Saturday demonstrated again why college football is the greatest game in the world. Nothing else matches the emotion and the excitement that spring from college pigskin games even when one or both teams are in contention for absolutely nothing. I had dubbed this week as Post Partum Saturday. Not a great game on the agenda. And still, somehow, games with great intensity and thrills broke out on channel after channel. It started with Louisville at k-state. A 14.5 point favorite, UL had methodically taken a 24-0 lead. Both the game and the point spread victory were safe, right?
Wrong. k-state scores a quick TD on a 69 yard run to pull within 18 early in the fourth quarter. Then, with less than two minutes remaining, they are at Louisville's 30, threatening to score again-not because another score will win the game. Noooooooo. But purely out of spite. For no apparent reason other than to cost me a game against the spread. The tension, as they say, was palpable.
Thankfully, Louisville thwarted the threat. But there were some uneasy moments as a UL defender's late hit on a purple receiver late on a wildly overthrown fourth down pass appeared to not only allow k-state to maintain possession with 1:37 remaining, but to move the ball inside the 20. Could the pick that had looked so safe moments earlier, be slipping from my grasp?
Fortunately, the Big East officiating crew made the correct call and ruled that, because the play was over when the contact was made, Louisville would be penalized 15 yards but take over on downs. Game, set, match, point spread!
And that was just the beginning of the day's thrills and chills and even spills.
There was Michigan, which had its 14 point spread covered at 27-10 until Wisconsin decided to screw the betting public by kicking a meaningless FG to pull within 14 points at 2:53. And don't give me this "they needed three scores, might as well get the FG while you can" crap. Like they were going to recover an onside kick, get a TD, recover a second onside kick, and get another TD, all in less than three minutes to take the game into OT. And without a PAC-10 officiating crew within a thousand miles. . .
And UT/ISU. The Cyclones were competitive at 23-14 with time running out in the second quarter until they roughed the passer on what would have been a 3 and out. UT keeps the ball, scores easily for a 30-14 lead, and is well on its way to covering the 24.5 spread. At 37-14 midway through the third, it looked as if it were only a matter of time until that 24.5 points was like Lubbock, Texas to Mac Davis: i.e., in the rear view mirror. Then the weather came. The game was put on hold. The stands were cleared. The players went to the locker room. When they returned, the intensity of the teams had disappeared with the severe storm warnings. Final: 37-14. ISU covers.
And Alabama misses an extra point in the second OT. Instead of going to a third overtime with a chance to win the game, they lose by 1 to Arkie--but they cover the 1.5 spread.
Not to mention Iowa having a 21 point spread covered at 24-0 until losing their cover by allowing a meaningless TD in the fourth quarter to Illinois for a 24-7 final.
Meanwhile, Ohio St is getting played off its feet by the heretofore hapless Nittany Lions of Joe Paterno, leading by a scant 7-3 margin after 3 quarters in a game in which the Buckeyes are 16.5 point favorites. Two INT returns for TDs in the fourth quarter, including one at 1:07, rally the Buckeyes to a 28-6 victory and point spread cover. Of course, everyone reading this is familiar with KU's late FG and last second escape from being on the Road to Perdition in covering a 5.5 point spread by .5.
And what about the Bad Luck of the Irish? They miss an extra point to avoid covering a 3.5 point spread in an otherwise routine 3 point victory over Michigan St.
There was even some wildness not related to the point spread-witness NC St's last gasp desperation pass completion in the end zone to end BC's delusions of BCS grandeur.
All in all, I was more than happy to go 8-6 on the week.
Repeat after me: 40-15. 40-15. 40-15. . .
Is there a sweeter sound?