CFB '23 - Week 12 Recap

The Commissioner makes up for a drug-induced omission by re-Invoking The Nobody Wants Us Bowl

CFB '23 - Week 12 Recap

The Long, Wet Night Of The Soul

Corvallis Makes Winners Out Of Conventionalists

  • Olsen Surges Into First, Bertolina Shuffles To Second, McCombs Offs Self

  • House Of Goss Refuses To Quit, Commands 3rd and 4th Place

  • 9 Die, 18 Remain For Final Two-Week Stretch

  • The Incredible-If-Not-Dull Ascents Of Foster, Williams...Both End

Your Top 10

:: Quick Programming Notes ::

Two weeks left. The remaining correspondence schedule is as follows:

  • Week 13 Preview on Nov. 22nd, including the third and final part of our analysis on the Michigan sign-stealing situation
  • Week 13 Recap on Nov. 26th, analyzing scenarios for the final week of play
  • Week 14 Preview on Nov. 29th, including interviews with our remaining leaders
  • Contest Recap on Dec. 3rd, announcement of the winner, and announcement of forthcoming Onions contests
  • Then we go dark for a little holiday break, but will return at the top of the 2024 calendar

No Cannibals Here

Last week I invoked the term “The Nobody Wants Us Bowl” in a sub-head.

It was a reference to a comment Lee Corso made regarding the Sept. 23rd game between Oregon State and Washington State (which the Commish attended dutifully), and to a moment from the college football season that, like Connor “Ride That” Stallion, and mercifully unlike Neon Deion in spite of corporate media's strident efforts, keeps on giving week after week.

There was Gameday’s manufactured war of words with Jake Dickert, and then weeks upon weeks of the two schools lingering in the news as they sought asylum, dead conference assets, favorable court-rulings and the approbation of the righteous.

The reason I invoked it in last Wednesday’s email was in order to draw a parallel between the handicap, the price and the potential result of that game with those of this weekend’s Huskies-Beavers game.

But I didn’t actually end up doing that. I started to, but was on a devious blend of painkillers, antibiotics and Fig Newtons at the time of the email, and was even icing my face while it was crafted. Visibility and mental coherence were limited. During one particularly satisfying Newton, my train of thought drifted, and soon I had hit send before finishing.

So, not in the least because the intended comparison aged very well based on Saturday night’s result, I will invoke the comparison now.

In the Sept. 23rd game, the Nobody Wants Us Bowl, the betting world was on Oregon State. The Beavers would run all over the Cougs on the Palouse, went the handicap. The Cougs were a finesse team that liked big passing plays. They wouldn’t stand up against Oregon State’s consistent and disciplined attack. And the line had settled at a very odd number: Oregon State -2.

In reality, Washington State got out to a decent early lead and the Beavers lost what ended up being a very close game by three points. The result claimed the Onions lives of Skyy “The Shadowy” Cabell, Eben “The In-Novy-ter” Novy-Williams, and two separate Ormonds.

Sound familiar?

That was almost the exact handicap of yesterday’s Oregon State-Washington game (excluding the patented Oregon State home field advantage).

It was almost the exact game flow and result of yesterday’s game (Washington by two instead of by three).

And it was the exact unusually-numbered betting line.

What I had intended to finish the email on Wednesday with was something along the lines of, “The world is on Oregon State this time, too. But beware of the last time the Beavers went off as two-point favorites. Weird things happen with weird numbers.”

Oh, sure Commish, make yourself sound after the fact as if you had some sort of prescient insight.

I swear to you it’s true. Also, no one reads these emails so who is there to brag to? See? No one.

Your behavior on the wagering card made it seem as if I had gotten the message out to you, anyway. As always, you flouted what all the sharp bettors did in the real world — except for Jake Williams, who deserves a Fig Newtown, and who we’ll get to in the obits — and you all piled in on Washington. Nearly half of you who submitted cards included a wager on the Huskies, of which Jordan Olsen’s 22,135 all-in was the most coked out notable.

Thanks to an assortment of rain-soaked turnovers, missed field goals, high snaps, safeties, fourth-down stops and perhaps a few too many passing plays from Oregon State, you all won.

Around the time of the Sept. 23rd game, another concern cropped up among fans that is more annual rite of passage in the Pac-12 than it is an independent, unique worry: that the conference would further weaken its already fragile status as fifth-best Power Five conference by cannibalizing itself, with everyone beating up on everyone else in its final chance to send a team to the CFP and compete for a championship.

But the concerns were unfounded. Pac-12 turned out to be the deepest conference in the country this year, not the fifth-best. And its best teams, Washington and Oregon, have not slipped up all year (aside from when they played each other).

The Pac-12 Championship winner — Washington or Oregon, barring a miracle — has an excellent chance to make the playoff and compete for a title.

