Most of the college football season ended Saturday, with only a few conference championships, a bit of extraneous flotsam and jetsam and the Army-Navy game, 97 bowl games of indifferent vintage, and the national championship. The season ended in the way you thought it would, with coaches on hot seats, athletic directors making themselves scarce, and with Jim Harbaugh turning purple because he didn’t get what he wanted at the moment he wanted it.
Then again, since one of the things he always wants, I suspect, is to make Jed York eat his own liver, well, he got that much done by being part of a great football game. He should consider it a good day even in defeat.
In any event, the real purpose of college sports is to please the people who invest in them, as in the bettors who keep this from being just some pointless anthropology class. And your champion is, as you knew it would be, the Temple Owls, who covered every time but once (the now infamous Week 1 loss to Army) whose reward is to be ignored by the misguided whelps who think this sport is all about who wins the playoffs.
(As always, the parentheticals mean overall record, record against the line and record against the total. Why I have to explain this to you, I do not know. You should have figured it out by now).
1. TEMPLE (9-3, 11-1, 5-7): Dawdled before covering the 23 against the largely ineffectual East Carolinas, and as a result are the greatest college team since Northwestern went 12-1 against the line in 2012. The irony here, of course, being that Northwestern was ensnared a football point-shaving scandal a decade and a half earlier, while Temple is purer than newly driven Tibetan snow. Yay covering.
2. COLORADO (10-2, 10-2, 5-7): Took the pipe to Utah (winning, but not covering) on the final day of the regular season, which is the kind of slovenly effort that gets you taken off hot-name coaching lists, Mike MacIntyre.
3. COLORADO STATE (7-5, 10-2, 6-6): Got routed by Colorado early, then failed against Wyoming, but Wyoming gets dinged for getting routed by New Mexico Saturday (the reasons why this might have happened don’t matter, because nobody pays on good intentions). In any event, a big year for the Rockies – and Broad Street, too.
4. WISCONSIN (10-2, 9-2-1, 5-7): Pushed at home against Minnesota, thereby ruining brachos (yep, like it sounds) and cheese curds for everyone as well as costing the Badgers the No. 2 spot. I’m sure Paul Chryst is devastated.
5. PENN STATE (10-2, 8-3-1, 9-3): Either ruined the college playoff by locking Ohio State and Michigan out, in which case we thank them, or made college football fans and media bitch ceaselessly about how they ruined the college football playoffs by locking Ohio State and Michigan out, in which case we hate them.
6. HEADHUNTERS (six coaches fired in-season, more blood starting Sunday): Charlie Strong (16-21, 18-19, 13-24) of Texas received his head in a satchel Saturday and after an exhaustive 47-minute search by Houston’s Tom Herman (22-4, 14-12, 11-13-1). Another 20 or so will get it in the next few days, because college football has always been about two things – winning your bet, and gauging the mood of the crankiest donor.
7. WESTERN MICHIGAN (12-0, 9-3, 7-5): Proud winners of the What About Us Trophy as the unbeaten team who was never going to get a sniff at a playoff spot by savaging Toledo (7-3, 7-5, 5-6-1).
8. P.J. Fleck (29-21, 31-19, 26-23-1): One of those coaching “hot names,” which means he gets rich and Western starts all over again, because that’s the way college football goes – the small get eaten, again and again.
9. EASTERN MICHIGAN (7-5, 9-3, 4-8): Covered just as much as Western Michigan, but they get to keep head coach Chris Creighton because America refuses to understand the true psychic value of covering.
10. OTTAWA REDBLACKS (9-9-1, 8-11, 9-9-1): Playing in the Grey Cup Sunday against Calgary (15-2-1, 13-5, 7-9-2), and are getting 9½. A third-year expansion team has now been to successive Grey Cups, which either means that they are geniuses whose concepts the NFL should steal, or the CFL’s Eastern Conference is made up entirely of “-stan” countries.
