January 31, 2007

Who needs wins... Wednesday, January 31st

I have decided to tackle the rest of the bracketing issue in the coming weeks. Things are too volatile right now to worry, just keep focusing on your Top 34 lists, determining those teams that regardless of getting the automatic bid for winning the conference tournament, would still have a resume strong enough to make the tournament.

That being said, tonight’s action on the hardwood is key for a bunch of teams. Let’s break it down, teams are listed with their RPI number in parentheses:

(233) Hartford at (31) Boston College, 94-60 BC
(170) Miami, FL at (2) North Carolina, 105-63 Heels
(147) North Carolina State at (23) Virginia Tech, 70-59 State

It should be a light night for the ACC – the powers are all at home and should cruise.
Oops, Virginia Tech blew it. North Carolina and Boston College romped.

Big Ten Conference
(115) Iowa at (45) Michigan, 69-62 Iowa
(8) Ohio State at (47) Purdue, 78-60 Ohio State
(3) Wisconsin at (19) Indiana, 71-66 Indiana

I excluded the Minnesota-Northwestern tilt. Michigan needs to hold serve at home, Purdue is playing their last chance to make an impression this large should they defeat Ohio State. The Wisconsin-Indiana game is all about seeding position as both teams are locks for the Tournament. A loss would put Wisconsin and Ohio State at one loss apiece with the return showdown in Columbus coming on Feb. 25th.

Michigan is done after blowing an 11-point halftime lead at home against Iowa. Purdue missed their chance while Indiana is now playing for a top five seed after taking out the Badgers.

(140) Iowa State at (26) Texas A&M, 73-49 Aggies
(69) Missouri at (57) Kansas State, 80-73 K-State
(56) Texas at (21) Texas Tech, 76-64 Texas

A&M needs to hold serve. Kansas State and Missouri is basically an elimination game for the loser with the winner promised nothing. Texas still needs a signature win. The Longhorns have played great against teams, with Kevin Durant putting up monster numbers, but each time they have lost.

A&M cruised, Kansas State won at home, and Texas is improving their stock after winning in Lubbock, thanks to Kevin Durant going for 37 and 23. Insane.

Missouri Valley
(35) Creighton at (41) Bradley, 82-71 Creighton
(90) Indiana State at (10) Southern Illinois, 61-48 SIU
(40) Missouri State at (107) Drake, 87-82 OT Missouri State

Creighton and Bradley is the showcase with the Jays standing at 8-3 in conference while the Braves are 6-5. Bradley needs this win at home. Southern Illinois needs status quo, while Missouri State can’t stumble on the road at Drake.

Creighton picks up a nice road win at Bradley, essentially putting the Braves on the outside looking in, Missouri State needed overtime but got the win. Southern Illinois held form at home.

(32) Alabama at (71) LSU, 73-70 Bama
(39) Georgia at (18) Tennessee, 82-71 Tennessee
(54) Vanderbilt at (17) Florida, 74-64 Gators

LSU is getting into “must have” territory, but Alabama needs to get above .500 in conference as well. (The Tide are the ONLY ranked team to not be above .500 in their conference.) Georgia needs to prove they can win away from home by defeating a reeling, Chris Lofton-less Tennessee team. Vanderbilt has done enough lately (Beating Kentucky and LSU on the road.) but this would make the ‘Dores a lock for the NCAA’s with a win – in short, Vandy has nothing to lose.

Bama gets the big win in Baton Rouge, putting LSU on life support. Tennessee without Lofton wins over Georgia, while Florida roars back from a double-digit halftime deficit to down Vandy.

(38) BYU at (159) Utah, 76-66 BYU
The Beehive Showdown is a trap game for BYU. Utah will bring everything in this game while it would be a bad loss for BYU considering Utah’s 159 RPI. BYU gets it done, not falling into the trap.

(50) Gonzaga at (28) Stanford, 90-86 Gonzaga in double OT
A month ago this would have been a trap game for Gonzaga, however Stanford is the better team standing at 6-3 in Pac-10 play and a 28 RPI. Gonzaga now needs this win to avoid a double-digit seed – a win over North Carolina in November can only get you so far. Great game missed by yours truly. The recap reads well and Gonzaga gets their win - they have Memphis in a couple of weeks.

(20) Butler at (166) Youngstown State, 71-58 Butler
(12) Memphis at (121) Central Florida, 87-65 Memphis
Butler fancies a top five seed in the NCAAs. It is my opinion that they can’t lose a conference game to reach their goal. Ditto for Memphis, but they are shooting for a 2-3 seed. Both keep rolling right along.

(62) George Washington at (74) Dayton, 83-69 Dayton
(44) Xavier at (215) Duquesne, 93-91 Dukes
GW has emerged as the conference elite to date, but not good enough for an at-large bid. They could start their way to a Top 34 ranking with a win here. X-men need not to lose in Pittsburgh at Duquesne. I am so through with the Atlantic-10. Basically put, the conference will only send its conference champ to the dance.

January 27, 2007

Duke vs. Clemson

I simply get tired of the refs not doing their job completely (click here for the YouTube video of the ending). You have video you can review and should know that there is no way a shot can only take 0.6 seconds to shoot from 20-feet. They could have reviewed more film than the Warren Commission, instead they sloppily determine that 4.4 seconds should be left and Duke wins when the Clemson defense breaks down.

Then today, I log on to CBS Sportsline and lo and behold there is the obligatory, "we messed up, but the game still stands" article from the ACC supervisor of officials as well as the "no comment" line from Duke University.

The good part is related to our discussion about the NCAA Tournament is that the Committee is a human element who will weigh the result with the clock error, in some cases throwing out the result of the game in their minds. Clemson won't be punished for the miscue, as well as Duke not receiving as much credit had McRoberts not thrown the ball away.

Duke travels to Littlejohn Coliseum on Thursday, February 22nd. I know I will be watching.

January 26, 2007

How to Project the Field of 65

For the past five years I've enjoyed trying to guess the 65 teams for the tournament. Usually I start around February 1st, by then major conferences have gone through round-robin play one time. I guess I am just not that clever, so without further adieu here are the rules.

First off, the Basketball Committee has a panel of 8-10 members on a selective basis. Each person gets assigned an area of the country to watch along with gauging the land. Near the time of the tournament, but before the conference tournaments begin, each member puts together a list of teams 1-34. These are supposed to represent the 34 at-large bids. Essentially, you are picking the 34 teams that would get in regardless of their conference tournaments. The 31 conferences each get an automatic bid, comprising the 65 teams selected.

There are several criteria used to determine one team versus another, for me I keep a spreadsheet with 11 columns of relevant categories.

Thank God for Ken Pomeroy. www.kenpom.com - click on "RPI" and then sit down and write a check to the man for having the site that will save you eons of time. The highlighted columns below are found directly on his site. The others are found elsewhere or by applying math formulas in your Excel sheet.

- Won/loss record (conference and overall), which omits wins/losses against non D-I teams.
- AP & Coaches polls ranking
- Strength of Schedule
- Record vs. Top 50
- Record vs. Top 100
- Total Record vs. Top 100 (just a simple addition of the two previous columns - so maybe I have 12 criteria)
- Losses vs. 101 and higher
- Last 10 record
- Record of road and neutral games

Most all categories are not stand-alone, sure fire ways to rank a team. Polls are biased. Won/loss records are inflated through easy games. Conferences are skewed to have a lot of members in the Top 50 whereas mid-major conferences don't, so the Top 50 wins will always be high for the Big Six (BCS) conferences. In short, you have to look at all criteria together as a whole picture.

In essence, you have to decide what is important and what are just stats. To me, the most powerful stat is a team's record in road and neutral games. The NCAA Tournament is played on neutral courts, teams that are tough at home but weak sisters on the road don't hold much appeal to me. All other criteria have a "yeah, but" quality to them. However, you win away from home and on a neutral court, then your doing something.

RPI and SOS are fairly reliable as well. Certain teams are known for loading up an easy non-conference and they get hurt in these ratings. They don't perform well in conference then they wind up on the bubble. Win big in conference and the gamble pays off with a high seed.

On the other end, my pet peeve are the polls. Yes, they are used to an extent, but I factor them in as the "human error bias" into the projection. Certain teams earn huge breaks thanks to the polls, while upsets happen every year by those teams overlooked by the polls. In the middle ground (trying to seed the 6-10 seeds) is where a ranked team will usually get the benefit of the doubt.

The Committee will also tell you that the Last 10 is very important. I say the record on its face is not enough. You have to delve into who they played in the last ten. Essentially, think of the college football season, there is a reason that Tennessee plays well in November, getting Kentucky and Vanderbilt on the schedule each year in the penultimate month.

While not a defined criteria, I tend to downplay the conference tournaments. They are good for teams on the bubble looking to get in, but realize that the upper echelon of teams are usually set by the committee before the tournaments. Flaming out early or running the table usually only improves or harms your seeding by one line either way.

To keep things moving, lets take a look at my current Top 34:

My list represents games through Thursday, January 25th. (The good part about college basketball season is that Friday is the weakest day for games, hence a good chance to take a snapshot of the country standing still.)

1. Wisconsin
3. North Carolina
4. Florida
5. Pittsburgh
6. Duke
7. Kansas
8. Ohio State
9. Oregon
10. Texas A&M
11. Arizona
12. Memphis
13. Oklahoma State
14. Clemson
15. Marquette
16. Washington State
17. Air Force
18. Kentucky
19. Indiana
20. Alabama
21. Butler
22. Nevada
23. Southern Illinois
24. Texas Tech
25. Virginia Tech
26. Vanderbilt
27. Boston College
28. UNLV
29. Michigan State
30. Villanova
31. Tennessee
32. Georgetown
33. Northern Iowa
34. Stanford

I could go into how and why, but really that is the point of the list and needing multiple people in the room. No two lists will look the same and what I think is important you might pass over.

