I had never been frightened reading the sports page until Monday.
That was the day my eyes beheld, for the first time, the anarchy that reigns in baseball and football.
As I sat dumbfounded, trying to make sense of the mess, a moment of clarity came to me Ÿ I understood the sporting apocalypse to be at hand, for in the sports pages I saw the seven signs.
The first sign: Both Kansas State (No. 8) and Kansas (No. 10) are in the Top 10. No, not in some preseason college basketball poll, but The Associated Press football poll. Football Kansas, Kansas football. Say those two words together and tell me you don't get a bit uneasy.
But at least Kansas looks to be for real. At 5-0 and coming off a 40-24 thumping of then-No. 4 Colorado in Boulder, the Jayhawks are poised to make a run at the Big Eight title and break the Nebraska-Colorado monopoly. KU gets the No. 2 Huskers in Lawrence on Nov. 11 in a game that could have impact beyond the conference.
I, however, don't have the guts yet to think about these words: Kansas, football and national title.
The second sign: Northwestern. Five games into the season and the 14th-ranked Wildcats (4-1) still control their own destiny in the Big Ten. Think about it: They beat Notre Dame in South Bend; do you think they fear going to Minnesota, Illinois and Purdue Ÿ their three remaining road games?
They draw Wisconsin and Penn State at home Ÿ tough games, but they already took down Michigan in Evanston. The real bonus is this is Northwestern's "miss year" for Ohio State, fourth-ranked and arguably the conference's best team.
Could it be ... destiny?
The third sign: While Arizona won't be in the Rose Bowl at the end of the season, at least the Wildcats could be ranked ahead of the University of Toledo.
That's right. The Wildcats sit in 36th place with four points in the AP poll, but just ahead of them in 35th place is Toledo with nine. Get serious pollsters Ÿ at 5-0 Toledo looks like it has played the bottom seeds of the NCAA Tournament's Midwest Regional: East Tennessee State, Western Michigan, Nevada, Cincinnati and Ball State.
That this team would even get votes makes me think the end is near.
The fourth sign: Atlanta, St. Louis, San Francisco. Which one of these is not like the others? Wrong. They are all the same, all at 4-1 and all tied for the lead in the NFC West.
What's worse, Tampa Bay is in firrrdtst. . . Let's try that again. Tampa Bay is alone in fiiistetet. I can't bring myself to say it. Let's just say that at 4-2, the Buccaneers, a team I haven't seen on national television ever, have the best record in their division.
If those two examples don't convince you, consider this Ÿ during Jacksonville's 20-16 win over Pittsburgh, the Jaguars' fans started chanting "Wild Card." Eerie.
The fifth sign: The Cleveland Indians are four wins away from the World Series. That's all I need to say about that.
The sixth sign: The team that stands between the Indians and the title round is the Mariners. That's right, they play baseball in Seattle. Not only that, but they play good baseball, as the Mariners became the fourth team in baseball history to come back from a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-five series Sunday night against the New York Yankees. The fact that they are led by "The Big Unit" (pitcher Randy Johnson) and a guy named Edgar (Martinez) is even more disturbing.
The seventh sign: Okay, I fibbed a bit. I never actually found a seventh sign. I started writing this certain that I had seven solid signs that the sporting world was approaching the apocalypse, but after the Mariners, I had nothing left to point to.
I guess we're all saved . . . but just as insurance, I'm going to root against Jacksonville from now on.
Patrick Klein is assistant sports editor of the Wildcat. His column appears Wednesdays.
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