Tuesday Morning Quarterback: Prep Football Harms Minds

Prep football playoffs have begun in many states and are about to kick off in Texas, home of the Dillon Panthers of Friday Night Lights renown and center of high-school football culture. The crazed Texas playoff system invites countless schools to gargantuan sets of brackets that produce 12 state champions, with the two big-division grand finales not occurring until December 23—the eve of Christmas Eve—at the stadium where the Dallas Cowboys play.

In days of yore Texas was unusual in having a crazed high school football playoffs system. Now Alabama, California, New Jersey, Virginia, and other states invite large numbers of schools to the postseason. Last year, California crowned 69 state football champions, Alabama awarded 10 titles in 11-man and two in the small-rural variant of the sport, little Maine had four high school football champions, and New Jersey’s 24 football titles meant if you threw a stone from anywhere on the Jersey Turnpike, you’d hit the building of a state high school football champion. The whole inventory is here.

Birdville, Dilley, Perryton, and Skidmore-Tynan high schools just made the Texas playoffs at 4-6. Devine is in at 3-7, Stanton High is in at 2-8. As more states adopt Texas-style playoffs, invitations to undistinguished programs go nationwide. Virginia’s brackets include South County at 5-6 and Clover Hill High making the playoffs at 2-9. Across our great nation there are other high schools with below-.500 records that nevertheless are in the football postseason, when it’s unclear that prep football should have a postseason in the first place.

High school football is fun and can be a valuable learning experience; athletics teaches self-discipline and work habits. A few high schools have dropped out of football, likely owing to concussion fears. Overall, participation remains strong, with the National Federation of High Schools reporting more than a million boys, and 665 girls, on current prep rosters. Despite its problems, football is the number-one prep sport for participation, with more high school players than girls and boys soccer combined.

Neurological harm is an important concern for high school players and their parents. But as Tuesday Morning Quarterback showed last month, risk of brain injury in football is concentrated at the youth level, where tackle should be outlawed. Once the high-school level is reached, risks begin to decline, while rewards become possible, in the form of either an NCAA scholarship or an athletic admission letter. (The Ivy League and the NESCAC—Amherst, Bowdoin, and so on—don’t offer sports scholarships but do recruit for football, allowing the smart player to trade his athletic ability for enrollment at a magnificent college.)

The dismaying problem with high school football is not so much concussion risk as the distorting impact on education. In many states, high schools simply play too many games, inevitably distracting team members from schoolwork; ever-expanding postseason tournaments exacerbate this problem. To win a contemporary Texas state title, a high school must perform a full 16-game season, just like an NFL club. Last year’s Texas big-division 6A winners were DeSoto at 16-0 and Lake Travis at 15-1. Players on DeSoto and Lake Travis got to be BMOCs and their families and friends got to hold lots of parties. But 16 high-school football games are too many.

More disturbing than too many games is the development of year-round high school football: constant practice, weight sessions, film, “camps,” and 7-on-7. Most of the Old South states allow year-round high school football; Pennsylvania and Virginia recently allowed it; the Arizona Interscholastic Association just gave thumbs-up to football practice year-round.

The three-sport athlete has faded from the high school scene. Specialization and travel leagues make it difficult, if not impossible, for a teen to play one sport in the autumn, another in the winter, and a third in the spring. Three-sport high school girls have become as rare as three-sport high school boys. Many contemporary boys and girls spend way too much of their precious youth in travel leagues that promoters call “elite” or “invitation only” and that cost their parents money and time, only to realize, as seniors, that their odds of a college boost are no better than if they’d simply played varsity in high school and changed sports with the seasons. Hustling parents for fees for “elite” leagues has become a thriving business that does not benefit young people, that’s for sure.

The situation is pointed with year-round football, since this involves the largest number of high-school kids distracted from studying and from just being kids. States that now allow year-round high-school football say offseason events must be “optional.” But every boy who hopes to start knows he’d best be present at every “optional” session.

