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Hefferon: Nobody wins in cupcake games (Sept. 25)

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My mom is the best. Known fact.

Growing up, my brothers and I would come home from school and every once and a while there’d be a whole tray of brownies sitting in the kitchen, fresh out of the oven. We’d have one, maybe two, but were always told the same thing:

“Don’t load up on dessert. You’ll ruin your dinner.”

Flash forward a few years, to Saturday night. I was on duty in Carroll Hall after the game, and all I desired in this world was to sit on the couch and watch some quality football. But outside of hate-watching another Michigan near-choke in Connecticut, there was absolutely nothing doing on Saturday.

Sure, there was No. 5 Stanford’s impressive blowout of No. 23 Arizona State, and that ugly slugfest in South Bend. But all across the country, Top 25 teams played games that were practically over as soon as they were scheduled.

It’s Week 4, and college football’s top powers are still loading up on cupcakes.

Now, I suppose I understand if you want to open up with one surefire win to shake off the rust, some nobody like Appalachian State, or Akron (these Michigan digs are piling up). But we’re now a third of the way through the year, and the dessert buffet this week was almost offensive.

No. 4 Ohio State beat up on Florida A&M, 76-0, but that was almost tame by comparison.  No. 7 Louisville beat Florida International 72-0, even with a running clock in the second half. No. 8 Florida State hung a 54-6 win on “in-state rival” Bethune-Cookman, which would be like Notre Dame taking the gridiron against “cross-town rival” Brown Mackie. And No. 16 Miami scored 77 on Savannah State – through three quarters. The Hurricanes agreed to show mercy and shorten the fourth quarter, covering the game’s 60-point spread without ever punting.

No one has sought out the fluff of college football though more than Baylor. Through three appearances, the No. 19 Bears are averaging 70 points and 750 yards per game, embarrassing lapdogs like Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe. Reports that Baylor’s athletic director has contacted Zahm House about a late-season matchup in Waco have yet to be confirmed.

How bad was the slate of games this week? ESPN’s College Gameday, without a single quality matchup to cover, sought out the FCS and broadcasted live from North Dakota State (where even the mighty Bison kept with the theme of the weekend, rolling Delaware State 51-0).

The average margin of victory for Top 25 teams this weekend was 39 points, and the Irish and Wolverines were the only ranked teams not to win by two touchdowns or more on Saturday.

These games are guaranteed victories on the schedule, but in reality nobody wins. Fans are forced to buy season tickets to get into the best games, only to have half of the home schedule filled with patsies and fourth-stringers. Little schools get embarrassed on the national stage, although can make around $1 million just to show up and lose (top-ranked Alabama paid Colorado State $1.5 million for travelling to Tuscaloosa this weekend).

And powerhouses get a win to put on their records – which sadly matters far more than the quality of the opponent under the current system – but don’t get any taste of actual competition, leaving them vulnerable once they enter conference play. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts scoring 209 points in three games does nothing for Baylor’s offense when they hit the Big 12.

These easy wins may be a byproduct of the BCS system, but don’t do any good for college football or its fans. And when a late September Saturday has more cupcakes floating around than a Magnolia Bakery, it’s clearly a problem that’s gone too far.

So, spineless teams of the Top 25, your hand has been caught in the cookie jar and it’s time to learn a lesson straight from mom: Lay off the cupcakes. It’s fall, it’s conference football season and it’s time to eat your vegetables.

Contact Jack Hefferon at @wheffero.nd.edu

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.