Run and Shoot: December 2008 Archives

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December 15, 2008

The 2008 Goat Awards

http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/11173476


You have to love this time of the season. All the individual award winners have been announced. The Heisman. The Outland. The Nagurski. The Lombardi. The mystery is over and everybody is given a big fat smiley face because love is all around.

But we always forget that there's the other side of the coin. I'm talking about the teams, players and coaches who did not come through in the clutch. In other words, who are the biggest goats of the season? The plays that, had they been made would have changed the complex of the season.

*CrabtreeScores.jpg
(This play never should have happened, except for the Goat Award winners that allowed it)

Here's our top five for the Goat Awards for this season.

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1- November 1, Jones Stadium.
(a two-way tie)
Texas DB Blake Gideon's dropped interception, and...
Texas DBs Earl Thomas and Curtis Brown both lollygagging and allowing Michael Crabtree to score on the next play.

Everybody wants to make a big deal over Gideon dropping a gimme INT. And it's true. But you also have to chastise Thomas and Brown (particularly Thomas) for even allowing that game-winning touchdown to occur. I'm not sure what Thomas was doing on the play, just jogging over and not bothering to play off the receiver. Instead, he ran right by just watching the brilliant receiver make another brilliant catch.

If one of the two Horn players even went so far as to knock Crabtree into the 10th row of the stadium and get a flag, at least Texas would have another chance to stop Tech. Instead, both horribly misplayed the throw and Crabtree is still celebrating that TD to this day.

Needless to say, these two plays changed the chase for the national championship more than anything else this season. Thus, the BCS was given carte blanche to put the screws to somebody again. It's just never been Texas that has gotten the works like this.

*UTdropINT.jpg
(Blake Gideon's drop of an easy interception could've ended Texas Tech's upset the play before the Raiders scored the winning touchdown)


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2- September 25, Reser Stadium.
USC's Kevin Thomas' sure-fire interception that tipped off his hands and landed softly in James Rodgers hands for an Oregon State touchdown.

With the ball down at the Trojans' three-yard line and mere seconds left in the first half, OSU quarterback Lyle Maevao tossed a Billy Kilmer-like floater into the end zone where SC's Kevin Thomas easily had his mitts ready to gobble up. But instead, the ball tipped off his stone hands and into the waiting arms of OSU's Rodgers. Six points.

With seconds remaining in the half, this gift-six allowed the Beavers to go up at 21-0 at the break. As you know, SC made a big comeback in the second half, but came up short in a 27-21 loss. Do the math. If Thomas makes that pick, USC would've won that night. And had USC won, they’d be in Miami in early 2009, not fighting horrible L.A. gridlock to get to Pasadena for the fourth straight year. Yawn.

*USCpick?.jpg
(All Kevin Thomas had to do was either pull this ball in, or knock it into the stands...)

*OSUtd.jpg
(Instead, he tipped the ball just enough to where James Rodgers was able to make the catch for a crushing half-ending touchdown)


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3- November 8, Kinnick Stadium.
Penn State's secondary in third-down situations in the loss to Iowa

During the Hawkeyes three second half scoring drives, including the one that led to the game-winning field goal, they went 7-for-7 on third down. Six of the seven conversions were from Richard Stanzi passes, four completed to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and two to Brandon Myers. The other conversion was from another awful pass interference call.

If the Nittany Lion defense stops just one of those seven plays, they would be playing Oklahoma for the national title.


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4- September 24, Dolphin Stadium.
Miami WR Kayne Farquharson dropping the game-winning pass vs. North Carolina

After UNC scored with 46 seconds left in the game to go up 28-24, the Canes quickly matriculated down the field and found themselves at the Tar Heel 20-yard line. UM quarterback Robert Marve found Farquharson cutting across the middle of the end zone on a crossing route and zipped a ball right into his hands. But like USC's Thomas above, the bee-line pass tipped off his hands and nestled into the awaiting arms of Carolina'sTrimane Goddard, who clutched the pick and secured the win.

