Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Sports Wrap-up: 26 September 2023

I write “sports,” but it’s usually just football. I like other sports, but something about football lends itself to the weird and wacky and tumultuous. College football is finally getting better, as the big teams finish playing cupcakes and have to actually, you know, try, and things in the NFL were a bit bonkers this week. Let’s get to it!

Penn State, the greatest collegiate team in existence, smothered Iowa in the crib, and it was glorious. Back in 2021, Penn State went to Iowa City and had a decent lead on the Hawkeyes, who even back then didn’t have the best offense, and things were looking up. Then the Lions’ quarterback got hurt, their back-up wasn’t very good, and the Hawkeyes very slowly came back and won the game (even with Penn State not moving the ball at all and therefore putting their defense in bad situations, the Iowa offense was trash and took almost the entire second half to score enough to win). A Penn State defensive lineman got hurt in the second half, and the garbage Iowa fans booed because they thought he was trying to “slow down” the offense. As if Iowa doesn’t already move glacially enough. That was bad enough, but coaches on Iowa, including the head coach in a press conference a few days later (after he had a chance to think about it, in other words), kind of implied that the Penn Stater was dogging it. Penn State didn’t play Iowa last year, but you can bet Penn State’s coach, James Franklin, had that shit on his mind for this game, and Petty James Franklin is the best James Franklin, as I noted when he allowed his team to score a touchdown to cover against West Virginia a few weeks ago after the Mountaineers tried furiously to score a touchdown with their starters against Penn State’s back-ups late in the game. This time, Penn State didn’t need to do any such thing, they just choked the life out of the Hawkeyes. The final was 31-0, the first time Iowa had been shut out since 2000, but the defensive dominance was astonishing. Iowa got their second first down of the game with just under 11 minutes to go in the first quarter – a little over four minutes in, in other words – and didn’t get another until late in the fourth quarter. The box score is astonishing: PSU ran 97 plays, Iowa ran 33. Penn State had 28 first downs, Iowa had 4 … and 4 turnovers. Iowa had 76 total yards – 56 passing and 20 rushing. Penn State had the ball for 45 minutes and 27 seconds – three-quarters of the game! Iowa had negative yardage in the second AND third quarters. Finally, they may have gotten the offensive coordinator fired. Iowa’s OC is the coach’s son, Brian Ferentz, and earlier this year he signed a one-year “prove it” deal that says the team has to average 25 points per game for him to keep his job. After two weeks, they were just slightly below that, and then they had a big day against a lesser team to get to an average of 28, which seemed safe. But the shut-out keeps them at 85 points for the year, so they’re down to an average of 21 points per game. They need to make up a lot of ground, and given their offense is garbage, it doesn’t really seem possible. Fuck ’em.

Meanwhile, the Deion Sanders Hype Train derailed a bit, as Coach PRIME TIME (blech) walked into Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon, and got merrily felched. Oregon was clearly the better team, but most pundits, their lips firmly pressed against Deion’s buttocks, thought the Buffaloes would keep it close. My only issue is that the Ducks took their foot off the gas a bit and only won 42-6, scoring only once after halftime. Believe me, they could have scored 70, just like a team we’ll check in on down below. I don’t really have a problem with Sanders – he can clearly coach – but MY GAWD, the slobbering over him during the first three weeks of the season was obnoxious. Of course, he isn’t humbled at all, which makes me want USC to hang 100 on his team (they can probably do it, too, especially because their defense is garbage and they’re probably going to need Caleb Williams to go full God Mode). Meanwhile, the Oregon mascot had an issue:

He wanted to smash Deion so much he lost his head, which is a HUUUUUUGE Mascot No-No. Come on, man!

Ohio State beat Notre Dame, a game I did not watch (it was on the same time as Penn State-Iowa), but apparently Notre Dame was throwing the ball late when all they needed to do was run the clock, and on the final Ohio State touchdown, with only a few seconds left, they had only 10 men on the field. I was, of course, rooting for the meteor for this game, but Notre Dame losing in such a stupid way makes up for it a bit. And Ryan Day, Ohio State’s coach, decided that his nemesis is … an 86-year-old man?

