COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 12: Rocky Mountain highs
I stood with other writers at the top of the ramp, next to the dressing room at Folsom Field, after the Oklahoma State-Colorado game. The Cowboys jogged right past us following their 30-17 victory.
OSU co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer stopped and asked me about the LSU-Troy game. Troy, which played at Stillwater in September, had taken a 31-3 lead at LSU but began a second-half comeback. Obviously, the score at some point had been announced at Folsom Field, if the OSU coaching staff knew about it.
I told Brewer what I knew, which is that LSU had taken a 33-31 lead late but the game, so far as I knew, wasn’t over. About that time, Mike Gundy came by and stopped to ask what was going on. He, too, seemed interested in LSU-Troy.
You know what happened in Baton Rouge. LSU won 40-31.
What we don’t know is why such interest in LSU-Troy. Sure, a Troy victory makes OSU look a little better, but frankly, what does that matter?
Maybe it had something to do with Les Miles coaching LSU. Except Brewer wasn’t with the Cowboys when Miles coached in Stillwater.
Were the OSU coaches pulling for a Troy victory? Were they hoping Miles wouldn’t – or would – suffer an embarrassing defeat? Are they just big college football fans who were interested in the most interesting game of the day?
I don’t know. But their interest in the game was interesting to me.
FLYING FRIENDLY SKIES
OSU’s crowd support in Boulder was very good; at least 5,000, maybe more. My Southwest flight home Sunday morning was full of Cowboy fans.
Former OSU tailback Richard Schwartz was on our flight. So were PGA golfers Bob Tway and Scott Verplank, fast friends and big Cowboy football fans.
Me and Scott Wright, our OSU writer, gobbled up one of the exit rows, with the extra leg room. On the other side of the aisle was the exit row with the window seat boasting huge leg room, with no seat in front of it. But the two seats next to that seat are regular leg room.
That row was vacant when Tway and Verplank came through, so Verplank ducked in and took the window seat. Tway sat on the aisle. Trouble is, Verplank is 5-foot-9; Tway is 6-foot-4. The wrong guy had the leg room.
Before the plane took off, Verplank noticed the discrepancy and offered to switch. Tway said OK.
Now you know why Verplank is so popular on U.S. team events, like the Ryder Cup. He’s a heck of a teammate.
TEN BIGGEST WINNERS OF THE WEEK
10. Brian Kelly: The Cincinnati coach is fast moving up the list of hot prospects. Still playing with a backup quarterback, Kelly’s Bearcats beat Louisville 28-20 to take the Big East lead and now host Pitt on Saturday night. If Cincy wins, it’s in the BCS.
9. Mid-American Conference: The MAC grabs the national stage for two nights, this week and next. Central Michigan’s 33-30 overtime victory at Northern Illinois sets up a Wednesday night meeting of MAC unbeatens between 14th-ranked Ball State and CMU, both 6-0 in the West Division. Then next Tuesday, Ball State hosts Western Michigan (6-1). Win both games, and it’s not kooky to think Ball State could sneak into BCS contention.
8. Maryland: You’re going to have to trust me on this one, but in the crazy ACC, the Terps emerged as the team most likely to win their division. Maryland’s 17-15 victory over North Carolina should lift the Terps to the Atlantic Division title. Only Maryland and Miami have as few as two ACC losses, but Miami still has two road games. If the home teams win out, Maryland and Virginia Tech will play in the ACC championship game.
7. Texas quarterbacks: Even when Texas Tech is idle, Lone Star State signal-callers dominate. Colt McCoy was fabulous in Texas’ rout at Kansas, and the week’s two 400-yard passers came from Texas. UTEP’s Trevor Vittatoe threw for 410 yards in a 36-10 rout of SMU, and Houston’s Case Keenum threw for 402 yards in a 70-30 thrashing of Tulsa.
6. Art Briles: The rookie Baylor coach pinned a 41-21 smackdown on rookie Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman. Briles was sitting just down the road at Houston U. Has to make people in Aggieland wonder if they hired the wrong guy.
