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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bad losses breed violet thoughts

Posted By on 10.11.12 at 07:38 AM

Late-game collapses leave fans feeling--and looking--like this dude
  • shutterstock.com
  • Late-game collapses leave fans feeling—and looking—like this dude

All week I've had the purples. It's sort of like having the blues, except with an ample portion of red fury mixed in. You get the purples when you're hit with a sense of loss but also find yourself incredibly pissed off; and you're pissed off not just at whatever's gone bad but even more at yourself, since you wouldn't have a sense of loss if you hadn't allowed yourself to give a rat's ass; and you know damn well you shouldn't have given a rat's ass because as soon as you did the loss was inevitable, or at least the sense of loss, which ends up amounting to the same thing.

I'm pretty sure this is one of the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, or would be if Siddhartha Gautama had spent his Saturdays watching his favorite football teams collapse in the second half instead of hanging out under a sacred fig tree.

I'm glad it went as it did.

Nevertheless, I find myself contemplating the meaning of suffering and sport. This was precipitated by watching, for the third straight year, the Northwestern Wildcats blow a seemingly solid second-half lead against Penn State. Yeah, the same Penn State team that was supposedly going to be gutted by NCAA sanctions, etc, etc. The experience left me displeased.

Interestingly, though, the Wildcats (or the Purple Polecats, as a friend once affectionately and accurately dubbed them) weren't the only team that left its faithful seeing violet after a flop on Saturday. Of the seven major college teams that wear purple, only two—Kansas State and Clemson—came away with victories last weekend. Among the vanquished were not just Northwestern but then-No. 4 Louisiana State, previously undefeated Texas Christian, red-hot Washington, and East Carolina.

After thinking on it a bit, I can say this: the upside to seeing your team blow it in week six is that there's still plenty of opportunity to enjoy the season with the peaceful, detached understanding that the game itself is a beautiful thing, and life goes on, win or lose.

Then again, there's also time to get revenge and kick some freaking ass. And I swear I'm not talking about the election.

On to the games.

Thursday night special:

Arizona State over Colorado: You and I could put 35 on the board against the Buffaloes. Alright, alright—that's not quite fair. Maybe only 28.

Big Ten:

Michigan State over Iowa: As impressive offenses go, both teams have great punting units.

Wisconsin over Purdue: In a matchup of two of the most consistently erratic teams in the country, a football game will be played.

Northwestern over Minnesota: If the past few years are any indication, the Wildcats and Gophers will play a hard-fought game of broken plays, defensive lapses, special teams mistakes, and late-game turnovers until one of them finally loses for good in dramatic fashion.

Michigan over Illinois: The Illini will need to score 40 to stay in this. They won't.

Ohio State over Indiana: The Hoosiers will need to score 55 to stay in this. They won't.

Other games:

No. 13 Oklahoma over No. 15 Texas: The Longhorns haven't scored fewer than 37 points in a game this year. The Sooners haven't allowed more than 24. Unlike the trends of the era, I'm going with defense.

No. 7 Notre Dame over No. 17 Stanford: Picking the Irish to lose hasn't exactly worked, since they're 5-0, so maybe this will bring about the desired result.

No. 21 Cincinnati over Fordham: Stick to watching the Reds.

No. 9 LSU over No. 3 South Carolina: In topping Georgia the Gamecocks didn't choke in a big game for once. For once.

Northern Illinois over Buffalo: The Huskies look like Mid-American Conference title contenders. Buffalo gets a lot of snow.

Wittenberg over U. of C.: The Wittenberg Tigers are undoubtedly the best 4-1 team the Maroons will see this week.

Last week: I went 8-3. Season: 59-18.

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