was, but he finished with 33 completions for only 328 yards. He attempted 39 passes, so his yards-per-attempt was 8.4, which is good in the NFL but not very good in college. Everything was short, but they just wore the Lions down.

Penn State has now had two-touchdown leads in the fourth quarter in their last two games against really good opponents (the Rose Bowl vs. USC and this past weekend), and they’ve lost both of them because the team collapsed, and I blame the coaching staff. The offensive line is terrible, and McSorley was getting killed, but they didn’t need deep passes, they just needed some short passes to keep the chains moving and take some pressure off Barkley. They had used their back-up quarterback a lot this year, getting him into games as a runner or receiver (with McSorley still in) because he’s a great athlete, and I thought they might bring him in for a few plays to mess with the Buckeyes. No sign of him. They have two very talented back-up running backs who are just different enough from Barkley to give defenses fits. Neither of them had a carry, and in fact I don’t think either of them saw the field. Why have a deep roster if you’re not going to use it? It’s just insane.

Penn State still has enough talent to go 11-1, but they need to figure some things out. They probably can’t make the playoff, unless things go really crazy (which they might, after all), but that’s okay. I just hate Ohio State and their asshole coach, and they might make the playoff again, which they did last year before losing 31-0 to Clemson. I wish the Playoff Selection Committee would come out and say, “Yes, Ohio State has a slightly better resumé, but the stank from their game last year is still clinging to them, so we’re not sending them to the playoff to get embarrassed again. Screw you, Buckeyes!” But I doubt that’s going to happen. Anyway, I promised salty language, so here it is: MOTHERFELCHING PENN STATE AND THEIR STUPID FUCKING COACHES AND THEIR FUCKING SHIT OFFENSIVE LINE AND THEIR FUCKING PUTRID PASS RUSH AND JUST FUCKITY FUCK FUCKING FUCKBALLS FUCK ASS-SHIT FUCKKKKKKKKKK! There were go, that was fun. Let’s move on!

I didn’t watch too much college football this weekend, because I was so peeved about the game, but during the game, I did flip around a bit. Iowa State (!!!) took down TCU, who was overrated at #4 but still #4. The Cyclones have beaten two Top 5 teams this year, which very rarely happens because Top 5 teams don’t lose all that often and a team rarely gets to play two in a season anyway. Good for Iowa State, though – they might win the Big 12, which would be pretty keen. Notre Dame (blech) won again, and I really hope someone beats them. And everyone’s favorite Heisman candidate, Khalil Tate, torched Washington State late on Saturday, leading the Arizona Wildcats to a 58-37 win, their fourth straight. Tate was 10 of 17 for 258 yards (now that’s an average-yards-per-attempt we can be proud of!) and two touchdowns, and he rushed 13 times for 146 yards just for fun, as well, with one touchdown … and he wasn’t even the leading rusher for his team. It’s not WSU’s defense was trash, either – they shut down USC earlier this year, but they had no answer for Tate! This week Arizona plays USC in Los Angeles, and I really hope the game is televised nationally and Tate goes off. He’s really freakin’ fun to watch.

Finally, South Alabama kicked a field goal this past weekend. Why is that significant? LOOK AT THIS DANDY KICK!!!!!

That has to be the coolest field goal in history. Football is awesome, you guys.

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After eating my liver on Saturday, I didn’t get to watch the Eagles on Sunday because I don’t have NFL Sunday Ticket and the game wasn’t broadcast here in Arizona. They won easily, 33-10, over the utterly hapless (and still winless) San Francisco 49ers, but I guess it was a sloppy game. Carson Wentz didn’t play all that well, the defense dominated, and the quarterback for San Fran was so terrorized the team went out and traded for New England’s back-up QB, Jimmy Garoppolo, just to staunch the bleeding (the Patriots can do this because Tom Brady is going to live forever thanks to that all that babies’ blood he drinks as part of his deal with Satan). So the Eagles are 7-1, the best record in the NFL, with a 6-game winning streak, and they get to play Denver this weekend, and the Broncos look terrible these days. Then they get a week off before going to play Dallas on the road, a game which could wrap up the division.

