Tate Forcier Transfer

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (coaching flak jackets sold separately in College Station):

In our nation’s rush to revel in the idiotic, we all became familiar with a 6-year-old Colorado child last week. We know he did not fly away in a balloon that looked like a saggy Jiffy Pop bag. We know that authorities think his live-TV non-emergency was a scam. We know he gets sick at the sight of television cameras.

In a sentence, we know plenty about nothing.
To correct that, we should as a nation focus our collective brain power on something more substantive and vital to the common weal. Namely,college football . While pop culture goads to become dumber, The Dash is paddling in the opposite direction and challenging us to become smarter football fans.

Thus this week’s midseason Dash springs a 40-question pop quiz designed to sharpen our knowledge of America’s greatest diversionary pleasure.

Midterm Exam (No Cheating, Seminoles)

The most celebrated Falcon (1) of the fall should be:
A. Falcon Heene, aka Balloon Boy.

B. Tim DeRuyter, Air Force defensive coordinator. His Falcons are leading the nation in turnover margin and are seventh in scoring defense. Air Force has not given up more than 20 points this season. Last time AFA could say that seven games into the season was 1985, when it went 12-1.

C. Freddie Barnes, Bowling Green wide receiver, who leads the nation in receptions per game at 12.1 and has had games of 15, 17 and 22 catches this season.

Dash answer: C.

The Freshman (2) of the half-year is:

A. USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who ripped up Notre Dame’s defense for 380 passing yards Saturday in improving his record as a starter to 5-0. Barkley ranks 22nd nationally in pass efficiency and is helping everyone forget the early departure of Mark Sanchez.

B. Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis, who trampled Rutgers for 180 yards and two touchdowns Friday night to help the Panthers to 6-1. Lewis ranks third nationally in rushing and is helping everyone forget the arly departure of LeSean McCoy.

C. Michigan’s quarterback tandem of Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. Between the two of them, they have thrown for 1,199 yards, rushed for 453 and accounted for 18 touchdowns in a rejuvenated Wolverines offense.

Dash answer: A.

The Hypocrite (3) of the half-year is:

A. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.

B. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.

C. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.

Dash Answer: All of the above. Everyone remembers the “I’m a Man! I’m 40!” part of that absurd Gundy rant in 2007, right? What most people don’t recall is Gundy also screaming, “That’s not true!” about certain aspects of a story in the Oklahoman. Well, it turns out the great champion of truth and accuracy couldn’t bring himself or his program to be forthright about why receiver Dez Bryant sat out against Grambling on Sept. 26.

The school stated that Bryant missed the game with an injury. Then, according to a report last week in the Oklahoman, the school told the NCAA a different story. In its appeal to restore Bryant’s eligibility after he lied to NCAA investigators, Oklahoma State congratulated itself for withholding its star wideout because of eligibility concerns.

That, to quote the coach, is garbage.

The Coach (4) of the half-year is:

A. Brian Kelly, Cincinnati. Replaced 10 defensive starters from last year’s Orange Bowl team and somehow made the team better. Bearcats are No. 5 in the BCS standings and withstood the loss of startingquarterback Tony Pike to a wrist injury last week at South Florida, winning by 17 without having him for most of the game.

B. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa. Restored luster to his rep with 7-0 start — and that’s after losing projected starting running back Jewel Hampton for the year to an injury in preseason. Hawkeyes have won 11 straight dating back to last year, including a pair of upsets of top-five Penn State in that time.

C. Robb Akey, Idaho. The Vandals were 3-21 the previous two years. Now they’re 6-1, off to their best start since their days as an FCSprogram and eyeing their first bowl bid since 1998. They’re keeping alive the impossible dream: “GameDay” in Boise on Nov. 14 for Idaho-Boise State?

Dash answer, in a close one: C.

The Send-Him-Off-In-A-Balloon Coach (5) of the half-year is:

A. Stan Parrish, Ball State. Promoted from offensive coordinator when Brady Hoke fled Muncie for San Diego (The Dash cannot figure out that lifestyle choice), Parrish has presided over a completeprogram collapse. The Cardinals went from 12-0 last regular season to 0-7 this year, running Parrish’s personal winless streak to a gruesome 35 games. Prior tothis season , Parrish presided over Ball State’s GMAC Bowl loss to Tulsa and an 0-26-1 stretch to end his ignominious tenure at Kansas State in the 1980s.

B. Mike Locksley, New Mexico. Winless and hardly sinless in his debut season in Albuquerque. Locksley admitted to getting into a physical altercation with an assistant coach a few weeks earlier in what has been a 0-6 start to his head-coaching career.

C. Ron Zook, Illinois. He’s 1-5 and winless against FBS competition. He’s yet to lose by single digits. He’s taken eight returning offensive starters, including a second-team all-Big Tenquarterback and a preseason first-team All-America wide receiver, and averaged 16.5 points per game — that’s 112th nationally. He is, all things considered, Zooker being Zooker.