*MiamiFansReact.jpg
(Hurricane students react to the cruel change of fate that just occurred in the end zone in front of them)

Had Farquharson wrangled that last-second touchdown, the Canes would've tied Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech for the Coastal Division crown of the ACC. And, well, depending on how lame the ACC tie-breaker is, maybe it would've been the U playing BC for a chance at a BCS bowl. Now THAT would've been a Randy Shannon success story, the kind you haven't seen much of from black head coaches in major college football, because of lack of opportunities.


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5- December 6, Skelly Stadium
East Carolina's Travis Simmons' 72 yard pick six of Tulsa QB David Johnson's pass.

In the Conference USA title game, Johnson, the nation's top rated passer, tossed a career-high five picks and East Carolina prevailed 27-24. The most costly of those picks was Simmons' pick-six that put ECU up 14-0 in the first quarter.

In all, the Golden Hurricane had seven turnovers on the day and still only lost by three. Had Johnson only thrown four interceptions - still a large number for the usually efficient signal-caller - Tulsa would've won the game and its first-ever C-USA title.


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DISHONORABLE MENTIONS:

- Florida offensive line vs. Ole Miss
Allowed game-tying extra point to be blocked and then couldn't push the Rebels D-line back a yard on a 4th and one as Tim Tebow got stopped well short on potential game-winning drive. Lucky for the Gators, it didn't cost them a spot in the BCS title game. Otherwise they would've made the list above.

*UMblockFG.jpg
(This blocked extra point was the difference in Ole Miss being able to pull the upset in Gainesville back in September. C'mon O-line, where are you guys?)

- Oklahoma State's co-offensive coordinators Gunter Brewer and Trooper Taylor.
Whichever one of those guys that are responsible for calling a crossing pattern pass behind the line of scrimmage on a key 4th-and-6 with 2:48 left in the Texas game, a 28-24 loss.

- Michigan QB Steven Threet two-point conversion attempt vs. Utah.
Overthrew WR Tony Clemens in the back of the end zone, not noticing the tight end that released on an underneath route and would've scored easily. Can you imagine the kind of season Rich Rodriguez and company would've had if they had beaten the Utes in game one?

- Stanford failing to have guts in 23-20 loss at UCLA
With a 4th-and-a-foot at UCLA's 11 yard line, Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh chose to kick a field goal to put SU up 20-16 with 5:16 left, instead of going for it. (And yes, this is an offense with bruising Toby Gerhart at running back). UCLA then went through Stanford's D like a sieve and scored the winning touchdown with 10 seconds left. Had SU won, they'd be 6-6 and going to a bowl game.

- Tennessee losing to Wyoming 13-7.
No need for description here. For lame-duck coach Phil Fulmer to have his team lose to lame-duck coach Joe Glenn and company defies logic. Remember, the Cowboys are a 4-8 Mountain West team.


*TennShock.jpg
(Tennessee players reflect the same feeling college football fans around the country had to Wyoming's stunning upset in Neyland Stadium.)

Any more suggestions? Feel free to add them with the "comment" button below.

December 07, 2008

11 Lessons Learned from Week 15

http://www.sportsline.com/collegefootball/story/11158288

Yep, the regular season has been great, riveting and surprising at every turn. Now it has come to an end. So let the satisfying regular season end and let the aggravating post-season begin.

*SamBradford.jpg
(Amongst a sea of hands, Sam Bradford is all smiles, knowing he just obliterated Missouri and screwed rival Texas out of a more-deserved chance at the BCS title game. Again, if you were a Sooner, wouldn't you be happy about all that too?)

Here's the lessons we learned from this past weekend.

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Lesson 1-
We learned that every fan of college football deserves an apology.

Too bad this apology won't come from the bowl execs, but here goes.

Dear college football fans,

You've just experienced one of the greatest regular seasons in the history of our sport. Hope you enjoyed it. I sure did. But here's an apology for you: I'm sorry. Why? Because now you're about to get rooked.

