The “Hammer and Nail” Relationship: Lessons from Week 7

In sports, metaphors are used to playfully describe the action witnessed at a sporting venue. The use of metaphors keeps the reader entertained and provides the reader a laugh every now and again. Sometimes they turn sportswriting into an exercise in which people like Rick Reilly are allowed to flourish and continue a career despite making pop culture references to things that have long lost their cultural currency. And there are also moments when metaphors are met with confusion and, in the case of Les Miles, anger.

After a reporter attempted to ask the Mad Hatter a question that involved a “hammer and nail” comparison with the LSU – Florida relationship in the last year, this happened:

Miles has a point. There are no hammers and nails on the field. There is a football, 22 players on the field and an officiating crew. No signs of anything you could pick up at a TrueValue. But could you argue in the figurative that there were hammers and nails? Yes, you could, though you would be arguing against a man whose brain seems as if it is wired like a Roomba designed to spin in circles.

Nevertheless, I enjoy the virtue of what Miles was getting at here. There were plenty of “hammer and nail” relationships that happened this weekend that I think we can safely talk about without the head man down in Baton Rouge unleashing Mike the Tiger on my apartment (I think).

If there’s any relationship that is more deserving of the hammer and nail status, it is Oregon as hammer against anyone in the Pac 12 that has been forced to schedule Oregon in 2013.

The Ducks were held to their lowest amount of points scored in a game this past weekend, with Washington allowing Marcus Mariota and Co. to put 45 on the board. Though the Ducks won by twenty one, this is the lowest margin of victory they have had since they beat a fifth-ranked Kansas State last year in the Fiesta Bowl by 18. This statistical point of fact is a roundabout way of saying that Washington is a good team rather than that the Ducks have not played anyone of substance since January 3, 2013.

Going into the fourth quarter, Oregon only led by seven points after a touchdown late in the third quarter came courtesy of Washington’s Bishop Sankey. Mariota has had many uneventful fourth quarters on the sideline probably doing things like browsing through Nike’s upcoming football collection, but this past Saturday, he remained in the game. The last two scores of the game were achieved by way of Mariota’s legs and his rocket arm that led to Oregon to a victory and a clean 6-0 record.

Washington, on the other hand, has dropped to the 20th spot, but this is only a matter of protocol as their loss column stands at a hearty total of 2. Though those teams included Stanford and Oregon is no matter, the Huskies are now out of any contention for a BCS bowl unless both of those teams decide to run themselves into unpredictable ruin. (HAMMER: Oregon NAIL: Washington) 

Speaking of Stanford, the road to ruin for a national title looks as though it may have been achieved as the Cardinal took their first loss of the season against a middling Utah team.

After several Kevin Hogan to Ty Montgomery completions, the final play of a last minute effort to stave off Utah occurred at the seven yard line with a little under 50 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. With two yards left to covert for a first down, David Shaw decided to have Hogan air it out into the end zone. Instead, Utah brought pressure and Hogan threw it over the head of several receivers who collided into each other as they watched the football sail past the end zone.

The Cardinal’s collapse from the fifth best team in the country to possible Rose Bowl contenders happened against a Utah team that fought, held, and tricked their way to a 27-21 win to victory. For Utah, it was a record book day as they recorded their first win in school history against an AP-ranked top five opponent since the start of the Associated Press poll. The end point of that victory was a rush of the field which the fan base seemed to have perfected since their last few attempts(HAMMER: Utah NAIL: Stanford) 

Can chaos be considered perfect, though? I guess we could ask Gary Pinkel and the Missouri Tigers as they took advantage of all of the injuries that Georgia sustained in their close victory against Tennessee. I guess it was calculated chaos if there even is such a concept.

Mizzou stopped Georgia when they needed to and the perceived depth that Georgia had on the offensive side of the ball was an illusion as Aaron Murray only completed a little over fifty percent of his passes while throwing two picks. The lack in the receiving corps was evident though the ground game led by Brendan Douglas attempted to right the sinking, injury addled ship. But the Tigers managed to capitalize on the turnovers that Georgia managed to provide.

James Franklin left the game in the fourth quarter with a separated shoulder injury as his team separated themselves. Missouri moves forward with a 6-0 record in the SEC and they are currently the only team in the SEC East division that does not have a loss on it’s record. Now, if that is not nightmare fuel for you as an SEC fan, I don’t know what is (HAMMER: Missouri NAIL: Georgia and the rest of the SEC East)

Nightmare fuel was also in ample abundance in State College where Michigan, after narrowly escaping defeat at the hands of two lesser opponents, fell to Penn State in a four overtime game.

I was at a wedding this past weekend where there where a total of twenty people huddled around a television set cheering and jeering with each possession in each of those overtimes. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I’ll say it again: I live in Charlotte, NC. I’m in the middle of prime ACC/SEC territory, though there are many grads from Big Ten schools who migrate here due to the city’s status as a financial capital. Still, I would never expect to witness a crowd of that size in front of a television set, at a wedding, in the south, cheering for Penn State. This was my alternate universe and I did not know how to react to it. Just as Michigan had no clue had to react to Christian Hackenberg’s jump ball pass to Allan Robinson that will give Wolverine fans nightmares for the rest of the season (HAMMER: Penn State NAIL: My idea of the dominant fan bases residing in Charlotte)

IN OTHER NEWS: Clemson narrowly escapes Boston College as the whole country still doesn’t have a firm understanding of what “Clemsoning” is (thanks, Jesse Palmer!). Texas Tech beats Iowa State in Lubbock but Paul Rhoads’ tangible pride in his team was still aboard the bus on the way home. Northwestern was kicked in the teeth by a Wisconsin team who also lost to Ohio State and doesn’t feel sorry for how the Wildcats are recovering from their nationally-televised let down. Virginia Tech overcame Pittsburgh in a battle with the offensive inefficiency of the Allied forces in Operation: Market Garden. Texas took down Oklahoma because Oklahoma hates fulfilling meager expectations though they love talking that shit. Louisville did not impress anyone, but the Cardinals are still undefeated, and Teddy Bridgewater is still an NFL prospect barring anything that happens as a result of his awful sliding. Kansas State held Baylor to its lowest point total, but not before Baylor became the best team in the Big 12. South Carolina annihilated Arkansas, and Steve Spurrier gave us his best Dana Holgorsen. Northern Illinois continues to try and become a thing by remaining undefeated. Alabama slowly strangled Kentucky. Texas A&M walked out of Vaught-Hemingway with a win in a repeat episode of “Here’s Johnny Football!”

WHILE YOU WERE BEING A SPORTS SHUT-IN:  What does the fox say? The New York Times is on it.


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