Friday, November 28, 2003

LSU 55, Arkansas 24: The Bayou Bengals broke open a close game in the middle of the second quarter with an overpowering performance, scoring 38 unanswered points in route to clinching the SEC West title. Ironically, LSU may be on the outside looking in on January 4 because of their "weak" schedule, when they have played four teams (Georgia, Florida, Ole Miss, and Arkansas) that are tougher than anyone on SC's schedule save Wazzou, and tougher than all but one of the schools (Texas, but even they got walloped at home by the Razorbacks) on Oklahoma's. Not to say that the Trojans won't deserve to be in the Sugar Bowl, but their toughest opponent after the Cougars may well be the team they play next Saturday, Oregon State.

But of course, that's not why you're here. This week's SongGirl of the Week is...Nicole. A senior in her second year on the team, this Kappa's most prized possession is her "sharpei" puppy, her hobbies include the going to the beach, "watching movies, jogging, going to concerts, fishing... and mostly lounging around in (her) PJ's," and noted that she was drawn to SC "[t]he moment I stepped on our campus for an admission interview I felt the pride and unity of the Trojan Family." She's hot for the Dave Matthews Band, and her favorite TV show is Seinfeld (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Monday, November 24, 2003

Thanks in no small part to their dominating performance Saturday, USC moved back into second place in the BCS standings. LSU, winner against Ole Miss, is in third, while Michigan parlayed their decisive win over rival Ohio State into the fourth spot.

As of Saturday, the New Year's weekend picture became less murky. Michigan and USC, winners of the Big-10 and Pac-10 titles respectively, assured themselves of at least a Rose Bowl berth, joining Florida State, which captured the ACC title last week. Ohio State will almost certainly receive an at-large bid, and Oklahoma has all but punched its ticket for the Sugar Bowl, regardless of whether it wins or loses the Big-12 title game against Kansas State. The Big East champion will be decided next Saturday, when Pitt hosts Miami, while the SEC title game will match Georgia or Florida against LSU or Ole Miss. Assuming Oklahoma and LSU win out in two weeks, the remaining at-large bid will probably go to Texas; if the Longhorns lose to A&M Friday, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and Washington State would be in the running.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Rivalries, rivalries, rivalries, all day and night, tomorrow. By evening's end, we will have a pretty good idea who will be playing Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl (and yes, even if the Sooners lose, either at TTech tomorrow or in the Big-12 Title game vs. K-State or Mizzou, they're still going), as well as seeing resolution to some friendly (and not-so-friendly) alumni wagers.

Ohio State-Michigan: The only game featuring two teams ranked in the Top 10, with the Big-10 title on the line. Jim Tressel promised OSU's fans that they would be proud of their team in this game, and he's delivered so far. By all accounts, the Maize and Blue should be the pick; they are the hottest team in the country east of the 110 Freeway, they're playing at The Big House, and they've had two years to think about being the humiliation of being the first Wolverine squad in a generation to lose consecutive games to the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is playing only their fourth road game of the season (something the NY Times computer probably didn't factor in), and fans who compared the skin-of-their-teeth victory over Purdue last Saturday with Michigan's blow-out against the same team three weeks ago can be excused for wondering how they got rated so high in the BCS. Well, as Rudy Tomjanovich (Michigan, '70) said a few years back (and repeated ad infinitum by the Zenmaster last year), "never underestimate the heart of a champion." Also, never overestimate a team qb'd by John Navarre.

UCLA-USC: It is mind-boggling how the Trojans got to be a 22-point favorite (a record for this game). I know this is hard to believe for anyone who has followed them the last couple of years, but the Bruins actually have a winning record. That is to say, more often than not this year, when they have stepped on to the field, they are more likely to outscore their opponents than to be outscored. Heard of Oklahoma? UCLA actually went to Norman and led the number one team in the country well into the second quarter. They got beat by a ton, but remember, that was the game the Sooners had one player run back three punts for touchdowns, as well as an interception-TD for good measure. Remember that team from the Bay Area, CAL? You know, the one that beat SC? I do; the one time this season I saw my alma mater play, they dominated in every category but the final score.

The Bruins have a pretty decent defense, and if they remain fired-up well into the game, they could force Matt Leinart into doing something he has yet to do: win a close one. If SC is scoreboard-watching, or looking ahead to their game against Oregon State in two weeks, they could suffer the ultimate let-down for a Pac-10 school: a berth in the Holiday Bowl.