Moving right along, the next task for the Committee is to fill out the bracket. 31 conference champions get automatic bids for winning their tournaments (only the Ivy League gives its bid to the regular-season champ). The best way to accomplish it for now is to determine that the lower conferences (SWAC, MEAC, Ohio Valley) will only get one team in the tournament. Seed your Top 34, then fill out the bottom of the bracket with the champions of the lower-ranked conferences.

Thank God for Ken Pomeroy, again. Write out another check.

Found in his spreadsheet is a whole other tab that ranks the conferences 1-31 by their RPI rank as a conference. Pretty much the conferences below the 12th or 13th are only going to get their conference champion in. To summarize, the highest ranked team out of a conference ranked in the conferences from 14-31 is Appalachian State at #44. Good luck boys.

What throws the committee into a topsy turvy is when you project a number of teams in a conference to win the tournament and they don't come through. There are only 65 bids, someone loses out.

Rank your 1-34, seed them, then rank your bottom 16-18. The hard part is filling out the last 10 or so teams. These are the teams that you see on your television on Selection Sunday waiting to be selected or screwed based on the opinions of eight people in a room since Thursday.

So you do it, you select the 65 teams. Take a big breath because your not done yet. You have to seed the teams, place the teams in one of eight pod sites (first and second rounds, first weekend) while assigning them to a region (four sites, second weekend) - all the while making sure that you don't put two same-conference teams in region before they could meet in the regional final, or likewise avoiding any kind of rematch between two out-of-conference teams before the same regional final.

You can check a team's entire schedule on Pomeroy's site. Who they played, where, the score, and their current RPI rank.

Write another check.

We'll venture into seeding and placement tomorrow.

January 25, 2007

This Could be the End for Me

Gotta show me something.

In 2002, we as a fanbase of the Kentucky Wildcats were told that the meltdown occuring on the court would be the last time. Fed up with high-maintenance kids, Tubby Smith grew tired of the drama off the court and decided that from now on he would get "his kids". No more whining about playing time, no more moping, the Cats would be a bunch of overachievers ready to run through brick walls for the sake of playing for the "KENTUCKY" on the front of their jerseys.

The notion worked in 2003-2005. The 2003 season would see a 26-game winning streak and a 16-0 SEC record. The Cats would go out in the Elite Eight after an all-world performance by D-Wade and his Marquette boys. I could live with that. In 2004, a smallish UK team featuring 6'6" Chuck Hayes and 6'7" Erik Daniels manning the paint turned in a stellar year leading the Cats to a #1 seed. UAB came along in the second round and put out the Cats. Overachievement, fine, a second-round loss stings as a #1, but with that small of a frontcourt we could look the other way. 2005 saw a talented group of freshmen arrive on campus and UK flourished, getting to the Elite Eight as a 2-seed and losing in double overtime to 5-seed Michigan State. Double overtime, thanks to a circus shot by Patrick Sparks in regulation, we could understand with the talented freshmen looking to only improve heading into 2006...

Then the wheels fell off again. Sparks and Rajon Rondo would have a falling out over a girlfriend, Randolph Morris would turn pro, only to not get drafted and return midway in the season thanks to NCAA suspension for improper benefits while he was an NBA draftee, and the Cats would sink to an 8-seed, losing to Connecticut in the second-round.

We had been told once that it would never happen again, but lo and behold, the Cats were failures. Fast forward to this year and the Cats play an ever plodding style, but work their way to a 15-3 record, losing only to Memphis, UCLA, and North Carolina. To this point, the Cats' NCAA resume was panning out to a 3/4 seed. Definite improvement for sure, but then came Vanderbilt into Lexington, and for the second year in a row the Commodores walked out winners. Prior to the previous two years, Vandy had never won in Rupp (opened, 1973).

The players were quick to tell us that the game was a fluke. The team had gotten comfortable with an 11-game winning streak and that this upcoming game at Georgia would show a confident bunch of Cats taking the floor to erase the Vandy loss.

Mission accomplished... if basketball were a 20-minute game. UK led 43-30 at Stegeman Coliseum on Wednesday night, but would be outscored 48-26 the rest of the way for a 78-69 overtime loss.

UK now stands at 15-5 on the year, 4-2 in SEC play. It should be pointed out that the Cats still have home and away games with Florida and Tennessee, as well as a trip to Arkansas, Alabama, and Vanderbilt. Mind you they still get LSU and Georgia at home down the stretch. Only a home game against South Carolina, whom UK defeated 87-49 in Columbia, looks safe.

In gloom and doom it looks like another "Ten Loss Tubby" year in the Bluegrass. I can't see a win at Florida or Alabama, and Tennessee could be an iffy proposition if Chris Lofton doesnt return from an ankle injury. As of this day, Lofton is scheduled to miss the UK-UT game in Lexington this Sunday, a boost for UK's spirits. That would leave UK, at best and with a win over Florida at home factored in, with only seven losses. The Cats would have to win the SEC Tournament or the NCAA Tournament at that juncture to avoid the 10 loss mark.

Kentucky basketball is a powerhouse. The Wildcats are the Cadillac of the sport, amongst UCLA, North Carolina, Indiana, Kansas, and Duke. While all those teams mentioned have fallen on hard times in recent years, they all appear to have the ship righted - or have made changes to ensure that they were put back on track.

Sadly for me, the rest of this season, Tubby Smith will have to prove his worth to remain in Lexington. I want to go into games not fearing a loss, but rather expecting to have a shot to win. Tubby's next 10 games - until the end of the regular season are crucial. The fanbase is already divided and after Wednesday's collapse, I think I have switched camps to the side that isn't seeing results that UK fans expect.

January 23, 2007

Our trip to the Dean Dome

It all started with ESPN College GameDay broadcasting from Chapel Hill that entire day, focusing on the Heels and their game with Georgia Tech that night. First impression is that Gameday is a "hurry up and wait" event. They tape segments, you go wild. Then you sit down and wait for 20 minutes for them to tape another one. We got there at 10 am during taping, but it wasn't until 11 am until they signed on. The coolest part of GameDay was watching Alex Bloom, a UNC student absolutely can a shot to win $13,000. I wish Blogger could post video, but I can't figure out how. But I do have a picture of him getting the check.

Then we got out of there in time to run back to the hotel. Some of the guys wanted to see Duke, so we went, but our next order of business was our game on the floor of the Smith Center at 6:00 p.m. against the North Carolina JV team. Before hand, we got to meet Coach Roy Williams. The background story is that our AD, Gary Kempf (guy to the side of Williams in the photo) worked with Roy at Kansas for 15 years until Gary retired from being the swim coach and Roy left for Carolina. It was a personal favor, but Roy gave us five minutes of his time only hours before his team would take the floor. My impression of Williams was of the lovable coach who perhaps cried too much at the end of NCAA Tournament disappointments, but just to hear him talk about loving the game and wishing us well changed my view of the man. He is a genuine, nice guy. He was the epitome of the class act treatment by all of the Carolina basketball family.

So we took to the floor in order to get some warmup shots. Let's just say we knew we weren't here for life or death (see first photo), but the boys did perform well considering the 9 hour drive only 24 hours before we were to play. The guys ate it up, constantly looking in the rafters at the retired jerseys and championship banner. Yours truly got a good shot of one of our guys throwing it down in the Dean Dome. Ian immediately asked to have that picture emailed to him.

The boys are still warming up, but lo and behold Dickie V shows up! Believe it or not, he comes over and asks me if I can take some pictures of him with the mob of kids when our game goes to half. Send to me he says... I get his business card and suddenly I became Dick Vitale's personal photographer for his halftime taping of a segment.

So, we go down in flames, 90-63 but the guys didn't care. We had so much fun just with the experience and everything. The last thing we waited on were the 30 free tickets we receive for the night's featured event, Georgia Tech at North Carolina. We get the tickets, hike up to our seats and go from courtside to nosebleed. Carolina won 77-61. It was just a great day.

January 16, 2007

Shows what I know...

This pretty much says it all.

Remember that entry about two back of the elite teams of college basketball? We might need a new entry after just a few days.

Arizona lost to Oregon at home, 79-77 and new #1 North Carolina lost at Virginia Tech 94-88. UCLA needed a last second shot by Arron Afflalo to down USC, 65-64, Ohio State needed the same luck on a three-pointer by Ron Lewis to beat Tennessee, 68-66. Kansas survived Iowa State, 68-64 in OT, while Wisconsin defeated a pesky, but game Northwestern squad 56-50.

That was just the weekend.

On Monday, the Jayhawks survived Missouri on their home court, 80-77.

Only Florida has won big since my "crowning" of the Super Seven, defeating South Carolina in Columbia, 84-50.

Maybe I should wait before making any other bold predictions, no?

January 14, 2007

We talked contenders, lets talk pretenders

Solid? Yes. Best band ever? No chance. Just like these teams below.

The beginning of this list must focus on those teams who are ranked solely based off preseason hype and 2006 results. We have plenty of candidates if I just talk about those who finished well last year or just those receiving hype this year. However, if you combine the two elements you see the full futility of these teams' hopes come March.

The Duke Blue Devils have scheduling down to a science. First step, schedule mid majors from strong conferences and play them at Cameron. Next up, play everyone else at home or in New York, but never on their home floor - that is for conference play. Watch your RPI soar while getting solid wins over teams that you beat before you walk in the door and parlay that into a ridiculously high NCAA seeding and bow out early. Duke circa 2007 is going by the book. The Dookies played all games at Cameron or neutral sites until January 10th - losing at Georgia Tech to start the year 0-2 in the ACC. What isn't going to script are the wins. Losses to Marquette in Kansas City and to Virginia Tech at home have stripped away the luster. This Duke team shouldn't be higher than a 6-seed, but the NCAA Committee will find a way.

