Sunday, November 17, 2019

This Week in the Pac-12

The University of Washington Huskies had a bye this week, so there is nothing new to report there.

But there were games played in the Pac-12 including some interesting upsets.

The WSU Cougars demolished the Stanford Cardinal 22-49. This improves the Cougar's record to 2-5 in conference, 5-5 overall. They are still at the bottom of the Pac-12 North. They need to win one more game to be bowl eligible. So if they don't beat the OSU Beavers next week, it'll come down to the Apple Cup cross-state rivalry game against UW.

Stanford is now in fourth place in the Pac-12 North, moving the Huskies to third place.

The Oregon State Beavers (who have been improving all season), squeaked by Arizona State 34-35. That keeps the Beavers in second place in the Pac-12 North (after the Oregon Ducks).

In a no-surprise game, Utah beat UCLA 49 to 3. UCLA is actually still in third place in the Pac-12 South and, of course, Utah is on top of the Pac-12 South.

Oregon beat Arizona 34-6. Oregon is still on top of the Pac-12 North and Arizona is at the bottom of the Pac-12 South.

And USC beat Cal 41-17. USC is in second place in the Pac-12 South and Cal is tied for last place in the Pac-12 North.

So, other than the Cougars beating the Cardinal, not a lot of surprises this week. Remember when Stanford beat Washington?

There's just two weeks left in the College Football regular season. Teams with 6-6 or better records are "bowl eligible." Right now in the Pac-12 that's Oregon, Washington, Utah and USC. Oregon State, California, Washington State, and Arizona State are all one game away.

Next Saturday, the Huskies travel to Boulder Colorado to take on the Buffs. No time or station has been announced yet. Wouldn't surprise me if it were on the Pac-12 channel.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Get Rid of the Penny

A while back I explained how to measure the tread depth on your tires with a penny.

(Technically, in the U.S., it is the "one cent coin" but everyone calls it a "penny.")

But, basically, measuring tread depth is all the penny is good for. Pennies are pretty much useless and I wish the U.S. would get rid of them. Canada already did. Pennies basically exist to A) pay sales tax and B) keep the zinc lobby happy (pennies are made of zinc, these days). But it costs more than a penny to make a penny. They are so worthless I've seen people literally throw them on the ground. I'm, personally, too cheap to do that.

We've gotten rid of coins before. In 1857 we stopped making/using the half-cent coin. But here's the kicker: the half-cent coin in 1857 was worth more than the dime is now. So we could get rid of the penny and the nickle.

What they do in Canada, according to my Canadian friend, is round up to the nearest nickle unless you're paying by credit card. We could do this in the U.S. It would save money and hassle and time. Besides, eventually cash will be as obsolete as an Apple II computer.

So, get rid of the penny, please.

Agree? Disagree? Think I'm nuts? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Huskies are 6-4

The University of Washington Huskies played the Oregon State Beavers Friday night in Corvallis. Going into this game, Washington was #4 in the Pac-12 North and the Beavers were #2. Which, was amazing for the Beavers who have been the doormat of the conference for decades.

While the game wasn't brilliant, the Huskies dominated from the beginning. The only Beaver touchdown (and only score) was a pick six interception in the third quarter. Which brings us to Husky quarterback Jacob Eason. Eason has been amazing in other games, even ones the Huskies have lost. But last night he was 50% on his throws, and toss off two interceptions, including the pick six. No wonder the Huskies depended on Salvon Ahmed and Richard Newton to move the ball on the ground. Ahmed ran for 174 yards and Newton for 54.

It was a defensive game. The Husky defense held the Beavers to zero first downs in the second half. And the Huskies could move the ball, just not fast or far very often.

The final score was 19-7. The score would have been higher, but kicker Payton Henry, who had never missed this year before, missed two field goals.

The Huskies are in third place in the Pac-12 North at 3-4 in conference and 6-4 overall. That makes the Huskies one of the few teams in the Pac-12 that are bowl eligible.

Upcoming Games

Next week the Huskies have a bye. Then on November 23rd, they go to Boulder to play the Pac-12 South last-place Colorado Buffaloes. The time and station for that game isn't set (it wouldn't surprise me if it's on the Pac-12 Network).

On the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), November 29th, the Huskies host the Washington State Cougars for the Apple Cup cross-state rivalry game. The Cougars are in last place in the Pac-12 North. But it's the Apple Cup. Anything can happen.

If they Huskies win both those games, they'll be 8-4 on the season (5-4 in conference). That's not an awful season. It's just not the 11-1 they were in 2016.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

Four teams had byes again this week, including Oregon and  Utah (who are probably going to play
each other in the Pac-12 Championship game). So there were only four games.

In a surprise, Colorado beat Stanford.  But Colorado is still in last place in the Pac-12 South with a 2-5 in conference record and 4-6 overall. But that drops Stanford to 3-4 in conference and 4-5 overall. It's a little surprising that this late in the season, Stanford isn't bowl eligible.

And California beat WSU. That makes the Cougars 1-5 in conference and 4-5 overall and still in last place in the Pac-12 North. California is in 5th place, still.

And in the other game, USC beat ASU. That makes USC bowl eligible.

The only teams that are currently bowl eligible are Oregon, Utah, USC, and Washington.

The College Football Playoffs

The last time a Pac-12 team was in the CFP was 2016 and that was the Huskies. If the Oregon Ducks win all their remaining games and win  the Pac-12 championship, they will have won ten in-conference games. According to an announcer, no team has ever done that before. That might get them in the CFP. Might. This CFP got interesting yesterday when #2 LSU beat #3 Alabama.

But, if Oregon is in the CFP, I'll still root against them, always.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Why Tire Pressure Drops in the Fall.

The other day I saw something click-baity on Facebook (I think) that said "The science behind why tire pressure drops in the fall." And I said "That's easy: PV=nRT."

If you're saying "huh?" you never took freshman chemistry.

The equation PV=nRT is the "ideal gas law." An ideal gas is one that follow this formula exactly. A lot of gases come close and for those who don't, there's fudge factor called "fugacity." But we'll sick with the ideal gas law because air operates pretty closely to it (its fugacity almost equals 1).

But what does PV=nRT mean?

P = pressure. This is measured in psi (pounds per square inch) for tires but pascals in freshman chemistry class. Those are the "SI" units of pressure

V = volume, measured in liters in freshman chemistry class/SI units.

n = the amount of gas measure in moles. What's a mole? A mole is  6.0221409e+23 atoms or molecules. Technically, it should be written like this:

but that's difficult in a blog post.  6.0221409e+23 is the computer way to write scientific notation.

(That's 60221409 followed by 15 zeros or approximately 60 sextillion atoms. See below.) One mole of an element will weigh it's "atomic mass" in grams. If you look on a periodic table, Hydrogen's atomic mass is very close to 1. So one mole of hydrogen equals about one gram of hydrogen.

R= is Boyle's Constant and is equal to 8.314 joules/mole. Don't worry about that.

And T = temperature.

So, again, for our purposes, V is a constant (the volume inside the tire stays the same). "n" is a constant (you're not adding or taking out any air). And R is always a constant. So a little algebra and you get P=Tk (where "k" is a constant).

So if T (temperature) goes down, what happens to P (pressure)? The pressure has to go down proportional to k.

