Penn State makes history

John Wooden.....Hollywood sign....Jack Nicholson.....Bill Walton........You have company!

Actually, that's not exactly true - the Penn State Women's Volleyball team continues to kick ass and take names after posting their 88th straight victory (yes, you read that right!) after whipping the seventh ranked Minnesota Gopherettes (or whatever they are called) 3-0 in State College on Friday night.

That's right. 88. 88 games without a loss. That's seriously, seriously good.

It ties UCLA's men's basketball team of the 1971-74 years, and should have draws dropping around the nation. It won't, because women's volleyball doesn't get the love of 'bigger sports', but the VFA knows what good is.....and PSU's team is just that.

Next up in Stanford's women tennis team, who posted 89 wins from 2003-7 and are third on the all-time list.

The top? North Carolina's women's soccer team (92 in the 1990-94 years) and then the ultimate: Miami's men's tennis team, which won an ungodly 137 matches from 1957-64.

Next up for the Nittany Lions is a trip to Mad-town to face Wisconsin, who they beat 3-0 at home. Jump around!!

The Gameday Curse

Boys and Girls,

The VFA has realized the pattern for teams this college football season for College Gameday.

ESPN comes to town, your team loses.

WEEK 1: Alabama vs Virginia Tech. Technically, Virginia Tech was wearing home colours. Alabama wins Home 0, Visitors 1

WEEK 2: USC vs Ohio State. Matt Barkley and a last-minute drive serve up any memories, Buckeyes faithful? Home 0, Visitors 2

WEEK 3: Texas Tech vs Texas. OK, the Longhorns win one. At home. No upsets though. Home 1, Visitors 2

WEEK 4: Iowa vs Penn State. I wonder what happened here, huh? Home 1, Visitors 3

WEEK 5: Florida State vs Boston College: Boston College squeaks by. We start squeaking about some guy called Bowden. Home 2, Visitors 3

WEEK 6: Florida vs LSU. Biggest game. Of the Century. LSU lose ANOTHER big one in Death Valley. Yeowch. Home 2, Visitors 4

WEEK 7: OU vs Texas. Messy, horrible game. So bad we nearly vomited during 'TurnoverGate'. Home 3, Visitors 4

WEEK 8: TCU vs BYU. TCU blows out the Cougars at home. It's a shame that the only Cougars we saw cheering were beautiful and blonde and cheering on the sideline. Home 3, Visitors 5

WEEK9: Oregon vs USC we'll see Oregon trying to pull off a monster Pac-10 upset when No.5 USC roll into Oregon to face the No.10 Ducks. Everyone wearing green will hope the score's 4-5 by game end.

Could Georgia REALLY beat Florida?

Could the Georgia Bulldogs really beat the Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon?

Or has the VFA just been drinking too much moonshine in an effort to pregame for The Cocktail Party That Shall Not Be Named Like That Lest We Encourage Binge Drinking Because God Forbid That Sort Of Thing Would Ever Happen At A College Football Game?

Listen, here's our rationale -

1) Florida has been awful for the past 120 minutes

If you haven't seen any of the Florida Gators last two games, where they snuck past the Arkansas Razorbacks thanks to an awful officials' call or two and then beat off the challenge of Mississippi State despite their star quarterback throwing two Pick 6s and playing dreadfully, then do, and then ask yourself: "Is this really the best team in the Nation?"
In fact, Florida hasn't really blown anyone out since they went on the road to Kentucky, and suddenly all the talk - from the romantics- has been about the Alabama Crimson Tide.

2) Tim Tebow isn't himself

The hit in the Kentucky game was a fair one, but it wasn't a nice one. We'll throw this one out there, although he was good-to-great against LSU, he was pretty awful against Arkansas and worse against MSU. Georgia's secondary may not be good, but it's opportunistic.

3) The Dogs have AJ Green

Don't get us wrong - we agree that Florida has the best secondary in the country. We agree that Joe Cox is apt. to throw it at them, too, since he can't seem to go a game without throwing at least one to the other team. But get this: his favourite target is the best wide receiver in college football: AJ Green. Sorry kids, but he's absolutely filthy. While other teams couldn't punish Florida for their mistakes, Green will.

4) There's the revenge factor

OK, so maybe Florida was getting its own back for getting its ass kicked by the Dawgs in 2007, but Georgia's back in revenge city. They had to sit there and stew while Urban Meyer called his two late timeouts, and they've had to sit there and stew while the world's talked about alligators and very little about Bulldog. With 40,000 fans cheering them, revenge may be a dish solved hot.

5) But to win....

They have to eliminate mistakes. Because if there's one team that's horrifically mistake-prone in college football, it's the Georgia Bulldogs. On their day, they can beat anybody. But they make too many mistakes - on both sides of the ball - to be a No.1 team. If they eliminate mistakes on Saturday, they won't be No.1, but they will sure as hell eliminate No.1 from National Championship contention.

Prediction: I'll take Georgia and the points. We don't they'll beat Florida, but they'll cover.


Jesus, can you give Penn State a break?

First of all, give Penn State a break.

From the distance, it looked like a cross. It really did. Up close - unless you're around 20 ft in, it still looks like a cross.

But really, so what? It's 401 times better than the big blue line down a white helmet, which I swear to God looks like a butt.

We realise that you'd had to lay off an old person for about a week because Bobby Bowden actually won a football game this season - against a decent(ish) team in North Carolina. We realise you have nothing else to do. But seriously - shut up.

It doesn't matter. The students could do a "Naked Out" for all we cared - if it meant that Penn State beats Ohio State in November.

Nice work by the Gopher. Next time you pray, can I suggest you do it AFTER a game?

Rainy Day

Today we are trapped inside our house. Ruby and I have no car and it is pouring rain outside which means we cannot walk to Walmart to buy our Halloween candy. Perhaps this is a good thing as the less time it spends in my house, the more chance it has of actually reaching the bags of trick-or-treaters and not the insides of Steve's stomach. This also means there will be less tiny little candy wrappers for me to find hiding in bathroom drawers, under his pillow and in Ruby's diaper basket.

So in an effort to not go stark raving mad keep myself occupied, Ruby and I went looking for projects to do in the house to keep us busy.

First thing we tackled was my book shelf. I am completely anal about my books. They are lined up on my shelf with all the spines neatly aligned. They are also in alphabetical order by author. Unless they are self help books, in which case they are put in order of size on the top shelf where I hope nobody will ever notice them because I like for people to think that I have my shit together and never require any outside assistance.

My brother, who has always enjoyed driving me crazy, used to get immense pleasure out of nonchalantly pushing my books out of order with his toes while I wasn't watching. Making them all uneven and... just... WRONG. It drove me nuts.

And now, with Ruby on the go you can imagine how much this drives me to the edge of insanity:
(What was that about self help books??)
So today was the perfect day to rearrange the paperback shelf (my hardcovers are on a different shelf that she doesn't seem to notice or care about). I *think* I've rearranged things so the books are up high enough that she can't reach, or so that at the very least they aren't right at eye level for her to be tempted.

So far so good. I think...

Next up, we decided to do some baking. We baked some strawberry and cream cheese filled muffins. And by *we* I mean *I* baked the muffins while Ruby tore pages out of read my cookbooks quietly on the kitchen floor. You might say that perhaps my next project should be to move the cookbooks to higher ground, but you should know that the space where the cookbooks are currently residing is the exact space where my wine glasses were previously housed and that now the wineglasses are taking up valuable space in the places where little fingers cannot reach them and throw them on the tiled floor. You should also know that I quite possibly have the worlds smallest kitchen and storage space is limited. Wine glasses trump cookbooks and the cookbooks are taking a hit until I find a better resolution.

