Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Review: 'Hannibal' by Thomas Harris (1999)

Forget the lackluster 2001 movie - this is Hannibal the way you were supposed to experience it. 

By: Jimbo X

When it comes to celebrating  the cinematic form, very, VERY rarely do hardcore horror fans and "mainstream" moviegoers intersect. By and large, the stuff “normal” film watchers and critics like fall under the umbrella of “suspense” or “thrillers” – i.e., the kinds of movies that are too classy to load up on the buckets of fake guts and gore, while the stuff the hardcore are into are super obscure, super-artsy (sometimes, to the point of being transgressive abstractionism) and filled with so much excess sex and violence that most countries won’t even let you import them on DVD. Jonathan Demme’s 1991 Best Picture winner Silence of the Lambs, however, is one of the very, very few movies embraced by both “normal” folks and the wackos who spend all night torrenting weird-o Japanese fetish movies about people painting pictures of daisies using mermaid pus. Sure, a lot of snobs and other varieties of hoity-toity people try to say the flick ain’t your run of the mill splatter movie, but let's face it, Silence of the Lambs, categorically, is hardly any different from stuff like Silent Night, Deadly Night and Last House on Dead End Street. Granted, the acting is way better, but the star attraction is still downright gross and discomfiting, genre-standard shock and schlock. You can say the thing you remember most is Anthony Hopkins' performance, but we all know the first thing that comes to mind whenever you hear the title brought up is Jodie Foster having spunk thrown on her and a naked transvestite dancing around his bedroom with his wing-wong tucked up his bunghole. Yeah, some real “high art,” all right

In hindsight, it really shouldn’t be shocking at all that 2001’s follow-up Hannibal failed to recapture the magic of its predecessor. I mean, sure, the movie did have its fair share of gross-out moments, but it didn’t have that same degenerate cinema mentality. The problem there is that Ridley Scott and pals were TRYING to make a movie that appealed to the Oscar voters, instead of just making a great pukeola creepfest like the first time around. It was just too subdued and regal a motion picture, especially considering how over-the-top its source inspiration was. Now, I’ve never read Tom Harris' earlier Hannibal Lecter novels, so I can’t give you any insight into how the dude’s writing style and take on the central character has developed over the years. But what I can tell you, however, is that Hannibal, the novel, is way, way more messed up than Hannibal, the movie. Had the filmmakers stuck more closely to the book,  the final cinematic product undoubtedly would’ve turned out a million times better.

Never got around to reading Tom Harris' original literary sojourn, or just too damned lazy to flip through the 400 page tome yourself? Well, old Jimbo here has done you a kindness and drawn up a special Cliff's Notes version of the 1999 novel, which really, is the absolute perfect kind of Grand Guignol nonsense to churn your way through in the lead-up to Halloween. Strap on your reading glasses, folks - it's time to revisit one of the classics of mainstream, modern horror nonfiction. 

The novel begins with Clarice Starling and her FBI pals sitting in a van with a 150 pound block of dry ice. They storm a fish market during a meth raid and Clarice winds up gunning down an African-American woman while she was holding her infant (all the while, "La Macarena" plays in the background.) Oh, and the woman (no innocent bystander, mind you, but the HBIC of the meth running operation) is known to have AIDS, so Clarice has to be extra careful spraying down her infant with a hose. Making matters worse, a couple of Crips got ran over during the raid, and at least one other FBI agent got killed. 

So Clairce heads back to her duplex in Maryland where she is splitting rent with Ardelia Mapp (a.k.a., that fine Rae Dawn Chong looking cadet from Silence of the Lambs) and she cries on top of her washing machine while reading tabloids about the botched raid. After that we get the Dummy's Guide to Silence of the Lambs for those of you who missed out on it and we learn that the FBI is really, really enthusiastic about shitcanning Starling for the shootout. She rues her agrarian roots thusly: 
"What do you have when you come from a poor-white background? And from a place where Reconstruction didn't end until the 1950s. If you came from people often referred to on campuses as crackers and rednecks or, condescendingly, as blue-collar or poor-white Appalachians. If even the uncertain gentility of the South, who accord physical work no dignity at all, refer to your people as peckerwoods - in what tradition do you find an example? That we whaled the piss out of them that first time at Bull Run? That Great-granddaddy did right at Vicksburg, that a corner of Shiloh is forever Yazoo City? There is much honor and more sense in having succeeded with what was left, making something with the damned forty acres and a muddy mule, but you have to be able to see that. No one will tell you."
Almost on cue, she then receives a letter from our good pal Hannibal, who mocks her for her recent fuck-uppery and says something about  cryptically meeting her "between silver and iron." 

Now we meet Mason Verger, this really rich dude whose daddy was a pork kingpin back in the day. He's also paralyzed, on a respirator and hideously disfigured from .... something. The author describes in excruciating detail how he can't make plosives sounds and a mechanical apparatus has to moisturize his eyeballs because he doesn't have any eyelid left. Also, he is really, really fixated on a pet eel, for some reason. 

Clarice has a meeting with the FBI and she talks with Jack Crawford, who is a smug piece of shit who has it in for her. They talk about Hannibal rumors on the Internet and the recent execution of Fou-Tchou-Li - you know, that whole "death by a thousand cuts" metaphor. Starling then meets with Verger, who explains his meat packing fortune background. His mansion, for some reason, has a bunch of welfare kids playing in a daycare center. Starling takes one look at his sister, Margot, and automatically assumes she is on steroids. As it turns out, Verger got off light on some child molestation charges back in his youth, and instead of a lengthy jail sentence, all he got was community service and court ordered treatment - with Hannibal. Let's let Mason himself explain just how well his therapy went, why don't we? 
"So I pulled down the noose in front of my big mirror and put it on and had the release in my hand, and I was beating off with the other hand watching for his reaction, but I couldn't tell anything. Usually I can read people. He was sitting in a chair over in the corner of the room. His legs were crossed and he had his fingers locked over his knee. Then he stood up and reached in his jacket pocket, all elegant, like James Mason reaching for his lighter, and he said, `Would you like an amyl popper?' I thought, Wow! He gives me one now and he's got to give them to me forever to keep his license. Prescription city.Well, if you read the report, you know it was a lot more than amyl nitrite ... I mean whoa! He went over to the mirror I looked at myself in, and kicked the bottom of it and took out a shard. I was flying. He came over and gave me the piece of glass and looked me in the eyes and suggested I might like to peel off my face with it. He let the dogs out. I fed them my face. It took a longtime to get it all off, they say. I don't remember. Dr. Lecter broke my neck with the noose. They got my nose back when they pumped the dogs' stomachs at the animal shelter, but the graft didn't take."
After that, Mason makes himself feel better by ordering a young black child into his darkened living quarters, where he demands the child feed rat poison to his pet cat. After that, Verger's orderly dabs away the kid's tears, and puts the salty remnants inside Verger's chilled martini glass. Yep, this sumbitch is so evil he literally drinks the tears of children.