We all know that this system of deciding the title in major college football really sucks. The BCS creators - Roy Kramer and his cronies, with their smarmy smiles, hoodwink eyes, glad-handing, placating and backstabbing selves - can all go burn in Hades. Just imagine how cool "December Madness" could be, especially with the one-loss teams we have in the top six?

Instead, we get a month-long layoff to collect cobwebs. Then we get a bunch of meaningless bowl games matching up teams that don't deserve to go to the post-season, playing in bowl games that are really nothing more than just a city's crappy chamber of commerce infomercial. And finally another "championship" game that won't truly decide who the best team in the country is. Yee... Haw.

So please accept this apology.

Sincerely,

Eric Sorenson


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Lesson 2-
Gregg Doyel is/was/will always be right.

He's been saying it for quite a while now and it has come true. It's Florida vs. Oklahoma in the BCS title game. And okay, maybe the Gators didn't mop the floor with the Tide like he said they would in the SEC title game, but a double digit victory? That's solid enough. My hat is off to you bro. Now, will you ever get those angry Bama fans to allow you inside their state lines? Probably not. So don't plan any vacations there, unless you're disguised in KISS makeup or something.

*OUbig12champs.jpg
(Doyel called it... OU will play in the national title game. Here they are celebrating the fact that Gregg predicted they'd be sitting pretty going into the bowl season, and sure enough here they are.)


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Lesson 3-
It's official, there's nothing "fair" about our fair sport.

I just thought I'd mention here that there IS no correct answer as to who should play in the national title game. The two teams that are playing for all the marbles have probably played the best in the month of November. That's what got them to vault over Texas.

But on the other hand, who says it shouldn't be an Alabama-Florida rematch for the BCS title? The Tide's only loss on the season was a hard-fought four-quarter battle against the No. 2 team in the country. Plus, wasn't the BCS conceived by an SEC guy anyway? Then he would love this. That whole unwritten rule of losing-later-in-the-season-knocks-you-out thing is really stupid.


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Lesson 4-
We learned that Tim Tebow should go ahead and vote for himself for the Heisman.

He's the best football player in the game at this level. Dare I say, he's one of the greatest football players ever. He has showed that week-in, week-out. And I'm not just saying this because he claimed that nobody would play harder and work harder, etc. Not only that, but during that post-game presser he forgot to say that nobody was going to play *smarter* than himself. Because the biggest stat that shows what a great player he is was the fact that he only threw two interceptions all season long. Runs like a Mack truck, throws accurate as an English darts champion and makes very few mistakes. I'm sold.

My Heisman Top Three:
1- Tim Tebow.
And consider that he never got to play against some of those sieve defenses of the Big 12.
2- Colt McCoy.
A complete leader and also maybe even more valuable to his team than Tebow.
3- Sam Bradford.
Surgeon-like in exploiting defenses. He's also deceptively strong-armed.


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Lesson 5
If Turner Gill can lead Buffalo to a bowl game, he deserves national Coach of the Year honors.

With their stunning 42-24 rout of previously-unbeaten Ball State, the Bulls won the MAC title and a slot in the International Bowl on January 3rd. UB finishes the 2008 regular season at 8-5. That's eight wins and a bowl game in just the program’s ninth year of operation. With that kind of pedigree, and with what is happening to black coaches in Division I, Coach Gill should parlay the success of this season into a more premium gig elsewhere.

*TurnerGill.jpg
(Cool as a cucumber. And yet, a stud on the coaching horizon. Buffalo coach Turner Gill led the once-lowly Bulls to their first ever bowl bid as a Division I member. That remarkable feat deserves a much more plush job)

My Coach of the Year Top Three:
1- Turner Gill, Buffalo.
Most black head coaches are stuck in horrible programs. Gill proved he could win at his.
2- Nick Saban, Alabama
Don't think I've ever seen a coach have this immediate of an impact on a major program.
3- Mack Brown, Texas.
A little off the radar in pre-season but hiring Will Muschamp made Horns better and made Mack look smart.


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Lesson 6-
We learned that Greg Schiano and Mike Teel deserve the coach and player Comeback of the Year Award.