Adopting the Duke Scheduling Method are the Connecticut Huskies. The only wrinkle in their system is to play absolute dogs while never leaving the state until after Christmas. The failed plot in their scheme is that they have begun conference play by proving their unworthiness. The Huskies only got their first true road win against a hapless St. John's team last night. In some years, Calhoun has missed the tournament completely after huge years. This could be another.

Texas A&M made a decent run in 2006 - coming within a whisker of defeating LSU and advancing to the Atlanta Regional. In 2007, they have won the games they should have, played close against some big boys, but show absolutely no win that will get you excited. Per their RPI, the Aggies best win to-date is a home victory over Winthrop. A&M needs to reverse its fortunes inside the Big 12 or face life as a double-digit seed in the tournament.

The NCAA Tournament Committee has a real problem. A couple of years ago they selected to have a first-and-second round site in Spokane, Washington. Gonzaga was a darling as they are now, and even Lorenzo Romar bringing Washington back to life made it appear as though the NCAA couldn't miss - either getting one or the other to be the main attraction. The problem this year is that the Huskies are 1-5 in conference, 11-6 overall. The Zags are 11-6 as well, and while they head into their conference play and should come out very well, it will be painfully obvious that the NCAA arranged this site to pay back the Zags for a few low seeds in past tournaments. Some 4 or 5 seed is going to wind up getting to play Gonzaga on their virtual home floor thanks to this gaffe by the NCAA. Shame on them.

January 13, 2007

The Official Beginning of College Basketball

Eventually life goes on and while college football has closed its book for the 2006 season, we now set our sights on the 2006-2007 college basketball slate. We've only been in conference play for two weeks, but already teams are aligning themselves into contenders and pretenders, underrated and overrated.

First, lets begin with the "Super Seven" schools who have their alumni booking hotels in Atlanta.

The Florida Gators are the champions until they are eliminated in March/April by any other team. So far this season, the Gators have fallen to Kansas in Las Vegas and Florida State on the road. Wins for the Gators have only come inside the state of Florida, 13 at home, two on netural courts within the state. The win that showed their rightful place as defenders of the crown was an 86-60 win over Ohio State at home. Florida will still be a tough one-game out. I don't think they'll navigate the SEC undefeated - but they will win the conference with only one or two losses. They'll win the SEC Tournament and enter the NCAAs as a #1 seed.

Next in line are the North Carolina Tarheels. Forget about what you think you know about the ACC. Clemson is undefeated for the moment but faces games at Maryland and home against North Carolina. Duke has started the conference slate 0-2 and plays a deliberate slowdown game in order to hide their weaknesses (point guard, swingman, true center). North Carolina will continue to run roughshod over the conference. They are like Florida - they won't go unscathed, but they will secure the ACC Tournament and the second #1 seed.

This is a bit of a trendy pick amongst my workplace, but in my opinion the Wisconsin Badgers are next. They have the player of the year to date in Alando Tucker. They have also secured a win over Ohio State at home with the return trip coming later in the year. Wins over Pittsburgh, Florida State, and Marquette on the road bolster the Wisconsin resume. Their only setback is a two point loss in South Padre, Texas against Missouri State on November 24th. This is a team that will win all games at home in conference. They face five away games that could set them back: Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan State, and Ohio State. They'll go 2-3 in those five at worst. I can't say they'll win their conference tournament with 100 percent surety, but I would tag them the favorites. Doing so puts them as the third #1 seed.

Defense wins championships is the adage, but my Kentucky faithful sure don't believe. However, if offense is the order of the day, then the UCLA Bruins play enough to get past a few shootouts. The Bruins won Maui, blew out Washington at home, and secured a "neutral" win over Texas A&M in Anaheim. Their only loss was a two-pointer at Oregon. The Bruins still face Arizona, the Washington schools, and a return trip to West Virginia (after playing in Pauley last year) on the road. The Pac-10 is better than you think and their tournament will be a war, but I think UCLA will be rewarded for the conference title and seeded as the final #1 seed.

Their losses look shaky, but a win over Florida and a 30-point blowout of a solid Oklahoma State team puts the Kansas Jayhawks back on the map. The rest of their slate is winnable. The teams they get at home they need while the road trips are against opponents who don't have the same talent. Bill Self is under a magnifying glass after back-to-back first round losses, so the faithful might not be booking hotel rooms just yet. Have some faith, KU fans, you're good.

Arizona waltzed into Seattle and put down the Huskies, 96-87. They have a lineup that I don't know without studying, but what I do know is that the Cats are 4-1, 13-2 overall in a tough conference. They own a win over Memphis at home, and a win over Illinois in Phoenix in which they trailed by 12 early and won by 12. The Cats could make a real statement on back-to-back weekends, playing at UCLA (Jan. 20th) then hosting North Carolina (Jan. 27th).

Greg Oden's presence simply puts the Ohio State Buckeyes amongst the elite, however the Buckeyes have crushed smaller competition but have yet to secure a win against anyone of note. So why are they here? They suffered possibly their only loss in conference against Wisconsin in Madison. If I am right about that, it would make them co-champions of the Big Ten headed into the conference tournament. Their first big chance comes today against Tennessee at home to prove they belong. They lose that, and I will be down to a Super Six list.

January 10, 2007

2006 Final Poll

This is the final ballot as we bid farewell to the college football season and say hello to 2007. Irish news is on the horizon, especially with rumors flying that Notre Dame might have an entirely new defensive staff. But this vote represents the close of college football for 2006. Move your seniors off the map and clear out the NFL-bound juniors, because everything from here is about the next year.

1. Florida (13-1)
2. Ohio State (12-1)
3. Boise State (13-0)
4. USC (11-2)
5. LSU (11-2)
6. Louisville (12-1)
7. Auburn (11-2)
8. Michigan (11-2)
9. Wisconsin (12-1)
10. West Virginia (11-2)
11. Rutgers (11-2)
12. BYU (11-2)
13. TCU (11-2)
14. California (10-3)
15. Texas (10-3)
16. Oklahoma (11-3)
17. Notre Dame (10-3)
18. Virginia Tech (10-3)
19. Wake Forest (11-3)
20. Boston College (10-3)
21. Hawaii (10-3)
22. Oregon State (10-4)
23. Arkansas (10-4)
24. Penn State (9-4)
25. Central Michigan (10-4)

Final Notes:

- Highlighted teams represent bowl winners. Its a good thing to close out your season strong.

- Only one team is in the Top 25 without 10 wins, Penn State.

- There is a sentiment around the nation to put Boise State at #2, but I can't ignore Ohio State's regular season despite the poor bowl season for the Big Ten (2-5).

- The Basketball Coach said something to ponder. Without the poll reversal after the Ohio State/Michigan game we would have been left with a rematch that would have stood for all-time as the best two teams in the country. If there was engineering in the polls to get Florida in, then the pollsters did their job, overriding the computers in favor of their eyes as Florida and USC cruised to wins over Ohio State & Michigan.

- How good is Auburn? Wins over LSU and Florida justify my #7 ranking for the Tigers.

- What should also be finally stated is that this poll should show no bearing for a pre-season poll for next year. I am not one for pre-season polls, however I can use this poll to think about who will be here at the end of 2007. I have four categories: teams that will return to a better position, a team that is ranked here but will finish much lower next year, a team not here that will be here, and a team here that won't be here. Got it? Here goes.

- Its a safe pick perhaps, but USC will return to at least the #4 ranking when the 2007 final poll is released next January. While there hasn't been fire to the smoke of the Carroll to Miami rumors, I reserve the right to negate this pick if he leaves. Otherwise, the Trojans bring back a ton of talent to take on a schedule that will feature road games against Oregon, California, and Notre Dame.

- Petrino left, Michael Bush declared, Harry Douglas, Brian Brohm, and a few others could follow. The Louisville Cardinals will NOT be the #6 or higher team in 2007. They might not even win the state championship.

- A team off this list that will be back are the Georgia Bulldogs. Matthew Stafford is your quarterback and will benefit from a full spring as the lead candidate. Georgia showed a ton of pride to win out after Kentucky dumped them to a 6-4 mark that included a home loss to Vanderbilt. The Dawgs rallied to beat Auburn at Auburn, Georgia Tech at home, and Virginia Tech in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl.

- Finally one team on here that you won't see in 2007 are the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. I know they have numbers back and that coach Jim Grobe is all-world. However, all those close wins in 2006 will turn against the Deacons in 2007. Just a hunch.

January 08, 2007

The Final Countdown

Florida vs. Ohio State. Meyer vs. Tressel.
Go... stadium implosion?

The national championship is a good thing. We hope for drama, intrigue, a team to cheer on to victory. Okay, so two out of three isn't bad. I will be pulling in the slightest direction towards Florida only because I will hear less at the workplace. I am not really for either team. An Ohio State win will bring a six-month bender on Fox Sports Ohio (in my cable package). By the end of that time you will know every mediocre Buckeye player in the history of the program. How Woody Hayes was a misunderstood softie (tell that to Charlie Baumann, the ex-Clemson linebacker). Stories of how Earle Bruce was wronged for getting fired so quick. Stories of how it was unfair to John Cooper... oh wait, Buckeyes curse his memory. Seriously. Outside of the Joe Germaine comeback in the 1997 Rose Bowl I defy you to find a Buckeye "highlight" with Cooper roaming the sidelines on FSN.