LSU-Ole Miss: One of those SEC games that means nothing to anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line, but which is sure to attract the attention of the voters-that-Howard Dean-wants, the Confederate Flag waving, moonshine-swilling, n-word dropping demographic. This year, though, it counts to the rest of us as well, more so than whichever clowns those states just elected governor. LSU is ranked third in the polls, fourth in the BCS, but is behind the Rebels in the SEC West standings. In short, they are SC's insurance policy in case OSU wins tomorrow; if the Bayou Bengals remain in the three-hole in both polls, and if Wazzou wins the Apple Cup tomorrow, the Trojans will pass the Buckeyes.

Eli Manning should, by all accounts, be the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, prevailing where his father and brother failed, and now he gets the chance, at home, to make history. Note to SC fans: if the Buckeyes lose, than watch out for LSU; with three tough games left (assuming they win tomorrow) against very tough opponents, including Arkansas and, probably, Georgia in the SEC Championship, they could easily pass USC in the computer rankings as well.

CAL-Stanford: The Big Game. Enuff said. GO BEARS !!!

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Southern Miss 40, TCU 28: There is a good reason some conferences don't send teams to a BCS bowl game. Only two games from an undefeated season, the Horned Frogs struggled out of the gate, rallied, but ultimately fell short. With TCU eliminated from the picture, this all but assures Texas of an at-large bid (assuming they beat A&M in eight days), and gives a slight boost to the strength of schedule of USC (since Southern Miss lost to CAL early in the season).

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Important news: ABC has already announced the games it will show, both regionally and via satellite, this Saturday, and along with the dross (ie., Ohio State-Michigan, SC-UCLA), viewers will be able to catch The Big Game !! GO BEARS !!!

In the meantime, has it been only six short days since Alanna became the third Condredge's Acolytes Song Girl of the Week? Well, all glory is fleeting, so without further adieu, let us welcome our new SGOTW, Kristen. She is a sophomore majoring in Communications, and whose hobbies include "[s]hopping, eating, dancing, and spending quality time with friends and family." Her favorite film is Father of the Bride (no indication if it's the original, with Elizabeth Taylor and Spencer Tracy, or the remake, with Steve Martin and someone else), and, natch, her favorite aspect of attending the university is "the Trojan Spirit". We Are...SC !!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Fresh on the heels of a record-setting 54-7 loss to CAL on Saturday, U-Dub coach Keith Gilbertson has to face reports that he and his family used a booster's jet to travel to the season-opener at Ohio State, and that he participated in a much smaller NCAA pool at the same time former coach Rick Neuheisel was getting busted for his participation.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Ohio State, having tabbed yet another unimpressive win, was still able to move into the number two slot in this week's BCS ratings. SC will pass them by the end of the season if both they and LSU win their remaining games, since the Trojans would improve their computer rankings, something that the Buckeyes cannot do at this point unless Oklahoma loses. If LSU loses, than SC would need Wazzou to move way up in the polls(thereby giving them a bonus for having beaten a top-5 team) in order to catch the Buckeyes. Screwy....

UPDATE: More reaction to the BCS travesty, here, here, and here

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

The calm before the storm; with the end-of-season rivalries starting in ten days, and after two straight weeks of upsets and thrillers, this weekend's games offer the fan a brief pause before the BCS competition begins in earnest. Only two games featuring match-ups of ranked teams, both in the Big-10, as Ohio State tries to maintain its hopes of a second straight title against Purdue (last year's game was decided on a long TD pass in the final minute), while Minnesota becomes the first major Division 1 program to finish its regular season, in Iowa. Oddly enough, the Buckeyes are more concerned with how LSU, ranked third in the polls but well back in the BCS standings, does, than with USC; should the Bayou Bengals fall while Ohio State runs the slate against Purdue and Michigan, the Buckeyes will probably move past USC based on its strength of schedule. Also take note that Ohio State, after this weekend, will have played 8 of its 11 games at home, while USC has played 6 of its 10 games on the road.

In the meantime, with USC well-rested from its Bye Week, en route to a showdown with bottom-dwelling Arizona, here is our Song Girl of the Week: it's Alanna, a junior majoring in Communications, with an interest in the "Entertainment Industry" (I thought that phrase died with Sinatra). She hopes to attend law school (what Song Girl doesn't?), and asserts that "USC is a fantastic school and I am extremely grateful that I have become a member of the Trojan family. It is a privelge[sic] not only to attend a university with such academic prestige but also to be surrounded by such a bright and charaismatic[sic] student body."