Think about these guys' situation back on October 11th. There they were having just lost a heartbreaking game to Cincinnati by a 13-10 count to drop them to 1-5. And for Coach Schiano, that magical season of 2006 was waaaaay back in the rear-view mirror. Suddenly he's no longer hot property.

But since that game, Coach and the Knights have, indeed, kept chopping. With Thursday night's 63-14 bombing of Louisville, the state university of New Jersey had completed a 7-5 turnaround that will have them heading to the PapaJohns.com Bowl. That sequence included wins over Pitt and South Florida where the Knights scored 54 and 49 points respectively.

Quarterback Mike Teel, who took more heat than any other player in the country, has completed nearly 70% of his passes and tossed 20 TDs as opposed to just five picks during the last six games. Prior to that he had three TDs and seven interceptions. On Thursday against the 'Ville, he was a precision-like 21-of-26 for 447 yards and seven TDs. Yikes!


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Lesson 7-
We discovered that South Florida wins the Season Swoon Dive Award.

After one month of the season the Bulls were 5-0 and ranked in the Top 10, primed for a run at the Big East title. From that point on, USF went 2-5 including a loss to Louisiville and a 49-16 lambasting to Rutgers. The Bulls ended up finishing the season looking like a bunch of South Floridians out of water - or snow. They lost a 13-7 decision in snowy Morgantown on Saturday to close the regular season at 7-5. QB Matt Grothe had two interceptions and went just 18-of-33 as the Bulls out-gained the Mountaineers 326 to 280, but made too many mistakes.

*USFgrobe.jpg
(I don't know if it was the penalties, the Mountaineer defense or playing in that cold, flaky white stuff called "snow", but South Florida's Matt Growthe was so uncomfortable he was hoppin' mad.)

Their sentencing for this horrible downturn? Something called the "magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl." We can only hope that’s St. Petersburg, Russia. That would be fitting.


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Lesson 8-
Navy has lapped the field in the chase for the Commander In Chief trophy.

Saturday's 34-0 bombarding of rival Army was the Midshipmen's seventh straight win in what is the best rivalry in college football. But not only that, Navy has also now gone unbeaten in 13 straight service academy games. That last loss was against Air Force in 2002.

*NavyComingOut.jpg
(About the only thing that went wrong in Saturday's win over Army was when the flag-bearer here tripped and fell while running out onto the field for the annual Army-Navy game. Say, when the American flag touches the ground, weren't we taught that the flag should be burned in a humane manner?)

Quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada said he knew what the difference was.

"I think it’s work ethic." He said. "We pride ourselves on being the hardest working team out there. It’s the only thing that gives us a chance."

I'd say it has more to do with the speed of the Navy Midshipmen compared to the other service academies. I wouldn't dare say one of these high-discipline teams works harder than the other.


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Lesson 9-
We've found another SEC fan base that is delusional and expect way too much.

Auburn (Said with head down and shaking side-to-side)

*BeanoCook.jpg
(Even the Pope of college football, Beano Cook, said that Auburn's fan base is delusional after it openly wanted Tommy Tuberville fired. And I agree with him.)


Auburn administrators were able to get a "resignation" from head coach Tommy Tuberville this week. Of course, I think we all know that this guy was under the gun and run off and/or fired. And this is something that a lot of Plainsmen fans have been looking forward to. But why?

Here's a guy that from 2004 to 2007 produced arguably the best four-year stretch of any coach in Tigers' history, going 42-9, including an unbeaten 13-0 season. Yeah they went 5-7 this year, but in the SEC you're going to have seasons like that once in a while. This isn't the Mountain West people. Everybody takes a tough season to the chops here and there. Auburn administrators, Board of Trustees and fans are obviously influenced by the hires of Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. So Tubey gets the pink slip as they look for another savior coach. Instead, something tells me they're more likely to end up with an Ed Orgeron or Mike DuBose. Good luck.


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Lesson 10-
The biggest potential for the sour grapes reaction to a bowl game is Alabama.