But then I get thinking about Urban Meyer. Michigan fans hate him for campaigning. (I love him for pissing off the maize and blue.) The media will just absolutely pounce on the storyline of how he passed on Notre Dame to guide Florida to a championship in only his second year. Sure, I thought Charlie the better coach in their first year but now Urban and Florida's penchant for partial qualifiers has them on the cusp of a championship. However, the Gators are home in the SEC and I can't stand to think about the Big Ten winning a national championship over the SEC. My boy Scott says "go SEC" when cheering tonight. I say I will need a shower after the game. I feel dirty already. Go Gators.

8:05 PM - I do like what FOX has done with getting a rep for each school. Tonight its Emmitt Smith (Florida) and Eddie George (Ohio State). Bands before the game on the field? Come on. Play the dang game already.

8:09 PM - Dot the two "i's" and lets go! Geez. Flipping between CSI on Spike and Two for the Money on HBO is better than this nonsense.

8:15 PM - FOX comes back from commericial and highlights the good kids for Florida and Ohio State. Can I get a mention of those who didn't qualify? Can I get a list of those recruits who never made campus? Nice try gang, but this is what I am reduced to, whilst I wait just a while longer. What are the teams graduation rates?

8:25 PM - Somebody check that Fiesta Bowl official in the coat who got trampled perhaps or at least crapped his pants.

8:30 PM - Florida wins, defers, putting Ohio State's offense on the field first. FINALLY!

8:34 PM - Touchdown Ted Ginn on the kickoff. Oh heck, well it was fun this college football season. Run the credits? What happened last time in the desert for Florida? (Nebraska 62, Florida 24.) Gator fans should be in full panic. Ouch. Ohio State 7, Florida 0.

8:36 PM - Florida runs it back all the way, but the Ohio State kicker yanks the mask saving the touchdown. Gators will begin in Ohio State territory. What a start.

8:38 PM - Time to get the woof counter out. Harvin gets a five-yard gain and both sides come up woofing for making routine plays on both sides of the ball.

8:42 PM - College football is back! Gators go down the field. Leak with a beaut of a touch pass to Baker for the touchdown. Ohio State's defense did not execute at all on that drive by Florida. Suddenly Florida has speed according to Barry Alvarez. Florida 7, Ohio State 7.

8:46 PM - Alright, lets settle in. Both teams threw their haymakers and landed. Granted, we're seeing the Ohio State offense / Florida defense for the first time, but you get the feeling already that the nerves have been erased by both teams after the lightning start. Now its down to execution and coaching.

8:50 PM - I said it before, this is the best defense that Ohio State will have faced all year - Michigan game included. Florida will start in OSU territory again.

9:01 PM - The rout is on! What happened the last time Florida played in a National Championship Game? (Florida 52, FSU 20) Florida converts their second possession beginning in Ohio State territory for a 14-7 Gator lead.

9:04 PM - Florida has driven half the field twice after being helped by 15-yard penalties. Ohio State came out with the electric kickoff return by Ginn. Special teams for Florida have given up that and this decent return to the 35. Shaky also is the Buckeye offense, getting everything underneath so far.

9:10 PM - The first turnover belongs to Ohio State. Troy Smith is not getting the usual protection from the OSU line. (This aint the Big Ten anymore, gang.) However, the Gators will start at their own 29 instead of on the Buckeye side of the field.

9:18 PM - The quarter ends. Ohio State gets Ginn's return then loses the speedster (for now) to an apparent ankle injury. Florida is driving for another touchdown, which would be the first score having to start in their own side of the field. A touchdown here and Scott and I agree - Ohio State is in complete shell shock. Florida 14, Ohio State 7.

9:21 PM - Wynn powers in from the 2-yard line. The drive covers 10 plays, 71 yards and Ohio State has done absolutely nothing to stop Florida. Troy Smith will have to earn his Heisman for the rest of this quarter to pull his troops out. FOX hasn't said anything about Ginn leaping off the field. Alvarez is prepping the Ohio State faithful for their excuses - ala the 51 day layoff. Simple answer coach, move the OSU-Michigan game to Thanksgiving at least. Florida 21, Ohio State 7.

9:27 PM - Ohio State answers after a gutsy pass plus a 15-yard penalty from Florida. The Buckeyes go down pretty much at will and we have a game. Florida 21, Ohio State 14.

9:44 PM - Buckeyes hold. Big possession the other way.

9:46 PM - Florida holds, perhaps now the teams will settle. Ohio State adjusts by going max protect on the line. Their defense is going with a drop back and force Leak to hit spots method. Florida has done about the same on defense, relying on their fast secondary.

9:55 PM - Florida will attempt a field goal. This has been a carnival all year long.

9:56 PM - Wow. Seriously, SEC fans know about the Florida woes in kicking. Hetland nails the 43-yarder. Florida 24, Ohio State 14.

10:00 PM - Holy cow. Ohio State goes for a fourth down on their own 29-yard line and get stuffed. No chains needed as the line judge comes in and calls it Gator ball.

10:06 PM - Chris Hetland 2-for-2. Florida cashes in with three points after stuffing the Buckeyes. Ginn has been out since the limping video - can we presume he is out? Now does Tressel get to half with the first possession coming in the second half? Florida 27, Ohio State 14.

10:09 PM - Fumblaya! Smith gets hit as Tressel gets away from his sweatervest game. Florida in business inside the 10-yard line.

10:11 PM - Tebow throws for the touchdown. Ohio State in shock! 34-14 Florida. Ohio State guys are arguing, the fans are silent and sitting. Hands are covering faces in Buckeye land. SEC! SEC! SEC!

10:19 PM - We've reached halftime - Florida 34, Ohio State 14. The punditry is stunned. The ESPNews crew is flummoxed. The FOX (Big Ten) crew is just in tears, offering praise to the heavens for underestimating the Gators. Donnan wants Knute Rockne incarnate. ESPNews now comes back with the 51-day-layoff. Heisman Trophy (yes, he would have been my selection) is 3-for-9 for 29 yards, a fumble and a pick that led to 14 Florida points.

Florida on the other hand has dominated. Chris Leak is shutting up every Gator fan ready to usher in the Tebow-era. Leak is 16-for-24 for 150 yards and a touchdown. Tebow's lone pass was for six. The Gator defense is hounding the OSU offensive line for three sacks, including the fumble late.

Ohio State gets the ball first and they have to come away with a touchdown, or at the very least three points. They did start to take Leak out of rhythm dropping back, so stick with that adjustment, but if Ted Ginn can't go then this Buckeye team is no longer fearsome.

10:56 PM - Just got the haircut and I have missed half of the third quarter. By the score, I have lucked out - 34-14 still. I have no idea about momentum, FOX just highlights the Gator D and I am left to assume that Ted Ginn isn't coming back.

11:04 PM - Anthony Gonzalez = Jeff Samardzija. As a Domer Homer I am not saying this as a good thing. He can't get open without Ginn.

11:11 PM - This is the hammer drive for Florida. The third quarter is nearing completion and Florida is looking to keep driving. It serves by eating clock and could stretch the lead to an insurmountable level.

11:21 PM - Fourth quarter begins. 34-14. Ohio State must score with every possession.

11:27 PM - Hand me the final nail. Leak runs for the first down deep in OSU territory. Florida getting ready for the coronation. The Ohio State bench looks beaten. Ginn is on crutches.

11:36 PM - Start the party. Florida 41, Ohio State 14. I love that score. Buckeye fans and their rubbing salt in Irish wounds come back to take a chunk out of their arse. Without Ginn OSU is very normal. Ginn stays, OSU has a shot at a title run. No Ginn, no chance.

11:55 PM - Can Florida get one more score? That is the only issue left in this game.

11:57 PM - The butt whooping is complete. Florida 41, Ohio State 14. Final. The improbable win. Can't wait to read EDSBS for about a month. Off to my shower.

January 04, 2007

Notre Dame 2006-07 Post-Mortem - Part One

Another season of Irish football comes to a close and it's time to take inventory of the current situation at Notre Dame and Charlie Weis.

First off, to get things perfectly clear, I am naive enough to believe that Weis will not take the Giants job regardless of the offer. Just something about him putting the word liars in his shot at Nick Saban that has me convinced.

However, that is not the subject of today's entry. Pardon me for no live weblogging during the Sugar Bowl but I just can't keep it going and watch my team at the same time. We will be back for the Ohio State - Florida tilt on Monday. Finally, getting to the point, let's talk about where Notre Dame is at this point in Weis' tenure.

The Irish are 19-6 under Charlie Weis. 10-3 at home, 8-1 on the road, 1-2 at neutral sites. The six losses, unfortunately are the best point about the Irish under Weis. Other than a home loss to Michigan State in overtime in 2005, Notre Dame has lost to only the superpowers of the college football world:

-Michigan State (5-7, unranked), #2 USC (12-1), #4 Ohio State (10-2)

2006 (rankings are pre-bowls)
- #3 Michigan (11-2), #4 LSU (11-2), #8 USC (11-2)

Again, the good is that the Michigan State 2005 loss withstanding, it has taken teams that finished the year in the Top 5 to beat the Irish. (Good bet that Michigan will remain in the Top 5 even after their loss to USC, who should jump back into the Top 5.)

Now for the bad, the wins are just not impressive:

- Pittsburgh (5-6), Michigan (7-5), Washington (2-9), Purdue (5-6), BYU (6-6), Tennessee (5-6), Navy (8-4), Syracuse (1-10), Stanford (5-6).

- Georgia Tech (9-5), Penn State (9-4), Michigan State (4-8), Purdue (8-6), Stanford (1-11), UCLA (7-6), Navy (9-4), North Carolina (3-9), Air Force (4-8), Army (3-9).

The damning of the issue is that unless Penn State sneaks into the rankings this year, the Irish 19 wins will have come against exactly zero opponents who finished the year ranked. I don't think the world expected Tennessee AND Michigan to flop in 2005, however, the facts are just that. This team has gotten here by winning the games they should and equally as overmatched against superior teams.

