Sunday, October 28, 2007

USC No Longer the Best in the PAC

In an earlier blog this season, I predicted USC to lose two to three games this season. With two in the bag, and four conference games remaining, they could very well lose more. USC is no longer the dominant team of the PAC-10.

Oregon went toe to toe with USC yesterday and handled them very well. The defense played well and stepped up at key moments of the game. The offense controlled the ball and kept the clock moving.

Just a few weeks ago, Oregon was 22 seconds away from tying California and trying to remain undefeated. Since then, California has lost three consecutive games but will be ready for USC in two weeks.

Oregon State is USC's next date and I believe this game could go either way. Oregon State has had a roller coaster season, and are a hard team to figure out. It will depend on which Oregon State team, and which USC team, arrives for the game. Same will be true on December 1, when USC meets UCLA. USC will be looking for revenge from last year's loss; UCLA has the potential to win again IF they are prepared and have the heart.

Arizona State will be USC's toughest game of the remaining season and should not have any trouble in handing USC its third (or fourth) loss. California got off to quick start last night against the Sun Devils, but could not hold on. Arizona State did what all good teams do, and that is they kept digging and digging until they were right back in the game and eventually won.

The title race in the PAC-10 is as wild as the Presidential race, and a lot more exciting. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day, and it will take the rest of the season to see how it shakes out. The eventual division winner may not be the best team in the division when it is all over, but it will be the one that is the best on the day it mattered most.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Shame On Me

Today I was walking out of my doctor's office feeling a little down and a little stressed. I do not have enough time to do my job as it is, and now I am going to have to cram it all in on a short day, since it will be after lunch before I make it into the office Monday. For you see, in my left hand I carried a couple of pages of "prescriptions" for some tests that I must have performed first thing Monday morning: blood work, MRI, Stress Test, and a couple of things that I do not care to mention here. You know...the whole package.

I used my right hand to push the door open as I left the building, while continuing to read the papers that I held in my left hand. As I pushed the door outward and stepped onto the sidewalk I was met by a man, who I believed to be about my age, in a wheelchair. A motorized wheelchair. He was using one finger to work the controls and when I said hello to him, I do not believe that he understood me. He never blinked an eye, nor made eye contact with me. The woman standing beside him smiled and said hello.

No matter what we have on our plate, things can always be worse. Unfortunately, we have to bump into someone less fortunate than us from time to time to realize it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Third Saturday This October Good To Bama Fans

No doubt Auburn is Alabama's biggest rival, but there is no love lost between the University of Alabama and the University of Tennessee. Why? Alabama has only managed to win 4 times in the last 14 years, and many fans believe that Phillip Fulmer played a role in Alabama's probation.

Saturday's victory over Tennessee will be remembered for a long time to come. Not only did Nick Saban chalk up his first win over Tennessee as the coach of the Crimson Tide, he coached his team through its most impressive game of the season. For the first time this season, the players played and the coaches coached four quarters. The offense, which has been down the last few weeks, was clicking on all cylinders and the defense shutout a good passing team in the second half.

Eric Ainge was given alot of publicity in the pre-game show and throughout the first quarter. However, it was John Parker Wilson who earned the spotlight as the game progressed. Wilson played the best game of his career and made good decisions all the way through. Unlike the other games this season, he handled the defensive pressure well and safely threw the ball away when necessary. When he ran, he ran hard. I have complained and criticized him alot this season, but I have to say that John Parker Wilson played his heart out Saturday.

Could this be the turning point in the Alabama-Tennessee series? Forget the 4 out of the last 14 statistic I mentioned above and think of a more positive one: Alabama has now won 2 out of the last 3 games against Tennessee. This "Third Saturday in October" was a great one for Alabama fans.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

South Florida - Rutgers Instant Replay Penalty

I have had a very busy week and am late getting to this, but still want to discuss instant replay in college football and in particular, the South Florida-Rutgers game. I personally like instant replay and especially like that every play is reviewed in college football. However, I have never seen a penalty be called after an official's review. I have been away from sports news this week so not sure what has been said about Thursday night's game.

Thursday night, a South Florida player was returning a fumble and appeared to fumble the ball himself. Another South Florida player picked it up and, as he was getting tackled, appeared to fumble the ball as well. Still another South Florida picked it up and carried the ball in for the TD.

