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Thursday, November 18, 2010
Updated: November 19, 12:47 PM ET
If you can't make it, fake it

By DJ Gallo
Page 2

Oregon is off this week. That's why it's the perfect time to give everyone a primer on how to properly fake injuries in an attempt to slow the Ducks' offense. Cal tried to do it last week, but it was a pretty poor attempt.

This is the right way to do it:

Step 1 -- Practice faking injuries

Pretending you are hurt is like anything else in football: It must be drilled in until players do it right. If you try to fake your first injury in the middle of a game, it can look fake. Even worse, you could legitimately get hurt pretending to get hurt. I've seen too many young players pull a muscle flopping to the ground without being trained how to do it.

Step 2 -- Know your injury-faking situations

You don't run on third-and-15. You don't punt on first-and-10. Faking injuries is the same. Third down is the faking down. You're wasting a fake injury on first and second down. But on third down you need a stop, so letting your team catch its breath before a third-down play is run is the way to go. You may also fake an injury on any down (except fourth down) when in the red zone.

Step 3 -- Don't fake major injuries

If you're laying there screaming and yelling that you blew out your knee or dislocated your head, the refs might become suspicious when you come back into the game one play later. Instead, pretend you have a muscle cramp. Those things can come and go at any time. Another option is saying that you "tweaked" something. "Tweaking" means absolutely nothing and everything.

Step 4 -- Leave injury faking to situational players

Pass-rushing linebackers, dime backs, run-stopping linemen -- they're not in on every down as it is, so they're the guys you want to fake getting hurt. If your every-down players fake an injury, they won't be on the field when play resumes, lessening your chances of making a defensive stop from about 10 percent to 5 percent.

Step 5 -- Take flopping seriously

Faking injuries can be just as important as other stupid stuff like special teams. Consider hiring an Injury Faking Coach. There are plenty of coaches who were let go after the World Cup this summer. Call one of them.

    

Game of the Week

No. 9 Ohio State at No. 20 Iowa -- 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC


Ohio State needs a win to stay alive for its sixth consecutive Big Ten title and a trip to a BCS bowl. And don't think Ohio State doesn't need that BCS bowl money just because it has a big program. According to a Fanhouse study, the Buckeyes spent $31.76 million on their football program last year, more than any other school in the country. That's a ton of money -- especially when you consider that because they have Terrelle Pryor, they probably weren't even involved in the alleged Cam Newton sweepstakes.

    

Another Game of the Week

No. 8 Nebraska at No. 19 Texas A&M -- 8 p.m. ET on ABC


Nebraska needs just one win to lock up a trip to the Big 12 title game, but the Huskers will have their hands full against A&M's powerful offense. The Huskers are coming off an embarrassing defensive performance, too: 3 points allowed, 87 total yards, 15 yards passing. Normally that would be pretty good. But that stat line was against Kansas. They gave up three points and nearly 100 yards to Kansas! The only reason Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini still has his job is because his brother is the head coach.


Cupcake of the Week


Georgia State: Some cupcakes are store-bought, mass-produced afterthoughts that look and taste the same as any other cupcake. That's not Georgia State. The Panthers are decadent, homemade cupcakes that are found only on the dessert plates of defending national champions like Alabama.

Not only is Georgia State an FCS program playing at Bryant-Denny Stadium (3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU), but this is the first season the school has had a football program. Congratulations, Alabama. You're not just devouring the Cupcake of the Week, you've got the Cupcake of the Year.

    

Rivalry Game of the Week

Illinois at Northwestern -- 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPNU


Illinois students hear a lot about how Northwestern is the better academic institution. Well, no more. Because no one with a brain would have set up a football field so there is a brick wall directly behind the end zone. Similarly, no one will run a post pattern into that end zone and keep his brain.

    

Rivalry Game of the Week

Army at Notre Dame -- 7 p.m. ET on NBC


Is this a rivalry game? I don't know. It was back when these teams were both college football powers. (Ask your grandparents. They were mentioned quite frequently in newsreels at the moving pictures.) But the interesting part about this game is that it's being played at Yankee Stadium. Expect Notre Dame to get most of the fan support. The speed and agility of Notre Dame's defense will remind many Yankee Stadium fans of Derek Jeter.


