NCAA Week 10: Stock Up, Stock Down
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This year's college football season -- and next year's, and the year after, and so on, until the post-season bracket expands to eight teams -- is taking on the appearance of an infamous business model.
None other than South Park's underpants gnomes.
The similarity is obvious. Painfully so, in fact:
The FBS has ten conferences, some Power and some Other.
- It plays a season.
- [Insert Vatican-style puffs of white smoke here]
- It has a four-team playoff.
Simple. Hollow, yes. Better than the BCS, kinda. Profit? Of course! Just like those gnomes, the FBS poobahs aren't dumb.
Stock Up: Florida State ... Gotta hand it to the Noles. Louisville did. Never mind that the Cardinal defense picked off two Jameis Winston passes like security guards at the seafood counter, the ACC propaganda department didn't have to work hard to put that much lipstick on this pig of a game:
Meanwhile, how does a home team blow a 21-0 lead at home? Well ...
Stock Down: Utah ... Up until Week 10, Wazzu was the Utes' only blemish. Mike Leach settled his team after facing a 21-0 deficit within the first four minutes and then turned his still-unique attack loose in Salt Lake City. This is what kept them under the national radar, even as they disposed of UCLA and USC to claim the inside track in the Hail Maryfest that is the Pac-12 South. Then, just as they were being taken seriously, they refused to win in Tempe.
Incredibly the dropped pick in that clip was the hard one to catch. All DB Dominique Hatfield had to do was haul in what amounted to an infield fly on a deflected pass at the goal line late in the fourth, and the Utes would be atop the division today.
Stock Up: TCU ... It's tempting to call the Horny Toads Auburn Lite. They go along with whatever tone is set and then win. In Morgantown, where winter seemed to come early last weekend and couches were nervous, TCU watched its host do everything in its power to self-destruct -- so much for West Virginia taunting backyard rival Pitt for committing six turnovers in a game -- before finally shrugging and accepting the lead. Mountaineers coach Dana Halgorson clearly lost faith in his offense, went into between-the-tackles mode, and played right into Gary Patterson's hands. Save for a brutal pass interference call in Waco, TCU would be a current favorite for a bracket spot. But they shouldn't have frittered away their huge lead in the first place. Next up: K-State at home for the undisputed Big XII inside track to the title.
Stock Down: Ole Miss ... Well, it was fun while it lasted. A soft non-con schedule hid deficiencies in the Landshark run defense, something LSU pointed out to strong effect. Auburn followed suit, and frankly, the Rebels did well to stay in this one with a shout. Two weeks from now, don't be surprised to see them be Arkansas' first conference win in two years.
Stock Up: Thomas Tyner ... It's not like the Ducks missed the shifty soph, because they didn't. That's more than Stanford's vaunted defense can say, as it missed him on a regular basis in Week 10. And none of them were so visible as this one
Stock Down: Maryland ... Michigan can send that Sparty stake to the Terps. They'll make good use of it. First, they invade Happy Valley and get into a trash-a-thon before fans can even take a pull or two from their boda bags:
Then, they keep the ill will alive by going stoic at the coin toss. Not too often the stripes toss the laundry before kickoff, but an exception was made in this case.
Stock Up: Florida ... Who knew Will Muschamp could still be having wet dreams in November? All the Gators need is for Mizzou to go 0-2 on the road at A&M and Rocky Top and lose at home to a resurgent -- they hope -- Arkansas, while Georgia gets thumped at Auburn this weekend. Then, they take care of their own business with Vandy and the suddenly press-averse Ol' Bawl Coach, and they'll charge to the SEC championship game ready to wreak revenge on Alabama or say hello to Auburn or Mississippi State. Why not? Give the dude the moments he has left. Besides, that fake field goal schtick was kinda special.
Muschamp must've had a flashback to the Kentucky game last season. The Wildcats' version was the Les Miles holder-over-the-shoulder technique, but given Gator passing this season, Muschamp stuck with the running game.
Stock Down: Basic Math ... Ole Miss was having enough trouble with Auburn's running game. Combine that with the stripes having trouble counting, and the Landsharks were more than challenged by this double-secret probation formation:
Cameron May carried the mail for 11 well-blocked yards, which kept the drive going on Auburn's merry way to another touchdown. Apparently, that mystery dude who's got a hotline to the head ref was OK with this.
Stock Up: Shaq Thompson ... Here's your prototypical team player. The Washington Husky LB has four defensive TDs to his credit, but with the team's RBs banged up, he got to say hello to even more of Colorado's roster.
Dude's odds-on to be a high pick as a defender in the 2015 NFL draft if he chooses to declare -- Thompson's a three-year starter this season as a junior -- so why not put on his own rendition of a combine?
Stock Down: Salvador Dali ... This Spanish genius had to be the inspriation for Maryland's and Texas Tech's outa-control fashion terrorists. Note that those Red Raider designs are on the same helmet. Thank you for going there, Maryland. And thank you, Señor Dali, for proving a drug-free America is still decades behind your genius! Never has a return to black-&-white television been so necessary.
Stock Up: Indiana State ... The last time Missouri State players saw this little huddle on a kickoff, it was probably when an opponent chose the wrong moment to show off his Pokémon card collection.
Who knew Sycamores could major in three-card monte? The streets of New York await their graduation.
Stock Down: Connor Halliday ... Wasn't it bad enough being the nation's leading passer on a 2-7 team? Passing for 734 yards and 6 TDs in one game and losing, 60-59, because the kicker can't hit a 19-yard chipper at the gun? Guess not. The Wazzu slinger went straight into surgery for a broken fibula after this hit.
Stock Up: Temple ... Legend has it the Owls last beat a ranked team in 1926. Must've been Bedrock State or Mesopotamia U. Anyway, they've done it again and probably knocked East Carolina out of a big New Year's payday in the process. Marshall's Thundering Herd is undefeated and leading Conference USA, but their schedule would even embarrass an SEC team. Colorado State's claimed two Power Fivers, but lost to Boise State in the Mountain West. Temple's made for an Other Five scramble, adding even more interest to the post- and bowl season.
Stock 'Waayyy Down: Dave Brandon ... It's a concept, but students actually count in college sports, as fans as much as participants. What with the megabucks and subsequent arms race they foster, it's often the students who are pushed aside. That's ultimately the root of Michigan's rot, and it's the students rising up against a too-corporate athletic department that did in Brandon. As a former player and prominent alum, it's mind-boggling that Brandon ignored them, the fact that a campus is their community, and that they're a lot more dialed in than he gave them credit.