The Tide wanted to be playing in Miami on January 8th. Sure, if you had told a Tide fan before the season started that they would be going to the Sugar Bowl at the end of the season, they would've taken it in a heartbeat. But my how things have changed in their outlook. Instead of playing for all the marbles, the Red Elephants will be subjected to a game against Utah. (Those Tide fans are probably thinking, "Utah?.. is that still a territory or a real state?"). In other words, a no-win situation, because they will be expected to dominate the Mountain Westers in New Orleans.

Meanwhile, the Utes will be hell-bent to prove they belong, if not in a BCS bowl, they're going to try to get their point across that they deserved to be playing for the national title. Sure it may turn into another Georgia vs. Hawaii type of thing, but with a no-win situation like this, Alabama may not show up.


Lesson 11-
We discovered the winner of the Put A Bag Over Your Head bowl matchup goes to… the Independence Bowl.

Northern Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (7-5)

We didn't exactly get our usual 6-6 team vs. 6-6 team matchup, but this one is pretty close. A matchup so uninteresting, I'm wondering if a TV network is going to bother showing up to televise it. Who will show up? We're talking about girlfriends, parents and band members in the stands and that’s about it. Oh and the temperatures will probably be in the 20s or so too boot. Have a nice game.

Runner Up- The Hawaii Bowl
Notre Dame (6-6) vs. Hawaii (7-6)
Tell me, how the hell does a team as horrible as the Irish get rewarded by playing in the Islands? You gotta be shittin' me!


*BeamerDance.jpg
After seeing VaTech's Frank Beamer's tongue-wagging post-game victory dance after the win over BC, I realized that he deserved to be punched like this...

*BeamerPunched.jpg

December 01, 2008

11 Lessons Learned from Week 14

http://www.sportsline.com/print/collegefootball/story/11142830

Polls. Computers. Politicking. Facebooking. Banner-pulling. Placard-holding.

Why do I feel like if I bore into the Earth's core in this college football world I'd find Alfred E. Newman at the controls. What, me worry?

*BradfordAirborn.jpg
(Sam Bradford and Oklahoma sent the college football world topsy-turvy with their win at Oklahoma State this weekend, catapulting the Sooners to No. 2 in the BCS rankings)

Look, if the Barack Obama Invitational were put in place this year, we'd have none of this Hatfield & (Colt) McCoy feuding over who deserves to go where at all.

In fact, we would instead be left with a pretty cool three weeks of football. Here's how the bracket would look as of today:

1- Alabama
8- Penn State

4- Florida
5- USC

3- Texas
6- Utah

7- Texas Tech
2- Oklahoma

Oh sure, I'd like to see fewer rematches, like the 2-vs-7 game, but look at some of those other matchups and potential head-to-heads! (Ahhhhh, there's that wishful endorphin rush).

Instead, we're left with reality. Sad, sad, reality.

Here's this week's 11 Lessons we learned in our withering college football world.


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Lesson 1-
We will all soon find out that this is the worst week to be a college football fan.

I don't know if it's like this for you, but this is the week where all my NFL-based friends laugh hysterically in my face over the fact that a popularity poll is what decides the two teams in the biggest game of the season in my favorite sport. And I have no comeback for that.

Their easiest and most obvious dagger to my college pigskin heart? "So what if the NFL just decided at the end of the season to hold an opinion poll as to who the two best teams are and put those two in the Super Bowl. Sound good there Baldy-locks?" (Laughs ensue)


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Lesson 2-
Texas just learned what karma is all about.

Oh sure, the Longhorns are all up in arms about Oklahoma getting voted into the Big 12 title game. And they should be. But look beyond the anger. This is payback My Name Is Earl-style.

*UTfans45-35signs.jpg
(Sorry Longhorn fans, this tactic just didn't have any effect on the hordes of computers out there.)

