December 31, 2005

Peach Bowl Smackdown!

LSU 40, Miami (FL) 3

So last night I was all in anticipation of getting our cable back on, which we did, in time for the best non-BCS game between the Tigers and Hurricanes. My friends and I do this bowl contest where we try and pick the winners of the games with the point spreads involved this year. I took Miami due to JaMarcus Russell being out for LSU.

Wrong answer. The Tigers played like this game meant something and Miami played for a quarter and a half. LSU did whatever they wanted to do, and I must add I think the notion that Miami always has the fastest team speed now has to be passed to the Bayou Bengals.

This win, er beatdown by LSU included fake punts (plural) in order to keep the ball out of Devin Hester's hands. (By the way, Devin, if your thinking the NFL, don't. Your not ready, son.)

LSU served notice that the Tigers will be ready next year after closing out an emotional 2005 season. Miami now has to be lumped somewhat with Michigan and Tennessee. Nobody fears the Canes anymore. They don't play with swagger all the time, they aren't unbeatable at home, and they don't have the market cornered on speed athletes that they once had. Larry Coker has to be feeling some heat, for sure.

December 30, 2005

Maybe we knew better?

Oklahoma 17, The Highest Ranked Team Not in the BCS 14

Ahh, begin the hype for Miami or Auburn now, ESPiN now that your beloved Ducks lost in the Holiday Bowl to a 7-4 Oklahoma. In a just world ESPiN should have to issue a 30-second apology to all Irish fans who had to sit through the Alamo Bowl hearing about how the Ducks got screwed by being ranked so high and yet not getting to the BCS. I had never heard so much pooh-poohing and whining in my life (well, okay, the Michigan fans after the game were pretty bad).

So now, Auburn or Miami will get the hype from ESPiN. "Why didn't we get in?" "We're just as good." "Some consider us the best team in the SEC."

Ultimately, Notre Dame can only win over skeptics with a win over Ohio State, but get ready now folks to hear about the plight of Bobby Carpenter being out for Ohio State. It's ESPiN's "built in excuse" for Notre Dame winning.

December 29, 2005

Bowl week begins...Alamo Bowl.

Yup, I pretty much view the Bowl season as the Alamo-Holiday-Peach-then everything after Jan. 1 as the Bowl Season.

So lets talk about the Alamo: Nebraska 32, Michigan 28.

You gotta love your cable going out and no resolution in sight from the provider, which is my current situation now. I get a week off work every six months and I plan for it to be this week, and the cable company plans to lose their satellite service this very week. Lovely.

Anyhoo, lets talk about this game. Going in, Michigan was the favorite. You bought into their hype just like everyone does every year. Breaston! Hart! Henne! These guys are great and young, and now they are healthy; Michigan is a force! Sure enough, everyone feels vindication when UM starts to take over this game, building a 28-17 mid-fourth quarter lead. The Wolves even get the ball back with 9 minutes and some change left.


Nebraska forces a fumble by Jason Avant after a catch and takes it in for a score. 28-25 after the subsequent two-point conversion. Then Henne fumbles the ball on a pass and Nebraska later scores on that, 32-28 Nebraska.

Then things got ultimately weird. Michigan drives down the field as the Huskers forget to bring the D that got them to this point. But Manningham drops a third down catch and on fourth down, the Huskers basically commit pass interference that wasn't called.

So Nebraska runs the time down to :18 before they have to punt the ball back. Michigan does nothing except an eight-lateral flea flicker before Tyler Ecker starts running down the field with half of the Nebraska team pouring onto the field. The funny part is that Ecker gets stopped at the 13. Michigan fans say the tackle was made by a player coming off the sidelines. (Uh-huh, Titus Brothers, #21, was their starting strong safety. Good time to leave him out.)

The bigger point to make is that Ecker, he of the turn inside with no timeouts vs. Ohio State, fame, had Steve Breaston right behind him to lateral the ball to with presumably the only two Nebraska defenders legally involved heading right for him. Pitch, touchdown Michigan and now the refs would have to call something.

Oh and yes, they will point out the 50+ Nebraska guys on the field. Take a look at that play again too, Michigan fans, and notice the throng (four or so) guys getting escorted off the field when Ecker starts barreling down the sideline towards his ultimate 13-yard line destination. That would constitute a game ending offsetting penalty.

Funny part too is to watch the ESPN highlights and see Chad Henne walking off the field as the greatest play in Michigan history is going down...head down...agony of defeat perhaps setting in...I tend to follow the players reactions on that sort of thing. If I am Henne I would be running, selling that play that we're still alive. Unless I didnt believe it because I saw my guy on the ground with his knee while I am touching the ball...ahem, Mike Hart around his own 26.

Michigan fans are a sight to see now. Just head over to any of their message boards and watch the various acts of hari-kari being committed. The worst team in 21 years. "Thank God this season is over." LLLLLoyd needs to go now... are just some of the comments and I LOVE IT.

Let someone else deal with mediocrity for a while, been there and done that. I can't believe my eyes as I read some Michigan fans even calling for Carr's job. (Maybe the luster off that 1997 title is gone, huh? Otherwise you get about 3 or 4 losses a year.)

The scary part is that this 7-4 before the bowl team could have been 4-7 and sitting their ass at home. OT win at Iowa, OT again over Michigan State and they needed time put back on the clock against Penn State. (I bet the refs were completely justified doing that, right UM fans?)

Oh but don't worry, UM will land a great recruiting class, Henne will become a god by spring ball, someone will talk about team focus. Carr will hunker down and be even more stodgy in his approach and somehow when you grab that preseason mag in late summer, the lazy sports columnists will have Michigan in the Top 10 because they always seem to get there.

I liken it to the Irish in the late 90's. Somehow the boys from South Bend were getting ranked and Davie was pulling in great classes, but you knew better if you scratched the surface and lifted a few rocks. The same should now exist for Ann Arbor (Knoxville, too). Take a closer look, friends, because Michigan isn't the ol' Michigan you remember.

December 20, 2005

Change the bowls, but no playoff

I basically took this from College Football News and their traditonal Tuesday Question.

Q: (Forgetting about a playoff) How do you change the college bowl system?

A: I do miss the true tie-ins. The Rose Bowl being the Pac-1o versus Big 10 (11) and the Sugar Bowl always getting the SEC champion. I enjoyed that sort of thing, however it is the root cause for the need for a BCS to decide a true champ.

I also miss the New Year's Day power lineup of the Citrus-Cotton-Gator at 1, the Rose-Fiesta at 5:00 p.m. and the Sugar-Orange between 8:00 and 8:30. Seven games on one day and you knew the champion when your head hit the pillow that night. Wonderful. Now you have a stretched out bowl schedule with the big four bowls being played in three days. Word is that Fox (who takes over in 2006 except for the Rose Bowl) will move the other three bowls to its own day. I understand the title game being set apart but, using this year for example, the Orange Bowl having its own day is worthless. Granted, if they could rearrange it, the Fiesta Bowl by itself would be a good idea.

Fewer bowls? Nah. I like the smaller schools getting their 3+ hours in the sun. Some of the pre-New Year's bowls have excitement as each year I find myself catching the Peach, Alamo, Sun, and Holiday bowls. Last year's Liberty Bowl between Louisville and Boise State was thrilling.

In short, I wouldn't change much, if anything just eliminating the extra day needed for the BCS bowls. However, I understand business. No way will Fox go head-to-head with the Rose Bowl with either the Sugar or Orange Bowls next year.

The good part is that we get the "plus one" model next year. The bad part is that traditional slots will be all jumbled. As best I understand it, if the plus one was this year, USC would play Ohio State in the Rose with Texas and Penn State in the Fiesta. That would leave the Sugar and Orange open with Notre Dame, West Virginia, Georgia, and Florida State to choose from.

Give the Sugar, Notre Dame vs. Georgia and the Orange, Florida State vs. West Virginia.

Sound good?

December 18, 2005

College Basketball

I love waiting a while before posting about college basketball. To me, the months of November and December are one big exhibition season. The season truly begins when you get in the grind of conference play. The schedule becomes routine with everyone getting their two-games-a-week schedule going.

In the meantime, not everything has gone by the board. The Maui Tournament was a thrill with some superb games and teams competing on the island. Connecticut took the title, but it was Gonzaga and Michigan State who played a three overtime game. Duke won the Preseason NIT over Memphis. Marquette beat South Carolina for the Great Alaska Shootout title.

Kentucky lost to upstart North Carolina who lost to Illinois at home. Then the Cats proceeded to lose by 26 to Indiana, yet in a week's time, turnaround and beat Louisville in Rupp, leading wire-to-wire.

For now, I can't even rank the teams other than to say that Duke is the best team in the land I have seen play with Connecticut a close second. Villanova is worthy of mention and I wonder what they would be with Curtis Sumpter not having torn his ACL.

The tournament this year culminates in Indianapolis. The regional sites are Washington DC, Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Oakland. First and second round sites are Greensboro (Duke, hello), Jacksonville, Salt Lake City, San Diego for the Thursday/Saturday set and Dayton, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Auburn Hills, Mich. for Friday/Sunday.

I couldn't begin to give you an attempt at the #1 seeds by team. I will say that I think as strong as the Big East and ACC will be, their champions will earn top seeds in Washington and Atlanta. Anything else is speculation.

It sounds complete bandwagon but right now the Player of the Year is already between Redick and Adam Morrison of Gonzaga but, its still too damn early. January will prove plenty.

December 10, 2005

Never too early...

Top Ten for 2006

1) Southern California. Go to and check out the Trojans schedule next season. All threats will have to win in L.A. Couple that fact along with White and Bush eligible to return and SC could rewrite history. Quarterback will be a perceived step down.

2) Texas. (If Vince Young returns; if not the Horns are not on this list, unless they upset Ohio State early in Austin.)

3) Auburn. The best backfield in 50 years was replaced in 2005 by a statistically better and younger version. LSU, Florida, and Georgia all come to the Plains. Perhaps no fanbase is hoping for early defections from SC and Texas more than the Tigers.

4) Ohio State / Notre Dame winner. Whoever wins the Fiesta Bowl will carry momentum to this spot. Both will have early statement games as the Buckeyes travel to Austin for a return trip, while the Irish have Penn State and Michigan in back-to-back weeks in September.

