Sunday, October 4, 2015

The three Ls

They all look alike, squatting there on the ledger in black-and-white. An "L" is an "L", as they say. There are no moral victories, as they also say.

And so Clemson 24, Notre Dame 22, and Ohio State 34, Indiana 27, and Michigan State 24, Purdue 21 on the big college scoreboard yesterday, and this is where what They say goes right off the rails. Because if those three scores represent losses for all of the state's Big Three, at least two of them didn't feel that way.

Notre Dame losing at Joaquin-drowned Clemson you could have seen coming, because when you ran a finger down the Irish schedule back in August, this was one you readily identified as a potential loss. But what happened in Bloomington and East Lansing was unforeseeable by practically everyone.

Start with Indiana, which lost its stud running back during the course of the raw afternoon, and then its stud quarterback, and still had No. 1 by the throat on the last play of the game. Not even a botched snap on the play stopped backup quarterback Zander Diamont from skimming the ball off a receiver's hands in the back of the end zone. That's how close it was for the Hoosiers, whose 4-0 record coming in was regarded as largely counterfeit, on account of it was, you know, Indiana.

But the Hoosiers outplayed, outfought and out-hearted Ohio State all over the field, and if Ezekiel Elliott hadn't run from Bloomington to Indianapolis (and gotten there sooner than driving there, given the state of Indiana 37 these days), the Hoosiers would have parked it in the W column. If there's no such thing as moral victories, this one sure as hell played one on TV.

Meanwhile, in East Lansing, No. 2 Michigan State survived a Purdue team that was coming off a home loss to a MAC school (Bowling Green), and whose only victory was a win over FCS Indiana State. But this one, too, went right to the finish, with Purdue gunning for the win in the final seconds after trailing 21-0 early.

Another gutty showing, especially considering Purdue had the added handicap of wearing strange white helmets that Boilermaker purists must have thought had no business adorning the head of a true Boilermaker. Might as well wear fruit baskets instead.

Another Oscar-winning performance in the Moral Victory category. They Say be hanged.

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