Lou Holtz, of course, coached Notre Dame, so what the hell is he going to say? Plus, Ohio against the world? Um, what? If he means the state, ok – weird, but ok. If he means his team, well, yes, I’m sure all those five-star recruits have had it so tough for so long. I get that this was posturing a little, but it just seems like Ryan Day done lost his damn mind.

Clemson lost to Florida State, and we got to see this:

But what’s weird about this game is what’s weird about a lot of football games: Trusting the kicker too damned much. It’s more egregious in college, where kickers are notoriously inaccurate, but Clemson had a decent chance to win this game – they got the ball into FSU territory late, and then … they just ran it into the line to set up a field goal. I get you don’t want to turn the ball over, but they decided to trust a kicker who wasn’t on the team last week (he had lost his job, but the new guy was struggling and the old dude still had eligibility, so they called him up and gave him the job back) to nail a 46-yard field goal, which isn’t even a gimme at the pro level. I mean, come on, Clemson, try to get closer and maybe even score a touchdown! The dude missed, and Clemson lost in overtime. I hate both of these teams, so I didn’t care too much that Clemson lost, but it was still a dumb decision. In the NFL, the Colts did the same thing in overtime – they got it a bit close and then went into a shell – but luckily, their kicker hit a 50+-yard field goal for the win. Still, it seems pretty dumb, and no one ever call teams out for it.

Other things happened, too – Kansas is 4-0 (go, Jayhawks!), BYU is in the Big 12?, Texas is BACK!!!! (I love the “Texas is BACK!!!!” memes every year in college football, because ESPN wants so very badly for Texas to be BACK!!!! and I love it when they dick-trip their way to losses … must be something in the water down in the Lone Star State), Syracuse is 4-0 (go, Orange!), but none of that matters, because … a girl played football? Wait, do girls even know how to play football?!?!?!?

This might warm your heart a bit, but then … you go to the actual tweet and read the comments. DON’T READ THE COMMENTS, PEOPLE!!!!! Gah, people (ok, men) suck. Good for Van Voorhis – I hope she meets some of the commenters on that tweet in a dark alley and shows them what’s what.

Meanwhile, there weren’t a lot of great games in the NFL, but there were some weird ones, and that’s what we’re all about here at the Sports Wrap-Up! We had two scorigamis, one of which was the Eagles’ win over the Buccaneers on Monday night, 25-11. I love that the two teams I like – Philadelphia and Penn State – are currently playing absolutely suffocating defense – they don’t have that one Super-Duper-Star like an Aaron Donald or a Micah Parsons, but they have talent all over the place and teams just don’t know how to attack them. The Eagles might have a better defensive line than they did last year, and Jalen Carter, their first-round pick (who was the best player in the draft but other teams were scared of him because of “character concerns” which were WAAAAAY overblown), is a terror. This forced fumble is superb:

The defense is not letting anyone run against them, either, which makes it difficult to be diverse, obviously. They’ve given up some decent plays in the passing game, but they’ve also been a bit injured. The defensive line and linebackers, however, just come at you in waves, which makes it so hard to figure out who to block. If you’re playing the Rams, you know you have to account for Aaron Donald. Who do you stop on the Eagles? They don’t care; they’ll just hit you with three or four or five other dudes. It’s excellent to watch. Meanwhile, their passing game is a bit herky-jerky so far this year, but they’ve rushed for over 200 yards in each of the past two games, so they have time to figure out the passing if they’re going to keep doing that. Commentators all over keep talking about how unsexy they are (and they keep complaining about the quarterback sneak they employ, because only the Eagles seem to be able to run it successfully), but watching the Eagles manhandle other teams, both offensively and defensively, is a glorious sight to behold! (On a fun note, the SBNation Eagles blog – which I linked to in the parenthetical, just got a new writer, and it’s this guy:

No, not the emu. “Doug” (the actor’s name is David Hoffman) is apparently a die-hard Eagles fan, and he started writing for the site a few weeks ago. So that’s neat.

The Cowboys lost, which is always hilarious, especially because everyone was rushing to proclaim them champions after two big wins – one over an overrated Giants team in a game in which they go some touchdowns they can’t count on, the other against a shell-shocked Jets team that had just lost Aaron Rodgers (I know we’re not supposed to root for injuries, and it’s not like I was, but aren’t you just a little bit happy that a Joe-Rogan-loving douchebag like Rodgers got hurt FOUR PLAYS INTO THE SEASON?). Dallas is talented, as usual, but they also feel themselves a bit too often, and getting thumped by a terrible Cardinals team is excellent, and Micah Parsons not even giving Arizona any credit after the thumping was just …

Never change, Cowboys.