Starling decides this is the most opportune time to pursue a lead she got on some x-rays, so she decides to visit the old abandoned mental institution in Baltimore. She decides to sneak into the dilapidated building, where she runs into a deranged (but fairly harmless) homeless man and learns that Barney, a former security guard, stole all of Hannibal's records before the facility shut down. Oh, and this was never really expressed in the movies, but apparently, Hannibal himself has six fingers on one of his hand. And hey, you know Miggs, the dude who threw his own spunk on Clarice in Silence of the Lambs? Well, we learn that Hannibal didn't take to kindly to that kind of tomfoolery, so he killed him afterwards. 

Next, we get some exposition on Mason's plan to kidnap Hannibal and kill him with a platoon of wild hogs he's been breeding over the last 20 years. If you thought the main character in American Psycho was autistic, just wait until you hear how detail-oriented this motherfucker is about pig teats. 

As it turns out, Hannibal has been living in Florence since the end of SOTL, using the alias Dr. Feel (not to be confused with Dr. Feelgood, naturally.) He's being pursued by some guy named Pazzi, a disgraced investigator whose claim to fame is catching some dude who spree killed a whole bunch of Italian couples. He's been offered a cool million by Mason to capture Hannibal, but he'll get a smaller amount if he can just obtain his fingerprints. So he hires a gypsy to go grab him so he'll get his thumbs all over a bracelet, but she freaks out when she sees Hannibal and calls him "the devil." Pazzi then hies a pickpocket, but LOLOOPS, he has his femoral artery sliced open by Hannibal during an attempted wallet-thieving. 

So Pazzi hires these goons to help him capture Hannibal. They do a practice run for Hannibal's execution by stuffing a business suit with chicken guts and boiled eggs and record the feral pigs tearing it to shreds. 

Following a scene in which Hannibal draws a picture of Starling's face on a griffin (apparently, he's part Napoleon Dynamite, it appears), he apprehends Pazzi, guts him, hangs him and defenestrates him with, of all things, a floor buffer. Oh, and one of the hired goons gets killed too, while Hannibal drones on and on about Dante's Inferno imagery and shit. The author lets us know a vacationing Swiss family recorded the entire thing and they sell the rights to the video to some National Enquirer like shit rag, and Starling wonders what kind of car Hannibal is driving these days (she correctly assumes it is a Jaguar.)

Up next, Hannibal trolls Mason with a letter, which is definitely worth printing in full:
"Dear Mason,   
Thank you for posting such a huge bounty on me. I wish you would increase it. As an early-warning system, the bounty is better than radar. It inclines authorities everywhere to forsake their duty and scramble after me privately, with the results you see. 
Actually, I'm writing to refresh your memory on the subject of your former nose. In your inspirational antidrug interview the other day in the Ladies' Home journal you claim that you fed your nose, along with the rest of your face, to the pooches, Skippy and Spot, all waggy at your feet. Not so: You ate it yourself, for refreshment. From the crunchy sound when you chewed it up, I would say it had a consistency similar to that of a chicken gizzard - "Tastes just like chicken!" was your comment at the time. I was reminded of the sound in a bistro when a French person tucks into a gesier salad. 
You don't remember that, Mason? Speaking of chicken, you told me in therapy that, while you were subverting the underprivileged children at your summer camp, you learned that chocolate irritates your urethra. You don't remember that either, do you? Don't you think it likely you told me all sorts of things you don't remember now? There is an inescapable parallel between you and Jezebel, Mason. Keen Bible student that you are, you will recall the dogs ate Jezebel's face, along with the rest of her, after the eunuchs threw her out the window. 
Your people might have assassinated me in the street. But you wanted me alive, didn't you? From the aroma of your henchmen, it's obvious how you planned to entertain me. Mason, Mason. Since you want to see me so badly, let me give you some words of comfort, and you know I never lie. 
Before you die you will see my face. 
Sincerely, Hannibal Lecter, MD  
P.S. I worry, though, that you won't live that long, Mason. You must avoid the new strains of pneumonia. You're very susceptible, prone as you are (and will remain). I would recommend vaccination immediately, along with immunization shots for hepatitis A and B. Don't want to lose you prematurely."
Up next, Mason talks with the U.S. Inspector General about the Humane Slaughter Act. The general says he prefers Hannibal be apprehended on the state level, while Margot symbolically crushes walnuts in the background.

Margot tells Mason she wants his sperm so she and her lesbian partner can have a baby. She can't have one of her own because her ovaries are shot from hormones and anabolic steroids. You see, their deceased daddy's lawyers won't give either of them any money unless they produce a biological heir, and Margot's gal pal getting knocked up is the only thing standing between them and their fortune going to Baylor University or the Southern Baptist Convention. Oh, and Mason apparently did a lot of sister raping in his youth. You ... probably don't want to know the details. 

...but here they are anyway, you sickos. 

Next scene, Hannibal is on an airplane, in Canada, en route to Detroit - wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt with a ton of cash taped to his body. He feeds figs - or, at least that's what he says are figs - to this annoying kid beside him and has a nightmare about his sister being kidnapped by Eastern front fighters in 1944 (yeah, more on this in just a bit.) Hannibal wakes up screaming and calms himself down by fantasizing about his dream study, complete with frescoes of Starling, J. Edgar Hoover and Jesus in a '27 Model T. No, I'm not making any of that up.

After Starling recreates the botched raid at Hogan's Alley (apparently, it's not just a NES game), she meets with Deputy Assistant General Paul Krendler, who says he thinks Hannibal is gay and calls her a "corn pone cunt." Afterwards, Krendler, Mason, Margot and the psych department chair at Baylor discuss Hannibal's past and his connections with Starling. The Baylor rep says they are both orphans and raises questions about Starling being a lesbian. He ultimately diagnoses Hannibal with "avuncular disorder," that being, a desire to manipulate younger prey by posing as a mentor. Mason changes the discussion by bringing up the time he visited Idi Amin and discussing the proper way to crucify people. 

