CFB '23 - Week 8 Recap

Variance takes all forms of twists and turns - like Duke and Tennessee blowing huge covering leads, Navy and Iowa making miraculous comebacks that are then waved off, and Cam Ward creating garbage-time mayhem around the number

CFB '23 - Week 8 Recap

Backdoored Into Oblivion

Dear Leader Deceased Amidst Sweeping Losses

  • Over 53,000 Onions (~30%) Lost In Largest-Ever Single-Weekend Shedding
  • No. 1 Carl Dies Grim Death On Garbage-Time Wazzu Backdoor Cover
  • No. 3 Hansen, No. 4 Hutchison and No. 7 Stettler Also Out, Only 43 Remain
  • McCombs, Bertolina Win Big, Form New Diarchy Atop Leaderboard

A Note On The Coffers

We would encourage anyone who is not Zach Bloxham (who is a real person and who, again, is not me, and has donated twice) and Michael Peloquin (great nickname forthcoming on account of his death, and who is helping build in stealth a better Onions future for everyone) to consider donating.

And you might say, “Well I’d encourage you, Commish, to keep your necessitous hand out of my pockets,” except you wouldn’t say necessitous.

And I might say, “But this is a communal journey of entertainment and shared experience, how could you not donate in order to foster it?”

And you might say, “You’re asking me to give you money for something you’re offering me. You came to me, Commish.”

And I might say nothing, and instead stroke my chin, pondering how best to respond to this.

So, anyway, maybe donate.

Your Top 10

Regime Change

I spoke to someone the other day who has for years, with odd persistence, wrongly assumed that my full-time job is being a professional gambler. In spite of my never having accepted the premise of their assumption, they continue to ask me what type of gambling I specialize in.

The remark short-circuited the literalness of my brain because it was one of those questions where you’re not sure which part is the most wrong, and as such, you’re not sure where to start to address it.

But out of the ashes of that inanity rose a series of thoughts around the specialization inherent in all of our professional lives.

Those that have a speciality have it for one of two reasons: They either perform the action in question better than the other actions they consistently perform (an internal definition relative to their own skillset), or they perform that action better than other people out in the world perform that action (an external definition relative to others’ skillsets).

The Onions is decided based on the latter form of specialization, and the key is knowing when to push vs. knowing when to pull back. Knowing how much time you have left on the competition clock, and that in two or three short weeks almost anyone can catch anyone else with moxie and a little luck.

As one contestant routinely reminds HQ: This is just poker, but with sports betting instead of cards.

We see every year (excepting the Reign of Cottle in 2017) that those who practice moderation are the ones who are rewarded. Breathe in the quiet discipline of Williams, Moscowitz, Lunsman, Merck, Parlapiano and Wickwire.

No one knows these names. But as we unveil the bottom end of our 2023 Top 50 today in the obituaries, you will note that these anonymous folks will all finish higher and in more prestigious position than David Carl, Chad “On A Short Leish” Leishman, Jeff Hansen, Andrew Hutchison, and others that have danced amongst the stars and the moon.

When you throw moderation and balance-management to the wind far too early, such as in Week 8, you inevitably are carried off by the tides of variance.

Dear Diarchy

That variance looks like Iowa down two, returning a punt for a game-winning touchdown to go up by five points (they were favored by 4) only to have it called back on a technicality. Minnesota covers and Nelson and Pingel are out.

It looks like Duke, as a 14-point underdog, leading 17-7 in the second quarter, a shoe-in to cover, only to allow a 31-3 run by home-team Florida State for the remainder of the game, and FSU covers by four. The Evil Kayla Bloxham miraculously succeeds.

It looks like Tennessee as an 8.5-point underdog going up 20-7 in the second quarter, a shoe-in to cover, only to allow a 27-0 run by home-team Alabama for the remainder of the game, and the Crimson Tide cover by 5.5. Tomlinson is out.

Or it’s worse. It looks like these three disgusting backdoor covers, which collectively covered by two points. They all came with touchdowns scored by the underdog with less than a minute to go in the game.

It looks like Navy as a 10.5-point underdog down 17-0, only to score a touchdown and pull within 10 with 50 seconds left in the game. Right? Right? Except they went for two and missed the conversion. Navy loses by 11. Air Force covers, Maika is out.

It looks like Auburn, down 14 points as a 7.5-point dog, scoring a touchdown with 56 seconds left in the game to pull within seven. Tigers cover, Bitton and Palfreyman are out.

Or, in the most high-profile example, it looks like Cam Ward, whose 21-point underdog Washington State team was shellacked by Bucky Irving and the Ducks in the second half and were trailing by 22 points, throwing a circus dart to Isaiah Hamilton on the back inch-line of the end zone with 52 seconds left in the game to pull within 16. Wazzu covers, and Carl and Jackson are out.

