1. The ‘SEC-ageddon Lives’ Award – To LSU and Alabama, who both convincingly won their games on Saturday and set the stage for the latest “GAME OF THE CENTURY” to take place on November 5th. SITHD put quotes around GOTC as our hyperbolic 24/7 sports media circus seems to christen a new GOTC every season. This one might live up to the billing though, as both teams have defenses that seem to be populated by deranged, evil genius genetic experiments (330 lb d-linemen that are quicker than QBs? Shutdown corners that lay the wood more fiercly than most fullbacks??). Offense will be a question, clear your schedules for next Saturday, and smear the sacrificial lamb’s blood on your threashold … the seventh seal is about to be broken.
2. The ‘Shock The World’ Award – To SITHD’s beloved Red Raiders of Texas Tech, who did in fact, shock the world with their colossal upset of the heavily favored Oklahoma Sooners … IN NORMAN, no less. Kudos all around to Tommy Tuberville and his staff for finding a way to keep his team believing after back to back weeks of heart-breaking 4th quarter losses, and finding a way to get his players to come out, punch the Sooners in the mouth, and go toe-to-toe with the Stoops juggernaut. This marked only the third time in the Stoops era that Oklahoma had lost at home, and it could not have been sweeter for the Raiders. Mr. Texsun is a Red Raider alum, and he’s long deserved a win like this. Justice prevails in the world, and the rest of the country is suddenly back in the race to take an ass-whuppin’ from the college football anti-Christ that will emerge from SEC-ageddon.
3. The ‘And Then There Were Eight’ Award – To Alabama, LSU, Boise State, Stanford, Clemson, Oklahoma State, Houston, and Kansas State, who this week stand as the final eight undefeated teams for this season. I’ve listed them in order of my odds on favorite to remain unbeaten and run the table. Alabama & LSU we’ve discussed at length, Boise State is pretty much playing against themselves at this point, Stanford only really has to worry Oregon, and Clemson and Oklahoma State have the talent to make it through their schedules but have tough opponents left. Houston and Kansas State are my next on the chopping block candidates as I think Houston will get caught looking ahead to their SMU showdown, and Kansas State is just now getting to their big boys part of their schedule. Still, regardless, 7 or 8 and 0 is nothing to sneer at, so take a bow boys … you’ve all done well.
4. The ‘Welcome To The Party Sparty’ Award – To Michigan State, who under Mark Dantonio might finally be shedding their ‘Sparty-ness’, which if you’re unfamiliar is defined as “the quality of taking better than average talent and finding a way to waste it through a torturous series of mistakes, turnovers, dumb plays, and heartless, underwhelming performances”. Sparty bagged a big one on Saturday night, taking down the prematurely crowned Badgers from Wisconsin, who got a bit exposed in their first trip outside of Camp Randall. A great game with a classic, thrilling finish, the take away is that Sparty is looking good in their division of the B1G 10, and that Bucky Badger still has some work to do.
5. The ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ Award – To Houston Nutt, who’s Ole Miss squad proceeded to lose its tenth consecutive SEC game, something not even Kentucky (basketball school) nor Vanderbilt (pointdexter school) has pulled off. Since getting himself ejected from Arkansas, Nutt has followed the Charlie Weiss career path while at Ole Miss : come in spouting loud and proud about “a new day, a new way”, win early with your predecessor’s top notch recruits, then slowly fade into levels that make mediocrity look like a conference championship. The SEC is unbelievably tough, no doubt, and the SEC West is the killer side of this conference. But you can’t go O for double digits in this football crazy conference and expect to keep your job. Look for The Reverend Nutt to be color commentating on a network near you …
6. The ‘That’s Just Zook Being Zook’ Award – To Ilinois, who flamed out another engine on this crashing plane of a season this past week by losing to doormat Purdue. Yes, folks, it’s a Ron Zook team alright … raise expectations through victories over less than quality opponents, then start losing like clockwork once you get into conference play. I mean, with Rich Rodriguez gone, I guess someone had to take up that mantle. I feel for Illini fans though … you’re the home to Dick Butkis for Christ sake, you deserve better.
7. The ‘When We All Get A Soccer Trophy, None Of Us Gets A Soccer Trophy’ Award – To the Big East, who outside of Cincinnati, keeps eating their own, as West Virginia and Rutgers went down over the weekend. In a season that’s been more focused on the conference fighting for its very existence, let alone its BCS standing, the Big East has done nothing to convince anyone to join their conference, nor anyone to argue that they should have a BCS auto-spot. Truth be told, the Big East never should had an auto-BCS spot … they got one based on 1 dominant program (Miami), and then had that bolstered by a second up and comer (Virginia Tech). At least with a couple of beasts, the conference could lay some claim to national relevance. But now, with the UConns and Pittsburghs and Syracuses of the world knocking each other off every week, the argument to allow the Big East to continue to sit at the adults’ table, eating steak that by all rights belongs to the SEC is getting impossible to make.
8. The ‘You Sneaky Bugger’ Award – To Joe Pa and the Penn State Nittany Lions, who find themselves atop the Leaders division of the Big Ten as the lone team in that division without a conference loss. Of course, Penn State hasn’t really played the meat of their schedule … finishing their year hosting Nebraska, and then finishing the year by traveling to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Not exactly the season ending trio you’d wish for, but still … PSU controls their own destiny, and we all know how coaches love that.