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5 Thoughts - The Other Guys To Deal With
While the world is focusing on the big boys in the Big 12 and SECers Florida and Alabama, there are other teams to deal with. Chase Coffman and Missouri will have a big say in the show, as will James Rodgers and Oregon State. In praise of D.J. Moore and Vandy, why USC can't be ahead of Utah, and more in the latest 5 Thoughts.
5 Thoughts ... Nov. 17
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They Could Find
Would I pick Penn State to beat USC in the Rose Bowl?
No. Would I pick Utah to beat USC in the Fiesta Bowl?
Doubtful. Should USC play for the national title if all
heck breaks loose, like if Missouri wins the Big 12
If Utah beats BYU and/or if Penn State beats Michigan
State, then absolutely not.
Utah and Mountain West fans have every beef in the book
if the Utes beat BYU next week and, if everything breaks
the right way, USC gets into the BCS title game.
Remember, you have to go by what has happened on the
So explain, exactly, why USC would be more deserving
than Utah if 1) the Mountain West finished 6-1 vs. the
Pac 10 this year, 2) Utah finished unbeaten, 3) USC
finished with one loss, 4) USC lost to Oregon State
27-21 and 5) Utah beat Oregon State 31-28?
I don’t want to hear about how great the USC defense is,
or the talent level, or the oddsmakers, or the past, or
what we believe; I want one, single, solitary argument
as to why USC deserves to be in the national
title discussion over an unbeaten Utah. Please.
I’d have less of a beef with USC getting in over Penn
State because of the loss to Iowa, however, 1) USC lost
to Oregon State, 2) Penn State throttled Oregon State
45-14, 3) USC beat Ohio State at home without Beanie
Wells and with Terrelle Pryor playing a backup role
(although I’d take USC now over OSU), and 4) Penn State
beat Ohio State, with Beanie and Terrelle, in Columbus.
It’s a harder sell, but Penn State fans would have an
And then there are the Big 12 teams. No way, no how
should a one-loss Texas be passed over the Trojans if it
doesn’t play for the Big 12 title but finishes with just
that one last-second loss to Texas Tech The same goes
for a one-loss Oklahoma or a one-loss Texas Tech.
Again, does that mean I’d pick Florida over USC in the
national title game? Well, yeah, but I’d probably take
the Trojans over Alabama. Does that mean I’ll lead the
Up-With-Utah parade if USC is taking a trip to Miami for
January 8th? Sign me up.
Your 2008 Official Fly In The
2. If you’ve been sleeping
on Missouri over the last month, it’s officially
time to reacquaint yourself with Chase Daniel,
Jeremy Maclin, and the rest of the Tigers.
Sure, Mizzou stepped away from the spotlight with
back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Texas, but
it’s still going to play an enormous role in the Big
12 and national championship races. Okay, so the
Tigers weren’t as title-ready as many of us thought,
but they’ve regrouped to win four in-a-row and are
playing like a team that’s no longer under the
microscope. Although the defense will always be
prone to letdowns, the offense is still potent
enough to run with anyone. Even more important is
what took place this past weekend.
While the South Division is going to be a mad
scramble for the next couple of weeks, the North has
already been decided. Three weeks before the game
will be played, Missouri already knows it’ll be in
Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 6. That’s a huge advantage
that Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Texas won’t enjoy.
While they’re battling through make-or-break games,
media scrutiny, and tiebreaker rules, the Tigers can
do some advanced scouting and be sure everyone is
healthy for the BCS play-in game. Yes, Mizzou still
has a rivalry game with Kansas in two weeks, but
unlike last November, it’s not going to drain the
program or come with an enormous media crush. The
Tigers will be able to point the vessel toward
Kansas City, yet have a nice tune-up along the way.
It’s an ideal situation for a school that’ll have an
uphill climb no matter who’s on the other sideline.
So dust off those You Tube clips of Chase Coffman.
Reconnect with Sean Weatherspoon and Ziggy Hood. In
about three weeks, Missouri is going to matter again
The First Game vs. Penn State Wasn't Enough
will be paying plenty of attention to OSU over the next
At 9-2, Ohio State is a win over Michigan away from
playing in a fourth straight BCS bowl game, right? Even
if Penn State wins the Big Ten title Saturday, there’s
no way of keeping a top 10 Buckeye team out, right?