Justin Fields continues to be trash, which I’ve been yelling at my television for his entire NFL career even as commentators talk about his potential. Look, throwing to wide-open receivers at Ohio State does not make you a good quarterback, people! It’s good to see people are starting to wake up on Fields, although they’re still hedging their bets by saying his coaches have failed him. Well, sure, but he still sucks. Listen, da Bears are cursed for two reasons: 1) they were (and are) not humble about that 1985 team, which, yes, had a great defense, but other defenses have been just as good but didn’t get the acclaim that they did, and maybe they and their fans should recognize that; 2 (and worse) they allowed William Perry to score a touchdown in that Super Bowl they won and didn’t allow Walter Payton to get one, and that sucks. They got their championship, but they are forever cursed. Suck it, Bears fans.

The Raiders kicked a field goal, trailing by 8, with 2.25 left, with the ball at the Steelers’ 9-yard line, holding all three timeouts. This is one of the most cowardly things in NFL history, I think. Even if you don’t get the touchdown, you have all three timeouts! Stop them and get the ball back! They got the ball back with very little time left, and they lost. But at least the score was closer than if they had tried to get a touchdown and failed! Meanwhile, Washington kicked a field goal with less than a minute left, trailing 37-0. They just didn’t want to get shut out, which is another cowardly thing. Go for the touchdown, you losers!

Speaking of the Jets, Zach Wilson is also garbage, and he played a bad game on Sunday. Here he is … sacking himself?

Wilson doesn’t look like he wants to play football. I always wonder about this, because occasionally we see athletes who don’t seem to like the sport they play. Can’t Wilson just, you know, retire? Yes, he would take a lot of flack, but he’s got a good chunk of money – can’t he just disappear? He’s a bland-looking white dude – he wouldn’t be out of place in Birmingham (England, that is) or Brisbane. Come on, Wilson, just give it up!

Deshaun Watson, who is pretty much 99% proven to be a serial rapist yet gets to make millions of dollars because he’s theoretically good at throwing a football, did this:

That’s just a dumb play. He’s trying to throw it away, it appears, but he throws it backward, meaning it’s a live ball. Luckily for Cleveland, they recovered and they won in a rout, but Watson isn’t playing like a guy who deserves all the money he has, and without that, he’s just a creepy dude who likes to sexually harass women.

The Chargers and Vikings, who were supposed to be a lot better, came into their game each at 0-2, and Los Angeles pulled out a win. Not without trying to give the game away, though! First, Minnesota, trailing 28-24, got to LA’s 1-yard line with 3.40 left. They did not score. Then, the Chargers managed to get out to their 24-yard line, where they went for it on 4th-and-1. Look, I love aggressive play-calling, but if your running game stinks (LA’s does) and you try to run it there, you’re asking to lose. Minnesota got the ball back, but their bad mojo was worse than the Chargers’ bad mojo, because they got a first down at LA’s 6-yard line with only seconds left. They did … this:

Their tight end got tackled with 36 seconds left. They have no timeouts. It’s first down. They can spike the ball, get a play in, probably run three plays in the time they have. They do none of that. They take their time, don’t line up quickly, and run a play that doesn’t look great, and the ball is intercepted. Well done, Vikings! The Chargers were forcing you to win the game, but you were having none of it!

The Texans won, which is nice for them, but better than that is this kickoff return for a touchdown, because it’s just so unlikely and magical:

The upback is not supposed to be able to do that!!!!

