Thursday, October 19, 2017

LIVE(ish) Play-By-Play from Week 7's Raiders vs. Chiefs Game!

This Week's Episode:
"A premature end to the season, or a sudden (and much needed) turnaround?"

By: Jimbo X

It's that time of year again, folks! As is the tradition here at The Internet Is In America, we're going to do our damnedest to give you LIVE play-by-play coverage of every single Oakland Raiders game of the season, including tonight's home stand against Kansas City. Join us LIVE on Thursday, Oct. 19 for our patented possession-by-possession coverage of week 7's Raiders vs. Chiefs game, with the festivities beginning at 8 p.m. eastern time. There'll be updates every commercial break, so be sure to bookmark this shit prior to kickoff. And, as always, do us and yourselves a kindness and let all your fellow Raiders fans know what we're up to by posting links to our coverage on your social media pages. Hey, we're all in this together, remember (#SilverAndBlackLivesMatter)

4:59 PM - I'm just going to tell you people upfront. If the Raiders don't win tonight, I am officially done for the year. It's one thing to squander every Sunday afternoon and the occasional Monday and Thursday night to see your time win, but if these fuckers have the gall to drop five losses in a row on me, I've got to take a hiatus just for my own mental well-being, you dig?

5:00 PM - Anyhoo, game time is 8:25 P.M. Eastern. Not that you need me to tell you this, but the Raiders are 2-4, having dropped four games in a row since starting the season off 2-0 and looking like a legit Super Bowl caliber team. The big news is that they signed ex-49ers linebacker Navarro Bowman earlier this week and he is suited to play for the Silver and Black this evening. Needless to say, the Raiders' porous back three need as much help as they can get, with Marquel Lee still out of action and Bruce Irvin committing more holding penalties than tackles.

5:02 PM - For Oakland, defensive tackle Darius Latham, offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse and cornerback Gareon Conley are all scratches. Linebackers Nicolas Morrow and Cory James are both listed as questionable.

5:04 PM - Meanwhile, the visiting 5-1 Chiefs will be without running back Charcandrick West, center Mitch Morse, and guard Laurent Duvarney-Tardif. Cornerback Ashton Lampkin and receiver Chris Conley are both on the injured reserve.

5:09 PM - Our live coverage begins at 8 p.m. Be there, or be a parallelogram, you asshole.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2017 NFL Power Rankings (Week 6!)

ESPN and Sports Illustrated can eat shit - these are the only pro football rankings anybody needs.

By: Jimbo X

This Week's Episode:
"Oh, So This is Why TV Ratings Are Down ..."


Kansas City Chiefs (5-1)
Season Point Differential: +47

The Chiefs finally got bumped off the roll call of the unbeatens over the weekend, losing 19-13 to the Steelers at home. Alex Smith went 19 for 34 for 246 yards and one TD pass in the affair, but holy hell, what happened to K.C.'s run game? Not only did their defense implode and let Le'Veon Bell gut 'em for 179 yards, their own run game could only muster 28 total yards of offense altogether, with top back Kareem Hunt finishing the afternoon with a scant 21 rushing yards.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
Season Point Differential: +43

The Eagles came out on top against the Panthers on a back-and-forth Thursday night battle, ultimately clinching the W 28-23. Carson Wentz had another fantastic outing, going 16 for 30 for 222 yards and three touchdown passes, while the Eagles defense was able to force three interceptions off Cam Newton. The run game didn't look too shabby, neither, as Philadelphia outgrounded the Panthers by a 101 to 80 yard margin.

Los Angeles Rams (4-2)
Season Point Differential: +41

In what could be a Super Bowl preview (no, for fuckin' real), the Rams managed to outpoint the Jaguars 27-17 last Sunday. Todd Gurley (116 yards on 23 carries) had another solid outing, but Jared Goff underperformed with just 124 yards and a solo TD on 11 completions. Thankfully, the Rams' special teams was there to help counteract the lackluster passing attack; not only did Pharaoh Cooper take the opening kick 103 yards to paydirt, Malcolm Brown also recovered a blocked Jags' punt for an easy six on the scoreboard.

Minnesota Vikings (4-2)
Season Point Differential: +19

Well, it was a competitive game against Green Bay, up until the point Aaron Rodgers got carted off the field. After that, the Vikes went buck wild, collecting three interceptions off backup QB Brett Hundley en route to a facile 23-10 victory. Not that Case Keenum didn't do something for Minnesota's offense - he did finish the game 24 for 38 for 238 yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio, didn't he?

Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
Season Point Differential: +16

One week after looking like he was half-retarded against Jacksonville, Big Ben bounced back in a big way Sunday. In the Steelers' 19-13 win over K.C., Roethlisberger went 17 for 25 for 252 yards and an even 1-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio. And Pittsburgh's run game looked fucking fantastic on both sides of the ball, amassing 194 ground yards on their end and holding the Chiefs' potent rushing attack to an astoundingly low 28 yards on the day.

New England Patriots (4-2)
Season Point Differential: +13

Slowly but surely, the Pats are playing more and more like the team we all know and hate with a fucking passion. New England's latest win comes in the form of a hyper-controversial 24-17 "win" against the Jets, in which an obvious touchdown haul for New York was overturned as a fumble that flew out of the end zone. Stay tuned for this weekend's contest against Atlanta ... I'm sure they've got some downright Dick Dastardly shit planned for the big Super Bowl rematch.

