Pillow Fight of the Year

Nothing gets a locker room field with men with high testosterone fired up for a game better than the slogan "Live Purple"

Nothing gets a locker room filled with men with high testosterone fired up for a game better than the slogan “Live Purple”

It was the game you probably didn’t see but showed everything about college football that’s amazing. A division 1 program fighting adversity. An upstart FCS school trying to make a name for itself. And a wild Hail Mary play to end the game. Forget the fact the two schools were ranked in the bottom 20 percent of the nation according to Sagarin. This was a pillow fight turned instant classic.

New Mexico State was trying to snap its 18-game losing streak by paying FCS Abilene Christian, a school in year one of division one ball, to show up for homecoming. Problem is the Aggies, a program that’s been outscored 792-289 during the streak, has to work hard to beat a high school. There is no such thing as an easy win for NMSU.

ACU had a 22-21 lead going into the fourth but NMSU scored 13 straight points to make it 34-22. The Wildcats scored a touchdown with under a minute to go to make it a 5-point game and recovered an onside kick. FCS ACU had a chance to win its first game against a FBS program. Sure it’s NMSU but still.

The following action is hard to describe so…

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:9887161

Talk about awful announcing. I’ll let ACU’s Facebook page describe the play for us.

ACU falls to New Mexico State, 34-29. The Wildcats’ final, desperation play falls three yards short as a Hail Mary throw from John David Baker to Monte Green-Avery was caught and then lateraled to Taylor Gabriel, who sprinted down the far sideline for what looked like it would be the game-winning touchdown. But Gabriel was brought down at the 3-yard line and the Aggies escaped with a win to snap an 18-game losing streak. Great effort by the Wildcats. #LivePurple #ProudToBeAWildcat

So even though ACU lost it’s pretty happy with its effort and how close it came to knocking off a FBS school. Good Christian attitude to have since, you guessed it, Abilene Christian is a Christian school located in Abilene, Texas. Abilene Christian entered the game 5-3 but had a schedule loaded with division 2 schools as the program makes the transition. While the Wildcats talked up how close they came to winning, the New Mexico State Aggies boasted the fact it won a game.

Aggie Up? You were three yards away from blowing your homecoming game against a team that was Division 2 just 10 months ago.

The latest example of the decline of western civilization.

The latest example of the decline of western civilization.

The announcers, that I could hardly stand, said the Aggie coach was drenched in Gatorade. That’s how desperate it was for NMSU. A loss Saturday night would not have been depressing. It would have rendered the sober Aggie fans catatonic. I say sober fans because these were the t-shirts the students were given for showing up to the game. I’ll let you infer the meaning. Not only was this a great pillow fight game but it was also sinners versus Christ followers.

I love watching these types of games. Casual fans may think it was meaningless but to the players, coaches, and 300 sober fans at Las Cruces, it meant a lot.

Bonus great finish: Texas State converts on fourth and forever.

Trailing at home to South Alabama 31-30 with time winding down in the fourth, Texas State desperately needed to get into field goal range. The Bobcats faced third and four at its own 46 when a completed pass seemingly gave the home team a first down. That’s when the officials stepped in and called the rarer than rare offensive pass interference penalty on Texas State. After a false start penalty and an incomplete pass, Texas State faced a fourth and 24 with 41 seconds remaining. Game over Bobcats. Start partying Jaguars. Then the unthinkable happened.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=espn:9886677

Texas State quarterback Tyler Jones rolled out of the pocket for a desperation throw that landed in the hands of receiver Ben Ijah, who took it 51 yards. The Bobcats would kick a field goal to take a 33-31 win and move to 5-3 (2-2 Sun Belt). That’s right, Texas State is only a win away from bowl eligibility thanks to an insane fourth down conversion.

For 3-4 (1-2 Sun Belt) South Alabama it’s the exact opposite. The Jaguars will have little left to play for this season as they can only reflect on how it gave a game away in the most painful manner we’ve seen a team do so this year. At least they are better than New Mexico State.

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Grambling State’s Media Problems

Grambling athletics is taking a beating nationally as its football players have rebelled and did not play today’s scheduled game at Jackson State. You might think it’s no big deal that an FCS game did not take place. That 6-2 Jackson State was going to cream 0-8 Grambling State anyway. Just because it was an easy win does not mean no one cares. Take a look at Jackson State’s banner photo on its Facebook page. I’m sure it cares that the homecoming game will not happen and tickets must be refunded.

