Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The latest BCS standings, reflecting the overdue demotion of Southern California following the weekend's upset in Corvallis. Other than that, there was little change, with West Virginia moving up to third, and Louisville fifth, setting up what may be the first BCS semi on Thursday in Kentucky. The one-loss schools in the SEC maintained, as did Texas, but no one is likely going to remain ahead of the Mountaineers or Cardinals should the likely Big East champs remain perfect. Neither Ohio State nor Michigan seem likely to lose before their climactic showdown; if form holds, we will be deprived of every college football fan's birthright, a complaint about the national title game.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

From AOL's new college football blog comes news that the NCAA is considering expanding into Canada, with the most likely applicants being the University of British Columbia and St. Clair College of Windsor, Ont. Either school would be a ten-point road favorite in Palo Alto this season.

Having a much better season than Stanford is U.S.C., which took last week off after several close calls. The earlier squeaker over UDub was vindicated, perhaps, by the scare the Huskies threw into eleventh-ranked CAL last Saturday. In fact, for a few minutes it seemed that the race to be a BCS also-ran would be shaken up, as one-loss CAL, Notre Dame and Tennessee all trailed for much of the afternoon at home against less-heralded teams. But in the end, all three rallied, form was held, and other than Michigan leapfrogging USC into second, and West Virginia passing Auburn for fourth, the BCS standings stayed pretty much the same.

Also leapfrogging ahead of the competition for Songleader of the Week, and perhaps the season, is Natalie Nelson, who also appears on the cover of this month's Los Angeles Magazine. The senior sociology major from Rolling Hills, California wishes to spend her life in the exciting field of commercial real estate (natch, the generic song girl is a blonde Republican from Rolling Hills who has an eye on a career in real estate sales), and says that "the things I enjoy doing most are dancing, working out, going to the beach, sporting events, concerts, and traveling. I love fashion, movies, and hanging out with my family and friends." Among the highlights of her resume is a six-year stint as a "Pop Warner cheerleader."

As co-captain of the squad, there have been other perks, such as an appearance on "The O.C.", an ESPN ad, a "commentating" gig on a cheerleader-related reality show on the Lifetime Network, and a trip with the rest of the Long Blonde Line to Italy last summer. Moreover, as you might expect from the life of any tall, thin, blue-eyed blonde from Rolling Hills, she has overcome much to get to her elevated perch: "I have been challenged with adversities in my life, and because of them I feel like I am stronger, more grounded, and spiritual."

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me, Ms. Nelson was also SI's Cheerleader of the Week back in September, and apparently has her own website. Additional trivia includes the fact that she's a model, which shouldn't surprise the readers of LA Magazine, her mother was a SongGirl back in the day, her favorite actress is Charlize Theron, and she attained some notoriety last year when, thanks to the magic of Photoshop, she was transposed into a picture "celebrating" Texas' two-point conversion at the end of the Rose Bowl.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Texas [5] 22, Nebraska [17] 20: A late Husker turnover and last-minute field goal by walk-on Ryan Bailey maintained the Longhorns' outside shot at defending their national title. This game probably signaled to a lot of fans that Nebraska is back among the elite, but I would prefer to see them win games like this before so concluding. Still, a good defensive effort by the Big Red, particularly inside the 20.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

For what it's worth, the Miami-Duke over/under was 41.5.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A heartwarming story, about the Miami-Dade Police Department's, "Join a Team, Not a Gang" program. It's culminating event: taking 700 at-risk youths to last Saturday's game between Miami and F.I.U.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Auburn [11] 27, Florida [2] 17: The Curse of the Twos continues. Rebounding nicely from its shock loss last week to Arkansas, the Tigers rallied from a six-point halftime deficit and shut out the Gators in the second half. The big play: a Red Zone fumble early in the fourth quarter by Florida quarterback Chris Leak with Florida only down by a point at the time. In spite of having the deepest conference in the country, there are now no undefeated teams in the SEC, and Auburn, currently ranked fourth in the BCS standings, is the only plausible team that could reach the championship game.