Year-round high-school football is an exceptionally cynical thing for adults to do to children—and never forget, the majority of football players in the United States are, legally, children.

Year-round high school football allows coaches to feel important 365 days of the year, makes high school athletic directors more important, makes parent volunteers more important—but harms children. The rare 16 year old who will go on to make a career in the NFL benefits from year-round high-school football practices, camps, and lifting sessions, but everybody else on the team is harmed. Wonder why girls are accelerating away from boys in high-school GPAs and college acceptance? The boys are the ones doing year-round football.

Tens of thousands of high school boys are living an illusion of football success and wealth, an illusion fostered by year-round football culture. It’s almost always an illusion. One prep football player in 50 receives either an NCAA scholarship or an “ath admit” letter. This means of a 50-person high school team, one guy will advance to the college version of the sport, and 49 guys will not; 98 percent of those on the high-school team are spending too much time on football when they should be pulling up their grades for regular admission to college.

Of those who become NCAA football starters, one in 35 someday will receive an NFL game check, with most of them waived out of football before they’ve played long enough to vest for benefits. Of NCAA football starters, one in 100 will have a career in the NFL, staying in the league more than four years.

These numbers work out to the odds of a high-school football player earning a check with the words NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE stamped on the top at one in 1,700. Stated another way, each autumn there are more than 20 high-school football teams that will send no one to the NFL for each one high-school team that will. Then the odds of a high-school football player attaining a career in the NFL advance to one in 5,000.

Kids should still play high school football—it’s a wonderful sport and, if the coach is conscientious, a good experience in the transition from boyhood to manhood. But kids should not be practicing and training for high-school football year-round. Increasingly they are: Which is a very cynical thing for the adults in coaching, high school administration, and in the administration of state sports sanctioning associations to do to the children under their care.

In other sports news, everyone talks about the red zone—what about the maroon zone? The maroon zone is reached when it’s too far for a field goal but too close to punt.

One of Alabama’s key comeback plays versus Mississippi State came in the maroon zone in the fourth quarter (see below). Buffalo leading New Orleans 3-0, the Saints faced 4th-and-1 on the Bills 30. The day was blustery and New Orleans was facing toward the windy end of New Era Field. The Saints went for it with a nice misdirection play, gained 25 yards, got a touchdown on the possession, and never looked back.

Mark Ingram (#22) and the Saints quite literally ran past the Bills in a 47-10 romp—they gained nearly 300 yards on the ground. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Stats of the Week #1. New England is first in total offense and last in total defense (per game).

Stats of the Week #2. Russell Wilson is 16-5 in November.

Stats of the Week #3. The Colts have not defeated the Steelers at home in 12 years.

Stats of the Week #4. Tennessee is on a 6-2 stretch.

Stats of the Week #5. In two games since trading nose tackle Marcell Dareus, Buffalo has allowed 492 yards rushing and nine rushing touchdowns.

Stats of the Week #6. City of Tampa has gone five consecutive games without a first half touchdown.

Stats of the Week #7. At 10:27 p.m. Eastern on November 13, the Miami Dolphins scored their first rushing touchdown of the season.

Stats of the Week #8. Army is 8-2 despite having just one pass completion in its last two games.

Stats of the Week #9. New Orleans opened 0-2 and since is 7-0.

Stats of the Week #10. Not only are the Rams the league’s highest scoring team, they have the highest for/against differential, at plus-134 points.

Sweet Plays of the Week. Last season Atlanta had a 3-4 bump in the road, then went 6-0 down the stretch and seemed, as perhaps you might have heard, to have the Super Bowl well in hand. Could the Falcons recover their mojo—this is a technical term—and be a force again this season?