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

In the latest BCS standings, TCU has moved into 6th place, the highest a team from a non-BCS conference has ever been ranked. If they can pass two more schools, they will be an automatic selection for one of the Big 4. Also, Ohio State has moved within range of passing USC at No. 2, even if the Trojans win out, since the Buckeyes close with two ranked teams.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

To absolutely no one's surprise, Maurice Clarett is on the verge of flunking out of Ohio State. He has been advised by the university to withdraw from two courses he seems likely to fail, an African-American Studies program to which he had frequently slept through the few classes he bothered to attend, and a P.E. class for which he had not turned in assignments. As brilliant a football player as he is, I would be very skeptical of taking him, were I an NFL general manager. Accepting for the moment that Clarett wasn't in Columbus to prepare for medical school, his academic performance is still relevant for evaluating his potential as a pro football player because it signifies the amount of motivation he has. Going to class, scraping by on exams, and being a college football player 24-7 shows me a person who is willing to work his ass off, both on and off the field.

Friday, November 07, 2003

This weekend is a step down from last week, with USC, LSU and Michigan squaring off against the dreaded BYE, but a few games should be interesting. Disappointing Pitt hosts VA Tech, fresh off their deceptively resounding win over Miami, which plays Tennessee at the Orange Bowl. Michigan State tries to keep its Rose Bowl hopes alive in Columbus against Ohio State, while the Alamo Bowl keeps an eye on the Iowa-Purdue battle. The PAC-10 and SEC-West races come closer to being resolved as Wazzou hosts UCLA and Ole Miss travels to Auburn.

And, of course, the college football version of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry takes place in South Bend, where Notre Dame tries to keep its 39-game winning streak intact against Navy. The Middies have not beaten the Irish since Staubach was their starting QB, but may have their best chance in ages this season. Navy has played Notre Dame tougher on the road over the last decade, and for the first time in ages, will be the team in this game playing for a bowl bid. And should the Domers lose, they will fall behind Michigan into second place in the all-time win percentage rankings.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Tonight begins a stretch of four games over four weeknights on ESPN, starting with the MAC showdown between Bowling Green and Miami (Ohio) (remember when Miami was nicknamed the "Cradle of Coaches", and would insist that it only be known as "Miami"?)

Monday, November 03, 2003

The college football season took an unexpected turn early Saturday night. Two games, played 3,000 miles apart and featuring match-ups of top-10 teams, changed the dynamics of the BCS Championship. In Blacksburg, the three-year, thirty-nine game regular season winning streak of the Miami Hurricanes came to a stunning end at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies, 31-7. Although the game was much closer than the score might indicate (the Canes dropped a pass off a fake field goal that would have tied the game before half, and allowed two touchdowns off of a fumble and an interception), the unexpected demise of the nation's most hated team, at the hands of a rival that had been routed the week before by lowly West Virginia, sent the selection for an opponent for Oklahoma back to the computers (btw, the last regular season loss for Miami came in the Butch Davis Era, against the Rick Neuheisel-coached UDub Huskies back in September, 2000).

And according to the BCS standings out today, that team is likely to be U.S.C., a 43-16 winner over Washington State. Sophomore QB Matt Leinart led the Trojan second half onslaught with two touchdown passes, and is in position to be the first player since Marshall Faulk to make a serious run at the Heisman Trophy before his junior year. To become the first Pac-10 school to qualify for the BCS Championship, SC needs only wins at Arizona and at home to UCLA and Oregon State.

And now, the moment you've been waiting for, the Song Girl of the Week is...Allison. A junior majoring in Public Relations, this leggy blonde picks bread as her favorite food (?!?), whose favorite movie is the early Sarah Jessica Parker classic Girls Just Want to Have Fun, and her hobbies include reading, listening to music, and getting to "hang with my sorority sisters" (she's a Kappa). Her main reason for attending the university is that "[T]he Trojan Family is unbelievable. The pride and love associated with this university is something that can not be duplicated anywhere else. And the spirit that is associated with USC and with Trojan athletics is awesome." Fight On !!

Saturday, November 01, 2003

What a day !!! Michigan-MSU and FSU-Notre Dame in the morning, Oklahoma-OSU, Florida-Georgia and Ohio State-Penn State in the afternoon(this blogger takes the Buckeyes and 14 points), followed by USC-Wazzou and Miami-VA Tech in the evening, and capped off by Oregon-UDub in the wee hours, for those of you on the east coast. OK, so maybe the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions aren't in such a great game, but Joe Pa could tie for the most coaching wins with a victory today. Plus, a good breakdown of the schools playing in the battle of Michigan today, although I'm sure the writer could have come up with some more famous alums of MSU than film director Walter Hill and novelist Richard Ford.

FYI, the weather is clearing up in LA for tonight's game, and it will be warm in Blacksburg for tonight's 2004 ACC preview.

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