Week 5 Predictions

Last week we were quite happy about nailing the Georgia Tech prediction, but less-than-happy about completely missing Ole Miss and, of course, Penn State....amongst others.

Anyway, here's the VFA's thoughts on Week 5

Thursday night

Colorado vs West Virginia

Last year Colorado alum and ESPNer Chris Fowler was ready to wet his pants when the Buffs beat West Virginia in the Rockies. Don't worry Chris, it won't happen this year. Colorado is awful.

Prediction: Bring out the couches. West Virginia by 14.

Saturday

Michigan at Michigan State

Generally, these have been brilliant games and we can't wait for the 2009 version (although we'll be tailgating in the North Lawn at the University of Georgia so probably won't be watching it!) from Spartan Stadium. The Sparts were a mite unlucky to lose at Notre Dame, and the Wolverines dodged a bullet against Indiana. If we can have finishes like that again, we're in for a cracker.

Prediction: Spartans in the upset. Michigan State by 3

Wisconsin at Minnesota

Axes apart, this is a great rivalry and a good old-fashioned Big Ten brawl. Both sides haven't exactly been wonderful advocates of the conference this year, but unbeaten Wisconsin don't care.

Prediction: Minnesota in a classic.

Alabama at Kentucky

Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy will be hoping his offensive line doesn't go to sleep in the same way that Florida's did midway through a blowout. You know why? Alabama has far too much power up front, and at running back. That wide receiver Julio Jones isn't bad either.

Prediction: Rammin' Jammin' Alabamin' by 21 (in')

Washington at Notre Dame

Washington's awful home loss to Stanford meant one of two things: 1) They got lucky against an inordinately bad USC team or 2) They were on a bad day last Saturday. Anyway - Jake Locker & Co has to improve in South Bend against an Irish side who are suddenly finding their feet again - albeit slowly.

Prediction: Closer than it would have been last year. Notre Dame by 10

USC vs California

USC was awful in its blowout victory over Washington State, while Cal was awful in its blowout loss at Oregon. This is an early Pac-10 showdown, but we'll all be hoping for a good game after last week. Oh, and Jahvid Best needs a good game to put him back on the lips of the pro-Heisman faithful, while USC need a break of luck after losing running back Stafon Johnson in a freak accident in the weight room.

Prediction: USC by 7 in a cracker.

Auburn at Tennessee

Lane Kiffin might have a great recruiting class in 2010 (according to SI), but his team in 2009's pretty darned awful. This is the second worst team in the SEC East (sorry, Lane), and will be lucky to make a bowl. Auburn, however, has shocked the critics and is unbeaten thus far this season. Chris Todd, who's thrown for over 1,000 yards this season had better be on his game, because UT can close down the run. And UT quarterback Crompton has to get better, having thrown 8 interceptions already (yes, we're serious).

Prediction: Tennessee knocks off an unbeaten in a quiet surprise.

Florida State at Boston College

A question for College Gameday: Are you at this game for one of the following reasons: 1) Because you want to make sure that you preview a FSU game before Bowden gets fired 2) You're expecting the same FSU-BC fireworks that happened in 2007 with Matt Ryan's late interception throw 3) It's the only time Boston will be interested in college football during October 4) You fancied a Sam Adams or two or 5) It was near Bristol, CT or 6) Someone had to keep Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit away from the Georgia ladies and an SEC match-up they weren't going to be showing.

Prediction: Florida State continue their Jekyll & Hyde form, and win by 14

The "Why Weren't We Chosen For College Gameday?" Crew

1. Oklahoma vs Miami

One of the weekend's best match-ups. We don't know if Sam Bradford's going to start, but it doesn't matter the way that OU's offense is packing the punches. If Miami can't stop 'em, Oklahoma's in trouble. On the other side, Miami had a nightmare in the wind and rain of Lane Stadium. They looked dreadful. Jacory Harris will need to be on form if Miami pulls off the upset.

Prediction: Oklahoma rollin' all the way to the State Fair.

2. LSU vs Georgia

Unfortunately Kirk won't have any keys for this one because it's going to be shown on CBS, so he might just have to make a prediction. Here's our prediction: it's going to be loud, it's going to be fast, and it's going to have lots of pretty sorority girls looking for their hero in Big Bi Psi, who isn't the man they think he is. Anyway, back to the football. LSU avoided a bullet at Mississippi State and Georgia's been avoiding them all year long. Georgia owns LSU at the moment, the Tigers will be ready to go.

Prediction: Georgia by 4 on a last-ditch touchdown drive. And the party! Yes!

It was that kind of day

Steve: Hey babe... you wanna fly over to Blockbuster and grab a movie?

Tarable: Hey babe... the only place I'm going to be flying to is into the shower and then flying into the kitchen to that bottle of red wine. Then I'll be flying into my bed with my book at the first possible opportunity.

Week 4 Awards

Sorry this is a little late, but we're going with the 'Awards Stuff again'. No point in doling out the booze, since we're expecting so much of the damned stuff in Athens, GA when we hit up the LSU-Georgia game on Saturday.

"Wow, That Was Lucky" Award

1. LSU's goal-line stand against Mississippi
2. Ole Miss - that South Carolina could have been better and beaten them into a pulp.
3. Michigan - once again surviving - this time on a B.S. Call against Indiana

"The Don't Count Us Out" Award

1. Alabama. Florida loses, the Tide should go No.1. We may well see at the SEC Title game....
2. Ohio State. At your peril.
3. Oregon. Was a very one-sided track meet.
4. Georgia Tech. The performance against the Heels was impressive.
5. TCU - Just when all the talk was about Boise, the Frogs sneak under the radar.

'The Under The Radar Award"

1. Iowa. Who saw them coming? Seriously? Who?
2. South Florida. The 'Noles didn't show up. They did.
3. Virginia Tech. Might well be the best team in the ACC.

"The Ooooooooh Award"

1. Tim Tebow getted laid out by Kentucky's Taylor Wyndham. Wyndham's got nothing to apologise for. Tebow's offensive linesman does.
2. AJ Green's blocked field goal and stunning catch. Might be the best WR in college football.
3. Georgia's finish against Arizona State. Classic.
4. Houston vs Texas Tech. An absolute classic. A wee bit low-scoring, too.

"The Overrated Award"

1. Penn State. After losing at home, reality has suddenly returned to Happy Valley. They never were the fourth or fifth-best team in the nation. And not a top 10 one, either.
2. Florida State. How can a team show up for one game and not for another? The Noles were terrible!
3. North Carolina. We told you about Georgia Tech. You should have listened.
4. Florida and Texas. Alabama has played one better team that both of you guys combined....and won.
5. USC. This is a poor USC team - make no mistake about it.

"The 'Well THAT Sucked' Award"

It's a tie! Miami didn't show up against Virginia Tech, Cal didn't at Oregon, and Penn State's offensive offense didn't against Iowa!

"The Undercover Heisman Award" (Guys we think have a chance)

1. Jimmy Clausen. He might be one of the best QBs in college football.
2. Case Keenum. Houston QB's got the tongues waggling.
3. Iowa's defence. This guys look like the Pittsburgh Steelers.....and play like them.

Dog AND Cougar Attack

I know they say you should not have your ipod too loud so you can hear approaching danger, but if I'm out there jogging you can rest assured the music is at a substantial level. This morning was no exception.

I had only jogged for a couple of minutes when I realized my shoe lace was loose. I stopped and bent over to tighten up my laces. I was in my own world.

Had I not had the ipod on, I might have been more alert and able to react to the situation a little better.

I saw the shadow first. Then I heard the barking, growling, snapping teeth. In the few milliseconds that I had to think, my life flashed before my eyes. This dog was mad and it was coming for me. Would it grab my throat? Would it bite my face? Maiming me for life? But I'm somebody's mom! I'm somebody's wife! I have friends and a social life. Everything was about to change and I was sure of it.

I jumped up clutching my heart and yelled, "JESUS CHRIST!!!"

It was then that I saw the little tan Chihuahua circling my feet. Baring it's teeth.

The thing couldn't have been more than 6 inches tall.

Oh I breathed a sigh of relief. This little thing was harmless.

But then. Something bigger and scarier came out after the Chihuahua.

