Friday, December 31, 2010

Bowl Pool Update: December 31, 2010

Wha happen?

Army 16, SMU 14
I watched the first half of this game before running a few errands. My impression was that SMU was clearly the better team but was being undone by turnovers and missed opportunities. I got home and called Todd to ask him what happened. He told me that he doesn't think he's ever seen a bowl game where one team was that much better than the other, and still ended up losing. SMU doubled Army in total yardage and had a 6.9 to 4.0 advantage in yards per play. Once Army got the lead, they did a great job of killing the clock. Due to long drives by both teams, SMU only had three drives in the second half. Those drives covered an average of 78 yards per drive, and led to two touchdowns and a missed FG that would have won the game. Army didn't turn the ball over, while SMU threw two interceptions, had a fumble returned for a TD, turned the ball over on downs once, and missed two field goals. Twenty-six of our 32 entrants picked SMU, and they (we) were right to do so.

Syracuse 34, Kansas State 32
The closest game of the bowl season (up to that point) ended on a terrible, terrible call by the Big Ten officiating crew working the game. Down eight, Kansas State scored a touchdown with 1:24 left in the game. The receiver gave a brief (about 1.5 seconds) military-style salute to some K-State fans in the crowd, and got flagged for "excessive celebration." Because of the penalty, the Wildcats had to attempt a game-tying two-point conversion from the 18-yard line instead of the three. They predictably failed. After the game, the receiver said that as he was running over to teammates after the salute, one of the officials said to him "wrong choice, buddy." The head referee said after the game that the officials who threw flags (yes, two of the refs saw the gesture and thought it was flag-worthy) deemed that the kid had violated Rule 9-2-1d, which states that a penalty shall be called for "any delayed, excessive, prolonged or choreographed act by which a player attempts to focus attention on himself [or themselves]."

When asked exactly how the kid violated the rule, the head ref said "It was the salute, which was the judgment of the calling officials, which were the head linesman and the back judge. Two officials threw the flag, both judged it to be drawing attention to themselves, and that’s what the flag was for." This annoys the hell out of me, because the ESPN announcers were saying the same crap in trying to justify the call - they repeatedly said it was a penalty to do "anything" that "calls attention to yourself" (to their credit, after half-heartedly making this argument they came to their senses and agreed that the penalty was still way too harsh). Does anyone else see the problem with that sentiment, as well as the words of the head ref? YOU'RE IGNORING THE ENTIRE FIRST HALF OF THE PHRASE DESCRIBING THE ILLEGAL CONDUCT. It's not a penalty to draw attention to yourself. Players do that all the time; they are, after all playing a football game in front of a shitload of people watching both in the stadium and on TV. But watch a clip of the salute, and please, please point out to me what the hell was "delayed, excessive, prolonged, or choreographed" about it. If you can, I will give you a quarter*.

The other unintentionally hilarious and loathesome thing about this explanation? In flagging a simple, brief salute that in no way taunted or showed up the opponent and was about as innocuous as anything you will ever see get penalized on a football field, the officials themselves CALLED ATTENTION TO THEMSELVES by making the ridiculously harsh call. The "wrong choice, buddy" comment only further illustrates that these whores were trying to make themselves the show. Well, you succeeded, you assholes. The penalty has to be especially galling to KSU fans in light of...

North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27 (2 OT)
If you were watching this game, and particularly if you had just watched the previous one, it was pretty damn hard not to notice that the Tennessee players saluted constantly, en masse, every time they scored. Nary a flag was thrown, in spite of this officiating crew also being from the Big Ten. In fact, Tennessee's freshman quarterback Tyler Bray saluted numerous times and made a couple of gestures toward the UNC bench, including a double "throat-slash" motion after his TD pass in the first overtime (kudos to SportsCenter for showing that this morning). No flags were thrown. As an aside, Bray put on an absolute tour de force performance of unlikable bullshit, and it is going to be really really fun rooting against him for the next three years.

The story of this game itself, however, is the insane ending. Read more about it at Doc Sat, but briefly: Tennessee scored late to go up 20-17 and missed the extra point. UNC drove down the field and, at around the UT 30 with 16 seconds left, called a run in spite of having no timeouts. As the clock wound down, the UNC offense lined up to spike the ball and stop the clock, and their QB actually did spike it with 1 second left. In the meantime, the Tar Heel special teams freaked out and a bunch of them ran onto the field to set up a FG try. When the ball was snapped, UNC had seventeen players on the field, including the holder and kicker, who were lined up ready to kick behind the QB. Tennessee ran out onto the field thinking the clock ran out. The ref announced that the game was "over." Then the replay booth buzzed them, the play was looked at, and a second was put back on the clock, with UNC penalized 5 yards for having too many men on the field. They made the kick and won in the second overtime, when Bray threw a pick on UT's possession, making my night.

Warshington 19, Nebraska 7
Hey, it's a blatant no-show! Nebraska only gained 189 yards on 3 yards per play, and Warshington avenged their 56-21 home loss to the Huskers earlier this year. One person in the pick 'em picked Warshington. Eighteen of us, being aware of the result the first time these two teams played, put at least 30 points on Nebraska. From a selfish perspective, I went 1-3 yesterday and am still extremely confident that I picked the better team in all four games. Them's the breaks, I guess.

I don't feel like adding up all the possible points remaining (and "fuck you" to ESPN for not putting that on the page this year. What the hell is your problem?), so this is all you're getting on the top 15. Except that Javy went winless yesterday, so his pick set has gone:  L-L-L-W-W-W-W-L-L-L-L-W-W-W-L-L-L-L. Well done, sir.

1MarianneSharp 1Take a Guess11-7300
2Leave me alone JacksonMike N.10-8254
3JoannaTake a Guess9-9251
4Silent VelcroJoel M.11-7233
5katemunger 1Take a Guess9-9231
6I can haz Cam Newton?Todd11-7218
7Shablagoo!BringTheCrunchMatt N.10-8214
8Boogr, Boogr, & FartyButtAl9-9212
9christmas aleScott9-9211
10Little Orphan AlyAly11-7205
13Todd McShay's PicksTake a Guess12-6196
14astro1305 1Javy7-11191
14Chokin' on ApplesauceYours Truly10-8189

*I will not actually give you a quarter.

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