Green Bay Packers (4-2)
Season Point Differential: +12

That loud, aluminum-can-tab-sounding click you're hearing to the north is the echo of the entire state of Wisconsin collectively drinking themselves into oblivion following the aftermath of Sunday's game against the Vikings. Not only did they get blistered 23-10 by their arch rivals, they lost franchise QB Aaron Rodgers for what may be the remainder of the season with a broken collarbone. And if the performance of backup quarterback Brett Hundley (18 for 33 for 157 yards, one TD and three interceptions) is any indication, there may not be enough Old Milwaukee on the planet to quell the sorrows of cheeseheads home and abroad.

Carolina Panthers (4-2)
Season Point Differential: +6

The good news about the Panthers' 28-23 prime time loss to Philadelphia last Thursday is that Cam Newton chalked up plenty of ground-based yardage, finishing the game with 71 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. Unfortunately, Cam (28 for 52, 239 yards, one TD) also finished the game with a QBR of 40.0, thanks in no small part to those three interceptions he lobbed. And those two sacks - and nine after-the-pass QB hits - doesn't exactly bode well for the guy's longevity in an already historically injury-prone season ... 

Touchdown Jets! LOL, J/K. Fuck the Jets and everybody who likes them.


New Orleans Saints (3-2)
Season Point Differential: +29

In a live action remake of NFL Fever 2002 on the Xbox, the Saints and the Lions combined for an astonishing 90 points in Sunday's defense-deficient contest. Ultimately, Drew Brees and pals wound up with the upper hand, besting Detroit 52-38. If you're looking for an under-the-radar fantasy football pick up, you'd be wise to give N.O. back Mark Ingram a good look-see - he finished last Sunday's outing with 114 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.

Seattle Seahawks (3-2)
Season Point Differential: +23

The Seahawks had a bye last weekend and will return this Sunday to go nose-to-nose with the 1-5 Giants. At this juncture in the season, the Seahawks are averaging 337.6 yards per game, making them the League's 16th ranked offense. And on the flip side of the field, Seattle is allowing 330 yards a contest, making them the NFL's 15th ranked defense overall.

Buffalo Bills (3-2)
Season Point Differential: +15

The Bills were out of action last Sunday, but they'll be back this weekend to butt heads with Tampa Bay. Posting just 271.6 yards per game, Buffalo possesses the League's second-worst offense; allowing 322.4 yards a game, they fare much better and are currently slotted in as the NFL's 13th best defense.

Atlanta Falcons (3-2)
Season Point Differential: +12

At the beginning of the third quarter, the Falcons were up 17-0 against the Dolphins. Of course, this being the same old Falcons, they somehow found a way to piss it all away and let Miami drop 20 unanswered points on them in the second half. If this story sounds slightly familiar to you ... well, it should

Denver Broncos (3-2)
Season Point Differential: +11

In the biggest upset of the NFL season so far, the Broncos got dick slapped 23-10 by the formerly winless (and virtually receiver-less) Giants at home last Sunday night. If you're wondering how this happened despite Trevor Siemian outpassing the husk of Eli Manning's career 376 to 128 yards - well, that makes two of us, actually.

Washington Redskins (3-2)
Season Point Differential: +4

In a surprisingly close contest, the Redskins just barely beat the now 0-6 Niners by a slim 26-24 final score. Credit Kirk Cousins' consistent passing for most of the victory. He finished the game 25 for 37 for 330 yards, two touchdowns and one INT, with leading receiver Chris Thompson (who is actually a running back) finishing the outing with 105 yards on just four catches (plus 33 rushing yards on 16 carries, but that's just an aside, really.)

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-3)
Season Point Differential: +46

Despite Jacksonville winning both the numerical passing and rushing yardage war against Los Angeles, the Jags still succumbed to the Rams last Sunday, 27-17. Leonard Fournette (130 yards and one TD on 21 carries) and Blake Bortles (23 for 35 for 241 yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio) both had outstanding performances, but Jacksonville's special teams coverage completely shit the bed, giving up not one but two easy touchdowns for the Rams.

Houston Texans (3-3)
Season Point Differential: +30

Deshaun Watson's rookie of the year - hell, maybe even overall MVP of the year - campaign continued in a 33-17 victory against the Browns last Sunday. The Clemson product went 17 for 29 in the win, finishing the outing with 225 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, with all three of his end zone strikes landing in the arms of separate receivers. And let's give that Houston D some credit - granted, it was the Browns they were playing against, but holding any aerial offense to just 113 yards after the sack yardage loss count is damned impressive anyway you slice it.

Go ahead ... try to count how many Jaguars players take a faceplant trying to catch this mofo.


Detroit Lions (3-3)
Season Point Differential: +12

Some defensive and special teams snafus cost the Lions dearly in their 52-38 loss to the Saints. Despite racking up 312 yards in the air and three touchdown passes, Matt Stafford also got sacked five times for negative 31 yards and lobbed three interceptions - including a game-closing pick six to Cameron Jordan with just five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Add to that another two fumbles - including one that resulted in a quick Saints scramble into enemy end zone - and it kinda' becomes apparent why Detroit dropped this 'un, don't it?

Baltimore Ravens (3-3)
Season Point Differential: -10

Baltimore came up on the wrong side of an overtime loss, dropping Sunday's tilt against Chicago 27-24 in extra innings (and for the record, can somebody tell me when the NFL shortened overtime play to just ten minutes, and do they plan on doing that shit in the playoffs, as well?) Joe Flacco, most notably, turned in one of his worst performances of the season in the loss, going 24 for 41 for 180 yards, no touchdown passes and two interceptions - including a 90-yard pick six tossed into the waiting arms of Adrian Amos late in the fourth quarter.