A woman with messy died, bright red hair, and fluffy slippers came shuffling down the driveway with a cup of coffee in her hand...

"KIKI!!! KIKI!!! You come back here, Kiki! I'm so sorry she scared you!!!"

The woman had on the shortest little daisy duke panty pyjama bottoms that I have ever seen. And she wiggled down the street with her butt cheeks squeezing out the bottom of her shorty shorts as she tried to capture the dog and bring it back into the house.

I stood there in awe. Unable to gather myself quite yet and resume my jog.

Oh Red! Leave the dog be. Let it chew the rubber off the toe of my shoe! It's ok, really! Just put your ass cheeks back into your shorts!!!!

She managed to scoop Kiki up in her arms and shuffle off back into her trailer house and I was able to continue my jog - physically unscathed. Mentally, it's going to take a little while to scrub those images out of my mind.

Cougars are scarier than dogs.

Runner's High

After a long, hectic week in which I was only able to get out jogging once and that was on Monday at about 6pm and it was too warm and I was too tired and it didn't feel good, I woke up this morning, shuffled the songs on my ipod and went out at 8am in the fresh, brisk morning air for a jog. The sun was shining but the air was nice and cool. The music in my ears was loud and upbeat. I had time to be all by myself, doing something for myself. The people I passed on the street were happy and all smiled and said "good morning".

I went further and faster than I have in some time.

I now have the best feeling... Runner's High.

Well done, Iowa

This is a note to the Iowa Hawkeyes: Well done.

You outplayed us.

It wasn't a fluke 21-10 victory in Happy Valley, it was a demonstration.

It was a demonstration of how to win when the odds are against you and 110,000 want to kill you.

Your defense didn't look like a college defense. At times, it looked like the darned Pittsburgh Steelers. Joe Paterno - for the whole of the offseason - talked about the weak offensive line, and he was right. You tore through it with ease.

Our defense was pretty good. We managed to stop your miniscule running backs - well, until the fourth quarter - but we could stop your special teams and, to be honest, you seemed to want it more than we did.

You didn't win on terrible calls (well, apart from the blocking the punter one, but hey - we had a couple of holding calls go our way), you won because you played your heart out.

Good luck Iowa. Good luck for the future. And watch out Big Ten.

The Very Early Thanks For Coming Awards

Thanks for coming, Kentucky. Never mind Florida and 400 players with illness. Your team haven't shown up anyway.

Thanks for coming Arkansas. Ryan Mallett has the best arm in the conference? Sure. But against Alabama's defense, he looked immensely pedestrian.

Thanks for coming Cal. You didn't show up on your trip to Eugene.

Thanks for coming Miami. Ever thought of an innovative football practice in the rain for the future. Because sure as hell you couldn't cope with the weather in Lane Stadium.

Thanks for coming UNC. We called you overrated. And against Georgia Tech, you were.

Thanks for coming UTEP. Leave Austin and take $500,000 and a near-triple figure beating with you!

Thanks for coming, Florida State. What on earth went wrong? Not to self: don't ever praise the Seminoles again.

Quack! Quack! Ducks destroy Cal

If there's every a cry that should drive fear into an opponent, it's not the quack of a duck. Unless, of course, there's around 54,000 of you doing the 'quacking' in Autzen.

Autzen was loud today. Very loud. We almost hear the roar in Britain. And so they should have done.

Dressed in awesome 'throwback' green and yellow shirts, the Oregon Ducks hammered sixth-ranked California 42-3 in one of the most one-sided games of the year.

You're right - California were awful. Kevin Riley gave us another reason to malign him with a dreadful 12-32, 123 yard performance, while Jahvid Best - who figured in our 'underrated' discussions only last week - managed just 55 yards as Oregon's fast defence held onto him for dear life.

And speaking of speed, how about the Ducks on offense? The Bears couldn't keep up with them. Jeremiah Masoli, the diminutive (it's a nice way of saying short) quarterback threw had 253 yards and 3 TDs, and his running backs put up over 200 yards on the floor. Special shout out goes to Ed Dickson, who's 138 yard, three touchdown wide receiving performance was a joy to watch.

Unless you're a Counting Crows fans.

Oh, and round of applause goes to the ESPN cameras, who made a huge amount of effort showing those Oregon Cheerleaders. And the way their team is playing, we'll be seeing a lot more of them, too.

Hypothetical Question

If you hypothetically had a baby that was probably going to be your only baby and she was a really really really independent little thing that would allow ZERO cuddling and often tried to push away from you when you were holding her and you sometimes even snuck into her room at night to scoop her from her crib while she was sleeping because you thought that surely then she would snuggle in your arms, but even then she still kicked and flailed to get away from you in her sleep, and you took her swimming and she loved the water all the time but then one time she was a little bit nervous and suddenly CLUNG to your neck and pushed her cheek to your face....

...would it be really wrong to hypothetically go just a little bit deeper in the water so she would keep clinging (or even cling tighter!) because it felt so good??

Hypothetically, would that make someone a bad/mean mom???

Down Goes Ole Miss!

South Carolina has got this season DOWN, my friends.

Play on Thursday night in one of the dullest games on the planet (this 16-10 win over fourth-ranked Ole Miss just beat out the 7-3 win over NC State in that category), they win. Play on Saturday night (the 41-37 loss at Georgia was one of the most exciting games this year), they struggle.

It's weird, because Jevan Snead never looked like a potential All-SEC or even a Heisman Trophy quarterback. He was even worse than Stephen Garcia, who's 16-34, 220 yard effort was actually worse than the numbers looked.

Don't get us wrong: we expected Jevan Snead and his 'high-octane' offense to have their way against South Carolina. We expected South Carolina's 'D' to show up in the same fashion as they did at Georgia. You know what? We were wrong. South Carolina might be the third or fourth best team in the SEC East, but you know what? They'll be hard to beat. Florida, you have been warned.

Oh, and great crowd shots by ESPN tonight. Round of applause for finding the right co-eds.

Here are the highlights:

Week 3 Awards

In honor of Penn State freshman Joseph Dado, who was found dead in a stairwell on Sunday after the PSU game, the VFA isn't going to give our booze awards.

Here's our Week 3 awards (A little late, we know)!!

The 'Did you REALLY see that happening?' Award

First, Washington beating USC. Then Washington getting a ranking in 2009.

The 'Why Can't You Just Grow Up?' Award

Lane Kiffin and Urban Meyer. Seriously.

The 'Does He Ever Age?' Award

Bobby Bowden. People called for his head, and then his 'Noles beat the crap out of BYU on their own turf.

The 'Oh God, They're Back' Award

The hammering of Georgia Tech by a young Miami Tech means one thing: The swagger is back. Let's hope it comes with less trips to the police station.

The 'We Wish They Weren't Back' Award

Michigan. Ohio State and Penn State fans unite in fear - both of us might receive a beating from them.

The 'Let's Talk About Me For a Heisman' Award

Jahvid Best (California) and because Sam Bradford's not getting one in 2009, Jimmy Clausen of Notre Dame. Both players have been outstanding.

The 'They Changed The Law Because Of Me' Award (Belatedly)

Stand up, Sergio Kindle. Unfortunately, texting while driving wasn't a crime until you did it.....and smashed into a building.

The 'Overrated' Award

1. Penn State
2. Ole Miss (really, they aren't the fourth best team in the country)
3. Texas (Alabama's a better team)
4. North Carolina (Sorry, who have they struggled against this year?)
5. Oklahoma State (Houston slams you AT home and you're ranked above them?? What?)

The 'Underrated' Award

1. Georgia (52 on the road? Top 15 ranking??)
2. Clemson (Better than Tech and were unlucky to lose in Week 2)
3. Georgia Tech (watch: they'll beat UNC this week)
4. Auburn (playing well - and beat West Virginia)
5. UCLA (winning at UT is no easy feat)

And finally...

The 'Can't ****ing Wait' Award

Iowa at Penn State.
White Out. Revenge lives here.
LSU at Georgia.
Because I'm going.

A brief history of Penn State Whiteouts

If you'd been watching football this year, then you'd seen Georgia Tech (Thursday night), NC State (Thursday night), Michigan ('Maize Out') try and copy the Penn State feeling by getting all of their fans to wear the same colour.