That's some big hype for a game that was never played.

That’s some big hype for a game that was never played.

No one wins here. Jackson State loses money and a great event. Grambling State loses reputation that it might never get back. How can another school put them on the schedule again without thinking, “Will GSU shows up?”

Grambling is in a public relations crisis. It has been accused of not providing a clean athletic facility causing players to succumb to infections. While most schools use a plane to travel to distant away games, Grambling goes cheap taking the bus. It has also gone through coaching changes that have eroded trust between players and the university.

So what does Grambling have its disposal to fight this PR nightmare. Nothing.

The lack of a Twitter account speaks to the problem. Only two tweets? Only 23 followers? And I just became one of those 23 today!Grambling twitter

What about its Facebook page? That should be a great place to answer critics. Problem is Grambling does not have one. Jackson State does, as does the bulk if not all of its SWAC rivals. You mean Grambling State, a D-1 school, can’t get an unpaid intern to do any social media for them?

How ironic is it that the only photo on the Twitter has a slogan saying “Love. Loyal. Fight.” The exact opposite of those three words holds true today.

 

Athletics should be an easy way for a school to market itself. For Grambling its marketing tool is now its biggest critic and has no answer on how to combat it. All it can do is watch ESPN, FOX Sports 1, CBS, and NBCSN tear it apart on the air and see tweet after tweet call the school a joke.

For Grambling State athletics, being called a joke would actually be an upgrade over the nuclear meltdown it is now.

2013 College Football’s Wheel of Mediocrity

While many are focused on the Top 25 teams this time of year there is also a second tier of schools to pay attention too. The goal for these teams is to get to six wins and become bowl eligible. For some this is a regression but for others going 6-6 is the Holy Grail. Welcome to the Wheel of Mediocrity.

Arizona: 3-2 record, No. 36 Sagarin ranking

The Wildcats started the year off strong winning their first three games but played nobody. The average Sagarin ranking of those three teams was 124. When Zona moved into PAC-12 play it was knocked out at No. 16 Washington 31-13 and failed to win at lame duck USC 38-31. The Trojans just fired their coach so how can you lose to them?

Where mediocre football teams can't buy a vowel.

Where mediocre football teams can’t buy a vowel.

Odds of getting to six wins: 40 percent

Arizona still has to play ranked conference schools Oregon and UCLA so that’s two losses right there. Winning at Arizona State will be a stretch. The two bottom feeders in the conference in California and Colorado are on the road. Arizona must win two of its next three games against Colorado, Cal and this Saturday hosting Utah to give itself a chance. It will be a tall order to achieve mediocrity for the Wildcats.

Boston College: 3-3 record, No. 64 Sagarin ranking

Like Arizona, Boston College had a bad loss to USC only it was a terrible score of 35-7. The good news is BC avoided getting blown out when it played top ranked Florida State and Clemson. At 3-3, Boston College has more wins than last year (2-10) and is making fun of the several experts who thought it would finish dead last the Atlantic division.

Odds of getting to six wins: 55 percent

The Eagles have an easier schedule to close out the year with only one ranked team remaining (Virginia Tech).  Problem is four out its six last games are on the road where BC is 0-2 on the year. One of those is cupcake New Mexico State. The other three are middle to back of the pack ACC teams. The Eagles should get six wins but it will need to prove itself against teams like North Carolina and Syracuse on the road to do so.

Indiana: 3-3 record, No. 47 Sagarin ranking

Here is a school where a .500 record causes a championship level celebration. The Hoosiers went 1-11 just two years ago and now they have improved to the point of beating Penn State by 20 points. Forget the fact the defense is horrid, Indiana football has finally advanced to mediocrity’s doorstep! Hallelujah!

Odds of getting to six wins: 60 percent

IU will lose at Michigan, at Wisconsin and at Ohio State.  This means it must win hosting Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue. Those latter three teams are all struggling right now and the Hoosiers get them all at home. Minnesota might be the trickiest win and maybe Purdue too being a rivalry game. But if Indiana can beat Penn State then it should win out in Bloomington to become bowl eligible.

Mississippi State: 3-3 record, No. 52 Sagarin ranking

Mississippi State has not proven much this season losing when it was an underdog and beating the teams it was favored against. That was almost not the case as it darn near blew last week’s game against MAC underdog Bowling Green State. The Falcons had a dropped pass on fourth down allowing the Bulldogs to win 21-20 and avoid snickering from around the nation.