And what happens in the Fall? Ambient temperatures drop.

But wait! The math says that the pressure drops when the temperature drops. But why does that happen? The math is a model of the real world, not the real world. (See below for a math joke.)

What is temperature? It is a measurement of the vibration of atoms and molecules. The higher the temperature, the more they vibrate. At lower temperatures, they vibrate less. At absolute zero, all vibration stops (this is a concept, the energy to reach absolute zero is thought to be infinite).

As we all know (I hope), molecules are atoms that are connected together. Most of your air is a molecule with two nitrogen atoms.

So think of a balloon (tires are sort of like balloons). You blow air into it and it expands. Why? Because the atoms and (more likely) molecules of air are banging against the inside wall of the balloon more than the atoms and molecules are banging against the outside of the balloon. This is because of pressure, not temperature. You blew air into it, increasing the pressure of the air inside the balloon.

Now, if the balloon gets hotter, the molecules and atoms vibrate faster and hit the rubber of the balloon harder, causing it to expand. If the balloon cools off, the molecules and atoms hit it less hard and the balloon shrinks.

Same thing happens in your tires, except the volume stays pretty much the same (unless the pressure really drops) so when the temperature drops, the pressure drops. In the spring, the opposite happens. It warms up, and the tire pressure goes up.

This (and the fact tires tend to lose air over time, especially Goodyear tires) is why I strongly recommend checking tire pressure at least once per month. Buy a good tire pressure gauge and check that pressure. If it's too low, you'll need to add air. Your tire pressure gauge doesn't need to be fancy, but I'd stay away from the stick kind.

So there you have it, the science behind why tire pressure drops in the fall.

(That number of atoms in a mole is 60,221,409,000,000,000,000,000.)

Math Joke
Physicists think the real world approximates the math
Engineers think the math approximates the real world.
Mathematicians never make the connection.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Huskies are 5-4

I started doing these little game recaps in 2016. You remember 2016? That was the year the University of Washington Huskies went 12-2, were Pac-12 champions, and played in the College Football Playoff against Alabama. (Yes, they lost.)

But 2018 is looking a lot more like 2015. In fact, nine games into the season, the Huskies have the same record this year as they did in 2015: 5-4.

Yesterday the Huskies played the University of Utah Utes. And like two weeks ago against Oregon, they played well, until the third quarter. Then they ran out of steam.

One problem the Huskies have is their very young defensive group. And after a bye week, I was hoping they'd be more healed up. But they weren't. A lot of running backs were out of the game, putting all the running duties almost exclusively on Salvon Ahmed. It was, pretty much, a repeat of the Oregon game. The final score was 33-28.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

There were only four games this week as four teams had byes. In a big upset, the Oregon State
Beavers demolished the Arizona Wildcats, 56-38. UCLA beat Colorado. And Oregon beat USC. That's good for the Utah Utes because it puts them on top of the Pac-12 South all by themselves.

In the Pac-12 Standing, Oregon is on top of the Pac-12 South. Amazingly, Oregon State is #2. The Huskies are #4 (after #3 Stanford).

Right now it looks like Utah and Oregon will play for the Pac-12 championship. No one is going to catch Oregon with their 8-1 record. And Utah is 8-1, also.

The Rest of the Season for the Huskies

The Huskies have three games left. This Friday they play Colorado in Boulder. They better win it. Then they have a bye again. Then on November 23rd they play Oregon State in Corvallis. They better win it. Finally on the day after Thanksgiving, they play at home in the Apple Cup against cross-state rival Washington State. That's always a tough game. And they better win it.

If the Huskies win all three of those games, they will be 8-4 on the season. Which isn't a horrible season. Just, after 2016, it's a pretty lackluster season.

And we need to win at least one more game to be "bowl eligible." We'd better win at least one more game.

The Polls

Who cares? Oregon and Utah will probably go up or at least stay the same. They are currently at #7 and #9.

The CFP (College Football Playoff Rankings) comes out Tuesday (election day). Again, who cares?

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Halloween

Today is Halloween. Some people call it "Samhain." I have no idea why.

When I was a kid, Halloween was great, of course. Used to come home with a large paper grocery bag full of candy. And then get sick eating it. It was glorious.

These days, even adults get into the spirit of Halloween with parties and other excuses to drink alcohol. I don't drink alcohol much, so I stay home and hand out the candy. One sad thing (to me) is there are fewer kids coming to the door and exploring neighborhoods. This is likely because places like malls and stores and even schools will have trick or treating inside. For parents, this is great. It's well-lit, it's safer (no kids running into the street). But for those of us at home, it's sad. I always enjoy the interaction with the kids.

But people worry about poisoned candy or razor blades in apples. Even though that has almost never happened.

When I was a kid living in Idaho (at 4,500 feet above sea level), it usually snowed on or about Halloween. Then the snow didn't leave until late April. I remember thinking one October 31st: "It's snowing, it must be Halloween."

Well, I hope you all have a happy Halloween, or Samhain. I'll be waiting to give candy to the kids.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Upset Weekend

Since the Huskies had a bye this weekend, let's look at how other teams did, especially in the Pac-12 conference.

There were some surprising upsets this weekend.

TCU beat #15 Texas.

Oklahoma State beat #23 Iowa State

#19 Michigan beat #8 Notre Dame

And #2 LSU barely got by #9 Auburn. It'll be interesting to see if LSU drops in the AP poll a bit.

In the Pac-12, #23 Arizona State was upset by UCLA, 42-32. UCLA has been improving through the season. I'm sure this will bump Arizona State out of the Top 25. I doubt it will bump UCLA into the Top 25.

So there were some upsets this week.

In the Pac-12, pretty much every other game went as expected. The WSU Cougars barely lost to
Oregon. Utah shut out California.

In the standings, Oregon is still on top of the Pac-12 North. WSU is in last place. My beloved Huskies are still at 2-3 in conference (5-3 overall) and in 4th place (out of six).

In the Pac-12 South, Utah and USC are tied at 4-1 in conference record. Utah has more overall wins at 7-1 while USC is 5-3. UCLA is third in the Pac-12 South. Which is amazing the way their season started.

The Polls

Well, I was totally wrong. LSU moved up to #1 after beating Auburn. Auburn dropped to #11. Notre Dame dropped from #8 to #16. But Michigan only went from #19 to #14.

Oregon moved into the top 10 to #7. Utah also is in the top ten at #9. They are the only two Pac-12 teams now ranked. At one time (week 4) there were six Pac-12 teams in the tip 25. That's half the conference.

Washington is still not ranked in the top 25, of course, but they did move up to #29.

Friday, October 25, 2019

The Huskies have a Bye

The University of Washington Huskies have a bye this weekend. That means they don't play. This will be a chance for their running back squad to heal up and take some pressure off of Salvon Ahmed.

It's also an excuse to look at the rest of the season.

Right now the Huskies are 5-3 overall (2-3 in conference). They need six wins to be bowl eligible. The more wins they have, the better bowl they'll go to. So what does the rest of the season look like?

Next week, on November 2nd, we play Utah. The Utes are 3-1 in conference and 6-1 overall. They are tied for first place in the Pac-12 South with USC (3-1 in conference, 4-3 overall). We play Utah at home but they are still going to be a tough team to beat. Sort of like the Ducks.