The Pac-2 conference constituents — Washington State and Oregon State — have an excellent chance of not even being able to field a 12-game schedule next season.

What a difference a couple of points, and a “state,” make.

Two Schools

Imagine this contest is a play. And imagine that it actually has two separate casts, each doing their own version of the show in parallel.

One cast is that of McGuigan, Merck, Lunsman, Ormond, Moscowitz, Fowle.

The other is comprised of Williams, Foster, Tyson, Twilliger, Chandler, Tanner.

The first cast enjoys the contest for the sake of the contest. They enjoy longevity. They want to finish as high as possible, but tend to believe after a certain stage that outright winning is not possible for them. In so thinking, they trade away winning outright for a virtually guaranteed high-ranking finish.

The second enjoys winning, and/or winning money. They will work their balance and risk tolerance around the amounts that they feel they need to be at in order to be within shooting distance of the leader. In so doing, they often bomb all the way out before the final week, sacrificing the potential of a lower final ranking for a chance at winning outright.

Which school do you belong to?

Do you play for the personal pride of un-monetized contest completion, a T-10 finish, and having avoided a death that 95% of contestants couldn’t? If so, is that because the prize pool is $2,500 for one spot, and not, say, $2.5 million paid across the top 50 spots? (Again, I invoke the “I survived Onions 2023” t-shirt). And are you sure your calculations about the balance you need in order to win relative to the expected wins/losses of those above you are correct?

Or do you play for a shot to win it all or die trying, carefully figuring out the math of multiple potential scenarios over the final few weeks, optimizing your chances, analyzing others moves and waiting to submit until you have the most information possible? Would this change if you felt something “close to winning,” a Top 20 or Top 10 finish, meant something? And why doesn’t it mean something?

Neither mentality is right or wrong.

As we head down the final stretch, however, it might serve each of you well to know who you’re up against, and how your goals match with theirs.

Week 12 Vital Signs

Onions In Circulation Going In To The Week: 108,287

Onions In Circulation Coming Out Of The Week: 116,481

Total Wagered By All Onioners: 80,502

Average Wagered Per Onioner: 3,220

Average Individual Wager Size: 1,491

Total Collective Onioner Win or (Loss): 10,937

Average Win or (Loss) Per Onioner: 456

Games With Highest Handle:

  • Washington +2 @ Oregon State — 33,706 (89% on Washington)
  • Nothing else was even close

Biggest Win or (Loss) Either Way For Onioners: Washington +2 — 23,865


We entered the week with 27 of you and left with 18.

Alas, not a week of the season has gone by where we haven’t had at least one deadline deadbeat.

Deadline Deadbeats:

(27th) - Drew “Big Daddy B” Bloxham
— Kurt Vile, an Onions artist favorite, released a new EP this weekend whose lead track is a jammy earworm titled, “Another Good Year For The Roses.” If he were writing a track invoking Big Daddy B, who we understand (perhaps incorrectly) to be the older patriarch of the clan, it might be titled “A Disgruntled Year For The Bloxhams.” Nothing has really gone according to script for our competition’s co-founding family. Zach dipped extraordinarily early for a contestant of his knowledge and experience. We chronicled Kayla’s smile-through-the-pain demise extensively last week. Conner simply forgetting to submit in Week 8 constituted conduct unbefitting of a Bloxham. There is even a needle-point that adorns their All-American home entryway that reads the family motto: “Bloxhams Don’t Forget!” Well, tear the needlepoint down before family arrives for the holidays and shove it in the attic, because it’s now officially inaccurate. Basketball looms around the corner of the new year with opportunities for our first family to come back to the light, repent, and bathe in the eternal peace of your Oniony savior.

(26th) - Grayson “World B.” Freeman — Leonard Bernard Free earned his nickname from his peers growing up for his insane basketball abilities. He was “all-World” in their eyes. We invoke this nickname for you to connote that you were right there. If you had stepped on the gas in, say, Week 10, sitting in the high teens, you had a decent shot to be all-World. But to have a few piecemeal weeks and then throw it all away after you’ve come this far by just not submitting? You were 12th with three weeks to go! Go appropriate an afro and some bell-bottoms, shoot a half-dozen high-arching jumpers, and come back to us in shape for College Basketball this January.

Those Who Submitted More Than Their Balance:

(25th) - Tammie “Tammie-Flu” Andreason
— Ah, Tammie. The whole House of Andreason, in fact: So much talent, so much Onionable Abilty. And so many issues with the detail. Submission form log-in snafus, on-time submission issues, and now….wagering more than you have? No. No, no. Now, I will grant you, you’re used to having way more than 25 Onions. Both you and the man we assume to be your husband could have been The Other Gosses with your routine multi-thousand balances. You had staying power. A wholesome, All-American brand. The duo that every couple aspires to be. I also grant you that the circumstances that got you down to 25 Onions last week, Washington failing to cover by one point due to comical misfortune, were gruesome. But that is no excuse! We invoke here the nickname Tammie-Flu in order that you may take some, because if you think you can wager 400 extra vegetables on credit… girl you are ill.