5) Oklahoma. Rhett Bomar will come back as a the tried and true instead of a project. Adrian Peterson is obligated to come back per NCAA rules. The Sooners travel early to Eugene to face the Ducks. Everything else will be at home that needs to be at home. Texas game will depend upon Vince Young being in Austin or the NFL.

6) Miami, FL. Everyone got a glimpse of what the Canes could be for 2006 against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. However, we also saw why the Canes aren’t the feared machine of 2001 in a loss at home to Georgia Tech. Home games against Virginia Tech and Florida State help.

7) Ohio State / Notre Dame loser.

8) Virginia Tech. The Hokies will have to prove they are clutch going into 2006. Either the taste of this year will be sour enough to propel them, or they will have missed their window.

9) LSU. Good team, killer schedule with road games at Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee. Alabama comes to Tiger Stadium where they have performed well. QB controversy could rear its head with Russell and Perilloux.

10) Florida, Florida State, Penn State. Each team has personnel losses to address or questions from 2005 that will linger. Each will face a tough early schedule that will make them or break them.

Outside looking in:

Louisville – Prove it. Easy schedule which should include a BCS trip. Wait, wasn’t that 2005?

Alabama – Expect the Tide to be ranked well, but their defense won’t be as stout and Brodie Croyle will be gone.

Oregon – Ducks face the Sooners in Eugene early in the year. That will be their chance to grab media attention.

West Virginia – The Mountaineers wont receive much credit if they bomb against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Texas Tech – See West Virginia, however, the Red Raiders destroyed their 2005 momentum with a ridiculous non-conference slate. Games at UTEP and SMU as well as TCU will help in 2005. They could crack the list.

Michigan – Henne will get trashed until spring ball, then he will become incredible again. Breaston will be overhyped with someone mentioning slump and Heisman in the same sentence. Mike Hart and “key cornerstone” will be a familiar phrase as well. Beating Notre Dame in South Bend will be viewed as an upset should Michigan win now.

California – I drink too much Tedford Punch probably, however I expect him to benefit with having a full off-season to groom his quarterbacks (Longshore and Ayoob). Cal will not go 7-4 again. Bears could get an early jolt by winning at Tennessee to open the season.

Iowa – Nice schedule with four winnable games then host the Buckeyes. Follow that with two against Purdue and at Indiana then at Michigan. Win that and Iowa could win the Big Ten. Drew Tate will have to prove himself going into next year and Iowa needs a nationally known running back. I know I can’t name their 2005 leading rusher.

December 08, 2005

Been a while...

Lets put a bow on this thing, or at least the regular season. However, when your last post was November 21st it’s going to have to be bullet points...

- For all the hullabaloo about the BCS, it was good to see Ohio State and Notre Dame end the Fiesta debate by being automatic qualifiers.

- EDSBS' list of the 52 reasons to hate ESPN/Disney is forever saved on my computer. Classic.

- The polls (coaches and Harris Poll) are out with the voters being held accountable. Oregon was 15th in one poll, Notre Dame was anywhere from 4th to 14th. Auburn got some votes as high as 4th. The more I think about it, while I might be the only fan in America not clamoring for a playoff, I might be open to a selection committee ala the NCAA Tournament. (For the record, I have the Ducks 5th, Auburn 6th, and Notre Dame 7th)

- Polls are perception. Had Notre Dame played USC then Michigan State then Oregon would be your team in the Fiesta or Auburn would be happy. Then again, if Georgia holds the Tigers on 4th and 10 we’re not worried about the Plainsmen either. It’s funny how Florida enjoyed a bump from beating a Shockley-less Georgia and struggling Florida State, but when those two rallied to win their championships we suddenly think a lot more of the Gators.

- USC will kill Texas. Mark it down right here. Look for the Longhorns to be rusty whereas the Trojans will pounce early and often. 44-21 USC. I wish for a classic, but color me skeptical.

- If you’re the Peach Bowl, you’re happy (LSU vs. Miami, FL). Alamo Bowl, too (Nebraska vs. Michigan). Oh, and the Capital One (Wisconsin vs. Auburn).

- Somebody somewhere talked about the Fraudulent Five, here’s mine:

1) The 2005 Cotton Bowl – Tennessee vs. Texas A&M. Both thought they were setting the stage for the future, instead both home this holiday.

2) Purdue – “We get the entire defense back.”

3) Fresno State – Backed up that USC game with losses to Nevada and Louisiana Tech. Maybe USC was just sleeping walking against the Bulldogs?

4) The Big 12 minus Texas. This year was bad minus the Longhorns, but look to next year. The North will be absolutely f-bomb horrible. Colorado is firing Gary Barnett, Kansas State just hired Ron Prince to succeed Bill Snyder, and Missouri just lost their all-everything quarterback, Brad Smith to graduation. On top of all that, Iowa State will have to get over choking the division, again. Kansas? Please. Nebraska is the only hope. The South? Texas will rule, Oklahoma will return to form, and Texas Tech will pile up the yardage, but Baylor will return to earth, Texas A&M wont have Reggie McNeal, and Oklahoma State is god awful. Three, maybe four teams to worry about at all from the Big 12 for 2006.

5) The officiating at the Texas Tech – Oklahoma game. I rarely pin any result directly on the refs. Notre Dame could have stopped USC on the 4th and 9 play and put it out of their hands. Penn State could have not allowed Breaston to get a good return. However, the Sooners were flat out robbed. One play before Taurean Henderson supposedly got into the endzone; the Red Raiders were credited for a touchdown pass when the wide receiver NEVER CAUGHT THE BALL. Horrible. Something tells me OU will be ready for payback next year in Norman.

- My Bowl Schedule before New Years Day After (these are planned events)
12/28 Alamo Bowl: Nebraska vs. Michigan
12/29 Holiday Bowl: Oregon vs. Oklahoma
12/30 Sun Bowl: UCLA vs. Northwestern
12/30 Peach Bowl: LSU vs. Miami, FL

November 21, 2005

This week's round table discussion

Beautiful topic posted by Kyle On Football for the roundtable:

1. Since the end of the 2004 season, there have been 23 head coaching changes in Division I-A college football. Thus far, which new coaching hire is working out the best? Which is working out the worst? Who has been the most pleasant surprise? Who has been the biggest disappointment?

To me, all discussion begins and ends at the foot of Notre Dame Stadium and Charlie Weis. For the past decade, being a Notre Dame fan has been more about reminisicing about the past than living in the present. The Golden Dome was an afterthought and the recruits were not thinking about Notre Dame. The media was living in glory being able to take their shots at the proud university and really, Notre Dame needed a few blowouts to get the administration to open their eyes and see that they were not competitive anymore. Charlie Weis' impact for the Domers came immediately after the USC game when he would not accept the moral victory. He congratulated his players for playing hard, but stopped short of being proud. Why should he? This is Notre Dame. This is THE program of college football. By contrast, everyone in the media is ready to throw bouquets at Fresno State for their performance, but I am sorry Bulldogs, you led 42-41 with over seven minutes to go and couldn't hold the lead. You play to win the game and you should be disappointed when you lose. That is the paramount intangible that Weis has brought back. I hurt after the USC game because I no longer hope Notre Dame can keep it close. They should win every game they play.

2. Which school's fans need to be more patient with their new head coach? Which school's fans need to beat the Christmas rush and get rid of their new head coach sooner rather than later? Which school's fans are happy with their new head coaching hire now but will be disappointed in him after another couple of years have passed (a la Tyrone Willingham at Notre Dame)?

I think Mississippi State fans need to be very patient with Sly Croom. Their win over Florida last year is still getting some mileage but next year the shackles of probation will finally come off and the Bulldogs will have a full recruiting class. Until then, the folks should measure success incrementally.

Bill Callahan at Nebraska needs to go, NOW. This man is destroying Nebraska football. Listen, I know a Bob Davie or Ty Willingham when I see it and Callahan is along that mold. I understand moving Nebraska towards the pass but to make them completely one-sided winging the ball all over the field wont work until they get the current players gone. Besides, what do you do in late Big 12 play at home in Lincoln, known for its 30-40 mph wind days, and you throw the ball all over the yard? A close second is Philip Fulmer at Tennessee. Fulmer sold his integrity to win the 1998 national championship it seems as the strong discipline and team leadership has eroded to the point of non-existence in Knoxville. Either Fulmer needs to suspend the group of players that left their helmets on the field, or the brass at UT needs to realize that their program is bigger than any one man.

I drank the kool aid about Ron Zook at Illinois early on, but really now I think that the Illini will come to realize a mistake in taking Zook. He will get recruits to Champaign but I dont think he is the man to make the Illini a permanent fixture in the upper half of the conference.

November 20, 2005

Top 25

No comments needed...

1. USC (11-0)
2. Texas (10-0)
3. Penn State (10-1)
4. LSU (9-1)
5. Virginia Tech (9-1)
6. Oregon (10-1)
7. Ohio State (9-2)
8. Auburn (9-2)
9. Notre Dame (8-2)
10. Miami, FL (8-2)
11. West Virginia (8-1)
12. Georgia (8-2)
13. UCLA (9-1)
14. Alabama (9-2)
15. Texas Christian (10-1)
16. Fresno State (8-2)
17. Louisville (7-2)
18. Florida (7-3)
19. Texas Tech (9-2)
20. Georgia Tech (7-3)
21. Iowa State (7-3)
22. Michigan (7-4)
23. Clemson (7-4)
24. Florida State (7-3)
25. Wisconsin (8-3)

News and notes

This weekend represents the last full weekend of college football. From here on out we will be subject to a trimmer selection of football and then the championship and bowl games.

The big loser for this weekend is the Miami Hurricanes. Miami screwed the pooch at home against Georgia Tech. Wave bye-bye to the BCS now 'Canes, the Gator Bowl awaits you. Virginia Tech subsequently is the biggest potential winner should the Hokies win out against North Carolina next week and Florida State in the ACC Championship Game. Tech went from getting the shaft from the BCS to a solid spot now in their control.

How bad has it gotten in Knoxville? Vandy ended 22 years of frustration against the Volunteers and actually has me thinking that the Cats (UK) could end their drought against the Vols. Tennessee has fallen from #2 preseason and my pick for SEC champs to a 4-6 record. Lovely.