Dash answer: A. The very fact that athletic director Tom Collins hired Parrish, with his 2-30-1 FBS head-coaching record, deserves its own award for administrative error. But then again, Collins is also the guy who hired Ronny Thompson to run his basketballprogram into the ground a few years earlier.

The Replacement Part (6) of the half-year is:

A. Ryan Williams, Virginia Tech running back. Was supposed to back up 1,000-yard rusher Darren Evans until Evans blew out a knee in preseason. Williams has stepped in and rushed for 834 yards, ranking eighth nationally in yards per game.

B. Alabama’s offensive line. The Crimson Tide lost three starters, two of them All-Americans, from the 2008 road-grading crew that made Glen Coffee and John Parker Wilson look good. Now the rebuilt line is making Mark Ingram and Greg McElroy look better.

C. Nick Foles, Arizona quarterback. The sophomore transfer from Michigan State took over the quarterback position three games ago and has since thrown for 254, 384 and 415 yards, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.

Dash answer: B.

The Bad Marriage (7) of the half-year is:

A. Jacoby Ford and the Clemson passing game. One of the most explosive receivers in college football hasn’t caught a touchdown pass since Sept. 10, languishing in a passing attack that ranks 96th nationally.

B. Boise State and the Western Athletic Conference. There are not enough quality opponents in the WAC to pump up the Broncos’ strength of schedule and get them into the BCS National Championship Game. Outside of Idaho (No. 27 in Sagarin’s ELO_CHESS ratings), there is nobody left on the schedule to boost the Broncos’ SOS.

C. Quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State offensive staff. He’s the best athlete on offense in college football, and he’s not ranked in the top 50 in total offense or the top 60 in pass efficiency. Blame Pryor for not developing, but also blame the coaches for not and/or molding their offense to fit the sophomore’s vast talents. Pryor’s play the past two weeks — paltryquarterback ratings of 105 and 112 — is not what anyone envisioned when the Buckeyes signed the No. 1 QB recruit in the nation two years ago.

Dash answer: C.

The Most Dramatic Team (8) of the half-year is:

A. Washington. Five games decided by one score, including an upset of USC, a come-from-ahead overtime loss to Notre Dame, and a victory over Arizona on a pass that bounced off a receiver’s foot for a fluke interception return touchdown.

B. Notre Dame. Five straight games decided by seven points or less, all going down to the last possession and the last seconds.

C. Northern Illinois. Four of six games decided by one score or less: 20-19 loss to Toledo marked by a blocked field goal in the final minute; 34-31 loss to Idaho when a 15-point rally in the final half of the final quarter fell short; 28-21 upset of Purdue preserved by a fake punt in the final minutes; 28-20 loss to Wisconsin marked by 14 fourth-quarter points and a recovered onside kick, but a stalled drive in the final minute.

Dash answer: B. Problem is, all that drama has solved nothing. Charlie Weis still hasn’t won a game in 2009 that will convince everyone he should be the coach in 2010 or lost a game in 2009 that will convince everyone he should be fired.

The Overachieving Conference (9) of the half-year is:

A. Southeastern. There have been some disappointments (Georgia, Ole Miss), but some surprises as well (South Carolina, Auburn, Alabama at No. 2).

B. Pac-10. Once again, the only team that can beat USC resides within the league. Oregon has righted its ship impressively after an opening debacle. Arizona has done well against a rigorous schedule. Stanford is respectable. UCLA won at Tennessee. Washington is up off the deck at last.

C. Big East. Who had Cincinnati in the top five in the preseason? Who figured on South Florida losing its four-year starting quarterback and winning at Florida State the next week? Who would qualify as a disappointment, other than possibly Rutgers?

Dash answer: B.

The Underachieving Conference (10) of the half-year is:

A. Big 12. Injuries have scuttled Oklahoma. Houston has done damage to the South Division, beating both Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. And the usual North Division malaise has settled in, making everyone look mediocre.

B. Big Ten. Ohio State has major offensive issues. Penn State hasn’t done anything spectacular. Illinois is a grease fire. Michigan State lost to a MAC team. That’s enough to offset the gains made by Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin.

C. Atlantic Coast. Outside of Miami and Georgia Tech, there is nothing here to brag about and plenty to cringe at.

Dash answer: C.

The U-Turn (11) of the half-year is:

A. Arkansas, from 1-2 to 3-3 and nearly beating Florida on the road. Razorbacks have found their footing and are playing better defense after being strafed by Georgia and Alabama on consecutive weeks.

B. Michigan State, from 1-3 to 4-3. Hanging on in overtime against rival Michigan turned the season around.

C. Virginia, from 0-3 to 3-3. As predictable as it is pronounced, the Cavaliers have gone from awful to powerful. The defense has given up only 19 points in the past three games, as Al Groh embarks upon his annual job-saving campaign. But it will take several more victories to make people forget that 12-point opening loss to William & Mary.


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