5 Thoughts - The Other Guys To Deal With

Posted Nov 17, 2008

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 Jacquizz Rodgers

By Pete Fiutak   

1. 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 title game?

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 field.

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 argument.

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 Ointment

By Richard Cirminiello     

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 outside Columbia.        

Because The First Game vs. Penn State Wasn't Enough

Richard Cirminiello   

3. OSU will be paying plenty of attention to OSU over the next two weekends.

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

By Matthew Zemek

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

By Steve Silverman

5.  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 constituencies."
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?