Rewind to December 4, 2004 when Cal had just won at Southern Miss by 10 points (which included taking a knee with a minute left inside the USM 10 yard line) and was ranked No. 4 and in line to get picked up by the Rose Bowl, since No. 1 USC was going to the Orange Bowl to win the national title. But then Mack Brown publicly politicked and allegedly made a number of glad-handing phone calls to his poll-voting cronies, begging them to rank his Longhorns ahead of Cal in the final regular season poll. This tactic worked. Cal's lead over Texas in the coaches poll went from 48 points to five points allowing the Horns to jump the Bears in the final BCS poll and get the Rose Bowl bid.

Guess what Longhorns, 2008 is your karma for 2004. OU gets to go to the Big 12 title game because you *only* beat them by 10. Only this time it looks like it cost you a shot at the national title. Grin and Bear it.


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Lesson 3-
See, Alabama CAN win impressively.

And it's about time. It was good to see the Crimson Tide finally pummel someone they should've pummeled all along in its 36-0 crushing of Auburn. And I just re-checked the box score, it's legit. No special teams returns for touchdowns, no tipped interception returned for touchdowns, no recovered fumbles by a fat lineman for a touchdown, not even a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. This was a manhandling bar none.

Auburn was held to 170 total yards and had more punts (9) than first downs (8). Finally, Bama looked worthy of No. 1. Now, will that last more than six more days?


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Lesson 4-
Meanwhile, beyond the Tide and Florida, we found out that the rest of the SEC is tailspinning.

All those people that say the SEC is the best conference, even the ACC is giving you a Bronx salute. Sure the Seminoles got bombed by the Gators, that was expected. But beyond that, three other ACC teams toyed with their formerly stronger SEC mates.

Wake Forest subdued Vanderbilt 23-10, sending Vandy to a bowl game with a 6-6 limp on its ledger. Clemson breezed by the ole ball coach 31-14, leaving the Gamecocks 1-4 vs. FBC teams with winning records. And Georgia was out-optioned by Georgia Tech 45-42, begging the question: Who says the SEC's defenses are too fast for good old option football?


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Lesson 5-
Once again we are shown how much LeSean McCoy loves to play against West Virginia.

McCoy helped Pitt burn the BCS dreams of the rival Mountaineers for the second year in a row with a career-high 183 yards. And like all good running backs, McCoy got stronger as the game went on, getting 84 of those yards in the fourth quarter.

*LeSeanMcCoy.jpg
("Can't we just play West Virginia every week?" LeSean McCoy would love that, after ripping the Mountaineers for 183 yards and the game-winning touchdown in the Backyard Brawl.)


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Lesson 6-
We learned for the umpteenth time that most conference championship games are unnecessary.

Unless you're in love with money.

ACC: Boston College (9-3, 5-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4, 5-3)
Nope. Sorry. Don't need it. This game was already played back in October with BC winning 28-23. Besides, who wants to see the same two teams play in the ACC title game for the second year in a row? Just skip it people.

*BClinebackerJump.jpg
(Mike McLaughlin is a 250-pound version of Knowshon Moreno, leaping this Maryland blocker on the way to a sack of the son of the drummer for Ratt.)

MAC: Ball State (12-0, 8-0) vs. Buffalo (7-5, 5-3)
Really, do we need Ball State to put a possible BCS berth on the line? Buffalo lost three MAC games. BSU was obviously the best team in the conference. This is pretty awful. Especially if the Cards should happen to lose.

Big 12: Oklahoma (11-1, 7-1) vs. Missouri (9-3, 5-3)
First off, nobody in the Big 12 North deserves to be in this game. It just makes no sense. Plus, with the Big 12s history of the conference title game ruining national title runs, it's amazing they would bother to keep risking it.


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Lesson 7-
Even USC fans realize it's time to get out of this Rose Bowl contract.

At the 9:24 mark of the second quarter of USC's 38-3 win over Notre Dame, the Coliseum Jumbotron showed its out-of-town scoreboard. And there it was: Oregon 37, Oregon State 10. Halftime.

First a group of cheers rang out from the Trojan crowd, since this meant another undisputed Pac 10 title. Then, you could audibly hear the muttering. And dare I say, even some groaning. It dawned on Trojan fans that for the fourth year in a row it appears as if their team is headed across town to Pasedena on January 1st. And worse, they are going to play another Big 10 team.

