Football the Week of October 14

Posted in Uncategorized by EloiSVM42 on October 24, 2019

With a nod to Barry Switzer, my beloved Oklahoma Sooners “hung a half a hundred” on West Virginia, 52-14. The offense was terrific, and the defense is playing better and better. Jalen Hurts was near perfect. He only had one incomplete pass and it was a drop. I’m thinking his Heisman odds will improve.

Talk about a hangover. A week after losing to OU, the Texas Longhorns almost lost to the Kansas Jayhawks, pulling it out at the gun, 50-48 with a strong defensive performance. Just kidding. I don’t see how Texas can maintain its #15 ranking after this humiliating victory, but some experts say they will, for who will jump them? Few teams distinguished themselves this week and some fell to earth.

A note or two about Kansas, a historically hapless football program. (Kansas gets its revenge during basketball season. Rock chalk Jayhawk.) They have a new coach – Les Miles – who may improve their football fortunes. Not that Miles is a great coach, but he is about the luckiest I have ever seen. He is the Ronald Reagan of coaching. But clearly Miles has Kansas playing better than in many years.

Even a blind hog finds an acorn now and then, and even a poor program wins an occasional game (see immediately below). I was in the stands in Norman in the 70s when Kansas upset OU. Barry Switzer’s Wishbone offense had 11 fumbles that day and lost nine of them.

It was Switzer’s first loss in about 33 games, if I remember correctly. (He also had one tie.) Switzer tried to warn us this would happen one day. He said logically that, “Each time we win, we are that much closer to losing.” Many OU fans chose not to believe him until that day. They were critical of his record 32-1-1. What Chinamen!

Illinois, a Big 10 bottom feeder, upset #6 Wisconsin. (Is it just me, or does the Big 10 seem to be made up ultimately of Ohio State and a lot of pretenders? It’s not just me. Nate Silver’s “FiveThirtyEight” calls the Big 10 the Big Slog, and they have data.)

Though he had a good game, this loss thrusts a dagger into the heart of Jonathan Taylor’s Heisman hopes, I expect.

On the Serengeti, if a cheetah sees a gazelle with a broken leg, it passes on the quarry because it’s too easy prey and moves on to a healthier animal. Just kidding. There is no mercy in Nature. Quite the contrary. The cheetah goes for the wounded gazelle first.

It’s the same with the NFL. Teams have injuries, but they get no mercy from opponents. The Philadelphia Eagles are banged up, and the Dallas Cowboys went straight for their jugular and took them down by just shy of four touchdowns, 37-10.

It would have been inconceivable for Dallas to lose this game, because the Eagles fumbled near their own goal line on their first two possessions and Dallas was up two touchdowns almost from the get-go.

The Cowboys played well and with spirit. Zeke got 112 yards rushing. Dallas got many of its injured players back for this game; the Eagles did not. Most important of these returners, I would argue, was Amari Cooper, who is an uncoverable deep threat when healthy. He is the classic #1 receiver. Tyrone Smith returned to the crucial left tackle position, but he is not yet 100%.

Quarterback Dak Prescott played very well in this game. He passed well, he ran well, and most important, made good decisions. He clearly outplayed Carson Wentz, who is, in my view, not nearly as good as Prescott but is vastly higher paid. It’s not my money, so it’s easy for me to say, but if I were Jerry Jones, I would sign Dak before the price goes higher or Dak wanders off at the end of the season.

The Cowboys have a bye next week, so the press (and I) will have to give the coaching staff a pass for a couple of weeks, maybe longer. Philadelphia looked not only beaten down physically, but emotionally as well. I think Dallas now has good odds to win the NFL East. The question then becomes can Dallas go meaningfully farther in the playoffs? They haven’t been able for years. All the playoff teams will be good ones, and I still doubt this coaching staff.

There was a slight divergence between the two teams – Cleveland and Arizona – I have been following. The Browns lost to the Seattle Seahawks 32-28 (no shame in that). Baker Mayfield was not happy with the officiating and was fined for comments about it. I agree with Baker, but I wasn’t fined. Emboldened, I’ll have more to say about NFL officiating soon.

The Arizona Cardinals won again. That’s three wins so far this season, the same total as the whole season last year. Both teams have a lot of work to do, but at least they have quarterbacks.

Comingling football and politics, it’s tempting to want to compare Jerry Jones and President Trump. They both have egos with a gland problem. Both rush to the camera when they should be running the other way, and both get in their own way a lot. There the comparisons end. In contrast, Jerry Jones is a real businessman.

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