If you watch my new weekly blog, then you already know I called it: Les Miles was going to turn down Arkansas' 27.5 million dollar offer. He isn't going anywhere and the fact he decided to stay only further cements his legacy in Baton Rouge... and with the years of success he has already have, he won't ever have to pick up a check, ever. Arkansas would not be dissuaded or deterred, they went out and hired a solid coach fresh off a great year in Wisconsin, leading them to an outstanding season, a year end thumping of Nebraska and an upcoming Rose Bowl appearance. It may have not of been the dream destiny for the former Badger coach, but it was undoubtedly a dream paycheck.
On tap this weekend is the last contest of the regular season, the annual Army vs. Navy game... I love this game and always look forward to it. These teams have such a rich and storied tradition and exemplify what being a team is all about... and add to the fact they are dedicated soldiers willing to make the ultimate sacrifice seems to put it all in perspective. Factor in all the Army and Navy troops in the stands dressed to the nines... it always makes for a great atmosphere and a game to watch each and every year. To them, it is the BSC championship game and the old cliche applies, throw out the season records for they don't count, it's on! If you haven't seen one, tune in this weekend and enjoy a the game.
So the big question is: Does Notre Dame #1 ranking in the polls mean they are the best team in the country? Well, apparently not, because as I predicted, Alabama is a huge favorite to win in the Title game. How is it that the #2 ranked team is a 10 point favorite? What does that say about the validity of our polls? To me, I completely understand why the Irish are ranked #1, they moved up the charts as teams above them lost, leaving them the only logical choice to takeover the number one spot. However, I have been saying all along, I didn't feel they were the best team... they needed 3 OT to defeat an unranked Pitt team in South Bend, and squeaked out a win over a struggling USC squad forced to start a freshman QB.
So the stage is set for the championship and I can't wait... it may go down as the highest viewed BSC game ever if this year's SEC title game was any indication. Email me your thoughts about the rankings and who is the odds on favorite, why such a difference? Lots of great bowl games upon us and I will discuss the best must see matchups next week right here at CollegeFootball.com.
Have a great weekend... I am going to take Navy -7 just for fun.
Here we go fans... it's on! Two games on tap tonight so let's start with the Pac-12 championship game as UCLA takes on Stanford for the right to go to the Rose Bowl on New Year's day. This is a rematch of last weeks game, but don't let that fool you, it has the makings for an outstanding game. Stanford is on a roll behind the strength of their rushing defense and a very consistent offense... and UCLA comes in hungry for some respect after an outstanding year under 1st year head coach, Jim Mora. History tells us it is not easy to beat a good team twice in less than 7 days... you know Mora and his staff will have a creative and effective game plan for this game with so much on the line. As I mentioned last week, I felt the Bruins may of had an letdown after such a huge win over their crosstown rival and favored USC Trojans... and I was right, they were a bit flat. Count on the Bruins to come in to tonight"s battle with a chip on their shoulder and revenge on their mind.
Just in case you didn't see my new video blog posted yesterday here at CollegeFootball.com, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the season Penn State put together despite all the distractions and adversity surrounding their program this year. We all know what went down, it was ugly and to see Paterno go down in flames was depressing, guilty or not... he made a tremendous contribution to college football and the lives of his players for 6 decades. So I wanted to take a moment and tip my cap to all the players that stayed, all the coaches that accepted the challenge and especially all the fans who continued to support them. Congratulations on a very respectable winning season when everyone in the world would of understood if you lost every game.
So Arkansas offers Les Miles 27.5 million over 5 years... did Jerry Jones toss a few bucks into a hat they passed around at an alumni appreciation night? It makes Arkansas look extremely committed to winning and incredibly desperate at the same time... they coaching position has been a PR nightmare not to mention ineffective the last few years. How bad does it make the look when Les eventually turns it down? Then... what do you offer the next coach the university hires? Norv Turner may be available... for that matter, so will a ton of coaches on the hot seat that will be looking for a job soon. Recently fired Tedford formally of Cal would be a good hire... he had an amazing first 6 years after he took over and turned that program around.
My question to you: Is Notre Dame the best team in the country? Email me your answer and why... there seems to be many opinions floating around out there and debated in prestigious sports circles as well as Taverns and sports bars across the land. Personally, I feel the Fighting Irish deserve to be #1 based on how the season played out. Having said that, I don't feel they are the best team in the country and soon we will find out. Notre Dame squeaked out a triple overtime win at home over an unranked PItt team, and then finished the season with an unimpressive victory over a beat up Trojan squad forced to start a QB who lasted took all the snaps of a game in high school (Matre Dei, CA.) Even with legendary Barkely out, the Trojans still kept it close and had a chance to win the game leaving me to believe the Irish are good but not great. If they beat the SEC champ in the BSC title game, I will bow down to Touch down Jesus and eat my words... they will certainly have all my respect if that happens.
Doesn't Alabama vs. Notre Dame for the national championship sound juicy?