Tennessee Titans (3-3)
Season Point Differential: -18

Marcus Mariota had a big game in the Titans' 36-22 win against Indianapolis. He wrapped up the affair 23 for 32 for 206 yards, one TD and one INT, with leading receiver Eric Decker collecting 88 yards on seven receptions. Tennessee can definitely credit their ground performance for the victory; the Titans managed to outrush the Colts 168 yards to 58, with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry each posting one TD run apiece.

New York Jets (3-3)
Season Point Differential: -21

The Jets are going to be incensed about Sunday's "LOL, that touchdown was actually a fumble" call from now until the end of time, but that shouldn't take away from the team's fairly impressive overachieving against the defending Super Bowl champs in the weekend's 24-17 defeat. For starters, Josh McCown easily bested Tom Brady in the air, recording 354 yards and two touchdowns on 31 completions. I mean, sure, he also lobbed two interceptions and got sacked four times for minus 20 yards, too, but come on - this is one of those rare instances where a participation trophy is actually well-deserved.

Arizona Cardinals (3-3)
Season Point Differential: -39

Hey, remember last week, when I wondered out loud if Arizona signing Adrian Peterson was a bad idea? Well, I reckon I can shut my goddamn whore of a mouth right now, seeing as how A.P. collected 134 yards and two rushing touchdowns in the Cards' 38-33 win against Tampa Bay Sunday. Shit, even Carson Palmer looked better than he had any right to be, lobbing the rock for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Keep that kinda' consistent offense rolling, and not only might this team make the wildcard round, they might even steal the NFC West crown underneath all our noses. 

Miami Dolphins (3-2)
Season Point Differential: -23

Down 17-o at halftime against Atlanta, Miami managed to mount a 20 point come from behind victory Sunday. With Jay Cutler going 19 for 33 for 151 yards and two TDs (plus a solo INT), you can credit most of the win to the Fins' run game - more specifically, Jay Ajayi, who finished the contest with 130 yards on 26 carries.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)
Season Point Differential: +1

The Bengals had a bye last weekend and will return Sunday for a pivotal AFC North clash against the Steelers. Averaging 311 yards a game, the Bengals are ranked 24th in overall offense, but allowing just 262.8 yards a contest, they currently possess the League's second-best defense ... you know, statistically, anyway.

Oakland Raiders (2-4)
Season Point Differential: -2

The Raiders dropped a tough 'un against the Chargers last Sunday, losing a 17-16 intra-AFC West scrap at home. In his first game back from a back injury, Derek Carr went 21 for 30 for 171 yards, one TD and two interceptions, while the Oakland backfield marginally outrushed Los Angeles 109 yards to 80. We'll see if the addition of NaVorro Bowman does anything to spark the team ahead of tonight's pivotal intra-conference battle against the Chiefs - and if it doesn't, you REALLY have to start asking some questions about Todd Downing's job security. And, as always, if you care to relive all of the misery and disappointment of last Sunday's game, you can check out our FREE replay (sorta') of the Raiders' loss anytime you want right here.

Please, do feel free to add your own Chris Berman "WHOOP!" sound effects.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3)
Season Point Differential: -3

Don't let the 38-33 final score fool you - in their loss to Arizona over the weekend, the Buccaneers were nowhere close to winning the game. Heading into the third quarter the Cardinals had amassed a 31-0 lead, and pretty much all of the Bucs' offensive production came in the form of garbage time points - although Lavonte David's 21-yard fumble return was kinda' cool, I guess.

Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
Season Point Differential: -7

Although the Cowboys didn't take the field Sunday, they might as well chalk up their bye week as a loss. Why? Because a federal court upheld the League's initial six-game ban of Ezekiel Elliot, but wait a minute ... just when it looked like Texas' No. 1 domestic abuser not named "Steve Austin" was going to be out of action until December, another judge turned around and declared the other judge's ruling on the injunction invalid, so Ezey E will be allowed to play at least one more game this season before his fate is finally decided. Anyhoo, by the time this thing goes to print, we SHOULD have a firm idea whether or not we'll be seeing Elliot playing anytime soon. Or not. It's really 5o/50 at this point.

Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)
Season Point Differential: -15

Thanks to a botched PAT attempt on behalf of the Raiders, the L.A. Chargers managed to muster a 17-16 last-second win against Oakland Sunday. Philip Rivers went 25 for 36 in the win, finishing the game with 268 yards and one TD strike. Running back Melvin Gordon also played quite well, racking up 83 yards and one TD running the ball and another 67 yards (plus another touchdown) as a receiver.

Chicago Bears (2-4)
Season Point Differential: -43

The Bears got their second win of the year via a 27-24 overtime victory against the Ravens. Mitch "The Bitch" Trubisky went 8 for 16 for 113 yards and one TD pass, while Jordan Howard racked up 167 yards on 36 carries. And, uh, because I can't think of anything really noteworthy to say about the rest of the team's performance, how about we check out Adrian Amos' 90-yard interception return again?

