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And Another Thing

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A few thoughts about Saturday afternoons in the fall

I have always liked college football better than the NFL. This is a bias that goes back to my childhood -- all those Saturday afternoons in the fall (thanks, Chris Schenkel, for that pretty turn of phrase) listening to Purdue football on the radio while my mom, a proud Purdue grad, cleaned the house.

I can't watch Purdue football now without catching a faint, remembered whiff of Lemon Pledge. So, there's that in college football's favor.

Something else, though, occurred to me while flipping around between Notre Dame-Miami and South Carolina-Georgia and Oregon-Washington last night: College football is great because there's a diversity to the playing styles that you don't get anywhere else.

In this corner, Oregon and West Virginia and the spread offense and the 4x100 relay, track meets that blow apart scoreboards. In this corner, the ground-and-pound of South Carolina and Alabama and LSU and even, mercy, me, Florida and Notre Dame.

The Gators are unbeaten after beating LSU last night in a 14-6 slobber-knocker that called to mind the most numbingly brute days of Bo-vs.-Woody. Florida, once the province of quarterbacks, wide receivers and pinball machine numbers, ran the ball 25 straight times at one point. Mostly right up the gut.

And Notre Dame?

Under Brian Kelly, a spread guy himself, the Irish are starting to look suspiciously like the old smashmouth Lou Holtz Irish. Notre Dame flat beat up Miami with defense and the running game last night, holding an opponent without a touchdown for the third straight game and pounding out 376 yards on the ground, the most rushing yards for a Notre Dame team in 12 years. Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III both went over 100 yards, and the Irish controlled the football for nearly 40 minutes.

That sound you hear is Bo and Woody exchanging high fives in the great beyond.

That other sound is the accelerated heartbeat of every college football fan who can't wait to see what would happen if, say, Oregon's nuclear spread went up against Alabama's defense and running game, or Geno Smith squared off against Notre Dame's gnarly defensive down seven.

It's a clash of styles to the tenth power. And it's why college football is more stylish, right now, than its more celebrated Sunday alternative.

Ben Smith's blog.

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