Last week I fumbled on one and scored a TD on the other two bringing my season tally to 9-2. LSU apparently sent their JV team last week to struggling Arkansas and still won, but not by enough to cover the 12 points they were favored by. On a brighter note I recommended taking the Ohio State to cover -3.5 in addition to taking Stanford to cover -2 at UCLA. Naturally we do not condone gambling, but having fun with the teams and point spreads if for entertainment purposes only.
My picks this week aren't easy, but I feel good about them:
Take Alabama to cover -7 against Georgia, Oklahoma to cover -6.5 against TCU and I like Stanford to win by more that 8 tonight against UCLA by pulling away late after a great game through the first 3 quarters. Good Luck and as always, enjoy this weeks games!
How the mighty have fallen... for the first time in 5 years, both of the two top ranked teams lost in the same week... vaulting Notre Dame to the top spot sporting a perfect record. I stand corrected, I have been saying that although the Fighting Irish were good, Yet I felt they were overrated after an unimpressive OT win at home against unranked Pitt. At least they win, right?
Unbelievably Kansas St., led by Heisman hopeful Klein, were upended by Baylor. Yes Baylor, not even ranked, showed up Saturday for a fight and delivered against a flat Wildcat team. Was the pressure of holding the #1 BSC ranking too much for this explosive KSU program? Now Notre Dame's win on a day they were not at their best looks more impressive... they won and stayed unbeaten, something no other team can say this late in the season. So let me state this for the record, Notre Dame deserves the top spot... because Oregon and Kansas St. sure don't.
Unlike KSU, Oregon faced a solid Stanford team with a #13 ranking and the nation's number one rushing defense... which proved to be the difference. The Ducks couldn't get their offense in gear for much of the game, stymied by the Cardinals front 7 and their never say die tenacity. They are talented and relentless... applying non-stop pressure that opponents have a hard time overcoming and countering with effective plays and production. Ducks had a 7 point lead with less than 3 minutes to play, but Stanford mounted a long scoring drive to tie it up with just seconds to go in the game. Then to the complete shock and horror of a packed stadium in Eugene, the not so mighty Ducks missed a field goal on their first possession of OT, hitting the outside of the left upright. They never had a second chance... Standford simply ran the ball up the middle on their only possession and finished off Oregon with a field goal.
Two days ago the college football world was wondering aloud which of 3 undefeated teams would play for the title. Not an issue just 48 hours later and now the winner of the SEC championship game between Alabama an Georgia likely places yet another SEC team into the title game. Think about it, we already have college football playoffs. Is the SEC title game not essentially a de facto national championship semifinal game? On that same line of thinking, Notre Dame's final game at USC becomes a must win semi for them as well. Yes I know, the Trojans can't advance but you get my point.
My upset pick of the week, UCLA over USC, which I posted in my article and also featured on my video blog manifested itself into truth. Although the Bruins had only beaten the Trojans once since 1998 ('06), I had a hunch they were up for the challenge against the favored Trojans. Jim Mora has this team believing and playing well... he came right in as coach and immediately changed the mindset of the program. They have talent and they are poised to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come... and with Barkely departing for the NFL, they may just put a run of their own together and be "the" team to watch in Los Angeles.
My question to you... if Slim Shady Kiffin and all his antics loses to Notre Dame for their SC's 5th loss, is he on the hot seat? Lest us not forget, the Trojans started the season as the preseason #1 team in the country, and now they are struggling to stay just two games over .500. If they get crushed by Notre Dame I think he's gone, but given the restrictions from the Bush probation the current team is having to deal with, he may be given another season or two. Obviously, orchestrating a couple of national championships as offensive coordinator for USC not before his short lived stints with the Raiders and Volunteers does give him a little more cushion.
Encourage you comments, questions and feedback... shout at me:
Well folks, I don't want to seem like a Pac-12 homer, but if you saw my latest video blog I have been touting the Ducks as the best team in the country, although I believe Kansas St. is right there with them. I know, that's not much of a stretch or a risky statement given the rankings, but I have felt the Ducks deserved to be there all along.
This is shaping up to be a classic championship run... to see the Wildcats face off with Oregon as two undefeated teams square off for the National title. Pigskin fans are in for some great games down the stretch... Notre Dame is making it's presence felt as well with a 10-0 record and a huge annual rival game vs. USC on the horizon. Personally, I feel Kiffin's job may be in jeopardy if SC loses to UCLA and then gets taken down by the Fighting Irish. Yes, he is working with restricted scholarships thanks to Bush, but he does have one of the, if not the best QB in the program's history, Matt Barkely. My upset pick of the week is the Bruins winning at home today vs. SC.
The game of the day is easy to identify this week... as 13th ranked Stanford travels north to take on the AP poll's top ranked Ducks in Eugene. Can anyone stop Oregon's prolific and unrelenting offense? Stanford comes in with the top ranked rushing D in the country... so we will see how that effects this seemingly unstoppable scoring machine. The Ducks put up the most ever on the Trojans just two weeks ago, 61 points on the road is no easy task. But here's the kicker, can Oregon stop an equally talented offensive power?
And what is even more baffling is that Stanford is playing great ball with their backup QB... a redshirt freshman who is running the Stanford team like a seasoned vet. I think this could be a much closer game than the oddsmakers do, who have the Ducks more than a 20 point favorite. Don't you wish the four team playoff could start this year? Notre Dame, Alabama, Oregon and Kansas St. in the semis with winners in the title game... that would be nice, eh?