Speaking of the Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension is back on, and fans of the team are angry. Not about the fact that their star running back is a scumbag who beats up women and should have taken his suspension like a man. Oh no, they’re sports fans, so they’re mad at the NFL for suspending him in the first place! I like sports a lot, and I honestly don’t know how I’d react if Elliott were on the Eagles (I’m so glad he’s not, because I hated him in college), but at some point, you have to admit that the guy is a scumbag and just move on. Come on, Cowboys fans, it’s bad enough you root for the Cowboys – don’t be one of those people who roots for horrible human beings just because he plays for your team! Anyway, Elliott has one chance today to file an appeal, but we’ll see if he just accepts his suspension or not. Let’s move on!

The game of the week was in Seattle, where the Seahawks beat Houston 41-38. The game was on here, but I didn’t watch much of it. It was exciting, though, as the two teams went back and forth with big bombs until Houston finally ran out of time. I just love listening to pundits on air, because they’re so trapped in the moment. Last week Wentz was the greatest young quarterback in the game. This week it’s Deshaun Watson. Last week Tom Brady was the best quarterback playing right now. This week it’s Russell Wilson. Everyone commenting on games needs to slow their rolls when talking about players. It’s okay to rein in the superlatives occasionally.

The best (worst) play of the week was Travis Benjamin trying to return a punt and somehow getting tackled for a safety.

One of the guys writing about this play went back to 1994 to find a play where a punt return resulted in a safety, and it seems like there’s never been a play where a returner actually caught the punt, ran backward into their own end zone, and was tackled. Congratulations, Travis Benjamin! You (probably) made NFL history!

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The World Series might conclude tonight, and I hope it does only because that means the Astros will have won. I haven’t watched the Series; as I noted last week, I’m not terribly invested in baseball unless the Phillies are playing, but it’s been fun watching highlights. I’m going to be an old person and wonder if all the home runs are really that great – to paraphrase that little shit from The Incredibles (whose Randian philosophy is the worst part of the movie), if everyone is hitting home runs, are they really special? Most fans seem to love them, but it just seems a bit boring. The 1993 World Series remains a traumatic event in my life because the Phillies lost, but the final three games were amazing. In Game 4, Toronto cam back from a 14-9 deficit with 6 runs in the 8th inning to win 15-14. THEY HIT NO HOME RUNS IN DOING SO. Think about that. Can you imagine a team in 2017 scoring 15 runs with no home runs? The Phillies hit three, which is still a small number for 14 runs, especially today. It made the comeback agonizing for Phillies fans and pretty tense for Blue Jays fans (I imagine), because there were no sudden shifts of run-scoring, just incremental ones. In Game 5, Curt Schilling showed why he was so good, even this early in his career (and before we found out he was crazy), by throwing a five-hit, complete-game shutout to save the season for Philadelphia. It was another incredibly tense game, and featured no home runs whatsoever (the final was 2-0). Of course, Game 6 featured Joe Carter’s Series-winning three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, but once again, in an 8-6 game, a total of three home runs were hit. I don’t mind home runs, but it just seems like the game on Sunday night, which ended 13-12 Houston and in which seven home runs were hit, loses something in excitement because you always think the next guy up is going to bomb one. But hey, Houston is leading and Justin Verlander pitches tonight. Maybe he has a gem in him like Schilling did 24 years ago, and the Dodgers can go home sad once again!

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Anything else? I still haven’t been paying much attention to basketball, because it’s so early in the season. I don’t like hockey very much, but the season is zipping right along, so there’s that. One noted commenter wondered why I didn’t write about Canadian football, and it’s because we don’t get it very much in the States and when we do, I don’t know when it’s on. I’m sure the Calgary Hosers defeated the Ottawa Syrup Bottles at some point this past week. Oh, I kid because I love! I like Canadian football, but it really isn’t on very often here, so I can’t really keep up. Sorry, Tom!

