Chomp

AP/Chris O'Meara

AP/Chris O'Meara

Florida 24, Oklahoma 14Well, I wasn’t too far off, a touchdown a piece. Not bad.

We come not to bury Tim Tebow; we do have some praise for him, and he had a very good second half after a bland first half with two picks. The reason the “Greatest QB EVAH!” (according to just about every damn commentator Fox and ESPN can muster) was even able to overcome his early mistakes was because Charlie Strong and his defense put an absolute lock down on the Oklahoma no-huddle offense, forcing them to slow down, call time outs they normally don’t, and did what not even TCU could do: hold them under 20 points by tightening up when the Sooners got into the maroon (I can’t believe I borrowed that from Easterbrook) and red zones, including an early 4th down stop that set the tone for the rest of the game.

Sam Bradford could only finish a couple drives to Jermaine Gresham, not looking anywhere near the form that earned him a Hesiman Trophy, because he was rushed and his receivers covered fairly well most of the night. It was a slog ’em out where Florida, for the most part, when it scored, did what I thought it would do:  get the ball moving down the field, keeping it out of the hands of that offense, and the Gators would hamstring themselves with some dumb, cheap false start penalties, too.

Let’s be clear: Tebow is not the most dominant or best player ever in college football, no matter what Crazy Uncles Verne and Gary, various Four-Letter talking heads, and Thom Brennaman tell you*. This is the first national championship that is all his own as a leader; he was an important cog in 2006-2007.  This wasn’t dominance on the level of Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl; that’s still the gold standard when we think of pure, unvarnished football domination by one player in the modern era, and rightfully so.  But to give Tebow his due without slurping, I’ll say this: that Gator team feeds off his energy and his presence. This is visible.  There are a lot of great athletes on that team, and they all deserve credit — Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Anthony Hernandez, the Pouncey twins, Brandon Spikes, Jeff Haden, Jarious Jenkins, et al.  — but Tebow’s virtue is that he’s really good at being the leader of the team along with being a great athlete at the collegiate level. No more, no less.

(*Brennaman’s aural fellatio was particularly obnoxious, and thankfully captured by the Big Lead: “In such a cynical, sarcastic society, oftentimes looking for the negative on anybody or anything, if you’re fortunate enough to spend five minutes or 20 minutes around Tim Tebow, your life is better for it.”

Go back to the Big Ten network, take Charles Davis with you, and never come back after next year. ESPN’s rights to the BCS cannot come soon enough, not only for these hacks but the studio guys [die in a fire, Chris Rose] and all their other impromptu announcing teams, including Zombie Pat Summerall.  Fire your entire truck and graphics crew while you’re at it.  An idiotic number of band shots and an inability to break down what defenses were doing are the death of television football broadcasts, and Fox is not helping, on either the pro or collegiate levels.)

Ill-Advised BCS Championship Game Prediction

Getty Images/Doug Benc

Photo: Getty Images/Doug Benc

Not like this ever pans out or means anything. Please see everything under the “previews” category so you can observe my hit and miss ratio at this sort of thing, always.

So, consider the spectacle in Miami tomorrow, in which we only have the track records of the two 12-1 teams competing at Dolphins Stadium and their conferences to wage any sort of hacking through the guesstimation muck in order to consider what the end result of a BCS “championship” game might be (championship in quotes for damn good reason; Utah’s bid being the top one) between Oklahoma and Florida. We have the team with the fastest athletes playing the team that runs its offense the quickest.

Ultimately, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Florida will have all its playmakers, no matter how gimpy Percy Harvin may be — and OU is missing DeMarco Murray, which will hurt them in a sizable way, despite the capable back-ups available to take his place, Murray is a unique presence in that backfield.  Secondly, after watching two of the Big 12 South’s teams look rather pedestrian in bowl games, the equation is starting to skew a bit — and that’s before you consider that Bob Stoops has spit the bit in four consecutive BCS appearances, most recently, the Orange Bowl loss that was a wonderful rebound fuck of sorts for West Virginia after Rich Rod’s ignominous and acrimonious exit; as a result, WVU then decided to turn that ho Bill Stewart into a housewife (and has paid for it by wasting Pat White’s senior year in a bowl named after the dudes who fix your brakes.)

Meanwhile, the UF offense does not come unfocused much, and while the OU defense was stout enough to get by, there’s something that’s always unnerved me about a tema that’s compelled to put up half a hundred as often as possible — and sometimes they’ve actually kind of needed it (witness Kansas State, in which the Sooners actually allowed a 20+-point swing when up by gangbusters; it didn’t matter in the end, but you notice.) By default, it appears Florida’s defense will likely be the second best the OU offense faces, behind TCU — but the Horned Frogs don’t have anything close to an offense attack to respond in kind.