Hosting the Dallas Cowboys, twice Atlanta lined up defensive tackle Dontari Poe—listed at 346 pounds, and likely heavier—at fullback at the goal line. Both times Atlanta scored a touchdown. Falcons leading 17-7 at the outset of the fourth quarter, facing 1st-and-goal on the Boys 1, Poe was the fullback and tight end Austin Hooper a slotback right. Pre-snap, Hooper motioned left. Atlanta faked a run up the middle behind the mammoth Poe whilst Hooper spun around and ran back where he’d just come from, staying behind the line of scrimmage where the defense would lose track of him. Uncovered in the flat, he caught the touchdown pass that put the Falcons in control of the endgame.

Both Poe-at-fullback touchdowns were sweet. Did they presage the Falcons rediscovering their mojo?

Sour Play of the Week. Jacksonville managed to win against LA/B despite 106 yards of penalties and an anemic 4.9 yards per pass attempt. A sour play by the Chargers told the tale. Game scoreless in the first half, Jacksonville lined up to punt from its 44-yard line: Jax snapped to upback Corey Grant, who ran 56 yards for a touchdown. This was exactly the action, from the same area of the field, that Jacksonville employed for a 58-yard fake-punt run versus Baltimore earlier in the season. LA/B hadn’t scouted that play, despite having not one but two coaches who do nothing all year long except special teams. Then again, the previous Jax fake punt was in London, and no one watches NFL London games.

Sweet ‘n’ Sour Play of the Week. Bears and Packers tied at 3, Ty Montgomery of Green Bay ran up the middle for a 37-yard untouched touchdown that put the visitors in command. Chicago was in a standard Cover 2 on the play. Jordy Nelson delivered a crunching block that knocked down Bears safety Eddie Jackson: sweet for the Pack. But where was the other Cover 2 safety, Adrian Amos? The whole point of Cover 2 is that it allows short stuff but there is always a safety to prevent big gains. TMQ has watched every replay angle and Amos is nowhere to be seen, not even in the general area of the guy running untouched for a touchdown. How did a Chicago safety make himself disappear on the field? Sour.

The Packers are now 96-94-6 all-time versus the Bears—Green Bay’s biggest margin in that rivalry since 1932.

Hell’s Sports Bar. Hell’s Sports Bar has an infinite number of flatscreen TVs, but certain blackout restrictions may apply. Sunday, every screen showed Giants at 49ers—combined record 1-16—while no other game aired. As a promotion, two-for-one shooters of molten lava were offered. Didn’t New York City and San Francisco used to be football towns? Of course, these teams don’t play in New York City or San Francisco.

That’s One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Cost Overruns. Sports columns are unlikely to be your best source of aerospace news. Nevertheless TMQ points out that two months ago I reported that NASA’s big-rocket project was far behind schedule. Last week, NASA said the rocket has been delayed yet again.

It was seven years from the 1962 decision to build the Saturn V, to Neil Armstrong standing on the moon. At NASA’s current pace the new rocket will be 10 years from the decision to build to an initial unmanned test launch. NASA’s budget is down in inflation-adjusted terms, but far more is known about rocketry today than was known in 1962—as Elon Musk’s private-rocket projects, operating at a fraction of the NASA budget, have shown. The closest you can come to the new NASA rocket is this.

They don’t make ’em like they used to. The 363-foot tall Apollo 15 Saturn V is launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 9:34 a.m., July 26, 1971, on a lunar landing mission.

Stop Me Before I Blitz Again! This column extols going for it on fourth down, while complaining about the big blitz. Of course, sometimes the big blitz works and sometimes going for it on fourth down backfires. But both TMQ contentions came together in the fourth quarter of the Alabama-Mississippi State contest.

Trailing 24-17 with 10 minutes remaining, the Tide faced 4th-and-4 on the Bulldogs 34. (Remember the maroon zone?) Alabama went for it, converted, and recorded a touchdown on the possession.

