LAS CRUCES, N.M. — As I waited to participate in a chile-eating contest at the 51st annual Hatch Green Chile Festival, one of the judges handed me a bottle of cold chocolate milk, a tool of the trade that would ostensibly cool my capsaicin-riddled mouth during the competition.

Considering my stomach was still on high alert after a green chile burrito I’d ingested just an hour earlier, I stared at that bottle of chocolate milk while standing in 100-degree weather and immediately thought of Ron Burgundy’s bad choices.

Much like a collegiate freshman preparing for his first game on the gridiron, it was then and there my stomach rumbled a final warning. I looked at my wife and said, “It’s time to call it a day.”

QB drama in Stillwater, overblown enthusiasm in Norman

Back down the road at our Las Cruces Airbnb, I realized that not participating in the chile-eating contest gave me a more pleasant and less-interrupted opportunity to write the first installment of what we’re calling College Football Hangover Highlights. Or, if you’ve been following me on Facebook over the last couple of years, this marks the 23rd installment, but it’s the first one published by NonDoc.

For most of the last two seasons, I’ve been jotting down my late-night, end-of-Saturday musings on what the hell just happened in college football. But this past offseason, some friends said they couldn’t see my posts on Facebook since they don’t use the social media giant. Rather than look at them admiringly as living, breathing versions of Rod Serling’s The Obsolete Man, I started brainstorming ways to broaden and simplify my reach for these random collections of semi-coherent babbling.

Which is why you’re currently reading this on NonDoc, where a long-forgotten URL declares I am contributor-in-chief because I wrote a boxing story on the website’s first day on the internet in 2015. (By the way, come to NonDoc’s 8th birthday party this Thursday, Sept.7.)

Curiously and a little ironically, I decided to use the first full weekend of 2023 college football to visit Las Cruces, N.M., the home of arguably the most woebegone college football program in all the land.

So, here I am, at the hind end of the college football universe, writing about Saturday’s games with my own hind end in better condition than it might have been had I not bailed with the chocolate milk. Without further ado …

  • OU did exactly what it was supposed to do against an inferior opponent. Yet, the Sooners did it in such resounding fashion, it seemed more buzz was created than one would expect with a 6-7 team from 2022 beating a 3-9 team from 2022;
  • Until the pandemic season of 2020, Arkansas State was a frisky mid-major. The Red Wolves collected 75 wins over a nine-year stretch from 2011 to 2019. Even when they began falling apart in 2020, they still notched a win over a Kansas State squad that subsequently traveled to Norman and beat the Sooners just a few days later. So, it’s a little disconcerting to see them be THIS bad;
  • Of course, maybe the Red Wolves should just quit playing OU. Arkie State is now 0-3 all-time against the Sooners, with an eye-popping combined score of 179-7. The first Sooners game I ever attended as an OU student was against Arkansas State in 1992, which ended in a 61-0 beatdown;
  • Considering the 1992 OU team‘s ultimately desultory 5-4-2 record, maybe OU fans should pump the brakes on this year’s excitement just a tad. Then again, the last time OU played Arkie State before Saturday was a 45-7 win in 2000, the same season the Sooners stormed to a perfect record and a national title. So, go wild folks!
  • Meanwhile, Oklahoma State also played what should have been a glorified scrimmage against the FCS’ Central Arkansas, but I get the feeling their fans’ stomachs are feeling worse than mine after the Big Burrito;
  • I watched a lot of snaps by the Cowboys last year, and if there truly is a quarterback quandary that includes the likes of Garret Rangel and Gunnar Gundy, then the ‘Pokes could be in for a long season. On an even playing field, with everyone healthy, one might presume Alan Bowman should easily be the best QB on the roster. With Bowman’s health always being a question since his freshman year at Texas Tech, I presumed we would see more than one quarterback for the Cowboys this season. Perhaps unexpectedly, we saw all three for OSU on Saturday, as Mike Gundy cycled through his trio of signal callers, ultimately landing on his son to lead key late-game drives. Despite the win, OSU looked stunningly like the team that lost five of its past six games at the end of last season. Let the drama in Stillwater begin!
  • Enough with the state schools and their non-descript opponents. The game of the day happened in Fort Worth where Colorado stunned a TCU team coming off a trip to the national championship game. The Buffaloes have 60 new players on their roster since last year’s 1-11 season, and the overhaul helped Coach Prime — Neon Deion Sanders — notch his first win with the Buffs;
  • Football — or any sport, really — can be really simple when you think about it. If you replace a lot of average to poor players with a lot of better players, you end up with an improved team. Huh. Funny how that works;
  • Baylor was just flat-out whupped at home by Texas State. While it seems the ever-stoic head coach Dave Aranda can definitely coach ‘em up on the field, maybe his stoic personality doesn’t do himself any favors in the recruiting arena? It’s just a thought;
  • All told, Saturday was not a great start for the Big 12, which saw Baylor and Texas Tech soil their sheets. West Virginia lost to a top-10 opponent, and many others posted creaky wins over bad teams. I’ve considered it a bit odd to watch Big 12 conference leadership seemingly attempt to dodge the reality of losing a pair of Cadillacs by touting their fleet of Pintos that had not exploded yet. What happens when they DO explode?
  • Here’s a knee-jerk reaction: The most impressive performance of the weekend was Washington blasting Boise State. The Huskies were expected to win, but most thought it would be a good game. It wasn’t. Washington might be a serious player in this final lame-duck Pac-12 season, which suddenly looks more exciting after several teams’ big wins.
  • Nebraska has a new head coach, but the Huskers still have the same old result. After Thursday’s heartbreaker against Minnesota, Nebraska has lost 20 of its last 24 games that were decided by single digits. Creating a statistic like that is similar to when Baxter ate an entire wheel of cheese and pooped in Ron Burgundy’s refrigerator — it’s so gruesomely macabre, you can’t even really be mad. You just want to put on your PJs, climb into bed and pretend like it all never happened.