So that’s what’s going on in my sports world. Sorry for the lack of video – I think I broke the blog last week when I included so many gifs and videos, so I eased up this week. I’ll find a good balance next week! What’s going on with the teams you like? Let me know!

15 Comments

  1. Peter

    Whoo boy, the PSU-OSU game stings. I agree that Ohio State deserved to win, but Penn State showed that they could drive against a tough defense like Ohio State’s if they wanted to – they just stopped trying that in the 4th. Same with the defense – they sacked Barrett in the first half when they blitzed, but played protect in the second half even though their secondary was going to give up passes for first downs whether they were 7-yard catch-and-runs or 30-yard bombs. The blame really goes on the play callers for this game. Still, the way the Big 12 has been cannibalizing itself and with Auburn playing UGA soon, I’m optimistic about PSU moving up in the playoff rankings. I’d love to see Ohio State lose another game or two, but I think there’s a scenario being floated by CBS Sports where OSU and PSU could face each other in a playoff game and that’s pretty tantalizing…

  2. fit2print

    Tell Tom even Canadians don’t give a rodent’s rear end about Canadian football (unless by “football” you mean “soccer,” in which case many of them inexplicably do). Both are dead boring, when you get right down to it (For reference, see the outcome of the recent “game” between Seattle and Vancouver: final score 0-0, combined number of shots on goal: one)

    Baseball, on the other hand, is the greatest game ever invented (no, really, it’s an established fact). As for all those home runs, it’s down to the juiced-up baseballs, as you’ve probably read. It’s the worst-kept secret in MLB: all the hitters and pitchers know the balls are “different” than they were a few years ago. All the managers and coaches and owners and even the commissioner know it (and a healthy number of fans, I’d wager) but no one seems to want to do anything about it. Because, you know, all those home runs!

    Aside: If “baseball” and “juiced” don’t ring a bell with select readers, cf “McGwire, Mark”, “Sosa, Sammy”, “Canseco, Jose” et al. That’s right, history is repeating itself… on a smaller scale — roughly the size of a baseball.

    So, yeah, despite all that and much more so than college football, the Fall Classic equals pure excitement. At least for those of us who can overlook the enduring efforts of MLB’s top brass to destroy the game for the sake of better TV ratings. Well, I suppose like everything else afflicting the US these days, it’s all Hillary’s fault. Funny how that works.

    1. Greg Burgas

      fit2print: I know baseball will never admit that the balls are juiced or slick or whatever, but it’s frustrating that they won’t. I mean, I get why they do it – chicks dig the long ball and all that – but it’s still frustrating. I like home runs, but like everything, I like them in moderation. This constant bashing is annoying. That being said, I guess Game 6 was pretty tense even if it was low-scoring. It can happen!

      I don’t love baseball as much as you do, but I still enjoy it. I got bitter when the Phillies were good and it became clear (in 2010) that the playoffs were a crap shoot. I know they are in football, too, because it’s one and done, but at least there you KNOW it’s a crap shoot. The series format that baseball uses was supposed to let the cream rise to the top, but it doesn’t, and it almost renders the regular season moot (of course, this year is the exception, as the two best teams are playing). It’s frustrating. I like watching baseball live a lot more than I like watching football live, though.

  3. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

    JAY MOTHAFUCKIN AJAYIIIIIII!!!

    Also, I would quibble with the characterization of a movie whose protagonists use their gifts to help those less fortunate, at great risk to their own self-interest, and whose most powerful exchange involves its antagonist’s being castigated for conflating callousness with strength, as “Randian.”

    Nietzschean, though? Definitely.

    1. Greg Burgas

      Carlos: I like the trade, although I’m not as over-the-moon about it as some of the commenters on Bleeding Green Nation. I think it will help them, but I’m not sure about his long-term viability. But it didn’t cost much, so it’s a good trade.

      Nietzschean? Sure, that works. I just have a lot of issues with The Incredibles, considering Mr. Incredible is the villain and nobody ever calls him on it. 🙂

      1. Call Me Carlos the Dwarf

        I don’t think Bob’s the villain. He’s deeply self-involved, and his lying to Helen is completely unacceptable, but those are very much presented as flaws in the film.