Almost every Trojan fan I talked to while tailgating before the game went so far as to hope Oregon State would win its Civil War game with Oregon just so SC could go somewhere new and play a more marquee Big 12 or SEC team. Alas, barring a Missouri upset in the Big 12 title game and some funky voting after that, the Trojans will beat another Big 10 team and still leave people in the South and Midwest wondering if this team is really all that good or not.


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Lesson 8-
We learned that coaches can lose their mojo very quickly in this sport.

Dare I say, those people that claim Tom Brady made Charlie Weis, well, I think they're right. Especially after watching Notre Dame slog through nearly three quarters before even picking up its first first down of the game vs. USC.

The Irish finished the game with four first downs and 91 total yards. Long gone are the days when Coach Weis looked so brilliant while Brady Quinn led the Irish to its highest passing yards total in school history. That was 2005. Today? Well even in the post-game press conference, Weis himself admitted he didn't know how to counteract simple football.

"He (QB Jimmy Clausen) was under duress on fundamental pass plays." Weis sputtered. "I could understand being under duress with seven or eight guys coming at him. But they were doing it by rushing four guys. We had no answer for it."

Charlie has lost it.


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Lesson 9-
We discovered that Ball State deserves something better than the post-season destination they're going to get.

The MAC has bowl tie-ins with the Motor City Bowl (against the No. 7 Big 10 team), the GMAC Bowl (against a Conference USA team) and something called the International Bowl (against a Big East team).

Behind the magical arm of Nate Davis, this might be the best MAC team since the 1970 Toledo squad that went 12-0 and finished No. 12 in the final poll. And yes, I'm saying better than Ben Roethlisberger's No. 10-finishing Miami Ohio team of 2003. With that as a back-drop, do we really want to see these guys from David Letterman U. take on same lame fish like UConn or East Carolina or North Carolina State? No. Give them a big conference challenge people!

*BallSt.NateDavis.jpg
(Love is... having a Ball! SuperQB Nate Davis has been the catalyst behind the best season in Ball State history.)


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Lesson 10-
We learned why the college football season should be moved back.

Weather. This weekend saw the triumphant return of "football weather" to the scene. Rain in Athens. Mud in Tallahassee. Snow in Kansas City. You remember when you were a kid and playing backyard football with your buddies? The most memorable times were when games were played in the elements. The mud, the rain, the snow. It made you feel like warriors. So I say give us more of these manly games. Give us less of the 95 degree, 100% humidity games of September. Besides, nobody likes to see games delayed 20 times by guys laying on the hot turf with cramps in their legs from the heat.


*BloodyTebow.jpg
(Okay, so maybe it IS just end zone paint, but Tim Tebow looks more like William Wallace screaming for freedom, with blood running down his face.)


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Lesson 11-
We learned why the oafish Mike Leach can also be absolutely brilliant.

He said it and I believe it. They should settle the Big 12 South by whichever team has the best team graduation rates. Why the hell not? For once this is a chance to put academics into the equation. Lord knows we rarely get the chance to put "student" into student-athlete.

And if you didn’t catch it earlier, those graduation rates are:
Texas Tech: 79%
Texas: 50%
Oklahoma: 46%

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PICTURES FROM THE NOTRE DAME-USC GAME.

It was a rather bland game, particularly if you were an Irish fan. SC acted more like Alice Cooper's pet python and simply squeezed the life out of Notre Dame with a constricting defense that didn't surrender a first down until the last play of the 3rd quarter. Then again, a junior college team probably could've pulled a similar feat against Charlie Weis' punchless offense. So since most of the interesting action was happening on the sidelines of this game, most of these pictures are from there. Enjoy...

*RocknePlacque.jpg
(There are 20-to-25 honorary plaques around the base of the parastyles in the East end zone of the L.A. Coliseum. Here is an homage to the great Knute Rockne who initiated the idea of bringing his great Notre Dame teams of the 20s out West to play the Trojans.)