Back to the muffins. Muffins filled with cream cheese and strawberry preserves. They turned out awesome. We loved them. And by *we* I mean *I* loved two of them and Ruby loved her Minigo yogurt.


I think that having two home made, smallish muffins is equal to or less than the number of calories that I would have consumed had it not been raining and had I been able to stop in at Starbucks for a scone and a tea on my way home from getting our Halloween candy. Actually, I've seen the nutritional content for those Starbucks scones and I think I can have at least one more home made muffin and still be in the good.

As for our next project... I was thinking of carving our pumpkin. That is until I came back to my senses and realized that if I can't keep her from destroying my cookbooks while I mix up a batch of muffins, then my odds aren't going to be too good with sharp objects and pumpkin guts and seeds. The pumpkin carving will either have to wait until nap time or until Steve gets home and can distract her with a cell phone or television remote.
*Don't worry, the hatchet she's playing with isn't very sharp at all. Totally safe.

Who's Haunting Who On All Hallows Eve?

After going 8-3 in Week 8, the VFA's pretty happy. Actually, check that. Considering one of the predictions we got wrong was Penn State losing in The Big House to Michigan, we're ABSOLUTELY ECSTATIC.

So here we go:

Thursday night

North Carolina at Virginia Tech

We talked about the Heels being overrrated at the start of the season. Add to the VFA's ranting after Thursday's loss at Lane Stadium.

Prediction: Hokies no mood for being Jokey. VT by 21

Saturday

USC vs Oregon

At last! College Gameday got it right! It's the ultimate match-up for this Saturday: the hippies against the film and rock stars. THOSE Oregon Cheerleaders and THOSE USC Song Girls. We're half expecting Will Ferrell to make an appearance on the sideline, and we're fully expecting lots of kids in dreadlocks and the smell of herbal cigarettes drifting across the Atlantic. Oh, and some pretty good football, too. People might be talking about Oregon's form at the moment - and the lack thereof from USC's 'D' - but USC know how to win in a high-pressure, high-volume situation. Remember Ohio State, kids.

Prediction: Upset Central. Oregon by 3

Florida vs Georgia

It's not going to be much of a game, Georgia and Florida fans, but it'll be a damned fine excuse to drink mounds of cocktails before trying to find your way to the stadium. If you ever make it. Florida has been awful in their last 120 minutes of football - and Georgia is ready to make it three hours of pain.

Prediction: Florida rushes through, unimpressively. Florida by 10

Penn State vs Northwestern

Penn State was good at Michigan. Northwestern aren't that great. Penn State to win? Let's hope so.

Prediction: Penn State by 21

Texas at Oklahoma State

Round about this time last year the ghouls and goblins saw Texas at their worst when they lost on a last second fright-night to Texas Tech. This time, it's the Cowboys, who last won a big home conference game.......when again? Texas is suddenly looking the best team in the country, kids. OSU is simply looking orange.

Prediction: Texas by 7

South Carolina at Tennessee

Speaking of horrible orange kids, the University of Tennessee certainly have 22 horrible ones for their starters, don't they? And to make it worse, over 100,000 people feel that they should wear the same. We won't only wonder what excuse Lane Kiffin will come up if he loses against Spurrier at Neyland.

Prediction: Spurrier loves Neyland. South Carolina by 7

Indiana at Iowa

I'm still not doubting the Hawkeyes!

Prediction: Hawkeyes again unconvincing, but win by 10 anyway.

Georgia Tech vs Vanderbilt

Vandy won't be able to stop Georgia Tech's running attack, and after they win, they can go and listen to some good ol' fashioned country music there in Nashville. Might drown out that 'Ramblin' Wreck' song.

Prediction: Georgia Tech by 30

Now, back to the match-up of the century....

That's where I'm at

Ever feel like your current situation is so unique and so personal that it makes you feel really alone? Because nobody could possibly understand what you're going through and anything you say makes you feel like you are just being a big whiner and nobody really wants to hear about it anyways because hey, everybody has their own fucking problems - just buck up and take care of your own shit and get over yourself already.

And also you know that you're really very fortunate in life so how dare you feel anything but grateful for where you're at? Anyone hearing your "woes" might mistake you for not being appreciative for what you have.

And so you are then in a situation where you are afraid to talk about your troubles because there is no way you could properly articulate what is really going on without being misunderstood?

Thus making you feel really, very alone.
And a little bit sad.

Nittany Lions munch Wolverines: Week 8 Awards

It was a good week from the View From North America. Angels got their wings because Michigan lost - and the fact that it was against Penn State life was so much better.
The VFA gives out our Week 8 Awards. We don't give out helmet stickers - on anything else - by the way.

Performances of the week Award

1. Clemson upsets Miami in overtime in a classic.
2. Penn State beating Michigan. And now we're 2-0 against RichRod in the last two years.
3. Tennessee standing up to Alabama. Forget the SEC officials- let's get the kicker!
4. TCU crushing BYU. We'll say no. Like millions of people, we didn't see it.
5. Texas rolling over Missouri. 41 points on the road isn't too shabby, is it?

You can stick your 'Back' Up Your Ass Award

1. Nebraska - Burn the blackshirts after a dreadful loss to Iowa State which conjured up PSU fans memories of losing to Iowa 6-4 a few years ago.
2. Miami - Losing to Clemson proves what might happen if you could stop CJ Spiller
3. Michigan - Getting romped on their own turf isn't a good sign for 2009, is it?
4. UCLA - Norm Chow must be ready to shoot himself after another inept offensive performance.
5. Washington - Getting hammered 43-19 wasn't Mr. Sarkasian's best coaching effort, was it?

'Thanking the Refs' Award

Florida's 29-19 win over Mississippi State was marred by a horrific TD call, which ESPN College Football Final later showed evidence that Dustin Doe dropped the ball.

'God That Was Close' Award

1. Alabama squeaks by Tennessee, mostly thanks to a 500 pound gorilla called Cody- and the ineptitude of the UT offence.
2. Iowa scores on a last second drive to beat Michigan State. The rest of the world wonders if MSU can actually play last quarter defense.
3. USC defence sucks it up against Oregon State, but still prevail 42-36 in a classic.
4. Florida State knocks off North Carolina. What's going on Butch?
5.Notre Dame stops Boston College, giving everyone (including a few priests) a bloody great heart attack. The Irish's season's been nothing if not entertaining, hasn't it?

'We Can't Wait' Award

1. USC vs Oregon. Gameday's there, and the Trojans are going to face a wall of sound in Eugene. Could be the biggest upset of the day.
2. Penn State vs Northwestern. Because this blog loves Penn State.
3. Georgia vs Florida. It's going to be one very, very fun cocktail party, although the smart money's on Georgia losing by 21.
4. Texas vs Oklahoma State. The Longhorns will definitely have something to worry about when playing the Cowboys.
5. Tulane vs LSU. The 'Booze Bowl' - regardless of the result, is always a lot of fun.

Here's what happened when Penn State played Northwestern in 2005

Sleep robbing thoughts

Ever wake up in middle of the night to go pee and when you get up and stumble to the bathroom you try to keep your eyes only barely squinted open and you don't turn on any lights and you don't flush the toilet in hopes of staying as close to that beautiful state of sleep as possible so that you can fall back into bed and right back into a nice deep sleep, only to find that by the time you get back to bed, despite your best efforts your mind has fully woken up and has somehow been slammed into overdrive?

And you start thinking about every little problem or issue or question that you have ever had and somehow you NEED to find a solution to them all at that very moment in time - preventing you from getting back to sleep until about 10 minutes before your alarm goes off (or in my case when the baby wakes up)?

And no matter how hard you try, sleep won't come. No matter how many times you tell yourself that these thoughts can wait until morning, you still can't get them to stop racing, willy nilly through your head.

