“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
-From “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll
When I was an undergrad at Indiana, the Hoosiers beat Oregon in Eugene while being outgained nearly four to one in yardage and only converting three third downs. The Ducks also handed IU seven (!) turnovers en route to their first non-conference home loss in 21 games. Matt LoVecchio had his one shining moment as a quarterback in a career that was otherwise so bad, no one cared that he only threw for 71 yards against Oregon, just that he hadn’t sucked so badly we didn’t have a shot.
Phillips and I watched that game at a place called Kilroy’s Sports Bar in Bloomington from start to finish, and I tell this story not only because we ended up staying the bar for another seven hours after the game finished and paying two guys we didn’t know to drive us back home, but also because it’s as close to the feeling Clemson fan must have right now as we’ve ever gotten (2004 was my last season in Bloomington, as it was for Gerry DiNardo). The story didn’t end with anyone saying “You sure got a purty mouth,” either, though it may very well have somewhere in South Carolina.
Beating vulnerable Auburn and Florida State teams at home is cause enough for drunken celebration, but taking Virginia Tech out 23-3 in Blacksburg with statistics quite a bit better than Indiana’s were that day in Eugene is a reason not to sober up until Tuesday at the earliest.
I’m sure many people in Clemson, SC are worried that this is an H.P. Lovecraft-style, BBQ-induced fever dream because this truly doesn’t feel real. This is Clemson we’re talking about. Clemson has mostly spent the last decade-plus having tons of talent and ending the season in ignominious mediocrity, usually including two or three embarrassing and/or painful losses.
The 2009 Clemson team featured Kyle Parker (the “savior” of Clemson before Tajh Boyd), C.J. Spiller, Jamie Harper, and Jacoby Ford. Ford and Spiller became the all-time leading duo in total yards (replacing Marshall Faulk and Darnay Scott…sigh). Several of this year’s standout players like Boyd and Andre Ellington were young freshmen on that team that finished 9-5, losing twice to Georgia Tech and once to rival South Carolina as well. And that was considered a hugely successful season for Clemson simply because they made the ACC title game.
But this is a program that hasn’t had double-digit wins since 1990 and hasn’t done anything of major note since the 1980′s. There’s something out there, lurking in the forest, ready to destroy the high hopes Clemson fans have in the most brutal way possible. It’s waiting, and it’s going to hurt. It’s the way of the college football universe. Ask the 2007 Oregon Ducks after Dennis Dixon got hurt.
Not to be a negative Nancy, but it’s not like Auburn, Florida State, and Virginia Tech are as good as they have been in the past. Well, except FSU, who has been that good-bad team for the entirety of the 2000′s. Both Auburn and FSU beat Clemson last year, though both were close games. Tajh Boyd is also a first-year starter, and he didn’t look comfortable at all against Virginia Tech. His 13-32, 204 yard, 1 TD performace isn’t what you would call inspiring after the way he played against FSU and Auburn.
But hey, don’t let the fact that there’s no way Clemson makes it out of this season unscathed in some awful way ruin a good celebration, Tigers fans. Beating three straight ranked teams is freaking impressive. Especially for Clemson. Unless Dabo Swinney sold Kyle Parker’s immortal soul to Satan in exchange for this season.
In that case, congratulations on your BCS appearance, Clemson.
Kansas State: Giants-of-moderate-size killers
First it was a win over the Miami Hurricanes that ended with a goal-line stand on fourth down. Then the Wildcats took down everyone’s favorite underdog for 2011, Baylor, in a stunning comeback. Guess Robert Griffin can still be great, but he doesn’t play defense.
Indiana can’t even run a good Hail Mary
My beloved Hoosiers (1-4) went down 16-10 to Penn State (4-1) in a pillow fight the conference is probably going to pretend never happened when denying the Mountain West entrance into the BCS next year.
Just how the hell does this pathetic Nittany Lions squad get to be 4-1? The announcers were openly talking about how quarterbacks Matt McGloin and Robert Bolden don’t talk on the sideline even though they’re basically rotating possessions and how they don’t hang out outside of the football team either. Good sign for team chemistry going forward, eh? Penn State fans suddenly realized that maybe the Zack Mills Era wasn’t the last they were going to see of truly bad Penn State teams with deceiving records.
“We was clicking,” Robinson said
I could go into the insouciant use of vernacular slang in the press by Denard Robinson after his Wolverines destroyed Minnesota 58-0, or I could even talk about differentiation in the usage of vocabulary and grammatic registers in relationship to sports and academia. But I’ll just leave you with this thought: Maybe take a moment to thank the academic support personnel who keep all your favorite athletes eligible even at academically prestigious colleges. It’ll do your soul good. Robinson 4 Heisman!
Getting kicked in the balls by Kathy Ireland would have been better
Arkansas got the hazing started on the new kid a year early, winning 42-38 and overcoming an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter. This comes as a double slap to Aggie fan because this is exactly when their meltdown started last year too. I’m sure there’s no reason to be nervous this year, guys. Even though you have the same coach, philosophy, quarterback, and don’t have Von Miller on defense, there’s still some reason I haven’t thought of that will get you through the rest of your schedule! We’ll definitely figure it out by the Texas game. Promise.
Faust thinks Luke Fickell made a good deal taking over for Tressel
10-7, huh? You know what the difference between Luke Fickell and Jim Tressel is? Tressel would have made this **** show work somehow. No way does the Senator go down to Mark Dantonio like that. Well that, and Tressel actually knows offense and can squeeze every last vanilla drop out of a mostly talent-less offensive unit.
This actually IS a program-defining game for both programs. Ohio State is headed for destruction and pain because they were crooked as hell while Michigan State is opportunistic but largely harmless. This is probably the last time you hear this game referenced in anyway at all forever.
This headline should be higher up in this post except the game sucked
After Taylor Martinez threw his third interception at the start of the second half, Booter texted me the following: “Bo Pelini has to be on the take. The f**k is that?” He’s referencing, of course, Nebraska’s inexplicable decision to try to run the Air Raid offense in the second quarter (when the Huskers were up 14-7) and beginning of the third quarter when A) the only quarterback in the Big Ten who is a worse passer than Taylor Martinez is Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and B) the run had actually, you know, worked in the first quarter to get them a lead, so there was no reason to deviate from the offense. They deserved every bit of that 48-17 beat down.
Colorado is bad, mmmkay?
Washington State is still one of the worst programs in the entire country. They’re North Texas bad. And yet, Colorado managed to let them score two touchdowns in the final two and a half minutes to give away an easy win against a bad team. Colorado, that makes you as bad as Indiana and North Texas. Welcome to hell.
SMU almost blew it but then didn’t
The Mustangs blew a big fourth quarter lead to TCU and then won in overtime anyway. They probably just wanted their fans to really enjoy the win instead of thinking about how this is a down year for TCU anyway. TCU coach Gary Patterson said his guys have to find a way to finish since this is the second time this season TCU has closed a huge fourth-quarter deficit only to lose anyway. Or maybe they just shouldn’t be losing by so much when the fourth quarter starts.
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