Sorry guys. But there's NOTHING like the Penn State White Out.

It's an incredible experience. Although the VFA currently resides in the UK, we've been part of 'White Outs' in 2005 (Ohio State, Wisconsin) and 2006 (Michigan). We've also worn white in the UK while listening to the Ohio State game on sports radio (2007), and watching the Illinois (2008), Michigan (2008) and Michigan State games (2008).

Only recently have Penn State brought in the 'Stadium White Out' - and it usually follows loss to that team the year before. Notre Dame, Illinois and Iowa all come into Happy Valley having beaten the Nittany Lions the year before, and so far, their record in the return 'leg' in 0-2. Here's hoping that it's 0-3 on Saturday night.

The best

Ohio State (2005)

So loud that it made Richter Scales. It was the battle for the Big Ten title, and the noise was incredible.



The Stadium White-Out (2007)

Notre Dame came to town, wearing green. The stadium was wearing white. It was Jimmy Clausen's first road game, and one he'll never forget - but never really want to talk about again.



Then there was Illinois (starring the Lion)....



On Saturday, it's Iowa time


Pretty Boy

Going through the til at Walmart today, the cashier looked at Ruby and said..."Oh cute! Where did you get the flower for his hair?"

I said, "Pardon?"

She said, "His flower in his hair. It's so cute. Where did you get it?"

I heard her loud and clear the first time. I just wanted to give her the chance to change her question slightly, because I hoped it was just a slip of the tongue. She said HIS but surely she meant to say HER. Sadly, I was right, she wanted to know where I got the flower for my son's hair.


My son with the flower in his hair, the flowered, white sweater-coat and lime green capri pants with bows on the legs.

Now I'm not knocking anyone who wants to put flowers in their boy's hair. I mean, do what you want to torture your own kid and give him gender identity issues at a ripe young age - but I'm just thinking that when in doubt whether a baby is girl or boy, if it has a flower in it's hair, girl is probably the safer bet.

Week 4 Predictions

Week 3 was a weird one. Huskies humbled Trojans, Convicts beat Mormons, and the Gators proved that they might be human after all. So what’s going to happen in Week 4? The VFA has its predictions.

Ole Miss vs South Carolina

Let’s just hope this Thursday’s game involving Ole Miss and South Carolina will be more exciting that the Cocks’ 7-3 adventure against NC State on opening day – perhaps the dullest game on the planet. Suddenly, Spurrier’s men are scoring points in bunches – including a very entertaining loss at Georgia in Week 2, when they were a hair’s breadth away from an unlikely victory. This week South Carolina’s ‘D’ will be facing Jevan Snead and a high-octane offense. Care to pick a winner?

Prediction: Ole Miss by damn! And by 7

TCU at Clemson

The Frogs might have a great offence this year, and they had their way with an ACC team (Virginia, if you can call the Cavs an ACC team the way they are playing!), in Week 1. Clemson – on the road – will be a different matter.

Prediction: Tigers roar in the upset! Clemson by 7

Arkansas at Alabama

The ESPN guys spent all ‘College Football Final’ talking about how great Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett is. Get this – the Razorbacks are a lot of fun to watch. Their offence is a lot of fun – 2nd ranked in the country – but their defence is laughable. Alabama also has a top 10 offence – and a ‘D’ to match.

Prediction: Alabama gets the running game going, and wins by 10

Washington State vs USC

Will the State of Washington provide a ‘twin-killing’ on Saturday by disposing of USC at The Colliseum? No.

Prediction: USC in a laugher, and by 30

Florida vs Kentucky

Kentucky isn’t an easy place to play for No.1 seeds – just ask LSU back in 2007. Kentucky seems to always play the big schools hard at home, and this year won’t be any different. The Gators HAVE to improve after a fairly ordinary performance against a fairly ordinary Tennessee side. We expect they will.

Prediction: Close again. Florida by 10

Illinois vs Ohio State

Illinois’ trip to Ohio State served up a cracker last time. Remember how Juice Williams led that incredible drive through the whole of the fourth quarter to lead the Illini to victory and spoil Ohio State’s Rose Bowl hopes? No? Don’t be surprised if we see a nailbiter on Saturday, either.

Prediction: Ohio State in a war of attrition. Win by a field goal

California vs Oregon

Cal’s Jahvid Best is the best running back in college football. Cal’s Kevin Riley isn’t the best quarterback in college football. Or the Pac-10. Having said that, but Oregon doesn’t exactly have a wonderful ‘D’, although the high-octane offense has suddenly woken up after its dreadful performance in Boise. You can’t help but thinking that this’ll go to the last drive.

Prediction: Oregon in a monster, monster upset.

North Carolina vs Georgia Tech

It’s weird- North Carolina are 22nd and has done nothing all year, while Georgia Tech’s season has been a lot of fun – including ESPN Classics against Georgia Tech and a butt-surfing by Miami. Tech – now unranked - going to come out for the kill and their own scalp.

Prediction: Goodbye Tar Heels! Georgia Tech by 14.

Miami vs Virginia Tech

Miami probably won’t face a faster team than Florida State…which it dealt with. It probably won’t face a better running offense than Georgia Tech this year…which it dealt with. But will how will they deal with the one of the fastest defences in college football in one of the land’s most intimidating atmospheres ?

Prediction: Lane Stadium loud. Tech by a field goal.

Iowa vs Penn State

Both teams have been pretty dreadful this year. With the ‘banner win’ for the combined Hawkeyes-Lions programs a road win at Iowa State and victory over Syracuse, this game will be more about the atmosphere – 110,000 on hand in Happy Valley for a College Gameday revenge game – than the actual game.

Prediction: Penn State by 10, but it won’t be that interesting.

Now, back to whiteouts.....


Nittany Lions going nowhere: Week 3 Poll

After an utterly uninspiring 31-6 win over the powerhouse known as the Temple Owls, Penn State are going nowhere in the polls - apparently they are still the fifth best team in the country. ESPN's College Football Final had nothing nice to about their performance, and nor did my buddy who was actually there.

A few quick points:

1) Florida is No.1. Urban Meyer's scared to death of swine flu, and the flu bug that hammered his Gators team before the game against Tennessee. Just one quick question: if Jeff Demps had a 101-degree temperature in the week, why in the hell did he play? Seriously. But flu's the only thing that's going to stop the Gators this year. You heard it here.....about 10,437th.

2) USC down to 12th. Not surprised. After losing to Washington, Pete Carroll's also just blown a chance at a National Title game. Again. But if the Trojans beat Oregon and Cal, then look for them - yet again - to be in the Top 5. Washington are now ranked, by the way.....

3) Alabama THIRD after beating Tech and two Schools For The Blind? Saying that, Penn State's played three cupcakes and struggled....

4) Florida State - ranked and dangerous (No.18). Bowden's convicts handed the Mormons a massive home loss.

5) Oklahoma back in the Top 10 (10th) after back-to-back schellackings of their opposition. But why are they ranked higher than Georgia (21st), who despite losing to Oklahoma State, have beaten back-to-back tough SEC opponents and scored a ton of points in both games?

6) Notre Dame STILL not ranked. The 'Michigan hangover''s going to live on long after the defeat in Ann Arbor and the close shave against Michigan State, Charlie. No National Title game for you and your best bud Lou!

7) Ohio State DOWN in the rankings? They stopped one of the best passing offenses in the country with a blinding performance and a 38-0 victory. Terrelle Pryor was excellent. Don't attack them because of the whole "OSU-lost-to-USC-who-lost-to-Washington-therefore-the-Buckeyes-must-REALLY-suck" situation because quite frankly, it's not the case. They are better than 13th.

8) Miami 9th in the nation after hammering Georgia Tech. The swagger's back. Sadly.

9) The VFA should be ranked after only getting 1 game (USC) wrong in our picks this week.

10) Extra points should go to Michigan State's band, who failed to try and catch Golden Tate, who jumped into them.

What I've learned from 9/11

<

As a day, September 11th has always struck me. I don’t know what to say, what to do, and what to write.

So why am I bringing things up a week and eight years after the tragedy? At the moment I’m reading a book called “102 minutes” about the moments around the attacks on the Twin Towers, when workers scurried to save themselves and their workers. To say that it’s moving is an incredible understatement.


