Football is a turf war, which is sort of a problem. I’m of the opinion that we shouldn't compare games to war. The latter has real-life consequences. The former just kind of makes or breaks your weekend.
But football is a challenge, because the main objectives are undeniably war-like. The only way the offense can score is if it gradually gains enough ground through strategic maneuvering, and half of that ground is considered the opponent’s. Defense? It must defend that territory. Throw in the fact that there are drums and flags, even cannons in some places, and it’s like we’re not even trying all that hard to make the distinction. We might even trying to minimize it.
In fact, if you were to tell me that the reason football is so popular in America is because “it’s just simulated warfare in 60-minute chunks where no one dies,” I’m not sure I could refute the argument.
So instead of trying to, let’s go the other direction. What if we introduce some of the spoils of war to the simulation? The idea comes from Reddit user nbingham196 and it’s great:
What if College Football games were actually battles for land? This map answers this question. The original map is my closest FBS team to every county, but if a team is beaten their land is taken by the team that beat them. Teams will keep their land until beaten by another team and then all land will be passed to the new winner. For example Oregon State lost to Colorado State in week 0. Colorado State then lost to Colorado in week 1. Therefore Colorado owns Colorado State's land and Oregon State's land. FCS were are not originally included, but can win their way on to the map like Howard, James Madison, Liberty, and Tennessee State did this week.
And here’s the map.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 5, 2017
Remember, this map’s starting point was “the closest FBS team to each county” so that was Nebraska’s “border” if you will. The win over Arkansas State delivered a good chunk of Arkansas, and I’m already excited to see this map each week thanks to the I-drink-your-milkshake rules.
If the Huskers can beat Oregon this week, they can grab all of Oregon that isn’t occupied by Colorado (which conquered Colorado State last week, which had conquered Oregon State the week before). If Nebraska beats the Ducks, it’s definitely beating Northern Illinois, which has already been usurped by Boston College. That’s advantageous because in the more-populous east, this is the biggest parcel of land up for grabs.
A lot of that land is Maine, sure, but Maine’s amazing. I’d take Maine. What it lacks as a strategic location it makes up for in natural resources, including lobster, blueberries and Allagash White. (Pretty solid training table.) If this war is to continue through the winter, Nebraska will need timber. At 3-0, the Huskers would have plenty of timber thanks to Maine and Oregon, and they would also control portions of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. (Sea ports!)
The main disadvantage? Nebraska’s 3-0 empire is pretty spread out. Not unlike facing Arkansas State last week, the Huskers would have to defend sideline to sideline. But this is the
game war we’ve chosen to play, and what a wonderful game war it is.
Players of the Week
If you had to pick Nebraska three best players from last week, who do you have? I’m guessing you didn’t pick the same three as Pro Football Focus with its secret grading system.
Here are PFF’s Big Ten teams of the week:
PFF Week 1 B1G Team of the Week – Offense pic.twitter.com/KteDDAF3Gb
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 5, 2017
PFF Week 1 B1G Team of the Week – Defense pic.twitter.com/Y1jRI9oTMT
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 5, 2017
Congratulations Tre Bryant, Jerald Foster and Mick Stoltenberg.
The Grab Bag
- You probably didn't need to be convinced that it's better for a football team to lose early rather than late, but here's proof.
- Unlike some conferences, the Pac-12 doesn't have a minimum Air Quality Index required to play a game, so the schools will make those calls on their own. As of this morning, the AQI in Eugene was right on the line between Unhealthy and Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.
- A fun look back at Stanford's 2007 upset of USC as a 41-point underdog.
- The Hail Varsity office was awash in analysis yesterday, two different sports. Here's Jacob Padilla on Arkansas State's screen game, and here's Lauren Cook explaining how and when hitters attack.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.