Saturday, November 23, 2013

Fantastic Furman...aww, hell...WooHoo!!!!

It's a cloudy, cool fall afternoon at Paladin Stadium. 

Apparently we can't afford long pants for all cheerleaders.
A showdown with the Wofford Terriers is the day's agenda.  Victory will yield a share of the Southern Conference championship.  This and a win by the Samford Bulldogs will bring an automatic bid to the playoffs, ending a nine year drought.

The band is ready
So lets kick this thing off.  Paladins take the field!

Yes! Flawless entrance! Ooo, Sir Paladin looks impressed!
Didn't get thrown today. Boo yah!

Furman gets the ball first.  We've done well on first drives at home.  But today the offense stalls out. a condition which persists for the entire first quarter and most of the second, while Wofford is able to scratch out two long touchdown drives.  A 14-0 deficit is no way to kick off a playoff run. 

Sir Paladin's trusty mount, Fury, is getting anxious.
And then, in the middle of the 2nd quarter,  a long Furman drive.  Smeeling the end zone, the Paladin QB lobs a pass...into the hands of a Terrier defender. (Yap, yap, yap!) Le sigh!

Wait! What's this? Fumbllleee!  Throw it up top! TOUCHDOWNNNNN!!!!

A stop.  A drive.  A field goal.  And Furman trims the margin to 14-10 at halftime.

In the second half, the Paladins add to the momentum. A first drive stop is followed by a touchdown drive, and Furman takes the lead.

Still the Terriers are not the kind to fold their tents.  They drive into Furman territory and attempt a fake punt only to be turned back on an interception.  Furman converts the turnover into 7 points.

Again Wofford drives, threatening the endzone; only to be intercepted there as well.  again the Paladins convert a turnover into points.  A field goal makes the score 27-14 in favor of the Paladins.

Wofford takes the ball with 6:41 on the clock and drive to the Furman 7.  There they face a fourth and two, and gain only one yard! The Paladins take over with just over 2 minutes left.  And facing 3rd and 3, they do this...

In case, you can't tell, that is a 25 yard run!  And down 13 point with under two minutes left, Wofford coach Mike Ayers shows he's a class act and leaves his last time out in his pocket. 

Victory formation!

And now, a brief aside.  Furman is an institution that prides itself on graduating its student-athletes.  Despite its rigorous academic demands, from the late 70's to the early 90's, Furman was a football powerhouse.  Even becoming the first (and until a few years ago only) private school to win the NCAA I-AA (FCS) national championship.  The football team has won more SoCon titles than any other school.  But after a revival in the late 90's and early 2000's (including a national title runner up in 2001) it had not even sniffed a conference title since 2004 or a playoff appearance since 2006.

So I hope you can understand how special this moment is:

Let the flag wave proud.
Any comment, Sir Paladin?
That's right. Go Paladins!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Furious Football Fever

I didn't make it to the Furman home game this week.  I had a sore throat and fever and didn't sleep well.  But I was able to monitor via internet as Furman consistently turned over and turned away the Samford Bulldogs.  While they did allow over 500 yards of offense, the Paladins got the job done 35-17.  And they thereby kept alive the slight chance of a conference championship and playoff berth. Go Paladins!

But my illness did grant me the opportunity to grogily view the "Greatest Thursday in College Football History-y-y-y!!!". (If anyone could fix the exact date ESPN ceased being a sports network and became and endless, inane hype machine, please let me know.)  And the night went swimmingly from my perspective.

1) Baylor looks to be a legitimate contender in the Big 12.
They dominated inferior competition, as great teams should, leading up to the match up with a quality Oklahoma Sooners team.  And then they dominated the game.

2) Oregon lost. 
Don't get me wrong, I like the Ducks.  And had they made it to the national title game, I'd have rooting for them.  But an Oregon victory would have all but guaranteed a PAC 12 championship, meaning the only spots for Oregon in the bowl season would have been Rose Bowl or National Championship Game.

But a non-PAC 12 champion Duck team and Big 12 champion Baylor Bears team can meet in the Fiesta Bowl.  That doesn't mean they will.  Odds are against it.  The Fiesta Bowl would get a champion Baylor team for sure.  But then they choose last.  And if the current Alabama-Florida State national championship tilt holds up, the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl would each get two selections before the fiesta Bowl picked an at large team.

But I want to see the two best offenses in college football on the same field.  I want to see a points total that will exceed most of the upcoming college basketball games.  And I want to see the Bears' "Brass" helmets
on the same field with the Ducks' "Sonic Boom" helmets
and "Lightning" uniforms.

That is what I want.  Odds are against getting that match up.  Odds are against them wearing those helmets and uniforms.  And considering the Oregon-Auburn match up from a few years ago, odds are very much against two teams with long layoffs putting up those kinds of points.

But a man can dream.