The Fiesta Bowl bid now comes down to the campaigning. Oregon is 10-1, having only lost to USC. Ohio State is 9-2 and their two losses are to Texas and Penn State. Ohio State, said here before, has the bigger fan base, the more glamourous TV potential, and the more clout. However, the Ducks cannot be ignored. Coach Mike Belotti of Oregon felt the pain of being on the wrong side of a popularity contest once when his once-defeated Ducks were denied a shot to play Miami for the 2001 National Championship. Instead, Belotti sat on the sidelines watching the Hurricanes destroy Nebraska. Could it happen again to the Ducks?

Here is my BCS guess:

Rose - USC vs. Texas
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Orange - Penn State vs. Virginia Tech
Sugar - LSU vs. West Virginia

I think the Orange Bowl will now take Penn State as their first choice and swing back through and pick up Virginia Tech later. Granted, they might have to take Tech as the rules are still not clear in my mind and have never been explained with any degree of ease by the BCS folks.

The travesty of the weekend was by ESPN 2. I had to watch the Duke Blue Devils destroy Davidson in a meaningless November basketball game instead of getting the Clemson-South Carolina football game. I mean, I am sure the Gamecocks and Tigers don't excite many not from South Carolina, but for the Dookie Network to put on that sham was horrible.

Next weekend is Turkey weekend and I see a ton of blowouts. A bunch of teams will be vying not to screw their pooches. Notre Dame needs one more win over Stanford for the BCS, Texas needs to make sure A&M remembers they aren't very good, and the battle of Florida and Florida State is reduced to see who can still make a New Year's Day bowl. Georgia - Georgia Tech could be the highlight with the Jackets win over Miami and the Bulldogs perhaps looking forward to the SEC Championship.

Otherwise we are about to close the football season. Hopefully in the coming days we will take a peek towards next year and see who will be where.

November 15, 2005

My Top 25

1. USC (10-0)
Trojans haven’t been challenged since the Irish.

2. Texas (10-0)
Longhorns registered their 9th game scoring 40+ points. Third scoring 60+.

3. Miami, FL (8-1)
Canes hoping for a stumble by top two. Nothing learned against Wake last week.

4. Penn State (9-1)
Don’t screw the pooch against a faded Michigan State team.

5. LSU (8-1)
Just felt 10 points wasn’t enough to hold them down.

6. Virginia Tech (8-1)
Hokies rise to #6 based on their season and others losing around them.

7. Alabama (9-1)
Sure they can’t score but lets not bury the Tide, the LSU game was in OT.

8. Oregon (9-1)
Win over Washington State didn’t make a compelling argument for the BCS.

9. Ohio State (8-2)
Can seal a BCS bid if they win in the Big House. Hammered Northwestern.

10. Notre Dame (7-2)
Just like Penn State, needing not to screw the pooch.

11. Auburn (8-2)
Perception changing about the Tigers, like the UGA game changed on 4th down.

12. West Virginia (8-1)
Big East really hopes the Mountaineers win out.

13. Georgia (7-2)
Take Three to win the SEC East comes this weekend against Kentucky.

14. UCLA (9-1)
Gutsy win over ASU. Did they notice that U-Dub spanked Arizona by 24?

15. Michigan (7-3)
Could spoil Buckeyes hopes for BCS and put themselves into a January bowl.

16. Texas Christian (10-1)
Season done.

17. Fresno State (8-1)
Go with this: Bulldogs do the impossible and beat the Trojans. BCS?

18. Louisville (7-2)
Yawn. Prepping for the Gator Bowl.

19. South Carolina (7-3)
Gamecocks could play in January should they beat Clemson. No fighting.

20. Florida (7-3)
Urban Meyer is riding the genius-goofball roller coaster. Schooled by Spurrier.

21. Texas Tech (8-2)
Well, the BCS is over. Still could screw the Cotton Bowl invite with loss to OU.

22. Iowa State (7-3)
Change 2 OT losses and Cyclones would be prepping for Texas for Big XII title.

23. Colorado (7-3)
They were driving to tie the score before the pick six against Iowa State.

24. Oklahoma (6-3)
No real big win, but that could change with a win in Lubbock this weekend.

25. UTEP (8-1)Mike Price is a magician and some team needs to be #25.

November 14, 2005

BCS bowls after Nov. 12th

Shake up the BCS somewhat.

Texas Tech effectively took themselves out of the running for a BCS bowl with their loss at Oklahoma State. That is good news for Ohio State, Oregon, and Virginia Tech fans. However, Alabama's loss at home is bad news for those above-mentioned teams because now the Tide is in the mix for the final at-large slot. If they beat Auburn, the Tide would be impossible to ignore at 10-1 with the loss coming in OT.

Here is the prediction for now...

Rose - USC vs. Texas
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs. Alabama
Orange - Miami, FL vs. Penn State
Sugar - LSU vs. West Virginia

Alabama goes if they beat Auburn.
Ohio State goes if Alabama loses and OSU beats Michigan.

Should both Alabama and Ohio State both lose this weekend then I see the Fiesta Bowl deciding between west coast Oregon or better Virginia Tech.

November 10, 2005

Crumbling the BCS cookie

It’s mid-to-late November so its time to start discussing the BCS bowls and who is going where. First off, lets get the presumed automatic bids out of the way. In most instances I am predicting, however the SEC is still wide open, so I am saying Alabama is the rep right now.

USC (Pac-10)
Texas (Big XII)
Alabama (SEC)
Miami, FL (ACC)
Penn State (Big Ten)
West Virginia (Big East)
Notre Dame (at-large)

Let’s discuss Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish only have to win 9 games and finish in the top 12 of the BCS to earn a bid for a BCS bowl. Right or wrong, the Irish are such a draw that they will only ever have to reach this plateau to be selected. I honestly cannot imagine a situation in which an Irish team meeting the criteria would NOT be selected. They have that much influence. Right now, they are #11 in the BCS standings and with three winnable games left, they are your first at-large.

Now lets talk about who is going where. The original order of selection this year is Orange-Sugar-Fiesta. From year to year it rotates. The problem is that each one of the conferences has an alignment with each bowl. The SEC champion will go to the Sugar Bowl. Three circumstances cause this to change:
1) If the Sugar Bowl is the title game host.
2) They aren’t the host but an SEC team is ranked #1 or #2.
3) Or if an SEC team repeats as champion, then they go elsewhere.

Below are the anchors:

Rose – Big Ten, Pacific Ten
Orange – ACC, Big East
Sugar – SEC
Fiesta – Big XII

When a team is taken away from an anchor bowl to play in the BCS title game, that bowl then automatically receives the next selection, regardless of the order. This year, Texas is being displaced from the Fiesta Bowl to play in the Rose Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl then gets first selection after the Rose Bowl sets the #1 vs. #2 match-up with the Orange and Sugar following in order. The Fiesta Bowl then puts in a preferential order, the top three teams it would like to have. They must include a conference champion in the #2 slot. It won’t matter. The Fiesta will take Notre Dame for the paragraph mentioned about the Irish above.

Rose – USC vs. Texas
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs.

Next up to select is the Orange Bowl. They will stick with their anchor in which they have a choice. They can take the ACC champion, presumably Miami or they can take the Big East champion, West Virginia. They will take the hometown Canes.

Rose – USC vs. Texas
Fiesta – Notre Dame vs.
Orange – Miami, FL vs.

Lastly, the Sugar Bowl will stick with its alliance and take the Crimson Tide.

Rose – USC vs. Texas
Fiesta – Notre Dame vs.
Orange – Miami, FL vs.
Sugar – Alabama vs.

The order then returns to the top with the Fiesta Bowl, to my best understanding. I am guessing here based upon projections I see from selected websites. There really isn’t even a clear answer on the BCS website,

The Fiesta picks next. We have Penn State as the Big Ten champions and West Virginia as the Big East champion and we still have to determine our second at-large entrant. This is the dicey part and the part of big business and politics in college football. To date, there are four teams in the BCS Top 12 that can win out and NOT earn an automatic bid: Virginia Tech, Ohio State, Oregon, and Texas Tech.

With the Fiesta picking next it is my guess they will bypass the choice of Penn State due to the Lions playing Notre Dame next September. This is just a guess. If I am wrong then the problem rotates to the Orange Bowl and the dilemma only changes slightly. For now, this is the Fiesta Bowl’s problem. Lets play devils advocate and say that the four teams mentioned above that can win out and NOT get an automatic bid do just that, win out. Virginia Tech, Texas Tech, and Oregon each play in stadiums that seat less than 70,000 while the Ohio State Buckeyes play in a 100,000-seat stadium. Whom would you select? Add into the mix that Notre Dame and Ohio State are national programs, who constantly meet on the recruiting trail and the Buckeyes bemoan that they don’t get a home and home series like Michigan does against the Irish and the choice is clear.

The other choices quickly fall into place after that…Penn State and West Virginia are on the board and is just as an obvious choice.

Rose – USC vs. Texas
Fiesta – Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Orange – Miami (FL) vs. Penn State
Sugar – Alabama vs. West Virginia

To recap, I think seven teams are set in stone in that you will have the six conference champions and Notre Dame. Sure the SEC might turn upside down as five teams could still win the title. Penn State could still lose the Big Ten championship and Miami could lose to Florida State in the ACC championship. To me, Texas and USC are rolling towards the Rose Bowl untouched.

Should Ohio State lose to Northwestern or Michigan in the coming weeks, then you have another dilemma. Does the Fiesta Bowl take Penn State and the matchup in September against Notre Dame be damned? Then, do they take Oregon due to the proximity of the Ducks? Or do they go with a better Virginia Tech team who will be cheering for Ohio State to lose?

I take Tech, personally, after Ohio State. The scenario of getting Virginia Tech to the Fiesta is very clear once Ohio State is removed. Virginia Tech playing Miami again in the Orange Bowl is to be avoided. The Fiesta and Orange would compromise, sending Tech to Tempe and Penn State would still play in the Orange.

Either way, Texas Tech and Oregon are not in good positions. They need some upsets to get themselves to the BCS party.

There it is, simple as that.

November 07, 2005

Top 25 - Nov. 7th

1. USC (9-0)
- Only Cal, Fresno State, and UCLA stand in their way.

2. Texas (9-0)
- DNP vs. Baylor. Kansas and A&M will offer little resistance to the Big 12 title game.

3. Alabama (9-0)
- Will have a chance to make a statement against LSU, then at Auburn, then the SEC title game.

4. Miami, FL (7-1)
- Vintage 80's Canes against Va. Tech on Saturday. Would have jumped Texas if they had scored on the last possession against FSU.