And Now, The Dearly Departed:

(24th) - “Paydirt Payden” Tanner
— As discussed earlier in this note, you are a player in the second ensemble. You bought high on a Michigan team in an ultimate sandwich spot. That you fell for my trap was…regrettable. Had you won and fully rolled over what you had in ninth place, you would be sitting right now with 5,549 and sat in fifth with two weeks to go. You didn’t win. But, I appreciate the commitment to going for that win. Or dare I say… going for pay-dirt.

(23rd) - Tommy “Hone Hone On The Range” — This one’s been in the mind for a long time, but it was always more of an instantaneous-tick nickname than one with a lot of thought behind it. Until this week. If you look up the origins and meaning of the eponymous song, it’s not all bucolic pleasantries and the fuzziness of apple pie on the porch at sunset. One of the grisly undertones is a reference (itself using, unironically, a racial slur) to how we were totally screwing over the Indians at the time (the 1870s). Not saying you have anything to do with kicking people off of land that they’re living on, forcing them into government-sanctioned camps, and leaving them with virtually nothing. But you were in fourth, just a second ago. Your otherwise stellar year was marred two weeks ago by a double-whammy loss on both Washington -8 and Oklahoma State -4.5, leaving you heading into this past weekend ...with virtually nothing. Which then became actual nothing. Enjoy the deer and the antelope.

(22nd) - “Chip, Noooooooo!” Ormond — Chip. Chip, Chip, Chip. My benefactor. My email buddy. A notorious and longstanding contest member. The last of the 23 Ormond contestants left standing in 2023. The only contestant brazen enough to suggest their own nickname to HQ (it was “The O-Show” for those wondering). I appreciate the enthusiasm, but this is not Total Request Live. Your nickname was ordained four years ago. It came to be during late-night discussion with the then Co-Commish. We were watching a portion of Dave Chappelle’s early stand up in which he recalls the relative lack of pitfalls of being pulled over for smoking weed while with his white friend Chip. Rather than explain the line directly, I’ll just direct you all to it here. And so it was long ago decided that your nickname be the same phrase I yelled into my laptop screen when you submitted a suggestion for your own nickname. Meta.

(21st) - Robby “The McCombover” McCombs — Because I am a sick man, I was watching the FCS Football Tournament Selection Show this morning over breakfast (go Vandals). The stirring broadcast commentary included this line, referring to an FCS team that just won their conference for the first time in many years: “Once you beat the guy, you have to be the guy. And once you are the guy, you have to stay the guy.” It’s an interesting take if for nothing else than for its idiocy, as this progression and eternal apex is possible for no make up of “guy” to sustain long-term, but between bites of scrambled egg I shouted, “McCombs!” My man. What happened? You could have been the next David Carl. You lead for two, basically three weeks. But a completely unnecessary 10,000 on Texas in Week 11, who doesn’t cover against Kansas State, and another 10,000 buying extremely high on that same Kansas State team? You were the real deal man. But you flashed like greased lightning, then went out as quickly as you came in. Like a slick salesman with a ...McCombover.

(20th) - “Sugar” Shane Foster — This was going to be “Foster The People,” but when I sat down to write this email today I realized I wasn’t a college-aged girl in 2011. Your progression, which we have documented extensively, from a gnat to a self-made giant, was nothing short of extraordinary until Missouri ended it yesterday by refusing to get a stop on Florida when they needed to in order to cover. It made you a finalist for the Run Of The Contest Award, and it was the stuff of legend, the stuff of a real fighter. Just …forget that the fighter you’re named after was implicated in the BALCO scandal, or that he has many children spread across many women (who among us...?)…and focus on the, um, fighter-y parts.

(19th) - Jake “The COO” Williams — It feels fitting that Mr. Williams, the other candidate for the Run Of The Contest award, falls back-to-back with Foster in the final Onions 2023 standings. Jake is an actual executive and touches everything in the sports betting industry. He is thus, as you would expect, a true capo. Imagine if an Australian infiltrated The Sopranos, and that’s Jake, the imported pride of Hoboken and devoted father to, judging by the background audio on the phone calls, probably too many daughters. He was known this season for grabbing the newspaper, sitting down on Friday mornings at his neighborhood grocery-store-cum-cafe-cum-bodega (the type that can only be found in landfills like New Jersey), ordering an espresso, and studying the games before firing his picks. This other self-made star that quietly burned before crumbling in on itself was the only person brave and logical enough to get down on Oregon State -2. It was close and it didn’t go your way. But you can be our Chief Operating Officer any day, sir.

Your Leaderboard Heading Into Week 12