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If this column sucks,
it’s not my fault … Resting at home, Joe Paterno gave
me a pep talk over a speakerphone before I wrote the column. As you’ll
see, it didn’t do any good.
I’m going to someday have a son, he’s going to be a linebacker, and
his name is going to be Wolf Blitzer … After sitting though all the
election coverage last Tuesday from around 9ish AM to around 2 AM, I no
longer want to hear anyone whine about the blather and bombast from any
overblown football pregame show. The talking heads on any sports program
can’t come close to matching the gab from the overblown gasbags on all
the news networks when there’s absolutely nothing happening.
But she’s a close second in the Best Gams race behind Joseph Gurney
Cannon … It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you’re on, one
thing should be able to unite the nation: Nancy Pelosi will have the
best rack of any Speaker of the House since John Griffin Carlisle.
Cheap Shot of the Week … Former Oklahoma star quarterback J.C.
Watts was fantastic on CNN’s election night coverage. There’s no truth
to the rumor that it was Candy Crowley who threw the key block on Watts'
pitch to Billy Sims for a 22-yard score in the 1980 Orange Bowl win over
Is there any more
eligibility for ol’ J.C.? …
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops
obliterated anyone and everyone who suggested that Adrian Peterson might
have been getting too much work and could potentially wear down due to
all the big shots he took game after game. Upon further review (sorry
Sooner fans, poor choice of words), considering the success of backup
backs Allen Patrick, Jacob Gutierrez and Chris Brown since Peterson was
knocked out with a broken collarbone, why isn’t anyone asking Stoops why
he didn’t rotate more backs into the mix earlier? Surely Peterson didn’t
need to handle the ball almost 30 times a game with so many other
productive players able to shoulder some of the load.
It could’ve been worse; he could’ve been Gary Barnett … Coaches
are hardly gods and it shouldn't be that big a deal when one is fired,
but try to remember where Iowa State was before the recently
resigned/whacked Dan McCarney. Before 1994, Iowa State’s previous bowl
appearance was 1978 with only two winning seasons in the previous 14
years. Under McCarney, the program went to five bowls and narrowly
missed playing for the Big 12 title in 2004 and 2005 losing the final
game of both regular seasons in heartbreaking fashion. This year, the
team was hit by injuries and a brutal schedule facing Iowa, Texas,
Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Missouri. Cyclone fans have a right
to demand a coach who can take the program to the next level, but they
shouldn’t forget the guy who got it on the map.
The campaign has had a grip on our nation for the last six years …
It’s mid-November meaning it’s time for my yearly inquiry into what
AFLAC, the company that sponsors all the trivia questions, is trying to
promote. I think it has something to do with getting you a duck if
you're a klutz, and as it turns out, no one else seems to know. From
Gary Danielson when Verne Lundquist was going a bit overboard on the
promo in the South Carolina-Florida game, “you probably get a free AFLAC
for doing that.”
And this from a man who lived through Katrina … Quote of the year
material here from Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo on what happened when
he brought QB Lester Ricard off the bench in the fourth quarter after an
awful start in a 31-3 loss to Southern Miss.
we brought him back, we were trying to hurry up and get back into the
game. We weren't going to sit on it. On the first play, we had a bad
throw - half drop, half bad throw. A couple bone-head things. I got
tired of looking at it so I punted on third down."
Ricard finished the day completing one of eight passes for 12 yards with
The C.O.W. airing of the grievances
followed by the feats of strength
Getting into crunch time of the
national title chase, with the winner of the Michigan-Ohio State battle
going to the BCS Championship, here are the ten main contenders for the
second spot with why they deserve to be considered, why they don’t, and
what they have to do to get into the national title mix.
10. Boise State
Get ‘em in … Forgetting the Lifetime Achievement Award aspect
for winning 85 games (and counting) in eight years, the Broncos will
likely turn out to be one of just two unbeaten teams at the end of the
year (assuming Rutgers loses at West Virginia). BSU blasted the same
Oregon State team that beat USC.
Keep ‘em out … Strength of schedule. Based on the entire season,
Boise State currently has the 86th ranked slate. Sure the
team is solid at home, but it’s shaky on the road needing a near-miracle
comeback to beat San Jose State and struggling way too much with Idaho.
