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Friday Hub Wants Some Order Around Here!

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Underdogs Attack! Regular readers know the heart beats hard around here for the Saints, and so Thursday night was spent mostly in intense emotional pain and mourning, for the pass rush, for the lost Bush and Brees of the past winter, especially for the aura of a championship contender, which can take months to get back. I would mourn the secondary, the progenitor of so much of Thursday's anguish, if it had ever showed signs of life in the first place.

But all that means here is that I didn't see any of Thursday's amateur action after Cincinnati's opening pick cum field goal, the prelude to a straight beatdown of Oregon State, 34-3, in a game dominated start to fin...come again? The Bearcats were outgained by 81 yards, averaged less than a yard per carry on offense and converted two of eleven third downs? And won by 31 points? You don't have to watch the game to figure that out:

Oregon State Miscues vs. Cincinnati
OSU Mistake UC Field Position UC Points Off
1st Qtr. Interception OSU 21 3
2nd Qtr. Missed FG - -
2nd Qtr. Interception OSU 31 7
3rd Qtr. Fumbled Punt OSU 2 7
3rd Qtr. Blocked Punt Touchdown 7
3rd Qtr. Interception UC 47 7


Just one of those nights.
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Who needs an offense? Even the Bearcats' one self-generated offensive drive, the 53-yarder following the last interception in the third quarter, was a two-play strike whose main virtue was exploiting an inexcusable assignment bust down the left sideline - from the look of it, maybe a series of assignment busts simultaneously, though if that were the case, someone in a white jersey would probably wander within ten yards of the receiver at some point.

So Oregon State hangs its head, and deserves to, for giving away an easy win like that. It's not as easy to gauge the evening for Louisville, which gained an amazing 729 yards (401 passing and 328 rushing), picked up 35 first downs, scored 58 points, won by two touchdowns and never trailed, then woke up to this by the Courier-Journal's Eric Crawford:

When the University of Louisville Cardinal mascot parachuted into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium last night, he landed on his rear end.

He wasn't the only one. Forget about skydiving. This looked like a nose dive.

He wasn't the only one. Forget about skydiving. This looked like a nose dive.
Against a Middle Tennessee State team that struggled in losing to Florida Atlantic in its opener, the No. 8-ranked Cardinals fell on their you-know-whats.

Sure, they won the game 58-42. They also got booed on their home field like Michael Vick at an animal rights rally.

The crowd of 40,882 had to feel like it had died and gone to Conference USA.

Middle Tennessee, which rushed for only 18 yards against Howard Schnellenberger's Owls in the opener, ran for 265 yards against the Cardinals. They averaged 10 yards per play in the game, piling up 555 yards overall. They scored on five straight first-half drives.

On ESPN, even Bill Curry was ripping the Cards for looking inept and confused. That's like having Britney Spears rip you for being a bad parent.
[...]
...this defensive performance can't be chalked up to preoccupation.

A U of L defense that has been billed, maybe justifiably, as its fastest ever, gave up nine -- nine -- runs of 20 yards or more. Speed only helps if you're running in the right direction. And, too often, the Cardinals looked like they didn't know where they were going. Some of that is inexperience. All of it is disturbing for those who harbor national hopes for the Cardinals.

When asked what he addressed at halftime with his defense, U of L coach Steve Kragthorpe said, "nothing in particular."
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"Disturbing" is right, but Kragthorpe must have done something in particular to address the defense, because it had allowed 35 points in the first two quarters and subsequently gave up seven in the last two - four of MTSU's third quarter drives were three and out, or worse, a sign the Cardinals were able to muster up enough interest on defense to let the offense run out ahead, which it did, easily.

But then UL went back to sleep defensively and gave up a 79-yard touchdown run, which turned out to be too little, too late, but came with enough time to make a difference, and more than enough to furrow the brow over the Cardinals' inability to shut the door. A bad start is one thing, even an atrocious start like Louisville had last night. But an atrocious finish, too? That is significant for long-term anguish. No team can sustain dominance with a defense that allows nine 20-plus-yard runs to Middle Tennessee.