Indianapolis Colts (2-4)
Season Point Differential: -76

The Luck-less Colts stumbled again Monday night, dropping an AFC South tilt against the Titans 36-22. Jacoby "Whisker Biscuit" Brissett finished the game 21 for 37 for 212 yards and one TD, while Frank Gore ran for an underwhelming 49 yards on ten carries, with zero end zone visitations. But on the plus side, at least the O-line held up pretty well - not only did they prevent Brissett from getting sacked once, they only let Titans' defenders hit him after the pass four times ... which, I know, does't sound all that great, but considering what defenses earlier in the season have done to the poor chap, it's basically a minor miracle

New York Giants (1-5)
Season Point Differential: -27

The Giants, amazingly, managed to avoid an 0-6 start by beating the Broncos in Denver 23-10 in a prime time clash that had their foes listed as 13.5-point favorites. Eli Manning's 128-yard passing day wasn't much of a factor, but the G-Men's rushing attack was (probably) the difference maker. At the final horn, the Broncos only had 46 yards on the ground, while New York nearly tripled their rushing production with 148 yards, with top back Orleans Darkwa recording 117 on 21 carries.

San Francisco 49ers (0-6)
Season Point Differential: -33

It's kinda' ironic that the name of San Fran's QB is C.J. Beathard, because over the weekend, the team got beat hard by the Redskins in a 26-24 slugfest. Despite the guy who isn't Colin Kaepernick having a mostly ho-hum day with 245 yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio, at least long-time 49ers back Carlos Hyde looked pretty decent, registering two touchdowns and 28 yards on just 13 carries.

Cleveland Browns (0-6)
Season Point Differential: -63

Yep, the Browns are still sans a victory following their 33-17 loss to the Texans. Quarterback Kevin Hogan went 20 for 37 for 140 yards, racking up one TD but lobbing three costly interceptions, while Cleveland's rushing attack - despite picking 134 yards of offense - couldn't convert any of 'em into points on the board. If the team comes up short against Tennessee this weekend, you have to expect some firings to go down. Which, in this case, begs the question: do NFL bylaws allow executives to fire an entire team at one time?

2017 NCAA Top 25 Rankings (Week 7!)

USA Today and the A.P. can take a hike - these are the only college football rankings anybody ought to care about.

By: JimboX

Do you honestly respect the opinions of organizations like ESPN or USA Today to give it to you straight about college football? Of course you don't, which is where The Internet In America's 2017 NCAA Football Top 25 Rankings come into play. Every Wednesday throughout the '17 season we'll post our own selections for the best teams in college football, complete with hilariously un-P.C. (yet surprisingly thorough) recaps of their last games as well as a brief preview of their upcoming contests. Plus, we're throwing in a whole bunch of animated GIFs you can steal and post elsewhere on the 'net, because we're cool like that. Simply put, you won't get better NCAA football analysis anywhere on the Internet - and if anybody else dare claims their rankings are more authoritative, you proudly have my permission to go to their corporate offices and take a big fat stankin' shat right on their doorsteps. And with all of that out of the way, who's ready to revisit the week that was in the best kind of football there is - the one with unpaid black people without due process in rape accusations?

Alabama (7-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Tennessee (Oct. 21)

In a week glutted with monumental upsets, the Tide dynasty remained unfazed, steamrolling SEC West rival Arkansas 41-9. Jalen Hurts went 12 for 19 for 155 yards and a one-to-one TD-to-INT ratio, while Damien Harris concluded the game with 125 yards and two touchdowns on nine rushes. And Bama did pretty good stopping the run, too, holding the Razorbacks to an absurdly low 27 rushing yards on the day.

Georgia (7-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Florida (Oct. 28)

Their defense may not have been as dominant as it was in the last few weeks, but Georgia's offense was more than enough to run roughshod over Missouri. In the 53-28 win, Jake Fromm went 18 for 26 for 326 yards and two touchdowns (plus one interception that set up an easy Mizzou TD), but - as has been the case all season long- it was Georgia's run game that truly set (and controlled) the tempo. At the final horn, Georgia's backfield racked up 370 yards and four touchdowns, while the Dawgs' D held the Tigers' rushing attack to a piss-poor 59 on the ground.  

TCU (6-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Kansas (Oct. 21)

Although the game was delayed several times due to lightning strikes, the atmospheric interference didn't really have much bearing on the outcome. In a 26-6 laugher, the Horned Frogs outgunned Kansas State 297 yards to 146 in the air and outstomped 'em 98 to 70 on the ground. Running back Sewo Olonilua wins this week's award for maximum efficiency, having collected two touchdowns on five carries that combined for a meager eight rushing yards.

Penn State (6-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Michigan (Oct. 21)

Well, if the last weekend of college football felt considerably less child-molestery than usual, thine eyes did not deceive you - indeed, THE Penn State took a breather ahead of this Saturday's tilt against Michigan. Averaging 456 yards a game, the Nittany Pedophiles currently possess Division I-A ball's 33rd ranked offense; holding their opponents to just 285 yards per game, Pedo State's defense is currently ranked ninth in the nation.

Wisconsin (6-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Maryland (Oct. 21)

Despite the 17-9 win over Purdue, the play of Badgers' QB Alex Hornibrook continues to disappoint. In last Saturday's victory, Hornibrook went 13 for 18 for 199 yards, one TD and two interceptions; thankfully, Wisconsin's rushing attack - which produced 295 rushing yards, 219 coming via the cleats of top rusher Jonathan Taylor - was there to bail 'em out. And the defense wasn't too bad neither, I suppose, holding the Boilermakers' O to just 155 yards passing and 66 rushing, with no touchdowns. 

Now that is a stylish way to say "LOL, fuck your secondary."

