Rutgers deserves this award for putting South Florida in its place. Don't get me wrong, South Florida is a very good team, but No. 2 in the nation? I don't think so, and neither did Rutgers, handing the Bulls their first loss of the season, 30-27. It wasn't much of a surprise upset, most of the football world saw it coming, but it was pretty convincing. Ray Rice trucked through the South Florida defense for 181 yards and Rutgers' special teams came up big when they needed to, scoring a touchdown off a fake field and converting a fake punt for a first down.
Big players make big plays in big games. For North Dakota State, playing Minnesota on Saturday was the biggest game of their season. For Bison running back Tyler Roehl, it was a career day. He hammered his way to a team record 263 yards on 22 carries to help the Bison beat Minnesota, 27-21. In front of 30,000 North Dakota State fans in the Metrodome, Roehl was downright unstoppable. He had more than 200 yards in the first half alone. Somebody get this kid a trophy.
USC football players now have a better understanding of why John Madden doesn't fly. The Trojans' charter flight had a bumpy descent into South Bend, Ind., before the Notre Dame game. The weather was so bad players were launched from their seats and the pilot had to abort his first approach. Nobody had it as bad as Trojans defensive end Lawrence Jackson, who went to see a team trainer when the popsicle stick he was sucking on pierced the inside of his mouth. I didn't know you could get popsicles on airplanes. How do they keep them cold for the entire flight?
When Bob Knight isn't berating refs, screaming at reporters or laying down the law to his players, he likes to think. He thinks about many things, but nowadays, due to the Indians' recent achievements, he mostly thinks about baseball. When Knight was asked about his opinion on Cleveland using a caricature of an Indian as their mascot, Knight responded, "I think there's a real long history of Indian culture in the state of Ohio ... and I think that that's something that ... I think I would be kind of proud of that, that here's a Major League franchise that uses the name Indians and I think that kind of reflects on the whole heritage of the various Indian tribes in the state." Let me see if I've got this straight, coach. A grinning, red-skinned warrior with a big nose, a feather in his cap, and a name like Chief Wahoo, exhibits the proud legacy of Native American tribes in Ohio? I don't get it.
As if there weren't enough problems in Lincoln, there's a new book on the horizon and it doesn't speak highly of the current state of Cornhusker football. The Nebraska Way, written by Nebraska senior Jonathan Crowl, will be released in November and claims, among other things, that coach Bill Callahan once referred to interim AD Tom Osborne as "a crusty old f---." I still haven't figured out if "f---" refers to the four letter f-word that ends in k or the four letter word for flatulence, but that's besides the point. The real point here is what is a senior in college doing writing a book? There's no time for that, man. Go find a party to crash.
Rising gas prices aren't slowing down the Gamecocks. According to an article in The State, athletes over at the University of South Carolina seem to have this whole $88 crisis figured out. They travel by moped. The scooters have become vehicles of choice for the Gamecocks. Quarterback Stephen Garcia rides one. So did former basketball player Renaldo Balkman. In fact, almost 30 current football players ride mopeds. Of course, they don't wear helmets and they tweak the exhaust system to make the bikes go faster, but hey, they're getting a good deal, at least until they wipe out and that hospital bill kicks in.
How do you say, "I just broke your ankles," in Mandarin? This preseason, Memphis basketball coach John Calipari has been running a 10-practice clinic for 15 coaches from the Chinese Basketball Association. The visiting coaches attend the Tigers' practices as well as learn about film sessions and weight training. One of the visitors will even stick around for the season as part of the Calipari's coaching staff. At first, you might wonder, why Memphis? But then you remember that Memphis has got Graceland and, not to generalize, but come on, the Chinese love The King of Rock 'n' Roll.
Do you sleep in a football helmet on Friday nights? Do you use the Google to search for college football information on the Web? Do you find yourself wearing body paint three hours before you're going to sit on the sofa and watch the big game on TV? If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you're going to want to check out Every Day Should be Saturday, a first-rate sports blog that'll keep you up to date on anything and everything going on in college football. Oh, and it's funny, really funny. It makes me laugh on Sunday mornings and that's not easy to do.
How do you know that your school has finally made it to the upper echelons of college football? You've got agents from the Collegiate Licensing Company scouring the parking lots outside your team's games, searching for those homemade T-shirts that show your opponent's mascot hog-tied and blindfolded in a compromising position. By these standards, South Florida has made the big time. CLC officials have seized a massive amount of illegal USF merchandise being sold outside the Bulls' games. USF frowns upon the sale of such merchandise because they never see any of the profit. This rubs me kind of funny, that officials in charge of promoting a sport where the players play for free, won't let a few students promote school spirit, and admittedly make some drinking money in the process, all because the big wigs miss their cut. To hell with the trademark, can't a fan make a buck?
I had friends who played football to give them an outlet for their aggression. I guess they were angry. But not as angry as Natu Visinia. The former Southern Illinois offensive lineman is so angry that he can't play football anymore. So, he's thrown his 6-foot-3, 260-pound body into the cage (or octagon or pentagon or whatever they call it) where he is now a professional mixed martial artist. And as you can guess, he's really good at fighting. Visinia holds an 8-1 record and is ranked No. 6 in his weight class by the International Sports Combat Federation. I'll tell you what, anybody who is too aggressive to play football scares me, although I hear this Visinia guy is a real sweetheart.