In case you were out living a life of leisure, here's what you missed in sports on Monday:
Robert Griffin III threw for 163 yards and ran for 72 more to lead the Redskins to a 17-16 win over the Giants. "At times like these, I really wish I knew some curse words," said Eli Manning. "So I could think them to myself and feel cruel for just a moment."
On November 3, on a third-quarter drive against Oklahoma State, Kansas State’s Collin Klein was showing why he was the best quarterback in the nation. He passed and ran and finally plunged into the end zone. But Klein got hurt. Afterward, a source told Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel that Klein “could not recall the details of the drive, including the fact he scored.” The Wildcats coaches took Klein’s helmet away. He spent the final quarter and a half standing on the sideline.
Two weeks later, Collin Klein wasn’t even playing like the best quarterback in the Big 12. In a 28-point loss to Baylor, he threw three picks. He ran for a 2.3 yards per carry. When he walked off the field, he’d lost the Heisman, his shot at an undefeated season, the works.
What happened is obvious, no? Klein got hurt on November 3, and he hasn’t been the same since. But we’ll never know for sure, because between Point A and Point B, Kansas State launched one of college football’s classic misinformation campaigns. It involved Klein, his family, and the Wildcats’ sainted coach, Bill Snyder. It served to obscure why a great quarterback, the guy called Optimus Klein, became mortal overnight.
West Virginia lost their second game in two weeks on Saturday, falling to Kansas State, at home, 55-14. There were plenty of reasons behind the Mountaineers' loss. A passing attack that usually operates with no regard for fire safety laws could not get any sparks flying, gaining only 155 yards in the air (a historic low for a Dana Holgorsen–coached offense). [Former] Heisman candidate Geno Smith threw two picks (his first of the season) and was totally unable to complete passes for more than 15 yards (he was 0-5), which certainly took the "raid" out of Holgo's Air Raid offense. And, finally, the very movable object that was one of the FBS's worst pass defenses ran into the unstoppable force that was (now legit) Heisman candidate Collin Klein, who passed for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
West Virginia has plenty of problems that might have contributed to their loss on Saturday, but the biggest factor might have been that Dana Holgorsen seems as enamored of frequent flier miles as he is with all-go, f-the-world receiver routes.
In the last two weeks (and change), West Virginia has traveled to and from Texas twice. On October 6 they played University of Texas, in Austin — a 1,400-mile trip, each way, from Morgantown. The following week, they returned to the Lone Star State to play Texas Tech in Lubbock. That's another 1,400-plus miles on the odometer each way. That's almost 3,000 miles. I'm not trying to be funny (I'm trying to be a little funny), but is it possible that the thing that killed the Air Raid is air travel?
When is it safe to start talking about undefeated teams? When does a team's record stop being a fluke and start being something to monitor obsessively? For me, the answer is Week 8. Which means it's time for a new leadoff feature:
Risk Assessment: The Undefeateds
Let's do a quick rundown and see which teams are at the greatest risk of seeing a crooked number in their loss column next week. To keep things tidy, we'll stick to undefeated squads that are currently in the AP or BCS Top 25. (Rankings are BCS unless otherwise noted.)
Team: No. 25 (AP) Ohio (7-0) Loss Risk: 1 percent Details: Bye week. But you never know.
Team: No. 1 Alabama (6-0) Loss Risk: 2 percent Details: At Tennessee. I'd call this game a "walkover," but then Nick Saban might show up at my house and bite me.
I'm running a college football pool this year, and the format is pretty basic: Each week, the 18 players pick 10 games against the spread. Our goal is to have all the high-profile games represented, and to avoid spreads higher than 30 points. Simple.
We're five weeks in, which means each of us has picked the results of 50 games. If you flipped a coin, you'd expect to get 25 of them right. As college football fans, we don't flip a coin; we resort to our deep knowledge of the game, past results, statistics, injury reports, and various other minutiae. And yet, our current leader has 26 points. I'm in second place, with three others, at 25, and everyone else is below the .500 mark.
Is that normal, or are we just really bad at picking football games? It seems like in a group that large, somebody would have to do well, if only by luck. The league average is 4.22 points per week, and again, only one person has actually been successful. It blows my mind. I think the story that best represents our pool came from Week 1, when a gal nailed nine of 10 games to take the weekly prize. The next week, after I sent out the e-mail with the week's picks, her response was hilarious and infuriating all at once: "Guys, I have no idea how to pick against a spread."
In other words, she thought she was just picking the winner in Week 1. Nine of 10. Agony.
Hey guys, good news. I've got a fantasy football story for you!
Look, I know it's horrible to hear about someone else's fantasy experience, and I'm being totally self-indulgent here, but I can't help it. This is my first year playing fantasy football. It's like when a comedian has his first kid — they know intuitively that they hate hearing about other people's kids, but holy shit, they have a human child! It's impossible not to talk about it. As someone completely unfit to ever be a father, fantasy football is my newborn infant.
I was never one of those people who was opposed to fantasy football on moral grounds. It always sounded fun, in the abstract. But I tried fantasy baseball once when I still had my soul-killing New York City office job, and lasted about three hours before I stopped caring completely. Then I spent the rest of the season trying to sneak horrible trades by the commissioner to help my friend win, or forgetting to start my pitchers, or filling the lineup with injured players. I was the worst. I just didn't have the constitution for it.
But people kept telling me football was more fun, so this year I agreed to an all-ACC league with a bunch of sports journalists in the Chapel Hill–Durham area. And so far, despite being 1-0 with a great roster (FSU defense!), it's been the worst experience of my life. Here's a list of grievances:
Across the college football landscape Saturday, undefeated heads were rolling. Georgia Tech lost, Illinois lost, Michigan lost, and for a while, it looked like that unlucky group would welcome a fourth member. Humility and history beckoned in College Park, as no. 8 Clemson trailed Maryland 35-17 in the third quarter. The usual spark was missing. Quarterback Tajh Boyd had a terrible first quarter, highlighted by an interception return for a touchdown, and the Tigers defense showed no signs of making a stop. In situations like these, there are two choices for the favorite: go quietly into the night, or