Miami (5-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Syracuse (Oct. 21)

It was a nail-biter, but the Hurricanes remain unbeaten following Saturday's 25-24 come from behind victory against Georgia Tech. Malik Rosier went 23 for 37 for 297 yards and one touchdown, while top back Travis Homer collected 170 yards and one TD on 20 carries. Still, Miami's rushing defense could use some work - after all, they did let the Yellow Jackets rack up 226 yards on the ground.

South Florida (6-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Tulane (Oct. 21)

The Bulls' running game was the difference maker in Saturday's 33-3 obliteration of Cincinnati. After racking up 184 yards on 16 completions, QB Quinton Flowers ran for 80 yards and one score on 15 carries, while formal backs Darius Tice and D'Ernest Johnson combined for 108 yards. And the Bulls defense looked pretty solid, too, holding the Bearcats to 178 yards passing and 95 yards rushing.

Central Florida (5-0)
Next Opponent: vs. Navy (Oct. 21)

UCF utterly dominated ECU on the ground last Saturday. In a 63-21 win, the Knights recorded 238 yards and five touchdowns rushing, while their defense held the Pirates' run game to just 187 with no touchdowns. Not that QB McKenzie Milton didn't have some impressive passing stats o' his own; he wrapped up the game 21 for 27 for 324 yards and two touchdown passes.

Ohio State (6-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Penn State (Oct. 28)

J.T. Barrett went buck wild in the Buckeyes' commanding 56-14 win over Nebraska. In the six-touchdown-plus savaging, Barrett racked up 325 yards and five touchdown passes on 27 completions - and then he decided to run the rock for another 48 yards and two more trips to the end zone. Shit, that's almost enough to get you to overlook Ohio State's shitty pass defense giving up 349 aerial yards - almost

NC State (6-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 28)

And all of a sudden, the Wolfpack finds themselves in the driver's seat of the ACC Atlantic division. With Clemson's upset loss to Syracuse, NC State's 35-17 win against Pittsburgh slots them into pole position of the sub-conference, with a huge game against Notre Dame on the docket two weeks from now. The question now is, will a victory over Clemson on Nov. 4 be enough to propel NC State into the ACC Championship Game come the first week of December? 

All I can say is thank God I picked Syracuse to cover the 22.5 point spread ...

Clemson (6-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Georgia Tech (Oct. 28)

In easily the most shocking upset of the college football season thus far, the formerly undefeated Tigers got beat 27-24 by Syracuse last Friday night. Kelly Bryant could only muster 116 yards off 12 completions, with zero touchdowns, and backup Zerrick Cooper didn't really do any better, finishing the game 10 for 14 for 88 yards and no end zone receptions. Even worse, Clemson's defense totally shit the bed, allowing the Orangemen's Eric Dungey (yep, the son of Tony Dungey) to light 'em up for 278 yards and three passing touchdowns.

USC (6-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 21)

The Trojans just barely outlasted Utah over the weekend, besting Utah 28-27 in a back-and-forth slugfest. Sam Darnold went 27 for 50 for 358 yards and three touchdown passes, with top back Ronald Jones II collecting 111  yards and one end zone visit on 17 carries. But the MVP for USC had to be receiver Tyler Petite, who recorded two touchdown receptions and 79 yards on just three catches.

Oklahoma (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Kansas State (Oct. 21)

In another close one, the Sooners barely prevailed 29-24 over Texas. Baker Mayfield went 17 for 27 for 302 yards and a 2-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio, while top back Trey Sermon racked up 96 yards on 20 carries and even threw a pass for 42 yards. Still, the Sooners faithful should be none too happy about allowing Sam Ehlinger to record 278 yards on the day ...

Oklahoma State (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Texas (Oct. 21)

The Cowboys pretty much Roofied Baylor and had their way with their immobile, defenseless bodies on Saturday, besting the still without-a-win Golden Bears 59-16. Mason Rudolph went 19 for 31 in the affair, finishing the game with an impressive 459 yards and three aerial TD strikes, with top receiver James Washington racking up 235 yards and one score on six catches. And let's not discount Oklahoma State's rushing attack, neither - lest we forget Justice Hill's 117 yards and one rushing score on 14 touches.

Washington (6-1)
Next Opponent: vs. UCLA (Oct. 28)

With Saturdays's get-the-fuck-out-of-here 13-7 loss to Arizona State, there's a very strong chance that not only have the Huskies hunched the pooch as far as the National Championship playoffs are concerned, they may have just taken themselves out of the PAC-12 Championship race to boot. Well, that's what happens when your quarterback can only throw for 139 yards, while your defense let's the opposing team chalk up 245, ain't it?

Trust me - it's even better with the Benny Hill music playing on a loop.

Washington State (6-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Colorado (Oct. 21)

There are "LOL WHUT" scores and then there's the score that greeted many a college football follower last Saturday morning. Not only did the formerly undefeated Cougars lose to 3-3 Cal, they got absolutely waylaid on Friday night to the tune of 37-3. Needless to say, one more loss and not only is Washington State almost certainly out of the National Playoffs discussion, they may not even be in the PAC-12 title picture at all. 

Notre Dame (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. USC (Oct. 21)

The Irish took a breather last weekend but reemerge this Saturday for a biggie - a potential National Playoffs eliminator against the Trojans. Posting 471 yards a game, Notre Dame has the nation's 21st ranked offense; allowing 366 yards per game, the Irish have Division I-A ball's 48th ranked defense.