Charlie does deserve the credit for the offensive side of the ball, especially the passing game. 21 out of 25 games have seen the Irish throw for multiple touchdowns. Only twice have the Irish been blanked for passing TDs - Ohio State, 2005 and Georgia Tech, 2006. All in all, the Irish have scored 843 points in 25 games for a 33.7 points per game average. Compare that with the averages of the last three Irish coaches:

Weis - 843 points / 25 games = 33.7 average
Holtz - 4,287 points / 136 games = 32.5
Davie - 1,525 / 60 = 25.4
Willingham - 801 / 36 = 22.3

Using the 30-point mark as a threshold here are the results. The key to this element is frequency as you should win most of your games when scoring 30 points.

Holtz - 73 of 136 games (70-3 record). The losses were notable: Tennessee, 1990 (35-34); Stanford, 1991 (36-31); Boston College, 1993 (41-39).

Davie - 19 of 60 games (18-1). The only loss was to Ty Willingham at Stanford in 1999 (40-37). The loss sealed Notre Dame's first losing season in 12 years.

Willingham - 9 games of 36 (8-1). Ty's only setback while scoring 30 points was to Pittsburgh in 2004. (41-38)

Weis - 18 games in 25 (16-2). Charlie's two losses came in his first year, 2005 to USC (34-31) and Michigan State (44-41).

Holtz best year was 1991 (9 times) and the lowest frequency was twice in 1986 and 1994 - his weakest teams at 5-6 and 6-5-1 respectively. Davie scored 30 points six times in 1998 during a 9-3 season. His first and last years saw the Irish only score 30 two times. Willingham registered 30 points on four occassions in 2002 during the 10-3 season, however, he only scored above 30 points two times the next season when the Irish dipped to 5-7. Weis owns the best year, 2005, in which Notre Dame scored 30 or more points on 10 occassions. Eight times the Irish crossed 30 points in 2006. Next year will be a challenge, losing so many to graduation.

Now we again flip the script for the damning part. The defenses. No doubt Holtz' teams were dominant on defense. Four times during his 11-year tenure, the Irish defense surrendered less than 189 points in a season. None of the three following coaches have allowed less than 200 points in a season. Davie's best year was his last, giving up 215 and Willingham in his first year at 217. These numbers seem staunch compared to Weis' two teams that have given up 294 and 310 in his two seasons. Holtz never had a year in which the opposition scored 300, while Davie and Willingham each had one season of over 300 points.

In total for the defenses:

Holtz - 2434 / 136 = 17.9
Davie - 1326 / 60 = 22.1
Willingham - 821 / 36 = 22.8
Weis - 604 / 25 = 24.2

Now for the 30-point mark against the Irish:

Holtz' teams gave up 30 points in 17 games, with Notre Dame going 6-11 in those games. Twice in Lou's tenure he fielded teams that did not give up 30 points the entire season, 1989 and 1996. Davie allowed 12 games of 30 points with a 4-8 record. His 2001 team did not allow 30 in a single game either. Willingham gave up eight 30-point games, losing all eight. Only USC scored more than 30 against his 2002 (10-3) squad. Weis on the other hand has already surrendered eight games of 30 points. His team's are 2-6 in those games with wins at Stanford (38-31) and Michigan State (40-37).

This first installment represents just the points and wins & losses. The following writings will talk more about:
  • Weis' era and what is working and what needs work
  • 2007 recruiting class
  • 2007 schedule
  • 2007 national outlook from the surface (I leave you Phil Steele in summer to provide the junkie in-depth about all other teams.)
Breathe deep Irish fans, I think we're just getting started, but the next years will be key in recruiting.

January 02, 2007

The 11th option in Miami tonight....

Perception vs. Reality

Okay blog readers (Brian, Scott), I didn't get the kickoff because I am like so many others across the country who are still catching their breath after last night's Fiesta Bowl (Read: I took an after dinner nap tonight). However, this Orange Bowl might not hold all our attentions, if you believe the pundits. While Louisville is certainly the "Ferrari" in this matchup, Wake has seen athleticism this year in Florida State and Clemson. Let's hope the reality of being a conference champion will help boost Wake's perception amongst the media circus.

9:04 PM - The first quarter ends and in the 12 plays I have seen, Wake Forest's quarterback has been put on the turf for three of them. Beforehand, I had the FOX guys saying Wake needed to hold Louisville to a three point field goal when the Cardinals had the ball at the Wake 41 (!). Louisville is explosive yes, but Wake does play defense. Tied 0-0.

9:09 PM - Sam Swank provides a lift for the Deacons who capitalize on Louisville's poor punt to give Wake Forest a 3-0 lead. FOX guys want to sell tickets, saying were still in for some scoring, harkening back to the 2000 Michigan-Alabama Orange Bowl tilt. Let's just sit back and see, gang.

9:11 PM - Basketball being talked about by the booth gang. I am sure both schools love that.

9:17 PM - We're gonna review a fine catch by Mario Urrutia, but the Cardinals keep converting on third down. This says good and bad for Wake. The good is that they are forcing third downs, shortening the game, the bad is that they aren't stopping the third downs. I get the feeling that its a matter of time before Louisville scores and gets this game by the throat.

9:21 PM - Gutsy move by Petrino going for it on 4th and 9. Wow.

9:24 PM - Fourth and nine again finds Louisville kicking and putting it through by the leg of Arthur Carmody. The game is tied at 3-3. FOX guys are on top of it tonight. Louisville will come next with a mostly pass drive to push the Deacons to the limit. Wake needs to take this possession and re-take the lead. The pace of this game looks to be a midnight or earlier finish.

9:32 PM - What is Wake Forest's game plan on offense? Yeah, they keep the clock running but there is no one thing that Wake does well. I saw Wake in action three times this year in both games they lost, and a thrashing of Florida State. I still can't tell you their bread and butter.

9:36 PM - Trickeration is the buzz word of the bowl season and the Cardinals get on board with a 21-yard pass from WR Patrick Carter to RB Anthony Allen. 10-3 Cardinals.

9:41 PM - Another Louisville sack forces third and long, but Wake converts, holding off my march back to the bedroom for more sleep time. The Cardinals give up another pass play and seem to be going into prevent the win mode. Interesting.

9:44 PM - Its a bang-bang play, and in my opinion the Deacons should hold onto the ball. However, control of the ball when the knee hits is the central issue and its razor thin close on the second-look.

9:48 PM - The longer they kept looking spelled better for Louisville. The Deacons have to absolutely get to the locker room at no worse than the current score.

9:56 PM - The Deacons hold and have their second close miss at a Louisville punt attempt. The result is good field position that the Deacons drive down and get a field goal attempt. Swank pushes it wide left. The Deacons do keep the Cardinals within range, but in their last two possessions in Card territory, the Deacs come away with a fumble and missed field goal. Halftime. Louisville 10, Wake Forest 3.

10:25 PM - Wake comes off the edge on a blitz and stuffs the Cards first drive, setting up good field position for the Deacons. Sidenote: If Wake doesn't block a punt in this game then it should be viewed as a disappointment. Three straight times a Wake defender has a shot at the block only to grab air.

10:30 PM - Riley Skinner gets time to throw and the Deacons tie the game at 10-10. The Wake Forest defense is absolutely bringing it. If the offense can keep protecting at this level, Wake will be tough to beat.

10:40 PM - Fumblaya! The play is under review and it looked much like the other one that remained Louisville's ball. The play stands, Petrino goes ape and we have a game folks.

10:44 PM - William Gay with a nice deflection on third down will force the Wake punt. Trickeration attempted earlier on second down failed, but the Deacs pin Louisville back again, this time at the 9-yard line.

10:49 PM - The underdog keeps believing and Louisville keeps running into the middle of the line, which has not worked. Unfortunately, the Deacs wont have the best field position as they're whistled for a block in the back on the punt.

10:54 PM - You get a great run and come back with trickeration that goes nowhere. You have the momentum, Deacs, use it!

10:56 PM - Fumblaya! But, lets check the replay... three-for-three on the confirmations for the refs. Good job, chain gang.

11:04 PM - Momentum changer as Louisville goes up top immediately after the fumble. The Cards flip the field with a 50-yard completion from Brohm to Douglas. Wake stiffens and forces a missed field goal! Momentum stays with Wake. Now the Deacons just need to drive and hang onto the football.

11:07 PM - The fourth quarter begins and Wake has momentum and is gutting the Louisville defense with long runs. The Deacs are knocking on the door, but it needs to be six points, Wake fans. Three won't do. Wake Forest 10, Louisville 10.

11:12 PM - Three will have to do for now as Swank nails a 36-yarder. Wake Forest 13, Louisville 10. The Deacs own all momentum in this game, as well as their line taking control. The defense needs to keep bringing it. In some ways, only having the 3-point lead might be a blessing as they won't be able to play "prevent the win" defense if the score holds later in the quarter.

11:19 PM - The Cardinals refocus in a hurry, taking back momentum and owning the Deacons with touchdown march. Louisville 17, Wake Forest 13. The Card defense could fully seize momentum and get back to pressuring Skinner. Wake, at least, needs to drive and pin Louisville deep if they do not score.

11:26 PM - The Louisville defense does their job, getting a three-and-out from Wake. The onus now goes back to the Wake defense to make the stop and keep the game within reach. Petrino will stay aggressive on his playcalling, so Wake needs to match the intensity.

11:35 PM - The Wake defender gives up the first down by not attacking the receiver, and now Wake must hold Louisville to a field goal.