11. RUTGERS (2-10, 4-8, 6-6): Endured two triple-digit scoring droughts (160 unanswered opposition points, then 102 later), making their four covers almost unthinkably impressive. Then again, so much of the Rutgers football experience this year has been unthinkable.
12. MICHIGAN (10-2, 6-6, 8-4): In case you forgot, Ohio State was giving four, meaning this is a solid cover in a big game at the other guy’s stadium. The overall numbers aren’t as impressive, but Harbaugh also won points for whining about the officiating after the game while wearing his father’s reading glasses.
13. COLIN KAEPERNICK (31-26-1, 24-30-4, 28-28-2): Picked a tough week to have a Fidel Castro argument.
14. OREGON STATE (4-8, 9-3, 5-7): Came from behind to kneecap Oregon (4-8, 2-9-1, 7-5) and dominate the state for the first time in nearly 50 years – unless you have proof that Portland State went 11-1 against the line, which you clearly don’t.
15. ALABAMA (12-0, 8-4, 5-7): You want to be taken seriously? You cover in the Iron Bowl. Your own constituents demand this of you.
16. NAVY (9-2, 7-3-1, 8-3): Beat SMU, 75-31, the third zaniest game of the day, and they did with a high-powered passing performance from Will Worth – 5-of-7, 104 yards, one touchdown. With that kind of line, he could be a 49er.
17. MIDDLE TENNESSEE-FLORIDA ATLANTIC (Middle Tennessee covers the 16½ ): The silver medal, as MTSU (8-4, 6-5-1, 8-4) hammered FAU (3-9, 2-9-1, 8-4), 77-56. The game had three 200-yard rushers, 1,346 total yards, 63 first downs, and would have been the drunken sailor special of the week if not for . . .
18. SYRACUSE-PITT (Syracuse covers as a 26-point dog, and as though you needed to know this, the over is obliterated): The best game of all. If you think about it for a moment, as much as you might have enjoyed Ohio State-Michigan, the final score of this game was 76-61, and Pitt only had the ball for 24:18. That’s a point every 19 seconds,
19. WASHINGTON INDIGENOUS AMERICAN CITIZENS (6-4-1, 8-3, 9-2): The most consistent bet in the NFL when you consider both line and total. Points off for the owner – though in fairness, you can say that for pretty much any professional sports team on earth.
20. ARIZONA (3-9, 2-10, 7-5): Because it is never, ever, ever, ever, EVER too late to cover. And credit to Arizona State (5-7, 6-6, 7-5) for getting routed by a seemingly inferior team in a game it needed to be bad-bowl eligible.
21. WASHINGTON (11-1, 6-6, 8-3-1): Ruined a potentially great Apple Cup by dope-slapping Washington State (8-4, 6-6, 7-4-1).
22. OHIO (8-4, 6-6, 1-10-1): Proudly finished a season of never hitting the over by beating Akron, 9-3, missing the total by a mere 41½ points. Next year, Frank Solich will coach a 2-0 win and push on the total.
23. BOISE STATE (10-2, 3-9, 5-7): On the one hand, they won a lot, except for Friday against Air Force (9-3, 5-7, 7-5). On the other, they rarely covered. And on the other other, head coach Brian Harsin is probably on big school coaching hire short lists. So yes, there is such a thing as losing by winning.
24. BAYLOR (6-5, 2-9.4-7): The Bears still have one game after getting kneecapped by Texas Tech (5-7,8-4, 7-5), and at this point, given how the entire operation has been shamed, they may as well just give it back.
25. JAKE SPISAK (Rice drum major): Was the only member of the school’s band to travel to Stanford to perform with the notorious criminal element that can play its music but only at home where the customers are inoculated from their alleged misdeeds. As a salute to his devotion to duty, Spisak was put on honorary probation by the Stanford administration for knowingly consorting with miscreant oboeists.
And you know how ornery miscreant oboeists can be. I mean, I don’t, but I’ve always hated the oboe anyway. And I’d bet money that you do too, or should.
Now, until next year, and I mean this with all sincerity, go away.