All of this is avoided if these people don’t needlessly go all in, particularly on one game.

As you can see above, the radical one-week reformation of the Onions-scape by those who routinely fall prey to this weakness has led to a nation-state co-ruled by Robby McCombs and Austin Bertolina. The House of Goss sits again in 7th and 9th.

No. 3 Jordan Olsen is too far ahead of the pack to be caught up with by Nos. 4-10 in one week, but he might barely catch the top two if he were to go all-in.

Though he surely won’t do that, right? No one goes all-in unnecessarily for the quick instant-gratification dopamine rush, do they?

There will be plenty of time to tell, with six long weeks remaining before the finish line.

Week 8 Vital Signs

Onions In Circulation Going In To The Week: 174,188

Onions In Circulation Coming Out Of The Week: 118,830

Total Wagered By All Onioners: 130,674 (75%)

Average Wagered Per Onioner: 2,142

Average Individual Wager Size: 1,080

Total Collective Onioner Win or (Loss): (53,155) (30.5%)

Average Win or (Loss) Per Onioner: (866)

Games With Highest Handle:

  • Washington State @ Oregon -21 — 27,816 (84% on Oregon)
  • Utah @ USC -7 — 21,825 (88% on USC)
  • TCU @ Kansas State -5.5 — 18,677 (96% on TCU)

Biggest Win or (Loss) Either Way For Onioners: (19,360) on Washington State @ Oregon -21


We entered the week with 64 of you and left with 43 of you.

Four of you missed the submission deadline this week.

Deadline Deadbeats:

Kyle “The Dirty Duck” Rekofke
— In our little black book of nicknames, this was going to be "Rekk’ed." A simple play on the last name combined with a relevant action, i.e. Kyle rekked himself by going all in so-and-so. But you didn’t Rekk yourself. You Rekked our trust in you. You quit on us from the respectable vantage point of 36th place, with 1400 in the bank, and much more saved up in the bank of your CFB fandom. Such an absence of action constitutes playing dirty. When I was out on the mid-season break in the woods at that cabin discussed in last week’s email, I spotted on a bookshelf untouched in 20 years a copy of Agatha Christie relic, The Dirty Duck. Given your alma mater, I can only assume she was writing about you.

Conner “Conn-man” Bloxham — When I think of the very real, not made up, original founding family of Bloxham, I think of a certain respect, a dedication to craft and tradition, of 27 feral children. I think of devotion to the customs of meeting one's late-Friday-night and early-Saturday-morning submission obligations. I do not think of one with a balance north of 500 forgetting to submit, a sin I’m unsure a Bloxham has committed over the course of the Onions enterprise. And so, I feel a little conned. Tidy your house before Kayla, as she somehow always does, surges into the top 5 in the final weeks.

Chad “On A Short Leish” Leishman — Ah, Chadwick. I can call you this because my second middle name is also Chadwick, as if a parental lapse in judgement at the time of my birth confers on us the use of a shared and privileged nomenclature, like we’re of the same protected ethnic group. But, to start again, Ah Chadwick… the catalyst behind the catalyst of the Week 7 Louisville -7 run on the Onions Bank. Your nickname is aspirational, not accurate. Your leash was clearly too long in the salad days of our second trimester, when you thought you could win across a key number in a terrible spot. We will try to keep the leash shorter in successive years during which we assume you will re-attempt the capture of glory.

Tanner “The Sore(nson) Loser” Sorenson — This nickname will not age well, particularly out of the context of this competition. We invoke it nonetheless with the same fervor that we denounce wagering all but a couple of Onions. Which is what you did in Week 7 aboard the post-Carl Louisville hype train. If you’re going to poke us in the eye by wagering all but two Onions so that you deliberately have two left over in case you lose, then for God’s sake at least come back and play them the next week. Don’t leave them to be swept away into the dustbin of history - where your legacy is potentially headed.

Those Of You Who Were Wrong Multiple Times

Introducing a new, special sub-category of obit to recognize those who bombed out not just by virtue of being wrong on one game, but being persistently wrong across the multiple games they bet.

