Life is full of ups and downs, but at least Alabama lost

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Only a strange series of events could result in me cheering for the same team as Texas governor Rick Perry
  • Ralph Barrera/AP
  • Only a strange series of events could result in me cheering for the same team as Texas governor Rick Perry
We were in a family seafood restaurant in southwest Michigan, and like everyone else we were enjoying our fried perch and desperately hoping that justice would prevail. That is to say, we were watching the Texas A&M-Alabama game, and when the Aggies picked off a pass to kill a Crimson Tide comeback drive late in the fourth quarter, we all dropped our forks and cheered like hell.

And why wouldn't we? The top-ranked Crimson Tide, the defending national champions, the powerhouse inspiring fear and loathing across the country, the perennial juggernaut coached by the brilliant and oily Nick Saban— those mofos were going down!

We were all A&M fans right then. Who'd have thought I'd be on the same side of anything as Texas governor Rick Perry?

But it wasn't over—I knew that all too well.

And when the Aggies brought out their punter after failing to move the ball or kill the clock, a nervous quiet settled over the restaurant patrons and their fish dinners.

Now, let me say that as a more-or-less grown man, I've long since learned that it's healthy to keep sports in their proper place. We're talking about games, entertainment, a distraction from the serious issues of the world—fun, for fuck's sake. So when one of my teams suffers its latest soul-crushing defeat, I try not to let it become soul crushing.

That said, we're all imperfect. And I was still struggling to let go of a disturbing event that had happened earlier that afternoon. The details hardly matter anymore, except that they continue to play out in my brain over and over. Over and over. Over and over. Over and over . . .

My guys, the Northwestern Wildcats, have a three-point lead and the ball near midfield with half a minute left. Of course they're forced to punt. Of course the punt is short. Of course it's right to the Michigan returner. Of course he takes it almost to the 40. Of course the Wolverines throw a desperation pass downfield. Of course the pass is caught.

I'll leave it at that. What did I do wrong in my past lives?

So there I was a couple hours later, contemplating my existence, watching my fish get cold, pretending (badly) that I wasn't still smarting from the latest sports indignity. And that's when I was drawn into the movement to root for A&M.

Naturally, the Aggies were soon forced to punt the ball back to Alabama for the certain go-ahead score. This is what happens to teams I want to win: they lose.

Usually. But even I have to admit there are happy endings once in a while. Because for some reason, somebody in crimson jumped offside, giving a first down to the Aggies. Game over, chumps!

The restaurant broke out in celebration. We finished our meal in peace. Somebody mentioned that Obama had won too.

The best news of all: there are more games this week. So let's get to them.

Thursday night special:

North Carolina over Virginia: At least Virginia did the winning thing on Election Day.

Big Ten:

No. 23 Michigan over Iowa: And while you're at it, Michigan, go ahead and take the rest of it—my coat, my shoes, my arm, for chrissakes.

Michigan State over Northwestern: They're called quarters because winning teams play four of them.

Penn State over Indiana: My victory over Iowa was bigger than yours.

Purdue over Illinois: Somebody might watch this. But don't count on it.

No. 16 Nebraska over Minnesota: The Gophers are playing like a decent team in three years.

Wisconsin over No. 10 Ohio State: I've got a feeling. Then again, maybe it's just a taste for lentil soup.

Other games:

Cincy over No. 22 Rutgers: Cincy lost to Toledo, Rutgers lost to Kent State, and Toledo hasn't played Kent State, so that doesn't help us at all. But the game is in Cincinnati.

No. 17 UCLA over No. 21 USC: There's a second time for everything, which is good news for the Bruins, because they've only won this matchup once since 1999.

No. 3 Notre Dame over Wake Forest: I'm really starting to warm to the Demon Deacons this week.

No. 1 Oregon over No. 14 Stanford: When the best rushing defense in the country (Stanford) tries to stop the third-best rushing offense in the country (Oregon), go with the O and try passing the ball.

University of Chicago over: As in done, through, finished. For the year, at least. The Maroons ended the season on a three-game losing streak to close with a 4-6 record. Let's think big thoughts for 2013.

Last week: President Obama made me take a bye week, but thanks to the three of you who noticed. The week before I went 10-3—not quite Nate Silverish, but I'll take it. Season: 99-33.

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