There are names that jump off the page in this case aren’t the names of the people – there are far too many to mention to have a serious emotional connection with all of them – but the companies. The companies involved we still hear from on practically an everyday basis.


But I can’t imagine what it would have been like as the CEO of each company - especially John Duffy, CEO of investment firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods – the last of whom lost his son in the atrocities.


They weren’t storm chasers or loss chasers – they were people chasers.


As the great saying goes: “There aren’t any atheists in foxholes”, they must have been praying to their God, any God, that the people they knew would get out safely.


And as the world finished, our sports world changed, too.


Baseball – America’s pastime – stopped for a while. There were talks of possibly abandoning the season.


At Fenway Park on the day that baseball came back, the atmosphere was congenial – even friendly. Fans forgot about the fact that I was a Yankee fan, and were quite happy chatting about life. You know why? Because while sports is great – it’s also an escape, and a great one at that.


And in New York, back-to-back World Series home run for the Yankees made some non-Yankee fans actually want a Yankee win that year.


And speaking of baseball, I had another one of those ‘Post 9/11 moment’ at Shea Stadium a year later.


I was sitting next a guy and his wife and his kid, chatting through a Mets-Phillies game as once again the Mets were finding a way to lose. I talked about the 9/11 stuff, and talked about how much I respected the police and firefighters. Worked out that the guy was a policeman who also had a high-end security job at Shea Stadium. That day, Shea Stadium became a refuge and force for something other than baseball. At the end of the night, he pulled off his FDNY hat and gave it to me. I could have cried.


But eight years later, sports – the whole face of it – is still going. But for me, something has changed.


The national anthem is sung with a little more vigour. The silence in the Stadium while someone sings “God Bless America” is almost as deafening as the tune coming out of the speakers. The black flag still hangs, and sometimes that flags are still at half-mast.


Because in our world where winning and losing is a major thing, after 9/11 we’ve realised. Sports matter –but not more than life itself.

Thursday night bloodbath: Miami hammers Georgia Tech

The swagger's back in the Sunshine State.

No, we know that it's existed in Gainsville for a while, but when was the last time you heard the words "Miami" and "challenging for a BCS Bowl" in the same sentence?

Well, on the evidence of 'The U''s 33-14 destruction of Georgia Tech, you'll hear it quite a lot this season.

First of all, they have a leader in quarterback Jacory Harris. Listening to his interview after the game, you can tell that the kid's bright. He's a lot brighter on the field. His decision making in his 270 yard, three touchdown performance was first class- there was only one moment where he made a wrong decision. Harris is also pretty useful out of the pocket, and can throw on the run. Not quite Jake Plummer-style, but he's pretty good for a sophomore.

Secondly, the Hurricanes are talented offensively. At running back, it's difficult to catch - let along stop - Greig Cooper, who also doubles as one of the quickest return men in college football. The wide receivers - all well over 6 foot - have good hands and can block . The 270 yards receiving was on what was meant to be a pretty strong Jackets secondary.

Thirdly, their defense is like a whirling dervish. Sure, it's easy when you've had a bye week after a titanic battle against Florida State. But get this - apart from a lousy first drive and a couple of lapses of concentration when the game was in the bag, the sea of orange was every where. You could signal out a playmaker, but then again, don't. There are an awful lot of them. Although the Jackets didn't turn the ball over, it didn't matter. Jackets quarterback Josh Nesbitt saw his offensive line constantly obliterated by the Hurricanes, and had to throw balls somewhere well behind his line.

Fourthly, they are well-coached. The 74 yards in penalties wasn't wonderful, but this team look organised. Not only that, but Mark Whipple efforts at offensive coordinator were brilliant. Miami rarely broke a stride, changing it up between no huddle. Whipple even kept it classy, running the ball almost all of the fourth quarter, when he could have quite easily tried to rack the score up.

Miami's biggest problem will be the kicking game and defensive special teams, it seems. Miami's first two kick-offs were woeful, and their defense when Tech actually brought the ball back wasn't that special, either. Matt Bosher missed two field goals at the end of the game. When things are relaxed, it should be easy to nail a 20 or 30 yarder. What will happen when things get tight?



Oh, and we loved the co-eds on show today (albeit not too close, sadly), but check out this even sexier block.


Notes from "Mommy and Me Auqafit Class"

*Any shred of self dignity or modesty that you may have been desperately grasping on to will quickly vanish as you have to get changed in a room full of women trying not to stare at your flobby, stretchmarked, sagging, drooping, cellulited, chubby body because those little changing stalls don't fit you plus a baby plus all your shit so you have to do it out in the wide open middle of a half full change room.

*That cartoonish baby-dragon-hatching-out-of-an-eggshell tattoo that you have on your hip that you got back in 1995 in the back of a van from a "travelling tattoo artist" that you're SO GLAD that nobody can see? Everybody can see it when you're wearing your bathing suit.

*Don't wear mascara to the pool. Because the lifeguard might decide to call animal control to get the drowning raccoon out of the shallow end.

*Went in with a band aid on, came out without it. Disgusting, I know.

*The things that a dry bathing suit barely holds together? And only if you stand very still? They will be hanging out and hanging down and hanging low and jiggling and wiggling after the bathing suit gets wet and the baby is grabbing and pulling at things. Leave your ego at the door.

*Don't scoff at a half hour aquafit workout with a baby thinking that you're doing it more for the baby's benefit than yours. Because your fat ass will be stiff and sore and tired after trying to elegantly do an aerobic routine in water while lifting and shifting and packing a 19lb baby. You will have to eat crow after the workout when you would really rather eat a big fat cheeseburger.

Nightmare on Longhorns Street? Week 3 Predictions

The new "Nightmare on Elm Street" is out in a movie theater near you in 2010, but Week 3 could be a horror show for highly-ranked sides.

Texas Tech vs Texas

Regardless of the 41-10 end result, Texas' first half against Wyoming was a horror show. While Wyoming's offense was indeed merciful to the Longhorns' defence, don't expect the same from Potts and company - which has passed for over 860 yards and 6 touchdowns already this season. Oh, and we know Michael Crabtree's gone - but like the eight-headed hydra - a number of others have come into to take his place.

Prediction: This one's going to the wire: Texas by 3

Georgia Tech vs Miami

Georgia Tech were brilliant in the first half and then bled out Carrie-style in the second, rescuing themselves with a final drive in the last minute to set up a game-winning field goal. Miami is still on a high after the quite incredible showdown with Florida State - anyone want to bet against Jacory Harris doing the same in the Sunshine State?

Prediction: Blood all over! Down goes No.14 on Thursday night! Miami by 7

Tennessee vs Florida

If you want a true footballing horror story, show your kids Jonathan Crompton's hellish awful effort at home against UCLA, when he threw three interceptions (to go with two the previous week) as the Vols lost at home 19-15. UCLA's defense is good, but not as good as Florida's. What price do I get for six Crompton INTs this week, to go with a comfortable Florida win?

Prediction: Crompton will be better, but not good enough for the Gators. Florida by 14

Temple vs Penn State

Penn State's fans need some deliverance from their awful running game, which hasn't even sputtered yet against two poor-to-mediocre sides (Akron and Syracuse). Against Temple, it HAS to get going. Seriously.

Prediction: Not. Very. Close. Lions by 31

USC vs Washington

Last season, this would have been an easy one to pick. But 1-1 Washington has been playing their butts off recently, and USC is coming off a brutal game in Buckeyeville, which they pulled out in front of 100,000 ghouls. Matt Barkley's shoulder injury's going to be an issue - and expect a close one.

Prediction: Closer than you might think. USC by 10

Nebraska vs Virginia Tech

Nebraska's shown that it's offense ain't bad after going 2-0 against two pesky-looking rivals (on paper), but the Children of The Corn are going to get quite the welcoming at Lane Stadium against the Turkey-lovers. They'll have to stop one of the best running teams in the nation (13th last time we looked).

Prediction: Tech screaming. With joy. Tech by 6

Utah vs Oregon

After being comedy at Boise State and keeping us gripped against Purdue, Oregon haven't exactly been un-entertaining this year, have they? But the Ducks - despite their laughable nickname - are a good side, and Autzen Stadium's going to be loud. Have we mentioned the wonderful cheerleaders, too?