Odds of getting to six wins: 35 percent

Miss. State has three upcoming losses in South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Alabama. The good news is home games against Kentucky, rival Ole Miss, and at 3-4 Arkansas are also upcoming. The Bulldogs will be favored against Kentucky and it will be even against Ole Miss and Arkansas. Winning all three though will require some lucky breaks and big strides in the passing game. I think it will be too much to handle this season.

North Texas: (3-3) record, No. 76 Sagarin ranking

The North Texas Mean Green has adjusted to life in Conference USA rather well with a big conference win over Middle Tennessee State and handed Ball State its only loss on the year. Not bad for a team that was previously picked by some to finish 6th out the seven teams in Conference USA West division.

Odds of getting to six wins: 90 percent

North Texas has games against 2-4 Louisiana Tech, 2-4 Tulsa, 2-5 UTSA, 1-5 UTEP, and 0-5 Southern Miss. The Mean Green only needs to win three of those five so no excuses here. Congrats North Texas, you are at least mediocre if not slightly better.

Michigan Football and Geometry

How can a team with a top 5 helmet lose to a team with a bottom 5 helmet?

How can a team with a top 5 helmet lose to a team with a bottom 5 helmet?

College football Saturday night was a chain reaction of explosions that rocked the top 25 as multiple unbeaten teams went down. The craziest moments all occurred in a half hour window of two undefeated teams (Stanford and Michigan) while the defending Heisman Trophy winner (Johnny Manziel) left his game due to injury.

Manziel would return as his Texas A&M Aggies survived at Ole Miss. No. 5 Stanford would lose to Utah 27-21 crippling its title hopes. But the best game came at Penn State where Michigan choked away, I mean was defeated for the first time this season in four overtimes 43-30.

Michigan was nursing a 34-27 lead late in the fourth and had a 3rd and 9 at Penn State’s 27 yard line. The Wolverines want to kill clock but also needed to score a field goal to make it a two possession game and put the contest to bed. Michigan took a delay of game penalty pushing it out of field goal range. After a punt Penn State got the ball back with at its 20 with 50 seconds to play only needing a touchdown. The rest is history as Penn State would score to tie it sending the game into the first of its four overtimes. The penalty was not intentional but not snapping the ball before the play clock expires is insane in that situation.

The poor play calling would continue into the overtimes where Michigan was ultraconservative. Twice, Michigan only needed a field goal to win the game but made no effort to advance the ball. All the Wolverines did was run the ball to position the kick in the middle of the field. The first attempt was blocked and the second one was missed. Instead of trying to make the kick shorter the Wolverines focused on the angle like an obsessed Geometry major. The result was over 100,000 Nittany Lions fans leaving the stadium happy.Sensor Scans

I love Michigan’s Coach Brady Hoke, but simple decisions made by him and his staff killed the game. Why make things harder on your kicker intentionally? Why give Penn State the ball back by taking a delay of game penalty?

Way to go Missouri!
Remember how SEC fans thought Missouri had no business being in the conference. Yeah I was one of those. Now Missouri is in the driver seat in the SEC East after winning at the infirmary known as the Georgia Bulldogs. Not to boast but we kind of saw this coming.

The sad state of the AAC
The newly named American Athletic Conference that should really be called the “Zombie Big East” is struggling more than NBC’s ratings. Louisville is the only ranked team and it’s departing to the ACC next year. Houston is undefeated but has played nothing but senior citizens who are decent at Wii Sports. Somehow, South Florida is 2-0 in conference action despite losing to the FCS McNeese State and Sun Belt doormat Florida Atlantic. That means it is still possible South Florida (No. 115 Sagarin Ranking) could make it to a BCS game this year. A win at No. 8 Louisville on Oct. 26 and it just might happen. Happy Halloween everyone!

Pillow fight of the year
UMass got its first win of the year Saturday defeating 0-6 Miami University 17-10. The two teams combined for five turnovers and Miami went and inept 1-11 on third down conversions. Even with the win UMass only moved up to No. 165 in Sagarin with Miami at No. 189. The latter being next to worse among FBS teams.

Twitter fun
Michigan was not the only team to lose in multiple OTs as Murray State dropped a tough one to Southeast Missouri State in FCS action 37-34. Murray State has the resorted itself to the shameless marketing strategy of giving away free food and plugging sponsors to put fans in the seats. Welcome to life in the FCS.