5. Oregon: Injuries and quarterback problems are in the past; new black uniforms and the same old wild offense has propelled the Ducks to an 8-3 record. Oregon beat Arizona 55-45 and can reach the Holiday Bowl – and perhaps ruin their arch-rival’s Rose Bowl hopes – with a victory at Oregon State on Nov. 29.
4. Vanderbilt: The major conferences’ longest bowl drought should end at 26 years. Vandy won 31-24 at Kentucky to become bowl eligible at 6-4.
3. Rodgers Brothers: Oregon State stayed in Rose Bowl range with a 34-21 victory over Cal, led by the Jacquizz and James Rodgers. Jacquizz ran for 144 yards and a touchdown, his seven 100-yard rushing game. James caught six passes for 50 yards, ran 18 yards for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 86 yards for a TD. It’s the fifth time this season the brothers have both scored in the same game.
2. Greg Schiano: The Rutgers coach once was a darling in the East. He might be again. Given up for dead, the Scarlet Knights have resurrected their season. They routed South Florida 49-16 to rise to 5-5 overall, 4-2 in the Big East. With only a home game against Louisville remaining in conference, Rutgers has a chance to tie for the league title. They probably can’t get to the BCS, but Rutgers is back in the bowl business.
1. Miami: The Hurricanes are back. Not to the late ’80/early ’90s level, or the late ’90s/early ’00s level, but back as a force. Miami beat Virginia Tech to serve warning that the U. is not to be taken lightly.
SIREN SONG OF COLORADO
We had dinner Friday night in Westminster, just south of Boulder, with old pal Blake Jackson and his wife, Whitney. Both worked at The Oklahoma until May, when Whitney got a job with the Denver newspapers – the Post and Rocky Mountain News have a joint-operating agreement. Blake has gone to work for a PR firm in Denver, and they’re loving it.
Colorado has a lure for a lot of people. The mountains, the outdoors lifestyle, the sort of urban frontier to Greater Denver.
Comrade John Rohde grew up in Boulder and laments every trip back about the changes. When I first started going to games at CU, the drive from Denver to Boulder had lots of open country. There is none now.
Westminster and Louisville look like Southlake or some of those affluent Dallas suburbs where everything is shiny and new. Boulder has become one of the most expensive towns in America in which to live.
Rohde describes Boulder as “discovered” now. It was largely left alone when Rohde went to high school there in the 1970s.
Boulder is a beautiful town, but it’s crowded and expensive, and that’s a terrible combination.
FOLSOM FIELD BLUES
Maybe Folsom Field isn’t the most gorgeous setting in college football. But it can’t be far from the top of the list.
Sitting on the edge of the Rockies, Folsom Field is a grand old stadium, with old-style architecture of gray and brown stone that fits in superbly with the rest of the campus. It’s probably my favorite Big 12 stadium.
Heck, for fun, I’ll rank them:
1. Colorado’s Folsom Field: An easy pick for No. 2. Texas’ Royal-Memorial Stadium: The recent renovations produced a castle.
3. Oklahoma State’s Boone Pickens Stadium: Remarkable transformation, from the Big 12′s worst stadium to one of its best.
4. Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium: Urban setting – near downtown Lincoln and the state capitol – and a coliseum feel. Very impressive.
5. Oklahoma’s Owen Field: The new upper deck on the east side provided much-needed balance.
6. Iowa State’s Jack Trice Field: Hard to explain why, but Jack Trice just fits. Open on the ends, small upper decks on the side, built into a hill. Just a nice, welcoming place.
7. Missouri’s Faurot Field: Another nice setting. Pretty town, lots of trees. The hill with the big M beyond the end zone.
8. Texas Tech’s Jones Stadium: West side is a palace, east side still looks like the old days. I assume that will change.
9. Texas A&M’s Kyle Field: Just seems skewed. Three sides rise to the heavens, including the highest end zone upper deck I’ve ever seen. Then it’s open on the south end zone. Strange feeling.
10. Kansas State’s Snyder Stadium: Nice enough, I suppose, but sits out in the middle of a parking lot without much personality.
11. Kansas’ Memorial Stadium: In defense of KU, I haven’t been to a KU home game since the stadium underwent an upgrade.
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