Tuesday, January 18, 2022

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Game Day

That kinda year



The lights. The shopping. Radio City. Times Square. Hey, New York City is lovely in December.

So how come it seems like nobody wants to win the Heisman Trophy?

Jameis Winston? All Florida State’s freshman quarterback does is win on the field. Off the field, he’s been accused of rape.

Johnny Manziel? Opened the season under suspension after being linked with autograph brokers. Lacks a signature win. Stunk up the joint against LSU.


Bryce Petty? Anybody can have a bad day, but the Baylor quarterback’s night at Oklahoma State — a lost fumble got returned 78 yards the other way for a score — was memorable for all the wrong the reasons, and his Bears got smoked.

Marcus Mariota? Oregon is circling the drain faster than Aunt Penny’s chicken soup.

Some Heisman years, it’s easy. You get a Cam Newton or a Tim Tebow or a Troy Smith, it’s academic, and we move on.

Some years, it’s wacky, and you wonder if a curveball such as Charles Woodson or Ndamukong Suh might gum up the works.

And some years, you get Gino Torretta. Or Jason White.

“The outstanding college football player in the U.S.,” is what it says on the label. Merriam-Webster online describes the adjective “outstanding” as one of the following: “1. Extremely good or excellent; 2. Easy to notice especially because of being important or very good; 3. Not yet paid.”

Does Merrian-Webster get the NCAA, or what?

At any rate, the door is open now, wide open, for a surprise candidate, somebody goofy — maybe Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, maybe Arizona tailback Ka’Deem Carey, although the latter has had his share of unfortunate off-the-field headlines, too.

Or, more likely, somebody safe.

Paging AJ McCarron.

The (we think) boyfriend (cough) of Katherine Webb just became the all-time winningest quarterback in Alabama history, which, you’ve gotta admit, looks all right on a resume. The stats aren’t bad, either: 23 touchdowns, five interceptions, and a No. 10 ranking, nationally, in passing efficiency. He’s lost in the Tide pecking order behind his defense and the media’s love-hate fascination with coach Nick Saban, but he’s not exactly a stiff, either.

McCarron would be fine. Insanity would be better, of course, given how the last three months have played out across the country. Or as one veteran Midwest scribe whispered in our ear, acidly, last Sunday: “All you need to know about the Big 12 is that Kansas beat West Virginia, and West Virginia beat Oklahoma State.”

Been that kinda year.



Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight.


1. Ohio State (11-0) / at Michigan

2. Oklahoma State (10-1) / Idle, vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 7

3. Wisconsin (9-2) / vs. Penn State

4. Michigan State (10-1) / vs. Minnesota

5. Baylor (9-1) / at TCU

6. Oklahoma (9-2) / Idle, at Okla. St., Dec. 7

7. Texas (7-3) / vs. Texas Tech, Thursday

8. Iowa (7-4) / at Nebraska, Friday



1. Anthony Jones, LB, Arizona State. The man who fell on the ball at the end of the Sun Devils-Wisconsin game so that the Badgers couldn’t snap it in time, sealing a controversial, 32-30 ASU victory. Which makes him the A.J. Pierzynski of the 2013 college football season. Also, a genius.

2. Whoever leaked the tape of Nebraska coach Bo Pelini privately cursing Huskers fans and several members of the Omaha press corps. Because raw, unfiltered Bo is absolutely hilarious Bo. Don’t ever change, big guy.

3. The entire Grambling football team. In a sport where the student-athletes are often disenfranchised and pushed around by administrators and coaches, finally, a group of angry young men pushed back.



The games you won’t want to miss:

1. Alabama at Auburn, CBS, 2:30 p.m.: Just the second All-Top-5 matchup in Iron Bowl history, kids. Although the last one, in 1971, didn’t end well for War Eagle — Bear Bryant’s Tide rolled, 31-7.

2. Clemson at South Carolina, ESPN 2, 6 p.m.: If SOMEBODY is going to have to win the Heisman, hell, why not Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd, then?

3. Texas A&M at Missouri, ESPN, 6:45 p.m.: With a win, the Tigers can notch their first-ever SEC division title and a berth in the league title game in Atlanta. Which means, given the program’s recent history, there’s a chance Mizzou will find a way to screw this up — and in a painful, awful, memorable way.



On a frigid night in Ames, Uncle Charlie’s crew got shut out, 34-0, by the Cyclones — the third time in the last two years that the Jayhawks have scored six points or fewer in a Big 12 contest. “What’d we drop, six passes?” Weis asked reporters after his quarterbacks completed just 11 of 31 throws. “We might have set a world record for most dropped passes in the shortest amount of time … I’m not shocked. I’m very, very disappointed. There was no evidence in practice or in warm-ups that we were going to do anything but play very well, and we didn’t.”

And now the calendar turns to the annual Sunflower Showdown with Kansas State on Saturday, this time in Lawrence. The Wildcats are 17-point favorites, and for a reason: Snyder is 4-0 in the series since his return to the sidelines in 2009, winning each meeting by an average score of 48-14. The Jayhawks were surprisingly competitive in last year’s meeting, mind you … well, for a half. K-State rolled, 56-16, en route to the Fiesta Bowl, and the Jedi Master can find a way to drop a 50-spot on Uncle Charlie again, he will. CV

Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOXSports.com. From 2002-2011, Keeler was on the staff of The Des Moines Register, where he was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

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