Sports with Shook: Upsets, handshakes and fake tough guys



Nick Shook

Nick Shook

Nick Shook is a sports columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

Two friends tire of playing with the best teams on the NCAA Football video game. They decide to scroll through the 120 NCAA FBS schools to find a couple of the worst squads on the game. Your opponent settles on Middle Tennessee State because they have awesome black alternate uniforms. You choose Louisiana-Monroe, because you’ve never been a part of anything affiliated with the name “Warhawks.”

This was the only place I had ever seen or heard of the ULM Warhawks — until last weekend.

ULM shocked the world and fried some bacon by knocking off then-No. 8 Arkansas in overtime, 34-31, on Sept. 8, marking the first time a Sun Belt Conference member defeated a Southeastern Conference team ranked in the top 10 in the nation. But the Warhawks weren’t stopping with a victory over the Razorbacks.

Louisiana-Monroe decided to raise the blood pressure of Auburn fans the following Saturday by taking the Tigers to overtime before falling, 31-28. The emergence of the otherwise unknown Warhawks was a shocker to everyone across the nation. They even garnered four votes for placement in the USA Today Top 25.

Let me repeat that so you understand what I just wrote: Louisiana-Monroe received Top 25 votes. Louisiana-Monroe. The awful team you choose in NCAA Football to have a laugh-off game received top 25 votes — in real life.

Handshakes and high fives

The rematch of the “Handshake Bowl” occurred Sunday evening, with the Detroit Lions crossing multiple time zones to take on the San Francisco 49ers at old, decrepit and possibly inhumane, I mean, historic Candlestick Park. The back-and-forth game, narrated by the raspy voice of Cris Collinsworth, ended with the “Nasty Niners” walking away victorious, 27-19. I won’t break the game down, but I will tell you that if Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh ever got into the ring, or heaven forbid to boxing fans, the almighty octagon, my money is on Harbaugh. Look into that man’s eyes — he’s a little crazy. The light isn’t on in the attic.

Basically, if I had to pick one NFL coach that I’d most likely see at a mid-to-late 1980s college party, snorting cocaine off the toilet seat, raging to the Beastie Boys and punching holes in walls — I’d pick Harbaugh. And throughout this entire ragefest, his brother (and Baltimore Ravens head coach) John would be there trying to find out who sold him the coke while also trying to locate Joe Flacco’s future mother. Well, maybe not the latter; but you get my point.

Postgame Hulk Smash!!

The New York Giants did the improbable and successfully came back to beat the Swiss cheese defense of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but it wasn’t without one last dramatic drive by the opponent. You’ve seen this before with the Giants (Super Bowl XLII, XLVI, for example), and they did not disappoint.

Tampa Bay appeared to complete one heck of a pass to receiver Mike Williams inside the Giants’ 20-yard line with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game; that is, until he got blasted by Giants safety Antrel Rolle.

The ball came out, the awful replacement referees (by the way, hashtag of the week, sponsored by Sports With Shook, is #ReplacementRefs; go crazy, folks) went under the hood to review the replay, the equally terrible Mike Periera was forced into our living rooms and sports bars by way of satellite communication to give his two-cent opinion on the play, and the catch was overruled.

Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman then proceeded to do the cliche thing for quarterbacks who just had clutch plays overruled by scab refs; which is promptly throw an interception to kill the game-tying drive.

New York quarterback Eli Manning took a knee to run the clock out, and was roughed up a little bit by some overzealous defensive linemen.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin (the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl, mind you) was not a happy camper and decided to get into Buccaneers’ rookie head coach Greg Schiano’s face after the game. Words were exchanged, but sadly, the two didn’t decide to just fight it out right there at midfield. Again, we’re reminded this isn’t the XFL.

I live my life in colors, colors

Speaking of post game trash talk…

On Saturday, Western Kentucky pulled off the greatest in-state upset since unranked, pre-Andrew Luck-era Stanford dethroned USC back in the glory days of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush.

The Hilltoppers (yes, the same school with the red blob for a mascot) defeated Kentucky by going for two in overtime, 32-31.

WKU coach Willie Taggart, a former WKU quarterback in the mid-1990s, shot his mouth off after the game by saying that WKU red is the new blue in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Your logo is a hand waving a towel. Your mascot is a red blob. Your record as a head coach is 10-16. What?

In his defense, he once coached under current 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. You know, the same Harbaugh who I imagined in the middle of a coke-fueled, Beastie Boys-themed rage fest. So, this kind of behavior is sort of par for the course.

Richardson and Weeden: Victory in a loss

The Browns lost to the Bengals, 34-27, Sunday. But the game was encouraging — on one side of the ball.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden bounced back from getting sacked by the American flag before the opener to complete 26-of-37 passes for 322 yards and two touchdowns.

Weeden looked like a completely different quarterback than he did in week one, and for once in my life, I sincerely believed that the Browns offense had what it took to possibly engineer a game-tying drive late in the game.

I haven’t felt that way since Derek Anderson and Braylon Edwards were hooking up for touchdown passes, and, well, look how that turned out.

Rookie running back Trent Richardson proved to the NFL that he is all that is man, and is the same player who once leveled his own coach during a blocking drill at his pro day workout.

Richardson became the first Browns rookie to rush for more than 100 yards and score both a rushing and receiving touchdown in the same game, and he did it in style.

Cleveland’s top pick of the 2012 draft took a dump pass in the flats and steamrolled multiple defenders before giving his best impression of a virtual Greg Jennings by telling Bengals defensive back Nate Clements to “get off me, child’s play!”

Richardson was a man, an animal and a machine, all rolled into one.

His performance Sunday reminded Browns fans of the great Jim Brown. Speaking of Jim Brown…

Jim Brown is returning to Cleveland Browns Stadium on Sunday as part of Alumni Weekend.

I’ve already had multiple dreams in which I meet the original G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All-Time) running back in some outrageously lucky sequence of events while at the game.

And no, I don’t have a hook-up within the Browns organization — the dreams aren’t going to come true.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t still dream.