Michigan State (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Indiana (Oct. 21)

It was a close one, but the Spartans still got the W against Minnesota. In a 30-27 victory, Spartans halfback L.J. Scott collected 194 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, while quarterback Brian Lewerke went 9 for 18 for 120 yards, no scores and an INT. Meanwhile, their defense allowed Demry Croft - who will probably be selling insurance this time next year - to lob the rock for three touchdown passes. Just something to keep in the back of your head before these guys go toe-to-toe with Penn State and Ohio State ...

Michigan (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Penn State (Oct. 21)

It took overtime to do it, but the Wolverines nonetheless came out of Saturday's scrap against Indiana with a victory. John O'Korn went 10 for 20 for a measly 58 yards in the contest, but thankfully, top running back Karan Higdon was there to offset the anemic passing game with an impressive 200 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Alas, we'll see if that rushing attack is enough to give the Wolverines a leg up on Penn State this Saturday ... or if John O'Korn's horrific play at QB makes at a field day for the Nittany Lions' D.

San Diego State (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Fresno State (Oct. 21)

And the Aztecs fall from the ranks of the unbeaten following Saturday night's 31-14 loss to Boise State. While Christian Chapman's stats were pretty solid (12 for 27 for 240 yards and one TD pass), the SDSU rushing attack turned in an uncharacteristically underwhelming performance, collecting just 83 yards on the day while allowing the Blue Turfers to register 186 on the ground. 

"Thank you, Jesus, for these guys having worse ball control than Michael J. Fox."

Virginia Tech (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. UNC (Oct. 21)

The Hokies followed up their loss to Clemson with a fairly facile 23-10 win over Boston College two weeks back, and figured last Saturday was as good as any to take a breather. VT continues their season with a home stand against North Carolina this weekend, and can make up some big ground in the standings with a victory (you know, considering Clemson lost and all last Friday night.) And just so you stat-hounds won't feel deprived, averaging 467 yards a game, the Hokies' offense is ranked 25th in the nation. Allowing 320 a contest, their defense is ranked 23rd overall.

Memphis (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Houston (Oct. 19)

The Tigers forced five turnovers in their 30-27 win over Navy, in a game that revitalized their AAC Championship hopes (and their slim chances of making a major New Year's bowl game.) Memphis QB Riley Ferguson went 24 for 40 in the contest, collecting 279 yards and three touchdown passes (two of which were caught by Anthony Miller, who had 90 yards on ten catches.) And despite getting outran by Navy to the tune of 314 yards to 118, Tigers back Darrell Henderson still looked pretty good, finishing the outing with 94 yards on 12 carries. 

Toledo (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Akron (Oct. 21)

The Rockets didn't have much use for quarterback Logan Woodside in their 30-10 win over Central Michigan. Logan finished the game with a scant 89 yards on ten receptions, with a grand total of zero touchdowns. So how did Toledo pull out the W? Well, you can attribute that to their run game, which saw the Rockets backfield (led by Terry Swanson, who finished the game with 145 yards and two TD runs) outpace the Chippewas 310 yards to just 62.

Virginia (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Boston College (Oct. 21)

The Cavaliers are one of those teams nobody's talking about, despite having a record better than a good 80 percent of the ACC (including Florida State and Louisville, both of whom have pretty much said "fuck it" and called it a season.) In the Cavs latest outing, they beat UNC 20-14 in a game that saw QB Kurt Benkert go 19 for 31 for 249 yards and two touchdowns. And even though they did let the Tar Heels outrun 'em 211 to 156, they still managed to get a lot of ground production out of Jordan Ellis, who wrapped up the shindig with 135 yards on 27 carries.

Marshall (5-1)
Next Opponent: vs. Middle Tennessee (Oct. 20)

Yep, Marshall is back in the thick of things again (doesn't it seem like they do this every year around this point in the season?) Over the weekend they drubbed Old Dominion 35-3, in a contest that saw Chase Litton lob the rock for 176 yards and three touchdown passes, two of which landed in the arms of receiver Tyre Brady, whose final output for the day was 76 yards on five receptions. With a relatively easy schedule, don't be surprised if the Thundering Herd run the table throughout the remainder of the season - and considering how wacky things have gotten in college ball as of late, don't count these guys out of a big bowl appearance just yet ... 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Coin-Op Review: 'Demon's World' (1990)

Think you've played every great 2D, horror-themed action-platformer from the early 1990s? Well, you haven't if you've never gotten your hands on this preposterously underrated Toaplan title starring an avatar that looks WAY too much like the Unabomber for it to be just a coincidence.

By: Jimbo X

The great thing about retro gaming is that there's so much great stuff out there that we'll be rediscovering awesome shit for years - hell, maybe even decades - before every hidden gem is uncovered. And that's especially true when it comes to arcade games, because I assure you, there are WAY more that got released than any of us managed to play back in our youths.

That's why it does the heart good to hit up the emulators from time to time and play through a couple of totally random games. Granted, most of the time you just wind up with really bland, generic Pac-Man and Raiden clones, but every now and then you'll stumble across a totally overlooked mini-classic that you can't believe hasn't been celebrated ad nauseam by the retro gaming elites. And that's how I became aware of the existence of Demon's World, an absolutely fantastic action-platformer from Toaplan, that's basically the combination of Ghosts 'n Goblins with Metal Slug

You have to be a hardcore retro gamer to know about Toaplan. While most regular folks have never heard of Truxton or Hellfire or Fire Shark, old school arcade purists tend to consider them one of the most painfully underrated developers in the history of gaming. Indeed, Toaplan is responsible for two of my all-time favorite shooters, Grind Stormer and Batsugan, which are so damned obscure that a lot of well-versed SHMUP fans have never even heard of 'em before. Hell, most people don't even KNOW that Toaplan were the guys who made Zero Wing, because I'm guessing most people out there on the Internet think the whole "all your base" shit created itself, but I digress.