Then on Friday, November 8th, we play the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers are having one of their best years and are 2-2 in conference (3-4 overall). This is an away game for the Huskies but I think we can easily win this one.

On November 16th, the Huskies have their second bye of the season.

The Huskies travel to Boulder, Colorado on November 23rd to take on the Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffs are 1-3 in conference play (3-4 overall) so I don't think, even on their home turf, the Huskies will have much of a problem. But I said that about California. The Buffs are currently in last place in the Pac-12 South.

Then, on Friday November 29th (the day after Thanksgiving) the Huskies host the Washington State
Cougars for the Apple Cup. The Cougars are in last place in the Pac-12 North with a 1-3 record (they beat the Buffaloes last week). Obviously, last season's success for the Cougars was mostly if not all quarterback Garner Minchew. But, it's the Apple Cup and anything can happen. It'll help that it will be held in Husky Stadium. And Husky coach Chris Petersen has never lost an Apple Cup.

So where does that leave us. Worst case (lose to Utah, lose to Washington State) would make us 7-5. Best case we "win out" will make us 9-3. Likely case, we lost to Utah and then win the rest for 8-4.

Then we see how next year looks. Rumor has it that Husky quarterback Jacob Eason is going to go into the draft despite being a junior. So we'll be on the lookout for yet another QB.

But let's get through this season, first.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

NaNoWriMo is Coming

In just over two weeks it'll be November. And for a lot of writers, that means National Novel Writing Month, or "NaNoWriMo."

NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in the 30 days of November.

I haven't done NaNoWriMo since 2015, mostly because I wrote novels that didn't correspond with November. I've written three still unreleased novels and some short things in the past 4 years. The last thing I wrote for NaNoWriMo was Treasure of the Rogue Moon. Which was published in May of 2017.

You might be wondering why it took more than a year for me to publish Treasure of the Rogue Moon.  And the answer is simple: I spent a lot of time polishing the novel before I published it.

One issue there has always been with NaNoWriMo are people who hammer out a 50,000 word (or more) first draft, and then upload it to Kindle. Even NaNoWriMo has discovered this problem and have been encouraging people to edit and revise their novels. In 2015, they had an achievement in which you promised to edit and revise your novel.

But there are good things about NaNoWriMo. The frantic pace of writing required (1,666 words per
day) means you can't have writer's block. You have to just keep writing. You can't worry if it's no good or if you're not writing it right, you have to "just keep writing" (as I say). So it helps writers actually produce words, which should be the goals of all writers.

I have an idea for a new novel. I might write part of it (at least the first 50,000 words or so) during this years NaNoWriMo. Or maybe I won't. I haven't decided.

Do you do NaNoWriMo? Do you find it useful. Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Huskies are 5-3

Is was a great game. I just didn't like the outcome.

Yesterday the University of Washington Huskies took on the University of Oregon Ducks. The Ducks were favored going into this game because they were undefeated in conference play and their only loss was to Auburn, a very good and highly-ranked team.

On their first possession after receiving the kickoff, the Ducks marched down the field and scored a touchdown. I thought that meant we were going to lose and lose badly. But then the Huskies pretty much did the same thing. It was a hard-fought game for almost all of its 60 minutes of play. At one point the Huskies led 31-21. But in the fourth quarter, the Huskies' young defense was bushed. You could tell they were moving at about 8/10ths speed. And the Ducks were able to pull into the lead. The Husky offense was also tired and couldn't score, giving up the ball on downs which ended the game. There were no turnovers by either team. A Husky scoop and score or pick six would have helped a lot.

There is an adage that the toughest team wins the game. In this case, it was the Ducks.  The final score was 35-31.

But, no one since Auburn had scored a touchdown against the Ducks this season.  The Huskies scored four. And that was without running back McGrew and Newton, leaving Ahmed to do all the ground carrying. Ahmed ran for 140 yards.

And, frankly, there should have been a pass interference call on the fourth down which would have given the Huskies a first down. But the officials apparently missed it or didn't care.

And the crowd of 70,867 was in the game the entire time, despite early rain.

Next week the Huskies have a bye so maybe their team can heal up a bit. Then on November 2nd, they play Utah at home. The time and network for that game has not been determined yet.

I still love my Huskies. They fought hard for most of the game.

This game put the Ducks firmly in first place in the Pac-12 North with a 4-0 conference record (6-1 overall). The Huskies drop to fourth place (behind the Oregon State Beavers!)(and Stanford) with a 2-3 conference record, 5-3 over all.

Maybe we can go to a nice bowl game and win it (I think Husky coach Chris Petersen has only won one bowl game at UW). But, of course, that means we have to win one more game to be "bowl eligible." Maybe we can beat the Beavers.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

Speaking of the Beavers, they beat California. That is amazing.  Well, maybe not, California has been
doing pretty bad. The Beavers now have a 2-2 conference record, 3-4 overall.

California is in last place in the Pac-12 North with a 1-3 conference record (4-3 overall), their only win that game where they beat the Huskies late at night.

Washington State got their first in-conference win by beating Colorado.

UCLA beat Stanford. And Utah beat Arizona State. Utah is on top of the Pac-12 South but USC is right on their heels (USC beat Arizona yesterday).

The Polls

The College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings will first be announced on November 5th (which is a Tuesday). I'm sure Washington won't be ranked in the CFP, anyway.

The AP Top 25 College Football poll today has the Ducks moving to up one to #11

Utah also moves up one to #12

And Arizona State, after its loss to Utah, dropped to #24.

Finally, as I feared, Washington dropped off the top 25. If you want to get technical, we're #30. I suspect we won't be in the top 25 again this season.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Pluck the Ducks

Tomorrow the University of Washington Huskies take on the University of Oregon Ducks. The game is at 12:30 PDT on your local ABC station.

The Huskies have two main rivals (and a few lesser rivals). Those are the Washington State Cougars and the Ducks. The cross-state WSU rivalry is almost friendly compared to the Washington-Oregon rivalry. As a Husky fan, I am required to loath the Ducks. And I do. I hate when we lose to them (such as last year's overtime loss) and I love when we beat them (like 2016's beat down of the Ducks and 2017's victory).

Going into this game, the Ducks are on top of the Pac-12 North with a 3-0 in conference record (5-1 over all but that loss was to Auburn). The Huskies are 2-2 in conference and 5-2 overall, putting them in second place in the Pac-12 North. Just looking at those numbers, it appears the Ducks have the advantage going into the game. And they do. But the Huskies have a few things in their favor. One: it's a home game and home field advantage is huge in Husky Stadium with the crowd noise. And, two: we really hate the Ducks.

If the Huskies play like they did against Stanford, we'll lose. If we play like we did in the second half of the Arizona game, we can win.

Question is, which Husky team will show up. This is one issue I have with Husky head coach Chris Petersen. His teams aren't consistent. Even the 2016 team that went to the CFP lost to USC. So I'm hoping the team that beat Arizona shows up. Then we have a chance.

Unfortunately, the forecast is for heavy rain. That may dampen the crowd noise some as people seek shelter. Or maybe not: it is the Oregon game.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Tire Tread Depth

Last week I talked about why you shouldn't buy studded snow tires. This week I'm going to talk about why you might need new snow tires.

