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The Good, Bad and Ugly of Championship weekend

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Nearly all hope is lost.

NCAA Football: Alamo Bowl-Stanford vs Texas Christian Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that went just about as poorly as we could have imagined. I’m talking, of course, about how the various conference championship game played out on Friday and Saturday. For a few minutes there, it all seemed to be going so well, but then the football gods remembered that the Washington State Cougars and their fans are mandated to be perpetually crapped upon, and everything returned to normal.

So as we look toward the future, in the form of both the College Football Playoff selection show tonight and the subsequent bowl matchups, it’s best to keep in mind what is one of the more famous lines from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.” Translated, it means “Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” Matter of fact, I think I have an idea for the sign that the Cougar players should hit before exiting the locker room before the Apple Cup. But I digress.

The Good

Clemson beats Pitt, 42-10 - For some reason, people who have a voice in this nonsense think that the Penn State Nittany Lions should be ranked higher than WSU because they beat the ACC something-division champion Pitt Panthers. Well, if that’s their best win, Penn State’s resumé is thinner than a dollar store gallon of paint. Meanwhile, WSU has beaten four teams (Utah, Stanford, Oregon, Cal) who are better than Pitt.

Will that matter to a bunch of CFP Committee septuagenarians who think Rip Engle is still stalking the sidelines in State College, Steve Spurrier is playing quarterback at Florida, and Billy Cannon is running back punts at LSU? Almost certainly not.

Stanford beats Cal, 23-13 - There’s a school of thought that believes it would have been better for Cal to win, because WSU beat Cal after Cal beat Washington, so the committee might have more respect for WSU’s win over the Bears. While that could be true, the committee’s tendency to care more about the logo on the helmet than the record behind it suggests that Stanford will make its way into the final CFP rankings, which gives WSU a second win over a ranked team, on the road no less. That would be two more wins over ranked teams than Penn State has.

Oklahoma beats Texas, 39-27 - One thing that could have derailed WSU’s hopes of moving up in the rankings was a Texas Longhorns win over the Oklahoma Sooners, because that would have meant two Big 12 teams in the NY6 but not in the playoff. Kyler Murray wasn’t gonna let that happen. All signs are pointing to the Sooners in the CFP, unless the committee thinks Georgia is better and/or more deserving.

Ohio State beats Northwestern, 45-24 - Oklahoma’s win over Texas cemented the likelihood that, with a win over the Northwestern Wildcats, the Ohio State Buckeyes would head to the Rose Bowl. Like a possible Texas win, a Northwestern win would have meant another Big Ten team in the NY6, all but eliminating WSU. It also would have meant a Rose Bowl featuring Northwestern, and there’s not a soul on earth outside of Illinois who wants to see that. Now we get a Washington-Ohio State Rose Bowl, which should be fun.

Fresno State beats Boise State, 19-16 - Has no effect on WSU but anyway eff Boise State.

The Bad

These two results, especially the first one, outpace all of the “Good” results. By a lot.

Alabama beats Georgia, 35-28 - For the second straight season, the Georgia Bulldogs were better than the Alabama Crimson Tide for nearly the entire game. For the second straight season, Alabama’s back-up quarterback (this time Jalen Hurts, who was the starter last time they played) went Temple of Doom on the Dawgs, ripping their still-beating hearts out and showing it to them before they keeled over.

But seriously, Georgia convincingly showed us that they were better than Alabama once again, only to crap the bed when it mattered most. First they missed an easy field goal, then they called what was the dumbest and most poorly-executed fake punt (non-Berkeley edition) that I’ve probably ever seen.

How bad has it gone for Georgia down the stretch these last two years?

What does it mean for WSU? Not good Bob! A Georgia win would have meant that instead of a probable CFP selection, Oklahoma was headed to the Sugar Bowl, bumping Texas from the NY6 altogether and freeing up a space for WSU, should the committee put them over Penn State. Now, that’s one less spot available, unless the committee makes an unprecedented move and puts Georgia in the CFP anyway or somehow decides Ohio State is better than Oklahoma. Do the Bulldogs have a case? I think so, but it’s a weak one. You can’t lose a game by three touchdowns and try to convince me that you deserve a playoff spot. I think they’re better than the Sooners, but that often doesn’t matter.

UCF beats Memphis, 56-41 - This result doesn’t hurt WSU nearly as much as some would think, but it doesn’t help. A UCF loss would have likely sent them tumbling down the rankings, and elevated WSU into the Top 12. While inclusion into the Top 12 is only a part of the equation, it is a required step.

When these two teams played in the regular season, Memphis led 30-14 with 17 minutes remaining. They melted down and lost, 31-30. Saturday, Memphis could do no wrong early on, racing out to a 24-7 lead and looking unstoppable on offense. It was then that whoever the AAC commissioner is placed a call to the Tigers sideline and reminded them that they’re supposed to quit playing for the good of the conference’s coffers UCF took over. In the second half, aka winning time, the Knights outscored the choking Tiger, hidden Dragons 35-3. That gets the Knights a New Year’s Six berth, likely against LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Ugly

Washington beats Utah, 10-3 (lololol) - The Washington Huskies and their fans have nothing to apologize for, because the scoreboard shows that they’re the Pac-12 champions, and are thus rewarded with a trip to the Rose Bowl. That said, what a hideous yet fitting end to the conference season. The only touchdown was scored because a Utah player couldn’t catch a pass. Meanwhile, Jake Browning couldn’t muster better than 5.6 YPA and Myles Gaskin ran for all of 71 yards. The worst part is knowing that WSU would have beaten Utah by double digits. Ifs and buts...