That happens to me a lot. Last night was no exception. No, last night was a prime example of this occurrence. (I am so tired today)

But today, this morning - I made myself pick up where I left off last night and got down to thinking about some things that need to be taken care of. And I managed to find a solution. It's not perfect, no... but a perfect solution is rare and I accept that. I called Steve at work to share my thoughts (since it's something we've both been trying to figure out - I'm just the only idiot who stays awake thinking about it) He was happy with my solution and even added to it with some thoughts of his own.

So there. Problem solved. Now will I be able to sleep well tonight, or will some other nagging thought pop into my head, causing my brain to run another marathon at 2am? Possibly. But at least for now it feels good to have shot down one of the big ones, and to know that there will be one less robber in my head stealing from me my sleep.

Christians Mormon Bait? Week 8 Predictions

Right, so this week already started off weirdly enough with ESPN's announcement that they were going to Provo, Utah for the BYU vs TCU game for College Gameday, despite the fact that most of the country won't see the game and even less people particularly care.

The VFA wants you in Bristol to know you made the right choice: There isn't a bigger game out there between two ranked teams. There are, however, bigger games.

Thursday

Florida State vs UNC

UNC is thinking ahead to basketball season and Florida State is thinking about whether to bounce Bobby after the season's end. FSU obviously don't have a problem scoring points - they put 44 up on Georgia Tech two weeks ago- but their defence is a shambles. Carolina's isn't a lot better. This'll be fun.

Prediction: Florida State. Finally. In a shoot-0ut.

Saturday

TCU vs BYU

Christians vs Mormons. Although we're reliably informed that Texas Christian University is in fact as "Christian as Las Vegas", the case isn't the same for BYU, which takes its faith rather seriously. That's why we can't wait for the signs: "Trust Joseph Smith!" "What would The Prophet do?" (we jest!!) But get this: Provo's not an easy place to play, and TCU is going to have its work cut out to remain unbeaten.

Prediction: Christians win. TCU by 7

Penn State vs Michigan

Penn State hasn't beat Michigan in La Grande Maison since Joe Paterno was a boy, and many think that trend won't change here. Michigan's unstoppable offense is playing an awesome defence, while Penn State's offense is playing an awful defense. Should be fun, huh? Turnovers will make the difference in this game - is it has whenever these two teams get together.

Prediction: Michigan fans crowing.....again. Michigan by 7

Florida vs Mississippi State

Florida's unbeaten season wasn't just helped by an awesome Tebow drive and some dubious SEC officiating last Sunday, it was helped by Arkansas' ineptitude in the red zone, too. Mississippi State couldn't force the ball in against LSU - what makes you think they'll do that against the mighty Gators, who must have learned their lessons from last Saturday?

Prediction: Last week's Arkansas game was close. This won't be. Gators by 31

Tennessee vs Alabama

Tennessee and Alabama absolutely hate each other. They really do. It's something to do with Fulmer ratting out the Crimson Tide for dodgy dealings. Now, with Lane 'The Mouth' Kiffin in charge of UT, expect the hatred to increase even further.

Prediction: Rammer Jammer. Alabama by 10

Minnesota vs Ohio State

Terrelle Pryor is suddenly the most talked-about quarterback in football - for the wrong reasons. True, he sucked it up against Purdue, but doesn't every quarterback have a rough time once in a while. Expect some anger to be taken out by the Buckeyes.

Prediction: The Ragin' Sweatervests make a statement. Buckeyes by 30

Texas vs Missouri

Last season, this was meant to be an incredible match-up between Colt McCoy and Chase Daniel. The result wasn't even close. Anyone care to bet against a similar scoreline on Saturday?

Prediction: Longhorns cowboy up, and win by 28

Oregon at Washington

The hippies are on the march again, with Oregon suddenly making statements that scare the rest of college football. Since the USC game, Washington's been very ordinary, and were stunned by a last second loss at Arizona State. Washington fans won't have to worry about that this week....they may well be able to leave at half-time. But didn't we say that against USC?

Prediction: Washington pulls off another monster upset.

Iowa at Michigan State

Like Bart Simpson in the opening of "The Simpsons", I'll write the lines: "I will not write off Iowa again/I will not write off Iowa again".

Prediction: There ya go! Iowa by 14

Connecticut vs West Virginia

We'll all have a lump in our throats when we think about UConn CB Jasper Howard, who was stabbed to death on Saturday night. Although there will be sympathy from the thousands of Mountaineer fans for UConn supporters following Howard's death, I doubt it'll translate onto the field. Expect WVU to win big.

Prediction: West Virginia by 30. And let's hope they find the b****** that killed Jasper Howard.

Clemson vs Miami

Are the 'U' really for real? Jacory Harris is a fun quarterback, and he'll face a Clemson side who yet again has failed to live up with expectations. The big exception for that is CJ Spiller, who will have a good career in the NFL.

Prediction: Miami in a close one, by 7.

And finally, I've got this song in my head:

Why I hate Michigan

On Facebook there’s a game where you had to fill in the ‘Top Five’ sports teams you hated, and Michigan was No.3 behind Chelsea Football Club and the Boston Red Sox. After Monday night, the VFA’s thinking of adding the Los Angeles Angels of Disney to that list, but that’s another story.

My hatred of Michigan didn’t start until about 2005. Penn State was so awful in the 2003 and 2004 – the years I formally got introduced to Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions (and no, those days weren’t fun) I didn’t particularly hate Michigan.

But in 2005, that all changed.

You know what I’m talking about: One foot on the line that should have been ruled out. An extra two seconds on the clock that meant Mario Manningham caught the winning touchdown. Goodbye, unbeaten record. Goodbye, National Championship.


Suddenly, every time a Michigan shirt reared its head, it got a "Screw You" from yours truly. I was spitting bullets. In fact, I am STILL spitting bullets.

2006

Michigan had one of the best teams in the country and everyone darned well knew it when they walked into Beaver Stadium. That season, they might have dodged bullets, but this was a great team and it was undeniable.

On a ‘White Out’ the 17-10 scoreline was more a demonstration of the defensive skill of Lamar Woodley than anything else. Anthony Morelli and Darryl Clark both came off with head injuries on the same drive, and really, Morelli was never the same.

2007

Earlier in the season, every student section and college football fan celebrated when Appalachian State beat Michigan on their own turf. We laughed. We high-fived. We –especially this writer in the UK – made long distance phone calls to friends and family round the country celebrating the biggest loss college football had – and ever will – see.


The stars were aligned for Penn State finally getting the monkey off their back and winning in the ‘Grande Maison’. But we didn’t. Michigan 14, Penn State 9. Sure, every holding call was always on the men in white not the maize and blue, and that wasn’t it: we were awful. Safe to say that the TV and computer screens nearly went out of the window, as well as the wife.

2008

A weird year because we actually felt sorry for Michigan. September had come around and really, the State of Michigan had little to cheer for. The car industry was on life support, and thousands of people – from workers to admin staff- had lost their jobs. Springsteen wrote a song called “City of Ruin” about New York after 9/11. The collapse of the financial markets was simply yet another 9/11 for Detroit.

But after nine years of hurt, Penn State fans didn't care about the University of Michigan and the fact that their team sucked. We wanted blood. Losing 10-0, Nittany Nation must have been wondering what in the hell happened. The rest of the game was a 46-7 rout, and State College could celebrate.


2009

Suddenly, it looks as though we’ve another reason to raise the finger to ‘Hail To The Victors’ and anyone wearing the Maize ‘N’ Blue: Michigan may well be back.

Despite close losses to Michigan State and Iowa – it’s obvious to anyone who knows a bit about college football that Rich Rodriguez is putting together a titan again. Tate Forcier’s an excellent quarterback. Denard Robinson – who won’t start after this year- will be an excellent wide receiver (!). The defense won’t matter because of a high-octane offense. Michigan could be exciting in the future.