Tread depth is very important to tire performance. In racing, you want as little tread depth as possible. Which is why most race car tires don't have tread as all. In Europe, they drive in the rain and have tires with tread for that purpose. In the U.S., we don't race in the rain. Tread makes a tire wobble in corners, which means you have to go slower in corners. Thus, the effort to avoid tread in racing.

But we aren't racing. We're driving on the street. Legally, you have to have at least 2/32nds of an inch of tread depth. Anything less than that is illegal.

You can test this with a penny (hey, they are useful for something).  Put the penny in the tread with Lincoln's head down, touching the bottom of the groove. If all of Lincoln's head is visible, you need to replace those tires because you have less than 2/32nds of an inch of tread.

But, to be practical, if you're planning on driving in rain and/or snow, I personally recommend at least 6/32nds of an inch for a snow tire or a regular tire in the winter. I base that on advice from Tire Rack. Yes, Tire Rack wants to sell tires. But they have always been very honest with me.

So, before winter hits, measure your tread depth. If you don't have a tread depth measuring tool, any tire store will likely measure your tread depth for you for free. Yes, they want to sell you tires.

I measured mine and they are at 9/32nds. So they will last one more winter.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Huskies are 5-2

Going into last nights University of Washington Huskies game, I was a bit wary. The Dawgs hadn't won a night game this year and have always had trouble beating University of Arizona at home. I guess I didn't need to worry.

The first quarter was very defensive and only field goals were kicked. The only Husky touchdown in the second quarter was by the Huskies' defense when the Wildcat's vaunted quarterback, Khalil Tate, tried to throw the ball away as he was being sacked. He ended up throwing a lateral pass, which, even after it hits the ground, is a live ball. And a Husky defensive play picked it up and ran it in for a TD.

But Arizona managed to score 17 points in the second quarter and halftime came with the Wildcats up 17-13. The announcers, who spend the whole game bashing the Huskies, pointed out that Washington hadn't won a game that they were behind at the half since 2015.

After halftime, a different Husky team emerged. They quickly started running up the points and held Arizona to no points in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Arizona did manage to get ten points, but the Huskies scored 24. The Wildcats tried an on-side kick after a touchdown but the Huskies recovered it and that ended the game. The final score was 51-27.

It was an all-around team effort, which seems to be what the Huskies need to do to win. Sean McGrew ran for 106 yards while Salvon Ahmed ran for 95. The top receiver for the game was Puka Nacua with 97 yards. "Who?" you're saying. This was apparently the first time the freshman played.

This makes the Huskies 5-2 overall, 2-2 in conference. That puts them tied for second place (with Stanford) in the Pac-12 North Division. The Oregon Ducks are in first place.

Next Week

The Huskies return home next week to take on the Oregon Ducks. The game is at 12:30 PM and on ABC, so not a night game. Oregon is 5-1, their loss being to Auburn. They are 3-0 in conference. This week they destroyed Colorado 3-45 in Eugene.

That it's a home came will help the Huskies. The stadium is sold out so there should be a lot of crowd noise. But Phil Knight's money buy a good team and it will be a challenge for the Huskies to prevail. Although I'm feeling better about it after this win over Arizona.

Elsewhere in the Pac 12

As I predicted WSU didn't do very well, losing to Arizona State 34-38. This puts WSU 0-3 in
conference and in last place in the Pac-12 North. I watched part of the game and WSU played well, just not well enough to beat ASU. The close score reflects that it was a good, exciting game.

Also, as I predicted, USC lost to Notre Dame. But it was a close game with the score 27-30. I didn't watch that game. I watched Serenity instead on Blu-Ray.

Utah destroyed Oregon State, 52-7. Utah is still on top of the Pac-12 South, tied with USC.

The Polls

(I don't know why I say "polls" because I'm only talking about the AP poll at this point in the season. Later the CFP rankings will come out. Which, technically, isn't a poll, either.)

Last week the Huskies were technically #29 (in the top 25 poll). This week (week 8) we're ranked again but at a lowly #25.

Arizona State is at #17 after beating WSU. Utah is at #13 and Oregon is at #12.

So we'll see who wins, loses, and is ranked next week.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Pac-12 This Weekend

This weekend there are five games slated for the Pac-12

Tonight at 7:00 PM PDT, Colorado plays Oregon. Oregon will likely win.

Then tomorrow at 12:30 PM PDT on Pac-12 Networks, Washington State plays Arizona State. I'm thinking ASU will win with the problems the Cougars are having on defense.

At 4:30 PM PDT, USC plays Notre Dame in a non-conference game. I'm sure Notre Dame will win.

At 5:00 PM PDT, Utah plays Oregon State on Pac-12 Networks. I'm sure Utah will win.

Then at the ungodly hour of 8:00 PM PDT, University of Washington plays University of Arizona in Tuscon. The Dawgs haven't won a night game yet this year, including last week's loss to Stanford. If we lose this game, I'm worried about winning the six games needed to be bowl eligible. And we're 50% for away games, having beat BYU on the road but, again, lost to Stanford. And we've always had trouble int he desert playing either Arizona or Arizona State. If the Huskies can overcome their lost to Stanford and beat Arizona, that would be great. But if not, this season will be over with still five games to play.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Don't Buy Studded Snow Tires, Please

Studded Snow Tire
Winter is coming.

I was talking to my tire guy the other day and asked if he had Nokian snow tires. I'd read those were the best snow tires available. He said they only have studded Nokian tires. So I said I'd stick with the Blizzaks or try the Michelin snow tires (if I need new snow tires; I've yet to determine that by measuring the tread depth on the ones I have).

A lot of people where I live swear by studded snow tires. These tires have steel studs in the tread to, supposedly, increase traction in snow and ice.

Unfortunately, they don't work. Studded snow tires are less safe than a good winter (snow) tire in dry and wet conditions. They are also less safe on snow and ice, what they are supposed to be best for. That is because the studs lower the size of the contact patch of each tire down to the size of a postage stamp. (The contact patch is the area that your tire touches the road.) This reduces traction, not increases it.

In addition, Washington State estimates (PDF file) that studded tires cause
Ruts repaired in a road
between $12 million and $18 million in damage every year in the state alone. You can see this on interstate, or other busy, highways where there are ruts worn in the pavement. Ruts that fill with water that can cause hydroplaning or, if the water freezes, slides. The roads then have to be expensively  repaired.

I, frankly, wish the state would just ban them. Buy a good set of stud-less snow tires. I personally recommend Blizzaks.

But don't buy studded tires. Please.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Huskies are 4-2

What is it about night games?

What is it about Palo Alto?

Well, maybe we can go to a nice bowl this year.

All those thoughts went through my head last night as the University of Washington Huskies lost to the Stanford University Cardinal (it's a color). The game started at 7:30 PM PDT. Our only other loss was also a game that started at 7:30 (the California game) The Huskies haven't beaten Stanford at Palo Alto since 2007. And losing this game means we have nearly zero hope of being Pac-12 North Champions. Unless someone beats Oregon (not likely) and we beat Oregon (looking less likely).

From the beginning, the Huskies played as if they were wading in molasses. Quarterback Jacob Eason couldn't hit his receivers and, when they did, the receivers couldn't hang on to the ball. Of course, I have to give credit to Stanford's secondary who did a great job keeping our receivers from catching passes. Even Salvon Ahmed, who didn't play much for some reason, couldn't move the ball.

