This is where we miss Chris Dufresne.
Oregon, the best faint hope to carry the Pac-12 torch, had its season extinguished by Oregon State in the game formerly known as the Civil War. On the day commonly known as Black Friday.
I say, ``best faint hope’’ because the uber-abbreviated six-game season on the West Coast made it improbable that any Pac-12 team could break down the College Football Playoff door. Even the 15th-ranked Ducks, who were the best Pac-12 bet in the season’s first College Football Playoff, were a long shot. And now they have no shot.
Add in two canceled games—Washington-Washington State and Utah-Arizona State—plus the gut-punch of Cal missing an extra point with 62 seconds left in a 24-23 loss to Stanford—and the Pac-12 is having an incredibly strange football weekend.
And all of this is before we got to Saturday.
Duf would have made sense out of it all. And he would have brought mirth to the misery.
For one thing, how strange is it to be playing classic rivalry games three weeks after the Pac-12 season began?
In ordinary times, Stanford-Cal, Oregon-Oregon State and Washington-Washington State rivalry games are fierce matchups that divide citizenry. They may not get the bloodlust attention of Ohio State-Michigan, which isn’t being played this weekend, or Auburn-Alabama, which is. But on the West Coast, they are ultimate games.
And now, Cal and Oregon are going to get together next week?
This pandemic is making strange bedfellows.
I am wondering if Chris would have started campaigning, tongue-in-cheek, for Oregon State running back Jermar Jefferson for the Heisman after his 226-yard, two-TD dazzler grounded the Ducks. Would he have addressed the suggestion by some of our sportswriter friends at The Athletic that Michigan should seriously consider Mario Cristobal if it breaks with Jim Harbaugh?
I am wondering what he would have thought about Justin Wilcox’s reaction when Stanford blocked the Golden Bears’ game-tying PAT while he pondered 62-second defense that would have set up overtime?
I do give Wilcox credit, though, for not shredding his headset. Football programs are facing enough economic issues this fall, you know.
In another way, though, if Chris were to ask me, I would tell him he isn’t missing much in this pandemically eviscerated season.
Nick Saban, who has tested positive again (and this time for real), has been barred from the Iron Bowl.
Ohio State’s game at Illinois has been canceled by the Buckeyes’ Covid-19 problem. This is their second cancellation. One more and they won’t be eligible for the Big Ten championship game, unless there are so many cancellations that the league average of games-played puts Ohio State back in.
Or something like that. . .
What this means for the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff resume, who knows? It obviously doesn’t help. On the other hand, this is an unprecedented season.
I don’t believe data points matter as much this fall. It’s not so much a marathon this fall. It’s more of a sprint—across a minefield. But I’m not on the committee. Would they really knock the Buckeyes out of the playoffs because they failed to whale on Maryland and Illinois?
That would be an interesting development.
Meanwhile, Nebraska, which can’t seem to find a way to play in the Big Ten sandbox, didn’t merely lose 26-20 to Iowa. Which was an improvement on being routed by Illinois last week. After falling at Iowa, Scott Frost attributed his center’s five muffed snaps to Hawkeyes clapping on the sideline.
``Never heard of that,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said, firing right back. ``If a player was on the field doing it, I get that. But what are we talking about? The next thing you know, we're going to be treating this like golf. I was going to say tennis, but they do that at tennis. At golf, nobody is able to say anything, right?’’
I am not sure why, but Ferentz wouldn’t let go of Frost’s complaint.
``It's football, right?’’ the Iowa coach told reporters. ``It's football. Are they OK with how I dressed today? Should I be changing my pants, different shirt? What are we talking about?’’
I would love to read Chris’ take on that.
We don’t get to know what our TMG buddy is thinking. But I know he is enjoying all of this somewhere up there on a fluffy, comfy couch, surrounded by a good TV, a trusty laptop—and an abundant supply of snacks.