By now, Hannibal has made his way stateside and is stalking Clarice. He breaks into her car and breathes in her scent and has flashbacks about his younger sister Mischa (I promise, we'll get back to this one in just a moment.) 

So Barney works for Mason now. He explains his credentials and recounts Hannibal killing Miggs. Meanwhile, Hannibal decides to go buy a crossbow and some arrows at a gun show. He then tests his new equipment by going out into the woods, killing a hunter and flaying him beside a deer. 

You know that disadvantaged black youth from earlier? Well, apparently, he went home and ate rat poison and is now hospitalized. 

Barney comes on to Margot in the shower, they fight, and apologize to each other. Margot then asks Barney if he will kill Mason for her. 

Hannibal goes to Texas and pays to have a coffin exhumed. But whose corpse is it? 

Starling is officially shitcanned by the FBI for engaging in correspondence with Hannibal. During her hearing, Krendler fantasizes about saying all sorts of nasty things to her. 

Hannibal rents a room and watches the Errol Morris documentary A Brief History of Time and thinks about entropy for a bit. The scene when a teacup shatters into a million billion pieces - never to re-assemble itself - makes him yearn for his deceased sister. You see, growing up in Lithuania, Hannibal's younger sister was kidnapped by a ragtag group of Nazis led by a particularly nasty S.S. commander, who axed her to death and then ate her remains right in front of Hannibal. So, yeah, that's pretty much the origin point of his psychosis, canonically. 

In diegetic time, Hannibal goes to a hospital, knocks out a doctor, leaves him on a toilet, steals a ton of drugs and hijacks a truck. He stalks Starling at a grocery store, and that's when Mason's Italian goons hit him with a tranquilizer to the neck. They pull him into a van and whisk him away to Mason's place out in the sticks. 

Mason tells Hannibal he's going to start by making the pigs eat his feet. One of the goons busts Hannibal's eyes with a stun gun. Hannibal talks with Margot (she was one of his patients as a kid and knows all about the evil shit Mason did to her) and he tries to goad her into killing her brother. Hannibal suggests using the stun gun to stimulate his prostate and scoop up his precious, precious sperm before he dies, though. 

One of the goons tries to drug Hannibal so he bites off his eyebrow. The goon responds by poking Hannibal's nipple with a red hot poker. Hannibal is hoisted over the pigs with a forklift, but here comes Clarice to make the save. A shootout ensues and Hannibal is freed. He carries Clarice out of the mansion - the pigs, apparently afraid of him out of pure instinct, refuse to pursue him. And now? We come to Mason's supremely over the top demise. There's no point in diluting Harris' own verbiage, so I'll just copy and paste it straight from the source: 
"She bent over the aquarium with her great arms down in the water. She held the carp by the tail down close to the grotto and when the eel came out she grabbed it behind the head with her powerful hand and lifted it clear out of the water, over her head. The mighty eel thrashing, as long as Margot and thick, its festive skin flashing. She gripped the eel with the other hand too and when it flexed it was all she could, do to hold on with the spiky gloves embedded in its hide.
Careful down off the chair and she came to Mason carrying the flexing eel, its head shaped like a bolt cutter, teeth clicking together with a sound like a telegraph key, the back-curved teeth no fish ever escaped. She flopped the eel on top of his chest, on the respirator and holding it with one hand, she lashed his pigtail around and around and around it. 
"Wiggle, wiggle, Mason," she said.
She held the eel behind the head with one hand and with the other she forced down Mason's jaw, forced it down, putting her weight on his chin, him straining with what strength he had, and with a creaking, cracking sound his mouth opened.
"You should have taken the chocolate," Margot said, and stuffed the eel's maw into Mason's mouth, it seizing his tongue with its razor-sharp teeth as it would a fish and not letting go, never letting go, its body thrashing tangled in Mason's pigtail. Blood blew out Mason's nose hole and he was drowning. Margot left them together, Mason and the eel, the carp circling alone in the aquarium. She composed herself at Cordell's desk and watched the monitors until Mason flat-lined. 
The eel was still moving when she went back into Mason's room. The respirator went up and down, inflating the eel's air bladder as it pumped bloody froth out of Mason's lungs. Margot rinsed the cattle prod in the aquarium and put it in her pocket."
Oh, by the way, Mason had a condom sacked over his paraplegic dong before the eel-assisted fratricide. And yes, in case you were wondering, the excitement of having the creature tear his esophagus to shreds did indeed make him come

Hannibal takes Clarice back to his rented place and pumps her full of the stolen drugs. Then, he decides to perform some hypnotherapy on her. He pretends to be her deceased father and then takes her into the bedroom, where the exhumed remains of her actual father are splayed out on the mattress. He then tells Clarice he knew Krendel bugged her car, and that gave away his location to Mason.

We jump ahead a couple of days. Mapp interrogates Barney at gunpoint for info on Clarice's whereabouts, and he's got nothing. Then, he gives Margot Hannibal's old mask, so they can plant DNA on the crime scene. For his efforts, he gets a quick, tongue-less smooch from Margot.

Meanwhile, Hannibal is still drugging Clarice. He wheels out Krendel, cuts opens his skull, carves out a chunk of his brain, fries it, and makes him eat it (basically,it's  the exact same scene from the movie, except Hannibal is considerate enough to kill him with an arrow after all the tomfoolery.)  

Denouement time, and it's way different from the cinematic treatment. Get ready shippers - Harris is about to give you the sick shit you've long been clamoring for: 
"When she replaced her glass on the table beside her, she pushed off her coffee cup and it shattered on the hearth. She did not look down at it. Dr. Lecter watched the shards, and they were still. 
"I don't think you have to make up your mind right this minute," Starling said. Her eyes and the cabochons shone in the firelight. A sigh from the fire, the warmth of the fire through her gown, and there came to Starling a passing memory - Dr. Lecter, so long ago, asking Senator Martin if she breast fed her daughter. A jeweled movement turning in Starling's unnatural calm: For an instant many windows in her mind aligned and she saw far across her own experience. She said, "Hannibal Lecter, did your mother feed you at her breast?"
"Did you ever feel that you had to relinquish the breast to Mischa? Did you ever feel you were required to give it up for her?"  
A beat. "I don't recall that, Clarice. If I gave it up, I did it gladly." 
Clarice Starling reached her cupped hand into the deep neckline of her gown and freed her breast, quickly peaky in the open air. "You don't have to give up this one," she said. Looking always into his eyes, with her trigger finger she took warm Chateau d'Yquem from her mouth and a thick sweet drop suspended from her nipple like a golden cabochon and trembled with her breathing. He came swiftly- from his chair to her, went on a knee before her chair, and bent to her coral and cream in the firelight his dark sleek head."
And three years later, Barney and his new gal pal (not Margot, he apparently failed in his quest to turn her straight) sees Starling and Hannibal at a Buenos Aires opera house. Apparently, Clarice and Hannibal have been an item for quite some time now. He's still acting as her "therapist," so to speak, but he no longer drugs her up before sessions. Instead, he's taught her how to enter her own "special place" in her head like he does. We learn that Jack Crawford died and Mapp sends Clarice a ring. The book ends proper with Hannibal making an allusion to that scene in A Brief History of Time, stating that he now has no qualms watching the teacup shatter anymore. 

