Did you ever read "The Lottery" in high school? You know, the Shirley Jackson classic short story where an entire town follows "tradition" and gathers on an annual basis in the town square, at which point everyone draws a sheet of paper and the family that draws the one with the black spot will see a member of its family stoned to death? Well the top schools in the BCS standings had been having a little lottery over the last few weeks, and it was Boise that finally pulled the black spot on Friday night.
You just had the feeling that Auburn, Oregon or Boise was really going to have a black Friday. At first it appeared that Alabama was going to knock of Newton's boys, only to throw away about 21 first half points which allowed the Tigers to make their second half move.
Then it looked like Nick Foles could fling it well enough to give his team a shot, however a boneheaded offside (described a little later) was the beginning of the end.
So it had to be Boise. There were plenty of chances for the Broncos to put the game away, but Nevada threw it just well enough to hang around. Then in one of the more stunning final minutes of any game in recent memory, Boise was headed for overtime, going to pull out a crazy win on a fly pattern-turned-field goal, and then head to overtime, for real. Then, once in the extra session, another missed kick followed by a Nevada three pointer and the party was on in Reno. And a team poised to head to the Rose Bowl was on its way to the "Insert-Random-Sponsor-Here Bowl" to face "Crap Team that Deserves Nothing."
The end of "The Lottery" sees the victim screaming that "it isn't fair, it isn't right." And maybe it wasn't right for Boise's dream to end this way, but it certainly was November college football.
A few other random musings from Week 13:
-As we move towards a sports world that will see human error eliminated entirely, two remnants from the stone age still appear occasionally, and their presence makes one think there has to be a better way.
1. In a world of laser beams and exact measurement, why football still relies on two pudgy, middle-aged men to run out with two sticks with ten yards o' chain between them and determine whether or not a first down has been gained is beyond me. I especially love it when they lug the chains all the way across the field and the ref gets really close to the ground and then stands up and hold his two fingers about an inch apart. Seriously?
2. In this world full of laser beams, why in the world do we have two other pudgy, middle-aged men standing under goal posts, looking straight up, attempting to discern if a football that just flew over an upright was inside or outside this pole that didn't extend all the way up? I'm not a Boise fan; I don't think they deserved to play for the whole thing (that sloppy game against Nevada should have been confirmation for all) even if they won on Friday night. But you cannot convince me that this kick was not good.
-How's this for a stat line? Hawaii's Alex Green carried it 19 times for 327 yards and three scores against New Mexico State. Ten of his 17 scores have come in three contests.
-If you picked up Montee Ball and Cyrus Gray for the stretch run then you're likely celebrating a title this weekend. Both stepped in when teammates (John Clay and Christine Michael) went down and were unstoppable.
-Though his numbers on the season weren't close to what we had expected, Tandon Doss' five touchdowns in the last three weeks helped ease the disappointment.
-Tennessee's season can be deemed a relative success based solely on Tyler Bray's development. Like Georgia with Aaron Murray, the Vols know what they have under center.
-My oh my did Frank Beamer and Bud Foster circle the wagons after losses to Boise and James Madison. And David Wilson sure looks like a fun fantasy back heading into 2011.
-I'm not saying that Arizona had enough to pull the upset. However I have never seen a more devastating offside penalty than the one the Cats committed in Eugene on Friday night. Trailing 20-19, Arizona jumped the snap on what would be a missed Duck field goal. Ducks keep the ball, score on the next play, and the rout was on. Give Chip Kelly an inch and he'll take a mile...then he'll tell you all about it.
-Speaking of Arizona, it was quite entertaining to watch Mike Stoops rant and rave on the sidelines in a Bo Pelini fashion. Coincidentally both even-keeled coaches are natives of Youngstown, Ohio and both attended the famed Cardinal Mooney High School, where apparently anger management is not a part of the curriculum.
And talking Rust Belt football from the 1970's and 1980's, nothing beats a six pack of Iron City and a little Stef Djordjevic:
-If Eastern Michigan loses 71-3 to Northern Illinois, but there's no one there to see it, does the game actually count?
-It sure looks like Maryland has something special in freshman quarterback Danny O'Brien. 33-47 for 417 yards and four scores give him 20 total touchdowns during his first season...and he should never have to pay for a meal in Tallahassee as his performance sends the Noles to the ACC title game.