Far afield: Your weekly football fix from Afghanistan
Oct. 31, 2011
We've got a lot to talk about, folks. So much to cover, so little white space and time. I feel like Frank the Tank in Old School, "We're going to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time!" We'll get to football in a minute, as there is enough football to fill at least a couple pages. And I'll give baseball one last hoorah as well.
But I have to come clean first. It's burning me up. I thought about NOT telling you, for fear that my immaculate reputation would be tarnished. But I don't think I could live with myself if I didn't tell you. Geez, I feel like I'm breaking up with you, or telling you that I cheated on you all. Well, in a way I did, but it was sabotage. Like Shaggy says, "It wasn't me."
So my mom buys my wife and kids plane tickets to Bozeman to spend a little time with them and catch the Halloween holiday. "Awww, how sweet," I think to myself. But there was an ulterior motive.
I tried to catch them all on Skype late, late Saturday night (Saturday afternoon their time) to let them know that I was traveling a day earlier than expected, and wouldn't get a chance to Skype for almost the next two weeks. Nothing. I tried to Facebook my wife, since she always gets an alert on her phone when I send her a message. Nothing. The last-gasp effort was to email her and let her know I'd stay online for a couple more minutes if she could just try and Skype me.
What do I find? Emails from my wife and mom. With attachments. With attachments that are pictures. With attachments that are pictures of my kids ... GULP ... with my wife ... GULP ... and my mom and cousins ... GAG ... AT THE IDAHO STATE/HAIRY PICKLE GAME! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
The first football game that my kids went to was a Hairy Pickle game. There, I said it. I'm sorry. I'm SO sorry. Can you ever forgive me??? It wasn't my fault, honest. My mom set them up. And honestly, they weren't wearing any Hairy Pickle gear, which leads me to believe that they were just spying. Yeah, yeeeeeeeah, that's the ticket. They were scouting a couple weeks early for the big game. Yeeeeeaaaah (spoken in your best Jon Lovitz voice). And my wife, who I like to refer to as Switzerland, Montana (she's neutral, as she refuses to "like" either team) did a great job of fending off the dark side. That's all I can ask for.
So, you see? There's no reason to be mad at me! (Awkward pause) Aaaaaaaaand let's change the subject.
FBS top ten first. Remember, I write and submit this article ten and a half hours ahead of Mountain Standard Time, and it isn't published until AFTER all the rankings have come out. You actually get to see if I'm right or wrong on this stuff, without me getting to correct any predictions and look even smarter than I already am. I know, hard to do.
LSU, Alabama, and Boise State were all idle this week. I think that may actually hurt Boise State next week with that three-overtime thriller by Stanford over USC. I think Oklahoma State will stay No. 3, and Stanford will move to No. 4, with Boise State dropping to No. 5. It won't last, as the Pokes and Cardinal will both lose shortly. It doesn't matter what Oregon, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Arkansas did, because they all have one loss and are out of contention. That leaves LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Boise State, Stanford and Houston as the only unbeaten teams. Houston won't get a shot because of their strength of schedule.
Last shout out to baseball. The ending of game six was the best ending of a World Series game I've ever seen. There could have been better before my time.
I can remember Kirk Gibson's walk-off (more like hobble-off) home run in 1988 against Dennis Eckersley, who had been the best closer in baseball all year. I will never understand why he threw Gibson a curve ball, when there was no way he could have caught up to a fastball with his knees.
Then there was Kirby Puckett's game-winning home run for the Twins in game six in 1991 that sent the Series to a seventh game, which the Twins won.
And I'll throw in Joe Carter's World Series-winning homerun for the Blue Jays in 1993.
But none of them had the drama. The Rangers were one strike away from being world champs not once, but twice, and the Cards fought their way back, and then won it with a home run. I know it wasn't to win the championship, but it might as well have been. How do the Rangers come back and win a game after that? They don't. Congrats Cards. Too bad you never did that when I was a fan.
Now let's talk Big Sky football, and then we'll start shaping up the FCS playoffs.
I want to take this time to do something that I should have thought of back in the second week when I was paying Caleb McSurdy his Chuck Norris dues. I should have started it then, but I'll start it now and go back through each week to catch up. Anyone ever watch College Gameday, when Rece Davis, Mark May and Lou Holtz give out Gameday stickers? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the weekly Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kicks.
Week 1: I should have started the season with a Roundhouse Kick for the entire team. That was a hard-fought battle against an SEC team.