I will say Florida, 31-21, thanks to slow play from Tim Tebow and his corps of speed talent — an offense just as capable of slowing the pace down in order to keep the Sooners’ O and Sam Bradford off the field.

Horns Show Up Just Late Enough To Win

AP/Ross D. Franklin

AP/Ross D. Franklin

Texas 24, Ohio State 21 – That vaunted Longhorns attack via Colt McCoy wasn’t having a whole lot of luck in the first half thanks to a stout Buckeye defense (one of the squad’s better points as it has fits and starts by trying to mesh its QB’s amazing skills with the conservative nature of its coach), and Ohio State decided, for whatever reason, to keep shooting itself in the foot by trotting out Todd Boeckman for his Last Stand when they likely may have been better off putting their future in the hands and on the legs of Terrelle Pryor (personally, I’m still convinced that Pryor chose the wrong school; the Sweater Vest will get much too conservative on him in the years to come. He would have been a great fit with DickRod at Michigan, obviously, but I would think he’d be the natural heir to Daryll Clark at Penn State; running the Spread HD would have been good.)

The funny thing is that Texas wasn’t really able to get after Ohio State late in the game.  McCoy got after it for a 17-6 lead, but then Brian Robiskie stopped dropping balls and became a deep threat in the third quarter, with Pryor using his legs to scramble all over the place (not like he got a whole lot of time to set) and Boeckman got the occasional open shot, like when he threw a fade to the 6’6″ Pryor to take the lead by four points in the fourth.

Then, an EPIC FAIL of tackling and basic defensive skills by OSU, as McCoy had little more than a minute and led the Horsn down the field, using Quan Cosby as his go-to guy. A 4th down spot determined the game at the OSU 40, as part of an 11-play drive. Two inches shorter and it’s OSU ball, game over, the Big 10 saves a bit of face — but no….and a couple plays later, Cosby catches a pass (McCoy threw for more than 400 yards), and a Buckeye safety looks like he hasn’t even passed the most basic of tackling drills, letting the wideout slip through his hands, jiggling like Jello all the way to the end zone with 16 seconds left.

(I enjoyed Yahoo’s headline: “Wrath of Quan.” I imagine the Sweater Vest yelling it Shatner-style.)

The Buckeyes got back to about the Texas 40 when Boeckman, fittingly, was sacked to essentially end the game. At the end, both McCoy and coach Mack Brown made their pleas for being number one, as if barely scraping by an undermanned and clearly sloppy OSU team was any sort of achievement for one of the Big 12 South’s Holy Trinity, two of whom have been embarrassed in some fashion in their bowl games (Texas’ defense is not exactly top tier, but could and should have done better; Texas Tech’s meltdown against Ole Miss goes without saying).  Those calls likely fell on deaf ears, and 45-35 chants ought to be treated as such should Oklahoma win.

(A final note: Big East officials are just as bad as their Pac-10 and SEC counterparts. I’d accuse them of being in the tank for a team, but after a couple of questionable roughing the passer calls on OSU defenders, there were make-up calls of PI on the Longhorns, and a totally weak dual PI call on the two-point attempt after the Pryor receiving TD which should have been flagged solely on the OSU receiver. They may have bet on an OSU cover.)

Ill-Advised Day After Bowl Game Predictions

The sack of weasels isn't even close to being as crazy as the man on the left at times.

The sack of weasels isn't even close to being as crazy as the man on the left at times.

Cotton Bowl – The reason a Texas Tech/Ole Miss match-up fascinates so many is not only because they are invited in a location somewhat available to both fan bases, but the personality and tendencies of both coaches. Mike Leach is the Pirate of the Skies, his luster diminshed just slightly after leaving his BCS title hopes in Norman; Houston Nutt is the boredline insane hick who will throw every manner of trick at you — he calls it as if he has nothing to lose, but is uneven enough to win a big game he’s not exepcted to and blow the next one on a bizarre coaching decision. On pure assembled talent alone, Tech should win this, but any time you think a Nutt team isn’t talented enough to pull it off, you get made to look like a fool. Tech by no more than a touchdown.  The line of -4 is just about right.

Sugar Bowl – Everyone’s hoping for a Boise State, but many are resigned to a Hawai’i. Utah is likely somewhere in the middle. This time they’re not lining up against a Big East patsy like Pitt a few years back; they get the SEC’s power-hitting pro-set team.  What the Utes need to do — MUST do if they want a realistic shot at the upset — is to make John Parker Wilson look like the incosntent thing he can be. I’m not sure Glenn Coffee and Mark Ingram will play poorly enough to force him to have to be that.  Meanwhile, the Utes will score some — but Terrance Cody and the rest of the Bama front seven are a rather revved-up TCU, hungry for redemption after falling before the Florida attack in the SEC championship game. Tide by two scores, in the range of 10-14 points.