Despite its super-generic title, Demon's World (not to be confused with Konami's Devil World, nor Capcom's Demon's Crest) is actually a damned solid side-scrolling shooter that kinda' sorta plays like a drunken orgy of Contra, Castlevania AND Gradius. Even for its timeframe it's unbelievably difficult, but thanks to the advent of emulators, we can now play the whole thing from start to finish without cashing out $20 worth of tokens. And if you've never played it before? Old Jimbo's quick overview will give you all the incentives in the world to hunt this sucker down for yourself ...

In defiance of genre conventions, you're asked to input your initials at the beginning of the game. Also, you might notice your avatar looks a LOT like Chuck Norris, but trust me, it gets even weirder from there. Additionally, the game DOES offer a two-player mode, but I've never played it cooperatively before. So it could be as good as the one-player mode, substantially better or substantially worse - I can't tell you, so ask somebody else. 

The opening cinematic shows a buncha' people fleeing from a horde of monsters overrunning what appears to be a (literal) ghost town, filled with dillapidated, crumbling Western-ish buildings, which have giant signs for "Rodeo" and "biggest Bar biggest," because the Japanese don't care that much. The game begins without any formal explanation of who the main character is, but it doesn't really matter. All you need to know is that he's got a bad ass 'stache and a LOT of weapons, and that means some ghosts and goblins are about to get royally fucked up shortly. 

In the first stage, you blast away a couple of pink ghosts wearing cowboy hats, so I guess the level is a canonical Western-themed tourist trap, I suppose. Power-ups constantly float across the screen, Contra style, and you'll have to use your double jump to catch most of them. Anyhoo, your upgradable weapons are as follows: a triple scatter shot, a rocket launcher, a lightning gun, bombs (which have the worst range by a considerable margin) and these funky laser arrow thingies. All of the weapons can be upgraded to shoot faster with wider ranges, too, so mixing and matching - while not an integral part of the game - is oftentimes advantageous. Like in Castlevania, you can collect hearts, but they don't restore your health. They just add more points to your score, and no matter how many of those fuckers you horde, one hit is still enough to kill your ass dead. Of course, there is a major exemption to that, but we'll cross that proverbial bridge when we get there.

It doesn't take long for the game to start throwing a TON of different enemy types at you. Frankenstein monsters, skulls that cry deadly tears, midget Draculas, hell, even a couple of JASON VOORHEES imitators enter the fray just seconds into level one. Also, you have to dodge a lot of rolling barrels, too, which is probably harder than any actual enemy in the game you have to fight.

It isn't long before you grab hold of the power-up armor, thankfully. Basically, this stuff works just like the suit of armor in Ghosts 'n Goblins, powering up your abilities and allowing you one extra hit before plopping over dead as a doornail. But best of all, the power up transforms your costume into a grey hooded sweatshirt that makes your avatar looks just like the fucking Unabomber, and it's goddamn hilarious.

After you bump off a couple of obese gargoyles and fire-dripping ghosts, the background turns into this grassy terrain in front of a mountain with an ominous purple sky. You have to cross a creaking bridge and platform over tricky flame-shitting demons, but thankfully you can jump on their heads, Mario style, for a little added step to your bounce.

Then killer plants start bursting out of the ground like in Ghouls 'n Ghosts and you have to jump across tree limbs while mini-dragons chase you (and this is HARD as fucking shit like you would not believe.) Now we've got zombies tossing boulders at you, and as the backdrop transitions to a desert like setting, a buncha' vultures start dropping rocks on your head. Eventually, this paves the way for the game's first boss fight, against a skeleton Indian ghost who drops giant-eared tiki statues on you.

I told you I had reservations about fightin' that ghost Indian!

Next up, we're in a Mexican-looking pueblo. Horse-drawn carriages immediately attack, as do platoons of annoying ass bats and more fucking runaway barrels. After that you have to platform across rocks over an ocean, and the music changes to this funky, warbled tropical beat and it's great. Also, you can now jump onto balloons and float over obstacles, which is a cool little touch, but really tricky to pull off in execution. You hop over some crabs with skull heads and maneuver around giant tiki statues that puke molten lava on you, then these trees shoot porcupines (maybe even Critters?) at you. I mean, your character does sort of resemble the space bounty hunters from the first two movies and all. Then you do some more tricky balloon platforming and blast through wave after wave of one-eyed gnomes before entering an area glutted with dilapidated pagodas.

You can safely traverse the muck pools by using the ducks in Raiden hats as stepping stones. After that you have to avoid punji sticks and kamikaze crows, then these skeletons start shooting at you with bows and arrows. Judging by that spooky, tinny Asian restaurant music, I take it those enemies are supposed to be Chinese?

The Devil's Rain starts falling out of the sky, which thankfully, you can blast out of the sky rather easily (can you name any other game where you have to shot rain droplets with rocket launchers?) Then you get attacked by long-necked demon geishas and what I can only describe as possessed umbrellas. After that, paper lanterns and ghost school girls come after you, and the rain starts teaming up in circular wheels that chase you down like heat-seeking missiles. This is a segue to the game's second boss fight, this one against a samurai skeleton with a spear who tries to bite you. Alas, despite taking a billion hits to kill, he really isn't that much of a challenge to polish off.