But back to 2009. Penn State walk into the Big House after pitching a shut-out against Minnesota. Michigan crushed South Delaware State and put up 63 points and 700 yards of offense. Darryl Clark is looking poised at quarterback. Forcier and Robinson will share the duties for Michigan. Penn State has one of the best running backs in the game in Evan Royster, while Michigan can say the same in Brandon Minor. Michigan's defense is horrible, while Penn State's, well, isn't.

Fellow Penn Staters, the game at Ann Arbor is another reason to unite say those great words: "I. Hate. Michigan." Remember, every time Michigan loses, an angel gets its wings. I have a horrible feeling we won't see wings on Saturday. But then again, I always do when we play the maize and blue.

Encouragment from an unlikely source

I woke up this morning still feeling a little bit hurt from an inconsiderate comment that was made in regards to my weight, that silenced a room of eight last night. The person who made the comment either didn't notice that it hurt my feelings or they just pretended to not notice. This at a time when I was a little bit vulnerable, and needing/wanting support from those close to me.

So I did what I do and I laced up my runners and took off for a run in the cool morning.

As I was jogging along the street, I saw a dark figure approaching me - kind of zig-zagging along the sidewalk, cigarette hanging from fingers. As the figure got closer I saw that it was a woman in a dark hoodie who was, by the looks of things, still enjoying the effects of the night before. I could see that she was indeed still drunk and possibly/probably still high. And she was looking intently at me. Her eyes not leaving my eyes.

I thought, "Oh great. Here we go..."

But when she got close enough to me, she got a big grin on her face and pumped her fist in the air and gave me a big thumbs up. She then said "YEAH! GOOD FOR YOU! YOU GO GIRL!!!", loud enough to be heard over my ipod.

And you know what? It made me smile. Here I was out first thing in the morning, working my ass off trying to keep my weight and my mind on an even keel, and this random stranger was giving me encouragement when I needed it. So what if she was perhaps a crackhead, all the more reason for it to make me feel happy inside. Because she's obviously not in the ideal place in life right now but she still gave encouragement to a stranger. And hell, I appreciated it.

So my run did exactly what I needed it to do. I burned some calories and cleared my heart and my mind, thanks in part to a complete stranger who was probably down and out on their luck. Hey I'll take that positive energy wherever, whenever and from whomever I can. If it can't come from those close to me, then why not from a stranger?

Maybe that's even better anyways.

Clip from Penn State - Minnesota Game

It's Sunday morning.

What could want more than to wake up and think about Derek Moye's diving catch? You can start cheering now.

Start Spreading The News: The VFA Week 7 Awards

Right, it's been an emotionally exhausting Week 7 for the VFA. When we weren't catching breath from swearing at the refs after their performance in the Arkansas vs Florida game, we were jumping up and down and nearly in tears after the Yankees' 13th inning ALCS win over the Angels.

Come on guys? You didn't we just watched college football did you?

"What A Game" Award for keeping us breathless for 60 minutes

1. Florida 23, Arkansas 20. Both sides got out of jail in this one. Florida turned the ball over a lot in the red-zone and Arkansas couldn't convert more of their chances. Oh, and the SEC officials got in the way, too.
2. Arizona State 24, Washington 17. Arizona State's Danny Sullivan throws a 50-yard TD pass with 5 seconds to go to win it for the Sun Devils.
3. USC 34, Notre Dame 27. We thought it would be more one-sided that this. Apparently the Pac-10 officials had other ideas.
4. Texas 16, Oklahoma 13. A tun of turnovers. Messy, but exciting.
5. Purdue 26, Ohio State 18. Purdue speed out to a lead, then nearly contrive to blow it all. They don't, and it's bye, bye Buckeye.

"We Didn't Expect That" Award for eyebr0w-raising scorelines

1. Iowa's win over Wisconsin. We thought it MIGHT happen, but didn't think that they'd come from 10-0 down to win 20-10. We'd obviously forgotten about Happy Valley.
2. Florida to play so badly against Arkansas. Seriously - they were awful.
3. Texas Tech - Next time Bo, give the Blackshirts at the end of the season.
4. Colorado beating Kansas - Brilliant game but CU finally gets the goalposts down. Which they probably deserved last week at Texas, if we're honest.
5. Georgia Tech beating Virginia Tech. To quote ESPN commentary: "Paul Johnson's playing chess, the rest are playing checkers." The Hokies couldn't deal with the triple option.

"You Put Together Some Offense Award" for basketball stats

Michigan puts up over 700 yards and 63 points against the mighty South Delaware State (who are SDSU exactly??).....Kansas State drop 62 on Texas A&M......

"I'll Never Doubt You Again" Award for overcoming a lack of faith

Iowa. We thought you'd lose to Mad-town to the Wisconsin Badgers. We also saw you getting beat in Happy Valley. From now on, you're going unbeaten. In our books, anyway.

"Great Cameraman Job" Award for one man's work making millions happy

Goes to ESPN. Not only do they give us weekly shots of Erin Andrews (this time at Alabama, kids!), but their efforts to highlight (very) hotties at the Penn State-Minnesota team - as well as a darned good snowman - definitely get the thumbs up from us. No points for not getting the future Mrs. Colt McCoy though. Minus points go to ESPN College Gameday, for showing us an interview with Colt McCoy and that horrible moustache. The boy looks like an alien.

"We Love Defence" Award

1. Penn State's shut-out against Minnesota. FYI, watch the fourth-and-goal stuff against Minnesota. We're not expecting the same on Saturday against Michigan, but it would be nice.
2. Alabama (again) against South Carolina. True, Stephen Garcia's not a good quarterback. But he was made to look dreadful against 'Bama's defensive front.
3. Arkansas. Huge turnover day in Florida. Pity Ryan Mallett couldn't turn it into points.
4. Texas -Oklahoma. Both sides beat the crap out of each other and actually forced most of the turnovers.
5. Clemson beat the crap out of Riley Skinner and only gave up 3 points en route to a barnstorming 38-3 victory against Wake.

"Get some glasses ref!" Award for Bad Refereeing

A voucher to the local Wal Mart Vision Center goes to SEC officials at the Florida vs Arkansas game as well as Pac-10 officials at the USC vs Notre Dame game.

And finally....

"Top Cheerleaders" Award


1. Texas - wins the coveted trophy yet again. Well done girls, well done. So glad we didn't have to hear them speak. Email the VFA, and come and get the award. Collectively.
2. Arkansas - Their team may not have won, but they won the cheerleader war. Just
3. Florida- SEC domination continues.
4. Penn State - Back from the dead with good work from the ESPN crew.
5. Arizona State. Their celebration in the clip below makes us all happy. Really happy.

'Top Co-Eds Award" For lovely students

1. Sorority girls at Florida. They might have to mix in The Swamp with the whitest of white trash (we saw plenty on view on CBS), but they stand out. And God Bless 'Em for that.
2. Penn State. A few lovelies to keep things warm in a frigid State College this weekend. We wonder if they were throwing snowballs?
3. Texas. Everywhere, friends, everywhere.
4. Arizona State. Wow (More from previous experience than any view on Fox Sports).

And the best moment of the weekend.....


Penn State Pitches Shutout Against Minnesota

As it's still baseball season (with the weather in State College today, you could have convinced us it was skiing season!), apparently, our title with the ingenious "pitches" bit hopefully will stir up some good memories of summer.

Well, Penn State seems to have come quite a way since the beshorted masses saw the Nittany Lions win their first game of the season against Akron.

Because in snowy conditions, the voracious PSU defence dominated the line of scrimmage, holding the Golden Gophers to a paltry 138 yards - including an absolutely brilliant goal-line stand with the Lions already leading 20-0.