Well, told you it was different from the movie, didn't I? Obviously, there are a lot of major omissions from the novel in the 2001 film adaptation, including the deletion of several characters (most notably Margot), the total elimination of the background on Hannibal being hunted down by Nazis in his youth, and of course a lot of stuff excised concerning just how fucking horrific of a human being Mason is. Oh, and the finales are way different - in the movie, Hannibal has to hack off his own hand to evade authorities and the flick concludes with him feeding mysterious stuff to some Asian kid on a flight. Needless to say, the book kicks the shit out of the movie, in every conceivable way.

Now, I've never read any of Harris' other Hannibal books, nor have I seen Hannibal Rising or watched a single episode of the TV show. From what I've collected from my Internet skimmings, however, that media apparently does a pretty solid job filling in the gaps the 2001 movie left out, so if you just have to know everything there is about the Dr. Lecter canon, you've got plenty of stuff out there to chew through. 

Personally, I don't really consider it a proper Halloween without gutting my way through at least one high-caliber horror novel (which is really out the normal for me, seeing as how I usually disregard all forms of fiction that aren't hilariously overbearing propaganda.) I really can't say I was totally enthralled by Hannibal from start to finish (indeed, there are periodic 20-page gulfs you'll feel like skimming through to get to the next kill), but overall, it is a fairly enjoyable little read that offers way more sex, violence and nightmare fodder than the ill-fated '01 film adaptation.

This stuff is just tailor-made for reading at 3 in the morning, bundled up in a blanket as the chilly autumnal wind creeps its way through your bedroom, or perusing next to a rainy windowsill on a Saturday morning while sipping on warm, store-brand pumpkin spice coffee. It's trashy literature, yes, but it's the good kind of literary trash - the kind that you can wrap yourself up in for an entire month, digest like an whole package of Little Debbie's Bat Brownies and immediately shuck away as soon as November rears its turkey and stuffing-scented head. 

Or in other words? Yeah, it's pretty much the ideal kind of instantly disposable, instantly gratifying, decadent pulp fiction for Halloween readin'.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

2016 NFL Power Rankings - Week Three!

ESPN and Sports Illustrated can eat it - these are the only pro football power rankings anybody needs.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
"2005 called ... they want their power rankings back"


Philadelphia Eagles (3-0)
Season Point Differential: +65

Remember last week, when we asked the great philosophical question "are the Eagles actually worth a shit or did they look better than they actually are because they were playing certified turds like the Browns and the Bears?" Well, after drubbing a team considered by many analysts and experts to be a lock for the AFC Championship game by 31 points, you know, I reckon this here Eagles team might actually be a legitimately great professional football team. Anchored by North Dakota State standout Carson Wentz (who still hasn't lobbed an INT as a NFLer), the Eagles collected 301 receiving yards in their mind-breaking 34-3 slaughter of the Steelers, with Darren Sproles - motherfucking Darren Sproles! - apparently being reanimated from the grave to rack up 128 yards and a solo TD saunter. Factor in barn burning back Wendell Smallwood (79 yards and a TD run on 17 carries) and an ungodly great rush defense that held PIT to an insanely low 29 yards of offense, and folks ... we might just have a redux of the 1999 Rams on our hands

New England Patriots (3-0)
Season Point Differential: +36

It honestly doesn't make any sense. Arguably the greatest QB in NFL history gets benched for the first four games, and what does his back-up do? Oh, he only comes in and mops the floor with the team many analysts predicted to be a NFC Championship contender, following up the next week with a pummeling of a divisional rival in which the team he was commanding jumped out to a 24-3 lead around halftime. So he gets injured, the third string quarterback comes in, and what doe she do? Naturally, he puts on an even more amazing performance, propelling the Patriots to a bookie-enriching 27-0 shutout of the Texans - considered by many to be one of the best defensive units in all of pro football - last Thursday night. Granted, super-talented back LaGarrette Blount (105 yards and two TDS on 24 carries) had a lot to do with the Pats picking up the W, but still ... nothing short of some kind of Faustian bargain explains how a team THIS injury/suspension hampered continues to fucking dominate the League with their leading receiving just one injury away from having to fill in as quarterback. 

Denver Broncos (3-0)
Season Point Differential: +27

Trevor Siemian is definitely playing a lot better for the Broncos than Peyton Manning did last year. In Denver's 29-17 win over the Bengals, Siemian lobbed four touchdown passes and collected 312 yards on 23 completions, while Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas combined for 217 receiving yards and three touchdown catches. Alas, if you are looking for a weak spot, the run game is definitely it. The Broncos could only post 52 yards of ground offense (with no scores) in last Sunday's win, while their D allowed the Bengals to collect 143 yards and two rushing touchdowns. 

Minnesota Vikings (3-0)
Season Point Differential: +24

Lotsa' fluky things happened in the Vikes 22-10 win over the defending NFC Champions, ranging from a first quarter safety to a 54-yard Marcus Sherels punt return early in the second quarter. Though Sam Bradford's play was consistent (171 yards and a TD pass on 18 completions), it was, strangely, Minnesota's defense which was more responsible for the W than anything else, with the 2016 Purple People Eaters intercepting Cam Newton three times and sacking him on no less than EIGHT separate occasions, for a cumulative loss of 64 yards. 

Kansas City Chiefs (2-1)
Season Point Differential: +20

While Alex Smith didn't really do a whole lot on offense (he finished the game with just one TD pass and 237 yards on 25 completions), the Chiefs defense definitely succeeded where the O faltered. Half of the points put up by K.C. in the contest were derived from defensive TDs, including a 27-yard fumble return by Demetrius Harris and a 55-yard pick six courtesy of Derrick Johnson. Oh, and speaking of interceptions, care to to take a wild guess just how many times the Chiefs picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick in the game? If you said "are you sure this guy isn't special ed or something?", you sir, would be as right as a 90 degree angle.

