Designated Read: When up becomes down

Friday October 21st, 2011

UAB 26, Central Florida 24: Arizona trouncing UCLA was a possibility that we could have conceivably predicted based on available information. More on those teams in a second, but first something we did not expect: The winless, lovelorn Birmingham Blazers, playing in decaying Legion Field on a Thursday night in front of an audience of dozens, knocking off a team predicted by many this preseason to take the division crown. Without their starting quarterback. On a field goal from midfield, with six seconds to play. Weeknight games, you give and you give this year. You really do. [BOX | RECAP]

Arizona 48, UCLA 12: Now here's one that could have been extrapolated, although there was no way to predict the level of entertainment this throwaway game wound up providing both in and out of play. The danger here is to assume that the firing of Mike Stoops was some sort of magic bullet to repair the Wildcats' season; the first half of a ludicrous schedule included consecutive dates at Oklahoma State, against Stanford and against Oregon, while the later slate provides such relatively easy pickin's as Colorado, Utah, and yes, UCLA. That said, it was really, really nice to see Nick Foles, who has long deserved better things (beginning with a better offensive line), winging touchdown passes with flair and not looking miserable for once. Juron Criner continues to make his assigned defenders look silly, one way or another. [BOX | RECAP]

Now, what you've all been waiting for: This time of year, with your team as likely as not on the skids, you take diversion where you can find it. So here is video from actual television cameras and from accomplices in the stands of the streaker who took the field in the UCLA-Arizona game dressed as a ref in tearaway capris, blew a live play dead, then stripped and galumphed into the red zone -- an event that preceded a bench-clearing brawl by mere seconds. And you thought nothing could top the gobsmacked spectacle of hearing Jesse Palmer suggest Mike Leach as a candidate for the Arizona job, on live television, while sharing a booth with Craig James. I will never again dismiss the entertainment possibilities of a weeknight game between two lose-happy teams.

Bethune-Cookman 14, Norfolk State 6: No, nothing that took place on a football field last night turned out at all as expected.

Turn and face the strange: Major NCAA changes could be afoot, changes that will be called "sweeping" by every talking head from here to Tuesday and provide righteous columnist fodder for weeks on end. At stake: alteration of the bowl system (that's alteration, not abolition), bumps in scholarship value and [deep breath] "elimination of foreign travel and nontraditional-season competition, reductions in regular-season games, fewer scholarships for big-time football and men's and women's basketball teams, and stiffer eligibility standards for athletes."

Quote of the day: "A+ to the Arizona player who put on his helmet as he ran into the fray. Fundamentals, kids." -- Andy Staples

Roster blotter: Willie Gholston is handling his impending suspension like a pro, carefully pointing out that he was "provoked" into committing two blatant personal fouls last week against Michigan. And this is FCS news, but just imagine the video work it took to determine which 41 players to suspend. • Friday whimsy: Rick Neuheisel: Not fired! Yet! Chris Petersen: Getting money. Ohio State: Very careful with the language in Luke Fickell's contract. CBS: Getting a very special studio guest this weekend. SMU fans: Called out in print by a Mustang player. Oklahoma State: Not sweating the hours. Jurisprudence in Opelika: Way less interesting now that Harvey Updyke's trial has been bumped back to January and the Auburn Family Bandits have been shuffled to March.

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