        Even so, it’s not like he’s as nakedly shitty a father, husband and man as someone like Don Draper.

        For me, the most iconic line of that movie (beyond “The greater good?! Man, I am your WIFE!”) is “Valuing life is not weakness…And disregarding it is not strength.” The male Incredibles’ throughline in the movie is about recognizing and rejecting their own iterations of the Randian bullshit that Syndrome espouses.

          1. M-Wolverine

            Well, if not just the Incredibles, the whole idea that the heroes are actually the villains in a bunch of stories sounds like a promising idea for writing and discussing.

            I’m actually getting that feeling with the Walking Dead tv show for the last couple of seasons…

  4. Eric van Schaik

    31-10-1963 / 31-10-2017

    54 years !!! Yeah for me 🙂
    A strange birthday. My ex and the kids came to my moms place where I stay every other week. We had some chinese food, and I got some small presents.
    Tomorrow I go to my LCS. Maybe I spoil myself with something nice.

  5. M-Wolverine

    For the record, I noticed days later you managed to Post on Slack by 1:30am in the morning, after a night game, not even having time to finishing celebrating before rubbing some salt in an open wound. Brave stuff knowing how the schedule was going to shape up next week. #karma Better not have a hangover, because next up to an angry Spartan Stadium that is still deluding themselves that they have a chance to win the conference.

    And you’d better hope that we’ve found a quarterback (*again!) because you need us to beat the Buckeyes now. Though if it can happen, who knows? There could be so many one loss teams it could be a playoff clusterfuck.

    Arizona-USC is on ESPN 10:30pm EST so you get your wish and everyone can see it. If they can stay up that late. I hope to catch some of it after getting back from a night game in the rain in November, because everyone wants to go out in that to see the Gophers. Thanks FOX!

    We’ll see…Rich Rod’s great at scoring points with a dynamic quarterback, but he’s awful at stopping anyone from scoring with anyone playing.

    For the NFL I actually prefer Redzone, to see whatever game is close. It’s like Ticket but with the guy holding the remote psychically knowing which game to flip through. I don’t need to have Ticket to see my primary team much; the Patriots are usually on. Tom used to live in the same place in town I did. No, he never calls.

    And by the way, your gifs last week? Kate Upton, Michigan fan.

    https://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/04/08/kate-upton-michigan-louisville-ncaa-final/2065247/

    1. Greg Burgas

      M-Wolverine: Well, it wasn’t a night game for me, so it wasn’t 1.30 in the morning. I wasn’t trying to rub salt in the wound, I was just hoping you didn’t have too bad an experience watching the game! I was worried all week about the Buckeye game, so it’s not like I was lording it over you because I thought we were invincible!

      That would be nice if OSU lost again. Twice, actually, so maybe your QB is the guy to do it!

      I can’t believe they’re putting the USC-Arizona game on at 10.30. Stupid Pac-12! And RichRod’s defense this year isn’t great by any means, but they’re getting enough stops to give the ball back to the offense, so that’s something.

      I don’t care enough about the NFL to even get Redzone! I just check in with the NFL Network if I really want to see highlights almost as they happen.

      Yeah, I knew Kate Upton was a Michigan fan for some reason (I think I read something some years ago about it). Oh well – nobody’s perfect! 🙂

      1. M-Wolverine

        Yeah, there isn’t really anyone else for there to be a 3 way tie with in the division now. I figured you had the leg up in that they lost OOC, but with no third team for them to take the best overall record, it would be head to head. HOWEVER, you could reverse on them from last year and they could be the 2 loss team going to play in the Big Ten Championship game, and you could be the higher ranked team going to the Playoff. They need to fall asleep at Iowa (who never seems to play as well in the day, unfortunately), against MSU (who Urban always seems to choke up against), or us.

        And isn’t 10:30 7:30 Pacific time? So it’s primetime out there….

        Houston won, so good for the town, good for Verlander, and good for Kate Upton! And good the Dodgers didn’t win.

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