At the same time: Brian Brohm. To paraphrase Tommy Carcetti, what the fuck are you supposed to do about that?

The big underdog victory of the day, or the week, maybe of the year and maybe beyond, pending what actually happens with this, courtesy of those upset-struck fools at the AP:

After pulling off one of the greatest upsets in college football history, Appalachian State is still shaking things up.

The Associated Press said Thursday that lower-division schools -- that means you, Mountaineers -- are now eligible for its 71-year-old poll.
[...]
Several AP voters expressed interest in putting Appalachian State on their ballots after a shocking 34-32 upset at then-No. 5 Michigan last weekend. But the poll guidelines, which mirrored the coaches' rankings conducted by USA Today, limited eligibility to teams competing in the former NCAA Division I-A, now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision.
[...]
The AP decided to make the change because schools that show they can compete with big-time teams on the field should have a chance to be recognized with them in the top 25, Sports Editor Terry Taylor said.

"Why not? The poll was always intended to measure teams that compete against each other, regardless of division, based solely on on-field performance," she said. "It was that way long before Division I was divided into I-A and I-AA in 1978."
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(emphasis added)

Oh, woe: first cupcake-devouring Boise State earning first place votes in January, now Appalachian? Which is playing a middling Division II team no one has ever heard of Saturday and will not play another I-A team all season?

That is the thing: Appalachian is not competing against the teams it might ostensibly replace in the poll, and not competing against them to a much, much greater degree than Boise didn't compete against them last year, or that Utah didn't compete against them in 2004. Playing a I-AA opponent heaps all kinds of shame on any ranked or potentially ranked team, to the extent that those games were recently considered so worthless that they didn't count towards bowl eligibility and still have to be restricted to one per school.


It's Akron Week. Tressel takes no chances.
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Appalachian State plays ten of those games, up to fourteen if it's lucky. And one slim, probably flukey upset against a sleepwalking powerhouse can't overcome that, no matter how lopsided the scores for the rest of the year. After a single week, I would have ranked Appalachian number one for taking home the single biggest pelt of the weekend. But never did it cross my mind a team that doesn't have to play another I-A team - not Louisiana Tech or Temple or UNLV or anybody - might deserve to be allowed to stay among those that live in that world every week. What's the basis for comparison? The teams exist on different levels of play, and one game, no matter how seemingly earth-shaking, doesn't negate the chasms that still exist in those planes - again, one I-AA team has beaten a ranked I-A opponent. Once in history. This is not the basis for policy upheaval. Emotional, reactionary move by the AP.

Anyway, speaking of underdogs...

Cross Yourself, Ohio State: In journalism, three makes a trend, and as far as "curse" games go, Thom Brennaman and Charles Davis only have two: the duo teamed up to call Boise's stunning victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl - which remains more important for the way Boise won than the fact that it actually did win as a mere touchdown underdog - and was also in the Big Ten Network's booth for Appalachian's win over Michigan last Saturday.

This week: the Brennaman-Davis curse goes to Columbus to call Akron at Ohio State. Publicly, Jim Tressel is typically stoic. Privately, he's hired a Quimbanda to sprinkle tainted goat's blood around the visitors' locker room. Just in case.

Meanwhile, Back in Arbor Arbor... Jim Carty wonders if maybe, just maybe, it's never been much fun to be a Michigan fan:

On Monday or Tuesday, I was re-reading a story we'd run in The Ann Arbor News about Appalachian State fans reacting to last week's historic upset of Michigan by tearing down the goalposts of their home stadium and then carrying them through the streets of Boone, N.C., to the chancellor's house, celebrating the whole way.

The thought struck me that there's nothing Lloyd Carr and this football team could do to elicit a similar reaction here in Ann Arbor.
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Say what you will about Michigan fans, Carty, you know them better than I do. But I don't think they actually enjoy this. That's too perverse.