Adventures from the Saturday sofa
An off week, so no travel adventures. Just a Saturday full of watching wall-to-wall football. So this week’s big blog will be all football. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Let’s go straight to the gridiron.
We’ll start a new feature this week. Analyzing the Big 12 bowl outlook. The Big 12 has eight bowl tie-ins. In descending order…
* Fiesta: Oklahoma. The champ goes here, unless it makes the Big Bowl in New Orleans. The Sooners could make the Big Bowl; they also could lose in San Antonio. But my bet’s on Glendale, Ariz. Most likely foe: USC.
* Gator: Texas. The Gator passed on the Big 12 in 2006, which means now the Jacksonville folks must take a Big 12 team two out of the next three years. A common theory says the Gator most covets OU or Texas. If the Longhorns win out to go 10-2, the Gator seems a good fit. If the Gator passes, the Sun comes into the rotation, but further down. Most likely foe: Virginia Tech.
* Cotton: Missouri. The Tigers never have played in the Cotton Bowl and have an excellent team; 8-1, with a 10-point loss at OU. Dallas would be a good spot for an 11-2 Mizzou team. Most likely foe:
* Holiday: Kansas. I’m assuming a Jayhawk loss to Missouri, but if KU beats Mizzou and goes to the Big 12 title game, then Kansas could be in Dallas. Of course, if Kansas keeps this up, it could be in Glendale. Heck, forget the desert. Kansas could make it to New Orleans. But I don’t think so. Most likely foe: Arizona State.
* Alamo: Kansas State. If OSU beats Texas and Kansas, the Cowboys would likely finish 8-4 and be prime for San Antonio. But at 7-5, the Alamo would probably make a play for K-State, which is 5-3 and more likely to go 8-4. Most likely foe: Illinois.
* Insight: OSU. The Tempe, Ariz., bowl hasn’t had the Cowboys and will be interested in letting OSU fans prove themselves as good travelers when they have to fly. And this is a good place to fly to. Most likely foe: Indiana.
* Independence: Texas Tech. Any bowl will take any team over Colorado. The Red Raiders likely are headed for a 7-5 finish. Most likely foe: Mississippi State.
* Texas Bowl: Colorado. Buffs are headed for a 7-5 finish, and Houston bowl organizers will have to scramble to sell tickets. Most likely foe: Houston U.
TEN THINGS I LEARNED SITTING ON THE SOFA
10. Texas Tech is a fraud. The Red Raiders are 6-3 with victories over SMU, UTEP, Rice, Northwestern Louisiana, Iowa State and Texas A&M. Tech still has Baylor to play, so the Raiders will get to seven wins, but this is not a vintage Tech team. Colorado’s Terrence Wheatley covered Texas Tech freshman phenom Michael Crabtree much of the game. Crabtree had 12 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown — yet Wheatley won the duel that was as much fun as anything on TV all day. Wheatley’s three interceptions of quarterback Graham Harrell won the game.
9. Kid Nichol has a future at Michigan State. The OU freshman committed to Michigan State before switching to the Sooners; now Nichol is stuck behind Sam Bradford, who doesn’t seem likely to give up the job until, oh, 2011. So Nichol has a choice to make. Transfer, sit out and have three years eligibility remaining somewhere. Or be patient and likely be the OU quarterback as a fifth-year senior in 2011. Michigan State has a decent junior quarterback in Brian Hoyer, a 60-percent passer with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. But the Spartans will need a QB in 2009.
8. Barry Tompkins is the worst network announcer in America. Any sport. The Fox Sports Net play-by-play man called the USC-Oregon game; why he is the lead voice on Pac-10 telecasts remains a mystery.
7. Good news for Big 12 officiating. The zebras are just as bad everywhere else in college football. I saw two of the most horrendous calls I’ve seen in years. In the Mississippi State-Kentucky game, Mississippi State’s Derek Pegues was called for an out-of-bounds hit on scrambling Kentucky Andre Woodson. Trouble was, Woodson was not out of bounds. He was striving for the first-down marker, and Pegues hit Woodson in bounds and kept him from reaching the first down. Yet here came a flag. In the Arizona State-California game, Cal fumbled a punt and the Sun Devils recovered, but a Pac-10 official inexplicably whistled the play dead. Horrible calls. Just horrible.
6. Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart might deserve the Heisman. Stewart, who played awfully well in that duel against OU’s Adrian Peterson in September 2006, ranks with Arkansas’ Darren McFadden as the best tailbacks in college football. The demise of USC is vastly overstated; the Trojans held Oregon to 339 yards, though the Ducks won 24-17. Stewart’s 103 yards on 25 carries were all big.
5. The SEC East is grand fun. Georgia leads at 4-2. Vanderbilt and Kentucky are tied for last at 2-3. That’s 11/2 games separating first from last. Georgia still has to play Auburn. Tennessee controls its own destiny; it wins the East with victories over Arkansas, Vanderbilt and at Kentucky. But who knows what will happen in this crazy division.
4. Tennessee is a total mess. The Vols are like Seinfeld’s girlfriend in that episode when she alternately looked beautiful and hideous. Tennessee got routed in September road games at California and Florida, then whipped Georgia. But Alabama walloped the Vols on Oct. 20, and Phil Fulmer’s job security seemed shaky. Then Tennessee went up 21-0 on South Carolina on Saturday night. But the Gamecocks scored 24 straight points to take the lead, and the Volunteers needed a 48-yard field goal with five seconds left, just to send the game into overtime. There, Tennessee won and now is in control of the East. Totally unpredictable team.
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