A replay review was conducted to see if these were in fact fumbles or intentional fumbles. In the end, it was determined the South Florida players fumbled the balls intentionally and, therefore, called them illegal forward laterals and the TD was removed. I do not have a problem with any of this to this point.

After the official took the headset off and made the announcement regarding the forward laterals, he then threw a flag for the lateral, and the Bulls were penalized. Now, this is where I have the problem, and maybe I do not know the rules as well as I think I do. I have never seen a replay review result in a penalty. I would imagine that a holding penalty could be called on every play if they reviewed it.

I agree that the fumbles were intentional and the proper call is that they were forward laterals. However, was the official acting within the rules of instant replay when he threw the flag afterwards?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

National Championship Not Looking Good for SEC

It seems like the SEC begins each season with 3 or 4 teams either ranked in the top 10, or a couple in the top 10 and another couple somewhere near it. They eventually weed themselves out and by season's end, the conference is fortunate if one of the teams is still in position for a shot at the National Championship game. This season has not been any different.

LSU and Florida were the SEC's most dominant earlier and I kind of figured that both of these would play in the SEC Championship and one of them would play in the big one for the Championship. As it turns out, only LSU, and only if it wins out, has the most realistic chance at playing for the SEC title. I do not think we will have a team with two losses playing in it, although we have in the past.

LSU will have their hands full next Saturday against Auburn as Auburn is a very good road team and have a strong defense. When you look at their common opponents, LSU has scored more points and has not lost. Auburn lost to Mississippi State, a team that LSU beat 45-0. Their most recent common opponent was Florida. While the margin of victory was similar, I believe that Auburn played Florida much better than LSU did.

The winner of Saturday's game will most likely represent the SEC West in Atlanta. I hate to count my Alabama team out, but I just do not believe that they are ready for the remainder of their schedule. I think the remaining schedule in the SEC East is in Kentucky's favor if they can find a way to get past Florida on Saturday. If they cannot, then you could very well have a two-loss team representing that division in the SEC Championsip game and it could be almost anybody in the group.

It is going to be interesting as the season progresses. There are three to four teams in each division that could play in the Championship game. While they are beating each other up, I am afraid that they are also knocking the Conference out of the National picture. Nine top 10 teams have lost in the last two weeks, so anything could happen.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

The BCS-BS Continues

As the college football season continues, it becomes more and more evident that we need a playoff system. Any team can be beaten on any given day, and it is unfair the Championship game is often played by those who benefit from gratuitous positions in the pre-season polls. Hopefully, this thing will shake out and a couple of teams who legitimately climbed in the polls after playing well week after week will be the ones who decide the championship. I would love to see a South Florida - California matchup. These teams have reached their rankings the hard way.

Had it not been for Michigan, Louisville, Wisconsin, Texas, and a few others that have been clogging the line since being flushed in the opening weeks of the season, Missouri, Boston College, and Arizona State may be ranked in the top 10 right now. South Florida and California could be ranked even higher.

So where are our season opening top 10-ners at now? I have listed them below in the order in which they started the season and have listed their present ranking to the right.

1. USC 10
2. LSU 1
3. W. Va. 8
4. Texas 23
5. Michigan Unranked
6. Florida 13
7. Wisconsin 19
8. Oklahoma 6
9. Va. Tech 12
10. Louisville Unranked

These teams opened the season in the top 10, but now have a combined total of 17 losses. This number is a little distorted because Michigan and Louisville account for 8 of the losses and LSU has not lost. Still, I think this makes a good argument for a playoff. Several good teams will go unnoticed again this year, while some of these were ranked so high early on, that they will be able to have a high finish due to their soft schedules.

Do Missouri, Boston College, Arizona State, Hawaii, and the others play some soft teams? Sure, they do. But, they will never get any kind of publicity due their location in the ranks. Any of these could go undefeated and would still finish behind USC and Oklahoma. Remember what Boise State did last year? Undefeated and unnoticed until they beat Oklahoma.

Come on, South Florida. Keep playing and let's hope that some of the teams ahead of you drop a game. The only way we will ever see a college playoff is if the underdogs continue to beat the big dogs. Then, the powers that be will say, "There must be something wrong with this system."