0 for 3:
Leslie “Did I Stett-er?” Stettler — You did not stutter, and neither did Stanley from The Office. You fired succinctly and confidently this season, with especial poise considering the balance you were armed with most of the time. It’s just … maybe stuttering would have helped this week? /ducks/. Pausing and reversing any one of Penn State, Iowa or USC would’ve kept you in another week. You are one of only four contestants this year to lose your entire balance when spreading it across three different games. The others: Matt “The (Orullian) Dystopia”, Derek “Three-Piece” Bradley, and your (I think?) husband, Casey “The 12-(Stettler) Program.” Maybe we develop a program by which those in the Stettler household stop going all-in in threes…

0 for 2:
Jordan “The Hochness Monster” Hochstrasser — Right up until press time, this name was “Hoch A Lougie.” While that is the natural reaction evoked by going all in on a TCU/Ole Miss combo, and losing one by a mile and the other by half a point, this felt somehow disrespectful. In the spirit of generosity, so that your small children and further descendants can still believe their father to be a warrior, I bestowed a name you can be proud of, or at the very least, can’t be faulted for falling victim to. Yes, you were killed by the Hochness Monster. The children will quake in fear and believe their progenitor to be a valiant if not unfortunate man. But the adults will tut-tut when the legend of Jordan is passed around at family gatherings, because they will know the truth. He was the Monster, himself.

Iosua “Maik' Drop” Maika — Are you a Samoan Warrior? Am I generalizing based on the sound of your name and in line for a whooping of my pencil-ly Anglo ass? The answer to both is undoubtedly “yes.” What else could you be, for this last week you exhibited true bravery. You dove straight into the trash and chose to bet on Michigan State and Navy. That’s like choosing to receive a nut-tap and then choosing to have someone sharpie Pen15 on your forehead (at least they were both underdogs in reasonable spots to assume decent performance, but still!). And much like Hochness’ TCU/Ole Miss combo above, one you lost by getting obliterated into the sun, and the other you lost by a half point. What a way to go out. What a way to Drop the Maik’.

And Now, The Dearly Departed

Michael “The (Peloquin) Brief” — He strategically scheduled a quiet anniversary weekend for he and his wife during his beloved Georgia Bulldogs’ bye week. However, Penn State was not on a bye, and he put all of his Onions on Cocaine James and the boys. Plus, aesthetically speaking he is a comely melange of half Denzel Washington, half Julia Roberts, so this nickname makes even more sense than you know. Who better than he to help build a better future for the Onions community (stay tuned)?

Austin “Near And Far”(nsworth) — Austin is searching near and far for his soul after discarding it somewhere in the melee of Penn State - Ohio State. Was he taken by our narrative description of suspended, hog-tied Lou Holtz distracting the OSU staff overhead? Did he dare to dream that the Nittany Lions would finally beat a top 5 team? He did. And now he is dead.

Daniel “He’s No Malcolm” Gladwell — Another victim of, “his nickname was supposed to be this,” Daniel was to be known as “Don’t Get Mad, Get Glad(well).” But instead of naming him after a slogan devised for off-brand Tupperware, I had to change it to ensure he was contrast with a modern thought leader. Forget for a moment that I and many others also endorsed Penn State to cover. There was no grand fusion of pop intellectualism in Daniel’s decree that Penn State would do the same, no unique perspective for the masses to devour. And so, he is in fact No Malcolm.

David “The (Forman) On-Site” — There are two things you need to know about David Forman, who the Commissioner once hired in a professional capacity. One, he enjoys it when other people acquire for him offensively high-priced Whistle Pig Rye at no cost to himself. Second, he is of the mind that the Commissioner’s alternate line of Penn State +4 was “too good to be true.” No, sir. The real-world market was +5. What would have been too good to be true is if the Penn State line had been cheaper than the market. Like +6, or, goodness me, even +7. Mine was more expensive, just like that Rye you enjoyed two weeks ago. Someone had better go find the Foreman…

Kevin “Keith” Jackson — What sort of limp-wrist nickname is this, you might be wondering. It’s actually as simple as it is venerable. You lost on the fuzzy side of a Pac-12 matinee on ABC. Who used to be the dean of Pac-12 (or -10, whatever) matinees back during simpler times? Your namesake of course, Keith Jackson. We could only picture the great broadcaster, a Wazzu alum no less, calling the final seconds of yesterday’s game. He would not have Al Michaels’d or Brent Musberger’d himself up all dirty-like and denigrated his own American heartland spirit by talking about covering a number. A tamed, dulcet, “Whoa Nelly,” would’ve sufficed in description of his alma mater’s closing actions. And we would’ve figured the consequences out for ourselves.

David “The Wiese-l” Carl — This could have been, “The Fiend.” This could have been, “Lil’ Wies-ey” as previously forecast. “The Despot” was strongly considered. Look — you played with fire over and over and you were burnt. Did anyone foresee you getting burnt by a completely meaningless touchdown with 52 seconds left in the game? No. You were on the right side with your customary chalk, I’ll give you that. You are the inaugural Onions interviewee, the last strongman since Cottle. But your reign of terror is over, David. And your devious, weasel-y ways of always manufacturing a cover will have to wait until (shameless plug alert) CBB Onions kicks off. The tactics that defined your success were the ingredients of your inevitable downfall. Good night, prince, and good night as well to the older generation of Carls, who I understand to be cutting out these pages and magnetizing them to the fridge.

