Sunday, January 25, 2015

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

At least, for those of us denizens of Spartan Nation, it was (my apologies to those of my friends who are sports-disinclined; this will be my last sporting post for a while; I promise).

Against all odds, we won our Cotton Bowl game against the Battling Baptists of Baylor University.  The final score was 42-41, but going into the fourth quarter we were behind 41-21, and we hadn't looked very good getting there.  For that matter, even given the 21-0 differential in our favor for the final quarter, we didn't look all that good, even then.  So many things had to tilt our way, even just to keep us in the game long enough not to lose it.  Baylor had to miss a field goal (off the upright!) early in the quarter, which would have put the game out of reach.  So when we drove the field to pull within 41-28 with 12 minutes remaining, we still had hopes of winning.

We recovered an onside kick, but then a couple plays later, our quarterback threw the most gawd-awful interception I think I've ever seen (this was far beyond the realms of 'what the hell was he thinking?', WAY past 'what the hell was THAT?'; it was just. . . gawd-awful. . .), which was duly returned 85 yards for the clinching touchdown against us.  But wait, the referee is speaking on-camera - "illegal block in the back".  So, no touchdown against us, just yet; we're still only down 13.  Still and all, we failed to score, we lost the ball, and Baylor's offense, which we never really stopped all day, had the ball again.  But Baylor turned the ball back over to us on downs, failing on a 4th-and-2 at our 40-yard line, and this time, we drove the field and scored again, with about 5 minutes left, cutting the margin to 41-35.

Once again, Baylor began marching up the field, eventually lining up for a field goal attempt with just over a minute left, which, if they made it, would put them up nine points, and make it all but impossible for us to score twice with a minute left to play (Just before the field-goal attempt, ESPN's Win Probability Tracker gave the Spartans a 0.4% chance of winning - 1 in 250).  But we blocked the field goal, and returned the block to the Baylor 45-yard line.  Our QB continued his erratic play, badly missing a couple wide-open receivers, but completing just enough passes to keep the drive alive (converting once on 4th-and-10).  We finally scored the tying touchdown with 17 seconds left, and the extra point gave us our only lead of the second half.  Baylor got the ball back, but we sacked their quarterback twice, and intercepted his 3rd-down pass to seal the victory.

Looking back at the game, I still don't quite know how we won it.  Baylor threw for over 600 passing yards, completing over 70% of their passes.  Bryce Petty, their quarterback, was amazing all night long, threading passes through tiny openings to incredibly fast receivers.  Our defense, which has been the hallmark of our excellence in recent years, seemed to have no answers for him.  But late in the game, we found ways to stop them, or at least, slow them down, just enough to get lucky and win the game.  Unbelievable.  One of the most incredible never-say-die games I've ever seen, even if I didn't care who won.  Which, however, I did.  Go Green!

And then, in the evening's playoff games, Oregon beat Florida State, and Ohio State upset Alabama.  So, the only two teams to beat us all year will be playing each other for the national championship.  Does that make us Number Three?


Here we are in 2015, and we still don't have any snow to speak of in OurTown.  I've been able to ride outdoors right up to the present, even getting in 10 miles on December 30th, before the sub-freezing temperatures just made my toes hurt.  I ended with 74 miles in December (I've never even had half that before), and 1110 for the year 2014.  Funny to think that I was sweating getting to four digits a month ago, and ended up going over 100 miles past that.  Heck, this afternoon, I'm going out for my first 10 miles of the New Year, so 2015 is already well-begun.