The ‘Third Saturday in October’ is the pet name for the rivalry between Alabama and this week’s Florida opponent, Tennessee. Of course the game has only been played on the third Saturday in October 6 times in the last 19 years. This season is yet another year without the TSIO. After skimming this Saturday’s games, college football fans will wish there wasn’t a third Saturday in September, either. What a stinker slate of games. The only intriguing matchup for Gator fans is the UF-UT game…but let’s face it, if they don’t turn the ball over five times again, this game will probably be a big snoozer, too. Since it is such a boring group of games, this week’s Picks & Pans will offer alternative activities for your Saturday enjoyment.
Also, since win or lose, Gator fans will have to endure the incessant drone of “Rocky Top” from the Vol band, I’ll serve up a musical counterpart for each game; a sampling of tunes that though thoroughly wretched, would still be more enjoyable than “Rocky Top.”
Kansas State at Texas (8:00 p.m., ABC/ESPN-GP)
If the Texas season were a movie, it would be titled, Things To Do in Austin When You’re Dead, and Mack Brown would be the protagonist. And the antagonist. Losing to Mississippi teams is usually the tipping point for any coach’s pink slip, and after being “woodsheded” by Old Miss last week Brown has become William Atherton. He’s the character actor best known for playing every weasel role in Hollywood that wasn’t covered by Paul Gleason. Yes, Brown is Professor Jerry Hathaway in Real Genius, thinking he is on top of the world and having no idea that he just destroyed his own house with ten tons of exploding popcorn. Brown is Richard Thornburg at the end of Die Hard, thinking he has the scoop of the century, unaware that he is about to be cold-cocked in front of a national TV audience by Holly Gennaro McClane. And yes Brown is Walter Peck stumbling around in front of Dana Barrett’s apartment building, about three seconds away from being buried in the charred melted mass of goo that used to be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Alternative Activity: Staying with the movie theme, instead of watching KSU beating on the corpse of Mack Brown, take in the much more entertaining Austin Film Festival, a multi-feature afternoon of Howard the Duck, Battlefield Earth and Gigli. And if you survive only to exit the theater and see the Texas game still on the TV, you will gladly run back to the cinema and punch your ticket for the festival finale, Ishtar. To avoid all of these activities, though just take I-35 on your drive to Austin…the festival and game will all be over long before you arrive in town. While sitting in traffic, play the fun Austin game of counting how many allergic flare-ups you get per minute.
Song of the game: “Hangin’ Tough” by New Kids on The Block. The worst song by the worst boy band of all time in honor of the worst national-title winning coach in history. Mack Brown is hangin’ tough, and Vegas odds predict it will require only three replays of this song before fans in DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium are hangin’ themselves tough from ropes.
So Glad We’re Not Kansas (Kansas St.): 55
Dead Man Coaching (Texas): 17
Boise State at Fresno State (8:00, ESPN)
Once again the Spuds take on the Spuds MacKenzies. While the Broncos are deeply depressed over their brief brush with respectability being further flushed down the crapper this season, Fresno’s just happy to have visitors. The most notable person ever produced by this Mecca of mediocrity if Mrs. Kim from “Gilmore Girls.” But I only know of her because of my relationship with Lauren Graham, star of the show. She and I have the kind of love that can’t be diminished by a little thing like her marrying someone else. Or a restraining order. For those who are not dangerously infatuated with Lorelai Gilmore, Mrs. Kim also starred in an off-network sitcom with Flavor Flav. To be honest, picking this game was just a ruse to give me an excuse to mention Flavor Flav. Yeeeeeeaaaahhh Ploy!
Alternative Activity: A short drive from Fresno is Yosemite, where thousands of Americans go each year to see Old Faithful. Subsequently thousands of Americans each year are disappointed to learn that Old Faithful is at Yellowstone, not Yosemite. Thousands of Americans are dumb. But those in town for this game are in luck: while Old Faithful only blows every 91 minutes, Fresno always blows. So instead of hitting the stadium, go to any street corner and play a betting game placing wagers on how you will die first: random street violence or smog-induced lung cancer.
Song of the game: If Gator fans must endure “Rocky Top” all day long, we need to bring out the big guns across the nation. Like just down the road to the home of L.A. County Lifeguard Mitch Buchannon. Oh yes. David Hasselhoff and his musical homage to natural disasters, “Looking for Freedom.” Which is exactly what fleeing fans will be doing after hearing a couple replays of this song.
The Less-Shady FSU (Fresno State): 42
Not Even Peyton Could Help These Broncos (Boise St.): 35
Florida A&M at An Ohio State University (12:00 p.m., BTN)
Florida fans badly want a piece of Ohio State now that Urban Meyer is the coach. Florida A&M, not so much. But this is how OSU likes it: no out-of-conference schedule and a 1-game conference schedule. And since Michigan needed a last-minute score to avoid losing to Akron last week, that 1-game schedule probably just got reduced by one. No crying this year Urban. At leastnot until you are crushed by an SEC team in your bowl game.