(50th) Andrew “Tommy Gun” Tomlinson — In our minds you are an Irish gangster type. Never mind that your gmail thumbnail photo leads us to believe something quite different. With an oddly round balance for so late in the competition — 1910 is the number of Onions people end up with when they go all-in with 1000 and win — you made an all-in charge toward the top 10, and for two and a half quarters it appeared as if Tennessee +8.5 was clearly the right side to have done so on. But then like any gangster you realized halfway through the mission you were sent on that you’re actually the mark. Alabama pulled your namesake weapon of choice back on you. And there was a Crimson Tide, all right: Of Tomlinson bloodshed.
* (50th-place) Justin “Put A Tingle In My” Pingel — A nickname that has weighed on me since 2017 because I haven’t been able to say it or type it — until the sweet, merciful now. The amount of relief it brings me to put it out there is profound. It’s even better that your incompatibly sexy Christian Name is bestowed on you in light of losing on the least sexy game college football has featured this year. Did it have the lowest projected total of all time? Sure. But the ending demands scrutiny, as well. What is more impotent than a game-winning punt return (which would also have covered for you by one point) getting called back due to a young man waving his arm willy nilly prior to the feat being accomplished? That was the only moment of that God-forsaken matchup during which anyone felt any sort of tingle. Congratulations on your Top-50 finish.

(49th) Brett “The Half” Nelson — Assumptions made here are that your brother is Spencer, and in keeping with the preference of making family nicknames relational to one another, we made yours a variation of his. We considered a true litany of Romney references, assuming that is in fact one of your relations. But we’re not political, here. We’re just monarchical attempting to craft unique, organic community out of the ruins of the socio-industrial complex’s classical liberal order, and doing so begins by recognizing man’s innate and collective truths. One such truth is that Iowa will never score more than 10 points in a game. And you took them as a favorite. Sicko.

(48th) Jake “Shut The (Hatch)!” — When will the good Polis understand that big-numbered favorites on the road who have looked close to invincible all year are trap teams? They are spring-loaded and they have cheese in them. Example: Your Texas Longhorns -24.5, who barely beat the Fighting Holgersons outright on Saturday. Yes, you are an Onions veteran. You are due your due. But you’re the guy in the Submarine platoon who doesn’t just raise up the periscope in proximity of enemy sight and fire, you bring up the whole vessel and pop open the hatch and wave. Well, close the hatch, Jacob. You’re letting all the simp in.

(47th) Justin “The Palfrey Sum” Palfreyman — It was paltry, the amount of Onions remaining in your bank. A mere 299. One under the mandatory single-bet all-in threshold. And you fired on the Kiffins against a poo Auburn offense. This is all understandable. We do not shame our poor. Like many, you could have simply given up, and you didn’t… that said, you lost by the hook in a crushing fashion so giving up is OK for the next two and a half months. Just please keep reading the emails, they flog us every time our subscriber #s go down.

(46th) Bryce “Benjamin Bitton” — Much like Justin “Put A Tingle In My” Pingel, this one has also been stored in the mental ram for far too long. We don’t want to cheer death, here, but thank you for giving us cause to award. Your balance did age in reverse, starting at 1000 in week 1, and almost immediately and irreparably going down on its trajectory toward ultimate zero, reaching the end thanks to the hook on Ole Miss. We cast our gaze upon your 84-year-old baby face and shed a single tear in adieu.

(45th) “Hi There, Jeff Hansen From Dateline NBC” — The first nickname in which the full name is consumed within a sentence, you’re one of the few Onioners who has the authority to go around entrapping child predators — because you’re a predator yourself. Wait. That came out wrong. Not like that. Do not sue us for slander. You were a predator in the sense that you were in the catbird’s seat to hunt down Carl and others. And yet, from the lofty vantage point of the Third Overall Ranking you were tempted to go all-in unfathomably early on the Horny Toads and they got absolutely smoked. Did you not heed the Patron Saint of Onions Bill Snyder’s warnings this week? You could’ve been somebody, Jeff. Now, you’re behind bars like all the predators.

(44th) Andrew “Hutch, Hutch… Hike!” Hutchison — This is what Caleb Williams shouts before something bad usually happens. Like not even winning as 7-point favorites against the Team With No Offense. RIP in Peace.

Your Leaderboard Heading Into Week 9