Liberty Bowl – Fairly simple. Kentucky is atrocious on offense. If East Carolina can at be mediocre in its attack, this should be handled rather easily.

Blood, Thorns, Credit, Cheap Steaks, And Rotten Fruit

Harry How/Getty Images)

Win forever, boys, and always be jacked while doing so. (Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)

Southern Cal 38, Penn State 24 – Gee, you wonder what USC could actually do if they went balls to the wall for a full 60 minutes every game. After 31 points in the first half, I’m betting Steve Sarkisian checked out mentally and started making calls on U-Dub’s behalf.  Never mind the result or final score, along with the Nittany Lions’ 17 fourth-quarter points: this was another blowout and a wish that the Trojans would either make good on their BCS game chasing again so we don’t have to go through this again (and I LIKE this Penn State team; that’s what made this game so damn frustrating, I thought SC would get a stiff challenge.) If Mark Sanchez actually decided to leave for the NFL on top of 4 TDs and 413 yards passing (along with a rushing TD), no one would blame him. Damian Williams is staying, him and his 10 catches for 162 yards. This is the kind of destruction that frustrates me as an SC fan for several reasons:

  • it gets the big heads slurping cardinal and gold jock again about an MNC when the Trojans had no business being there.
  • this fuels resentment from every other fan base out there, who asks why the fuck we lost to Oregon State (and they have a point)
  • we repeat the same cycle next year when the team comes out lackadaisical for a quarter or two

Whatever. I’ll take a Rose Bowl win and hope that we can keep it together enough next season to play a Big XII or SEC team in the BCS next year, either as an at large or in the championship game.

Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7 – Will no one rid me of these meddlesome Hokies? God help the ACC if Beamer ever gets a consistent offense to go with his ballhawks on defense (they may be the Ravens of college football, everyone knows how they’re going to win and yet they still do it anyhow.)  They made a mockery of Cincy QB Tony Pike, who managed to look like the fifth-or-sixth string QB that he is, with coach Brian Kelly yelling at him about the read he’d fucked up after each of the four interceptions he threw.

Georgia 24, Michigan State 12 – Matthew “Fetus Boy” Stafford was two-faced in this game, or at least two-halved: looking like absolute crap with a 6-for-14 and a pick in a fairly dull first half, which reminded SEC viewers of the squandered potential that UGA had throughout the season thanks mostly to injuries that had decimated both their offensive and defensive lines. However, this is a Michigan State team utterly dependent on Javon Ringer (how Brian Hoyer became a starting D-IA QB sometimes, we’ll never know), and Stafford was able to turn it on in the last 20 minutes of the game, getting streaky with three TD passes and ending up with 246 yards passing on what’s probably his last collegiate game (although he could use another year, honestly.)

Iowa 31, South Carolina 10 – Anyone too shocked that Shonn Greene will make a very nice gift for a Top 10 team looking for a big running back willing to get the tough yards and move the chains? 121 yards and 2 TDs sealed his college career in Tampa, as he spent the afternoon stepping on the dicks of a Cocks’ team that was already hamstrung by the Ol’ Ball Coach’s Quarterback Follies — starting Stephen Garcia and his 3-pcik throwing self in the first half, and going back to the solid and utterly unspectacular Chris Smelley in the 2nd after the game was pretty much out of hand, given the Cocks’ offensive troubles, at 21-0.

Nebraska 26, Clemson 21 – There’s something to be said for coming back from a halftime deficit with a 20-point third quarter and holding off another comeback attempt by the Tigers via sacking Cullen Harper a ton and tipping some passes. I guess if you’re Nebraska and you’d lost your last nine bowl appearances, you take this sucker as a way to build on bigger and better things next year — maybe with another good season for Joe Ganz and a real return to the suffocating defense that was their trademark under Tom Osborne (along with the option). Bo Pelini’s off to a nice start in his first season. Let’s see where he goes from here.

Bad Scene, Everyone’s Fault

Boise State Oregon Football
Here are the final BCS rankings:

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. Alabama
  5. USC
  6. Utah
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Penn St.
  9. Boise St.
  10. Ohio St.

Here are the BCS bowl match-ups (along with the rest of the bowls):

  • Title Game: Florida vs. Oklahoma
  • Rose Bowl: USC vs. Penn State
  • Orange Bow: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati
  • Sugar Bowl: Utah vs. Alabama
  • Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Texas

Now, who really got screwed? (Besides everyone; this system makes everyone feel like a loser without a fair shot to really prove who’s the best on the field.) Texas is still griping about not playing for a national championship, or to prove that it belonged in Kansas City on Saturday.