Alternative Activity: Instead of watching this stinker, visit the pride of Columbus, Ohio: The Thurber House, where James Thurber lived in his college years. Because nothing says “excitement” like thinking of the most obscure combination short story author/cartoonist who was dead 20 years before any of today’s college football players were born, going to the building where he lived as a collegiate, and nose around like a stalker in the rooms where he used to sleep, eat ramen and puke after all-night parties. Still, it is the most stimulating activity Columbus has to offer.
Song of the game: “Heartbeat” by Don Johnson. From a decade where average television actors rushed to the studio to become below average recording stars, I give you the worst effort from Mister Miami Vice himself. Because Tallahassee is as much like Miami as Don Johnson is like a professional singer.
Urban Avoidance (Ohio State): 38
We’re Actually On TV? (FAMU): 17
North Carolina at Georgia Tech (12:00 p.m., ESPN)
Carolina will bring the wine.
Tech will bring the cheese.
Everyone else: bring a book.
Alternative Activity: It’s tough to find anything in Hotlanta that’s more boring than a Heels-Jackets game, but there are a couple. You can go to Cyclorama and see the world’s largest oil painting (sadly, it was completed in 1886, so you won’t be able to experience the most exciting part: watching the paint dry). And if Trekkie conventions and Star Wars larper events are too high octane for your tank, you can watch a bunch of old farts put on Civil War costumes and pretend to shoot at each other. If this is all too much for your ticker, then there is always The World of Coke, where you can sample all the different kinds of Coca-Cola soft drinks that are sold to the public. Because where else in the world can you find multiple varieties of Coke sold to the public?
Song of the game: “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers. That’s how far most college football fans would walk to get away from this pathetic matchup. Or anyone playing this song.
Ramblin’ Wreck (Georgia Tech): 28
Amblin’ Dreck (North Carolina): 21
Maine at Northwestern (3:30 p.m., BTN)
This game was supposed to be played at the Maine campus, located in a suburb of Bangor. But the Northwestern athletics department insisted that they didn’t even know her.
Alternative Activity: Do what every other tourist in Chicago does: go to the top of the Sears Tower. The elevator attendant will prattle on nonstop the entire ride about how it is not called the Sears Tower anymore. And about the Cubs. And about the White Sox and about how they’re called Chicagoans, not Chicagans, and JUST GET ME TO THE TOP SO I CAN JUMP!!
Song of the game: Probably the worst thing to ever come out of Chicago besides the Northwestern football team was, “You’re The Inspiration” by Chicago. The song itself was the inspiration for at least fifty attempted suicides. This is their punishment: to listen to it as many times Saturday as Florida fans must endure “Rocky Top”. And for the Second City, a second torturous tune from the former front man of Chicago: “Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera. Gracious!
Mildcats (Northwestern): 17
Koala Bears (Maine): 10
Vanderbilt at UMass (12:00 p.m., ESPN News)
You can’t blame Vandy for this game. This was a blind date set up by a friend. Vandy thought it was being hooked up with Harvard. This letdown is akin to thinking you are about to go out with Drew Barrymore, but when the door swings open, out steps Drew Carey. Then again, anyone who has seen the coeds at Vanderbilt knows that Carey is a pretty feminine upgrade for them.
Alternative Activity: The most interesting activity in Amhert, MA is to browse the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Books Art. Naming rights cost $3 million (the museum had to pay him!). You know him from his classic children’s book about the hungry, hungry caterpillar trying to eat its way out of Amherst. Then again, anyone stupid enough to be attending this game probably does not have the reading comprehension skills to understand pictures.
Song of the game: “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley. Because if this game was a blind date for the fans, they would run home and sing this awful tune to their ex-girlfriends even if they looked like Roseanne Barr after a 3-week bender of MD 20/20 and pork rinds.
Nashville Ninnies (Vanderbilt): 24
Mamby-Pamby Minutemen (Mass): 13
Lehigh at Princeton (6:00 p.m., NBCSN)
This is a battle of similar conferences, as the Patriot League is made up of schools that are a slightly-less-wealthy-and-influential-man’s Ivy League. However it is a major contrast in cities, as Princeton is known internationally not only for its great university, but it is such a beautiful town that the governor’s mansion has resided here instead of the state capital since 1945. But anyone who has ever been to Trenton would certainly understand why. By contrast, Lehigh resides in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, a town known for nothing. As the seventh-largest city in Pennsylvania, this lack of notoriety never used to bother locals, as every other town after Philadelphia and Pittsburgh was equally regarded as one of Dante’s lesser rings of hell (Bethlehem was the toilet ring). But one by one, the towns ahead of them found their recognition. Allentown, the Keystone state’s third-biggest city of course was immortalized by Billy Joel as the most rancid arm pit of the rust belt; Erie, the fourth-biggest hamlet in the Quaker state, was slapped on the forehead of American awareness when native daughter Ann B. Davis won the hearts of the nation as “The Brady Bunch’s” Alice, for years the most beloved actress in comfortable shoes; and the number five town in the Liberty Bell State – Reading – has long been famous because of its marketing arrangement with Parker Brothers (makers of Monopoly). Bethlehem thought it would always share anonymity with the #6 city in the Toll Booth State, Scranton, but along came “The Office” and it was an overnight sensation as the nation’s best place to fall in love while watching the souls of everyone around you die a slow, agonizing death. And to think that Bethlehem was so close to becoming the most famous town in the history of the world, way back in Zero B.C. The first Christmas was originally intended for Bethlehem, Pennsylvania rather than Israel. However, being just an hour outside Philadelphia, they could not find three wise men or a virgin.