Meanwhile Stanford had almost no problem with their third-string quarterback and beat up offensive line moving the ball up the field. The Husky defense did stop them, holding them to a field goal, more than once. But it didn't help. The final score was 13-23.

We'll be lucky to still be ranked in the AP Poll after this (see below)

More bad news: we play Arizona in Tuscon next week. That game starts at 8:00 PM PDT. And we've always had trouble playing in the desert, for some reason. That game is on FS1 which, right now, I don't get because Dish and Fox are fighting. I might have to go to my father's house to watch it.

Arizona is on top of the Pac-12 South Division right now.

Do I sound discouraged? You bet I am.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

California was up on Oregon for the entire first half of the game, 7-0. Thought maybe California
might beat Oregon, but the Ducks came back in the second half to win it 17-7.

The two worst teams in the Pac-12, Oregon State and UCLA, played each other. And Oregon State won 48-31. (Too bad we don't play UCLA this year.)

And Arizona beat Colorado in Boulder 35-30. I guess everyone else had a bye this week.

The Polls:

And...we're not ranked. Washington dropped off the AP Top 25 College Football poll.

Oregon stayed at 13. Utah moved up to 15 (and they had a bye, I'm pretty sure), and Arizona State moved up to 18. And that's it for the Pac-12.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Manspreading Mansplained

New Chair
Some say that "manspreading" (the fact that men tend to sit with their legs apart) is an aggressive posture to take up more space and assert dominance.

I think it's just to be comfortable.

Let me explain. I go to Starbucks nearly every day. The Starbucks I go to recently remodeled and changed their "comfy chairs." The old chairs were plush and the seat was farther from the floor.  The new chairs (see picture) have their seats lower to the floor. While sitting in the new chairs, I find myself "manspreading." Why? Because my legs are too long to sit with my feet flat on the floor and my legs together. This isn't comfortable. So I either spread my legs or put my feet out with just the heels of my feet on the floor. Either way, it's not to assert dominance, it's to be comfortable. And a lot of chairs, such as in subways, buses, etc. have low chairs that are comfortable for most women and shorter people, but too low for most men.
Old Chair

Woman tend to have shorter legs. My wife says she likes these new chairs because her feet touch the floor. So women don't need to spread their legs to be comfortable, generally. And yes, there are cultural taboos against women having their legs spread in public for any reason.

But I think it's mostly chair design, not some cultural plot for male dominance.

So there ya go: manspreading mansplained.

Agree? Disagree? Think I'm nuts? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, September 30, 2019

The Huskies are 4-1

(I know I usually write this blog post on Sunday morning, but I was traveling yesterday morning/afternoon.)

The California game is looking more and more like a fluke.

Saturday, the University of Washington Huskies took on the University of Southern California Trojans at Husky Stadium in Seattle. This was the Huskies' second conference game after that Cal game loss. So a lot was riding on it. And the Huskies came through, beating USC 28-14. The Huskies made two touchdowns in the first quarter, one off an interception. All together the Huskies made three interceptions on USC during the game, one stopping a Trojan drive almost at the Huskies' goal line.  UW one turnover, a fumble, and no interceptions. But the Trojans couldn't capitalize on that fumble.

In the first half, the game was basically a battle on short passes and runs. But in the second half, the Huskies started trying some explosive plays. Then Salvon Ahmed had an 89 yard run for a touchdown. And Husky quarterback Jacob Eason threw a 36 yard pass to Cade Otten. All together, Eason threw for 180 yards.

This game was important because, 1) it was USC and we hate USC almost as much as we hate Oregon and WSU. And, b) it's a conference game and that counts toward your standings in the conference. Right now we are tied with California for second place in the Pac-12 North. This was USC's first in-conference loss this year.

Next week, we play Stanford at Palo Alto. Stanford isn't doing great this year so that should help. But this is our first in-conference away game. The game is at 7:30 PM PDT on ESPN. I hate those late night games.

An Experiment

I added up all the points the Huskies have scored and all the points their opponents have scored. And it's telling. The Huskies have scored 191 points through their first five games. Their opponents have only scored 87 points. So the Huskies have scored 104 points more than their opponents. Or over 20 points per game (20.8 to be exact).

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

Oregon had a bye. Washington State lost to Utah 38-13 at Utah's stadium. Coach Mike Leach was
reportedly not happy.

California lost to Arizona State, handing the Golden Bears their first defeat. Stanford barely beat Oregon State, the doormat of the conference.

Right now the Oregon Ducks are still on top of the Pac-12 North. The WSU Cougars are in last place at 0-2 after their losses to UCLA and Utah.

Arizona (who we play in two weeks) is on top of the Pac-12 South, tied with Colorado at 1-0 in  conference.

The Polls:

Oregon, who didn't play this week, stayed at #13 in the AP top 25 poll. Washington moved up two spots to 15. Utah moved up two spots to 17. And Arizona State is at #20, back on the top 25 poll. California and USC dropped off.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Huskies take on USC Tomorrow

Ironically right now, Oregon State is #3 in the Pac-12 North Division because of their 0-0 record in conference. They must have had a bye last week, because they've only played three games while most everyone else has played four. (Arizona also had a bye last week.)

Oh well.

Tomorrow, the University of Washington Huskies take on the USC Trojans. The Huskies are 0-1 in conference after losing to California by one point at 1:20 AM. That puts them tied for 4th place, tied with Washington State who lost to UCLA last week. The Huskies are 3-1 overall having won all their non-conference games. The WSU Cougars have the same record.

USC is in first place in the Pac-12 South Division at 2-0 in conference (3-1 overall).  So they aren't going to be a pushover. Of course, I said that about BYU who we demolished.

We play at home, which helps a lot. The game is at 12:30 PM, which helps, I think, because the crowd will be awake (unlike the California game). And after how we handled BYU, I'm thinking we'll do fine against USC. The "line" is UW is favored by 10 points.

The one big worry is running back Salvon Ahmed may not be able to play. He has a leg injury and is "week to week" if he'll play. But last week against BYU, when he didn't play, Sean McGrew stepped up and handled running duties pretty well.

The game is, as I said, at 12:30 PM PDT on Fox. Should be a good game. Go Dawgs!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

My Name

Here's a typical phone conversation for me:

Other person: "And your last name, please?"

Me: "Townsend" pronounced as clearly as I can with emphasis on the final "D."

OP: "Tompson?"

Me: "No, Townsend. The word 'town' and the word 'send' together."

OP: "Could you spell that for me, please?"

Me: "T-o-w-n-s-e-n-d."

OP: "So that's P-o-w-?"

No: "No, T, as in Tom."

OP: "Oh, T-o-w-n-s-c-n-d?"

And so it goes.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data (Excel file at the link),  "Townsend" is the 483rd most popular surname in the U.S. There are 69,360 people with that name in the U.S. And I'm one of them.

(The most popular surname in the U.S.? Smith.)

I'm sure there are people who have a hard time with their names, too. Probably a harder time. But, to me, "Townsend" isn't that hard. Why don't people understand it?

Once I stayed at a bed and breakfast in Port Townsend, Washington. When I made the reservation, the woman asked "what's your last name?" and I said, "Townsend" and she said "cool." That was one of the few times I didn't have problems with someone understanding my name.

