NCAA Week 14: Stock Up, Stock Down
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American logic can be so confusing at times.
Columbus Day celebrates an explorer who never did realize he hadn't landed in India and thus called the inhabitants Indians, and those who came after him kept that term, anyway, fostering mascots for sports teams that have never heard of Mumbai.
Incidentally, Vikings never stuck horns on their helmets; who'd go into life-or-death combat wearing something that wasn't useful? They're artistic fantasies, going back to monks' depictions of them as agents of the devil. Probably not what North American sport teams had in mind when they slapped horns on helmets, but there it is.
Then there's black. It's considered the appropriate dress at funerals. Black Monday was bad news. Black September stood for terrorism. Pilgrims rarely wore black, but when they did, it was as a show of respect. Which leads to Black Friday as a phenomenon of respect to the power of profit that is the Christmas marketing season.
Stock Up: Underdogs ... Wanna talk about Selection Committee doomsday scenarios? Say hello to Missouri, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, and Kansas State, five sets of dangerous dudes who can totally re-shape the bracket landscape this weekend. Odds are at least one of them will find a way to do what the Rebels did to a suspect Mississippi State defense, as typified by Jaylen Walten's detour on his way to paydirt 91 yards away:
Mizzou is probably given the least chance to reshape perspectives, but they've been doing a Florida State lately, and just as effectively. When a happy outcome depends on a Tiger comeback, cool stuff gets dialed up:
Kick Six in the Iron Bowl last season showed once again that Alabama has a habit of ignoring small details, probably because it takes the Roll Tide mantra literally. If the SEC marble-grabber gets tense, just know that Gary Pinkel learned at the feet of the Dawgfather himself, Don James, just possibly the most pedantic coach in college football history.
Stock Down: SEC ... It's ugly when perception is exposed, and the term quality win for their conference games just took a huge hit. Sure, it's the SEC East, but that part of the nation has been deriding the ACC as a hoops league. Well, their cleated hoopsters just went into full-court press mode:
|Clemson 35 South Carolina 17||Georgia Tech 30 Georgia 24|
|Louisville 44 Kentucky 40||Florida State 24 Florida 19|
If Missouri pulls the rug out from under Alabama, the SEC will become part of the musical chair scenario where one Power Five champ gets to watch the playoffs on TV.
Stock Up: Boise State ... Talk about the Other Five's version of bringing a room together!
The pee-ers happened to be Air Force and Western Kentucky, with Colorado State and Marshall the unfortunate pee-ees. It can be argued that the Rams suffered only from collateral splash, as the Broncos' smashing of Utah State left them sitting pretty in the Mountain West. With the Hilltoppers' QB Brandon Doughty slinging eight TD passes and capping the day with a ballsy all-or-noting two-point conversion in overtime, Boise State looks poised to re-visit the criminal-free Fiesta Bowl, scene of its most legendary performance. Can't wait for the encore.
That mutual respect might not transfer to a Dallas boardroom. As if facing Kansas State this weekend wasn't challenging enough -- especially with Bryce Petty's participation still not assured -- the Bears absolutely gave new life to the Selection Committee's body of work edict, not to mention the obtuse game control factor. Yes, Baylor beat TCU by three in Waco, but bookie law states that home-field is worth three points. That arguably makes the result a wash, and Chaos Theory enters the void. If a gopher farts in a neutral field, does it trump what the Bears just did in JerryWorld's woods?
Stock Up: Rutgers ... Hunting down a 25-point deficit will indeed put a spring in the ol' step. Even -- or especially -- if it was against Maryland. One dude in particular had been waiting all season for this:
Stock Down: UCLA ... In a long, disappointing season when usually dominant Stanford is left for dead, the Cardinal muster just enough to wreak havoc in a stadium close to Tinseltown.
So, while powder-blue minds might have also been pondering what stacked meant -- and no, not the odds against Bruin consistency -- the feared fingers of doom did their dastardly deeds. On the bright side, UCLA's choke at home set the stage for a much more attractive Pac-12 trophy match. Oregon facing the team that beat it twice in a row has much more appeal than if it had to dismember the Bruins again.
Stock Up: Jordan Wilkins ... A 41-yard dash and a 31-yard TD pass in the same game is a decent outing for any running back, not to mention a freshman. Especially in a rivalry:
Stock Down: JT Barrett ... The game giveth; the game taketh away. Dude was expecting a cozy clipboard-carrying season when Braxton Miller went down and damn near turned it into a full-fledged Buckeye bracket revival. And then ...
If Ohio State prevails over the Badgers this weekend and certain other results put the Buckeyes in a favorable light, would the Selection Committee really ding them for being down to their third-string slinger? How fair would that be to the rest of the red horde who did their bit in reviving what looked to be a lost season? Hopefully, if Jones helps bring the Big Ten title to Columbus, that should be reason enough to dismiss any talk of injuries affecting bracket decisions.
Stock Up: Danny Shelton ... What? If the dude's built like a barrel, shouldn't he act like a barrel? Seems to work. Just another reason pro scouts think the Washington Huskies nose tackle is a first-round no-brainer.
Stock Down: UAB Blazers ... Irony. The Blazers make it to a bowl game for only the third time in their history, and it may be their swan song. Alabama may be football mad, but it's not necessarily commuter-school football mad.
That's a tough row to hoe; UCF pulled it off, but by and large, student bodies are a tough crowd to attract without a strong campus presence. Toss in the fact that Alabama and Auburn account for most of the state's loyalties, and both UAB's booster and sponsor bases are hemmed in. But, this is still Alabama, so the issue is now a gubernatorial-level concern. Stay tuned.
Stock Up: Memphis ... The Tigers looked like a club on the rise early in the season by giving both UCLA and Ole Miss tough games. Maybe that's because they were a club on the rise. Saturday, Memphis had a shot at doing something it hadn't done in 43 years of football:
Don't get carried away, now. Boise State would have to wet the bed against Fresno State in the Mountain West championship game this coming weekend for Memphis to get a sniff at New Year's Day. While there's still drama in the bracket race, this bit isn't gonna match it. The Tigers won't have to worry about training rules on New Year's Eve.
Stock 'Waayyy Down: Cupcakes ... Soft scheduling could well cost Baylor a bracket spot. They did no favors to most SEC teams. Tune-ups for rivalry games are so yesterday in the new CFP world; even the Mississippi and Alabama schools didn't look all that sharp this time around. 99 total Iron Bowl points? Who'da thought those two teams would devolve into pinball wizards?
Dudes, boiling seasons down to 8-9 meaningful games not only gyps your fans, it gives the Selection Committee less body of work to consider. Like Americans' perception of history, it might be time for a re-think.