Now you have to platform across boats while orange demons shoot fireballs at you that look suspiciously like pieces of fried chicken. Then a pirate ship emerges. Time to shoot some rapier-brandishing skeletons en masse. The insanely hard ocean platforming sequence continues, as you have to use those balloons to dodge sharks and ridiculously hard to predict horizontal scrolling fireballs. Then a buncha' blue demon heads start materializing everywhere, and your only way to avoid them is to hold the fire button down and constantly hit every button on the directional pad simultaneously. You think I'm joking, but you play this shit for yourself and find out.

Now killer butterflies and Chinese kids on tricycles start attacking (interestingly enough, this is where the PC Engine CD port begins - no clue why, that's just how them Japs do it, I reckon.) You shoot more fan-carrying geishas and platform over clouds, periodically having to hop on and over these annoying petals that open and close in oddly timed intervals. Then dragons attack you, but every time you shoot them their bodies shrink a little. The boss fight here is against a giant golden dragon, who spits smaller dragons at you, whose heads you have to jump on so you can shoot him in the head.

Another ocean stage awaits. This time you have to hop over ice shelves while suicidal squids and gigantic jellyfish that look like Metroids try to chew your asshole off. Eventually you will encounter these giant jellyfish blobs that shit smaller jellyfish at you, and this is easily the most bullshit part of the entire game, because it's practically impossible to avoid taking at least one hit depending on where the things spawn. After that, thankfully, it's back to more rudimentary blasting action, as you enter a graveyard and immediately start mowing down shambling zombies sans heads.

Why the Japanese have such a fervid fear of possessed umbrellas, I'll never comprehend.

This heralds the return of those ghosts in cowboy hats, who are now green, for whatever reason. These new Dracula enemies also debut, which turn into four separate homing bats when killed. There are more porcupine trees, more golden goblins and even a passage where you have to hop over columns while avoiding sentient knight helmets, which has to be an oblique "fuck you" firmly directed towards Capcom, isn't it?

So you enter a castle and full-suited knights attack you. This is a prelude to a boss fight, this time against a smaller, fire-breathing dragon that looks more like a crappy Play Doh dinosaur than the more traditional mythological beast we fought in the last stage. After that you get on an elevator and fight these blue guys wearing metal suits. I've no idea what the hell they're supposed to be, so don't ask. However, I will tell you these fuckers like to push giant blocks at you, and you have to duck at JUST the right moment or else the constantly scrolling screen will push you right into some insta-kill spikes. Needless to say, your timing has to be pitch perfect here or else you're deader than Harvey Weinstein's OK Cupid profile.

You do some more jumping over, around and underneath weirdly shaped blocks and barriers and platform over ghosts carrying caskets while shooting the firebird enemies that emerge from the lava pits below. Yeah, not that you need me to tell you this, but this shit is hard as fuck, too. Then you jump over the roofs of several houses and fight sleeping orange vampires who are morbidly obese and more sword-toting skeletons. 

Then there's ANOTHER gnome-block pushing sequence over lava pits, and it's so insanely hard I'm running out of ways to tell you it's an insanely hard game. Then there's another boss fight with a cartoon dragon, except this one pukes projectile orbs on you instead of a direct line of fire. And after that? You jump down a hole into a cob-webbed cavern and prepare for the game's final boss fight ... 

... which just so happens to be against this weird monkey mummy stuck inside a pulsating spider-like womb who shoots blue flames at you. Well, despite his wacky appearance, he's actually pretty easy to kill, and after that the screen starts rolling right to left and you have to jump your way to safety. That triggers the game's final cutscene, as you watch the castle implode behind you, Castelvania style, while your avatar joyously jumps up and down. During the credits, he grabs a balloon and flies by sepia tone screen shots of all the previous levels in the game, and that's all your quarters are going to get you this go-at it.

Yep. Nothing weird about watching a pixel-art Theodore Kaczynski celebrate an imploding building. Nothing weird about that at all.

All I can say is damn, this is a fun game. It's an absurdly difficult blast-a-thon that's hard for all the right reasons. It's a game that's doable, it just takes well-honed reflexes and just a little bit of rhythm to get through it - unlike so many other games in the genre, it isn't cheap, it's a title that rewards you for timing and memorization.

As briefly mentioned above, the game did get ported to the PC Engine CD, albeit under a totally different title - Horror Story. Essentially, it's the same game, but for whatever reason, the order of the stages is all out of whack. Oh, and the final stage is way longer, but I'll let you compare and contrast this shit on your own time.

Going back to what I said at the beginning of the article, Demon's World really is a hidden gem of horror gaming. It's an immensely enjoyable monster mash with great visuals, plenty of humor and a ton of replay value, and that co-op mode seems like it would be an absolute hoot and a half to experience. I never saw the arcade game in the wild growing up, so there's no nostalgia driving my adulation of the title; it's just a flat-out fantastic, Halloween-flavored game that you definitely need to check out at some point during your All Hallow Eves sojourns. I mean, what in life is better than pairing an hour or two of this game with a big bowl of candy corn and a replay of Halloween II at 2 in the morning? That's right, fucking nothing, and if you haven't gotten a load of what Demon's World is offering you, you're not just missing the boat - you're missing the whole damned armada.