And don't get me started about trying to tell people my domain name at the end of my email: "sevantownsend" I spell it phonetically: "S as in Sam, E as in echo, V as in Victor..."

Do you have problems with people understanding your name? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Huskies are 3-1

The Cougars lost.

Yesterday the University of Washington Huskies beat the Brigham Young University Cougars in a dramatic 45-19 win. And to think I was worried.

The Huskies dominated from the start. Even without star running back Salvon Ahmed who didn't make the trip due to a leg injury.  (He's "week-to-week" if he'll play or not.) Running back Sean McGrew stepped up and ran for 110 yards in the game, showing that the Huskies have depth at running. Quarterback Jacob Eason showed his skills in his first away game for the Huskies by throwing for 290 yards and three touchdowns. The Dawgs were so successful in reaching the end zone that they only punted once in the game and that was in the fourth quarter.

On the negative size, there was one interception by BYU and we did fumble the ball once. When the score was 45-19 with about five minutes left in the game, Husky coach Chris Petersen, as he likes to do, put in backup players. We didn't score after that.

The Huskies looked much better, making me think the California game might have been a fluke. (Or California is much better than anyone thought.) Eason continues to impress. And that we moved the ball for 187 yards running without Ahmed says a lot for the skill of the rest of the players.

Next week we play USC at home. The game is at 12:30 PM on Fox. I sure like these midday games better than 7:30 at night.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

On Friday, USC beat #10 Utah. This should drop Utah in the AP poll a bit when it comes out.

California, ranked at #23, was the other team not playing in-conference. They beat Ol' Miss 28 to 20.

Oregon beat Stanford 21-6 yesterday.  No surprise there. Oregon is ranked 16.

And in the biggest upset in the Pac-12, unranked and win-less UCLA beat the #19 WSU Cougars at home 67-63. Sounds like a basketball score. That should ding the Cougars in today's poll when it comes out.

The Houston Cougars lost, too, so all three college teams named "Cougars" lost.

The only undefeated team in the Pac-12 is California who are currently on top of the Pac-12 North. USC is on top of the Pac-12 South at 2-0 in conference, 3-1 overall.

And it wasn't in the Pac-12. Wasn't even in the FBS, but Idaho beat Eastern Washington, which is just amazing. And a lot of my relatives are happy about that.

The Polls

The AP Poll has come out and all the Pac-12 teams moved.  Utah went from #10 to #19. Oregon, who beat Stanford, moved up three places to #13, making them the highest ranked Pac-12 team. California is now at #15 up from 23. Washington is at 17, up 5 places, and USC is back in the top 25 at #21. The Pac-12 has 5 teams in the top 25, which is pretty good. The SEC beats us at 6.

Washington State dropped off the poll after their loss to UCLA. And Arizona State dropped off after losing to Colorado.

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Huskies Take on BYU

Tomorrow the University of Washington Huskies travel to Provo, UT, to play the Brigham Young University Cougars.

BYU is going to be a tough team to beat. They lost their first game to in-state rivals Utah (Utah is in the Pac-12). But then they won two tough overtime games against Tennessee on the road, and against USC at home (USC is also in the Pac-12).

The Huskies are coming off that big win against Hawaii. BYU is probably going to be the toughest team they'll face so far this year. And that includes California who beat them.

They Huskies are facing a tough crowd at BYU (those Mormons get loud) and will have to play a near-perfect game to win. We'll see if the defense can hold BYU and if quarterback Jacob Eason can hit his targets in an on-the-road game (where he's never played before).

The game is at 12:30 PM PDT on ABC. So everyone in the country can watch it if they have television.

Thursday, September 19, 2019


The cliché is that writers, such as myself, usually have an unhealthy relationship with coffee and specifically, with 1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6(3H,7H)-dione 3,7-dihydro-1,3,7-trimethyl-1H-purine-2,6-dione (also known as "caffeine"). The meme I've seen many times is that a writer's superpower is turning caffeine into words. Or a meme such as this one:

I'm not like that. I drink, usually, one triple mocha a day (in the summer, I don't even drink that because I don't like hot drinks in the heat). I remember years ago I was told I was allergic to caffeine (at the time I would consume 4-6 cans of Diet Coke a day). So I had to give it up. I was worried this would interfere with my creativity. Ten published books later, and I'm not worried any more. Except that I started drinking caffeine again, in reasonable quantities.

What is your relationship with coffee or caffeine? And do you think it helps you be creative? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Huskies are 2-1

Last night the University of Washington Huskies took on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. The Warriors were 2-0 against Pac-12 teams. Admittedly, one of those teams was Oregon State. But the other was Arizona. So, Hawaii was no easy team to beat.

Unlike when they played California last week late at night, the Huskies won and won big. In the first quarter alone they scored 21 unanswered points. The Warriors didn't score until the second quarter, after the Huskies were already up over 30 points.

And, unlike last week, the defense showed up for this game. In the third quarter, the defense did allow the Warriors to score 13 points (they missed an extra point after a touchdown).  But in the fourth quarter, the Warriors didn't score at all and the Huskies put up another 14 points. This, despite Husky coach Chris Petersen putting in backups in with about six minutes left in the game. No one scored after that. Sometimes I wish he'd just rack up points to impress the AP voters.

The final score was 52-20.

Next Week:

Next week the Huskies travel to Provo, UT to take on BYU. This isn't going to be an easy game. BYU beat USC this week. The Huskies are going to have to play hard as this will be their toughest opponent since California.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

Now that we're 1/4th of the way through the regular season, we can start looking at the standings. The
Pac-12 is not doing great against non-conference opponents. As I said, BYU beat USC yesterday. The good news is, WSU beat Houston Friday night (both teams called the "Cougars"). But Air Force upset Colorado, UCF beat Stanford, Oklahoma beat UCLA (who may be the worst team in the Pac-12). On the positive side, Arizona State beat Montana State, Oregon State beat Cal-Poly (an FCS team), Utah beat Idaho State (another FCS team), California beat University of North Texas, Arizona beat Texas Tech, and Oregon beat Montana.

California is on top of the Pac-12 North standings at 3-0 (1-0 in conference). Stanford and Washington are tied for last place at 0-1 in conference. Washington is 2-1 overall, Stanford is 10-2 overall.

In the Pac-12 South, the Trojans (USC) are on top at 1-0 in conference (2-1 over all). Everyone else is tied for last at 0-0 in conference. When conference play starts in earnest next week, we'll start sorting things out.

The Polls:

The Huskies came up one in the AP poll, to 22. Other Pac-12 teams in the top 25 are Arizona State, at 24 (they weren't in the top 25 last week), Washington State at 19 (up one), Oregon at 16 (down one despite winning their game), and Utah at 10, up one. USC fell off the top 25 after losing their game. They spent one week at 24.

UPDATE: I missed that California is now ranked, at #23.

Thursday, September 12, 2019


Now that summer is over and it's getting more fall-like, I have a confession. I don't like the outdoors. My snappy comeback if someone asks why is "Outdoors is sunburn and allergies." Of course, after seven years of allergy shots, my allergies are better. But  I still get sunburned very quick and very easily.

When I was in high school and college, one of the "treats" for the class would be to hold it outside. This usually happened in the spring. Everyone else in the class was saying "Yay!" and I was saying, "Oh, no." I would, at the very least, have to find some shady spot to stay out of direct sunlight. But sometimes there wouldn't be shade. And you'd have to sit on the ground (no thanks) and squint against the bright sunshine.