If star RB Ian Johnson is seriously hurt with a lung problem, forget
What has to happen … Everyone has to lose and the Broncos have to
avoid getting tagged by Nevada. Boise State doesn’t just need everyone
to have a loss, it probably needs almost everyone to flame out.
Get ‘em in … The 24th toughest schedule should
give the Cardinals a little bit of overall credit. Beating Kansas State
at Kansas State, Miami (before the wheels completely came off), and West
Virginia are a good threesome to have on the résumé. Forgetting the
problems in the second half against Rutgers, no one wants to face this
offense in a bowl game.
Keep ‘em out … Keep them in Papa John’s and they’ll give the
Indianapolis Colts a run. Get them on the road and it’s an entirely
different story. The offense is All-World, but the defense, especially
against the pass, is mediocre at best.
What has to happen … Blowouts, and lots over them. Not only do
the Cardinals need everyone ranked higher to stink, but they have to
generate some sort of a buzz again by obliterating South Florida, Pitt
and UConn by putting up obscene numbers.
Get ‘em in … If Michigan turns out to be the number one team
in the country, then theoretically, Wisconsin might be number two. The
Badgers played Michigan tough in Ann Arbor and has beaten everyone else.
Bret Bielema's club keeps getting better and better as the season has
gone on with one of the nation's top defenses and a ground game that's
occasionally as effective as any of the Rose Bowl teams. This might be
the fastest, most athletic Wisconsin team ever.
Keep ‘em out … The big win is over … Penn State? Whoopee. The
non-conference schedule was a joke, and without getting to play Ohio
State, this was a one game season, and that one game was a loss. .
What has to happen … Michigan has to annihilate Ohio State to
suggest that a Badger-Wolverine rematch might be a bit different on a
neutral field. It’s extremely possible that Wisconsin, not counting
Boise State, could be one of just five one-loss teams at the end of the
year (West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers, if it loses to West Virginia,
and the Michigan/Ohio State loser) and could move into the top five in
the BCS when all is said and done. Forget about the BCS; Michigan and
Ohio State will be in somewhere.
7. West Virginia
Get ‘em in … As is, because of the BCS standings, all the
Mountaineers have to do is beat Rutgers and they’re probably in one of
the big money games as the Big East representative. Shock of shocks, at
the moment, they’re strength of schedule is 10th in the
nation helped by a 45-24 win over Maryland. It’s possible that when all
is said and done, they’ll have beaten both the ACC champion (Maryland)
and the Conference USA champion (Tulsa).
Keep ‘em out … Defense, defense, defense. While the offense can
run on anyone, the defense has yet to prove it can slow down an offense
with a pulse. The secondary is suspect, and while the schedule isn’t
technically all that bad, its beefed up by playing a lot of overblown
Big East teams. If you don’t really believe in Louisville or Rutgers,
then you don’t like the Mountaineers.
What has to happen … It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.
First, the pollsters have to get nostalgic and remember how good West
Virginia was in the first half against Georgia in last year’s Sugar
Bowl. While that shouldn’t apply to this year, it might make a
difference to the voters. In the end, this might be the highest ranked
one-loss team behind the Ohio State/Michigan loser.
Get ‘em in … Everyone’s going to point to the 50-14 home loss
to USC, but that was a far different Hog team. The quarterback situation
wasn’t settled, there were several weird turnovers, and star RB Darren
McFadden wasn’t healthy. Since then, this has been the SEC’s best team
steamrolling Auburn at Auburn and blasting Tennessee.
Keep ‘em out … 50-14 at home vs. USC. 50-14 at home vs. USC.
50-14 at home vs. USC. That might have been a lifetime ago, but it still
counts, and it still might be hard to sell to most fans that the Hogs
deserve to be in over USC. Don’t forget the close calls to Alabama and
South Carolina along the way. Being the best team in the SEC might be
great, but the strength of schedule is only 55th in the
nation at the moment.