Prediction: Oregon cheerleaders happy. Yaaaaaaaaaay! Ducks by 7 in the upset.

And a quick trip down memory lane:

Penn State vs Temple: Game Preview

Let's face the facts, Nittany Lions.

You didn't play well in the first two weeks of the season.

Thanks to losses for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, you're now in the fifth-best team (tied with the BYU Fighting Mormons) in the nation.

Darryl Clark's a good quarterback. The wide receivers look primed for a good 2009. And the defense - even without Navarro Bowman - is nasty. But from then on? Question mark, question mark, question mark.

Offensive Line: The question mark

Apparently Johnny Troutman might take up more time at left guard this week against the Owls. Frankly, if all the talk's about Troutman, why not try and clone him in the week off and get a bunch of Johnny Troutman's to get Evan Royster some running room. Because at the moment, the running game simply isn't working. And if they were incapable of running on Syracuse and Akron, then there are real problems.

Heart: The Question Mark

A kid called Isaac Luber called out the Nittany Lions because of their lack of passion against Syracuse. You could hear it in the crowd when the Lions came through the gate at the start of the game, and even a couple of touchdowns won't exactly see mass celebration in the student section. What the student section - heck ALL of us - want to see is the Lions playing with a bit more heart. I know you don't question a team's heart, but let's hope this article becomes bulletin board material and the Lions get historical on Temple's ass.

Running Game: The Question Mark

Sure, you need an offensive line to open up the running game, but the running game's hardly set me alight, either. I'm not happy with Evan Royster being the punt returner, and if people are already talking about Penn State and a predictable offense, then there are problems. Why use a predictable offense if it's not doing anything? Evan Royster WILL score a touchdown or two against Temple. But he will need to go over 100 yards to get any love from his critics, who are ganging up every day.

So what's going to happen?

The spread's apparently about 29.5, and I'm going for Penn State to beat Vegas and win by 31.

Buckeyes Battle, Wolverines Roar, Cougars Slash Cowboys: Week Two Awards

Some writers like helmet stickers to celebrate great college performances of the week. We prefer adult beverages.

Champagne = Great! Budweiser = Good, solid performance if nothing special. Nattie Light= Absolute crap.

CHAMPAGNE

Notre Dame/Michigan

"Both sides aren't very good," said a friend of mine. Frankly, I don't care if the game pitched two fairly ordinary defences against each other. It was perhaps the most dramatic game of the day - which was saying something. Is Michigan and Notre Dame back? Let's hope so - it's good for college football. This game certainly was!

The Horseshoe

It's not every day that a stadium gets a champagne, but we're doling out over 100,000 bottles to the Ohio State fans for being so damned noisy in the loss to USC. Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit had to raise their voices a little to hear themselves think. So, I think, did USC. What a stadium. What a noise. Only pity? Not enough shots of the student section and too many shots of a guy in an OSU-themed cowboy hat and cape. Oh, and the game gets a bottle too.

Houston

Everyone knew that Houston could score points, but who expected the Cougars to a) dump 45 on Oklahoma State's 'new-and-improved' defense and b) get the monster upset 45-35 victory in Stillwater? They might have done. We didn't!

UCLA

We didn't expect UCLA to come away with another victory against Tennessee- particularly as UT had demolished their last opponent and Jonathan Crompton wasn't the mistake-riddled quarterback of yesteryear. Well, we were wrong. UCLA's defense held tight, and the Bruins had an upset victory. Look over these guys at your peril.

Purdue/Oregon

Some late night fun for you, with both schools deciding offensive prowess was the way to go. As usual, extra kicking practice should go to Purdue's Carson Wiggs, who missed a game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter. It became important when Purdue missed a two point conversion and promptly lost 38-36.

Clemson

Losing teams don't usually get up here, but Clemson looked as though it was going to be on the wrong end of 50 on Thursday night. But they turned the ship around, and even had the lead midway through the fourth quarter of this classic. Unfortunately, they didn't manage to turn it around, but the Tigers could quite easily compete for an ACC title - they'll be cheering on Miami on Thursday night.

Iowa

After a dreadful performance against Northern Iowa, the Hawkeyes needed to sort their crap out - and quickly before a monster rivalry game against Iowa State. They did, and the Hawkeyes keep the trophy.

Georgia/South Carolina

We expected a close game. We expected the defenses to be leading the way, and despite all of the passion, not much end-zone celebration. We had the close game. The defenses really did rather little - although the score may well have been 44-41 if Rennie Curran hadn't broken up Stephen Garcia's TD-bound pass with 22 seconds remaining. This was a classic. Worth watching again, if you missed it. If you don't believe us...



A SOLID BUDWEISER

Texas

Looked horrible early on then shifted into another gear in a 41-10 road victory.

Florida

7-3 up against Troy after the first quarter, it looked as though this might have been interesting. At 35-3 at half-time, it wasn't.

Oklahoma

Rumours of the end of Oklahoma may be premature. Landry Jones threw for nearly 200 yards and DeMarco Murray ran for another 100. The only reason why we're not doling out the Dom Perignon is that it was Idaho State.

NATTIE LIGHT

Penn State

No good beer or champagne for you! Although Darryl Clark, his receivers and the defense makes me excited about the 2009 season, the running game doesn't. Sorry. The performance was 'uninspired' against Syracuse (I'm not the only one saying it), and although a win's a win, the Lions will have to perform better on Saturday for anyone to think they'll beat either Michigan or Ohio State in future games.

Oklahoma State

Great defense huh?

Washington State

It gets worse and worse with a 38-20 home loss to Hawaii. Should have tried to boot them from the schedule.

Florida State

Yes! Florida State squeak by Jacksonville State! Who are Jacksonville State, exactly?

Now let's celebrate the week Oregon-style.......


The New AP Poll: You're joking, right?

Sorry, we've just seen the new AP Poll and we've got to say these three words: "You're joking, right?"

Seriously. Penn State at No.5 (albeit tied with Ole Miss)?

They've played NOBODY. OK, so nor have Texas. Or Florida.

Why isn't USC and Alabama No.2 and No.3, after big wins against USC and Virginia Tech. Sure, Florida should still be No.2 - because they've caned both of their opponents and ARE the best team in college football, and Penn State sitting happily at 7?

There's another reason why Penn State are No.5 - no-one watches the Big Ten Network.

If they had (and bearing in mind where we write from, it's a little impossible!), then they would have seen an offense that could get its running game started (72 YARDS AGAINST SYRACUSE?), a team that played without inspiration ("uninspired" was the word used by a friend of ours who watched the game) or style.

Heck, it was so bad that the Penn State Football Story ended with the line (it was 2-0 nonetheless).

And people might not think about style points, but get this: Florida scores a bunch of points against whoever they play. Texas - despite looking like roadkill in the first half against Wyoming, hit a second and third gear and won 41-10. Alabama did the same against Florida International. USC's defense kept them in the game against Ohio State (and vice-versa), but this is still one of the best teams in the country. Penn State? The FIFTH best team in the country? Not so much, my friend.

USC's Barkley hero beat Ohio State 18-15

He'd hurt his wrist in the third quarter and USC were reeling from the pain in the ears and a scoreline that read uncomfortably for much of the second half: Ohio State 15, USC 10.

It wasn't great watching for the Trojans, who couldn't get any sort of purchase against the Buckeyes 'D', playing their lives out in front of a record crowd for over 100,000 mostly wearing red.

Although one drive right at the end of the first half showed what the Trojans' offence was capable of - which tied the game at 10, the story was really about how they managed to suffocate Terrelle Pryor for much of the game.

Well, it was the story until second-to-last drive of the game, when Barkley took the ball with around five minutes left, and drove his side nearly 90 yards down the field for the leading touchdown, which was then followed up by a two-point conversion.

While Barkley had a wonderful supporting cast around him - namely his offensive line that managed to help him get an important 4th and inches conversion in the middle of the winning drive, as well as Joe McKnight, who'd played like he'd had one too many dacquiris at the Louisiana drive-through until he magically decided to become playmaker, slicing through Ohio State's 'D' like a cheesewire.