Week 2: Yeah, easy one. Caleb McSurdy, 17 tackles, `nuff said. But I have to give a runner-up Roundhouse to Jabin Sambrano. I love kick returns for touchdowns and the long ball for a touchdown. A 96-yard kickoff return and 58-yard touchdown catch gets you a runner-up Roundhouse Kick.
Week 3: Roundhouse Kicks across the entire offensive line. The big hogs enabled the Griz to rush for 323 yards against Eastern Washington.
Week 4: Tough to find much silver lining in our first-ever loss to Sac State, but I find it fitting, and ironic, to give a big Roundhouse Kick to Brody McKnight, who had three punts for an average of almost 53 yards, with a long of 75 yards.
Week 5: I have to give a Roundhouse Kick to the players who scored the last two touchdowns for Northern Colorado. Chuks Nweke and Chris Morris. But only because if you take the first name Chuks and the last name Morris you come up with Chuks Morris. Another runner-up Roundhouse to Jabin Sambrano for a punt return for a touchdown.
Week 6: Griz defense against Idaho State. Anytime you get a shutout, you get a Roundhouse Kick.
Week 7: Jordan Canada with 162 rushes, including a 75-yard touchdown scamper against Portland State.
Week 8: A comeback win against the Lumberjacks. I hate to do this to Mr. Sambrano again, but he gets another runner-up nod for his 80-yard reverse for a touchdown, along with Jordan Canada for his go-ahead, 46-yard jaunt. The Roundhouse of the Week goes to Peter Nguyen for his clutch kick return before Canada's touchdown run. It was the only kickoff that didn't go through the back of the end zone, and he made it count at the right time.
So we're all caught up. This past weekend's Roundhouse Kicks go to Jordan Johnson and Jabin Sambrano (I know, I know...again. But four runner-up Roundhouse Kicks equals two full Roundhouse Kicks in my book.) Johnson threw six touchdown passes in two and a half quarters of work, and had 352 total yards of offense. Sambrano had seven catches for 94 yards, but four of those catches were for touchdowns. A great team effort on both sides of the ball, which made it difficult to single anybody out.
I said last week I thought the defense needed a better performance, and they showed up to play. A field goal in the first quarter, and then a touchdown with 42 seconds left in the game was all they gave up. That's exactly what we want to see as we inch closer to the playoffs.
Weber State, you are officially out of the conference title picture. But I have a feeling you've got something up your sleeve for next weekend.
As I stated, my wife and kids were at the Hairy Pickle game, doing some scouting for November 19th. (I swear!!!). My alarm clock plan failed, and it was a blowout. Idaho State probably plays someone next weekend, but who cares.
I thought Portland State would beat Eastern Washington, but they REALLY stuck it to the Eagles. Neither team can affect the conference title picture, and neither team will get an at-large bid to the playoffs.
Northern Arizona beat Sacramento State in what looked like a good game. But it was only an illusion, because it was NAU and Sac State. Again, neither team has much left to play for. The only thing I'll be looking for is Northern Colorado to beat NAU. I think it might happen.
UNC barely lost to North Dakota. I'm calling it right now: The Bears will end the season on a two-game winning streak, and next year will move to the middle of the pack.
The Griz play Western Oregon this coming weekend. I looked up Western Oregon to see what they've done this year, and from what I can tell this is their first game. That's an interesting one-game season. I didn't really look that hard. I was too busy researching the FCS playoffs.
But you'll have to wait. I know I said I'd shape up the FCS playoff picture, but Chuck Norris and I had some catching up to do. That's what we in the biz call foreshadowing. Outside the biz they call it "lying." In politics they call it "the truth." We'll talk playoffs next article. I already had it all laid out, but we'll see how much it changes in a week.
One last thing. A good friend of mine from way back read the last article and came up with a good idea. We need Hairy Pickle T-shirts for the Griz/Hairy Pickle game. If I had more time, I would have ordered a bunch, sold them and donated all the money to the Special Operations Warrior Fund, which provides money to the children of Special Operations soldiers killed in combat. That's probably something that needed to be started at the beginning of the season. Regardless, I'm calling all Griz fans to make a "Hairy Pickle" shirt and wear it to the big game. I don't care if all you do is marker up a nasty old T-shirt. Come up with a snappy slogan, too. Maybe "Go Griz" on the front, and "Beat the Hairy Pickles" on the back. Then, when you see someone else with a Hairy Pickle shirt, you'll know that they read the article. Pass it on through Twitter and Facebook, and let's get a bunch of these shirts out for the big game!!!
Go Griz, Hairy Pickles suck, God Bless, Keep Supporting our Troops, Rangers Lead the Way!