What has to happen … USC has to lose at least once, twice would
be better, and the Hogs have to be double-digit winners over LSU and
Get ‘em in … If Boise State loses to Nevada, Rutgers and the
Ohio State/Michigan winner will be the only two unbeaten teams. If
you’re going to call the Big East a BCS conference, it might be hard to
justify keeping a 12-0 Scarlet Knight team that, if it happens, will
have beaten West Virginia at West Virginia and Louisville. If 1984 BYU
can be voted in, why can’t Rutgers? The strength of schedule ranking is
37th, but …
Keep ‘em out … … come on. Beating possible MAC champion Ohio and
shutting out Navy might be nice, and the whole story might be cute, but
no one’s really doing backflips about the idea of Greg Schiano’s club
playing for the whole ball of wax. The best defense the Scarlet Knights
have gotten past has been, um, uhhhh, South Florida?
What has to happen … It might be there for the taking. The BCS
computers love the Scarlet Knights with four ranking them second and two
ranking them third. A win at West Virginia, especially an impressive
one, might demand a spot in Glendale.
4. Notre Dame
Get ‘em in … The offense is getting stronger and sharper by
the week. At this point, it's all about the USC game. If the Trojans
blow out Cal and becomes everyone’s number two after this weekend, a
dominant Irish performance in L.A. could be enough to get the pollsters
to forget about …
Keep ‘em out … … the 47-21 home loss to Michigan that wasn’t as
close as the final score might indicate. What does it say that the
Wolverine win in South Bend was their highest scoring game this year?
Yeah, the Michigan State and UCLA wins were classic, but a great team
wouldn’t have been in a position to need those comebacks. It’ll be a
hard sell to put Notre Dame in the title game over Michigan, and it
might be a harder pitch to get anyone excited about a rematch of the
September 16th debacle.
What has to happen … For this to work, Notre Dame has to beat USC
by at least two touchdowns and look fantastic doing it. Ohio State has
to blowout Michigan badly enough to keep anyone from wanting to see a
rematch. Notre Dame has to become the only viable option to play Ohio
State, and Irish fans have to remind everyone that they’re owed one
after getting passed over in the national title selection by Florida
State in 1993.
Get ‘em in … The Gators have certainly earned their stripes
with the nation's eighth toughest schedule. If they beat Florida State
and win the SEC championship, that’ll mean they’ll have beaten,
potentially, nine bowl bound teams. With a 12-1 record, it might be hard
to keep the champion of the nation’s best conference out of the title.
Keep ‘em out … Zzzzzzzzzzz. The offense has hardly inspired goose
bumps in lackluster performances over the last several weeks; efficiency
doesn’t exactly equal greatness. The pass defense can be bombed on,
while the now Marcus Thomas-less run defense lost against the one team
it faced who can run, Auburn.
What has to happen … 12-1 with an impressive SEC championship
might be enough to get it done. It would be nice if USC would lose one
more time, and a Rutgers loss to West Virginia could turn out to be a
must. Will the SEC raise a stink if it gets the shaft, like it did in
2004 when Auburn was the odd team out, and will everyone feel like it’s
the SEC’s turn to get the big break?
Get ‘em in … How good does that 50-14 win at Arkansas look
now? If the Trojans finish 11-1, that’ll mean they’ll have beaten at
least seven bowl teams, and the number could jump to nine including Big
12 North champion Nebraska and (most likely) BCS-bound Notre Dame. This
might be a nebulous reason, but USC just feels like a
championship-caliber team after the last few years. You can’t really go
wrong from a PR standpoint by putting Pete Carroll in.
Keep ‘em out … Oh yeah, Oregon State. Boise State might have a
little bit of a stink if it goes unbeaten and gets left out considering
the 42-14 blowout of the Beavers earlier this year. This isn’t last
year’s USC team, it’s not the 2004 team, and it’s not the 2003 squad.
You have to judge each team and each season on its own merits.
What has to happen … Style points count now. The Trojans have the
coveted number three spot in the mix after last week, and they need to
look great against California, Notre Dame, and UCLA to take over for the
Michigan/Ohio State loser in the top two. The strength of schedule
ranking is currently fifth, that’ll certainly be played up over the next
1. Michigan/Ohio State loser
Get ‘em in … If the game is a classic either way, in a year
with no one grabbing the national title race by the horns, it might be
tempting to want to see part two. The precedent was set in 1996 when
Florida State beat up Danny Wuerffel and the No. 1 Gators 24-21 in
Tallahassee, and then the two met again in the Sugar Bowl with Florida
winning the national title 52-20. Ohio State's victory at Texas still
might be the best win all year, while Michigan's blowout of Notre Dame
is a close second.