Now we always like to have fun with picks and point spreads, just to test our skills. Last week I had the Gamecocks, Texas and USC all covering at home... which they did. I realize my UCLA +4 is my upset of the week, but I have a hunch the Bruins are up to the task and the Trojans ego's may be just as deflated as the illegal balls they tossed around against the Ducks, (another Kiffin blemish.)
My other just for fun pick today is in favor of GA Tech to cover 13 at home... Good luck!
So enjoy the games and check back each week for a new article and my weekly video blog. If you have any suggestions for me or would like to ask me a question I can address on the site, please email me, I welcome all fans to do so.
Just as I did with my video blog, I want to take a moment and begin by acknowledging the passing of one of the game’s great legendary coaches, Darrell Royal. As the head coach for the Texas Longhorns from 1957 – 1976, his tenure was a little bit before my time but his extremely successful career echoed for years after his final game. He coached his teams to not only a victory in the “Game of the Century” as well as securing two national championships in his reign. What propelled his team to consistent success was the Wishbone offense he created and his players executed with perfection. Not once did he ever coach a Texas team to a losing record.
R.I.P. coach… thanks for your mighty contributions that still resonate today.
Lets have a look at some of the games on the schedule today that are compelling and having an impact on the national championship. Alabama should have their hands full with with 15th ranked Texas A&M, who have made quite a splash this year in the SEC by averaging 44.7 points a game while giving up just over 20. Bama’s traditional strong defense will be the ultimate test for A&M, who may just catch a break today if the Crimson Tide have a slight letdown after the clash last week with LSU. Don’t be surprised if Bama has to squeak out a victory in a close game.
Speaking of potential letdowns, LSU is going to have to dig deep to shake of the lingering effects of letting a victory over Alabama slip away late in the contest vs. the number one team in the land. Mississippi St. is poised to capitalize on any chance they get today vs. the Tigers… who now will have to prove their worth down the stretch as we posture for bowl games. A loss today would be a crushing blow, so look for LSU to regroup and come out swinging.
The Pac 12 has a few offerings today as well… as USC has to deal with not only the loss last week against the Oregon Ducks, but also more petty violations at the hands of the Kiffin, err, I mean their student team manager. Does anyone really believe that a student would, without any nudge from a superior, take it upon himself to under inflate all the balls used by the Trojans?
An absolute joke and just another strange and seemingly senseless flirtation with NCAA rules. If it isn’t a recruiting violation, throwing a hissy fit at a press conference, changing players jersey numbers at halftime to this stunt, Kiffin’s days as coach may be numbered. If his team doesn’t finish strong it will only make the decision easier for the A.D., if for anything else, to simply protect the reputation and integrity of the University of Southern Cal.
Personally, I am looking forward to seeing the match up with two top 15 teams, 14th ranked OSU Beavers taking on the #11 Stanford Cardinals. A win today for either of these teams will put them in the driver’s seat for BSC bowl game in addition to a Rose Bowl bid. Also, USC should be able to bounce back and send a message they are still a force to be reckoned with by defeating ASU at the Coliseum.
And just for fun, If you like to test your skills with point spreads, I suggest you take Texas to cover -10.5 and USC to beat ASU by more than 8.5.
So here we go… get your man cave dialed in and your fridge stocked with cold beverages… It’s college football Saturday and no team can afford a loss this late in the season, so it’s as if the playoffs everybody wants have already begun.
Although there are a few other games on the schedule this week that are compelling and certainly worth a look, the only must see game this week is the University of Oregon taking on Southern Cal. With an outstanding offense, Oregon has once again positioned itself to make a run at the national title that eluded them just 2 years ago. They arrived in L.A. earlier this week poised, confident and full of momentum knowing a victory today would further catapult them even higher in the nation's poles. What makes this game even more enticing is that revenge is also a factor today, for USC crushed the Duck's title run last year with a thrilling 38-35 victory in Eugene.
Don't let the fact that USC has lost two games fool you... the Trojans are looking to win out and with a victory today, their Rose Bowl hopes are still alive if Oregon should tumble again down the line. Barkely didn't come back for his senior season to mire in mediocrity, but rather to finish his career with a successful season and further cement his legacy as one of greatest quarterbacks in USC's history. There were high expectations for Barkely, who like Leinart and Palmer before him, emerged from southern California power house high school programs to take the helm and flirt with Heisman trophy and National championship dreams. Matt and Carson achieved those goals, and although Barkely has fallen just short in his quest for the same, in doing so, the Trojan QB has put up numbers that have clearly eclipsed his predecessors. A victory today over 4th ranked and highly favored Oregon Ducks would set the stage for another big match up vs. the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame in just a few weeks, not to mention a battle against their cross town rival, top 20 ranked UCLA.
So the stage is set for what could turn out to be a very pivotal game for the Ducks and the Trojans tonight at the L.A. Coliseum. "Oh Nelly" as Kieth Jackson would say, "we've got a good one!"