Dallas Cowboys (2-1)
Season Point Differential: +17

The run game certainly did most of the heavy lifting in Dallas' 31-17 win over Chicago last Sunday evening. On a combined 49 rushes, the Cowboys posted 199 yards and three touchdowns, with rookie sensation/probable woman beater Ezekiel Elliot finishing the game with 140 yards on 37 carries. As impressive as Big D's offense may have been, you really can't be too happy if you are Cowboys fan looking at that defense. Prey tell, how in the bluest of hells does a modern NFL team let Brian Hoyer throw for 317 yards in a regular season game

Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Season Point Differential: +16

The beautiful thing about pro football is that, as the old aphorism goes, anything can happen once Sunday rolls around. Stats, empirical wisdom, the basic theorems of physics ... all useless asides. And few games demonstrate that whole mid-1990s WWF "anything can happen" mentality quite like Arizona's "say whut?" 33-18 loss to the lowly Buffalo Bills. Well, actually, quite a few things would explain the loss - like Carson Palmer lobbing four interceptions, the Cards only putting up 88 yards of rushing offense while letting the Bills post 208 and - the biggie - the team as a whole seemingly forgetting the forward pass exists and refusing to air it out against Buffalo's notoriously porous pass defense. The only question now is, is this game little more than an early season aberration, or are the Cards slowly but surely sauntering their way towards implosion?

Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
Season Point Differential: +15

After a slow start, the Seahawks are finally starting to look like the team we all thought they were going to be. In a 37-18 win over the San Francisco America Haters, receivers Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham both collected 100 plus yards on the day, while running back Christine "I'm Not A Woman" Michael carried the rock for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Alas, even in victory the 'Hawks still found a way to lose: multi-millionaire star QB Russell Wilson left the game with an MCL sprain, which could keep him off the field for this weekend's meeting with the Jets. 


San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Season Point Differential: +14

Granted, you may want to write off their blowout win over the Jaguars, but the Chargers have remained excruciatingly close in its two losses (the latest, of course, being their 26-22 defeat at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts.) They might not always come out on top, but with Philip Rivers lobbing the rock consistently for 300 yards every game, they are nonetheless a team that's going to remain competitive down to the wire. That they are managing to do so with such an insanely long string of player injuries makes their surprisingly solid play all the more remarkable. 

Baltimore Ravens (3-0)
Season Point Differential: +13

In a razor thin 19-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Joe Flacco recorded the only Baltimore touchdown of the game ( a seven-yard scrambler) early in the first quarter. From there on out, it was all field goals, as the Ravens' D held off a late surge from the win-less pussycats of northern Florida. Factoring in sacks, Baltimore limited the Jags to just 168 yards passing, and only 48 yards rushing. 

Atlanta Falcons (2-1)
Season Point Differential: +13

With their 45-32 Monday night win over the Saints, the Falcons now sit atop the NFC South. Matt Ryan was solid in the prime time clash (he went 20 for 30 for 240 yards and two TD passes), while the run game absolutely gutted New Orleans as Devonta Freeman collected 152 yards and Tevin Coleman ran it in for three touchdowns. But about allowing Drew Brees to throw for 376 yards and three touchdowns, though...

Green Bay Packers (2-1)
Season Point Differential: +08

Don't let the 34-27 final score fool you - the game was never that close. Indeed, the Pack had already jumped out to a 31-10 lead over the Lions at halftime, and everything else was halfhearted defense going through the motions to preserve the facile "W." Oh, and Aaron Rodgers appears to be back, ya'll - weep tears a plenty for the fantasy footballers who didn't start him for some stupid ass reason, 'cause he finished the game with 205 yards and four touchdowns on just 15 completions. 

Carolina Panthers (1-2)
Season Point Differential: +06

Woo howdy, Cam Newton had a day to forget last Sunday, as his squad fell to the Vikings, 22-10. In a game overshadowed by rioting in the city streets of Charlotte and rumors that Black Lives Matter protesters were going to invade the game like Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, the Panthers' QB played like utter and complete cat shit, finishing the game with 262 yards, no TD passes and three interceptions. And oh yeah, he also got sacked a mind-breaking eight times over the course of the game, because nothing says "incredible irony" like watching an outspoken black athlete have his clock cleaned by a bunch of guys wearing Aryan warrior cartoon decals on the side of their heads. 

Buffalo Bills (1-2)
Season Point Differential: +03

And one week after firing their offensive coordinator, of course the Buffalo Bills defense would improve drastically. In a game that pretty much ensured an entire generation of bookie children would go to really nice colleges, the Bills upset the much ballyhooed Cardinals 33-18. While T-Mobile didn't do shit in the game when it comes to aerial offense (seriously, once you factor in the sacks, he only threw the ball for a meager 89 yards), the Bills run game did all the work for him, ultimately collecting 208 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. And how about some words of praise for that Bills' D, which sacked the Golden Ginger four times and sacked his ass not once, not twice but FIVE times?

New York Giants (2-1)
Season Point Differential: +02

Sometimes, tough losses just kinda' happen, and last Sunday, one of them definitely happened to the Giants. In a close 29-27 loss, Eli Manning had 350 passing yards, but only one of his 25 completions resulted in a touchdown. Even worse, two of them wound up in the open arms of Redskins' defenders, including a late fourth quarter INT that put the final nail in the coffin of the Giants' comeback aspirations. 

Oakland Raiders (2-1)
Season Point Differential: +01

After giving up 500 yards in each of their first two games of the season, the Oakland Raiders FINALLY decided to play some defensive ball in their 17-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. Up 17-3 at halftime, Oakland pretty much coasted, letting its very well-paid secondary do their part to preserve the W. Still, they allowed way more rushing yards than they should have, letting DeMarco Murray - yes, that DeMarco Murray - collect 114 yards and the Titans only score of the afternoon. (And as always, if you'd like to relive the game, moment-by-moment, through my eyes, you can point your mouse clicker right here.) 


Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
Season Point Differential: -01

The Steelers pretty much turtled up in their 34-3 thrashing at the hands of the suddenly resurgent Philadelphia Eagles. Big Ben had no touchdown passes, one INT and got sacked four times for a cumulative loss of 34 yards in the losing effort, while DeAngelo Williams could only muster a measly 21 yards throughout the contest. Antonio Brown (140 yards on 12 receptions) still looked good, but considering PIT got outyarded 426 to 251, now is a good time to start asking some serious questions about the many, many gaps in this team's defense.