5. Penn State (9-1)
- Only the Spartans stand between the Lions and the Big Ten title. Michigan drops a pass and PSU would be banging on the door.

6. Georgia (8-1)
- If only D.J. Shockley plays against Florida...can wrap up the SEC East against Auburn this weekend. (Yes, they have to still beat Kentucky, but c'mon.)

7. LSU (7-1)
- Two straight weeks of cupcakes against Appy State and North Texas. LSU now can control their own destiny with a win in Tuscaloosa.

8. Virginia Tech (8-1)
- Letdown alert coming up for the Hokies against Virginia. Could still regroup and secure a BCS bid.

9. Oregon (8-1)
- Can't ignore that their only loss was to USC. Can't ignore their best win is against Fresno State.

10. Notre Dame (6-2)
- The loss to Michigan State keeps the Irish out of the top 5. Showed poise against Tennessee, securing the win in a big fourth quarter. Smooth sailing to BCS now.

11. Ohio State (7-2)
- Mirror image of Notre Dame. They are another team that could win out to an at-large BCS bid. Illinois provided a glorified practice.

12. Florida (7-2)
- All of Gainesville will become Auburn fans this weekend. Trap game against ol' ballcoach this weekend.

13. Texas Tech (8-1)
- Win out and the Red Raiders will play in the New Dallas at the Cotton Bowl. Made mincemeat of A&M, will dominate Oklahoma State and then welcome the Sooners.

14. Florida State (7-2)
- Suddenly a very shaky looking team. Travels to Clemson then Florida then the ACC Championship game rematch against a surging Miami team. 7-5 finish?

15. Colorado (7-2)
- Team is just lying in wait for Texas at the Big 12 Championship. Big game this weekend at a hot Iowa State club. Win there and you'll show me something. Should walk over Nebraska at home.

16. Auburn (7-2)
- The team in the SEC that could ruin everything for Georgia and Alabama in the next two weeks...or they could end up 7-4.

17. West Virginia (8-1)
- Just dont screw the pooch the last two weeks. Big East will get a 10-1 BCS participant. Then they will get clobbered in the bowl that has to take them by force.

18. Wisconsin (8-2)
- Goes home to face Iowa after getting whipped by the Nittany Lions. Will finish with 10 wins (also plays Hawaii after Iowa) and get a New Year's invite.

19. UCLA (8-1)
- Might seem harsh, but no way do you get clobbered by 38 points by a 2-6 team and salvage any respect.

20. Michigan (6-3)
- Off week saw Michigan not lose. Would have moved ahead of the Bruins but 3 losses are still 3 losses. Wolverines still have an outside shot at the Big Ten title.

21. Texas Christian (9-1)
- Took out perennial MWC big boy Colorado State with ease, 33-6. Newcomers will head to Las Vegas Bowl or perhaps the Houston Bowl to fill an SEC open slot.

22. Georgia Tech (6-2)
- We'll know a lot more about the Jackets after they close at Virginia, home against Georgia, and at Miami.

23. Oklahoma (5-3)
- Could still land in the Cotton Bowl if they finish out with wins, including a "not all was lost from 2005" win at Texas Tech if they should seal the deal.

24. Fresno State (7-1)
- Wont overlook Boise State for USC next weekend. Boise has won the last four meetings since they joined the WAC.

25. Louisville (6-2)
- Welcome back. Trust me, its not really what you did to get here...

The Heisman Race...

1. Vince Young, Texas
2. Reggie Bush, USC
3. Matt Leinart, USC
4. Brady Quinn, Notre Dame

big drop off after those four...

Big games for November 12th? Practically all in the SEC.

Auburn at Georgia, 7:45 pm, ESPN
- The Dawgs can seal the SEC East or the Tigers can play spoiler. Is Shockley truly 100%?

LSU at Alabama, 3:30 pm, CBS
- LSU win would mean smooth sailing to the West title. Alabama win coupled with Auburn win sets up the Iron Bowl as the SEC West Championship Game.

Florida at South Carolina, 12:30, JP
- Hoo boy Columbia will be jumping. Expect an inspired effort from the Gamecocks. I personally think Chris Leak is too fragile to win this mental meatgrinder.

November 02, 2005

Top 25 for November

1. USC (8-0)
- Blew out a bad Washington State team. Meanwhile…

2. Texas (8-0)
- Turned an essential bye week into a game. Basically I see no difference between this game and the USC scares with Oregon and Arizona State. (Only that Oklahoma State is far worse than both those teams.)

3. Virginia Tech (8-0)
- My attitude changes daily with the Hokies. I think their defense will get them through all the way to Pasadena or at least the Orange Bowl in Miami. However, I am not sold on their offense at all. I need young Vick to emulate older bro Vick and lead a charge when the Hokies are trailing and their backs against the wall to believe.

4. Alabama (8-0)
- The Tide has a three-game season left with games against LSU and at Auburn then the SEC Championship Game to follow (likely against Georgia). That would be an impressive three-game run, as good as anyone in the nation. It’s that game at Auburn that has me worried.

5. UCLA (8-0)
- Houdini would be proud of the Bruins in recent weeks. However, again, to pooh-pooh the Bruins would be wrong because don’t we laud USC for their comebacks? Why condemn the Bruins for theirs?

6. Georgia (7-1)
- Playing their second string quarterback and still driving down the field with a chance to win the game doesn’t drop you much in my book. The Dawgs can still win the war, clinching a berth for the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta by beating Auburn on Nov. 12.

7. Florida State (7-1)
- Co-worker keeps downplaying the FSU season, worrying about this upcoming tilt at home to N.C. State. The Seminoles are simply prepping for huge 2006. In the mean time they could go ahead and win the ACC this year, 2005.

8. Penn State (8-1)
- The Big Ten is the Nittany Lions’ for the taking, needing to beat Wisconsin this weekend and winning at East Lansing on November 19th to seal the deal. The game in East Lansing has trouble written all over it.

9. LSU (6-1)
- Glorified scrimmage last week against North Texas and this week against Appalachian State. Each team of the SEC West can control their destiny. The Tigers need to win in Tuscaloosa on November 12th to march to Atlanta. Without the Tennessee meltdown, the Tigers could finally have gotten their rematch with USC, or been made to feel extreme irony being the odd man out.

10. Miami, FL (7-1)
- Miami has gone the longest with their loss, but they haven’t beaten much along the way. They get their first stiff test in Blacksburg. Win that and I will put them over Florida State and Georgia as the “Best Team with One Loss”.

11. Oregon (7-1)
- Follow me here, the Ducks are the only team that can win out and not earn an automatic BCS bid. A 10-1 Duck team with their only loss to USC would be hard to hold out of a BCS bowl. The downside is that they will have to make it without their starting quarterback, Kellen Clemens.

12. Wisconsin (8-1)
- Where I work I am surrounded by Michigan fans pointing out three needed steps for their Wolverines to win the Big Ten. Wisconsin can put that all to rest by winning in Happy Valley this weekend.

13. Notre Dame (5-2)
- The schedule before the season was a killer, then the season began and the expected powers faded. Kudos to Michigan for salvaging their season however, Weis is trying to convince anyone who will listen that Tennessee could be 6-1 or 7-0. The truth is somewhere in between – Tennessee will keep the game close, they have too much pride, but the Irish will prevail, sealing the deal late.

14. Ohio State (6-2)
- Buckeyes won a big game in Minnesota, exploding on offense. Ted Ginn, Jr. returned a 100-yard kickoff and they never looked back. Buckeyes win out and get someone to beat Penn State and they will be in the BCS. Granted, they have to go to the Big House to do it.

15. Texas Tech (7-1)
- The other team that could win out and not clinch a BCS automatic bid. Similar in that their only loss was to Texas, but the thing hurting the Red Raiders is the perceived lack of quality of the Big 12 this year. Win out and they get the Cotton Bowl.

16. Florida (6-2)
- As much as the Georgia loss using their second stringer shouldn’t drop the Dawgs, we shouldn’t get too high on the Gators with the win either. The Gators have an interesting game at South Carolina and Spurrier and then Florida State at home. Win out and the Gators are in the Capital One Bowl.

17. Boston College (6-2)
- Two good losses and no big wins. Sounds a lot like the Irish actually. The issue is potential and “upside”. This is the best the Eagles will get. Other teams around them haven’t hit their ceiling.

18. West Virginia (6-1)
- Carrying the flag for the Big East.

19. Colorado (6-2)
- Only losses to Texas and Miami, FL, and the Buffaloes got a decent win at Kansas State. They should be the Big 12 North representatives to play Texas in the conference title game.

20. Auburn (6-2)
- The Tigers could shake up the SEC winning at Georgia and home against Alabama down the stretch or they could fade into a four-loss team. I predict a split, ending Alabama’s undefeated season, but after losing between the hedges.

21. Georgia Tech (5-2)

- Reality will set in quick for the Jackets who close at Virginia, at Miami in a makeup game, then home against Georgia. They should beat Wake Forest to get bowl eligible.

22. Michigan (6-3)
- Quietly saving their season and making my life hell hearing at work about how they could rally and win the conference. Someone end this team. I might even have to cheer for the Buckeyes on Nov. 19th, because Indiana on Nov. 12th isn’t doing it.

23. Texas Christian (7-1)
24. Fresno State (6-1)

- Let’s give some love for the little guys. TCU is a head-scratching loss from being 2004 Utah while Fresno State quietly pines away for their shot at USC (Nov. 19th.)

25. Oklahoma (5-3)
- Another team quietly saving their season. Sooners could win out and play on New Years Day for the fifth straight year in the Cotton Bowl.

October 30, 2005

Knowing a good thing

Notre Dame announced yesterday that they agreed to a 10-year contract extension with current head coach, Charlie Weis. The media will now begin the deconstructions of Weis' progress at Notre Dame. They will now mention the absence of a Top 20 win (at Michigan is the best win to date for Weis and the Irish in 2005). They will now want to bring up Tyrone Willingham and how fast he was fired. Notre Dame will now be labeled a racist institution once again by some person on an edgy sports show (think HBO RealSports...cue up Bryant Gumbel now.)