Now it’s tied at 24 and Alabama faces 3rd-and-15 on its own 43 with 38 seconds remaining. Blitzes that work come when they’re unexpected; on 3rd-and-long, the big blitz is predictable. Considering the clock and the field position, Mississippi State would not benefit much from a sack: an incompletion followed by a punt would do nicely. Instead Mississippi State ran a seven-man “house” blitz that left a receiver uncovered for the 31-yard gain that positioned the Tide for the winning touchdown with a few ticks left.

The Russians Must Be Tampering with the Toy Hall of Fame. Last week the Toy Hall of Fame, part of the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, chose this year’s class: Clue, the Wiffle ball, and the paper airplane. Finalists passed over included Matchbox cars, Risk, My Little Pony, and Pez dispensers. How can Matchbox cars not be in the Toy Hall of Fame? And the Hess annual holiday truck, in Santa’s sack for half a century, still has not even made the finalist list. Here is this season’s Hess toy “with over 30 brilliant LED lights plus realistic sounds.”

Matchbox cars still in their packaging, waiting to be released and drive to the National Museum of Play to ask what the deal is. (Photo credit: Jason Thien)

Another Thursday Night Game Baffling to the Colorblind. Seahawks at Cardinals matched Seattle’s visible-from-orbit Human Highlighter uniforms, in kryptonite green, versus Arizona’s monochrome black with red trim. Every satellite that passed over Glendale during the game (the roof was open) had to be recalibrated.

Sports shows delighted in the double-pirouette move that Russell Wilson pulled off to convert 2nd-and-21 into a 54-yard pass that set up a Human Highlighter touchdown. Watch the replay and don’t look at Wilson, look at wide receiver Doug Baldwin. He starts the down as a blocker, realizes Wilson is in trouble, and improvises the pattern that became his big catch-and-run.

If Minnesota Faced Buffalo in the Super Bowl, One of Them Would Have to Win. I don’t wish to alarm you, but the Vikings are 7-2 and performing really well on defense. Can a team with a third-stringer at quarterback reach the Super Bowl? Case Keenum is 6-2 this season and looked poised on the road at Washington, including when the Vikes went quick-snap in the second half to surprise the R*dsk*ns. At Washington, Stefon Diggs turned the overrated Josh Norman inside-out with an out-and-up move for a 51-yard gain that set up a touchdown—Keenum threw a perfect strike.

Should the Vikings reach the season finale contest, Keenum would be the most unlikely Super Bowl quarterback starter since Kurt Warner. Coming out of high school, Keenum was snubbed by the Power Five programs, offered a scholarship only by the University of Houston, which the Power Five look down their collective noses at. Coming out of college Keenum was undrafted by the NFL, despite being the NCAA’s all-time leader for passing yards and touchdown passes. His resume sounds more than a little like that of Carson Wentz and Baker Mayfield.

LA/A Cautionary Note. The Rams also are 7-2—but have not beaten anyone that currently has a winning record. The LA/A offense is on fire and the Wade Phillips-led defense is performing well. We’ll know a lot more about both this team and the Vikings after they meet on Sunday.

On Earth-38, Donald Trump’s Favorite NFL Player Is Colin Kaepernick. Hollywood loves time travel. There are too many time-travel movies to count, and now time travel has moved into primetime with NBC’s Timeless and onto streaming with Netflix’s Travelers and Hulu’s Future Man.

Time travel is very hard to conceptualize on a physical-law basis. Even if you are willing to posit wormholes and “negative energy”—claims far more loosey-goosey than any made by mainstream theology—if you had a time machine, where would you travel to? To travel, say, one year into the past, in order for there to be a destination, there must be an entire universe, of 100 billion galaxies, perpetually locked in November 14, 2016. If you wish to travel to any day of the prior year, there must be 365 entire universes, each with 100 billion galaxies, perpetually locked into a prior moment.

If you want to be able to set your time machine dials to any day between now and Plato’s birth, there must be 892,060 universes, each perpetually locked in a particular moment and each containing 100 billion galaxies, adding up to 892 quintillion galaxies. If you want to go further back than Plato the numbers keep rising, straining even the notion of infinity.