And then, Terrelle Pryor. Although he'd suffered an early touchdown, it was Pryor - not Barkley- who was looking king of the show. Pryor had the poise, and the support. Everything was going well. But as the screams of the Buckeyes fans became more desperate, Pryor couldn't come up with the goods, and it wouldn't be too out of order to blame him for failures on the last drive, including an awful throw out of bounds with no-one within twenty yards as well as a couple of errant throws.

Both quarterbacks are going to be great. But on this performance, you can't help thinking Barkley will get there quicker.

Go Crazy Michigan Folks, Go Crazy...

Michigan has been hopeless over the last year or so, and you know what? We've loved it.

Any good Penn State would hate Michigan after the joke loss in 2005, thanks to some bad defensive calls and some VERY BAD refereeing calls.

But today, any good college football fan could not deny Michigan the victory in what was a classic 38-34 victory over Notre Dame.

We weren't cheering for anybody today. The VFA doesn't like Maize and Blue and certainly doesn't like faux Irish and Golden Domes, but this was another classic that went down right to the end.

Like the Florida State - Miami game on Monday night, which featured two sleeping giants which had at last woken from their slumber to put on the biggest football party since the last Super Bowl, Notre Dame and Michigan needed a proper game to wake us all up.

And they did. ND's Jimmy Clausen and Michigan's Tate Forcier (remember the latter's name, college football fans), put up 576 yards of passing offence, while the rushing games added a near-350 each.

But more than anything else, it was brilliant because throughout the game, you were never quite sure who was going to win. No side took more than an 11 point lead (Michigan), and when they did, the Irish - much to their credit- came fighting back.

Clausen, who would have probably won the game had Brandon Tate not dropped two fairly basic catches and had help from his offensive line throughout the game, was brilliant, showing people why people will be talking about him as a high NFL draft pick in 2011.

And Forcier? The kid's got guts. He's not the polished article, so it was perhaps unwise for the ABC/ESPN commentators to have their nose quite so far up his behind in quite such a undignified fashion, but darn, he's good. And with Rich Rodriguez' offense, which loves to let quarterbacks run, he'll be a dangerous opponent for Golden Domers - and Big Ten defenses - for a few years to come.

From a Penn State point of view, we thought the Nittany Lions' visit to The Big House would be a pretty easy. After seeing the Wolverines this year, it could be the hardest road trip of the season.

Down Go Oklahoma State!!

Remember in Week One, when all the talk was about Oklahoma's excellent defensive effort against Georgia that had tongues wagging and talking about something other than Zac Robinson and Dez Bryant?

Well, not anymore.

The Cowboys, who'd either been drinking on Friday night at Stillwater or had they been drinking own water - or Kool Aid, perhaps?

Well, the Houston Cougars - who last had football fame when their mascot, the Houston Cougar, had the crap kicked out of it by the Oregon Duck a few seasons ago - had other ideas.

By half-time, it was 24-7 Cougars and the natives were restless. T. Boone Pickens must have wondered what on earth he was spending his money on.

Oklahoma State roared back, taking a 28-24 lead going into the third. Fans around college football - including certain blog writers who'd put them high on their ESPN College Pick 'Em list to beat Houston - suddenly had a hope.

But Oklahoma State blew it, as the Cougars racked up 21 points in the second half to win 45-35.

I wonder whether we've heard THAT scoreline before? But on this evidence, we won't have the same outcome. Sorry, 'Boone!

PSU vs Syracuse: Football Eve prediction

I spoke to a friend of ours who's going to Texas - Wyoming game and I asked him if he was excited about the game on Saturday.

His quote? "It's only Wyoming". Methinks that a Tennessee fan might have said that on the eve of the Wyoming game last year. Didn't work too well for his team, did it?

Anyway, onto another team wearing orange: Syracuse, a basketball school with a basketball-playing quarterback who's now anchoring the Orange team.

The guys at Black Shoe Diaries are predicting that Penn State will rack up 48 points on the Orange, while the Orange will be lucky to rack up over 10.

This may well happen, but PSU have to sort out a few things:

1) The offensive line

It was great when Darryl Clark was passing - helped by Clark's mobility out of the pocket, but it wasn't great for Evan Royster with the running game. Syracuse gave up 112 rushing yards against Minnesota, which tells me that they aren't too shabby against a running game - although Duane Bennett isn't exactly Beanie Wells. If the offensive line can get better, then Royster can scorch the Orange.

2) Clark, Clark, Clark

By all accounts, Darryl Clark had a dreadful start to the Akron game and then warmed up as things went on. Clark has to start well, and Moye et al should sort out the rest. Syracuse gave up 248 yards against the pass last week - and Clark's better than Adam Weber.

Stop Mike Williams


The senior wide receiver can play. The Nittany Lions have to get their secondary sorted out (Astorino, Sukay) to shut down one of the Big East's best wide receivers. If they manage to do that, I'm not particularly worried.

Prediction: Penn State by 28

Thursday night delight: Clemson and Georgia Tech give us a thriller

If you read the VFA's Twittering during the Clemson- Georgia Tech game, you'll find out that we didn't exactly expect it to end up as the nail-biting thriller that it was.

After two brilliant special teams plays - including a touchdown pass from kicker Scott Blair, a monster run to the house from Louisville transfer Anthony Allen, and a field goal, Georgia were 24-0 and laughing.

Seriously, Clemson was pulling off the biggest choke job since the Bobby Knight affair at Indiana University.

Then, the Tigers woke up. Suddenly it was the Yellow Jackets' secondary that was looking exposed, and CJ Spiller cut the deficit to 24-7.

Then, it was all purple and orange. On a background of a Georgia Tech whiteout (Penn State's whiteouts are cooler, by the way!), this was the team that stood out, and Clemson reeled off 17 unanswered second half points to tie the game at 24.

At that point, the VFA wanted to cancel his Twitter post, or at least use the Bobby Knight simile to talk about Georgia Tech, or say something about dumping in the bed.

Clemson took the lead 27-24 with a 53 (that's right!) field goal, and suddenly it was Georgia Tech who had to come back. With all the firepower in the backfield and a decent quarterback Josh Nesbitt, Tech wasn't going to lose this, was it?

27-27 from 34 yards.

Then, Tech makes the stop, gets the ball back, and rolls down the field for a last second field goal by Scott Blair. Yeah, the kicker.

By the end of the game, we were exhausted. Too much Twittering, too much yelling, and far too much cheering for nobody in particular. It wasn't as exciting as Florida State and Miami- but as games go, it's yet another game to remember.

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Blade (Part 3)

I won't drag you all through the long and drawn out ordeal that it was to get my money back yesterday other than to say that after 3 days, 4 return visits to the nail salon to find the illusive "Amy", 4 tries to unsuccessfully put a refund on my debit card, 1 try to unsuccessfully put a refund on Steve's debit card, 1 offer for a cheque and a request that I "come back tomorrow", 25 "so sorry!", 1 phone call to my bank to ensure my debit card is indeed still working (it is and zero attempts at a refund show on my account) , and more time wasted than I care to admit - I finally managed to get $30 CASH back from the nail salon yesterday.

What has come from this?

*I will NEVER go to another "nail salon" again.

*NOBODY will ever use a cradle blade on my feet again.

*My next pedicure will be from somewhere REALLY good and REALLY fancy and probably REALLY expensive - which is why it won't happen very often.

*I will not feel guilty for buying nail polish or pedicure supplies ever again because I will be doing 90% of future pedicures myself.

*If you're wondering what to buy me for Christmas? A gift certificate to the EXPENSIVE spa will be very well received.

Predictions for Week 2

After an exhausting weekend where we watching too much ESPN and ESPN 360 (that's all we get in the UK), the VFA's back with predictions for what should be an awesome Week 2.

USC vs Ohio State

This game's going to be a monster. Terrelle Pryor should cause problems for USC's just-got-together defense, while we think Joe McKnight could do the same for Ohio State's tested 'D', which very nearly failed against Navy. Look out for Trojans QB Matt Barkley - if he's great, OSU have problems. If not, then problems for the Trojans.

Prediction: Going to be close. USC by 7.