All of this folks wont matter. Weis has Notre Dame on the fast track back. Everyone outside of the Irish fandom was suddenly bursting with glee once the articles starting surfacing about Weis' buyout clause in his contract with Notre Dame. You could feel the sigh of relief in Ann Arbor, West Lafayette, and all points non-Irish. "Thank God, some NFL team will dupe Weis and the Irish and he will be gone."

You could feel the exasperation as Notre Dame made their announcement yesterday. Weis commented back when he was hired that he views Notre Dame as a special place. Weis strikes me as a different brand of coach. A refreshing person who makes these statements not as coachspeak.

Its his alma mater, folks! No one questions Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech because he is at his alma mater, even though he ransomed a raise out of the Hokie brass with a flirtation with North Carolina a few years ago. (To end debates, I like Beamer, he cares and looks out for his assistants, bar none.)

The move is now a part of a poll on ESPN. (Did the Irish act too fast?) I say no. You always hear how teams and players, and even professionals in the business world need to strike while the iron is hot. This is the case with Weis inking the deal with Notre Dame. The recruiting now has no angles against it. Weis now has put to rest all speculations and Notre Dame will now continue its ascent back to the top of college football.

October 26, 2005

Blogpoll Discussion for this week

Blog Roundatble Week X+1

Being the Domer homer I am, here goes...

1. The Envy Poll (as seen on rsfc)Name the five teams, other than yours, whose accomplishments you respect / envy the most. Use whatever criteria you feel is appropriate (wins, titles, consistency, academic integrity, competitive integrity, NCAA violations, general thuggery, mascot intimidation factor ...).

I admire the Alabama Crimson Tide. They have the championships, they have Bear, and they have a rabid fanbase that thinks of nothing else but football all the time.

Respect? I respect USC and their "true" fans. Not the out-of-the-woodwork Nick Lachey types who want to be cyberRambos and spout everything Trojan but the ones who were there during the 0-12-1 vs. the Irish and rightfully revel in their success now.

I respect Florida State and their 14 year run of being in the Top 5 but admire? No. Pure envy I guess.

Respect also goes for those programs' fans that would rather eat a bullet then sell their tickets to the enemy. (Notre Dame fans still need to learn this. I think Tennessee and Nebraska here, they jump to the forefront.)

2. Admissions
With regard to Question #1, what is the most damaging criticism of your program that you will admit is a legitimate criticism? That is, what negative trait does the most damage to the overall respect level of your program (in your eyes, or to others, interpret as you will).

What traditional ploy will the Irish use this week? The Green jerseys, Touchdown Jesus, Rockne's legend, Ara, Leahy, the Four Horsemen, the Golden Dome, winning one for the Gipper, sheesh...sometimes I feel like saying "just play the stupid game".

3. Unrelated Discussion Question
Who do you think is the best player in the history of your program? Tell us a little about him (especially if he's not a household name). Feel free to pick someone from 50 years ago that none of us has seen play.

I followed in 1986 to present, so for me its a no brainer, Raghib Ismail. The man was lightning in a bottle and seemed to play his best in the biggest games. The two touchdown returns against Michigan still remains my favorite Notre Dame moment. I have never since seen a person single-handedly bring down a very good opponent.

October 25, 2005

My Top 25

For me, the Top 25 ranking represents using a bit of situational logic. The only objective of any poll is getting #1 and #2 right. For me, I take the "body of work" approach. I am taking this poll from a stance of not having a prior ranking.

1. Southern California (7-0)
The BCS folks have demoted the Trojans to #2 in their poll and I cannot figure out why, other than to ensure that SC will be super-motivated to reach the Rose Bowl. You don't think Pete Carroll has used this as motivation behind closed doors? I feel sorry for Washington State this weekend.

2. Texas (7-0)
The path is clear for the Longhorns: at Oklahoma State, at Baylor, Kansas, at Texas A&M, Big 12 Championship (likely Missouri or Colorado - two teams UT dominated already). Texas' big win is still the one over 2-loss Ohio State. Texas Tech was described as a fraud by those who follow college football, yet they provided the juice for Texas to leap USC in the BCS poll. Texas will make the Rose Bowl only to rue the day they got this #1 ranking.

3. Virginia Tech (7-0)
The Hokies have games left against Boston College, Miami, at Virginia (same place FSU lost), and then the ACC Championship Game (likely Florida State) to zoom their ratings. The Hokies get through that (they also play UNC at home to close the year) and they will have a better argument than Auburn did last year being left out.

4. Georgia (7-0)
The Dawgs are in trouble this weekend against Florida without D.J. Shockley. Should they pull through, they will have games with Florida, Auburn, at Georgia Tech, and the SEC Championship Game (Alabama or LSU). See Virginia Tech...

5. Alabama (7-0)
This team has gone in the tank offensively and now they await a team that can make them pay for it. The Tide play Utah State and at Mississippi State next, so no threats there. However, they close the year home with LSU, at Auburn, and the SEC Championship Game (Georgia). I don't think they make it through those three unscathed.

6. UCLA (7-0)
Here is where the illogical mindset begins with the polls. I dont think UCLA is truly the sixth best team in the country, but I think being undefeated this late in the season causes you to be stacked near the top. UCLA will have all the chance in the world to prove their mettle with three out of the last four on the road. (at Stanford, at Arizona, at USC - with Arizona State at home). I think UCLA makes it to the Dec. 3rd USC game unbeaten, then gets taken out - yet earning the BCS at-large bid.

7. Florida State (6-1)
The Noles raise the age old debate: are their 2 wins against Miami and BC more important or is that bad loss more telling? FSU is the only team in college football sporting those 2 wins over teams in the top 12 of the BCS poll. However, their lone loss to unranked Virginia stands out as well with other 1-loss teams having their setback to ranked teams. The deciding factor for me were those wins...other one-loss teams have no wins over even ranked teams to speak of, yet the Noles have those two.

8. Penn State (7-1)
Penn State gets #8 due to their method of losing at Michigan. It took an executed play from a Michigan team that hasn't been performing well lately to beat the Nittany Lions. Penn State has their one ranked win having beaten Ohio State at home.

9. LSU (6-1)
The Tigers win over Arizona State has been muted, but for me that is still a standout win when you consider that the Tigers had to pack everything up and play on the road all in a week's notice. Their true best win was over Florida at home. Their loss was at home to a below-for-their-average Tennessee.

10. Miami, FL (5-1)
Here I stick with the method of losing. Miami is a botched FG attempt away from OT with Florida State. Since then the Canes dont have a ranked win to speak of, but at this point only 2-loss Northwestern in my breakdown remains as having a true ranked win. I have to rank the one-loss teams first for the most part. Miami gets here because their game was also way back on Labor Day.

11. Oregon (7-1)
I combine two things for the Ducks. They last lost on September 24th and that loss was against #1 USC when the media had focused that game as the Trojans first challenge. They were buried in the second half, but the Ducks did hold a 13-10 halftime edge. They also own a solid win over Fresno State at home. At this point, ranked wins are gone for the 1-loss crowd. That Fresno State win is as solid as some others.

12. Boston College (6-1)
BC gets more juice from their lone loss being Florida State than any of their wins. Their best win to date would probably be their overtime win at Clemson. However, the Eagles will get all the chance in the world to prove themselves traveling to Virginia Tech on Thursday.

13. Wisconsin (7-1)
The Badgers land here with their best win coming against Michigan at home. Their lone loss to Northwestern gained a bit of luster last weekend with the Wildcats blowing out Michigan State in East Lansing. Bucky however is in a quandry this weekend when you look at their opponents with Northwestern facing Michigan at home. One side of Wisconsin's ledger will improve while another side will decrease.

14. Ohio State (5-2)
A bit of comparative logic here with No's. 14 & 15. The Buckeyes beat Michigan State at home whereas the Irish lost to Michigan State at home. The bad part for Ohio State is that the Spartans represent their best win. However losses to Texas and at Penn State help the Buckeyes greatly.

15. Notre Dame (5-2)
I am a Domer homer, however I wanted to take a fair, objective look at the Irish and I come up close to what the BCS computer reflects. Had the Irish beaten Michigan State in overtime they would be closer to their AP ranking (#9), maybe even pushing Florida State as the best 1-loss team in the country. If this were a power poll I would have the Irish higher. List them under the heading of "If College Football had a Playoff, this is the Team You Wouldn't Want to Face".

16. West Virginia (6-1)
Best win is over Louisville which in the preseason would have been a great win. The lone loss however is helping the Mountaineers, who lost to Virginia Tech back on October 1st at home.

17. Florida (5-2)
Florida's best win is over a struggling Tennessee team at home in the Swamp. Their losses however are both on the road at Alabama and at LSU. This weekend against Georgia without Shockley finds Florida needing a win. A loss in that situation would probably end the Gators in my rankings.

18. Texas Tech (6-1)
If Florida State at #7 is the best 1-loss team in America, then the Red Raiders are the weakest one-loss team. The problem is that Texas Tech has absolutely no good win worth mentioning. Their incredibly weak non-conference schedule (Florida International, Sam Houston State, and Indiana State) did nothing to capitalize off their win last year against California in the Holiday Bowl.

19. Northwestern (5-2)
The Wildcats are the only 2-loss team left with a win over a ranked team (Wisconsin). Their losses are mixed with a loss at fading Arizona State earlier in the year combined with a last-minute home loss to Penn State. The Wildcats get Michigan this weekend and a win over the Wolverines would be another quality win, not ranked win, however.

20. Minnesota (5-2)
Understand that my rankings from #20-25 are purely interchangable. Heck, you could even have an unranked team in my poll ranked here in your poll. I am solid about my Top 19, but here begins the quest of the best teams with the better losses and maybe a quality win (win over team with winning record). Here Minnesota qualifies winning at the Big House and losing at one-loss Penn State and Wisconsin.

21. Colorado (5-2)
The Buffaloes are purely here because their losses are to Miami and Texas.

22. Auburn (5-2)
I do live in SEC country, so call this a homer pick. I think Auburn has a big win in them down the stretch.

23. Missouri (5-2)
The difference between Mizzou being here and not in the Top 15 is a head-scratching loss earlier in the year at home to New Mexico.

24. Georgia Tech (4-2)
The Yellow Jackets did beat Auburn on the road to begin the year...

25. Michigan (5-3)
3 losses by 13 points. Michigan also owns a nice win at home over Penn State.

October 22, 2005

What I'll Be Watching (Oct. 22)

Michigan at Iowa, ABC, Noon

I am in the weird position of needing Michigan to win to help the campaign for getting Notre Dame to a BCS bowl. To date, Notre Dame hasn't beaten a BCS poll ranked team. If Michigan can win in Iowa City then that argument will end.