The terrific defensive work more than made up for penalty upon penalty committed at the line of scrimmage, which was decently described as 'learning points' for Joe Paterno afterwards.

Here are some other things for the blackboard:

1) Give some love to Royster: 137 yards of power running today. Say prayers for no injuries for the rest of his career - and no decision to leave for the NFL in 2010.

2) Derek Moye : 120 yards receiving including one spectacular TD catch, which was highlight reel good.

3) Student section: ESPN's decision to show the 'Big Uglies' (repeatedly) as well as a number of PSU hotties was a good one. Big Ten officials also reprimanded PSU's student section for throwing snowballs at Gopher players. Three times. You might be disgusted. We here at the VFA actually find it quite amusing.

And some other things on the day:

1) Colt McCoy looks like an alien. Yes, we're serious. One with a good arm and legs, but he's still an alien. And a happy one at that after the 16-13 win over 0klahoma.

2) Florida + SEC refs + Good kicker = win over Arkansas 23-20. The 'Backs missed their chances to have the game over with by half-time, to be fair. Mallett may have the best arm in the SEC, but directionally, it sucks.

3) USC escapes Notre Dame with a 34-27 win. After being 34-14 up, the Trojans contrive to nearly hand it back to the Irish. This was probably another classic though.

4) Boil This! Purdue knocks off Ohio State in a stunner 26-18. The Boilermakers nearly fell off the boil in a big way, only to come back and win.

5) I'm still furious about the SEC officiating. Almost as much as I was in the 2005 Penn State loss against Michigan. But not quite....

SEC Officials in horrific call encore at Florida vs Arkansas game

The VFA has always said this: "I don't mind if you beat me fair and square, but if you beat me because of [add expletive here] official calls, I'm going to be really, really upset."

Florida's 23-20 comeback win against Arkansas wasn't particularly about the last minute drive that cemented everyone's view that Tim 'Son of Christ' Tebow should get the Heisman trophy.

It was the call when the score was Arkansas 20, Florida 13 that did it.

Two straight penalties - one for a pass interference penalty that never was and then a personal foul penalty for a fair block that could only been given if either the referee was a) on crack or b) on crack or c) a terrible referee gave Florida 25 yards, making it easy for Florida to score a touchdown.

On the winning drive, there was a 'call-that-never-was' against Riley Cooper, where CBS' Gary Danielson, the VFA and all of the college football world were shocked when a pass intereference call was NOT given.

Come on SEC referees! Gives us a break! Please! Go to coaching school! Go to sight school! Go to special school! Just stop being so darned inconsistent!!

Awww... Fudge!

A few years back Steve and I were at a wedding. We had only been seated at the reception for a few minutes when Steve excused himself to go use the bathroom. While I was sitting there by myself, I noticed the party favors on the table. For a brief moment I thought they were square blocks of fudge. They were shaped like fudge, they were a little bit soft like fudge, they looked a lot like fudge. I thought to myself, "Oh! Steve will love this!" because fudge is Steve's absolute weakness. He LOVES fudge.

Upon further inspection, I realized that these were not chunks of fudge after all, but bars of soap.

When Steve got back to the table and sat beside me, I said with a smirk on my face, "Look! Fudge!"

His eyes lit up and he grabbed a chunk of it and unwrapped it.

All the people sitting at our table were around our age. We had met one or two of them before but mostly we were making new friends. Everyone watched Steve with his bar of soap with smirks on their faces - which egged me on.

I said, "Taste it! See how it is!"

Part of me thought he knew it was soap. Part of me thought it would be a funny prank to play if he didn't.

In slow motion I watched him put the soap in his mouth and take a HUGE bite out of it.

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!

My guilt kicked in just as his teeth began to sink in. How cruel could I be? Everybody was laughing at with him as he realized what had happened. I grabbed his hand that held the soap and pulled it away (too late, bitch). I could see that he was a little bit embarrassed and a little bit pissed off at me. Maybe more than a little.

And I felt baaaaad.

And I've never lived it down. It's been a touchy subject ever since that day (years ago).

Until recently.

We were at the One of a Kind Show in Vancouver last weekend and we came upon a booth that was selling fudge. All kinds of fudge. Every flavour you could imagine.

And he looked and me and said, "I want some fudge. Real fudge. Not soap."

I said, "If I buy you some will you forgive me for the soap incident?"

"Yes"

"And can we then joke about it and admit that it was kinda funny and I don't have to feel bad about it ever again?"

"Yes"

They had a deal where you could buy 4 chunks of fudge for $20 and get a fifth chunk for free.

So four years and twenty dollars worth of delicious fudge later, I am free to joke/blog/talk about the soap incident and I no longer have to feel any guilt about it whatsoever. As an added bonus I got to tell the soap/fudge story to the people selling the fudge and THEY thought it was hilarious. They gave me their brochure for the next time I'm in the "dog house".

Penn State vs Minnesota: A Few Points

After asking begging the Nittany Lions to convince me before the slaughter of Eastern Illinois (as it damned well should have been, by the way!), I thought it would be important to highlights some important factors going into the Minnesota game.

1) Minnesota are no Illinois or Eastern Illinois

The Gophers are so much better than that. Wideout Eric Decker's going to cause a lo of teams problems this year - including PSU's secondary, which has been partially non-existent this year. The win at Syracuse will probably be looked back as a good one bearing in mind the improvement of the Orange, and the loss to Cal and Wisconsin aren't the worst losses a team could have during the year.

2) But they are no Florida....or Iowa

Minnesota's defence has been weird, giving up at least 20 points in every battle the Gophers have had except for the game against Air Force. The offense hasn't been a lot better. Close down Decker and get to quarterback Adam Weber, and Penn State might win this by 20. But screw it up, and PSU fans face yet another miserable day at Beaver Stadium. Oh, and Minnesota's defence is ranked only 77th in the Nation. Penn State should score points - heard that one before, haven't we?

3) The offensive line needs to continue to improve

We definitely saw improvement on the O-Line against Illinois and EI. We know that both teams aren't exactly powerhouses (giggle!), but at least it's gelling. If they gel again, we can start getting some confidence again.

4) And the wide receivers need to continue...

Going up and getting those balls. This wide receiving corps is good - and it's going to improve all season long. Despite what some of the players may say, it's still not a patch on the 2005-2008 year, but Moye, Powell et al. are pretty damed good. And they are tall, too. Which should be nice against a team that ranks 62nd in passing defence.

5) And another thing...

Let's get through the game without an injury, shall we? Seriously? We'd love that! I'm fed up of hearing about injured Lions on the sideline, with a variety of broken paws. We want you back, Lion Lee and Lion Odrick. Meanwhile, Lion Crawford's providing the roar.... of a British Nittany Lion!

Here's highlights of the 2005 game:




Red Rivers Rivalling in Wisconsin: Week 7 Thoughts

And so, a year comes round. A year ago, yours truly was sunning himself in Austin, Texas, waiting a few days before the gorgeous Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas. The game wasn't bad either.

This year, we're in cloudy London thinking about Texas and OU - but also about Penn State's battle with Minnesota and a battle at Camp Randall between Iowa and Wisconsin.

THURSDAY NIGHT

Cincinnati vs South Florida

Thursdays were a fun night last year for South Florida, and the fans will be hoping for more of the same this week. This week, we'll see two potential NFL first rounders play in Cincinnati wideout Mardy Gilyard and South Florida defensive end George Selvie. On his day, Selvie can be one of the most destructive DEs in college football. This game's going to be fun.

Prediction: South Florida in the upset. By three.

FRIDAY NIGHT

Pittsburgh vs Rutgers

Pittsburgh beat Connecticut in one of the games of the day last week, and Rutgers is 4-1 with the excellent John Savage at quarterback. Dion Lewis (Pitt RB) will be one to watch on Friday night - if you're not glued to the baseball.