But scriptwriters love time travel because it can have heart-tugging results, whether in the Star Trek: The Next Generation classic “Yesterday’s Enterprise” or the five-hanky chick-flick Somewhere In Time. And scriptwriters like that the paradoxes of time travel mean action doesn’t have to make sense. (In the Dan Simmons Hyperion scifi novels, future persons wishing to use a time-travel device first must present their case to the Paradox Board—a nice joke.) Hollywood is good at “doesn’t make sense.”

Then there are “new timelines.” Time travel pales in comparison to new timelines. It’s hard to make time travel make sense. “Timelines” cannot make sense, so Hollywood likes timelines a whole bunch.

In Timeless, each instance in which the time machine whirls into the past changes the present into an alternative timeline: There have been 16 episodes, so 16 different timelines, each with 100 billion galaxies, which works out to 1.5 trillion additional galaxies created by a device that looks like a high-tech Faberge egg. Somehow some of the characters know what happened in the prior (and now inaccessible) timelines, which makes no sense, but since we are, after all, talking about “timelines,” the whole phrase “makes sense” makes no sense.

Want to reboot a franchise? Create a new timeline. If you’ve thought, “Hey, the latest couple X-Men movies mean the first couple X-Men movies made absolutely no sense,” that’s because X-Men: Days of Future Past, which enjoyed a robust box office, caused a “new timeline” in which everything is different except Jennifer Lawrence’s body paint. Sadly, in the new timeline the awful flick X-Men: Apocalypse still exists, and the villain still looks like a cartoon character from Power Rangers.

The Terminator franchise has been sustaining itself with new timelines. The Harry Potter play involves alternative timelines. The 2009 flick simply called Star Trek that rebooted the franchise as super-advanced from the get-go—TMQ liked the Original Series setting in which Starfleet was low-rent and coffee was served in foam cups spray-painted silver—created a new timeline in which the planet Vulcan is destroyed; in which two Mr. Spocks exist simultaneously (there’s Old Original Spock, played by the late Leonard Nimoy, and New Improved Spock, played by Zachary Quinto); in which Scotty possesses tech centuries before the tech is invented; and in which the actors have way better haircuts.

In “The Wrath of Khan,” Spock (Leonard Nimoy) dies saving in the Enterprise from the villain Khan. In the new Star Trek timeline, Kirk (Chris Pine) dies saving the Enterprise from . . . the villain Khan. Both the deceased are brought back to life and star sequels (“The Search for Spock,” “Star Trek Beyond”). (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

This confusion is summed by a scene in the 2016 movie Star Trek Beyond, in which New Improved Spock finds, in the personal effects of the just-died Old Original Spock, a keepsake photo of the Enterprise bridge officers as they appeared in the 1982 flick The Wrath of Khan. Yet the 2009 flick Star Trek caused a new timeline in which the Enterprise officers who are seen in 1982 (Willian Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, etc.) never existed. How can Old Original Spock possess a photo of people who never existed? The upcoming Star Trek flick gives audiences yet a third timeline in which New Improved Kirk’s father, who died in the opening reel of Star Trek, is alive again in Timeline Three.

All this nonsense can’t hold a candle to The Flash, just back for a new season on CW Network.

Premiering in 2014, The Flash had Barry Allen able to run so fast he travels in time. (Just how fast is never clear—sometimes Barry’s maximum velocity does not create a sonic boom, other times he exceeds the speed of light as easily as other men trim a mustache.) Barry’s escapades have generated a multitude of timelines. There’s a timeline in which his mother is murdered during his childhood; another in which she isn’t murdered; a timeline in which Barry has an evil twin; a timeline in which a tsunami destroys Central City; and many more. The show asserts that each timeline branches off from the previous reality and becomes a new universe, each with, presumably, 100 billion galaxies. After a techie-wizard character draws on a whiteboard two diverging lines that supposedly represent how easy it is to create an entire cosmos, he explains, “Because Barry went back one day into the past, now we all live in a parallel universe.” Instant parallel universe—got it. The moments of time travel on The Flash have resulted, by the show’s internal logic, in a dozen or so complete new cosmoses, containing 1.2 trillion new galaxies.

