Points Over Pints: The Buckeyes Do It Again
By Joe Jenkins
This Week’s Beer
Every region in the country has their cheap, “drink-it-all-day” beer. In the Buffalo, N.Y., area, it’s Labatt Blue. Drive a few hundred miles South into Pennsylvania and folks are crushing Yuengling at an alarming rate. Baltimore? I wouldn’t dare show up to a social function without a potentially lethal quantity of Natty Boh.
In Chicago, it’s Old Style; an American-style lager by nature that sets itself apart by a double fermentation process known as “kraeusening.” I’m not sure what kraeusening is, but I know that it sounds like a distinctly Midwestern activity, and that its what gives Old Style a distinctive flavor from other American-style lagers like Budweiser.
The binge beer of choice in The Second City is as big a part of Chicago's cultural makeup as deep-dish pizza, Mike Ditka and lousy baseball teams. That’s how these regional beers work.
With so many in-conference regional matchups on Saturday, it seemed fitting to choose the one that best represented Northwestern, who was playing in its biggest game since the 1996 Rose Bowl.
So before we start talking about old Super Fans skits from Saturday Night Live, let’s pour an Old Style, grab a brat with some kraut, and break down this weekend in college football.
The First Sips
If you’re living in the Chicagoland area and can’t find any Old Style, it’s probably because the Northwestern faithful drank every last ounce after the heartbreaking 40-30 loss to Ohio State on Saturday.
The Wildcats followed what seems to be the Chicago sports team formula of holding a tenuous lead late in a big game, only to let it slip away.
It wasn’t bad Chicago luck that beat Pat Fitzgerald’s team, though; it was Ohio State’s dominance of the line of scrimmage. The Wildcats couldn’t run the ball and they couldn’t stop the Buckeyes from running it. Northwestern only averaged 2.2 yards per carry on 43 rushes, but gave up 5.2 on 48 attempts.
The Buckeyes averaged 6.1 yards per offensive snap compared to Northwestern’s 4.6 and it allowed them to keep the game close, even with Braxton Miller turning the ball over three times.
Wildcats fans should take heart despite the loss. Fitzgerald is building a program that is becoming an upper-echelon Big Ten team. The trick now will be for the school to hang onto Fitzgerald when schools like USC and Texas come calling at the end of the season, because they will.
• Baylor’s offense continues to post numbers that can’t be comprehended. Despite four turnovers, the Bears scored 70 or more for the third consecutive game, beating West Virginia 73-42; their 864 yards of offense broke a Big 12 record. No other FBS or FCS team has scored 28 points in the first quarter of three games in a season since 1996. We may need to invent adjectives to describe this offense.
• This just in from the Unsustainable Statistics Department: Alabama’s defense gave up just 15 yards on the ground in their 45-3 win over Georgia State. Crimson Tide opponents have combined for only 112 yards rushing in the three games since Texas A&M ran for 164.
• Connor Cook seems to be righting the ship for Michigan State. Cook threw for a career high 277 yards and two touchdowns to lead Sparty to a 26-14 win over Iowa. MSU steadily is improving and still can be a force in the Big Ten as the season continues.
• Jadeveon Clowney surprised Steve Spurrier when he sat out of South Carolina’s win over Kentucky. You’ll hear a lot of pundits say that Clowney unofficially is declaring for the 2014 NFL Draft, but since the only person that knows how Clowney is feeling is Clowney, it doesn’t make sense to pass judgment. We would be making fools out of ourselves if we assumed he was faking for no good reason ... wouldn’t we?
The Last Gulp
Old Style goes down pretty easy, so if you took it upon yourself to order a second (or third), don’t feel bad. This week’s last-gulp toast deserves a half-pint chug, anyway.
Here’s to Kansas head coach Charlie Weis. With the Jayhawks tied at 10 on their home field against nationally-ranked Texas Tech, punter Trevor Pardula ran an unsuccessful fake punt on fourth-and-12 with the ball spotted at the Kansas 17-yard line.
This bone-headed decision doesn’t require a lot of explanation, so I’ll leave it at this: You aren’t 14 years old and you aren’t playing Tecmo Bowl against your little brother in your basement, Coach Weis. When you have a kicker who's averaging nearly 50 yards per punt, you send the other team packing and try to flip field position.
For what it’s worth, you did change the course of the game. Texas Tech scored 44 consecutive points en route to a 54-16 win.
I’d offer you an Old Style to join us, Coach Weis, but making decisions like that, I’m pretty sure you’ve already had enough to drink.
• Georgia RB Keith Marshall suffered a knee injury against Tennessee. He was on crutches after the game.
• Jadeveon Clowney sat out South Carolina’s win over Kentucky with sore ribs.
• Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield injured his knee against Kansas. He was on crutches after the game.
• Louisville WR DeVante Parker left Louisville’s win over Kentucky with a shoulder injury.
• UCLA lost two players on Thursday night. LT Torian White left the game against Utah with an ankle injury that will cost him the rest of the year. Bruins RB Jordan James suffered an ankle injury of his own and is questionable for next week against Cal.