Points Over Pints: Winston, FSU Find Their "Aloha"
This Week’s Beer
Longboard Island Lager.
It has come to my attention that temperatures here in the Northeast will be dropping into the low 20s this week.
No, not Celsius.
It happens in New York every year. One day you look at the extended forecast and realize you’re going to be dressing in layers until April. The only thing you can do to keep a smile on your face is crack into a Longboard Island Lager by the Kona Brewing Company.
Longboard is an American-style Pale Lager with just enough citrus hints and mild hop to transport you to a tropical island even if you’re huddled up next to your fireplace.
If the taste wasn’t enough, under every bottle cap is an English word translated into Hawaiian and the side of every bottle has a reminder that you’re consuming “Liquid Aloha.”
Aloha is the Swiss Army Knife of Hawaiian words. It means “affection, peace, compassion, love and mercy.” It is used as a greeting and a farewell and I’m pretty sure you can order a French dip on a baguette with extra horseradish sauce by using aloha in the right context.
Aloha the perfect word for week 10 in college football. We said hello to November, the final month of the regular season. We waived goodbye to another undefeated team. We saw little compassion or mercy in a few games. And in the end, we’re left with four unbeaten teams legitimately vying for two spots in the BCS championship.
Let’s top off our Longboard, slap on a fresh coat of SPF 30, and dig our toes into the sand. There’s plenty to discuss.
The First Sips
In Tallahassee, Fla., Jameis Winston is the living embodiment of Aloha meaning “peace.”
We keep waiting for the Florida State quarterback to look like a freshman, and for the first two quarters of the Seminoles' 41-14 win over Miami, we almost got it.
Winston struggled early in the game, throwing two interceptions that allowed Miami to only trail 21-14 at the half. Freshmen crumble in these moments. Frustration and the desire to make up for his early mistakes inevitably lead to more thoughtless errors. That’s what freshmen do.
But that’s not what Winston did. He settled in. He played within himself. He found his inner “aloha”and finished the day completing 72 percent of his passes for 325 yards and a total QBR of 94.6 out of 100. In other words, he took control of a monstrous moment instead of allowing the moment to take control of him and played nearly flawless football in the second half.
Just how good is FSU? They’ve played three games against ranked opponents this year, and outscored them 155-28.
Here’s where it gets sad: Even with that mind-blowing show of dominance, Winston and the Seminoles still need help if they want to make the BCS Championship. FSU won’t face another ranked opponent until the ACC championship game, which means they don’t have enough juice in their schedule to stay ahead of Oregon in the BCS.
We’re looking at a situation where the final year of the BCS could reveal what an abject failure the system really is.
• Ohio State certainly never got the memo about Aloha meaning “mercy.” Their 56-0 win over Purdue on Saturday means the Buckeyes have outscored their last two opponents 119-14. Like Florida State, OSU needs to win with style and get a little help from the schools ahead of them. Urban Meyer’s group could go 24 months without a loss and still get left out of the BCS championship. This BCS thing is working great.
• In East Lansing, Mich., aloha meant goodbye to Michigan’s Big Ten title hopes. Michigan State’s defense was beyond dominant, holding the Wolverines to minus 48 yards rushing. With a defensive front this good, the Spartans may only need a competent offense to win the Big Ten. They just might have it this year.
• Aloha meant redemption for Missouri on Saturday. After collapsing against South Carolina last week, the Tigers responded by jumping out to a 24-3 lead in the first half against Tennessee. Mizzou still controls its own destiny in the SEC East, but a loss to Ole Miss or Texas A&M in the final two games of the season will muddy the waters between Missouri, South Carolina and Georgia.
• The Mid-American Conference probably is wondering where the “love” version of Aloha is because the conference quietly is making a strong case as the most competitive of the non-automatic qualifiers. Toledo’s 55-16 win over Eastern Michigan gives the MAC five bowl-eligible teams. The Mountain West, by comparison, only has two.
• Aloha means appreciation for Todd Gurley in Athens, Ga. The sophomore running back returned from an ankle injury to rush for 100 yards and a touchdown. He also added three receptions for 87 yards and another score in Georgia’s 23-20 win over Florida at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Despite all the injuries, UGA isn’t out of the SEC East picture yet, and they’re getting healthy at the right time.
The Last Gulp
We’re running a little low on Longboard, so it's time to raise our glass and toast a decision that did leave us with a very “aloha” feeling.
Here’s to you, Texas coach Mack Brown. I understand burning the redshirt of highly-touted freshman Tyrone Swoopes due to injuries to David Ash.
If you’re forced to activate the young man, however, don’t be afraid to throw a little experience his way.
The Longhorns had the game against Kansas well in hand entering the fourth quarter with a 28-6 lead, yet Swoopes rarely saw the field. He only attempted three passes and ran the ball twice.
A garbage time fourth quarter is a great place to get a quarterback that lacks experience some valuable reps.
Injuries may have forced your hand in activating Swoopes, coach Brown, but that doesn’t mean you have to waste it.
• Miami RB Duke Johnson broke his ankle against Florida State. He will miss the rest of the season.
• Notre Dame LB Ben Councell suffered a major knee injury in the Irish’s win over Navy. He will miss the remainder of the season.
• Wake Forest stud WR Michael Campanaro broke his collarbone against Syracuse. He will miss 4-6 weeks.