Notre Dame vs Michigan

Great! The VFA gets to cheer on no-one! The Big Ten might be cheering for Michigan, but if we're honest, the VFA aren't. But we have to be honest: Michigan and the Golden Domeheads are suddenly on the up, and this is going to be a classic. Jimmy Clausen has the chance to put himself firmly into Heisman contention, but the story may well be about the running backs.

Prediction: Michigan in the 'upset' - by a field goal.


Clemson vs Georgia Tech

This is going to be a war. The ACC might well college football's most exciting conference, and after the Miami-FSU game, this one's got a lot to live up. Clemson will have to do a lot better than they did against Middle Tennessee State if they have a HOPE of beating the Yellow Jackets in this clash of two conference titans.

Prediction. Silence in S.C. Georgia Tech by 10.

Syracuse vs Penn State

The Big Ten ineptitude that was seen when Syracuse QB Greg Paulus played Minnesota shouldn't happen at Happy Valley. This'll be a long day for you, Greg.

Prediction: White lightning - Penn State by 21.

Stanford vs Wake Forest


Riley Skinner's season started with a bump with the Deacons lost at home to Baylor. Will lightning strike twice when he comes up against Stanford, who went 1-0 yesterday?

Prediction: Riley's laughing. Wake by 10.


Iowa State vs Iowa

It can't be any worse for Iowa, can it? They should have lost to DI-AA Northern Iowa last week, and they will have to do a whole lot of improving to stop people laughing when the words "Iowa" and "Big Ten contenders" are mentioned.

Prediction: Hawkeyes start again, and go 2-0....with difficulty. Iowa by 14.

UCLA vs Tennessee

Is Lane Kiffin the second coming of Phil Fulmer? For his scales' sake, we hope not! UCLA's Rick Neuhiesel will be hoping for the upset, which we think unlikely at Neyland. Sorry.

Prediction: Tennessee play well in back-to-back games. Shock! Horror! Vols by 21.

Idaho State vs Oklahoma


If you're a Sooners fan, you'll still be tears after Sam Bradford got injured against BYU. But don't worry, your team will just give the ball to DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, and the rest will be end-zone.

Prediction: Boomer! Sooner! Oklahoma by 31

Purdue at Oregon

We'd love to give props to the Ducks for scheduling toughies like Boise State and Purdue in back-to-back games. Purdue will find Autzen a frightening - and - noisy prospect.

Prediction: Hot cheerleaders jumping around! Yaaaaaay! Oregon by 10


Mississippi State vs Auburn

With Vandy against LSU as our OTHER choice in the SEC this week, this SEC West game won't exactly be pretty, but it could be intriguing.

Prediction: See the eagle and see the toilet paper. Auburn by 7


And now....back to Oregon


Florida State vs Miami: One of the games of the decade?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If any of you were lucky enough to see THAT Florida State - Miami game last night, then you saw one of the games of the season. Actually, you didn't. You probably saw one of the games of the decade.

We should be used to a game like this, with has all the history of "wide rights" and "wide lefts". This time, we had a low throw into traffic in the last second of the game that looked like a touchdown - so much so that ESPN commentators yelled it - and was called off as an incomplete pass.

No team particularly deserved to lose this one - it was a game of all-out attacking that saw both programs emerge as winners. Chin up, Christian Ponder, quarterback for Florida State, you played your heart out. And if you can't get your frame into the NFL, there's going to be a very decent paying job for you after college - especially with your MBA. And Jacory Harris, his opposite number at the Hurricanes? You took quite a shot in the fourth quarter. We thought you wouldn't make it back. But you did. You anchored a drive and threw the winning touchdown.



Defensively, both sides didn't exactly strike fear. There were too many missed tackles, with the biggest failure being to wrap a guy up. The secondaries were weak. Very week. And on special teams both sides ran the ball back so well that drives started virtually all the time on the 30 and 40 yard lines.

We're still buzzing about this instant classic. We hope you are.

Oh, and to all ACC fans: Sorry when I mentioned that Virginia had the hottest co-eds in the country. I completely forgot about Florida State. And Miami.

The Hand The Rocks The Cradle Blade (Part 2)

I stewed about it all night.

HOW could I have paid for such a horrific experience?? They should NOT have charged me and when they did I should NOT have paid (nor should I have left a $2 tip (I was too embarrassed to admit that yesterday) - What the fuck is wrong with me???!!)

Sometime in the night a switch was flipped and I woke up this morning PISSED. OFF! I bled through two bandaids (on top of each other) during the night and got blood on my bed! RAWRRR!!! I looked up the hours of the salon and then sat and stirred and stewed in my fury until 10:30am when I could march into that place and demand my money back.

I went over the scene in my head a million times. I would start polite and they would be all smiley and polite and then I would ask for my money back and they would tell me that it was impossible or that they don't know how to refund money or that they would rather give me a free stamp on a "pay for 10 pedicures get $10 off " card and then I would insist that my money be returned to me immediately and if they refused then I would start talking to their current clients and show them the leaking wound on my foot and everyone would be horrified and then I would let them know that when they changed their mind about my refund I could be found standing outside their entrance showing any and all potential clients what they did to me and then eventually they would shuffle out the door stuffing a twenty and two fives into my hand saying "just go away! just go away!"

I was ready to do battle.

When I got there someone asked me from across the room if she could help me. I waved her over with one finger and gave her my best laser eyes and said, "I need to speak with someone". A couple of girls who worked there swarmed around me and I explained "I had a pedicure here yesterday and my foot was cut quite badly. It's still bleeding right now." I then lifted my poor wounded heel to show them (I left the blood stains on my flip flops for effect). When they saw the hole in my foot all three of them sucked in air between their teeth. Just not quite as loud as I did when that cradle blade severed off a portion of my heel.

I couldn't help but notice that "Kim" didn't come over to see the wound. She just smiled and nodded at me when I walked in - trying to hide the "oh shit" look that was originally on her face.

One of the girls said, "Ok yes. You sit!" So I sat down while she took the phone, dialed a number and then ran into the bathroom and shut the door. She emerged minutes later and shuffled over to me with the portable phone saying, "You talk!You talk!" I took the phone and said, "Hello?"

It was apparently the manager. She said, "Hi hon! What wrong?"

I explained that I had received a pedicure yesterday and was cut quite badly and would like my money back.

She said, "Oh hon! No problem! But I in Seattle now. I be back Tuesday. You come back Tuesday?"

I said, "If I come back Tuesday you will give me my money back?"

She said, "Yes hon! I give your money back! You no like pedicure??"

I said, "No! I NO LIKE PEDICURE! My heel was cut very badly and it's still bleeding right now!!!"

At this point the whole place was silent and everyone was staring - which was what I was trying to avoid yesterday but today, it was EXACTLY the effect I was going for.

She said, "Yes I give you money back on Tuesday hon. You come back Tuesday."

I asked her name and then said, "Oh yes, "Amy" I'll be back Tuesday"

And then I limped out the door, feeling the slightest bit better.



...to be continued. (Tuesday)

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Blade

Remember the last time I had a pedicure? It was bad, right? And I "coincidentally" got an ingrown toenail shortly afterwards which I had to have surgically repaired.

And I also had a pedicure when I was 6 months pregnant which resulted in cracked and bleeding heels that were so uncomfortable that I couldn't walk normally, but hobbled everywhere for weeks.

Today, I tried again.

Because I never quite know when I should just call it quits.

My mom was over visiting today which meant that I had the rare opportunity to get out without the baby and do something nice for myself. Something nice. A pedicure would be nice. I sure needed one since it has been many months since my last.

I tried a place that a couple of my girlfriends go to and they like it. (Although the cracked and bleeding heels place was also somewhere that a couple of girlfriends went that they recommended) It started out fine enough. It was run by Vietnamese women with Canadian names (Kim, Amy, Tammy) who barely spoke a lick of english. They didn't talk too much, which is fine because that means they didn't insult me by asking if I got fat before the baby or after... And their pedicure chair? The wicked massage that it was giving me was fantastic.

So my feet soaked in the bubbly, warm, blue water and then "Kim" took them out one at a time and set them on a clean white towel while she trimmed my nails and applied cuticle lotion and pushed back the cuticles. I was feeling relaxed sitting in the magical massage chair while someone tended to my poor, neglected feet.

