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Momentum is a fickle pigskin phenomenon

I once wrote a paper in college English on the use of the word momentum in a football game. I'm sure the paper was not in the league with my weekly ramblings here, but the professor sure was impressed with my idea.

Webster says, (somebody's famous words, not mine) that momentum is the impetus of a moving object equal to the product of its mass and its velocity. For a football team that means everything is going good.

Football momentum can be broken down into two levels. One level is how things are progressing for a team within a single ball game. The other is how the season is going at any particular time. The funny thing is the game score or the season record may not be an accurate reflection of a team's momentum.

A team can be losing 21-0, but if they kick a field goal just before halftime they suddenly "have the momentum." If you listen carefully to radio and TV commentators in the know, it seems holding the momentum in a game all too often immediately precedes disaster, a fumble, interception or penalty. Poof! Suddenly the momentum is gone.

The Thomson Bulldogs were 3-0 to start the season, but everyone said they had no momentum. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy because they promptly lost their next game. Maybe they were acting on cue when they were told their mass and velocity was not making a product.

With last week's long sought blowout one would think the team now has the momentum, but I don't know. Cross Creek's eight points in the fourth quarter may indicate that the Dogs lost it. We'll see.

The Georgia Bulldogs have a great defense, a 3-0 record but absolutely no momentum. Everyone just knows LSU will slaughter Georgia next week, even though LSU seems to have no momentum either. My guess is that by the time momentum shows up that game will be almost over. Strong defenses seldom invite momentum to the show.

I don't know what the heck will happen if the big M never makes an appearance, seven overtimes I suppose.

Georgia Tech had no momentum either until Clemson handed it to them via a dribbled punt snap. Tech held it long enough to throw a winning touchdown pass before promptly giving it to North Carolina Saturday night. The Tar Heels were glad to get it because Virginia must have a patent on it.

Poor old Clemson lost the grip in the last seconds against Tech and never regained it even by going all the way to Texas A & M to look for it. Every since last season when Clemson got killed by Wake Forrest and turned around and beat FSU, hammered South Carolina and Tennessee, everyone said they owned all the momentum. They even added some mass and velocity to their coach's contract, but the team never washed the grease from their hands.

Georgia Southern seems to have momentum in their back pockets. They played great against Georgia and just killed Johnson C. Smith and Wofford. Other coaches may send scouts to Statesboro to grab a piece of it.

The college season is still early, but the high schools are half done with their regular schedule. When you watch a game, make a mental note of who has the momentum. For me it's easier if I'm at the game than it is watching on TV or listening on the radio. Your favorite high school team better grab it quickly before the season is over. The college guys may volley it around for another week or two before old mo' finds a true home.



Web posted on Thursday, September 23, 2004


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