Keep ‘em out … Rematches, no matter what, are bad for college
football. The integrity of the regular season means everything and if
the two have to play again, that would completely diminish the first
matchup. The Big Ten isn't that great this year and it certainly isn't
wrong to dog Ohio State's slate since the Texas game or Michigan's
schedule since the Wisconsin win.
What has to happen … If Michigan wins, forget any hope of a
rematch. If Ohio State wins on a last second field goal, many might want
to see what could happen if the two played on a neutral field. If
there’s an Oklahoma/Oregon-like officiating controversy, expect to see
round two in a few months.
race might be far more interesting than the real one … Just to give
the bad teams something to do, I propose a race for the BS BCS – a
post-season showdown of the worst teams in America. Instead of getting
payouts, the schools have to donate money back into the system for
making us watch bad football all season long. The same rules apply. The
big six leagues get an automatic bid while there are four at-large teams
with only two from the non-traditional BCS conferences being able to get
in. I get the final say since it’s my bit …
- BS BCS No. 1 FIU vs. BS BCS No. 2 Temple
- BS BCS ACC Champion Duke vs. BC BCS Big East Champion Syracuse
- BS BCS Big 12 Champion Iowa State vs. BS BCS ACC at-large North
- BS BCS Big Ten Champion Illinois vs. BS BCS Pac 10 Champion Stanford
- BS BCS SEC Champion Ole Miss vs. BS BCS at-large Utah State
Provocative musings and tidbits to make every woman want you and
every man want to be with you (or vice versa).
- The best team you’re not watching is BYU. The Cougars lost on a bomb
of a last second field goal in the opener at Arizona and lost in a
double-overtime heartbreaker to Boston College. Two plays the right way
and they’d be right in the hunt for the national title, and deservingly
- I demand to be kissed by a halfway-decent looking Texas A&M coed after
every Aggie score. At the very least I should get a smooch after every
column that isn’t awful.
- Let the Auburn situation be a lesson to future teams: you can’t just
turn it on late in the year. After going through the motions in wins
over Tulane, Ole Miss and Arkansas State, the Tigers hardly looked sharp
against Georgia with no passing game and a lifeless game from the D. You
can’t blame Tommy Tuberville for resting some key players to get them
ready for the finishing kick, but it didn't work.
- The best TV angle by far is at USC. Watching the Trojans is like
having a seat 35 rows up, not in the second deck like for most games.
- Can CBS get a bad afternoon SEC game? It helps to have major SEC
rivalries, but even Ole Miss – Alabama went into overtime.
My Heisman ballot this week would be … 1. Troy Smith, QB Ohio
State, 2. Colt Brennan, QB Hawaii, 3. Mike Hart, RB Michigan, 4. Brady
Quinn, QB Notre Dame, 5. Ray Rice, RB Rutgers
C.O.W. shameless gimmick item …
The weekly five Overrated/Underrated aspects
of the world
Mario ... Underrated:
2) Overrated: South Carolina Gamecock head
coach Steve Spurrier … Underrated: DiGiorno Otter head coach Steve
3) Overrated: K-Fed … Underrated: Fed-Ex
4) Overrated: Guy who keyed my car ... Underrated: Dick Cheney dunking
style torture followed up by a couple of hard,
pipe-hittin' dudes to go to work with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch
followed up by having the eyes pinned open A Clockwork Orange
style while being forced to watch the entire Arli$$/Cheap Seats
Heath Shuler, quarterback ... Underrated:
Heath Shuler, congressman
Sheer hubris run amok … The three lines this week that appear to
be a tad off. Can’t … go … 3-0 … ever. Even so, I’ve been better over
the last few weeks overcoming a disastrous start to go 13-14 so far.
Here’s the official kiss of death for three teams … 1) Auburn -3 over
Alabama, 2) Navy -31.5 over Temple, 3) Central Michigan -3.5 over
Sorry this column sucked, but it wasn’t my fault … I
thought I wrote a better column, but like the 2006 Rose Bowl, it just
came out that I had a bad replay feed. The officials were looking at
fans in the stands rather than focusing on too-close-to-call items.