Probably, but there’s one big exception. Oregon State,
the fly in this scarlet and grey ointment.
Without a ton of national attention, the Beavers are
gnawing out quite a story up in the Pacific Northwest.
They’ve lost three games and were miserable in the early
going, but only one defeat has come in Pac-10 play. And
that Sept. 25 shocker over USC has held up so far for a
team that’s won seven of its last eight games and is
gelling on both sides of the ball.
Oregon State is just two wins over Arizona and Oregon
away from playing in its first Rose Bowl since 1965.
That’s a neat story, but why should Jim Tressel care?
Well, if Oregon State is in Pasadena, it probably
gobbles up the at-large berth Ohio State is banking on.
Instead of two Big Ten teams in the mix, there’d be two
Pac-10 cashing fat paychecks, the Beavers and the
Trojans, who’ll be a lock with wins over Notre Dame and
UCLA. Of the ten available slots, the SEC and Big 12
will get two apiece, the ACC and Big East will get one,
and a non-BCS school is likely to nab another. That
leaves three openings for the Pac-10 and Big Ten to
divvy up. Work the numbers, assuming Penn State beats
Michigan State, and the OSU in the BCS this time around
might be traveling from Corvallis, not Columbus.
Chalk One Up For The Smart Guys
4. With the BCS race
essentially taking a break this past weekend, the best story in the
college football world came from the commonwealth of Kentucky.
Finally, a team conquered... conquered its demons, laid to rest 26
years of pain, and showed that doing things the right way can still
be rewarded. Yes, it's true: Vanderbilt University has a football
team that won't endure a losing season and is certifiably headed for
a bowl game.
Covering any sport through a full season is a grind. Lots of games
are blowouts, others are close but ugly, and still others fail to
stir the soul. College football is a big-time business, and when the
football factory teams go at it, the high level of play--as
impressive as it might be--can still be overshadowed by the
cutthroat culture that has come to engulf the sport.
But once in a while, and this is true for every college football
season, a few occasions always manage to pierce the layers of
jadedness, breaking through the clouds to remind all of us--writers,
broadcasters and fans alike--why we ever cared about this sport in
the first place.
This past Saturday gave college football fans that kind of moment,
when Vanderbilt held off Kentucky, 31-24, in a crazy contest with
enough momentum-shifting penalties to give both head coaches, Bobby
Johnson (VU) and Rich Brooks (UK), massive heart attacks.
After losing their past 19 games in which bowl eligibility was at
stake--a bewildering and ridiculous string of setbacks covering more
than a quarter century--the Commodores finally got the girl. An
athletic department that got laughed at when it downsized a few
years ago has shown that it can not only compete, but succeed, in
the SEC. A coach who prohibits profanity from his players showed
that he can win games in America's meanest conference. A team that
could have folded after losing four straight games, and which had to
stare at its own plunge into an abyss of particularly deep despair,
refused to end the season on a seven-game slide.
No, Vandy finally came through. A university known for its
academics, and a football program known for its wholesomeness, are
now bearers of this other, newer distinction: bowl-bound.
Vanderbilt is in a bowl game. Nice going.
Joe The Plumber Wants It, Too
Can you believe Barack Obama has put his feelings about
college football out there for all to see? I agree with him and so
do nearly all thinking football fans but I find it shocking that
Obama would put this out there as he prepares for his inauguration.
Is this his connection with the common man?
Even with the President-elect's backing this idea still has little
chance of coming to fruition in the near future. The powers that be
must not feel that Obama can do them much good because they have
already dismissed his idea with a patronizing answer. Here's what
Oregon president David Frohnmayer had to say. He's the chairman of
the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee.
"We deeply respect the president-elect and we are glad that he is a
fan of college football," Frohnmayer said in an e-mail to ESPN . "We
have the most compelling regular season in all of sports, and I'm
sure that contributes to Senator Obama's enjoyment of our great
game. My colleagues and I on the BCS Presidential Oversight
Committee have discussed the future of postseason football on many
occasions and we do not believe a playoff would be in the best
interest of the sport, the student-athletes or our many other
There you have it. Rejected out of hand. When the top elected
official in this country can't get through to these blowhards, what
chance do the rest of us have?