That’s not enough! The Flash also posits a multiverse in which there are many Earths, and many of everything else in the heavens: thousands of trillions of additional galaxies. Barry Allen’s antagonist Zoom comes from Earth-2, where the architecture is art deco and the jet engine was never invented; Barry’s ally Jay Garrick lives on Earth-3, where there are no McDonalds. (Now that’s science fiction.) A comic-relief character grew up on Earth-19. Kara Danvers, aka Supergirl, lives on Earth-38, where Beyonce is a member of the United States Senate. Initially on The Flash, it was incredibly hard to transit between parallel Earths. By the current season jumping from universe to universe is like catching the subway. Multiple timelines and multiple worlds!

Supergirl. Just chillin’. On Earth-38. (Photo by Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images)

The Barry Allen of The Flash on CW must not be confused with the Barry Allen who’s about to debut at the Cineplex in Justice League, because that guy not only is portrayed by a different actor, he lives on a still another Earth. In the TV reality of DC Comics characters, the Flash and Green Lantern patrol our world—we’re Earth-1, you knew we’d get the best number—while Supergirl and Superman live on Earth-38 along with J’onn J’onzz, and Batman is nowhere to be found. In the Justice League movie that arrives this week, the DC characters Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg, Superman, Wonder Woman, and a totally different Flash live in a cosmos that is not a multiverse, and Supergirl is nowhere to be found.

Multiverse thinking began as an academic attempt to answer, without calling on higher agency, why our cosmos has the physical laws and natural constants needed to sustain life: If there are billions of universes, maybe some, including ours, just by random chance would end up with natural laws amenable to carbon biology. The notion of a multiverse—our cosmos is but one of many universes—has some academic support but the support is strictly analytical, lacking observational data. Conveniently, the multiverse contention cannot be falsified: Other universes are said to be accelerating away from ours at the speed of light, and thus unobservable.

The notion of a single unobservable divine entity seems pretty subdued compared to vast numbers of unobservable universes. Yet at today’s big universities, cosmology departments consider the former idea primitive superstition while the latter idea super-advanced science.

Many NFL Teams Don’t Have Even a Fullback on the Roster, the Defending Champions Have One in the Backfield—This Is What Detectives Call “a Clue.” Bill Belichick tied Tom Landry for third place in NFL annals with 270 victories. Denver had seemed to have the magic touch against New England, posting a 17-4 stretch. But now the Patriots are on a 7-3 run versus the Broncos. Belichick needs another 54 wins to match George Halas for second place—can Tom Brady hang on that long?

Sunday night’s contest at Denver showed many examples of Belichick’s mastery of football tactics. The Patriots went for it on fourth down three times, the Broncos never went for it—maybe that’s a clue. In a pass-wacky league, New England often lined up in a traditional I-backfield with a fullback as a lead blocker. Twice, in a pass-wacky league, the Flying Elvii had a fullback and three tight ends on the field at once.

Belichick’s mastery, and the risk-averse timidity of most NFL coaches, was exhibited in the second quarter. New England leading 20-9 with 2:55 remaining before intermission, the Broncos were called for offensive pass interference during a short gain of yardage. Belichick’s option was to decline the penalty, giving Denver 4th-and-5 on the New England 18—an all but automatic field goal—or to accept, giving Denver 3rd-and-15 on the New England 30. Belichick declined, and Denver coach Vance Joseph fell for it by sending out the placekicker.

Think about what’s just happened. Belichick has said, “I am fine with you getting three points so long as to get the points right now and leave time on the clock for the league’s best quarterback, that’s a superior outcome for me than giving you 3rd-and-long, with a small chance you won’t get a field goal but also the chance to sustain a touchdown drive while using up time.” A TMQ immutable law of football holds that when the opponent is glad to see your kicking unit trot in, you should be going for it. Belichick was not only glad to see the Denver kicking unit, he encouraged this, and rookie head coach Joseph fell for it.