And that my friends is a mighty long walk to reach a punch line.
Alternative Activity: The only worthwhile activity for an outsider in Princeton is to single out every arrogant, pretentious, classist snob in the city and sing an impassioned rendition of “The Ivy League Hustle” (you can YouTube it to learn the lyrics). Or stop by Church & Dwight to see the marketing genius behind Aim toothpaste.
Song of the game: “Love Is a Wonderful Thing” by Michael Bolton. Because just as “Lehigh” and “Princeton” should never be confused with college football teams, the words “love” and “wonderful thing” should never be uttered in the same breath as “Michael Bolton.”
We caused the global economic crisis (Princeton): 23
They couldn’t even give us the Hershey factory! (Lehigh): 13
SMU at Texas A&M (7:00 p.m., ESPNU)
This game is a great microcosm of life. These teams used to be in the same conference, and back in the ‘80s before everyone moved out of the neighborhood, SMU was on top of the world with the Pony Express, three conference titles, an undefeated season and a near national title. Meanwhile A&M was floundering at the bottom of the league. Classic example of the little kid in the neighborhood in the middle of his awkward stage being beat up and relieved of his lunch money by the handsome bully next door. But now A&M is back for the reunion, and they have become the handsome young executive with the beautiful, brilliant neurosurgeon wife, moving up fast in the most lucrative company in the world, while SMU is a paroled felon who is 100 pounds overweight, all his hair has migrated from his head to his back, and being nagged nonstop by his trailer park wife and ten ugly kids. The best revenge, A&M, is living well.
And then spoiling it all because your classless loudmouth quarterback is peeing in the punch bowl (dammit!).
Alternative Activity: Two Texas universities, one of them an agriculture school? What else could this be but Cow Tipping? Unlike SMU, the cows might actually stand up and fight back.
Song of the game: “Macarena” by Los Del Rio. Perhaps the most hideous repetitious song of all time fits perfectly for a game that will inundate fans with the same refrain again and again and again: A&M scoring touchdowns and SMU facilitating them. This game may actually do the impossible: make Johnny Football boring.
Got the Death Penalty (SMU): 24
Has the Breath Penalty (TAMU): 48
Tennessee at Florida (3:30 p.m., CBS)
“Me-e-e-e-e-emories…All alone in the Swa-a-a-a-a-amp light…” This series used to be filled with great memories of incredible games, fantastic finishes and classic football drama. But it has been so long since UT has even been competitive, most memories these days are so fuzzy that they revolve around just trying to remember anything that happened that long ago. For instance, the last time UT won a game in this series was when they took two games from the Ron Gump in 2003-2004. That’s in the time capsule with Angelina Jolie and Billy Bob Thornton divorcing due to irreconcilable differences over which one of them is the creepiest freak. The last time Tennessee won in Gainesville without help from the Zooker was 2001, when Zoolander was in the theaters. Vol fans are still waiting for UT to release “Magnum.” The last time Smokey’s boys won consecutive games against UF without help from Zooklander was way back in 1970-1971. Jim Morrison was still alive. So was Louis Armstrong. They both died in 1971, along with Tennessee’s hopes of keeping up with the Gators. Tina Fey was born in 1970 and Amy Poeler was born in 1971, and Volunteer football has been one continuous “Saturday Night Live” sketch ever since.
Alternative Activity: Since this is probably the only game Saturday with any intrigue (and only because of UF’s meltdown against mundane Miami), there is no reason to skip this game. Even if you did, there aren’t many bad things to do in Gainesville. I guess you could walk onto any random patch of grass and try to guess what you will be covered with first – sweat or fire ants – but you’d really need to take a drive to do something truly wretched. For instance, I can think of dozens of narcoleptic things folks do in Jacksonville, like watch people at the mall and try to pick out which ones live near the nuclear power plant. “There’s one! Third eyebrow, catfish lips, webbed feet…oh wait, that’s just Chipper Jones.” Of course don’t try this late in October because your data will be badly skewed by all the visiting UGA fans.
Song of the game: “Achy, Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus. This in honor of the visiting Volunteers. While Gator fans may wear jorts, there is no comparison to the Vol fans’ transgression in appearances. The Vol Navy has nothing on Tennessee’s Mullet Military. That preposterous hairdo also known as the Tennessee Waterfall, the Missouri Compromise and of course the Achey Breaky Mistakey. I was going to offer a Miley Cyrus song, however I cannot find a single person who will admit to knowing one.
The Burnt Orange (Florida): 33
The Urine-Stain Orange (Tennessee): 6