Finally, of course, the Miami Dolphins beat the Denver Broncos. You might wander why this is significant, and it’s because MIAMI SCORED 70 POINTS!!!!! This game was on television in Arizona, so I got to see some of it (I wasn’t paying too much attention, because it’s not the Eagles, but I was still watching a little), and, man, what a beatdown. Denver looked like they did not even want to be on the field after the first ten minutes or so, and I kind of wish Miami had broken the all-time scoring record, because they could have. They scored three touchdowns AFTER their starters came out! The most points scored in a regular season game in NFL history is 72, and the Dolphins were driving at the end of the game before their coach ordered them to take a knee, denying them the chance to break the record. It’s only the third time in the regular season that a team has scored 70 points – Washington got the 72 in 1966 and Rams got 70 in 1950 – and what’s astonishing is that Miami didn’t get any defensive touchdowns or special teams touchdowns. They got a fumble at the end of the first half that gave them a very short field and another short field in the second half, but otherwise, they basically took the ball right down the field, scoring 10 offensive touchdowns. You can find all the astonishing stats about this game you want, but just for fun, here are their offensive possessions:

1. 3 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
2. 9 plays, 81 yards, touchdown
3. 11 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
4. 4 plays, 9 yards, turnover on downs
5. 6 plays, 86 yards, touchdown
6. 1 play, 3 yards, touchdown
7. 1 play, 6 yards, end of half
8. 11 plays, 90 yards, touchdown
9. 9 plays, 77 yards, touchdown
10. 2 plays, 8 yards, touchdown
11. 3 plays, 8 yards, punt (!!!)
12. 3 plays, 68 yards, touchdown
13. 2 plays, 75 yards, touchdown
14. 6 plays, 51 yards, turnover on downs (they took a knee on 4th down)

Usually, when the score gets out of hand, there are some defensive touchdowns or kick returns or very short fields, and the Dolphins benefited from two of those. But the average touchdown drive was 64 yards, and without those two short drives, they still scored 8 touchdowns with an average drive length of 78 yards. That’s amazing. It couldn’t happen to a nicer, douchebag coach, either, as Denver coach Sean Payton acted like a baby after the game after acting like a big tough guy during the off-season. Fuck off, Sean Payton.

(The reason commentators keep bringing up “regular-season” point totals is because the all-time scoring record was actually set in the NFL Championship Game of 1940, when the Bears beat Washington 73-0. Now that’s a score! Chicago returned three interceptions for touchdowns, which is a more “normal” way to rack up big points. I love this game, by the way. Someone should make a movie about it.)

There are other sports being played – the baseball season is down to the end, with playoff jockeying still going on, and I’m sure some weird people around the world are playing Association Football or Cricket or Whatever Those Odd Foreigners Get Up To, but let’s be honest – it’s all about ‘Murican Football right now!!! Deal with it, soccer fans!!!!


  1. conrad1970

    The Dolphins game was quite spectacular, i think at this point they remain the only unbeaten team and it’s only week 3. I can’t remember the last time that happened.
    I still can’t quite figure out how the Saints managed to lose that game against Green Bay, that just sucked
    and finally the Bengals and the Chargers managed to get wins, so a pretty good week overall.

    1. Greg Burgas

      The Eagles and 49ers are both undefeated. If you mean the only team in the AFC that’s unbeaten, yeah, they are, and that does feel a bit unusual.

      The Saints lost because Derek Carr got hurt and Winston is terrible. That’s really all there is to it. I was kind of hoping they would win, so that was disappointing.

      1. conrad1970

        I missed that Carr had been hurt, I did wonder how they could drop 16 point lead in the 4th quarter.
        Yeah I forgot about the 49ers, they are looking so good this year. The Eagles, I’m not sure about them, I think they are probably one of the more overrated teams.

        1. Greg Burgas

          I don’t know about the Eagles – a lot of people are dumping on them because they’re not playing as well as they could, and most people have them behind even the Chiefs and Bills in “power rankings.” I don’t know how good they are, but it is true that they haven’t lost yet! 🙂

  2. William Wilson

    “There are other sports being played – the baseball season is down to the end, with playoff jockeying still going on, and I’m sure some weird people around the world are playing Association Football or Cricket or Whatever Those Odd Foreigners Get Up To, but let’s be honest – it’s all about ‘Murican Football right now!!! Deal with it, soccer fans!!!!”

    The Rugby World Cup

  3. Corrin Radd

    That was a legendary win by the Buckeyes in a tough environment against a good team. I, of course, hope they win it all this year (and deserved to last year if not for those late season injuries).

    Ryan Day’s interview was obnoxious, though. I’m pretty sure most of the critical voices he’d been hearing were Ohio State fans disappointed by the ugly wins against nobodies in the early season.

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