Denver kicked making the count 20-9 and leaving 2:36 for Brady. The Patriots went the length of the field for the touchdown that made it 27-9, and a walkover, by halftime. Sure, had Joseph gone for it, his charges would have faced 4th-and-5. But you’re trailing big versus the defending champions, field goals will not cut it, and football’s number-three all-time head coach has just signaled that he hopes you take the field goal. The game was like watching Itzhak Perlman show a novice how to hold a violin.

It’s like this. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)

We’re All Professionals Here. Quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown started for the Buccaneers and Jets against their former teams. Fitzpatrick and McCown have lots of former teams, having been with a combined 15 NFL clubs. Each showing the opponent why he deserved to be let go, they threw interceptions on back-to-back snaps.

The 500 Club. Hosting Ouachita Baptist, Henderson State gained 545 yards on offense, and lost. Hosting Boise State, Colorado State gained 570 yards on offense, led at one juncture by 25 points, and lost.

The 600 Club. Hosting Wake Forest, Syracuse gained 621 yards on offense and lost by three touchdowns. In a sign of contemporary scoreboard-spinning college style, Syracuse is averaging 31 points per game, and has a losing record.

Maybe It’s Just As Well Bud Wilkinson Did Not Live to See This. Big college football’s number-one and number-two passing offenses are Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, which have combined for 7,249 yards and 61 touchdowns passing.

A measure of the scoreboard-spinning contemporary college football scene is that there are 12 quarterbacks in Division 1 with more touchdown passes than anyone in the NFL. At the pro level, TMQ roots for Carson Wentz, who leads the NFL in touchdown passes despite receiving zero stars from Rivals.com coming out of high school. At the NCAA level, TMQ roots for Baker Mayfield, Division 1’s leading passer by quarterback rating, who was a college walk-on because no program recruited him—despite throwing 67 touchdown passes versus just eight interceptions in high school.

Scoreboard-spinning at the collegiate level applies to rushing as well as passing, partly because college defenses simply aren’t as good as professionals. This weekend Arizona ran for 534 yards versus Oregon State; Army rushed for 559 yards versus SMU; most likely there were other college games in which the winner had insane rushing numbers. Hurry-up quick-snap rushing tactics are common in the contemporary college game, but almost unknown in the pros: Combined with college clock-management rules that encourage snaps, the result can be mega rushing totals in college.

Obscure College Score. Beloit 35, Grinnell 0. The Beloit Buccaneers pitched a shutdown despite entering the contest 0-9 and a loss the previous week by 40 points versus Saint Norbert. Located in Beloit, Wisconsin, the campus of Beloit College includes 20 Indian effigy mounds, some more than 1,000 years old.

Single Worst Pairs of Plays of the Season—So Far. Chargers leading 17-14 with 1:38 remaining in regulation, Jax’s Marqise Lee was called for taunting. Taunting when your team is trailing late is not exactly smart football: Lee seemed to have locked up Single Worst Play of the Season—So Far.

Then on the next snap, Tre Boston, the man Lee had been taunting, intercepted a Jax pass and had green grass ahead of him—but started dancing and waving the ball at Lee. Rather than a return that would have advanced LA/B’s spot to near midfield, Boston ended up dancing out-of-bounds at the Chargers 10. Jacksonville still had its time outs, and got possession back, kicking a field goal to force overtime, then more-or-less winning in a blunder-filled fifth quarter.

Marqise Lee of Jax tried to commit the Single Worst Play of the Season—So Far, but Tre Boston of LA/B did him one better.

Next Week. CBS sends the prequel series Star Trek Discovery back in time to the 1960s so it can air before the original series.

This post originally appeared on Weekly Standard


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