Then "Kim" pulled out the cradle blade. I always cringe when they use those things. It creeps me out the way they shave skin off your feet. Also the cradle blade was the sole reason for my cracked and bleeding heels from a previous pedi.

But I tried to relax. I told myself that "Kim" is a professional and I'm sure she knows what she's doing with a cradle blade.

A gleaming, sharp cradle blade.

And it was sharp. I could feel it slicing off potato chip sized pieces of calloused skin like a deli meat slicer going through a dry salami.

Just then a couple of girls walked in to the "salon" and asked if they could get a pedicure and an eyebrow wax. Immediately "Kim" and "Amy" started speedfire talking to each other in Vietnamese. Chitterchatter backandforth backandforth chitterchatter backandforth and then ZING!!!

It happened.

"Kim" sliced deep into the heel of my foot with the cradle blade.

And I was ripped from my relaxed state with a lightening bolt of pain that made me suck air in between my clenched teeth.

And then there was blood.

And "Kim" said, "Oh! So sorry!" and she proceeded to pack the wound with tiny little squares of gauze that just weren't enough. The blood was running from my foot right through the gauze. So she squirted some green liquid over the wound which might as well have been battery acid. THE PAIN! Oh. The. Searing. PAIN!

Cradle Blade "Kim" said, "It ok! It ok!"

She set my heel upon more gauze to which I applied as much pressure as I could to try to stop the bleeding. No such luck. "Kim" had to change her gleaming white towel three separate times. I've seen less blood in all of Quentin Tarantino's movies. Finally she just put my foot back in the bubbling, blue water. Out of sight, out of mind I suppose?

I wanted to cry. Not just because it hurt like a motherfucker, but because this was my special little treat to myself. I just wanted a little Tarable time to unwind and relax and have something pretty done to my feet. Instead I was sitting in this god forsaken Vietnamese nail salon, donating my blood to their foot bath.

And right then the oblivious, ditzy blond lady in the chair next to me says, "That's a neat place for a tattoo! I just love your dragonfly!" (referring to the tattoo on my foot). I just looked at her and went, "Hmph" and looked away. If I talked I might cry. Or cut a bitch.

And here's where it gets worse. "Kim" carried on with my pedicure. And I let her. All the while she continued to try to cover up the fact that I was bleeding all over the place. And then when it was finished, they charged me $30.

And I? I paid.

I know. Go ahead, Everyone. Shame me!

A smart mouthed, self sufficient, independant, tough, stick-up-for-myself chick PAID $30 for a pedicure that made me loose a pint or two of blood.

Don't think I don't hate myself enough already for it.

In my defence? I just wanted to leave. I was already on the verge of crying and if I had to have an arguement with "Kim" or "Amy" about paying for my pedicure (and you KNOW they would have argued) in a room full of bitches who somehow managed to get their nails painted all pretty without feeling weak from blood loss, then I may have lost my shit. And I just wanted to go home and lose my shit in private.

Ok I didn't make it home, I lost my shit in my car.

And now, six hours later I've been through a number of bandages and I am still bleeding through them. (Who knew that the heel had so many nerve endings?) And I'll tell ya, I'm feeling a little blue. I am ashamed of myself for paying for such a horrible experience and not saying boo about it. How I desperately wish I could go back in time and lay the smack down on Cradle Blade "Kim". Let her have the what for and exclaim that "I most certainly will NOT be paying one red cent for this pedicure!!!" - instead of running home and crying my sorry little eyes out. (Bye the way? Pedicure injuries rate very low on the husband sympathy scale.)

So if you feel the need to chastize me for being such a pussy? Don't bother. Nobody can beat me up like I can (or anyone with a cradle blade). I'm well aware that I didn't handle this in correct Tarable manner and I will have to live with my shame for the rest of my life (or at least until I can wash the blood stains off my flip flops).

The Week 1 Booze Awards!

Hey guys....Instead of Impressed/Depressed and Unmoved, we're going for the VFA's beverage awards for the season.

If we loved your performance, you'll get a bottle of champagne - the best drink in the world, in our humble view. If your teams performed in ordinary fashion, you'll get a Budweiser, because let's face it - the Budweiser is an ordinary beverage. And if you're team sucked, you'll get a can of Millwaukee Best -called "The Beast" for darned good reason.

Right, so here we go.....

Champagne

Navy -
A stirring comeback by Navy at Ohio State woke up college football. Never has an armed forces team been so rooted for this early in the season. A terrible call that turned into a pick, sealing a 31-27 loss. But make no mistake: the Navy has many reasons to be proud. But now, they can be proud of their football team.

Michigan -
Oh dear, Big 10 fans. This team - against a pretty good Western Michigan side - looked absolutely awesome today. They now have two good quarterbacks to choose from (sorry, Nick Sheridan, you're not one of them). Suddenly the Wolverines are a bona fide threat to Nittany Lions and Buckeyes fans.

Notre Dame -
Nevada was picked as giving the Irish some problems in South Bend, but a stupendous performance from Jimmy Clausen & Co made sure than Johnny Upset didn't have the luck of the Irish. We can't wait for the Michigan vs Notre Dame next week. It could well be a better game than USC and Ohio State next week.

Alabama vs Virgina Tech (atmosphere) - The bad thing about the game is that it was played in grimy Atlanta, Georgia, which isn't the VFA's favourite place to visit. The great thing is that Dome created the most brilliant atmosphere for the some of the noisiest sets of fans in the country. Oh, and the game wasn't bad either....

Lee Corso - Nice to see you back, Lee

Chipper Jones - When you give up baseball due to injury, you could get a job as a college football pundit!

Baylor - Sorry Bears, didn't expect you to beat Wake Forest on the road. A cracking 24-21 upset victory that might make your Big XII South competitors sit up and think.

Oklahoma State - We expected a lot of fun from your offense, Cowboys fans, but let's throw this out there: your defense was pretty darned good.

Tennessee - I'm not saying a win over Western Kentucky is reason for bringing out words like "National" and "Championship", but I'll say this: the Volunteers were pretty darned impressive today - especially QB Jonathan Crompton, who threw for five TDs.

Budweiser

Syracuse - it was all going so well until the fourth quarter, wasn't it? Greg Paulus has definitely given Orange Nation some hope though, hasn't it? Hopefully not too much before your visit to Happy Valley.

Penn State - 31-7's not a bad way to start the season. Happy Valley's smiling about the defense, and the wide receiving performance of Derek Moye. On the other hand, the offensive line was so bad for the run that Evan Royster never really had an impact on the game - something that was expected. Navarro Bowman's injury wasn't cool, either.

Florida- Wow. You whooped Charleston Southern. Well done! Defense looks red hot though.

USC - What team will turn up at Columbus - the team that sucked for the first quarter of the San Jose State game, where you trailed 3-0, or the team that then blew them out with 56 straight points? Matt Barkley wasn't an immediate household name in his first start, but he's was very solid indeed. Oh, and that Aaron Corp fella was perfect.

Millwaukee 'Best'

Northern Iowa. Get.Another. Kicker.

Iowa - Long. Season. Ahead.

Illinois - Never mind the fact that the Illini were completely outplayed by Missouri, but the offense didn't even help make up for a woeful defense. Time will tell if Arrelious Benn's injury is bad enough to sideline him for a while - but in the meantime, Juice Williams had about as much zing as a dead person's punch. Things better improve, or the boosters will get restless with Ron Zook.

Oklahoma - The result of the BYU game was completely irrelevant. The fact that quaterback Sam Bradford went off at half-time clutching his shoulder could put pay to Big XII South and National Championship hopes. There will be celebrations in Texas.

LaGarrette Blount - Not only do he have a name like LaGarrette Blount, but he rose to the jawings of some hick from Idaho after your team loses their season opener on the blue turf. Personally, I hope they bring him back for the USC game, but he may just have ruined his NFL future with a stupid punch.

THAT Kenny Chesney song - Seriously, the 'This is Our Moment' is the suckiest song ESPN has ever put on. As I said in one of my previous posts, it doesn't make you up love college football, it makes you hate Kenny Chesney.

David Matthews Band
- "Why I am" - I love Dave Matthews. I really do. He's awesome. But if we are going to hear this song ALL season long, I'm going to apologise to the wife for blowing up the TV and computer.