11:39 PM - No miracle coming in Miami tonight as Louisville seals the deal with a four minute drive, capped by a Brock Bolen touchdown. Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13. I will keep watching but its mainly schadenfreude. Wake continues the meltdown with a 15-yard personal foul to be assessed on the kick.

11:45 PM - Outside of an outright stop, Louisville's job is to make Wake burn a ton of time going down the field. Right as I type that, the Deacons get a long pass out to midfield and get out of bounds.

11:49 PM - William Gay, the Cardinals defensive MVP of this game, ends it with an INT. The rest is just winding down the clock.

12:00 AM - The game ends with Louisville getting a solid win that will only elevate their hopes in the pundits' 2007 preseason polls. The perception coming into this game was that Louisville's speedy offense would dominate. While impressive, the reality is that the Cardinals have a solid defense that is a consistent pass rusher away from being very good. The book on Wake was that they were happy to be here after a cinderella run. The truth is that the Deacons return a lot for 2007 and could end up in the same bowl next year. This is a solid team with speed and guts on defense and a developing offense. People called for the blowout, but this was close until midway through the fourth quarter. Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13. Final.

The look after 14 hours...

Spent. Taxed. Done. Fulfilled. - Bowl Day 2007

January 01, 2007

Glendale's Dress Rehearsal

The nightcap. David vs. Goliath-esque.

Boise State, the men of the Smurf Turf, take on the Oklahoma Sooners in the nightcap. The Broncos search for respectability while OU running back Adrian Peterson returns to the field in hopes to impress the scouts. Here. We. Go.

8:53 PM - Kickoff. Boise State wins the toss and defers until the second half.

8:57 PM - Boise makes the stop, holding OU and getting the ball. The Broncos then promptly get a first down.

9:06 PM - Boise strikes first! Zabransky deep to Drisan James for a 49-yard strike. Boise State 7, Oklahoma 0. The defense for Boise needs to keep it up.

9:12 PM - Boise responds with the fumble recovery and two plays later Ian Johnson walks into the endzone for the Broncos. I remember watching the Pitt-Utah game a few years back, this looks eerily similar. Boise wants it, Oklahoma is satisfied with their Big XII title. Adrian Peterson is just a man. His team needs to take the S off his chest and play along with him. Boise State 14, Oklahoma 0.

9:28 PM - Oklahoma drives the field, staying the course with running and throwing the ball. The good news for Boise is that they didn't give up a lot of big plays, OU had to execute down the field. The bad news is that the FOX guys are right, the secondary is making a lot of the tackles. Boise State 14, Oklahoma 7.

9:42 PM - Oklahoma gets the ball back with a chance to tie. Their last drive was 81 yards, 14 plays. The onus is back on the defense for Boise.

10:01 PM - Oklahoma gets a field goal, but we're in for the long haul. Oklahoma is absolutely cutting a path through the Boise defense. Boise is still making plays, but the juice is out of the building. Oklahoma has the momentum, knowing their wearing the Broncos down. Boise State 14, Oklahoma 10.

11:01 PM - Well the computer got held hostage for a bit and we've made it back home from the sister's house. I saw Boise go up 21-10 into halftime and I walk in the door, just in time to see Paul Thompson throw an ill-advised interception to the Broncos. Boise State with momentum and a real chance to force OU out of their gameplan with a score here. Boise State 21, Oklahoma 10.

11:07 PM - Interception return for touchdown by Boise State's Marty Tadman. The ball was tipped at the line, otherwise Tadman looked like an OU receiver who was floated the ball out into the flat. Who is the underdog in this game? Boise State 28, Oklahoma 10.

11:20 PM - Never use the bathroom during football. I made a rookie mistake and it cost me as I missed the muffed punt that gave Oklahoma prime real estate and a touchdown that has cut the lead. Boise State 28, Oklahoma 17. The Broncos defense is for real, but not even the best of squads can turn back an eight-yard drive.

11:24 PM - I think we just saw the dreaded play by the underdog whose beginning to wilt under the pressure. Zabransky can throw the ball away and incur nothing, but he retreats 20 yards and throws the ball back to an offensive guard. Third-and-seven is the result. The subsequent play sees a dropped pass by Jerard Rabb. The Boise State defense is put back on the field after a short stint by the offense. Yikes.

11:30 PM - Yup. Oklahoma has done nothing but move right down the field. First and goal after an Allen Patrick run to the seven. This is a gut check for Boise State.

11:32 PM - The fourth quarter will begin after Boise State holds Oklahoma to a field goal attempt. After a gashing series of rushing the ball, the Sooners suddenly go West Coast and try to throw it in. Boise State gets a stop, but the dam is still leaking water, badly. Oklahoma makes the kick, Boise State 28, Oklahoma 20.

11:45 PM - Boise State punts, but eats some time off the clock. The Sooners will begin inside their five yard line, but the Sooners have put 10 straight on the board. However, seven came via a fumble and 9-yard drive. We'll see...

11:51 PM - Boise holds and will get the ball back in decent field position. Good chance here to add points, making it a two-score game.

11:56 PM - Boise State was looking good - running the ball well in Sooner territory, then a fumble. The defense is simply going to have to win this game.

12:01 AM - Stoops really trusts Paul Thompson's throwing abilities as he goes to him quite often in key situations. If I am Adrian Peterson I might turn pro right after this game. AP is a stud and should be the guy to win or lose the game for you. Just me, I guess.

12:10 AM - The phantom final timeout by OU? FOX is going to have to explain this one coming back from commercial.

12:16 AM - Time out explained, Oklahoma is going right down the field on their last gasp. Boise is playing prevent the win defense. Apparently the Broncos are already playing to stop the two-point conversion attempt.

12:19 AM - Touchdown OU. Boise State 28, Oklahoma 26. 2-point pending.

12:21 AM - Third attempt on the two-pointer and the Sooners convert. 28-28, Boise now has the last shot in regulation. They will start from their 25. If I am Oklahoma I don't play "prevent the win" defense.

12:25 AM - A righthouse to the groin. Oklahoma stays in their stock defense and gets an INT return for touchdown. Oklahoma 35, Boise State 28. The play is upheld as expected and now the teams will return to the same position with the Broncos needing a touchdown to get to overtime. I would have been aggressive, so don't hang your head Boise. You still have time to get something done here.

12:29 AM - It may not come to pass, but I am saying this right now. If Boise State scores, I would go for two for the win. Skip overtime. Take the momentum that would exist if you go downfield and score and parlay that into a needed three-yard gain for the win. But, Boise State has to get the endzone first...

12:34 AM - WOW! The Best Play In College Football for 2006-07. Period. A hook and lateral on fourth down needing to convert to survive. Guts, cajones, stones, whatever you wish to call it, it was money by Chris Petersen and the Boise State staff. Yeah, they didn't kick the extra point, but after that play, you can't. This will be great. Fiesta Bowl 2007 is an instant classic. Boise State 35, Oklahoma 35.

12:39 AM - Well. Touchdown AP and its Oklahoma 42, Boise State 35. The Broncos possession coming up next.

12:46 AM - Boise State comes with the trickeration. They move the ball a bit, but face a 4th and 2. Its tough coming up with a call right here.

12:49 AM - Nerve-wracking play with RB Ian Johnson on the sideline and QB Jared Zabransky shifting to wide receiver. Boise will go for TWO and the win!!!

12:53 AM - THEY DID IT! THEY DID IT!!! Statue of Liberty play executed to perfection. Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42, OT, Final.

1:00 AM - And then Ian Johnson in the postgame proposes to his girlfriend on camera. College. Football. Only. - Wow.

I am spent. This day began at 11 AM and ends 14 hours later. I am done.

The Granddaddy of them all...

If it weren't for Ohio State-Florida, this game would be a fine ending to the year.

We're over at the sister and brother-in-laws house, getting ready for the start of Michigan vs. USC. I'll make a prediction now that you don't see Pete Carroll flummoxed in two straight games. Both teams are loaded with talent that will play on Sundays, however, Michigan would be losing two games in a row if they go down as well. This should be fun!

5:10 PM
- Michigan will get the ball first, as USC wins the toss and defers.

5:28 PM - Two heavyweights feeling each other out as both teams continue to exchange punts. A couple of first downs here and there, but so far this is a grudge match with either side unwilling to give in first.

5:33 PM - USC moves into Michigan territory on a pass from Booty to Jarrett. Another completed pass puts SC in the red zone. Trojans get a Mario Danelo field goal from 30-yards out to take the early 3-0 lead.

5:44 PM - First quarter ends with Michigan reaching SC territory but being forced into an upcoming third and long after a sack by Dallas Sartz and tackle for loss by Oscar Lua.
USC 3, Michigan 0.

5:50 PM - Michigan coverts on a Henne to Manningham pass down to the 30 yard line. The Wolverines bog down but get a 43-yard FG from Garrett Rivas. Michigan 3, USC 3.

6:00 PM - The first miscue of the game occurs as Booty fumbles after being hit, recovered by Alan Branch of Michigan. The Michigan faithful in the house feel fortunate.

6:07 PM - USC records three sacks on the Michigan "drive" and force the punt. Basically we have the issue of a Michigan line that is not blocking, giving Henne no chance to get the ball to their weaponry. The brother-in-law is not happy.

6:12 PM - The running games' are simply not there for either team. Third and longs are the norm as USC faces their third and long near midfield. The graphic just put up showed -19 yards for Michigan, 2 for USC.

6:17 PM - This game is a snoozer. Boring offense, tons of defense. 3-3 score. Six weeks since Michigan took the field, four for USC and both are showing the rust spots.

