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LIFE ON THE MARGINS: THE SCORES ARE WHAT WE THOUGHT THEY WERE

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Well, yeah: the weekly obsessing over statistical anomalies and fringe idiosyncracies hasn't abated in any way, but for the first time this season, it was thwarted by the box scores - the finals adhered to the down-to-down numbers completely this week, eerily so, to an extent that disturbs me more than a little. It's like living in Pleasantville - it's all a little too perfect, too neat, all the stats lining up almost exactly the way their scores would lead you to predict, and any second you feel like you might suddenly find yourself among distressingly happy woodland creatures who turn out to worship Satan. Or something like that.


A world where games are decided on blocking and tackling? You gotta get us outta here...
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The best I can do is suggest that Louisville-UConn, in which both teams benefited from bogus calls and scored on defense or special teams; Florida State-Miami, in which both teams scored defensive touchdowns and had short fields on half of their offensive scores; and Florida-Kentucky, in which neither team had much of a prayer of stopping the other, but all of these games were exactly what their box scores suggested. Kentucky may have outgained and out first-downed Florida by sizable margins, but there is nothing flukey about a win by a team that scores on seven of ten possessions without forcing a turnover. Vanderbilt's gain from turnovers does not negate the Commodores' complete stonewalling of South Carolina's offense all afternoon.

North Dakota State did beat Minnesota far more savagely than the statistics suggested; ditto LSU against Auburn in the second half, last second theatrics notwithstanding, and probably also Virginia against Maryland, which produced more to-the-wire drama despite fairly overwhelming statistical advantages for UVA in its second straight one-point win. Still, it takes a special kind of mythological Greek creature to turn the fortune of a game against the grain, and for the first time this year, that mischievous imp took the week off. This really is a crazy season.