Final regular-season weekend will have SEC surprise
Posted: Friday December 2, 2005 10:19AM; Updated: Saturday December 3, 2005 12:37PM
Please, don't. Don't try consoling me. I am past that point. I am he who cannot be assuaged. Why? Because after Saturday, it's over, people. Oh, sure, there will be the Heisman award presentation (a three-minute show ESPN will expand to 90 minutes; listen, Bristol, you show a montage of past winners [maybe a Jay Berwanger open-field run?] followed by the "Something For Joey" clip, then you hand out the damn hardware ... capisce?). And then there's the onslaught of bowls, which before Jan. 1 I'll be watching with the mute on -- if I watch at all -- because nothing trumps the sound of Mitch Miller and the Band this month.
"He'll say, 'Are you married?/We'll say, 'No, man/But you can do the job while you're in town'..."
But, until Jan. 1, this is it, kids. And so today, I am a blubbering idiot (whereas, according to the e-mails I receive, I'm usually just a %$* idiot). I'm Zack Mayo (Richard Gere), doing pushups in the mud, staring up at the college football gods in the role of Sgt. Foley (Louis Gossett Jr.), begging them not to pull the plug on my season: "Don't you do it! Don't! You ... I got nowhere else to go! I got nowhere else to g-- ... I got nothin' else."
If Euclid (325 B.C.-265 B.C.) taught us anything, the Bulldogs should maul the Techsters: Fresno State beat Boise State by 20 on Nov. 10 and Boise State beat La. Tech by 17 on Nov. 26, so Pat Hill's gang, whose Liberty Bowl ticket is already punched, should, by that logic, win by four or five touchdowns at Bulldog Stadium. Then again, Euclid always took the 'dog and the points, I hear. What is not flawed logic is that senior QB Paul Pinegar, in his final home game, is anxious to erase the sting of two straight losses.
Let me put this in terms Hollywood folks can understand: this game is the gridiron equivalent of Wednesday's episode of Stacked, in which Carmen Electra appeared in a guest role alongside star Pamela Anderson. Overflowing with talent. Speaking of zaftig pairs, the Bruins' dynamic Drewo (Maurice and Olson) can match the Trojans' Heisman heroes (Bush and Leinart) play for play. So why do I like USC in the battle of Los Angeles? They're No. 1 in turnover margin and UCLA is third-to-last in rush defense.
Largely because Auburn could convert only one of six field-goal attempts in Baton Rouge earlier this season, the other Tigers are playing for the SEC championship in Atlanta. LSU and Georgia represent two of the nation's top five scoring defenses, so the difference may come down to which offense is more capable of breaking a big play (the Bulldogs) and which side is more likely to win the turnover battle (again, the Bulldogs).
Six weeks ago in Austin it was 28-0, Longhorns, with five minutes remaining in the first half. Does anyone have any reason to think that with a return trip to the Rose Bowl, the national championship game, aaaand one final opportunity for Vince Young to prove that he's Heisman-worthy all at stake, that Texas will not be even more focused this afternoon? In Young's hometown of Houston? Sometimes the prospect of an upset sounds so crazy that it's not crazy to consider it, but this one is so much crazier than that that I revert back to calling it crazy.
Cardinals QB Brian Brohm, who ranks second in the nation in passing efficiency, tore his ACL last week versus Syracuse and will miss the contest. That, and the fact that the Huskies are dog-sledding toward bowl eligibility, would seem to seal the 'ville's fate. However, whether Brohm's replacement, Hunter Cantwell, can play well or not is less pertinent than knowing the Cards have too many studs on defense to be denied.
The Seminole offense has scored just one touchdown in the past 10 quarters. Junior tailback Lorenzo Booker, who three years ago announced his choice of schools live on SportsCenter, is averaging 47 yards per game rushing. And guess who's lining up against the Seminoles in Jacksonville? The nation's No. 1 defense. True, the Seminole O-line situation resembles a triage scene, but don't expect the Hokies, with an Orange Bowl berth at stake, to take pity. A Tech win would mean Coach Bowden's first four-game losing streak in his 30 seasons in Tallahassee.
Do you ever visit Internet Movie Database? Don't you love when they feature an aspiring starlet on the homepage, as they did Wednesday, with the headline "Please meet Kinsey Packard"? And you're like, sure, love to. Where? When? OK, that riff is completely irrelevant to this contest, but then, thanks to the Bulls' whiff in East Hartford last weekend, this game is irrelevant to the Big East title. USF is 4-0 at home, with an average victory margin of 24 points, but here's what matters: the Bulls, in search of their first bowl appearance, are led by senior tailback Andre Hall. The Mountaineers are already assured a BCS bowl and may be just complacent enough to allow an upset.
This is why we care: Two weeks ago, Army First Lieutenant Dennis Zilinski, 23, who captained the swim team at West Point two years ago, was killed by an improvised explosive device 155 miles north of Baghdad. Zilinski, who was engaged to former Cadet cheerleader and present Second Lieutenant Marie Cicerelle, was buried at West Point on Thursday.
To quote ever-genial former ESPN broadcaster Larry Beil, "Aloha means goodbye." The final pre-bowl game of the season kicks off from Aloha Stadium, as the Warriors host the Aztecs. Hawaii QB Colt Brennan, a Colorado transfer, is second in the nation in passing, with 29.6 completions and 361 passing yards per game. Aztec QB Kevin O'Connell is the son of an FBI agent -- wait, am I going to be Judith Miller'd for writing that? Oh, yeah, that's CIA.