*JFKplaque.jpg
(Apparently, the 1960 Democratic convention was scheduled for the Sports Arena next door. But there was such a demand for tickets, they moved the convention to the Coliseum where JFK gave his acceptance speech at the base of the parastyles. This event allegedly inspired Barack Obama to hold this year's convention in Mile High Stadium in Denver.)

*CarrollImaxCrew.jpg
(As USC enters the Coliseum, Pete Carroll gives a quick hello to an Imax movie crew that is documenting the 2008 Trojan season.)

*Maualuga.jpg
(If Rey Maualuga wants to wear some South Pacific leis around his neck as he walks into the stadium, well... I'M not going to tell him not to.)

*ClausenIpod.jpg
("Hmmm, where on this Ipod did my mom put my Jonas Brothers songs!" Jimmy Clausen is jammin' out in pre-game warm-ups.)

BlackledgeHollyRowe.jpg
(Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe are out on the field checkin' out the teams before their broadcasting of the game begins. It's hard to tell here, but at the time Holly was dancing to the song that was playing on the loud speaker.)

*USCband.jpg
(The USC band enters the stadium. Now... where are those Song Girls?)

*ChrisZorichPhone.jpg
(Former Notre Dame All American Chris Zorich looks like he's about to kick my ass for taking a picture of him while he's on the phone.)

*WeisOnField.jpg
(The polarizing coach of Notre Dame strides onto the field as the pre-game warmups get cranked up. No, I didn't intend to intimate that he was going to be taking part in the calisthenics and wind sprints himself.)

*MontanaCarroll.jpg
(Pete Carroll visits with former Domer All American Joe Montana and his wife. "Sorry Joe, but we're about to put your alma mater's coaching situation into serious jeopardy tonight.")

*NDcheerHigh.jpg
(The Notre Dame cheerleaders limber up quite impressively before kickoff.)

*ClausonVictoryDown.jpg
(Just after the two teams got into a rhubarb near the tunnel, ND quarterback Jimmy Clausen went around the field doing the USC "Victory down" sign to the Trojan crowd.)

*HollyRowe.jpg
(ESPN's Holly Rowe is talking on the squawk box to somebody in the production truck. As weird as it sounds, she's better looking in real life than on TV.)

*Flea.jpg
(Best celebrity sighting of the whole day: Red Hot Chili Pepper bassist Flea. Nice. And I might add here that the name "Flea" is quite appropriate. That dude couldn't have been more than 5'6" or so.)

*UNDband.jpg
(This was the first time in the history of the USC-Notre Dame series where the entire UND band was brought out West for the game. Don'tcha think they could've waited until the team got a little more competitive to bring the whole dog-and-pony show?)

*NDcheer.jpg
(The Irish cheerleaders yell encouragement to their mates right before kickoff.)

*WeisClauson.jpg
(This picture was pretty indicative of how things went for Weis, Clausen and the rest of the Irish on this night.)

*GaryMiller.jpg
(Former ESPNer Gary Miller striking his Tommy Trojan pose as he goes over his notes before the teams run out onto the field. He now works for a local station in L.A.)

*NDalmaMater.jpg
(The Irish players sing their alma mater in front of their fans after the game.)

*Clausen&Pawlus.jpg
(Between them Beano Cook would probably say these two will have five Heisman Trophies. Jimmy Clausen and former Irish flinger Ron Pawlus take part in the alma mater ceremony.)

*Weis&son.jpg
(Wonder if Charlie Weis' son will also never play a down of football in his life just like dear old dad.)

*CarrollCheer.jpg
(Pete Carroll gives out a hoo-raw! to the fans as he runs toward the locker rooms after the 38-3 mauling. And I think that's Bubba Smith playing his security policeman there.)

*WeisPostGame.jpg
(Coach Weis gives his explanation of how his team played so poorly. He said he "ran out of answers" in trying to contain USC's very effective four man rush out of what were very basic defensive schemes.)

*UNDathDir.jpg
(After the press conference, Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick was barraged with questions about the future of coach Charlie Weis. He never really gave much of an answer for the rabid media to be satiated with, as you might expect.)

 

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