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Passing judgment (cont.)

Posted: Sunday October 30, 2005 9:23PM; Updated: Monday October 31, 2005 9:27AM
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EIGHT IN THE BOX

1. "Holy Crap!" That was the exclamation from a guy at McAleer's, a bar on Manhattan's Upper West Side on Saturday night, when he passed by the television and saw that Oklahoma State was leading unbeaten BCS No. 1 Texas 28-9 at the time.

"Holy Crap!" he repeated. He wasn't around later when Stanford was up 24-3 on unbeaten UCLA with just eight minutes left in Palo Alto (as you well know the Longhorns and Bruins came from behind and won both games), but I imagine he would have been just as surprised.

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I mention this because in the last week I've written two columns (and received many e-mails in response) defending college football's lack of a postseason playoff. I've argued both sides ad nauseam with every reader who wrote in, but what it boils down to, at least for me, is the "Holy Crap!" moment.

Remember, we're in New York City. Four schools, none of which are located within 1,000 miles of McAleer's, are playing on a Saturday night in the midst of the regular season and yet, because two of them are at risk of squandering their unbeaten status, half the bar's abuzz (the other half, simply buzzed; it was two-for-one Guinness night). I rarely see an NFL game that does not include a local team generating that type of excitement from someone just walking past the TV screen. Unless the guy has money on the game.

I live for the Holy Crap! moment. And in college football we get that every week. With a playoff, we won't.

2. That said, because so many readers are so passionately in favor of a playoff, I want to yield some space to one of them next week. Write in with your suggestion for how a college playoff would work. Best suggestion gets printed and I'll pay you $50. Out of my own pocket. And I'm not pulling down the Rick Reilly dollars here, no sirree (I write that in hopes that Rick will see it and "sponsor" the sweepstakes. We'd even name it after him.).

I'll only put in one provision. The season must begin no earlier than Labor Day weekend and must end by the first week of January. So write in. You might be rich!

3. Georgia quarterback Joe Tereshinski III's touchdown grab joins Alabama split end Tyrone Prothro's TD catch against Southern Miss and Penn State QB Michael Robinson's bulldozing of a Minnesota defensive back on my short list of plays of the year so far. How many dog bones on the back of his helmet did Tereshinski earn for that? To me that seemed like at least a three-bone play.

4. Every talking head commented on the Miami Hurricanes' throwback (or throw-up) uniforms last Saturday, but did you notice the stands? The entire upper deck of the Orange Bowl was empty. You have to imagine that Hurricane Wilma had a lot to do with the sparse crowd, but still, there was an "I went to see the 'Canes and a WNBA game broke out" feel to the entire setting.

5. How long will it take for Stanford to get over squandering a 21-point lead with less than eight minutes remaining at home to UCLA?

Here's how it all went wrong: After UCLA scored to make it 24-10, Stanford started its drive with 7:04 left on its own 32. They held the ball for three plays and 1:47, gaining zero yards. UCLA took over with 5:17 left, needing just three plays and 34 seconds to close within a touchdown, 24-17. Now Stanford gets the ball again, this time with 4:43 remaining, on the Cardinal 20. Two runs gain 11 yards and a crucial first down. It is here where things look bleakest for the Bruins. Then what happens? A false start is called on Stanford's Ismail Simpson, creating first-and-15. Stanford coach Walt Harris realizes he'll need at least one more first down to put the Bruins in serious timeclock trouble, so he opens up the air attack. Two plays yield two incompletions and take just seconds off the clock. A third-down pass is complete but falls short of the first down. Stanford, despite running five plays while trying to protect a seven-point lead, only takes 2:13 off the clock before punting. UCLA, with 2:30 remaining, easily goes 66 yards for a touchdown.

How long will it take Stanford to get over having blown the chance to spoil the perfect season of a Pac-10 rival from Los Angeles? Maybe as little as seven days, when the Cardinal visits USC, another Pac-10 rival from L.A.

6. Why "World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party"? Is there an indoor cocktail party taking place somewhere we don't know about that is even larger? If so, I'm betting it's at a frat house in Gainesville.

7. Gotta love Brent Musburger for taking a jab at himself during the Purdue-Penn State game. The ABC commentator noted that later in the evening one could watch both the Michigan-Northwestern and the South Carolina-Tennessee games (on ABC's sister networks), Brent said: "I might need two [TV] sets ... that's worth a couple of beers."

Yo, Brent, as long as you're not in Lincoln.

8. Brock Spack ... Didn't I see that item in the latest REI catalog?


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