Idaho was humbled at Arkansas State 48-24 Saturday making it tough to tweet anything good for Idaho. So what did the Vandals do? Say you lost to a superior SEC school instead of a crappy Sun Belt team.

Georgia State, the lowest ranked FBS team in Sagarin, played better at home Saturday against Troy State. The Panthers lost 35-28 but gave their fan base hope. When you’re as bad as the Panthers, hope can go to your head, including the athletics’ Twitter account. This tweet in the fourth quarter is our depressing tweet of the week.

Talk about hope for the hopeless. When PR people are tweeting the defense to get a turnover it is pretty much over.

Syfy Channel: Imagine Less

Not everything we do here will be about the NCAA as I plan to tee off on television shows too when it affects the “nerd” part of the website. The Sci-fi channel, sorry, the Syfy channel has been the flag bearer for the nerd genre for a long time but it appears to have given up the fight.

Its slogan “imagine greater” makes no sense the channel seems to have no imagination whatsoever. Instead it has fallen into a copycat problem known as reality television.

Syfy used toy around with reality television with shows like “Face Off” and “Ghost Hunters.” Today it seems like very little originality is being produced. Shows such as the grandstanding “Robot Combat,” the painfully fake “Ghost Mine,” and now the ulcer producing “Fangasm” are the main culprits. Check out this teaser for Fangasm, not an actual clip from the show, a promo they actually thought would draw people in. More like a repellant.

Imagine and entire hour like that! I’ve tried to watch an entire episode in one sitting but I can’t persevere through the pain. Fangasm is Syfy’s attempt with another reality show about nerds living together in one home called “King of the Nerds,” on TBS. Fangasm offers little more than a smarter version of “Big Brother,” the biggest jock show on television. It doesn’t take much to outwit that.

Syfy’s schedule is littered with shows more likely to be E! than Syfy. “Heroes of Cosplay” is one such show as it features 10 minutes of entertaining television jam-packed into one whole hour. Speaking of E! Syfy has aired episodes of “Total Divas” to promote its sister station’s programming. You would think they know people watch Syfy to get away from E!
More reality shows are coming down the pipe including a show called “Naked Vegas.” Sounds more like a porno than science fiction.

Syfy’s scripted programming has not been very creative either. “Being Human” is an idea taken directly from a British show that few enjoy. “Defiance” has plenty in common with “Babylon 5” and also serves up a huge side order of borderline porn in each episode. That’s better than “Lost Girl” which serves up porn as the main course. And don’t even get me started on “Sharknado” as it was the ultimate movie title gimmick of the year.

“Continuum” seems to be a good show but it was on in Canada before Syfy wanted in. The show has interesting takes on time travel but is also confusing with all the paradoxes time traveling provides. The season 2 finale was a very depressing cliffhanger that does not entice me to watch season 3.

This leaves only one show on the Syfy network to carry the flag on nerd programming. “Haven” displays creativity telling stories of troubled people with various powers in a small coastal town in Maine. It’s like “X-Men” meets “Law and Order.” Haven stars Emily Rose and while not every episode is good, it has had a few great ones.

Problem is “Haven” has had its share of problems too. It was poorly managed by the network having its season 3 finale in January and waiting almost nine months for the premiere of season 4. By then momentum is impossible to build and fans lose interest. The show is also hard to get into if you join in late or have skipped a few episodes.

Even worse, Haven has a big plot twist to start season 4 that screams desperation. Rose’s character is trapped in an alternate reality which is actually a magical barn. Yeah I know. She also thinks she is someone else and has no memory of her fellow cast mates. Colin Ferguson joins the show to bring over some “Eureka” viewers. This is funny because both shows are just slightly above mediocrity.

Syfy can do better than mediocrity. Basic cable networks can produce some awesome shows if it makes a commitment to them. AMC has succeeded in creating hits by only cranking out 5 or so shows a year. Syfy is too scattered trying to create hours of programming to make anything amazing.

Instead of spreading its budget among crappy shark movies, pornographic reality shows, and mediocre dramas, Syfy could focus on four dramas and pump everything into them to make them great. Make it happen Syfy. We need more “Battlestar Galacticas” and less “Alphas.”

