I have spent the last five days consuming an inordinate, erotic amount of college football. Today I sit in rumpled sheets, smoking the customary post-coital cigarette, willing my body and mind to repair before next weekend because friends, that was the good stuff.
I was not expecting South Dakota State-Iowa and North Carolina-Appalachian State to simultaneously steal my heart, yet here we are. You could not find a more opposite pairing: Iowa defeated SDSU 7-3 with two safeties and one field goal, North Carolina held on versus the Mountaineers 63-61 (!) in a game that featured so many twists and turns I’ve forgotten most of them. You never know where a college football Saturday will take you but imagine my surprise when live betting Iowa at -3.5 turned into the most masochistic yet enjoyable part of my day. The Hawkeyes had 10 first downs and 10 punts. The defense (again) outscored the offense. I cannot remember watching a poorer performance at quarterback than Spencer Petrus, a person who was missing not only the broadside of the barn but the ground beneath it. Iowa punter Tory Taylor was the best player in the game and that is not a joke. I discovered the existence of “Punting Is Winning” Hawkeyes shirts, which tells you everything you need to know about the state of the program. Head coach Kirk Ferentz hired his son Brian to run the offense in 2017, it has somehow gotten worse each and every year, and now we’re staring down a father/son biblical sacrifice that would make Jim Harbaugh proud.
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In the midst of this sick, thrilling quagmire, North Carolina and Appalachian State were holding a track meet. Drake Maye and Chase Brice were both hitting statistical markers that poor Petrus won’t hit in his whole season combined. Both defenses agreed tackling was optional. Everything that happened in the final quarter—40 points for the Mountaineers, an onside kick returned for a TD, a wide-open receiver tripping over air on a potential game-winning two-point conversion—was dumb as hell AND perversely entertaining. If you paired the North Carolina offense with Iowa’s defense and special teams, they could beat Alabama or Georgia—if you paired Iowa’s offense with North Carolina’s defense and App State’s special teams, they couldn’t beat a team of prized pigs.
This is the paradoxical drum I will continue pounding: college football is awesome because the worse it is, the better it is. I don’t want to watch Georgia look like an NFL team and pants poor Oregon on national television. I don’t want to watch Alabama treat Utah State like traffic cones and tackling dummies. I want (no, I NEED) to watch Iowa punt the hell out of the football and look clueless on offense, while North Carolina and App State zip up and down the field with nary a thought for the befuddled scoreboard operator. These two games existing at the same time, in the same sport, defies comprehension. You can have your battles between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide—I will take the battles between prized pigs.
This Week On The Chris Rawle Show
On this episode:
- A reading of "The Long Boat" by Stanley Kunitz.
- There is nothing more depressing than the future of men's professional golf: two diluted leagues with fields that in no way inspire anyone to watch, with majors trying to decide who is banned and who plays.
- At long last, the college football season has arrived.
- College football: the worse it is, the better it is, and you never know where a Saturday is going to take you.
- Mosin Hamid, from Exit West: "When the tension receded there was calm, the calm that is called the calm before the storm, but is in reality the foundation of a human life, waiting there for us between the steps of our march to our mortality, when we are compelled to pause and not act but be."
On this episode:
- Lisel Mueller:
the odds against us are endless,
our chances of being alive together
still we have made it, alive in a time
when rationalists in square hats
and hatless Jehovah's Witnesses
agree it is almost over
- The Backyard Brawl is decided by a random pick-six.
- North Carolina State vs East Carolina: somehow, every game comes down to kicking.
- North Carolina vs Appalachian State: the most improbable final minute of regulation in recent memory.
- Iowa vs South Dakota State: punting is winning.
- The emerging star of the weekend: Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson.
- The ending of Florida State-LSU: only in college football.
- The diversity of what college football can provide is unlike any other sport.