But Boise State has a real reason to bitch. As far as I see it, the Broncos have a legitimate claim that they were left out because Ohio State has more fans, travels better, and would assure better numbers in the Fiesta Bowl against Texas.

Ohio State lost twice, both times to BCS teams: the first to USC, who absolutely drubbed the Buckeyes in a heavy-handed fashion, leaving QB Todd Boeckman unable to see straight; the second to Penn State, in a defensive showdown in Columbus.  As far as teams to lose to, those are not bad ones, but they’re still two losses. What makes them more worthy than a second at-large team from a non-BCS conference? Strength of schedule or conference? The Big Televen, outside of Penn State and an OSU team trying to figure out its transition process between Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor, was absolute medocrity, with only Northwestern making any real attempts at trying to rise above its station.

10-2 in a down BCS conference shouldn’t trump undefeated from a conference that has sent two teams to the BCS with at large bids in the past two years. Yes, Hawaii got slaughtered by Georgia last year, but everyone remembers the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. That should count for something. Despite a year in which there was a bit less WAC competition, Chris Petersen led another squad, this one with a redshirt freshman QB in Kellen Moore, to his second undefeated season in the past three years.

There’s no rationale for the OSU selection outside of money, and that’s understandable, because the bowl games, including the BCS Championship Game, are a business. The primary goal is to draw eyeballs to the TV and fans to each of the neutral sites for sellouts. Ohio State is guaranteed to do that better than Boise State will; they have good, dedicated fans that will travel anywhere for a squad with a BCS bid. But let’s not act like they belong there.

The problem is that we keep pretending that this is the way to “select” a national champion in Division I-A (suck it, FBS) football because the NCAA doesn’t have the balls to tell the conference commissioners that it’s past time to stop farming out a sport’s post-season to outsiders.  The NCAA is in the thrall of its conferences and cannot do anything about it when four of the six commissioners of those conferences won’t even vote on a plus-one system.

Thus, Boise State will take on Texas Christian in what may be the best non-BCS bowl game in the Pointsettia Bowl. Hell, it sounds like it’ll be much better than the Orange Bowl.

It’s too bad the BCS selection committee can’t see it that way.   Of course, you cannot make men understand something if their jobs hinge on them not understanding it.

Running For The Roses, And Nothing Else

sanchez

If there’s any better proof of just how shitty, corrupt and ridiculous this little experiment called the Bowl Championship Series is right now, it’s that there are analysts out there (Mark May, Mel Kiper, looking at you) who suggest that USC still has a shot to make the BCS championship game — never mind that there has to be an absolutely epic collapse for this to happen.

And this is coming from a USC fan.

Essentially, what has to happen is that both Alabama and Florida have to lose before the SEC championship game, Texas Tech has to falter, and after the three-way clusterfuck in the Big 12 South is worked out, then you probably need Missouri to beat whomever survives in the Big 12 championship. There’s a lot of this still being a possibility given the ruckus of last year, but to count on that, if you are a fan of the Trojans, is like being at a party and saying the certified 9.5 woman at a party will want to go home with you for the night if the five guys before you with better clothes, more money, and an actual personality all fail miserably — and even then there’s not guarantee, because we haven’t even talked about Oregon State.

(I know that was a strain of an analogy. I’m sure you have a personality. Really, you do.)

Oregon State going through the gauntlet of California, Arizona, and Oregon to finish the season is doable. Frankly, if the Bears don’t pull it off, the Beavers will be going to the Rose Bowl. So the Trojans need obvious help, and they’re not doing themselves any particular favors with their offense. The defense is the nation’s best, legitimately dangerous (if a bit too liberal with incurring penalty flags), but they’re carrying an offense that can’t get out of its own way right now.  The mediocrities of Arizona and Cal should be fertile ground for at least 24-30 points. Not every game can be a time to tee off on U-Dub or Wazzu, but ESPN’s Joe Schad had a report from linebacker Brian Cushing teeing off on the offense for “not playing as a team,” which is more or less what’s been visible on tape.

In the past few years, it’s been rare that you could say a USC offensive performance was boring.  They may have run up the score in blowouts, but you couldn’t say it wasn’t entertaining, seeing the individual talent on display. Now, the pro-style offense has somehow regressed to absolutely dull drives — mostly in the “rush, incomplete, pass to get a third down, pass on first, rush, rush, punt” variety. It’s not as bad as three and out, but a bit more frustrating.

Despite unease about Mark “Vinnie Chase” Sanchez, I’m not putting this all on him. The only reliable receiver he appears to have who can get open is Damian Williams and Joe McKnight hasn’t become the revelation everyone was waiting on yet. But to see this team in BCS contention?  No discussing it until it’s actually plausible, please.