Running For The Roses, And Nothing Else


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.


The NCAA Really Wants To Piss Me Off Regarding College Football

Well, me and just about every other fan of the game looking for some semblance of sanity in the chaos that is Division I-A’s post-season, anyway. Four months until the season gets going and I’m already steaming between the ears.

Why, you ask? It’s two-fold. First, the big conferences put the kibosh on a “plus-one” system happening until at least 2014 with its rejection today. Not that a plus-one would have come anywhere close to solving the problem, but after 2007’s Bizarro College Football Season, anything would have been an improvement. (Ultimately, I like either an 8 or a 16-team playoff.) The decision is all about easy cash that gets raked in every year from the BCS games and the lesser bowl games in which damn near every team from a major conference with a 6-6 record can get bowl money. Thus, if we get another situation with a one-loss Big 10 team and a 2-loss team from either the SEC or Pac-10 in the national championship game, I won’t be surprised. Just Ill.

Even better, they’ve sanctioned two new bowl games — the Congressional Bowl in Washington, D.C. (which is Navy vs. one of the lesser ACC teams) and the St. Petersburg Bowl (Big East-Conference USA) in the Tampa area, with the latter being owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, which I’ve never been nuts about; I don’t think ESPN goes out of its way enough to note that it owns and operates the games during the telecasts. Essentially, we get two more mindless games to invite sub-par teams to (especially considering the Congressional Bowl would take the ninth eligible ACC team) and keep a convoluted system.

This is the problem: half the fun of college football is arguing over the stupid, screwy system: if it was so clear cut as a playoff, how many debates would we have stoked by print writers, TV pundits, and the fans themselves over which teams and conferences are more worthy?

Maybe I ought to be thanking the BCS commissioners or something….mmmm, nah.

“Plus-one” plan for BCS now six feet under [Los Angeles Times]
Tropicana Field Will Have a Bowl Game This Fall [The Ledger (FL)]

Rushing The Field, Week 14.

I really don’t want to hear anyone defend the BCS right now after this Saturday, where it was perfectly clear that none of the teams in the upper echelon of college football have any business making claims to a title game.

Non-championship/BCS related notes: Kevin Smith of Central Florida is a disgustingly good running back; I didn’t care about Miami of Ohio and Central Michigan; I think CBS played so many vignettes during Army-Navy to distract from the fact that Paul Johnson’s Midshipmen just bitch-slapped the Black Knights HARD.

Mike Bellotti had a brain cramp in the fourth quarter of the Civil War (Oregon State-Oregon) that cost the Ducks the game — the Duck kicker missed a 54 yarder in the 4th quarter with no timeouts left, but a 15-yard penalty against the Beavers made it a 39-yarder with the clock stopped at 20 seconds. What should Bellotti have done? Kicked the field goal there. However, the offense rushed once, didn’t spike the ball, and the rush field goal was short. Oregon lost in 2 OTs.

The quietest collapse of the season was Cal, which lost to Stanford to close a season where many expected the Bears to be BCS contenders — everyone forgot about them after Kevin Riley forgot to spike the ball against Oregon State. Jeff Tedford-coached teams are always good for two losses that don’t make a lot of sense every year, but the slide that went on in Berkeley this year was beyond the usual malaise, with the Bears losing six of their last seven games (they only beat Wazzu on Nov. 3rd after beating Oregon on Sept. 29th.)

Now to the stuff that matters:

Virginia Tech gave Boston College the business in Jacksonville (with no one in the stands) in the 4th quarter with 14 unanswered points, helped along by blocking punts, field goals, and points after — and Sean Glennon threw some good touchdown passes to take the game away and make Matt Ryan play catch-up, which he got picked twice trying to do. But this is the same Hokie team that got its ass beat by LSU 48-7 in the second week of the season, and couldn’t finish BC the first time in Blacksburg a few weeks ago.

LSU made it out in a squeezer against a Vols team that kind of nicked itself with small little mistakes in the game (as the Vols have been wont to do most of the season, only to make a run that got them the SEC crown.) A pick-six thrown by Erik Ainge was the sealer. Now, every predictor says they’ll squeeze back in to the national title game as the #2. That might be the least offensive thing, given that both losses were in overtime — but there is the matter of the fact that the Arkansas team they palyed wasn’t ranked and the Bengals’ D couldn’t stop anyone on that day. Still, Les Miles, through some sort of disgusting voodoo or retard luck, will be playing for a national championship. Smart of him to talk about staying at LSU while not inking that contract extension just yet.

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