Mario Manningham has emerged as the Wolverines best receiver. I dont follow UM but I haven't heard much of Jason Avant or Steve Breaston (at least for his receiving exploits) this season. Iowa is turning their ship around, having won three straight games against inferior talent. The Hawkeyes will see this game as their welcome back to relevance. I know less about the Hawkeyes (chalk that up to living on the border of ACC/Big 10 ABC regional coverage). I know that Drew Tate was injured early in their loss to Iowa State and the whole team stunk up Columbus.

In the end, LLLoyd Carr is a wuss on the road. He will play tight and close to the vest and Michigan will be 4-4. Its the only way he can do anything negative to Notre Dame anymore.

Iowa 28, Michigan 23

BYU at Notre Dame, 2:30, NBC

Get this stupid week over with. Yes, the Irish lost no matter how you slice it. Yes, I was hopeful for the future after what I saw against the Trojans. Yes, assisting the runner is a rule hardly ever called and yes, I would have taken the win had Quinn been pushed in with :03 left. (I dont think the rest of the college football would wink, wink, nudge, nudge the Irish for the play. I imagine the rivals would have big problems with it.)

BYU is a good opponent to have coming in after USC. Weis only needs to show game film of last year's pathetic effort against the BYU gimmick, 3-3-5 defense. I hope to have this game out of the way in time to catch..

Notre Dame 49, BYU 21

...Tennessee at Alabama, CBS, 3:30

One of the greatest nicknames for a rivalry is "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate" to describe the rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech. In the case of Bama and UT the hate won't be clean. The Snitch (Fulmer) comes to town for the first time since the probation and the Alabama fans will be ready. The game itself features a Bama squad searching for life after Prothro and Tennessee is once again on the ropes to save their season with two losses and a trip to South Bend in two weeks after Tuscaloosa.

I think last week for Bama was more looking ahead than any indication that they are lost without their star wide receiver. The Bama D is a killer even though its not 1992-level.

I like the Tide. (But for the Irish sake, I need UT to win.)

Alabama 20, Tennessee 14

Auburn at LSU, 7:45, ESPN

Auburn plays only its second game of the year (at least where they stood a chance of losing) and they venture to Death Valley. LSU seems to fear success this year, nearly giving a dominating performance back to Florida due to offense ineptitude. The Bayou Bengals are dang lucky to have all these games at home. The Tigers (Cajun version) are #6 in the BCS and I find that a tad overrated when you see how the Tigers have played. The results, only loss in OT, are quite another thing.

Auburn now has seasoning under their belt for their quarterback, Brandon Cox and their running game. However, the Tigers (Plains version) will be taking a large step from their five consecutive creampuffs. I would like a closer game, maybe even taking Auburn, if this game was back on the Plains. However Cox will be welcomed by a rowdy (read: drunk) LSU crowd ready for Saturday Night at Tiger Stadium.

LSU 24, Auburn 7

World Series Game 1:
Houston Astros at Chicago White Sox, 8:00, FOX

I can't remember the last World Series in which I didn't have a rooting interest either way. Year in, year out I can usually identify with a team or story that I prefer over the other.

Its Houston's first World Series and the White Sox haven't won since 1917. Somehow, though, the Boston drought had more impact than the White Sox drought. I have known that the White Sox haven't won in forever, but there seemingly was a justice involved with a team that had members proven to have gambled away the 1919 World Series to the Reds of all teams.

I am completely indifferent. I think this thing goes the distance with Cub fans rolling in their graves and otherwise when the South Siders bring it home in 7. Sorry Brian, but if I am wrong I will lose zero sleep.

October 17, 2005

The Greatest Weekend in College Football

Its a pretty convincing argument when you think about the Michigan State-Ohio State game ranking about SIXTH as the best game of the weekend. Matter of fact, here is a ranking of the top games.

1. USC 34, Notre Dame 31.
- This game had the most hype and delivered. I wish the game would have ended differently than it did, but it was a slugfest with both teams going toe-to-toe.

2. Michigan 27, Penn State 25
- 10-3 Michigan led into the fourth quarter. This game seemed destined for a yawning finish. However, a 22-17 quarter later, this game became an instant classic sadly overshadowed by the happenings in South Bend. Mario Manningham is now, officially, Michigan's best receiver.

3. Wisconsin 38, Minnesota 34
- As bad as I handled the Notre Dame loss, I would have been mired in depression if I had lost the way that Minnesota lost this game. The punter fumbles the snap then the defense gets the ball with :30 in the end zone for the win? Ouch.

4. (tie) West Virginia 46, Louisville 44 OT; UCLA 44, Washington State 41 OT.
- I didnt see a lick of either game so I can't differentiate between the two other than they were in overtime.

5. Alabama 13, Mississippi 10
- Top team against the ropes gets their best drive of the day when it counted and made the kick. Ole Miss has one heckuva defense, but absolutely NO offense.

Now, what we know.....(trying to be one-liners here)

- Notre Dame is good and will be pre-season Top 10 next year.
- USC's Reggie Bush is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.
- Florida fans are already restless with Urban Meyer.
- Texas vs. USC in the Rose Bowl is now set. Get your tickets Trojan and Horns fans.
- LSU would be a dynamite team if they can overcome themselves.
- John L. Smith is a stand up guy. The coaches ruined Michigan State's great game.
- 643 passing yards by Texas Tech's Cody Hodges is insane, and Kansas State isn't bad.
- Good balance by Nebraska leads to decent win. Will need the same against Missouri.
- I guess Virginia will get to plant sod after beating Florida State. From what I read and saw in highlights, Hagan was a magician.

The BCS crystal ball:

Rose - USC vs. Texas
Orange - Virginia Tech vs. LSU
Sugar - Georgia vs. Ohio State
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs. West Virginia

October 14, 2005

The Irish and the Trojans

Nothing new:
  • The Trojans are still the best team in the land, hands down.
  • Matt Leinart is still the best quarterback in the country.
  • Notre Dame's defense is still mediocre at best, yielding a ton of yardage and points.
  • The secondary is still the weakness for both teams.
  • Reggie Bush and LenDale White are incredibly good backs. (Personally, I think White is a better future pro than Bush. Just me.)
  • Pete Carroll is still the best coach in the land.
What's new?
  • This is NOT the Notre Dame that suffered three consecutive 31-point beatings at the hands of SC.
  • This is Brady Quinn with confidence going against the Trojan D, the pride of Pete Carroll.
  • Charlie Weis will enter into this game knowing he can win rather than knowing he's beat, like the three previous matchups under a different guide.
  • The Notre Dame players believe they can win and they're ready to prove it.

The whole college football world is cyclical. I can remember a time (1983-1995) when the Irish were 12-0-1 in this series. Simply put, beatings may come and go but eventually the traditional programs right themselves. What this meeting has done is make Notre Dame-USC the game of college football. Gone is OU-Texas, gone is Tennessee-Florida, gone is Ohio State-Michigan, rendered moot by Michigan already having three losses this year. Penn State, Alabama, and Notre Dame are all hot again this year.

I envision the game going against the grain. I dont think USC will start slow. The Trojans will have a halftime lead, but I think in their minds, they will expect the Notre Dame crowd and team to roll over and start questioning in their heads once they score on a long play and put the Irish in a bigger hole. This is where the difference of Charlie Weis takes over. Notre Dame won't roll over. I imagine halftime being something like USC 24-14.

USC's performance in the second half of games this year has been nothing short of phenomenal. 168 points scored after halftime. That line is staggering. However, this is where Notre Dame will try and set the snare. I think Notre Dame will view the third quarter (the Trojans most explosive with 91 points scored) as Armageddon. The mantra of the players will be to take USC's best punch and keep standing. This is the crucial moment of the game. Its late third quarter and the Irish have weathered the storm to some degree. USC leads 34-21. The Trojans are marching for the kill, only to have something go wrong. A fumble, interception, turnover of some kind will befriend the Irish and inspire new life. Notre Dame quickly drives the field, scoring early in the fourth quarter. It's 34-28. Fans believe, players believe, the Trojans believe because they have been here before. They will reach for their patented Bush or White long run through a swiss cheese defense. Only it won't appear. Notre Dame Def. Coordinator Rick Minter will have preached to his boys about staying strong late in the game. A panicky deep bomb will be well defended to the delight of the crowd.

USC will have to send Tom "the Bomb" Malone in to punt. He gets off a beauty with about 8:00 minutes left and everyone in the stadium is now watching the Irish get the ball, down less than one score late in the game. Here is where Notre Dame needs a play out of the ordinary. Carroll will adjust the defense, sensing a momentum shift. The blitz is ready to attack, only Weis calls a draw and Darius Walker takes off. Down the sideline he goes, knocked out deep in USC territory. The fans sense something big, but the USC defense stiffens after two runs and a shot at the endzone to Samardzija. Its about a 40 yard field goal coming up. Take the points you think, but no. Brady gets back in the gun, the SC defense looking to bear down and the call goes out for Stovall in the flat. He catches the ball, twisting and turning and getting the Irish the first down. The place is delirious. When the clock starts again they are under 3:00 minutes. Two soft runs get the ball to the 5-yard line. Notre Dame slips the TE out and Fasano makes the grab in the endzone! 35-34, Irish. 1:56 left.

Too much time left thinks USC. Too much offense ready to dispose of the Irish. The Irish kick the ball off and USC gets a mediocre return to the 30 yard line. A quick slant gets 13 yards. A draw to Bush rips off 10, but he's kept in bounds. A batted ball goes to the turf. 1:03 left. Another run/scramble by Bush and he is tackled in bounds after eight yards. USC takes their final timeout with :37 left. An incomplete pass, Trojan fans want interference and its close, but no call. 4th and 2 on the 39 with :32 left. A quick post goes for 11, saving the season for Troy. The receiver gets out of bounds at the 28 with :24 left. Lendale White gets the ball on a draw, he scampers to the endzone. Touchdown SC! A flag is visible. Touchdown SC! Holding SC is the call.

