September 19, 2010
Snap judgments on the weekend's best.
• Physics. Reader homework for the week: Devise an equation that describes the torque created when San Diego State linemen Trask Iosefa catapulted 175-pound true freshman Ronnie Hillman toward the end zone for 93 of Hillman's 228 rushing yards at Missouri, giving the Aztecs a 21-20 fourth-quarter lead:
Hillman also broke off a 75-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first half, giving him seven touchdowns in the first three games of his career, and the first 200-yard effort by an Aztec back since 2003. But it was still overshadowed by Mizzou's last-gasp, 68-yard touchdown pass from Blaine Gabbert to T.J. Moe with a little over a minute to play for a 27-24 Tiger escape.
• Theater. On television, at midnight, the effect of white pompoms set against a sea of rabid, red-clad Arizona fans in a remote desert location created a scene that seemed straight out of a Maoist youth rally on Mars, where someone from the losing team was destined to be dragged off by burly, hooded men into a pitch-black abyss beneath the stadium as the crowd's bloodlust reached a fever pitch. And in the end, that's pretty much what happened to Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi: Taking over on his 37 with 3:48 to play and a chance to answer a go-ahead touchdown drive by Arizona, Stanzi was sacked on three straight plays to seal a 34-27 Wildcat win.
• Economics. USC, generally listed as an 11.5-point favorite at Minnesota, went 0-for-3 on two-point conversions in an 11-point win – likely costing gamblers all over the country as a result of Lane Kiffin's ongoing disdain of the common PAT. Watch your back, coach.
• Logistics. As usual, outmanned Air Force figured out how to deploy its limited resources for 351 yards and three touchdowns rushing against mighty Oklahoma, good for a 10-minute advantage in time of possession and a full yard more play ... in a 27-24 loss. Superior planning couldn't overcome lapses in execution in OU territory, where the Falcons settled for a field goal from the Sooner two-yard line, missed another field goal and lost a fumble inside the OU 35 over the course of the game.
• Drama. Thucydides himself couldn't have scripted a crueler twist ending for Arizona State, which only needed an extra point to tie Wisconsin with five minutes to play until the fates intervened via Badger safety Jay Valai:
The Sun Devils followed the Air Force plan to disappointment, settling for three field goal attempts inside the Badger red zone, one of them a miss on their first offensive possession.
• Philology. Whatever else you think about Michigan State's bold fake field goal to beat Notre Dame in overtime, no play in football history has ever had a more appropriate name than "Little Giants," in commemoration of coach Mark Dantonio's stones for calling it on 4th-and-13 with the game on the line.
• Law. Big East officiating coordinator Terry McAulay moved quickly today to quell any doubt about the expired play clock at the snap of the fake field goal, issuing an official statement explaining that "the snap occurred well within the normal lag time" between the back judge registering "zero seconds on the play clock" and "ball has not been snapped." That lag time: Approximately one-fifth of a second.
Honorable Mention: The only redeeming feature of Kansas' 31-16 flop at Southern Miss on Friday night? Freshman running back James Sims' epic stovepipe cut in the pregame mugshots:
Even if the Jayhawks lose every game for the rest of the season, the retro haircut title is already secured.
• Medicine. Less than three weeks after undergoing knee surgery, Alabama running back Mark Ingram returned for a nine-carry, 151-yard romp at Duke, including gains of 48, 50, 17 and 20 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 62-13 obliteration of Duke.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.