Miami Dolphins (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -03

And the Fins finally get a win in 2016, but it was far from an easy victory. It took Miami overtime to best the very, very bad Browns 30-24, and Ryan Tannehill's play (319 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions) was the definition of the term "mixed bag." Jarvis Landry did look pretty good though, reeling in seven catches for 120 total yards and one visit to the end zone. 

Detroit Lions (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -04

It's yet another classic "good news, bad news" situation for the Lions. The good news is, Matt Stafford threw the ball for 385 yards and got three touchdowns against the Packers last Sunday. The bad news is, the Lions run game was held to 50 yards and the defense couldn't do shit to stop A-Rod from lobbing four TD passes of his own. And oh yeah, they also lost the game, too, to the oh so close yet far tune of 34-27.

San Francisco 49ers (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -10

The 49ers took a respite from literally spitting in the faces of the brave men and women in uniform of this country just long enough to get their asses kicked by the Seahawks 37-18. THE BLAINE GABBERT played poorly (119 yards, no TDs and an INT on 14 completions), but not poor enough to bring in Colin KKKapernick off the bench, which at this point, must be perfectly terraformed to his contractually guaranteed $61 million dollar ass cheeks. On the positive side for the 49ers faithful, however, Carlos Hyde did put in another good showing, collecting 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. 

Houston Texans (2-1)
Season Point Differential: -11

If you are still trying to wrap your head around how the Texans could lose 27-0 to a Patriots team being quarterbacked by some guy named "Brisket" at home, join the rest of America. I'm not quite sure what fully explains Houston's abysmal performance last Thursday, but the team's inability to stop the Pats' run was definitely a major factor. Well, that, and Brock O. only being able to chalk up 175 passing yards (after sacks). And especially the run game only putting up 107 yards, with no end zone visitations whatsoever

Indianapolis Colts (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -14

And Indy finally gets a win, in the form of a come-from behind 26-22 victory against the scrappy San Diego Chargers. Andrew Luck went 24 for 37 in his 331 yard day, while Frank Gore posted 82 yards and one rushing TD. And as for the Colts' D? Well, they may have held the snake bit Chargers to only 37 yards rushing, but their secondary collapsed against the pass, allowing Philip Rivers to throw the ball for 330 yards. 

Tennessee Titans (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -15

The Titans may have well have put Marcus Mariota's face on the back of a milk carton, because he was nowhere to be seen in the team's 17-10 home loss to the Raiders last Sunday. At the final horn, he had 214 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions lobbed into the arms of Raiders defenders Sean Smith and Reggie Nelson. And - no surprise here - there own D did precious little to prevent Derek Carr from tossing the pigskin for 249 yards. 

New York Jets (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -16


Los Angeles Rams (2-1)
Season Point Differential: -17

The Rams took out the Bucs 37-32 last Sunday in a heavily delayed game (bunch a pussies - back in my day, football players looked forward to dodging lightning strikes.) Case Keenum went 14 for 26, with two touchdowns, one INT and 190 total passing yards, while Todd Gurley churned into enemy end zone twice in his 27-carry, 85-rushing yard day. Alas, the Rams still haven't gotten the fundamentals of defensive play down quite yet: after all, they did let Jameis Winston throw for 405 yards and three touchdowns, didn't they?

New Orleans Saints (0-3)
Season Point Differential: -17

Unfortunately, the mawkish magic of exploiting Hurricane Katrina ten years down the road did precious little for the Saints, who fell 45-32 to the Falcons last Monday night. While Drew Brees posted very Drew Brees like numbers (three TD passes and 376 yards, to be exact), the defense absolutely shit the bed when it came to stopping the Falcons run; at the final horn, the Falcons posted 210 rushing yards, with Tevin Coleman alone recording three touchdowns on the ground. 

Cincinnati Bengals (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -19

The wobbly wheels of the Bengals' bandwagon are starting to shake loose way earlier than expected. While the run game looked pretty solid, that was more or less the only bright spot for Cincinnati in their 29-17 loss to the Broncos last Sunday. Andy Dalton was especially underwhelming, concluding the game with no touchdown passes, one interception and a grand total of just 189 aerial yards, once you factor in the four times he got sacked by Denver defenders. 

Washington Redskins (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -24

Somebody call the estate of Michael Jackson, because the Redskins' 29-27 win against the Giants was the epitome of a thriller. Kirk Cousins put on his best game in ages, finishing the contest with 296 yards and two TDs on 21 completions. Sure, the defense generally sucked and allowed Eli Manning the opportunity to lob the rock for 350 yards, but the Skins' secondary showed up when it counted - especially defenders Su'a Cravens and Quinton Debar, who each reeled in game-shifting interceptions launched by the only Manning still in pro football. 

Cleveland Browns (0-3)
Season Point Differential: -30

It's almost like the Browns are intentionally trying to find the most heartbreaking ways to lose games now. After letting the Ravens bounce back from a 20-2 deficit in week two, the Browns last Sunday dropped a close one in O.T. to the Dolphins, with back Jay Ajayi plunging the dagger into Cleveland's ribcage via a game-clinching 11-yard TD run. That said, it was kind of a historic game, for those of you who actually watched it, as it featured former Raiders QB Terrell Pryor, at various points in the game, playing quarterback, wide receiver and safety

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-3)
Season Point Differential: -30

The Jags gave it a valiant effort, but their late charge still wasn't enough to come out on top in a back and forth 19-17 loss to the Ravens. All in all, Blake Bortles had a pretty shitty day. He finished the contest with 194 yards on 24 completions, with a 2:3 TD-to-INT ratio. Making matters worse, he also got sacked four times, resulting in a good 26 yards of lost real estate for the fumbling, bumbling Jags. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-2)
Season Point Differential: -31

You really can't blame Jameis Winston for Tampa Bay's 37-32 loss to the Rams. The dude had more than 400 yards passing, with three aerial touchdowns. So who do you blame? Well, the defense - which let Todd Gurley sneak past them twice and allowed Case Keenum to hit Tavon Austin and Brian Quick for short TD strikes - would be my go-to scapegoat. 