1st and 20 at the 38 with :16 left. Leinart stays cool, calmly rips a 9-yard out pattern, stopping the clock with :11 left. 2nd and 11. Reggie Bush lines up in the slot. He gets the pass and smartly avoids the seam pattern and turns sharply to get out of bounds. The dilemma exists. Ball on the 24 with :05 left. Pete Carroll has to make a decision.

On trots the field goal unit, previously untested with any pressure kick. The Notre Dame students jump around, waving their keys. Touchdown Jesus stands in the background.

The snap...the hold...the kick...WIDE WIDE WIDE RIGHT WIDE know it as soon as he booted it...Students mob the field shortly after the gun and the clock reading :00.

Notre Dame wins 35-34.

October 13, 2005

What YOU will be watching...

Appetizers before the Showdown:

Michigan State at Ohio State, Noon, ABC

Gosh this game fell off the map quickly. Someone needs to tell me why I would favor Ohio State in this game other than being at home? Michigan fans (notably on MGoBlog) are getting cute about saying that Notre Dame hasn't beaten anyone with a winning record. Well folks, Ohio State is about the same. Their best win is over Iowa, who got blown out by Iowa State who just lost to Baylor. Yummy. But back to this game. This is the match of the teams that the month of October has forgotten. Michigan State proved inept against Michigan and Ohio State can now officially be ranked and filed as an overrated club, if you thought highly of them to begin with. This is a offense vs. defense battle.

However, for all my bad mouthing of the Buckeyes, I don't trust the Spartans. They are in free fall beginning here.

Ohio State 27, Michigan State 23

Wisconsin at Minnesota, 12:00, ESPN

Have the Golden Gophers taken the next step in the Big Ten and ready to make a run for the conference crown? Will the Badgers respond from the 51 points Northwestern laid on them? This will be one of those games that passes the time until the Showcase in South Bend. I think Minnesota wins and gets everyone talking. Wisconsin is a lot like Michigan State. I think they had their moment in the sun beating Michigan.

Minnesota 24, Wisconsin 17

I will not see these games...thanks to ABC Regional coverage (ugh!) I get Louisville-West PSU-UM has no chance, but then again how many of these games will be more than commercial break and halftime viewing?

Penn State at Michigan, 3:30, ABC

This game all depends upon which team shows up for Michigan. Penn State will play stodgy defense and their offense will try not to lose the game, but Michigan needs to hang it out. Why not be aggressive now LLLoyd Carr? The Wolverines lose this one and the 1974 bowl streak is in jeopardy with Iowa on the road and Ohio State coming to Ann Arbor.

Hart is back, finally, full strength, but then again wasn't he last week? Will Chad Henne continue to be the quarterback/lightning rod for the UM fans? Will the Big House stay the Quiet House?

I think Penn State's win over Ohio State last week has them believing in themselves completely.

Penn State 16, Michigan 14

Florida at LSU, 3:30, CBS

Notre Dame can lose 50-0 to USC and I will still thank my lucky stars that the Urban Decay is in Gainesville. Chris Leak is either A) getting wasted or B) just a pretty-boy quarterback who doesn't excel in big games. Could the Gators be held to less than a touchdown again?

LSU is reeling still from the Tennessee game, but getting over that hump the Tigers still have a clear path to Atlanta. This is simply another step to take to position themselves to have a chance. In the end, I think the pressure is off the Bayou Bengals and the new coaching staff. They will excel.

LSU 24, Florida 10

I'll talk about the big game tomorrow...

October 10, 2005

What we now know...

  • Michigan stinks. Seriously. It wasnt as if Minnesota ran some trick play to get into field goal range. It wasnt like they had their starting quarterback still in the game. They had a backup...who had yet to throw a pass...and on 3rd and 12, they get a LONG run from their BACKUP running back to get into field goal range. Hey, Jim Hermann, you wanna put eight in the box? (Minnesota 23, Michigan 20)

  • My earlier statement about the Big Ten being the best conference is in shambles. The basketball coach at the college I attend keeps pushing the ACC on me. I now say the SEC but it for dang sure isn't the Big Ten.
  • This whole time warp we have going is fun. Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama are all good to great. The sport is better for it.
  • Blake Mitchell at South Carolina is the latest bad quarterback made into a SEC Player of the Week after playing Kentucky. Good lord the Cats are horrible. Fear not fans, basketball season officially begins next week. (South Carolina 44, Kentucky 16)
  • Speaking of Michigan...they have 3 losses and still have to face Penn State, at Iowa, and Ohio State. The Wolverines, for now, own the longest bowl streak dating back to 1974.
  • Its time to say that the road to the SEC East now goes through Athens, Ga. The Dawgs have now beaten Tennessee in Knoxville in their last three trips and won last year in the Cocktail Party. Win this year and the Dawgs can book Atlanta for the SEC Championship and perhaps a return visit as this year's site for the Sugar Bowl.
  • USC and Texas are on a collision course. Texas got their monkey off their back beating Oklahoma. They will be favored in every game from here until Pasadena. USC has work to do with Notre Dame, California, and UCLA on the schedule. The Trojans could win all three, but if they keep playing ho-hum one of them will spoil it all. All this is bad news for Virginia Tech or Florida State. The BCS is rooting for Miami to win out, beating the Hokies and Seminoles in the ACC Championship Game. Otherwise either ACC unbeaten (FSU/VA Tech) will be this year's Auburn.
  • The before mentioned basketball coach is a Florida State fan. I dont think I will mind too much if Florida State gets jobbed. Serves them right. I can hear the complaining now.
  • Most perplexing score of the weekend: Northwestern 51, Wisconsin 48. Half a hundred by the Badger defense?
  • Vanderbilt is watching this season slip sliding away. LSU pulled away late after putting up with the gamey Commodores. Enjoy it now Vandy fans, Cutler leaves and its back to 2-9's. Bobby Johnson better parlay this year into another job. His character says that he won't, but sometimes you have to get out of character. (LSU 34, Vanderbilt 6)
  • Tennessee and Michigan. Can we please start these teams in the mid-teens or 20s next year? What has either team done since their championship years in 1997 and 1998? Sure, Michigan went to back-to-back Rose Bowls, that is fine, but with their vaunted recruiting classes they are both beginning to join Texas amongst the ranks of coaches who dont develop the supposed amazing talent heading to their campuses year after year.
  • Key difference between SEC ball and Big Ten ball. Minnesota is on their own goal line and they need a big play. The backup quarterback is in, so they run all the time. Thanks be to Michigan for proving that to be genius by thinking the Gophers might pass. In SEC ball, Georgia is backed to their goal line. Tennessee just scored, so its 13-7 and Neyland is electric. The play? Your run-of-the-mill 35-yard hook pattern to your tight end. SEC coaches go for it (minus Fulmer).
  • Tuscaloosa is on simmer for 2 weeks until the NCAA snitch Tennessee arrives. Hoo boy, that place will be wild. Its the game of the week for me on October 22nd.
  • I think we all know what place will be jumping this weekend. Go IRISH! My posse of haters are all decked out in their USC garb this week. Suddenly everyone is a Trojan fan, including Nick Lachey.
  • Lendale White is your Heisman Trophy candidate. Reggie Bush is the Ferrari, sure, but Lendale is the reason why the Trojans are #1. Both will be tough to stop on Saturday. I hope Weis has channeled Bill Belichick's defensive schemes.
  • Pac-10 still equals no defense. Cal and UCLA was exciting with the hometown Bruins pulling it out. Both showed they can score enough to beat USC. But, can they stop USC?
  • How about Guy Morriss and 4-1 Baylor? So glad UK didn't spend the money on a 9-14 career coach. Instead, we got Brooks. I am on anti-depressants.

October 06, 2005

What I wish I could watch…October 8th

Every football season there comes one weekend that life gets in the way and football takes a backseat. This is that week for the year. I work for free (internship, finishing my last semester of college) at Asbury College in Wilmore, Ky., in the sports information office. This weekend is homecoming with the volleyball team and both men’s and women’s soccer teams in action at home. To top it off, it is my wife’s five-year reunion and the class is getting together and she wants to go. So I have to work the volleyball matches at 2 and 4 pm then the gathering is at 7 pm. Lovely.

So this guide represents what I wish I could see this weekend. Don’t worry though, nothing will compare for the Showdown in South Bend next weekend.

Quick glimpses in between volleyball matches for these…

Oklahoma vs. Texas, Dallas, 1:00 p.m., ABC
Two weeks ago this game appeared to be a cakewalk. Oklahoma was struggling to say the least and Texas was resting on their win at Ohio State. Nothing has changed for Texas now, outside of a blowout at Missouri, however, the Sooners chose the right quarterback and are showing signs of life. This game comes down to attitude. The Oklahoma upperclassmen have no idea what losing in Dallas feels like. They have always carried home the gold cowboy hat (trophy between the two). Texas is talking in clichés this week about how the past doesn’t matter, convincing themselves they can win, I for one, witnessed Florida’s mastery of Tennessee in the 90’s and it didn’t matter what UT did, Florida knew they would win. I believe the same thing happens here with Texas’ dreams of a national championship once again dying in the Cotton Bowl.

Oklahoma 17, Texas 14

Georgia at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Who is for real? Who will be behind the eight ball should they lose. This game will set up the East to determine what team will represent the SEC in Atlanta. Both teams play incredible defense while the offenses run a bit conservative. The last two road teams have won this game in the series. For Georgia, this game will be their first test of the year, while the Vols pulled out the win in Baton Rouge for their proving game after losing to the Gators in the Swamp. Tennessee, then, is the more known quantity. The Vols have the better receiving crew and the running back position is a dead heat. The Dawgs have the better depth, but Tennessee has the best back in Gerald Riggs. Its cliché, but the turnover, field position battles truly will determine your winner in this one. This game is a pick’em, for sure.

Tennessee 21, Georgia 14

Texas Tech at Nebraska, 4:00 p.m., TBS
70-10. Every Nebraskan remembers Mike Leach running it up on the Huskers last year in Lubbock. There will be a stadium full of revenge-seekers in Lincoln this Saturday. Not much is known about Texas Tech after their creampuff non-conference schedule and subsequent win over Kansas last week. The Huskers can’t really say much more than that, having only won a home game against Iowa State in overtime last week for their resume. Nebraska plays at home for the fifth straight game to open the season. That schedule maker deserves a raise. The Husker defense is for real, and revenge is a motivator. I think Mike Leach will wish he had brought some of the points from last year to this year’s game.

