Posted: Friday November 18, 2005 11:40AM; Updated: Saturday November 19, 2005 1:54PM
The other night I saw Slap Shot for the first time since last year's Ron Artest incident in Detroit (yes, this is the college football section; be patient) and noticed that the Hanson brothers presaged Artest's beatdown in Motown by 27 years.
You may recall that the very next day the Clemson-South Carolina game ended with an ugly, helmet-wielding melee. One coach suggested it might have been inspired by watching endless loops of the Pacers-Pistons war on SportsCenter. Just to be safe, Tigers and Gamecocks players should tune in to Supernanny on ABC this Friday evening.
A Bulldogs victory (and no, that's not what the green "V" on the back of their helmets stands for) could be the type of seminal moment that, should there ever be a Pac-12, fans in the San Joaquin Valley (that's what it stands for) would recall as the program's tipping point. Fresno is one of only two schools (the other being Texas) ranked in the top 10 in both scoring defense and scoring offense. But the Trojans are not New Mexico State or San Jose State.
Reader Brian Harbach of Atlanta, an Auburn alum, correctly picked all three SEC games on last week's pickoff, so he's writing this item. "The best defense in the SEC (Alabama) matches up with the best offense (Auburn) in a game with more than pride at stake. The Tigers have won three straight Iron Bowls. The last loss, in 2001, is known around Toomer's Corner as 'Black Saturday.' It'll be a darker day for the Tide should they lose a fourth straight to 'little brother' -- and with it all hope of a BCS bowl."
How fitting is it that a man named Carr is the coach at a campus so close to the Motor City? Asked after Saturday's defeat of Indiana how long it would take him to start thinking about the Buckeyes, the Wolverine coach replied, "I don't think you ever stop thinking about them." So this Carr is driven. The Wolverines could salvage a season that began 3-3 with a fifth straight win Saturday, while a Buckeyes victory would allow their fans to fire lasers of hate toward South Bend, Ind.
Yellow Jackets coach Chan Gailey just received a five-year contract extension at Tech, guaranteeing that no Division I-A football coach will have a shorter drive to The Varsity (it's just across I-75 from campus) for lunch for five more years. Miami's varsity features the nation's top-ranked pass defense, which will make for many short drives by a Tech offense whose three-year starter at quarterback, Reggie Ball, is completing less than 50 percent of his passes this season.
On one hand, the home team has won by a margin of no less than 24 points in each of the past three seasons. On the other -- we're assuming that you have two hands; if not, please substitute feet -- the Spartans have only defeated one team (Notre Dame) that will finish the season with a winning record. It's BCS bowl eligibility (Penn State) versus Fort Worth Bowl eligibility (Michigan State). Don't hate me, JoePa.
The Cavaliers, who end their season with a Hokies-Hurricanes combo, win the Vanessa Williams memorial "Save the Best for Last" prize (while Auburn fans remind us that the Tigers are finishing up with Georgia and Alabama, which rates a close second). Virginia is 5-0 at Scott Stadium this season, but the Hokies have had two weeks to listen to how overrated they are following the 27-7 Miami debacle. Expect Mike Imoh, Cedric Humes, Branden Ore and Marcus Vick to run wild. Sometimes the snow comes down in June, you know?
The Civil War is in the hands of a pair of second lieutenants. Beavers
starting QB Matt Moore is doubtful while his counterpart, the Ducks' Kellen Clemens, is out for the season with a knee injury. Oregon State will start sophomore Ryan Gunderson while the Ducks could go with either Dennis Dixon or Brady Leaf, who bailed them out a week ago in Pullman. The Beavers last won in Eugene, located just 47 forested miles from Corvallis, in 1993.
Steve Spurrier ending his season with an in-state rivalry game against a Bowden. Where have we seen this before? Not the NFL -- Washington is not even a state. Spurrier's squad, winners of five in a row, is feeling Gamecocky as their Palmetto State rivals come to town. But Clemson has won three in a row in this series and the Tigers are no strangers to top 20 teams this autumn.
Someone smart -- not me -- noted recently that the combined record of the three schools that have beaten the Sooners this season is 29-2. Someone less smart -- guess who -- just noticed that the Red Raiders have not lost in Lubbock since 2001 to a Big 12 team that did not play in a BCS bowl. The Sooners' resurgence -- four straight wins -- is duly noted, but their 63rd-best pass defense will take a hurtin'.
I'm dubbing this the "Whose Postseason Banquet Would You Less Want to Attend?" Bowl. You've got Vandy, which, after starting the season 4-0 and daring to think bowl game, has lost six straight. Then there're the Vols, whose quarterbacks Erik Ainge and Rick Clausen convene in coach Phil Fulmer's office and play a high-stakes game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who gets the start each Saturday. The You-Won't-Believe-It stat of the week is that Clausen actually has a higher passer efficiency rating than the Commodores' Jay Cutler.