Heisman Candidate in the Crosshairs


Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State: Cam Newton and LaMichael James are off this week, so there might be a chance for someone new to get some attention. Blackmon has 1,430 yards on 84 receptions this year and leads college football with 16 receiving touchdowns. He could really pad those stats this week because the No. 10 Cowboys play lowly Kansas.

So don't ignore Blackmon from Heisman consideration, Heisman voters. You wouldn't want to make Mike Gundy angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. (Unless you're a big YouTube user, because then you would like him when he's angry. Because he's hilarious.)


Mascot Fact of the Week


South Dakota State has long been the Jackrabbits. But until this week, the Jackrabbit mascot had no official name. So the school decided to have an online contest and the winner was, with 35 percent of the vote ... wait for it ... wait for it ... Jack!

Yes. Jack. Jack the Jackrabbit. Wow. What a terrible name. Probably being nameless was a better name. I wonder what options were on the ballot that could have been worse than Jack? Jackrabbit the Jackrabbit. Our Mascot Is the Jackrabbit. Write In Candidate the Jackrabbit. Mr. Jackrabbit Jackrabbitington the Jackrabbit.

Really, all of those are probably better.

Tailgate Tip of the Week

Put a defense attorney in your cell phone: According to a study in the "Drug and Alcohol Dependence Journal" -- which you probably subscribe to, so please feel free to skip ahead to the next section -- there are approximately six times the number of alcohol-related arrests in Gainesville on Saturdays when the Gators are at home than on Saturday when there's no game. Chances are the numbers are similar around the country.

That's why it's smart to have the number of a defense attorney already in your phone. Because if you get arrested for doing something stupid and drunken, you're only going to humiliate yourself further by screaming that you want to call Matlock as you're being dragged to a police cruiser.

Tailgate Recipe of the Week

Yankee Stadium Tailgate Hot Dogs: Make the regular hot dogs you would at your regular Notre Dame or Army tailgate, only have them come out a little bit smaller and then charge everyone eight bucks each.

Kentucky tailgate
If you can't make it in person, a nice 2D rendering is a worthy substitute.

Tailgate Photo of the Week

The Shontz family has tailgated at Kentucky games for years. Their son, Jonathan, is now at the Naval Academy, but he still attends the tailgates in spirit.

I wonder if he knows how much fun he's having.

(Have a tailgate photo to share? Send it to VarsityTailgate@gmail.com or @DJGalloESPN on Twitter.)


Quote of the Week


"The bowl game thing. Everybody wants to bring up the bowl game. And it's not a thing I don't want to talk about, the bowl game. Maybe that's what they were thinking about last week is the bowl game. I don't want to think about the bowl game. They're grown men. You don't think I don't think they don't think about the bowl game?"
-- Ron Zook, head coach, Illinois.

Stat of the Week

3: This year is the first time that Army, Navy and Air Force have all been bowl eligible in the same season. Step it up, Coast Guard Academy!


Coach on the Hot Seat


Bill Lynch, Indiana: The 4-6 Hoosiers gave up 83 points to Wisconsin last week. But things are looking up. This week they were scheduled for a home game against mediocre Penn State. Except, umm ... the "home" game is at FedEx Field in Maryland. And it's now a "neutral site" game -- a neutral site game in which Indiana only had to sell 7,000 tickets while Penn State has sold 50,000 (very neutral!) -- and for dumping a home game, the Hoosiers are getting a $3 million payday.

I'm not sure how any legitimate conference allows this to happen, but whatever. College football isn't exactly on the up-and-up. Perhaps Indiana really needs the money -- money it can really use to pay someone other than Bill Lynch.


Name of the Week


Gary Pride, WR, Akron: Think about it. Gary Pride is just one letter -- one small, innocent typo -- away from a major American city holding a huge parade in his honor. That's pretty awesome for a 5-foot-8 MAC receiver with 19 career receptions.


Stone Cold Lock of the Week


Whoever loses the Army-Notre Dame game will blame it on A-Rod.

DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.


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