Nebraska 24, Texas Tech 21

Home for the second half kickoff…

California at UCLA, 7:00 p.m., TBS
This is the Game for the Holiday Bowl. I would love to believe that the Pacific Ten conference could get two teams to the BCS, but it’s a rare occurrence. UCLA beat weak-at-the-time Oklahoma and Cal’s shining win is over Illinois at home. The winner of this game will then emerge as the team to beat for USC to return to Pasadena. The loser gets a consolation prize of perhaps being able to sneak up on the Trojans already having one loss. The only thing I know about each team is that they play decent defense for Pac-10 teams. Other than that, I am picking on intuition that tells me that the Golden Bears are just a bit stronger.

California 28, UCLA 21

Ohio State at Penn State, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
No one questions Ohio State, yet everyone wonders aloud about Penn State. I see two identical teams at Happy Valley this Saturday. Troy Smith is more mobile for the Buckeyes, but Penn State has speedy receivers in Deon Butler and Derrick Williams and a Smith-replica in QB Michael Robinson. The Nittany Lions are looking to prove they are back, ala Alabama last week at home against Florida.
I think they make their announcement.

Penn State 16, Ohio State 7

The one game I might get to see…if FSN Ohio cooperates…

Oregon at Arizona State, 10:15 p.m., FSN
Last week I was supposed to get the Washington-UCLA game. I didn’t think the Huskies were going to hang with the Bruins, but it would have been nice to see. This week’s midnight snack features the two teams that led USC before collapsing. Andrew Walter of ASU and Kellen Clemens of Oregon will explode the scoreboard in Tempe. Both teams are jockeying for bowl position in the Pac 10. The defenses either stop you three in out or had better force a turnover. I expect this to be a traditional shootout.

Arizona State 49, Oregon 38

October 03, 2005

My Top 25

Well I can’t vote in the Blog Poll (or at least, I didn't sign up), so here it is peeps. I waited until October to rank and file because I wanted to get rid of the pretenders. The bad part is what do you do with Team A that beat Team B who beat Team C, who lost to Team A. In essence, what do you do with Florida in relation to Tennessee? What about Michigan State in relation to Notre Dame in relation to Michigan? I guess you have to judge off margins and where the game was played. Unfortunately, all the losses were at home, two in overtime, which I don’t punish nearly as bad as a regulation loss. College overtime is stupid, but it’s what we have to use and teams know the rules going in.

1. USC, 4-0
Trojan D gets no love, underrated unit.

2. Texas 4-0
Can the Horns conquer OU? Now or never…

3. Virginia Tech 5-0
Odd man out in 2005?

4. Florida State 4-0
Here’s the first big drop off in the poll.

5. Georgia 4-0
Their first test at Tennessee this weekend.

6. Ohio State 3-1
Killer D will get tested at Penn State. Wow.

7. Miami, FL 3-1
One kick away from being #4 perhaps.

8. Notre Dame 4-1
Biggest surprise of the year, hands down.

9. Alabama 5-0
Tide gazing at Atlanta, gets LSU/UT at home.

10. Tennessee 3-1
UGA game is basically an elimination game.

11. LSU 2-1
Tigers lost one game in 2003…won title.

12. California 5-0
Best defense the Trojans will face all year.

13. Florida 4-1
Team Enigma…Meyer’s offense not SEC-level.

14. Wisconsin 5-0
Manageable schedule to win the Big Ten

15. UCLA 4-0
Beat Cal…could be all-L.A. undefeated on 12/3

16. Michigan State 4-1
Dive alert…UM loss, at Ohio State next on 10/15

17. Texas Tech 4-0
Great offense vs. great defense vs. Nebraska

18. Boston College 4-1
ACC newcomer fitting in just fine

19. Louisville 3-1
UNC no slouch…plenty of time to still get BCS

20. Auburn 4-1
Tigers finally leave home. Lets see how it goes.

21. Penn State 5-0
Parachute pants, pop music…it’s the 80’s kids.

22. Nebraska 4-0
Leaves home for first time on Oct. 15th. Wow.

23. Texas A&M 3-1
Headed to Colorado for eye-opener.

24. Michigan 3-2
Saved season…won’t win Big Ten.

25. Oregon 4-1
USC losses don’t count…elimination gm. @ASU

What we know after September...

- Brady Quinn is a legitimate Heisman candidate. Compare with Matt Leinart of USC and you’ll see why. Leinart is 82-for-126, 1286 yards, 10 TDs, 2 INTs; Quinn is better: 124-for-190, 1621 yards, 13 touchdowns, 3 interceptions. Should Notre Dame upset USC on the 15th you can book Quinn in New York, ready to receive the trophy.

- I agree with Blue Gray Sky… the Notre Dame – Purdue game showed all the difference a year has made for this brand of Irish. It was great to watch the clowns at Purdue stare agape at their misgivings and sloppy play. Jeff Samardzija IS an All-American.

- College football is in a time warp. Notre Dame is very good, Alabama played like National Champions against Florida. Penn State is suddenly dangerous. Welcome back, College Football circa 1982.

- Speaking of ’82…Vandy couldn’t handle the expectations. Gone now is the bowl season, so the drought since 1982 will continue for the ‘Dores. (Middle Tennessee 17, Vanderbilt 15)

- When you have an opponent off the ropes, DO NOT LET THEM OFF. Arizona State was having their way with USC when they got the ball late, leading 21-3 before half. Big mistake by the ASU staff not staying aggressive. They are USC, you are Arizona State; you are supposed to lose, so keep the pedal to the metal. The team that beats USC this year will have learned a valuable lesson from this week. Never, never, never stop, never quit, never let up. (USC 38, Arizona State 28)

- Oh and some tackling of White or Bush would be recommended, too.

- Tyrone Prothro, University of Alabama wide receiver…God speed, son. Alabama went from “nice year” to “dark horse national champion” to “snake bitten” all in one afternoon. The interesting part is that before this year, Prothro had lost his starting job, so the wide receiving corps should be ready to go. Now they have a rallying cry to win for Tyrone. Look out SEC. The Tide is rolling! (Alabama 31, Florida 3)

- Gosh, I wish the Irish had Urban Meyer…HA! We got Weis. You can have Meyer. Suddenly the Florida camp is pretty silent when it comes to bashing the Irish about having Meyer. We have their offense of the Spurrier days, Florida now is trying to become Utah and it’s not working out with only 19 points against Tennessee and Alabama. Sure, it worked against Kentucky but the Cats are in my backyard, I know them well enough to say that performance was a flash in the pan. (Notre Dame 49…Florida 3)

- Oklahoma looked good from what I saw in between West Lafayette being dismantled. Bomar threw a TD pass so things are now all set for Dallas against the Longhorns. Sorry if I’ve seen this play before…I think OU wins, folks. The mind screw is simply too great on these Texas players to beat the Sooners. (Oklahoma 43, Kansas State 21)

- Ahh, the Michigan State Spartans. At the end of the year, they will be 7-4 and playing somewhere distant against another mediocre team. I would love to think otherwise but when your bounce-back game is going to come in the Horseshoe against the Buckeyes…well, good luck…prove me wrong. (Michigan 34, Michigan State 31)

September 29, 2005

What to Watch…October 1st

Michigan at Michigan State, Noon, ABC
Well someone gets to tell me about this one. In a rare oddity, the Lexington market will receive the Big 12 match-up (Texas at Missouri) instead of the Big Ten. Interesting.

I can’t see Michigan 2-3. Its hard to imagine, but then again, with the ease that Notre Dame sliced through the Wolverines on their first drive in Ann Arbor, the Spartans will have no problems at home cutting through. Drew Stanton officially launches the Heisman campaign with a huge day.

Michigan State 35, Michigan 20

Florida at Alabama, 3:30, CBS
Alabama is finishing up their probation scholarship reductions and looking for a chance to showcase to the nation that they are back. Urban Meyer brings in his bunch after a blowout of the Cats. This game is the typical offense vs. defense battle. The Gators think they hit their stride last week, but the difference between UK and Alabama is as wide as an ocean.

Brodie Croyle vs. Chris Leak is your matchup here. I think Bama announces to the world they are back indeed with strong defensive play setting up some short scores.

Alabama 24, Florida 13

USC at Arizona State, 3:30, ABC
Again, who is at the controls at ABC in Lexington? We get this game over the ACC-Big East dud (Florida State vs. Syracuse) and the undefeated Big Ten showdown (Minnesota at Penn State). This guy needs a raise.

You know the adage that the media lives to build you up and then tear you down? The Trojans are in the crosshairs. Some in the media pointed to last week’s 45-13 win over Oregon as a sign of the Trojans weakness being exposed. Excuse me? A 32-point win is a weakness? The catch phrases going into Eugene were about how loud Autzen Stadium is and how the defense of Oregon could use that to their advantage. They did, for a half.

Now the buzz is about Arizona State’s potent offense. ASU’s Sam Keller is enjoying a fantastic season and hung points all over the field against LSU as well, however, this is a team that can exceed the Devils in scoring. Last year’s game was 42-0 at the half, USC. Either that is a point of focus for the Devils or a point to be made about ASU’s defense.

I think USC will make a point per minute. ASU’s offense is explosive? You haven’t seen anything yet. USC gets another “ho-hum” 32-point win.

USC 63, Arizona State 31

Notre Dame at Purdue, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
For more intelligent Irish fans, this is the critical game for the Weis era at Notre Dame. Lose this and your 3-2 heading into USC with zero momentum. Good luck. Win this and your 4-1 with two weeks to prepare with all the momentum in the world.

Weis is no dummy, he knew from day one that the USC game would need extra preparation. The Irish last week benefited from running an offense that was designed to just win versus Washington. The play calling was bland and yet effective. The defense surrendered yards in buckets but was stingy on giving points away.

Purdue played terrible against Minnesota save a late drive and interception return. 28-20 Purdue had me worried they would have the downward momentum heading into this game. However, with Minnesota bludgeoning them with Maroney, expect Darius Walker to get his fair share of carries.

This game is big because the Irish need to get back to making this game an automatic. Quite frankly, I am tired of Joe Tiller and the Boilers looking like a better coach and team against the Irish. Its time to return the ND superiority over the Engineers. I want payback for last year.

Notre Dame 41-16…okay, I wish, but here is what I think:

Notre Dame 34, Purdue 23

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.