So why did I join the Army, which does most of its stuff outdoors. I don't know. Maybe I was crazy. We did this one "field exercise" in the Mojave Desert in August. The uniform was supposed to be sleeves rolled up to above the elbow. I kept mine down the entire time. I didn't want to get immediately sunburned. I was shocked I didn't get in trouble with the First Sergeant who was a massive racist jerk.

So, now it's fall. Cooler weather and no snow...yet. And people don't want to go outside for random reasons. Sounds good to me.

What are your feelings about being outside. Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Huskies are 1-1

Maybe this is a rebuilding year.

Last night the University of Washington Huskies played the University of California at Berkeley Golden Bears. Going into the game, the Huskies were both favored and ranked.

But after about six minutes of play, the game was suspended for lightning in the area. The weather delay was an interminable two hours and 38 minutes. That meant that the game restarted at about 10:30 PM. It lasted until around 1:15 AM.

And the Huskies lost, 20 - 19. Not a huge lost but bad enough. The Husky defense had trouble stopping the Bears. The Husky offense had problems connecting and moving the ball. It didn't look like the same team that beat Eastern Washington last week. The defense could not make tackles.

Yes, everyone was tired. But so were the Bears. Probably the only thing that helped the Bears was that the weather delay caused is about half the fans left, meaning there wasn't as much fan noise when the Bears had the ball.

But now I'm worried about the rest of the year. If we couldn't beat California how can we beat USC, Oregon, Utah, and Washington State whom we all play at home. Never mind winning on the road.

Maybe Coach Chris Petersen will have some magic between now and next week when we play Hawaii at home (4:30 PM on Pac-12 Network). We'll see.

Because the game ran so late I got to bed at about 1:30 AM.  I slept until almost 10:30 AM. Even house-rattling thunder at about 5:00 AM from our own lightning storm couldn't keep me awake. Which really messed up my day which is why I'm posting this at almost 5:00 PM rather than this morning.

At least the Seahawks won...barely.

The Polls:

In the AP top 25 Football poll, Washington dropped nine spots to 23. This puts them barely ahead of USC at 24. Washington State is at 20, Oregon moved up one to 15, and Utah is still the highest ranked Pac-12 team at #11.

Thursday, September 5, 2019


I have a theory about words. And that is, the shorter they are, the more common they are. If they are one syllable, they are probably quite common. The more syllables they have, the less common they are.  This is also why swear words tend to be one syllable.

Think about it. Almost everything you touch every day is a one-syllable word. Some may be contractions of longer words or phrases (the "el" for "elevated train, for example).

Look at the car. It, in the space of about 50 years went from "horseless carriage" to "automobile" to "auto" to "car."

The telephone became "phone." the smart phone also became "phone." Applications became "apps" but I think that was more a marketing thing.

As computers become more common, they too will probably be shortened. I've already heard computers called "puter." Will in fifty years they be called "pute" or "comp"?

Can you think of something you touch everyday that was two, three, or more syllables? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

AP Top 25, Week 2

For some reason the AP is calling their poll released today "Week 2." They were calling the preseason poll "Week 1" earlier, and I thought that was a mistake. Or maybe it was supposed to be Week 1 but nothing changed (no ranked teams played).

So, after winning their game against Eastern Washington and looking great, the University of Washington Huskies...drop one rank to #14. They essentially traded places with Utah who moved up to #13. Utah beat BYU.

Stanford moved from 25 to 23 and WSU went from 23 to 22. All those teams won their games.

But then the University of Oregon Ducks lost to Auburn. This dropped them from 11 to 16. Auburn went from 16 to 10.

From now on, the AP poll comes out on Sunday morning (my time) so I won't have to make a separate post for it. I'm not sure when the CFP rankings start coming out. Usually around week 8 if I remember correctly.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Huskies Win Their First Game

Yesterday (Sunday), I forgot to write this blog post, so I'm doing it today.

Saturday the University of Washington Huskies played the Eastern Washington University (EWU) Eagles in their first game of the 2019 season. I wasn't too worried about this game because EWU is an FCS team, albeit one of the best FCS teams (they were beaten in the championship game last year by North Dakota State). That, and after four years of Jake Browning at quarterback, we were breaking in a new QB in Jacob Eason. His skills were an unknown.

I needn't worry. Eason proved to be a very capable quarterback and the receiving squad also showed its skills, especially Aaron Fuller who made two spectacular catches in the end zone for touchdowns. At one time the Huskies had the ball at the exact center of the field and Eason threw a long bomb that was caught by Andre Baccellia and ran in for a TD. It reminded me of the Jake Browning-John Ross era.

In the end, the second best team in the FCS couldn't keep up with the Huskies' offense. Toward the end of the game, as he often does when the score is lopsided, Coach Chris Petersen put in second stringers. Even then they managed to get a safety. The final score was 47-14.

Next week we play California at home in the Huskies' first conference game. Having seen Eason's abilities, I'm only slightly worried about that game, too (although maybe I should worry more; last year California beat us). The game is at 7:30 PM on FS1.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12

The big hype this year is around the  #11 Oregon Ducks (whom I hate). They played #16 Auburn in Texas and nearly won. They led most of the game but ended up losing. I know it would have been better for the Pac-12 if they won, but I can't help but be happy that they lost.


The AP poll doesn't come out until tomorrow sometime. I'll likely have a post when it does. I'm not counting on the Huskies moving much (they are at #13). But Oregon should drop a bit.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

College Football, A Primer: A Notional Game

We're almost to the end of our college football primer. See here, here, here, here, here, and here for earlier posts.

Today, we'll talk about a notional game.

A Notional Partial Game

The home team, the Walla Walla Wolves (a fictional team), won the toss and elected to defer. So they will kick off the ball to start the game. The kicker kicks the ball and it goes into the end zone and out the back of the end zone. This is a "touch back." Play starts on the 25 yard line. It's 1st and 10. The Pasco Ponies (another fictional team) lines up behind the line of scrimmage. The center snaps the ball to the quarterback, he drops back and throws a long "bomb" to a wide receiver down the field. But the receiver can't catch the ball.  It's 2nd and ten. The Ponies line up again. This time the quarterback hands it off to a running back who gets seven yards past the line of scrimmage before he's tackled. It's 3rd and 3. The Ponies again line up. And again, the running back gets the ball. He runs four yards past the scrimmage line before he's brought down. It's now 1st and 10 on the 34 yard line.

The Ponies get ready to play again, lining up behind the line of scrimmage. But before they get the play off, an official throws a flag. Because of crowd noise, the Ponies were "off sides." They get a five yard penalty. Now it's 1st and 15 at the 29 yard line. The ball is snapped again and the quarterback hands it to a running back. But he's tackled at the 28 yard line. It's now 2nd and 16. The next play the Ponies try a pass, but the defensive players make it to the quarterback and "sack" him on the 25 yard line. It's now 3rd and 19. Wanting to be conservative and not risk an interception, the Ponies run the ball again and the running back gets a good eleven yards before he's tackled. But it's now 4th and 8 on the 34. So the Ponies punt.

The ball goes to the 5 yard line on the opposite side of the field and is "downed" by a Ponies player. That means he stops it from going farther. He will only do this if he's worried it'll go into the end zone and cause a "touch back."