Charging the field at Troy State

There were plenty of scores and highlights that caught my attention Saturday but the Troy State Trojans may have stolen the show. In a battle for Sun Belt bragging rights in the state of Alabama, Troy State rallied to beat South Alabama 34-33.Sensor Scans

The Panthers scored two touchdowns in the final five minutes of the fourth to take a 33-27 lead. Troy State countered going 66 yards on five plays to steal the game  on a 20-yard touchdown pass with just seven seconds left.

South Alabama lost despite having 630 total yards compared to Troy’s 434. At 3-3, Troy State still has bowl hopes and also has this awesome first person video of charging the field to show off from the beginning of the game. It is amazing people don’t get trampled when you think about it. Especially the alumni cheerleaders you see at around the 55 second mark. Also note how bad the band sounds when the horns are right in your ear.

The battle for New Mexico
What is the saddest in-state rivalry game? Has to be New Mexico vs. New Mexico State. The Lobos are basketball school and the Aggies are so bad at football the Mountain West Conference did not want them forcing it to go independent. New Mexico won 66-17 Saturday but the problem is the Lobos are a 2-3 team and ranked No. 142 in the Sagarin ratings. The 0-6 Aggies dropped to No. 204 (worst among FBS teams). These two schools should probably stop playing each other, or could drop to the FCS level (bingo). The only chance New Mexico State has at winning a game this season is Oct. 26 when FCS independent Abilene Christian comes to town. Don’t know why, but tickets actually cost $40 for this game.

The sneaky unbeaten
Did anyone know that Missouri is undefeated? It dominated Vanderbilt in Nashville 51-28. The score was 30-7 at halftime! Now that Indiana shocked Penn State, Missouri’s win over Indiana looks stronger than ever. Now comes three straight games against ranked SEC schools (Georgia, Florida and South Carolina). It’s hard to see Missouri representing the SEC East in the conference championship game but you have to give it some consideration if the Missouri can pull off the upset at Georgia.

Poor Virginia
Virginia, a proud member of the ACC, got drilled by a MAC school on a shoestring budget in Ball State 48-27. Saturday’s loss dropped the Cavaliers to 2-3 and will probably make them an underdog the rest of the season. Yea for a 2-10 season! The Virginia football Twitter account pretty much summed it and is the depressing tweet of the week.

Underdog of the Year

I’ve been making fun of Georgia State Panther football this year as it symbolizes a huge problem with big time college football. While the 0-4 Panthers have not reached the big time (and won’t anytime soon) they did upgrade their program to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The equivalency is moving out of an apartment and buying a house, or jumping from a Nintendo GameCube to a PlayStation 3.Budget Games new

Making this upgrade costs money. A lot of money.

What return has Georgia State received for shelling out the cash?

Three losses to Football Bowl Subdivision teams (FCS). The classification Georgia State had last year. Those three teams beat Georgia State with half of its budget. Also with half of its resources and half of the media attention Georgia State is entitled too. Georgia State was also destroyed playing a budget game at West Virginia 37-0. How can this program build a fan base? How can the program justify the expenses it now carries as a FBS school?

The Panthers went 1-10 last year playing a schedule of full of FCS schools. Now they are fighting out of its weight class and getting destroyed. GSU is ranked No. 208 in the Sagarin rankings behind 83 FCS schools.

Now comes Georgia States biggest challenge: No. 1 Alabama.

The Crimson Tide is a 55 and half point favorite over the Panthers. Almost eight touchdowns!

The game is unfair but GSU needs the paycheck from Alabama. Alabama needs the bye week Georgia State provides.

Some say sports are about winning and losing. That’s a sad black and white perspective if you ask me. For Georgia State it is about persevering and growth.

More like the Iraqi Air Force vs. the Death Star.

More like the Iraqi Air Force vs. the Death Star.

It’s why I enjoy cheering for the bad teams. For Alabama the only question is will it play as well as it’s capable of?
For Georgia State the questions are will it give up? Will it continue to play when the score 50-0? Will the team show any signs of progress?

Losing to a FCS school is comical. Getting creamed by the nation’s best team is cruel and painful. I hope the Panthers continue to fight and let something good come out of this.

The Panthers will be losers on the scoreboard Saturday, but if they refuse to give in they just might score the biggest win on the weekend. Their coach is Trent Miles, who turned around a gruesome squad at Indiana State. He’s been there before.

If you still think winning is everything. Watch Georgia State play Alabama. Particularly in 4th quarter. You’ll be proven wrong.