Nothing against Notre Dame or the upstart Fiesta Bowl, understand, but the four so-called major bowls will be deliriously happy if the top-ranked Irish lose to Southern Cal on Saturday. That would mean that the Fiesta's Notre Dame-West Virginia matchup won't be this season's game-of-the-century between two unbeatens, and the Orange, Sugar, Cotton and Rose Bowls will be back in the thick of the national championship melee.
If USC beats the Irish, the Trojans could win the championship by beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl, no sure thing considering the way the unlucky Wolverines have played this season. If Michigan pulls a surprise in Pasadena, that will open the way for the winner of the Orange Bowl ( Miami vs. Nebraska) or the Sugar Bowl (Auburn, probably, vs. Florida State), or for West Virginia. Even the Arkansas Razorbacks could do a lot of squealing if they beat UCLA in the Cotton Bowl, provided they first beat Miami on Saturday.
Speaking of the bowls, will somebody please explain why there shouldn't be a limit placed on the number of teams from one conference that receive bids?
This season the Pac-10 is the nation's best conference, so how do you explain that it has only three teams in bowls ( Washington State is going to the Aloha) while the SEC and the Big Ten each have five? And what about the fact that Illinois (6-4-1), Iowa (6-3-3) and Florida (6-4, soon to be 6-5 after playing Florida State this Saturday) are in bowls, while the missing include Duke (7-3-1), Louisville (8-3), and the winner of this week's game between Arizona (6-4) and Arizona State (6-4)?
Come on, bowl representatives. Do something to make the postseason menu more appetizing.
THE IRISH ADVANTAGE
Army will arrive at this week's game against Navy by way of Dublin, Ireland, where the Cadets were beaten by Boston College 38-24 in the Emerald Isle Classic, the first major NCAA football game played in Europe. The Cadets owned an 8-1 record and the Eagles were 2-7, but Army found that it couldn't overcome the, er, home-field advantage.
Yes, that's right. The crowd of 42,525 included 10,000 Americans, most of whom came from Boston's large Irish-Catholic community. It wasn't fair, really. While Senator Edward Kennedy was there to lead the Boston delegation, Army couldn't even get its mule mascot into the country and had to hope for a boost from the Notre Dame leprechaun.
The Irish government said it hopes to make the game an annual event. No wonder. The American visitors were expected to pump more than $20 million into the economy, a windfall for a nation with nearly 20% unemployment.
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