Prediction: Luck runs out for Pitt. Rutgers by 7

WHEN SATURDAY COMES.....

Oklahoma vs Texas

Oklahoma has lost two games already this year - albeit by a combined two points - and Texas was worryingly awful in their game against Colorado. Expect too much talk from the Gameday boys about Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford. Why not talk about Jordan Shipley as a possible Heisman? The game - as usual - is going to be a lot of high-scoring fun.

Prediction: 45-35 anyone? Texas wins.

Minnesota vs Penn State

Penn State blog "The Black Shoe Diaries" has a hate week dedicated to Minnesota, which we think is a little harsh. We like the new stadium. We think Eric Decker's a good receiver. We don't mind Adrian Peterson and the Vikings (although we want Brett Favre to fail). After scoring a ton of points in the last two weeks, Penn Staters will be anxious for more of the same. Watch out, State College: this Governor's Bell Classic will be closer.

Prediction: Beaver Stadium rockin' as they have two bells. State by 10.

Iowa vs Wisconsin

Camp Randall's going to be jumping. Some people are making Wisconsin favorites. Why? Wisconsin certainly weren't as bad as the near-20 point loss at Ohio State suggested, and Iowa wasn't that good in the 30-28 over Michigan. Iowa is a pretty good side - the defense at times is remarkable. Wisconsin may have to rely on an awkward passing game to beat the Hawkeyes, who routinely stuff the run. We can't wait.

Prediction: We call the upset. Wisconsin by 3

Texas Tech vs Nebraska

No-one's paid the blindest bit of attention to the 4-2 Red Raiders, who have lost to the only two ranked opponents they've faced. All the talk is going to be about Nebraska. After 'Big Red' won in Missouri, it should be. The defense is back to near its suffocating best, but can the offense outscore Tech?

Prediction: Close. Nebraska by 7

South Carolina vs Alabama

Suddenly, South Carolina has no problem scoring points. Alabama's offense wasn't great against Ole Miss, but against a porous Gamecocks team, that should be improved.

Prediction: Rammer Jammer Gamecock Hammer! Alabama by 21

Arkansas vs Florida

Arkansas doesn't seem to have a huge problem scoring points. It racked nearly half a ton on Auburn last weekend and nearly did the same on Georgia. But the defense is woeful. Florida, exhausted after the Battle of Baton Rouge, should be able to exploit the problems.

Prediction: Razorbacks make great Gator food. Florida by 30

USC vs Notre Dame

Never in recent years have the Men Of Troy been so ripe for the upset. A freshman quarterback. Worries about the defense. A former stud high school pick (Joe McKnight) who's done precious little in the Year of Our Lord 2009. Speaking of Lord, expect the University of Notre Dame to replace Touchdown Jesus with Jimmy Clausen's profile if the Irish knock off USC on Saturday.

Prediction: USC - but it'll be close

Virginia Tech vs Georgia Tech

It's undisputed that not many teams - only three are better this year - run the ball better than Georgia Tech. But here's the difference: while Virginia Tech can stop the rush, Georgia Tech can't. VT can stop the pass too - while GT ranks a rank second last in pass defense.

Prediction: Jonathan Dwyer! Paul Johnson! Bobby Dodd! VT is going to beat your boys on Saturday night!

Georgia vs Vanderbilt

After making Jonathan Crompton look like Peyton Manning last week, Georgia has to play well to save the job of defensive co-ordinator Willie Martinez, who we're hearing could be on the move at the end of the season (the alumni apparently wanted him out in 2008 anyway). The good people of Georgia need to get over the horror, and Vanderbilt - who lost to laughable Army on Saturday - could provide the tonic.

Prediction: Georgia - it has to be, right? - by 21

And on a cheerleading note: An important Song Girls celebration, complete with Californian idiot saying "Niiiiiice" over the camera. He's just saying what we're feelin'.....

Longhorns or Hokies? Week 6 Awards

Alex Ferguson had waaaaaaay too much fun watching Week 6 of the college football season last Saturday, and looks forward to the same sort of service being resumed this weekend.

But thinking back....

"Who's The Third And Fourth Best Team Award?"

Texas beat Colorado by a mile on paper, but looked terrible, while Virginia Tech really did beat the crap out of Boston College. Virginia Tech is the third best team in college football right now. Sorry Longhorns!

"Who's Going To Stop Florida?" Award

Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

"Who's Going To Stop Alabama" Award

Florida in the SEC Championship Game.

"Dark Horse for the Heisman" Award

1. Jordan Shipley (Texas) - McCoy didn't look good - but would have looked a hell of a lot worse without Shipley. He's a punt return and wide receiving menace. Wes Welker of the future, anybody?
2. Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame) Yes, we're still talking about him
3. Sam Bradford (Oklahoma). He's a dark horse because he got injured of the first game. If he puts 50 points on Texas, consider him back.

"Give Them Some Love" Award

We love you, Bobby Bowden. So do opposing offenses. But really, we're giving all the love this week to David Cutcliffe, who's Duke team dropped 49 POINTS on NC State. On the road. Blue Devils. Hoooooooo! But seriously, Bowden should go when he damned well wants to.

"Best Game of Week 6 Award"

1. Thunder. Lightning. Excitement. Georgia Tech 49, Florida State 44.
2. Big Ten IS fun. Iowa 30, Michigan 28 in a black-out.
3. SEC! SEC! SEC! South Carolina 28, Kentucky 26. The only difference was a ****-up 2 point conversion.
4. Kansas 41, Iowa State 36. Big XII in non-defense surprise
5. Oklahoma State 36, Texas A&M. Aggies fans must be bored of valiant losses.

"Best Cheerleaders Award"

1. UCLA. Actually makes you WANT to show up early in the UCLA student section on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
2. LSU. To the brunette always in the centre of the screen on College Gameday: Name please?
3. Texas. Chaps. Shorts. Wonderful. Minus points for squeaking and high kicking. Made you sound like a chiwawa.
4. Ole Miss. The only win Ole Miss had all day against Alabama!
5. Oregon. You didn't think I'd leave them out, did you?

"What We're Looking Forward To In Week 7" Award

1. Oklahoma vs Texas. It's going to be a war in the Cotton Bowl. Fried Corn Dogs and Beer all round!
2. USC vs Notre Dame. USC is shaking. Touchdown Jesus is watching. Can't say fairer than that, can you?
3. Cincinnati vs South Florida. ESPN's going to serve up yet another cracker from the Sunshine State. Did you know that South Florida students are laughing because they are over 21 and can drink beer during a game in Tampa Stadium? No need for flasks!
4.Iowa at Wisconsin. Wisconsin outplayed Ohio State and found a way to lose. They'll be hoping to jump around against Iowa.
5. Minnesota vs Penn State. Because I'm a Penn State fan.

And The "You've Gotta Be Kidding Me!" Award....

Improvement

Just to quickly update.... things have improved with our tenants and my mental state has taken a turn for the better. I think we just needed to work out a few little bugs and I needed some time to adjust to a fairly substantial change in my my living arrangements. I also needed to get my control issues under... well... control.

I am pleased to back among the Land of the Sane. Mostly.

Tigers Chomped: Week 6 thoughts

A few points from this weekend:

Gators Chomped

After Florida choked LSU all over Death Valley on Saturday night, Florida look unstoppable en route to a SEC Championship in a 13-3 victory. No-one will compete with them in the SEC East and with only Alabama to face in the SEC Title game - and 'Bama still have to play LSU - Florida may have cemented their spot in the National Title game. Well, they'd have to royally screw up, anyway.

Rammer Jammer!

The Crimson Tide's execution may have been horrific against Ole Miss - they could have set up a camp in the Rebels' red zone - but the defense was opportunistic and defiant. It was helped by Jevan Snead melting under the pressure, but still..... these guys should beat the Tigers at home.