6:23 PM - Halftime. Michigan 3, USC 3. SC has ran the ball for 20 yards. Michigan has 24 yards on the ground. Quarterbacks are completing passes when they remain upright. 8-of-12 for 86 yards for Henne, 10-for-14 for 106 yards for Booty. Each team is containing the other not allowing a thing. Michigan got the only turnover of the half but could not move the ball. The offenses are sluggish, while the defenses are dictating the game. The first team to make a mistake could very well lose.

6:51 PM - Trojans come out, get eight yards on a pass then stonewalled on two straight up the middle runs. Carroll is playing not to lose.

6:55 PM - Lawrence Jackson stays at home and intercepts the Henne screen pass. Michigan had just gotten a first down off Hart running well, but now USC gets their first break.

7:00 PM - Touchdown SC. Booty to Chris McFoy wide open on a good play action roll out. SC capitalizes on the Michigan turnover, now the Wolverines will have to answer. Carroll still seems to be playing this game not to lose, helped by the turnover instead of a creative offense. Michigan was establishing the run with Hart before the INT, so it will be interesting to see if they go back to that. USC 10, Michigan 3.

7:08 PM - Coming up could be the old Carroll at his most lethal. Michigan needs to get a turnover after going nowhere again. Here is where Pete usually hammers down with a big play, deep.

7:15 PM - USC uses quick slants to negate the Michigan pass rush. One on one in the secondary leads to quick passes and missed tackles. Booty goes 22 yards to Jarrett for the score, but Danelo misses the extra point. USC 16, Michigan 3.

7:22 PM - Trojans get the fumble after the Michigan offensive line gives up another hit on Henne. Michigan might have a great offense, but these o-linemen all need to stay in school from what I am seeing.

7:25 PM - Fourth down attempt for USC is very close on a sneak by Booty. The Wolverines are on the block now, Carroll is ready to chop it off. Here comes the play towards the endzone.

7:28 PM - Michigan pushes SC to a third down, but the Trojans convert. You can literally watch the Wolverines lose all hope with each forward play. I think their hearts were in Glendale since December 3rd.

7:34 PM - Danelo makes it 19-3 Trojans. The question now is to Michigan's heart. They might not win the game according to the sister, but at least show us something. This is USC's moment where they will bring the house on every needed passing down. Someone on Michigan needs to make not just a play, but a belief-installing play. A LONG run or reception is in order.

7:39 PM - We head to the fourth quarter and I am surprised to see USC in prevent defense. I thought for sure there would be blitzing. Michigan has completed some passes and Henne just scrambled for a first down near midfield. This is Michigan's "restore hope" drive. They need to pour their whole season into these next plays.

7:46 PM - Mission accomplished. Michigan scores on a laser from Henne to Arrington after a half-the-distance penalty added to a Tyler Ecker reception. Mike Hart shows his heart, grinding out the 2-point conversion. USC 19, Michigan 11.

7:53 PM - There is the Pete Carroll I know and loathe/respect. 3rd down and 10 and USC goes up top to Jarrett for a strike behind the blitzing Wolverine defense. A beautiful play call that was a needed answer for a Wolverine defense that wasn't going to lose by playing passive. Danelo misses again. USC 25, Michigan 11.

8:00 PM - When Chad Henne gets time... this is the sentiment around the country, the booth, the fans, and this very house.

8:02 PM - 4th down comes, and the play called is short of the first down. Breaston got the ball but slipped before needing to make a move to get past the sticks. USC ball.

8:08 PM - Three straight medium length passes flip the field for USC and kill Michigan's will, capped with a Steve Smith TD from Booty. 4-for-4, 85 yards and like that, USC is your winner. USC 32, Michigan 11.

8:16 PM - The USC commercial is in full effect now as ABC suddenly turns into a recruiting service, putting up the names of their verbal commits for the 2007 class. At first thought, if Jarrett stays I might agree, if I believed in preseason polls. Without Jarrett and Steve Smith, the announcers are correct saying that would be the area of emphasis. I still say that Carroll doesn't run the ball enough and Reggie Bush resides in New Orleans.

Michigan's concerns point toward a defense that gave up 74 points in their last two games. How good is this team? Playing two elite teams ran them over. Michigan loses six starters per the depth chart pre-Rose Bowl. How do they respond? Storylines to be answered and we'll see if all the Michigan kids truly will turn down millions in the NFL.

8:27 PM - Michigan scores a meaningless touchdown ala the Ohio State game, but no fanfare here. USC 32, Michigan 18. Final.

New Year's Day Liveblogging

Today's lineup, six bowls, one day. Let's go!

Time for me to jump into the fray and provide comments on this, the best holiday of the year as the events happen. First up, we have Tennessee vs. Penn State on ESPN in the Outback Bowl. The network is reporting that Joe Paterno will coach from the box, still limping around on the leg.

Predictions are flying in with the Gameday crew taking Tennessee unanimously in the Outback. The Cotton Bowl sees Auburn against Nebraska, both taking Auburn. Wisconsin vs. Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl. The first difference comes here as Corso takes Arkansas, Herbstreit takes Wisconsin. Both come back to agreement taking West Virginia over Georgia Tech. Corso takes Boise State to "slay Goliath", whereas Kirk plays the right move and takes Oklahoma. Both take Louisville in a romp.

Then the game I care about, the Sugar Bowl. Corso says LSU big, Kirk says an "overconfident" LSU has to hold on to beat Notre Dame.

Predictions for the Ohio State - Florida game will get their own show.

So that is the start of the day for now, I'll update as things happen, focusing on red zone and momentum plays.

11:06 AM - So far, Penn State QB Anthony Morelli is 2-for-2, moving the ball right down the field against the Volunteers. Minus a false start penalty, the Lions have moved the ball forward on every play. Tennessee stiffens, forcing 3rd and 8 and the Lions come up just short. 45-yard field goal attempt is wide left. Penn State moves the ball, but Tennessee gets the stop when needed.

11:25 AM - Two passes to Jason Swain get the Vols set up in Penn State territory at the 35. A blase run play gets the Vols a couple of yards. Ainge goes back to the air to Meachem, bringing up a third down. Tennessee should understand that Penn State will keep dropping guys back in zone coverage - its a Nittany Lion staple. Vols call a timeout.

11:29 AM - Third and short after a timeout and the Vols stop themselves with Ainge throwing to a spot where the receiver ran the wrong route. 44-yard field goal is good. Tennessee 3, Penn State 0.

11:34 AM - Cotton Bowl coverage from Dallas signs on and there are plenty of empty seats in the Auburn section. Nebraska didn't really bring everyone either. They might report a sellout today but that will be based on tickets sold, not tickets used.

11:42 AM - The first quarter comes to a close in Tampa with Tennessee still leading 3-0. Both teams are moving the ball, but shutting down each other on third down. Good job by ESPN's sound crew picking up Tennessee coach Philip Fulmer yelling at his return man who fielded a punt inside the five-yard line. The broadcasters mentioned planting your heels at the 10-yard line and not catching anything over your head. Fulmer was heard saying the exact same sentiment.

11:46 AM - The early returns in Dallas show a team that is super motivated in Nebraska whereas Auburn has the body language that matches their fans' interest in this game. Nebraska is slicing through the Tiger defense. UPDATE: Fumble by Tennessee sets up Penn State at the 24-yard line.

11:50 AM - Nebraska seemingly stops themselves after a holding call sets up a 3rd and 19. The Huskers convert on a shovel pass for exactly 19 yards. A run play and an incomplete pass put Nebraska in third and long again. They take a timeout.

11:52 AM - Penn State gets a first down inside the 15-yard line. Turk McBride for Tennessee smashes through the line, stuffing a Penn State, second-down run. A false start makes it third-and-14 for the Lions, which turns into another field goal attempt. Kevin Kelly converts for Penn State, tying the game, 3-3.

11:55 AM - Nebraska converts their third down with a circus catch, and get a touchdown from Taylor to Swift. The drive eats 7:23 off the clock. Nebraska 7, Auburn 0.

12:09 PM - Ruben Dede of Auburn returns a batted ball 53 yards to slow down the Nebraska train. The interception sets up Auburn inside the 10-yard line. Tigers turn it into six points on a bootleg from Brandon Cox to Carl Stewart, the Tigers FB. Auburn 7, Nebraska 7.

12:13 PM - Penn State drives to the 34 and gets a pass to the Tennessee 2. First and goal for the Lions. Morelli executes a good play action to TE Andrew Quarless. Penn State 10, Tennessee 3.

12:21 PM - Auburn gets a gift after the Nebraska razzle dazzle blows up in their face. Auburn runs an out pass to WR Courtney Taylor who remains down after a hard hit with the ground. The opportunistic Tigers look to take momentum and the lead. Meanwhile in the Outback, Tennessee converts a third-down deep in their territory. Momentum is with the Lions and Tennessee sure needs to answer right before the half.

12:25 PM - Touchdowns seconds apart as Auburn cashes in the Nebraska miscue on Carl Stewart's second touchdown of the day. Auburn 14, Nebraska 7. Tennessee answers on a 42-yard romp by LaMarcus Coker. Tennessee 10, Penn State 10. Momentum has clearly shifted to both SEC schools.

12:39 PM - Delayed reaction in posting, but we have ties across the board as Nebraska marches the field again, this time helped by two Auburn personal fouls to even things up at 14-14. Auburn didn't do much with their ensuing possession and Nebraska gets another chance to drive. Momentum still to be decided. One thing to watch is that Nebraska has driven twice, whereas Auburn has cashed in on two turnovers.

1:00 PM - Two games tied at half (Outback, Cotton) with coverage beginning of the Gator (CBS) and Capital One (ABC). Four games to be blogged at once will prove interesting. To recap the earlier bowls, the SEC teams have been outplayed but are even. Auburn turned two Nebraska turnovers into 14 points, while being outgained at a 2:1 margin. Tennessee and Penn State have both moved the ball, but have not taken advantage of all their opportunities. The defenses aren't giving up home runs, but they haven't locked down either.

