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Park: Trying to make sense of the college football season

It’s a frustrating time to be a Stanford football fan right now. Just ask George Chen, whose 1,200 words of resigned frustration I had to edit two nights ago, or Joey Beyda and Winston Shi, who spent a good hour and a half having a heated discussion that was both amusing and depressing to listen to in its irritation, surprise and complete helplessness for a situation that not many of us had thought that we would experience this season.

Yes, it was a bad week for Stanford fans. But lost in the bitterness and vitriol of an embarrassing loss to Notre Dame was the fact that it was an incredible week for college football fans around the nation — one that I think many people on campus (myself included) missed in the disappointment of the loss.

So I’m just going to take the column space I have this week to spit words on a page from the perspective of a crazed college football fan, because it’s just been that kind of a season, Stanford be darned. If anything, it makes me feel a lot better about how crazy (infuriating) the Cardinal have been this season, because it’s just been a crazy year in general.

Let’s just highlight a few major points right now to show you how ridiculous this season has been so far:

1) Heading into Week 7, Cal is alone in first place in the Pac-12 North.

Raise your hand if you saw this one coming. If your hand is up, put your hand down and go take a time-out. Didn’t your mom ever teach you not to lie to disembodied talking heads on the Internet?

Cal! Like, didn’t-win-a-single-game-in-the-Pac-12-last-season Cal!  Cal of the legendarily bad defense and the field of the name “KABAM”! Is this the college football gods’ idea of some cruel joke on Stanford fans?

As ludicrous as this may have seemed just a year ago, Stanford is looking at a really stiff challenge in the Big Game this year from a Cal team that’s one Hail Mary away from being undefeated, 5-0, and sitting pretty with a one-game cushion over the likes of Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State in the grueling Pac-12 North. Heck, if Cal hadn’t dropped that heartbreaker to Arizona, it could even be ranked right now. That sentence just felt dirty to write. Ew. I feel like I need to shower after even thinking about that.

2) Arizona is the only undefeated team in the Pac-12.

Take away a horrible loss to Washington State, and Utah could be up there as well. Actually, it’s No. 24 Utah (and No. 10 Arizona). That felt so weird to write. But Arizona being the highest-ranked team in the Pac-12 is a crazy happenstance created by one of the most epic week of upsets ever, a week in which Stanford, Oregon, UCLA and USC all lost in the same week. Has that even ever happened before? Those four teams were supposed to be the upper echelon and the elite of the conference, and each of them has looked incomplete, unconvincing and weak in its own way.

In fact, at this juncture, Arizona (weak nonconference schedule notwithstanding) and Utah have looked like the most impressive teams in the conference. Because in the end, you can be as talented as you want, but to be an elite team, you need to find ways to win. Arizona beat Oregon. Utah beat UCLA.

It’s like one of those Bruce Lee films where Bruce goes through and beats all of the incompetent henchmen when they all charge at him at the same time in a blaze of glory. Except this time, each of the henchmen stands up and taps Bruce on the back, challenging him to a one-on-one battle that Bruce thinks he can win with his eyes closed. And then the henchman just lashes out with a spinning 720 rainbow kick that catches Bruce completely off guard. And then they take big bites out of him when he’s dazed on the ground. Did that make any sense at all?

3) The state of Mississippi is probably burning as we speak.

In the South, life is football and football is life (citation needed). It is the essence of the existence of the masses. Let’s just consider for a second that Michigan State burned couches after it won the Big Ten. Can you even imagine what’s going on in Mississippi right now after its two big-time teams not only beat the Alabama-Saban Crimson Roll Tides but also the seemingly unstoppable Texas A&M Aggies?

Ole Miss and Mississippi State currently sit tied in third place in the most recent AP poll. That’s the highest ranking for Ole Miss since 1965, and the highest ranking for Mississippi State ever. Forget burning couches or big rigs or whatever Mississippi’s riot fuel of choice is — I wouldn’t be shocked if the collective ecstasy of the state finds a way to boil over and spontaneously erupt into a giant fireball that forms into the shape of a massive middle finger pointed at the campuses of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M. All at the same time.

4) Florida State, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma in the Playoff? Child, please.

That was the lineup that pretty much every expert in the land had heading into the season. They might as well have put giant stone heads of Jameis Winston, Nick Saban, Marcus Mariota and…uh…the Boomer Sooner, I guess(?) on a giant college football Mount Rushmore.

I disregard Lou Holtz’s opinion because I think it’s some sort of NCAA violation to put Notre Dame in the Playoff four times.

But as it stands right now, Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma are on the outside looking in as the Playoff maelstrom rages around them, and Florida State has looked incredibly vulnerable against Clemson and North Carolina State. Who even knows? Right now, three of the top four teams in the nation are SEC teams, but with the way the parity in both the SEC (cough…cough…Kentucky) and the Pac-12 have emerged, I fully expect that to change.

You know what, it would actually even be pretty cool if we had something crazy like East Carolina, Marshall, TCU and Georgia Tech end up in the playoff. Given the way this season has been going so far, I wouldn’t even be surprised (or mad) if that happened. It would certainly be a fitting way to enter the Playoff era.

Thank goodness Notre Dame has a tough schedule from here on out, because if Lou Holtz gets to have the smug pleasure of reporting on a playoff-bound Irish team, I quit sports.

5) And your preseason Heisman front-runners are…

Pac-12 referees. Because nobody else in the country has made as many game-changing plays as consistently as these guys. In my mind, it’s definitely a performance worthy of a Heisman. And they don’t even steal crab legs!

Do-Hyoung Park is really hoping Lou Holtz isn’t smarter than he looks. Teach him some old man wisdom at dpark027 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park

Do-Hyoung Park '16, M.S. '17 is now the Chief Operating Officer and Business Manager at The Stanford Daily. He's also a Bay Area-based freelance sportswriter. He previously covered Stanford football and baseball for five seasons as a student and served two terms as sports editor and four terms on the copy desk. He was also a color commentator for KZSU 90.1 FM's football broadcast team for the 2015-16 Rose Bowl season. He covered the 2016 Minnesota Twins for MLB.com and has also contributed to The Bootleg and SI's (now defunct) Campus Rush. Hire him at dpark0027 'at' gmail.com or send him snarky Tweets @dohyoungpark.