Chicago Bears (0-3)
Season Point Differential: -38

Yep, the Bears are winless three games into the new NFL season and things probably won't be looking up anytime soon. In their latest loss, the Bears fell 31-17 to the "no Romo" Cowboys, and even a surprisingly decent showing from back up QB Brian Hoyer (317 yards and two touchdowns on 30 completions) wasn't enough to make it a competitive matchup at any point in the game. But on the positive side? You know, there will probably be a lot of great quarterbacks in this year's NFL draft, and even better, I'm pretty sure none of their last names are going to be "Cutler." 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

2016 NCAA Football Top 25 Rankings (Week Four!)

Tell the Associated Press to take a hike ... these are the only college pigskin rankings you ought to pay any attention to.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
"Separating the 'cream' from the 'crap'..."

The A.P.? The USA Today's Coaches Poll? Whatever jibber-jabber is being puked out over at ESPN and Bleacher Report? Puh-leeze, we all know those alleged "Top 25" countdowns are pathetic jokes penned by homers, Power Five loyalists and Notre Dame nuthuggers. That's why I decided to release my own weekly rundown of the best FBS college football squads in the States, completely devoid of all the usual fanboyism and corporate malarkey that makes lists of the like elsewhere so unbelievably annoying.

Throughout the regular season, a new installment will go up every Wednesday morning, so you may want to bookmark this sucker for future reference ... and to show to all of your fellow NCAA football lovin' chums, so they can know that - at least somewhere out in the tangled, endlessly frustrating World Wide Web - there's someone on the Internet with some goddamn horse sense when it comes to ranking college 'ball teams.

Louisville (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Clemson (Oct. 1)

Lamar Jackson's march to the Heisman Trophy continued over the weekend, as he lobbed the rock for five touchdown passes for 417 yards - plus another two rushing touchdowns, for 62 ground yards - in Louisville's commanding 59-28 win over Marshall. But that wasn't the only impressive aspect of the Cardinals during Saturday's one-sided drubbing - their defense also looked very good, holding the Thundering Herd to just 148 rushing yards and only 59 yards passing.

Alabama (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Kentucky (Oct. 1)

Boy, I haven't seen Kent State massacred like that since ... well, uh, never mind. Off-color jokes about hippies getting shot to death by the National Guard aside, you can't help but be impressed by Bama's 48-0 blowout of the Golden Flashes, even if Kent State is like, barely a step-above a really, really good high school football team in terms of overall quality. The Crimson Tide defense certainly shined in the mauling; not only did Nick Saban's boys keep their foes off the scoreboard, they also held both Kent State's passing and rushing offense to a meager 166 yards on the day.

Wisconsin (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Michigan (Oct. 1)

The Badgers' defense held up very, very well in their stellar 30-6 win over the formerly unbeaten Michigan State Spartans last Saturday. Not only did Wisconsin defenders pick off the opposing QB three times, they also held the potent Spartans' run game to only 75 yards. While Wisconsin's passing game and running game didn't exactly put up huge numbers (QB Alex Hornibrook finished the contest with just one TD pass and 195 yards as the entire Badgers' run game wrapped up the contest two scores and 122 cumulative yards), with a defense as solid as theirs, they don't really have to.

Michigan (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Wisconsin (Oct. 1)

Holy dog shit, did the Wolverines have a hell of a running game last Saturday; combined, Michigan racked up an astounding 326 yards and six touchdowns  on the ground en route to a blowout 49-10 win against the Penn State Pedophile Protectors. But don't sleep on the Wolverines' defense, neither; the same way Joe Paterno held information about 30-plus years of heinous child rape from officials, they managed to hold the Nittany Lions to a meager 121 passing yards and just 78 yards rushing.

Ohio State (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Rutgers (Oct.1)

The Buckeyes took week four off, with their "big" return game set for this weekend against that much feared, perennial national championship threat ... Rutgers? Eh, expect Ohio State to pretty much sleep their way through the next two weeks, with all eyes firmly focused on the downright HUGE showdown on Wisconsin's home turf Oct. 15. That is, unless Indiana is able to pull of the shocker of the season next weekend (spoiler: no, they most certainly will not.)

Houston (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Connecticut (Sept. 29)

As the final score would allude, Houston's 64-3 mauling of Texas State wasn't much of a football game. Greg Ward, Jr. went 20 for 26 for 289 yards and two touchdown passes (plus 39 rushing yards for another scrambling score) while the Cougars' rushing attack combined for 243 total yards and five touchdown saunters. Defense-wise, Houston absolutely shut down the helpless, hapless and hopeless Bobcats, limiting their foes to a paltry 109 aerial yards and an even paltrier 33 yards on the ground.

Clemson (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs Louisville (Oct.1)

The Tigers' defense absolutely stifled Georgia Tech last Thursday night, holding the Yellow Jackets to a measly 95 rushing yards and an almost Special Olympics caliber 29 passing yards in their 26-7 road win. DeShaun Watson (two touchdowns, one interception and 304 yards on 32 completions) now leads Clemson in their biggest game of the entire season: an ACC championship (and perhaps even National Championship)-determining home stand against the super-duper hot Louisville Cardinals on Saturday night.

Tennessee (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Georgia (Oct. 1)

Well, give the Vols some credit. Down 21-3 at halftime, it looked like the route was on, but somehow, someway, Tennessee managed to make a huge comeback in the second half and bump off SEC East foes Florida 38-28. Joshua Dobbs - for two quarters, at least - played like Jesus himself, concluding the game with four passing touchdowns and 319 yards on 16 completions, plus another scrambling TD and another 80 rushing yards. Also looking good? Tennessee receivers Jauan Jennings and Josh Malone, who finished the contest with a combined 202 yards and two touchdowns.

Stanford (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Washington (Sept. 30)

Down 10-6 heading into the fourth, the always singular Cardinal quickly rebounded and put up 16 last quarter points en route to a come from behind 22-13 victory against UCLA. Ryan Burns was just sort of middling (he went 13 for 25 for 137 yards, with a 1:1 TD-to-INT ratio), but you can't say shit about the performance of Stanford's star running back Christian McCaffery, who finished the game with 138 yards on 26 carries.

Texas A&M (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. South Carolina (Oct. 01)

Sure, you could criticize the Aggies' defense for letting Arkansas put up 371 yards of aerial offense, but Texas A&M's rushing-oriented offense was more than enough to make amends for their poor play against the long-ball. In A&M's 45-24 win, QB Trevor Knight went 12 for 22 for 225 yards and two touchdown passes ... in addition to running like hell for another 157 yards and another two touchdowns. Running back Trayveon Williams also put in a good showing, collecting 153 yards and two end zone visitations on just 12 carries.