1:12 PM - Darren McFadden puts Arkansas in a first and goal after a 50+ yard romp. Two plays and Arkansas flips the field. The Hogs bog down and miss a 30-yard field goal.

1:19 PM - Georgia Tech and West Virginia will play in front of a 65% full Gator Bowl. This is probably the least of the four games I will watch, being a shameless SEC homer. Without Reggie Ball Georgia Tech will be hard pressed to hang, however, I am watching to see if Steve Slaton is suited up as well for West Virginia.

1:24 PM - Slaton is in the starting backfield. Owen Schmitt however, rambles 52 yards to put West Virginia off to a good start. Georgia Tech is also missing their DB Kareem Kelly and it shows as Patrick White gets the ball to the 1-yard line. Touchdown Schmitt on the 'Neers fourth play. West Virginia 7, Georgia Tech 0. Warm up the bus for Atlanta.

1:29 PM - The action is fast and furious now. Wisconsin nails a 52-yard field goal for an early 3-0 Badger lead. Arkansas held tough but Wisconsin nailed a great kick. Auburn fumbled after driving on their first possession of the second half. The play is being reviewed but Nebraska should keep possession. Erik Ainge throws his first interception in 140+ attempts as Tennessee had the ball near midfield. Momentum still all over the map in these three games.

1:34 PM - Arkansas answers with a 76-yard romp by RB Felix Jones. Arkansas 7, Wisconsin 3. Then as I flip over to the Gator Bowl in passing, Calvin Johnson hauls in a 31-yard TD pass from Bennett. Georgia Tech 7, West Virginia 7. Hold that bus.

1:39 PM - Penn State and Nebraska do nothing with their turnovers. Georgia Tech stops West Virginia on their second possession and with two sacks after their touchdown, Arkansas is in prime position to grab momentum against Wisconsin.

1:42 PM - Auburn now driving again on Nebraska. Tigers down to the Cornhusker 33-yard line after 40 yards in two plays. Calvin Johnson is the sole beneficiary of Reggie Ball's dismissal as the wide receiver catches a pass from Bennett, putting the Jackets on the 3-yard line. One play later, Tashard Choice scores for a 14-7 Georgia Tech lead.

1:50 PM - John Vaughn kicks a 42-yarder, giving Auburn a 17-14 lead over Nebraska. Wisconsin marching down on Arkansas, while Penn State and Tennessee have exchanged punts.

1:52 PM - Touchdown Wisconsin on a 22-yard pass from Stocco to Hubbard. Wisconsin 10, Arkansas 7.

1:56 PM - First quarters end in Jacksonville and Orlando. Wisconsin and Arkansas looks to be an offensive show as the ball has moved forward in big chunks more often than not. Georgia Tech's vaunted defense is starting to blitz West Virginia into confusion, making them a run-only team. Pat White limped off the field after a punishing hit from a Tech defender. In Tampa, Kevin Kelly missed his second field goal for Penn State, keeping the game tied at 10-10.

2:01 PM - 53 yard pass from Ainge to little used TE Chris Brown gives Tennessee possession in the red zone. However, the Vols fumble and its returned 86 yards by Tony Davis. The play is under review and this would be a HUGE call.

2:04 PM - Should get a call from my UT boy, Scott. Touchdown Penn State. Penn State 17, Tennessee 10. Momentum will be fully with the Lions if they can stuff Tennessee on the next possession. Calvin Johnson is having a field day with Bennett throwing him jump balls. He hauls in his second touchdown giving Georgia Tech a 21-7 lead and full control. Ignore me and my early "warm up the bus" quote.

2:08 PM - The third quarter ends in Dallas and Auburn is in the middle of a drive that began at their own 1-yard line. They are at midfield. Wisconsin converted a blocked punt of their own into a first down, but negated by penalty that helped them then re-kick and pin Arkansas deep. Good heads up by Wisconsin to intentionally commit the penalty to result in the first down that Arkansas had to accept and let the Badgers re-kick. I hope that made sense. Penn State gets their three-and-out and now control the game after a return sets them up at the Tennessee 45.

2:12 PM - West Virginia showing life again, driving to the 13 yard line of Tech. White and Slaton are getting back on track, pushing the Tech D back on their heels. Penn State converts a first down, looking to seal the deal in Tampa.

2:16 PM - 2:22 PM - West Virginia salvages some dignity, getting a field goal. Georgia Tech 21, West Virginia 10. Wisconsin drives and gets a 12-yard touchdown pass from Stocco to TE Beckum, Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 7. Penn State runs the ball on eight straight plays, Tennessee mans up forcing a field goal, but time is running out for the Vols. Penn State 20, Tennessee 10.

2:26 PM - The SEC is in real trouble. Tennessee is in desperation against Penn State. Auburn is hanging on barely against Nebraska, and Arkansas is down 17-7 to Wisconsin. My home conference could go 0-for-3 today and ruin all hopes of a blanked Big Ten to prove my theory that the SEC is superior. Come on gang!

2:29 PM - Its Georgia Tech 28, West Virginia 10. The Jackets score on another touchdown pass from Bennett to Johnson, only its James Johnson this time. Nebraska punts again, while Tennessee is facing 4th and death against Penn State, needing two scores.

2:35 PM - Penn State 20, Tennessee 10. Final. Tony Hunt finishes the day with 158 yards on 31 carries. Ainge passes for 265 yards, but Tennessee will lament the 86-yard fumble return during the offseason. Auburn looked in control in Dallas, but a late fumble with 5:24 left gives Nebraska the ball at the Auburn 42.

2:39 PM - Schmitt gets West Virginia's second touchdown. Georgia Tech 28, West Virginia 17. Wisconsin stops Arkansas going on a fourth and one. The Badgers looking to drop the hammer right before half.

2:44 PM - Halftime in Jacksonville and Orlando. Georgia Tech's Taylor Bennett is 11-for-14 for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns. Calvin Johnson needs to go to the NFL because if this is what I can expect to come to South Bend for the first game next year, I don't want it. Go pro, Cal. Meanwhile, Wisconsin was looking to drop the hammer, but threw an interception. Arkansas responded by taking the ball and going for broke, paying for it by throwing an interception deep near the goal line. 17-7 Wisconsin at the half. Auburn stiffened and kept Nebraska out of field goal range, stopping the Huskers on a fourth down play.

2:55 PM - Auburn 17, Nebraska 14. Final. Auburn converted each time they had good field possession while Nebraska had nothing in the second half after two long drives early in the first half. It was a typical Auburn win, converting off their defense to get it done. Life slows down in a hurry now as I have two games left, both at halftime. Georgia Tech leads West Virginia 28-17 while Wisconsin is dogging Arkansas, 17-7. Can the Hogs salvage the day for the SEC and can Tech QB Taylor Bennett keep up his outstanding performance in the first half?

3:21 PM - Scott called. "Disappointing" is the catch phrase coming from the Vol stuck in New Jersey. Meanwhile, in Orlando, Georgia Tech comes out of the halftime by kicking an onside kick. A jump ball to Calvin Johnson and then a run by Tashard Choice gives the Jackets a 35-17 lead. However, West Virginia answers by getting a free play offsides and throwing it deep against a defense that stopped on the play. Georgia Tech 35, West Virginia 24.

3:33 PM - Tale of two games right now with one a track meet and the other becoming a defensive battle. Arkansas is giving Wisconsin nothing on the ground, and the flash of the Hogs has been contained minus the Felix Jones TD. West Virginia is driving, but to say that a team is driving in this game is saying nothing. Pat White hits Brandon Myles in the endzone, bringing the differential down to 35-31.

3:39 PM - Two possessions for Arkansas in Wisconsin territory end with zero points. Arkansas has gone to the air too much for my liking. I am thinking that McFadden is still injured as Felix Jones looks like the better back of the Hogs. Meanwhile, West Virginia comes through with their own onside kick not by design as they have been squibbing all day. This one bounced right back to the Mountaineers. Add a 15-yard penalty on Tech and West Virginia will attempt to take the lead already in the red zone.

3:43 PM - Pat White turns a busted play into a score, registering 21 unanswered points by West Virginia to storm to the 38-35 lead. All this without Steve Slaton who started, but took himself out of the game with the hamstring injury.

3:46 PM - The fourth quarter is coming up for Arkansas-Wisconsin. The Hogs have their third straight possession in Wisconsin territory, playing the field position game. They need points, period.

3:54 PM - Arkansas cashes in with a run by Felix Jones. Wisconsin 17, Arkansas 14. Wisconsin needs to start converting because Arkansas has shut them down. They can't keep playing keep-away.

3:58 PM - The third quarter ends in Jacksonville with West Virginia leading 38-35. You get the feeling that the Mountaineers will score every time with the ball. Tech has looked good today getting the ball to Calvin Johnson. West Virginia has the momentum with 21 unanswered points, but Tech does have the ball at midfield.

4:08 PM - Tech falters, but they stop West Virginia, set to get the ball back. Wisconsin will once again start at their 20-yard line with Arkansas keeping them pinnned back. If Arkansas gets the lead, this thing might be over. WVA or Tech need more points to win this thing. I don't think 38 is enough today to beat Tech.

4:12 PM - Scene switch. Say goodbye to the two TV setup as we're headed to my brother-in-law's house. I am for USC in a house full of Michigan fans. Go Trojans? Can I really say that as a diehard Irish fan?

4:55 PM - From the highlights I can see it looks like I missed nothing. Wisconsin held on to defeat Arkansas, 17-14 and West Virginia completed the comeback, beating Georgia Tech 38-35. Time to end this thread and donate a separate thread to the Rose Bowl.

About Me

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