Jason’s bedridden, terrible sports weekend (Editor’s note: Yay!)

I’ve never been one to get a flu shot. It’s not that I have strong feelings on vaccinations—I got about 10 of those before honeymooning in Africa—it’s just that I never get sick.

Of course, when you say that out loud, it happens. And so, I spent the better part of my weekend battling a bug I likely acquired while sharing a margarita with four people at a drag show, Halloween night. [Editor’s note: Choices, Jason. Choices.]

UCLA’s football team had the week off which was a stroke of luck for me. I could spend the better part of my Saturday pounding cough syrup, hydrating and trying to convince my dog that the landscapers were not here to murder us without having to worry about the outcome of a game.

I wouldn’t have had the strength to watch and they’re going to need me at full strength when they play eighth-ranked Utah in Salt Lake City in a de-facto playoff game for a shot at the conference championship game.

The Bruins are 21-point underdogs, but stranger things have happened. The magic of college football, more so than professional football, is that anything really can happen. Sure, talent is a huge factor in what will happen in the game but, ultimately, the result rests on the decision making of a lot of teenagers.

Nearly every weekend there is some inexplicable outcome where one outmanned team pulls off an implausible victory. Fans storm the field, bettors tear up their parlay cards and legends are made out of walk-on quarterbacks.

Yes, I actually believe that UCLA can pull this game out, then again, that may be the NyQuil talking.

The Curse of the Black Cat

Last week, I heralded the birth of the Black Cat; the part savior, part saint who had pranced and purred his way into Cowboy fans’ hearts by disrupting what was poised to be a nationally televised disaster against the Giants and turning it into a victory. I was so grateful that I’d already named him after Dallas Cowboys’ soon-to-be highly paid quarterback: Dak PresCatt [EN: CHOICES, Jason].

He was supposed to be the Sherpa to lead the Cowboys up the mountain of glory. The cat made its second official appearance Sunday night on the gargantuan video board that hovers over the field at AT&T Stadium as he was announced along with the players. During warmups, some of those players donned shirts with the cat on them.

And all of this meant absolutely nothing as the cat’s presence began to shred the Boyz’ playoff chances like they were a 15-year-old sofa. The Cowboys were outplayed for most of their game against the Minnesota Vikings. When, against all odds, it seemed that redemption was at hand, inexplicable coaching decisions that have marred this team for the past half-decade made their regularly scheduled crunch-time appearance.

Unable to run the ball all night, they opted to handoff twice instead of relying on Prescott who had carved up the Viking defense all night.

When they needed a conversion on fourth down, they threw to arguably the worst pass-catcher on the field. And when they finally forced a punt to give the team one last shot at a miracle, their punt return man signaled for a fair catch when the closest defenders were nearly 20 yards away.

Vikings 28, Cowboys 24.

This left me clinging to life, and dignity, as Monday Night Football approached. I had no interest in that game, one that turned out to be pretty thrilling, but fantasy football has changed the viewing habits of millions of people across the country. I needed a measly 11 points from Tyler Lockett, Seattle’s star receiver to maintain my grip on first place. But he was injured, I lost and, like the Cowboys, I am now in a tenuous tie atop the division.

Football is a game of attrition, most fans understand that, but we often overreact with each game’s outcome. The math has gotten a little tighter, but we’re still in contention.

While Steve, my editor, may be reveling in my pain [EN: So much reveling] I’m trying to remain grounded. This is not the end. Deep breaths. Happy thoughts. Perhaps some Nyquil.

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Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.