First BCS survey is out, with Ohio State ranked first, USC second and Michigan third. Louisville and West Virginia, the other major undefeated schools, trail one-loss Auburn. With the two Big-10 teams likely to remain unbeaten heading into their clash in mid-November, and the Trojans still to play Oregon, CAL and Notre Dame on consecutive weeks that month, everyone else is going to have their destinies in the hands of U.S.C., or hope that a monumental upset (or two) takes place in the Big-10.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tennessee [13] 51, Georgia [10] 33: The most exciting game of the day. The Vols rallied from a 24-7 deficit to win their second consecutive game in Athens, and decisively prove that the demons that afflicted last year's squad in route to a losing record have been exorcised. The Bulldogs conceded the second-most number of points at home in their school's history.

Florida [5] 23, L.S.U. [9] 10: Forcing six turnovers and shutting down the Tigers after conceding a touchdown on the opening drive, the Gators remained the only undefeated team in the S.E.C. with a dominating defensive effort in Gainesville. In the process, the Gators leaped to the second position in the most recent A.P. poll, passing Auburn, a shocking 27-10 loser to Arkansas, and U.S.C., which struggled in a 26-20 win over Washington. Since the Trojans and the Razorbacks squared off in the season opener, the schools have moved in opposite directions, with the Hogs impressively sweeping the Alabama schools, while U.S.C. has found it difficult to score with its inexperienced offense.

Which brings us to this week's winner of the Songgirl of the Week, Alli. A Virginia native with an undetermined major (although she should hurry up, as it is her junior year), she is celebrating her first year on the squad, hopes to one day become an actress, having already appeared in a number of student films at the campus (btw, has there ever been a really famous cheerleader at S.C.?),and is a fan of Steel Magnolias and Moulin Rouge, and I suppose dozens of other chickflicks. She most enjoys "goofing off with her friends or having long talks with her mom," and her proudest accomplishment has been "defying stereotypes." Good for her.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

CAL [16] 48, Oregon [11] 24: Are ugly, tacky, headache-inducing unis supposed to be the new cash-cow for college athletics? Rolling up their fifth straight impressive win since the opening night debacle in Knoxville, the Golden Bears jumped out to a 28-3 lead in the first half and rolled over the Ducks, much to the relief of BCS bowls who might have been forced to pick a team with a glaringly bogus win over Oklahoma in their column.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Harvard, having barely survived the blow to its prestige from having given the incumbent President a post-graduate degree, now has to deal with a more banal problem endemic in college sports: the fact that its football team consists predominantly of football players. The team captain and the starting quarterback and running back have been suspended for various transgressions, including participation in what the head coach called a "disgusting skit" that possibly may have involved sexual innuendo about him. Harvard has had a very successful run the past five years, including an undefeated season in 2004, but the reaction to having a lacrosse team infiltrating the football squad has been mixed:
Helene Irvin, mother of junior quarterback Richard Irvin, who played at Harvard-Westlake School in North Hollywood and Muir High School in Pasadena and is among 14 Harvard players from California, said she was appalled by the "Skit Night" routines.

"I expect the grown-ups and the administration and the coaches to put a stop to this behavior immediately and get things back to working order," Irvin said. "That's what every parent would want. This cannot and will not happen again."

Michael Hull, whose son Thomas is a freshman punter who played at Santa Margarita High, said he had no regrets about sending his son to Harvard.

"It may be unprecedented or unheard of," Hull said of the off-field problems, "but it doesn't mean the institution is falling apart or that there is a pattern. There is no cancer afoot."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ohio State [1] 38, Iowa [13] 17: The Buckeyes' D dominated from start to finish, holding Hawkeye QB Drew Tate to 19-for-41 passing, to convincingly beat their third ranked team of the season, the second on the road. The Ohio State University has only a trip to East Lansing before them to challenge their undefeated record before the annual clash with Michigan, which avenged last year's upset to recapture the Little Brown Jug, 28-14 over Minnesota. The Spartans, on the other hand, followed up on last week's collapse with an embarassing 23-20 home loss to Illinois. T.O.S.U. appears to be the mirror image of U.S.C.'s juggernaut teams of the past four years, with a stifiling defense carrying an offense that just gets the job done.

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