Bring Out the Lion!

All reports said that half-time show rocked it, and was probably more exciting than PSU's 52-3 ass-beating of Eastern Illinois. I'm pretty happy about the performance - even if it was against a Division I-AA team.

No defense of Georgia....

You might think that I was meant to write "no defense AT Georgia", but I'm not going to defend the Bulldogs this week. They were absolutely woeful, failing to stop Tennessee's rush and making Jonathan Crompton (who, let's face, is the 2010 version of a bad Casey Clausen) look like Peyton Manning (thanks for the quote, Twitter!). Rumors in Athens circulated that Willie Martinez is going to be given his marching orders after the end of the season, and they will be louder after this embarassment where they gave up 49 points. A quick point about Lane Kiffin and the fact he can't win (or lose) with class: Shut up Lane, shut up.

...But we'll defend Bobby

Bobby Bowden has a right to leave when he damned well wants. Seminoles fans, quieten down....it's not like he does anything on the sideline anyway. This week, the Seminoles came out holding each other, and it was hard not to have a lump in your throat. Florida State lost - albeit in an incredibly entertaining 49-44 loss to Georgia Tech.

Say it ain't so, Colt, say it ain't so

If you want a team that played horribly and managed to score 38 points and play dreadfully, then it's Texas. We saw the game until it went to 31-14, but it was all about Texas' special teams, which included 'Jonathan' Shipley's touchdown (I wish I was joking, but Erin Andrews got Jordan's name wrong last night), a blocked punt that also went for a score, and a defensive interception touchdown. Colt McCoy threw for 2 TDs, but my feeling is that if Texas play this badly next week against Oklahoma, they'll be in trouble.

And Bradford's back

Sam only threw for one TD and 389 yards, but he's back and looked sharp in a 33-7 win. The Sooners also rushed for over 200 yards. This isn't a bad OU team, peeps.

Can you stop the Hawkeyes

This season the Hawkeyes' performances have ranged from the sublime to the truly awful. They managed it all in 60 minutes against Michigan. Eventually they came out and won 30-28, but they couldn't really stop Tate Forcier. Is Michigan back, or is the Big Ten this weak?

And Ohio State sleepwalks

Ohio State wasn't great against Wisconsin, but they won 31-13. Terrelle Pryor was useless for large parts of the Buckeyes win over Wisconsin, but used his legs to prove that next year and the year after (don't go after the 2010-11 season, son!) he will one of the most dangerous players in college football. His out-of-pocket speed is frightening.


Penn State destroy Eastern Ilinois

The world's great again. The Penn State Nittany Lions have not had any problems, the defense is great, and we even love the special teams after Penn State beat the crap out of Eastern Illinois by the score of 52-3.

Actually, the special teams - on the offensive end - could do with some work, and we still can't work out why in God's name Evan Royster is returning kicks. Seriously.

But the running backs - as you'd expect, were awesome all day, with Evan Royster running for 94 yards and Stephfon Green for 58. Darryl Clark even ran for 11 - and a touchdown - while replacement Kevin Newsome ran for nearly 50 in 7 attempts.

Quarterbacking-wise, Clark was nearly perfect, throwing for three touchdowns for 234 yards in a 13-19 effort as Derrick Moye, Chaz Powell and the rest of the receivers outmuscled Eastern Illinois' much smaller defenders.

Our only complaint in Newsome: we noticed that he fumbled the ball a couple of times on a single drive, which irritated me. So did the fact that he took his helmet off and then argued with Joe Paterno when he was told he wasn't coming in. The kid needs to learn some manners. Saying that, if he's passed Michael Robinson for Penn State's all-time pass record and led us to a couple of National Titles, we might just forgive him this once.

Defensively, the 'D' was stifling, giving up 206 total yards - with most of them after half time. London-born Jack Crawford was in good form, and so was Jared Odrick. The ESPN guys said they'll both be playing on Sundays - as they did with Navarro Bowman - which shows their confidence in the defense.

All in all, a good performance against weak opposition. But now we can go into the Big Ten schedule with good heart.

Please Penn State, convince me

Right, I'm probably not going to be convinced if Penn State put 30 on Division I-AA Eastern Illinois, but I'm might be a little convinced if we hang 50.

Sorry, I know this is unlikely, bearing in mind that Joe Paterno's never been keen to run the score up on anybody, and probably won't start with Eastern Illinois - despite the fact that ex-Iowa QB Jake Christensen is quarterbacking the EIs.

Here's a few things I'd like to see:

1) Improved offensive line play

Last week Evan Royster, Stephfon Green and Darryl Clark & Co put up nearly 400 on the Illini. According to the good folks at Penn Live, it was because of good blocking. If we can do it against a 'tough' team on the road, we can continue to do the same against Eastern Illinois.

2) Darryl Clark to get over his post-Iowa hangover

Darryl Clark returns to Beaver Stadium, the home of one of his more dreadful performances in the 'White Out' against Iowa. A few good passes - even if they are little screen passes rather than 40 yard bombs - may help him start his rhythm. I'd like to see a little more of our wide receivers, but is that likely against a Division I-AA school? Probably not.

3) Continued stout defense

If there's one word that could be used for Penn State's 'D' this season, it's 'injured'. We could fill a hospital ward full of injured PSU defenders. We have to learn we're not like USC, we can't just injure a couple of players and then see them replaced by future NFLers. How about preserving somebody, pops?

4) One blog said that they can't understand why we're a top 25 team (yet put us in their top 25). He needs convincing.

Here are the Illinois highlights:

Renting Crazy

Time has gotten away from me.

I thought it was a week since I last posted but I just realized it's been almost two.

I'm all fucked up in the head and having a hard time getting my shit together to write anything.

Remember when I posted about being nervous about renting out my basement suite? Well, for two weeks now my basement suite has officially been occupied. And the situation is completely fucking me up.

I've been reluctant to post about it because I have apparently become a paranoid schizophrenic and think that my tenants are hacking into my computer and can read my blog posts and my emails and my tweets and my facebook. I think they may also have my phone tapped and may have installed cameras into my portion of the house when I wasn't home. I am also certain that they are up to something terribly sinister. I think they might be planning to burn our house down or steal our identity or start up a meth lab in the bathtub or kidnap my baby. Or all of the above.

Probably all of the above.

I haven't slept through the night since they moved in. I hear every door open and/or shut. I hear when they shower. I smell what they cook. I smell when they clean. Every sound, smell, sigh, fart that happens sets me completely on edge. I am a wreck. I am exhausted.

The whole situation didn't start out well to begin with. We answered an ad that they had placed on craigslist (I HATE craigslist! What was I thinking) They sounded so PERFECT! So we chatted via email and phone for a couple of weeks and got everything arranged. They were driving here from the other side of the country. They called us when they were leaving and said they'd be here on a certain day. But they didn't show up that day. I got an email late that night saying they'd be here the next day. Then they didn't show up that day either, but this time no email. They finally showed up a day or two later - and in the meantime I had been waiting around my house for them to arrive. (However they wired the rent money which covered the time that they weren't even here yet so I shouldn't worry about it, right??)

The original arrangement was that he was going to work in the U.S. during the week and only be here on weekends. She was going to school here. Law school. But she's never gone to school and he has maybe left the suite three times since they moved in. She talks her head off at any opportunity she gets, yet every time she talks to me she contradicts herself from the last time she talked to me. She will tell Steve one thing and then an hour later she tells me something else. Like yesterday she told Steve she starts a job on Monday and then she told me an hour later that she is going for a second interview and then going to a different job interview later. But then that other interview was cancelled.... It's all so confusing!

