Points Over Pints: Teams Get Their "Reality Czech"
By Joe Jenkins
This Week’s Beer
On a long enough timeline, everybody’s deficiencies get exposed.
Unemployed and still living with your parents in your 30s? You can only hide that from the girl you’re dating for so long. It eventually comes to the surface — typically within the first few weeks of the relationship — no matter what lengths to which you go to hide it.
It’s the reality check — or for our purposes today, a finely-crafted Czech-style pilsner from the good folks at Moonlight Brewing that’s only available in kegs around the San Francisco Bay Area known as Reality Czech.
A lot of college football teams had their Reality Czech on Saturday, and in the process promptly excused themselves from the BCS title race.
There’s a lot to cover from “Reality Czech Saturday,” and since our beer this week only comes in mass quantities, I hope you brought your drinking pants.
The First Sips
Let’s get the no-longer-undefeated teams out of the way first.
This is the time where it becomes easy to drag out the tired cliché that “records don’t matter when it comes to rivalry games,” but it just isn’t true here. Texas won this game by exposing the flaw that Notre Dame used to nearly vanquish the Sooners from the unbeaten ranks two weeks ago: Run the ball between the tackles and use jumbo sets to wear down a defense that was designed to keep up with the up-tempo offenses that abound in the Big 12.
Will this win save Brown’s job at Texas? It didn’t feel that way watching the post-game celebration on the field. Brown’s reaction after the game felt more like a “thanks for the memories” than a “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”
Stanford’s BCS title hopes were the next to take a huge hit when it lost at Utah, 27-21. There wasn’t any smoke and mirrors involved with this loss. Stanford is only outgaining their opponents by an average of 26.5 yards per game. By comparison, Pac-12 rival Oregon outgains opponents by an average of 264.6 yards per game.
The Cardinal’s mediocrity on both sides of the ball creates a recipe for close games. When that happens, it only takes one bad bounce or one miraculous catch to sway the outcome.
Speaking of inconsistent teams, we officially can kick Michigan out of the BCS title race, if that hadn’t already happened. Penn State’s 43-40, four-overtime victory over the Wolverines was the result of one thing: great game planning.
Nittany Lions head coach Bill O’Brien spent most of the day stacking the line of scrimmage defensively and dared the up-and-down Devin Gardner to beat him with his arm. It worked. Michigan’s running backs only accounted for 28 yards on 30 attempts.
Give some credit to Gardner; he accounted for most of the Wolverines offensive output for the entire day, with 361 yards of total offense, but the team’s inability to generate any kind of ground game prevented them from putting Penn State away late in the game.
• I’m not sure whom I should feel worse for: Georgia or Missouri. Georgia was so littered with injuries that they almost had to take out a Craigslist ad out to get players and had their hopes for a BCS title crushed in the process. Missouri managed to win a game that should have put them in the national spotlight, but lost their quarterback James Franklin, likely for the year, with Florida and South Carolina up next.
• Ohio State may have dodged a bullet by not playing on “Reality Czech Saturday,” but they still lost big. Northwestern’s 35-6 loss to Wisconsin and Michigan’s giveaway to Penn State will drop the Buckeyes strength of schedule. Running the table won’t be enough. They’ll need everyone else to lose to make the BCS game.
• Clemson looked to be another ranked victim on Saturday, but managed to score 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away from Boston College. Clear your calendar for next Saturday. Florida State and Clemson square off in South Carolina in what could be the best quarterback matchup of the year.
• This just in from the Unsustainable Statistics Department: Terry Baggett rushed for 304 yards on just 18 carries in Army’s 50-25 win over Eastern Michigan. He’s averaging 9.7 yards per carry on the season.
• If Oregon’s Marcus Mariota keeps up this pace and doesn’t win the Heisman, somebody needs to call the authorities. Mariota threw for 366 yards and ran for another 88, notching four total touchdowns in the Ducks’ 45-24 win over Washington. He also did a bang-up job sending in signals from the sideline during the fourth quarter when the game was out of hand. Can we just have Oregon and Alabama play right now?
The Last Gulp
If the keg of “Reality Czech” is running low, that means we’ve had plenty to drink, so excuse me if I get a little philosophical for our last-gulp toast.
Sometimes doing everything right doesn’t mean you wind up a winner.
So here’s to you, Brady Hoke. With your Michigan Wolverines clinging to a tentative seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter, you were left with a difficult decision: attempt a field goal from the fringe of your kicker’s range, or punt and make Penn State drive at least 80 yards to tie the game with less than two minutes remaining.
You elected to punt and I initially agreed with your decision.
But Penn State drove the field and with the help of a few incredible receptions, made a hero out of freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg.
Next time you have the chance to put a game away in front of 100,000 hostile fans, try for the points. Especially when you’ve allowed an underdog to hang around for four quarters.
• Missouri QB James Franklin separated his shoulder and will miss at least six weeks. He could return for a bowl game.
• Michigan’s stud OT Taylor Lewan left the game against Penn State with a knee injury. He returned for one play then spent the rest of the game on the sideline.
• Oregon’s leading WR Josh Huff left the Ducks’ win over Washington with an undisclosed injury.