Sunday, November 23, 2014

Of Hoosiers, Hogs, Bruins and such

There are any number of ways to tell when it's November and the curtain is coming down on college football. Everyone's got their own specific radar for it, and one (or two or three or four) outliers that trip its signal.

For me, it's sitting somewhere watching Notre Dame play the endgame to another season in cold gray pre-Thanksgiving South Bend, and noticing that it's already full dark by halftime. Or noticing, that, hey, look, Harvard's playing Yale again. Or noticing, similarly, that UCLA and USC are having at it again in the 5 p.m. Los Angeles twilight that is Saturday night in earnest here in the Midwest.

All of that happened yesterday, and there's always a tinge of sadness to it. It's a reminder that the time for moving indoors is almost here, at least if you live in this part of the country. The crops are in, the fields are all stubble-and-beige-earth, and it's dark (or nearly so) at mid-afternoon in South Bend and West Lafayette and contiguous points of the compass.

Which is not to say stuff still isn't happening, out there on all those soon-to-be-deserted football fields. To wit:

* Speaking of Notre Dame, the Irish lost improbably again, this time to a Louisville team playing a second-string quarterback. Kyle Brindza missed a gimme field goal from the 22-yard line -- no excuses, he just flat missed -- and that was that.

Which means the Irish, if they've perfected nothing else this season, have at least perfected the Finding Ways To Lose portion of the program.

* Speaking of portions of the program, here's your That's Crazy Talk segment for this week: If Ohio State misses out on the four-team playoff, the Buckeyes might well have, yes, Indiana to thank for it. That's because the Hoosiers fought OSU just hard enough, on OSU's home ground,  to keep anyone from being particularly impressed by the Buckeyes' 42-27 win.

Indiana hurting Ohio State on a football field. Imagine that.

* November is the heart of rivalry season in college football, and so Saturday we had UCLA-USC (the Bruins rolled 38-20), Harvard-Yale (the unbeaten Crimson held off the once-beaten Bulldogs by a touchdown) and the Michigan State-Rutgers rivalry, which dates all the way back to noon  yesterday.

The Spartans won the sixth meeting between the schools easily, 45-3. And a rivalry was born.

OK, probably not. OK, definitely not.

* Speaking of rivalry games, Arkansas-Ole Miss actually is one -- the Razorbacks and Rebels first met in 1908 and have played continuously since 1981 -- and Saturday probably intensified it, at least on the Ole Miss side. That's because the Hogs crushed the eighth-ranked Rebels 30-0.

It was Arkansas' second straight shutout and served notice that the Razorbacks will be a team to be reckoned with next fall, if they're not in fact the SEC's next great power. They're stocked with impressive young talent that needs only seasoning. Look out for 'em.


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