Washington (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Stanford (Sept. 30)

It may have taken overtime, but the Huskies nonetheless managed to knock off Arizona 35-28 last Saturday night. Jake Browning (14 for 21, 160 yards and a 2:1 TD-to-INT ratio) had a fairly lackluster day, but the Washington rushing attack (led by Lavon Coleman, with 181 yards and a TD on 11 carries) had a field day (get it?), collecting 352 total ground yards and three touchdowns. Of course, the Huskies also let Arizona run all over them - to the tune of 308 yards - so one can only imagine what Christian McCaffrey might be able to do against this horrible rushing defense.

Baylor (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Iowa State (Oct. 01)

Another week and another impressive offensive showing from America's favorite Baptist university/protectorate of rape enablers. Quarterback Seth Russell lobbed the rock for 387 yards and four touchdowns on 18 passes, with receivers Ishmael Zamora and Chris Platt each recording 100-yard-plus days and two receiving TDs apiece. That said, there were some signs of struggle in the Bears' 35-24 win over arch rivals Oklahoma State; primarily, the fact that Baylor's non-existent D allowed the Cowboys to rack up 213 yards of rushing offense and another 279 receiving.

Miami (3-0)
Next Opponent:vs. Georgia Tech (Oct. 01)

The Hurricanes took a breather in week 4, as they prepare to travel to Atlanta this weekend to do battle with Georgia Tech. In terms of total offense, Miami is slightly subpar, ranking 72nd out of the 128 division I schools. Defensively, however, they are pretty much the best damn team in college football, having allowed opponents thus far in the season to accumulate just 625 yards against them in three outings.

Nebraska (4-0)
Next Opponent:vs. Illinois (Oct.01)

Northwestern was no much for Nebraska, as the Cornhuskers held off the Wildcats 24-13 over the weekend. Quarterback Tommy Armstrong finished the game with 246 passing yards and one aerial touchdown, in addition to picking up another 132 yards with his feet. In total, Nebraska's rushing offense pulled in an impressive 310 yards on the day, which included touchdown ambles from Terrell Newby and Jordan Westerkamp.

Utah (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. California (Oct. 01)

It was a close one, but the Utes nonetheless managed to hold off the Trojans last weekend, as they beat freefalling USC 31-27. QB Troy Williams had a very good showing, lobbing the pigskin for 270 yards and two TD passes on 21 completions, with wideout Tim Patrick collecting 100 receiving yards on the day and a solo TD.

Arizona State (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. USC (Oct. 01)

The overachieving Sun Devils remain unbeaten with their 51-41 shootout win over Cal. While Arizona State's pass defense absolutely sucked (they let Davis Webb throw five aerial touchdowns and pick up 478 throwing yards in the contest), their run game saved the day, with quarterback Manny Wilkins scrambling like crazy en route to a 72-yard-rushing, three walk-in touchdown performance.

West Virginia (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Kansas State (Oct. 01)

Don't look now, but the Mountaineers are actually playing like a team that don't suck. West Virginia showed plenty of moxie, spunk and pluck in their 35-32 win over the Stormin' Mormons of Brigham Young (fun fact: Mormons still think black people are black because God hates them) with QB Skyler Howard lobbing the rock for 332 yards and a solo TD strike, while talented receiver Shelton Gibson finished the wild and woolly contest with an impressive 144 yards on just four receptions.

Boise State (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Utah State (Oct. 01)

The blue-fielders pounded the Beavers this past weekend like angry porn stars, as Boise State rolled to a fairly facile 38-24 victory over Oregon State (i.e., the team from Oregon that doesn't cosplay as Donald Duck during regular season games.) The star of the show definitely had to be Broncos running back Jeremy McNichols, who concluded the contest with 208 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.

San Diego State (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. South Alabama (Oct. 01)

Following a week four bye, the Aztecs do battle with the Jaguars of South Alabama (really, are jaguars even indigenous to that part of the country?) Offensively, SDSU is one of the weaker teams in the nation (they rank 104 out of 128) but their defense - tied for 27, alongside Louisville - is actually fairly underrated.

Navy (3-0)
Next Opponent: Air Force (Oct. 01)

Taking a knee (the good kind, not the one meant to symbolize hating America), the Midshipmen spent week four watching college ball instead of playing it. Expect a very run-oriented affair when Navy clashes with fellow unbeaten Air Force this weekend, seeing as how the two teams, respectively, are ranked 18th and 5th in the nation in terms of total running yards collected.

Air Force (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Navy (Oct. 01)

The Falcons squeezed past Utah State over the weekend, besting the Aggies 27-20. The stats from the game give you a pretty good idea of where the team excels and where they absolutely, utterly suck as a college football program. The total rushing yards posted by Air Force? A stellar 213. And the total passing yards they allowed? A downright laughable 372.

Wake Forest (4-0)
Next Opponent: vs. N.C. State (Oct. 01)

Yes, perennial ACC bottom dwellers Wake freakin' Forest officially have a better football record than Florida State. Granted, we here at The Internet Is In America don't exactly believe that the Demon Deacons would be competitive up against Clemson, Louisville or Miami, but still ... Georgia, Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma and even good old FSU have got digits on the "L" side of the win-loss column, while Wake Forest - for another week, at least - features nothing but goose egg.

Minnesota (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Penn State (Oct. 01)

There are a lot of still unbeaten teams in the Big 10, and surprisingly, quite a few of them aren't in the same division alongside Ohio State and Michigan. The Golden Gophers are almost a lock to be a favorite against the Penn State Child Rapist Defenders this weekend, but one has to wonder just how well the team is suited for upcoming games against Iowa and Maryland. And hey, speaking of Maryland...

Maryland (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Purdue (Oct. 01)

Yeah, that's right, the Terrapins are another unexpectedly unbeaten team heading into week five. Currently, Maryland ranks 98 out of 128 in terms of total offense, but their defense - currently ranked 24th in the nation - is technically better than the D's of Wisconsin or Alabama. Yeah, let that shit sink in for a moment.

Memphis (3-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Ole Miss (Oct. 01)

Much like Dr. Dre circa 1999, everybody has seemingly forgotten about Memphis. Remember last season, when everyone was sucking their proverbial dicks and touting them as the next major SEC powerhouse? Well, much to Memphis' chagrin, all of that non-Power Five adulation and adoration has instead been hoisted upon their AAC rivals Houston, and needless to say, the still loss-less Tigers are mighty miffed about such. Then again, if Memphis can knock off Ole Miss this Saturday, something tells me the Tigers bandwagon may need to reinforce its axle...