Yesterday she knocked on my door to make a point of telling me that they were driving their dogs to the park to take them for a walk and would be out for a couple of hours. Then they didn't come home until 24 hours later... Meanwhile she was all dressed up - not exactly wearing dog walking attire. Odd.

So I am a basket case! I am nervous and scared and waiting for something really really bad to happen.

Maybe I'm over reacting. I know that I am WAY more anxious than I think I should be about this. I know that I do have issues that need to be resolved that aren't my tenants fault - I recognize that (counselor appointment this afternoon).

I have been told by a few people that as long as they pay the rent, keep the place clean (it's spotless) and are respectful to us then I need not concern myself with anything else. Also - I need to remind myself that just because someone has a different lifestyle or keeps different hours than I do (they are up past 10pm!?!?!), doesn't mean that they are bad or evil or plotting to destroy my life. My mother reminded me that some people just can't help themselves but to lie. And it doesn't always have to be for a bad reason. Or any reason. They just do it compulsively. But lying really bothers me. Or storytelling, or whatever you want to call it. It makes me feel like someone is covering up something. (Like their intentions to ruin my life).

There have also been a couple of issues with them already that needed straightening out. So Steve had a meeting with them and went over things. They've basically adhered to everything they were asked to. Except there were a few little things that they can't seem to remember - (like keeping the back door SHUT and LOCKED.)

Also, now that I'm a mom I also feel really on edge and protective around my baby. My house is my sanctuary, my safe place. OUR safe place. I need to feel safe here and right now I don't - for whatever reason.

In any case, I'm having a hard time with it. I don't want people in my house to begin with so that is definitely contributing to my nervousness. Is it me? Is it them?

Does it matter?

And why do scenes from the movie Pacific Heights keep flashing in my mind?

They have paid rent in full to the end of October. I just *know* that they're not going to pay for November. How do I know that? Because that's what my fucked up little mind is telling me. And then what? Then we won't be able to evict them because... I don't know, because of some glitch in the law that I don't know enough about because I've never been a landlord before and don't know what I'm doing!!!!

So as you can clearly see from this little glimpse into my paranoid and fucked up thoughts that things are not so fantastic around here lately. I'm working hard to rectify the situation - Steve (or Mr. Furley as I've been calling him) has been diligent in keeping on top of things with the tenants. And I have been waging war on the crazy thoughts in my head.

I want this to work. I WANT to do this. People do it all the time and there's no reason why we can't.

We just have to find a way.

Let's talk about celebrations: A note from the SEC

After being at the Georgia - LSU game on Saturday night (did I mention the scenery in Athens?), I wrote an article on Sky Sports.com on how unsportsmanlike behavior penalties - or "celebration calls" - can ruin a game. Check it out!

The officials need to be told what to look out for. It can't be too hard.

Anyway, after the SEC hierarchy admitted that the LSU-UGA officials were wrong to throw a flag at AJ Greene, the VFA has managed to get themselves a letter from the SEC Commissioner to all SEC officials after the LSU-Georgia game.

Seriously guys, this ain't worth a flag



And we promise folks - all of this is made up.

Dear Y'all,

We were having a quiet Jack and Coke and watching the LSU and Georgia game and we noticed the three unsportsmanlike behavior penalties and wanted to do something about it.

Not that we're upset about the result - now we've got two unbeaten, top five teams clashing in prime-time (screw those baseball playoffs! The SEC will be No.1!) this Saturday - but we wanted to tell y'all what to look for just in case you're fixin' to throw a flag.

1) He must jump into the stands.

If he misses, he doesn't get an unsportmanlike behavior call. But you may get to laugh at the player. A lot. If the player's on the road, you won't be alone. Chad Johnson (you know, that pro wide receiver who plays out west in the Pac-10. Yes - the home of that team who our boys are afraid to play!) shows how it's done.



2) He must taunt the opponents

In case you hadn't noticed, there were 10,000 LSU fans dressed in purple and gold at the top of one of those stands. AJ Greene wasn't signalling at his home fans. If you're throwing a flag, make sure it's if the whole team jumps on the field. Like the Georgia boys did in the Cocktail Party a few years ago.



3) If he brings out something special.

If he brings out some grits, he's probably just having a meal because he's starving. If he brings out a Sharpie, he's trying to be Terrell Owens.

But remember guys, don't just throw the flags for fun - they can ruin a game. And we don't need any scandal in a year where Lane and Urban and taking all the headlines by themselves.

Thanks,

SEC Commissioner

P.S. If y'all goin' to celebrate, then do it like this!

Death Valley rockin Gator Bait? Predictions for Week 6

Ladies and Gentlemen, Death Valley's going to be rocking on Saturday night. You'll be able to smell the liquor in the air and the noise will be heard down in Texas when Florida come to town. The VFA has the lowdown on this match-up - and more.

Thursday night

Nebraska at Missouri

This could be ones of the games of the week and yet everybody - quite rightly - is thinking about the SEC and a small game in Baton Rouge. Both sides are ranked, and have one loss between them (Nebraska's 16-15 heartbreaker at Virginia Tech). Quarterbacks Zac Lee (Huskers) and Blaine Gabbert (Missouri) are a lot of fun to watch, but Nebraska's defence under Bo Pellini could be a difference maker.

Prediction: Prepare. To Be. Exhausted. Missouri by 3.

When Saturday Comes

Eastern Illinois at Penn State

At Illinois, Penn State racked up over 300 yards running in a great 35-17 over the Illini. Penn State's suddenly regalvanised, and will look to push on against Eastern Illinois. Here's the fun bit: EI are quarterbacked by former Iowa starter Jack Christensen. Happy Valley's going to be noisy.

Prediction. Royster runs EI ragged. Penn State by 21

Boston College at Virginia Tech

BC did everything they could to lose their game with Florida State on Saturday, and the same won't happen at Virginia Tech. That's because we don't think they'll be leading much.

Prediction: Tech rolling, and win by 13

Auburn at Arkansas

Auburn are unbeaten and Gene Chizik's gone from pariah to messiah in Alabama. Arkansas is still struggling. Even though Ryan Mallett can get the Razorbacks' offence going, we think Auburn will have too much for them.

Prediction: Auburn keep the unbeaten streak alive, winning by 7

Georgia at Tennessee

Regardless of the fact that both teams are unranked, this is still a monster SEC match-up for two teams that don't like each other. AJ Greene's the best wide receiver in college football, and Eric Berry's one of the best safeties. Can't wait for the match-up. Also interesting will be to see who's worse on the day: Joe Cox or Jonathan Crompton?

Prediction: Crompton keeps the interceptions down to 45, but UT lose by 10.

Oregon at UCLA

The hippies are on fire in Eugene, and their offence is exceptionally hard to stop. UCLA don't score a lot of points, and we can only see one outcome, which is.....

Prediction: Oregon win. By 21.

Alabama at Ole Miss

We've said before on this column - about 121 times - that Alabama's an underrated No.3 team. Ole Miss showed why they shouldn't have been ranked in the Top 5 when they lost at South Carolina a week or so ago. Don't get us wrong, Jevan Snead & Co's going to score a few points on Saturday, but will they be able to stop 'Bama's running backs?

Prediction: Rammer Jammer. Alabama by 17

THE BIG ONE

Death Valley. The No.1 team in the Nation goes to the No.4 team. A nation holds its breath. Tim Tebow takes a hit, and we're talking concussions. LSU was awful against Georgia, although we'd like to point out that Charles Scott will do some damage against Florida's front. Jordan Jefferson's also got a cannon. But Florida is high-octane on both sides of the ball. It's going to be noisy. It's going to be fun.

Prediction: Florida beats the spread, and wins by 10

Quick note: The scenery on campus at the University of Georgia is absolutely stunning. Well worth checking out.....

Oh, and here's what happened the last time LSU and Florida got together in Death Valley. We'd like to add that the film's a little biased.