Oh, and #Pac12Refs put a cherry on top of the turd sundae that they’ve been brewing up for this entire season. How they didn’t call an obvious pass interference penalty on Utah’s final offensive play is mystifying. Wait, no it isn’t; they’re incompetent, after all. That, coupled with the laughably sparse attendance and resident idiot Larry Scott’s blinding incompetence, made for an ending that this conference deserves.

Here’s my prediction: Stanford will indeed move into the rankings, the committee will put WSU at 12 ahead of Penn State, and they will miss out on a New Year’s Six bowl because of the Georgia collapse. Such is life as a Coug fan. Nonetheless, West Virginia will probably move up as a result of the Texas loss, setting up a fun Top-15 Alamo Bowl between Mike Leach and one of his longtime protégés. Oh well.

The CFP Selection Show takes place Sunday at 9am, PST. Everyone, let’s grab our trusty rabbit’s foot and pray that the SEC superiority narrative takes hold with the committee, at least as far as Georgia is concerned.

Football

Analysis: Handicapping Gardner Minshew’s chances of becoming Washington State’s first Heisman Trophy finalist since 1997 | The Spokesman-Review
For all intents and purposes, five players – all quarterbacks – are still in the Heisman race. Voters can submit three names and it’s presumed that no ballot will be cast without the names of Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.

Volleyball

Congratulations to the Cougar volleyball team, headed to the Sweet 16 and a matchup with the Stanford Cardinal. They definitely have a tough row to hoe in Palo Alto.

Cougars Advance to Sweet Sixteen With Win Over Tennessee - Washington State University Athletics
Set scores from the match were: 30-28, 25-18, 19-25, and 25-13 in favor of the Cougars.

Basketball

According to reports, the Cougar Men’s Basketball team played a game Saturday night.

New Mexico State hangs on to beat Washington State
NM State led by as much as 15 in the first half. But after NM State started 6 of 12 from three, the Aggies shot just 5 of 20 from the floor and 1 of 10 from three in the final 11:02 of the first half.

This Week in Parenting

In the photo that accompanies the beer offering, you will see in background a doll named Charlie. If you’re a parent, you know exactly who I’m talking about. We’ve been dealing with Charlie aka Elf on the Shelf aka a scourge on parents everywhere for quite a few years now, and it’s always the same. The Mrs. and I alternate nights when it comes time to move that doll to a different place in the house, and learning that it’s my turn is akin to seeing the Outlook reminder for a prostate exam.

It took me exactly one night to forget that it was my turn to move that stupid thing, and there Charlie sat on Sunday morning, in the same place he was on Saturday morning. Luckily I was up to watch the second half of the SEC title game on DVR, so I had time to move it. Even more luckily, my wife was up to show me that I’d forgotten to move it so I was able to pause the game and move it before the kids came downstairs.

If I said I was not looking forward to the day when my kids realize this is all a fraudulent travshamockery, well, I’d be a lying liar who lies.

Beer

Best beer I had this week: A bit of a marriage backstory - for some reason, I have an uncanny ability to unwittingly ruin my wife’s plans for surprise and/or holiday gifts. For example, in December of 2012 I told her I was thinking about buying a sound bar for the living room. Following several swear words and animated hand gestures, she said she’d already bought one and was planning to give it to me for Christmas. There are other examples.

So back in October, I learned that super awesome Denmark-based Mikkeller was selling beer-themed Advent calendars. I’m not the most religious guy around, but I was all in on this, so I ordered one. A couple weeks ago, I told her to be on the lookout for the UPS truck, which would be delivering said box of beer goodness. Unbeknownst to me, she had bought me a different beer Advent calendar when I was in Florida. Cue another fusillade of swear words. tl;dr I now have at least two beers to drink every day between 1 December and Christmas Eve. There are no losers here.

Oh, and the Stone Xocoveza was the better of the two. One thing I miss about the good ol’ USA is the availability of high gravity stouts. Incidentally, the Stone offering (from Mrs Kendall’s Advent calendar), brewed in sort of nearby Berlin, was the best beer I had this week. Even if it wasn’t, I’d have said it was because I’m not a complete idiot.

Regarding the link below, I’m in the category of people who think all these lists are counterproductive. Still, I’ve been to a whole two of these breweries! (Angry Chair and The Veil, the latter thanks to CougCenter beer shaman Craig Powers).

Best Breweries in America: Best Craft Beer Brewery in Every US State - Thrillist
We've assembled a crack team of experts to lay on the superlatives.

Non-Sports

‘I Love You, Too’: George Bush’s Final Days - The New York Times
The end for Mr. Bush was remarkably peaceful after a life that took him from the skies of the Pacific during World War II to the Oval Office at the end of the Cold War.

An Atomwaffen Member Sketched a Map to Take the Neo-Nazis — ProPublica
It was a grisly scene inside Apartment 3722 at the Hamptons, a gated community in Tampa, Florida.