So the Wolves are on their own 5 yard line and it's 1st and 10. The first play they try a long pass. And it's caught on the 15 yard line and the wide receiver gets four more yards before he's tackled. It's 1st and 10 again (they got their 10 yards and more on the first play). This was also considered a risky play because it's close to the Wolves' end zone and if it were intercepted it would be easy for the defense to get a touchdown. But, instead, it's 1st and 10 on the 19 yard line.

The Wolves run another play, this time they "run the ball" and the running back gets tackled three yards past the line of scrimmage. It's 2nd and 7 on the 22 yard line. Again the Wolves throw the ball and the receiver catches it and runs toward the end zone. He's forced out of bounds at the 45 yard line (the Wolves' 45 yard line, the one between the 50 yard line and their end zone, which remember, is behind them). It's 1st and 10 again.

Again the Wolves run the ball, and the running back makes it to the 45 yard line on the other side of the 50 yard line. This is called "being in Ponies territory." It's 1st and 10 again. Another run but this time there's a flag. A Wolves player is called for holding. The player protests but it does no good and the Wolves are knocked back 10 yards to the 45 yard line on their side of the 50 yard line. It's 1st and 20 now.

The Wolves pass the ball and the wide receiver catches it. He's tackled at the 46 on the Ponies side of the 50. So it's 2nd and 11. Again, the Wolves throw the ball, this time the receiver is "wide open" and he catches the ball and runs to the ten yard line before he's brought down. It's 1st and goal at the 10. Two more plays and the Wolves get the ball into the end zone and score six points. Their point after touchdown (PAT) attempt is good. The score is 7-0.


This should be enough information to get you started watching college football. Once you start watching, you'll realize the power and grace of it.  Pick a team to root for and it's a lot more fun. Or frustrating (I wouldn't pick Oregon State). And college football is so much more fun to watch than baseball, any day. I can't wait for the season to begin this weekend. (Technically, the season began on the 24th with two FBS games: Florida vs. Miami of Florida* and Arizona vs. Hawaii. That was called "week zero." There are also games tonight.)

The University of Washington Huskies of the Pac 12 conference, the team I follow, play at noon PDT on Saturday against Eastern Washington. Eastern isn't going to be a push-over even if they are an FCS team. They were almost the FCS champions last year. It will be shown on the Pac-12 Network.

*There's a Miami of Ohio so you have to distinguish between the two.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Football Last Night

Last night there was both college football and NFL football that I watched.

First there was the "Camping World Kickoff Game" between #8 Florida* and Miami (FL)**. And it was almost an upset. I didn't see the end of the game because of the Seahawks game, but while I was watching (up until the third quarter) the lead went back and forth. If Miami had gotten a couple of lucky breaks, they might have won.

I wonder if when the AP Top 25 Week 1 poll comes out on September 3rd if Florida will drop a bit.

Then I watched the Seattle Seahawks play the Los Angeles Chargers in a pre-season game. Not much excitement there. The Seahawks won. The Chargers tried to make a comeback in the fourth quarter and made the score closer, but they were playing second and third string Seahawks. The Hawks finally won 23-15 but the score was 23-3 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Then I turned to watch the Arizona at Hawaii game. Hawaii has never been considered a good team and Arizona has usually be pretty good. I stopped watched at the end of the third quarter because I was falling asleep. But this morning I learned that Hawaii won, 38-45. That's pretty much an upset and will reduce Arizona's chances, if they had any, of being the Pac-12 South champion.

But I really looking forward to Saturday at noon with my beloved University of Washington Huskies play the Eastern Washington Eagles in non-conference play. Go Dawgs!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

College Football, A Primer: Details Details

Today we continue with our primer on college football. See here, here, here, here, and here for previous posts. Today we'll cover details you need to know.

Details, Details

Some little things you need to know:

The "sticks" (also called "the chain").

On the sidelines are the sticks. They are about six-feet tall and each is held by a man. One is placed where the ball is downed at a first down. At the top of this one they will display which down it is. The other stick is ten yards away. There is a ten-yard-long chain between them. Sometimes this is used to measure for a first down. They actually bring the sticks and chain onto the field. On first downs you'll hear the announcer say (sometimes) "They moved the sticks" or "they moved the chain."

Red Shirts

No, these aren't guys who beam down with Captain Kirk and fail to return to the ship. Every player has four years of college "eligibility." That means they can play college ball for four years and only four years. So, if a team wants to keep a player but not play the player (give him a year to get better), they can "red shirt" him. He doesn't play and he keeps his four years of eligibility. It used to be they couldn't play in any games. But in 2018, that was changed to where they can play in up to four games and still be considered a red shirt. I think this is a good change.

Because of this you'll hear the expression "red shirt freshman" for a player that was red-shirted for a year. He's probably academically a sophomore, but in football he's a freshman. You'll also hear "true freshman" for a player that is right out of high school and playing in the game.

Crowd Noise

Football is one of the few games I know of where crowd noise is a factor (basketball is, too). When the visiting team has the ball, the crowd will try to make a lot of noise to disorient the players. Perhaps they won't hear the quarterback's signals and move late. Or they might move early, earning a "false start" penalty. The higher the down, the more noise the crowd will make. This is true in both college and pro football. Century Link Field, where the Seahawks play, is known for being the loudest stadium in the NFL. Husky Stadium, where the University of Washington Huskies play, is also known for being loud.

Sometimes a visiting team can "take the crowd out of the game" by playing well and discouraging the fans. But when 50,000 people are screaming at you, it can be unsettling.


The officials are human and they make mistakes. That's why there is replay review. But still, some subjectivity comes in. Was that holding or just aggressive blocking? Was it pass interference or just a good job keeping the ball out of the receiver's hands? And where they place the ball at the end of a play can be subjective. It's supposed to be where the ball is when the player is down. But sometimes it gets moved a few inches in either direction. Sometimes this results in a first down when it should have not been. Or a team doesn't get a first down then they should have. Remember, football is a game of inches.

Time Outs

Each team is given six time outs: three in the first half and three in the second half. This is when they can stop play for a period. How long seems to be about a minute or sometimes only 30 seconds. I don't know what determines that. Time outs stop the clock which toward the end of a game may be a necessary strategy. If a team doesn't use all three of its first-half time outs, it still only gets three for the second half.


"Depth" or "depth chart" is how many players a team has to play at a certain position. The more the better. If you have only a starting quarterback and one back-up quarterback, you don't have much "depth" at the quarterback position. If you have five back-up quarterbacks and they are all pretty good players, you are said to have "good depth" at quarterback. A team with good depth (or a good depth chart) at its key positions can deal with injuries causing players to not be able to play much better than a team without good depth.


College football wouldn't be college football without rivalries. Rivalries are part of what makes college football so fun. A rivalry is when two teams especially dislike each other. And while they want to win every game, beating a rival is especially sweet. Most rivalries are based on geography (Washington/Washington State, Florida/Florida State). Some are based on past actions. The Washington/Oregon rivalry is such a case. It was caused by some boorish actions by, unfortunately, Washington players after a victory and then Oregon being insufferable when they started beating Washington in the early 2000s.

Probably the most famous rivalry is Ohio State and Michigan. I'm not sure what started it.