Tuesday, November 28, 2006

U.S.C. [3] 44, Notre Dame [6] 24: Dwayne Jarrett may well be the most hated Trojan in South Bend since Anthony Davis, coming up big again with some huge catches as USC staked its claim at a BCS berth with a convincing win over the Irish. Brady Quinn again came up short in a big game, whose bad overthrow of an open receiver on 4th down in the game's opening series set the tone for the rest of the night, and must resign himself to being the first pick in the NFL draft rather than the Heisman winner.

USC needs only a big win over their cross-town rival, UCLA, this weekend to ensure a spot in Glendale, AZ. Two years ago, in the same situation, the Bruins stunned the Trojans by staying in the game until the very end, but has a seven-game losing streak in the series, following an eight-game winning streak that began in 1991. Last year, SC humiliated the Bruins, blowing out to a huge halftime lead and maintaining their foot on the gas pedal in the second half; it was that victory that more than anything inflated expectations going into the Rose Bowl. This year, the expectations aren't quite as high, but the Bruins are still going to be pissed.

Hopefully for USC, it won't spoil the birthday of this week's Songleader of the Week, Lauren. She is a senior poli sci major from Palos Verdes Estates; Peninsula High may beto Song Girls what Miami of Ohio is to coaching, and P.V.E. is the San Pedro de Macoris of cheerleading. Her hobby is playing classical piano, and she plans to attend law school, in the tradition of mid-80's SC legend Marisa d'Amico. My advice: bankruptcy law is a growth area, and the competition is not that pretty.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ohio St. [1] 41, Michigan [2] 38:
In what had been touted as a college-football matchup for the ages, the top-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines 42-39 Sunday in a game that, while exciting, ultimately made no real impact on the football landscape and had no significant effect on the national rankings.


"This was a tough game for us," (Ohio St. coach Jim) Tressel said. "By which I mean it was tough to get excited about it. Playing Michigan should be special, but going into this game, we knew that no matter what happened on the field, the BCS polls would have us either first or second. There was really no point in playing this at all."

"I mean, come on—we could have lined up in alphabetical order in the end zone dressed in nothing but helmets and socks and whacked off for 60 minutes, and the BCS would still send us to the Tostitos Championship Game," Tressel told the assembled reporters. "Hell, you'd all still vote for [Buckeyes quarterback] Troy Smith to win the Heisman. And you know it."
--The Onion (11/23/2006) The part about Bo's last speech to the Michigan team is especially poignant.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

USC [4] 23, CAL [14] 9: Crap, crap, crap...for the forty-ninth straight season, CAL has found a way not to go to the Rose Bowl, blowing a second half lead and falling before two fourth quarter touchdown passes by John David Booty. This game was, oddly enough, the first time since their last New Year's Day trip to Pasadena that the Bears found themselves one win away from a title, but the rejuvenated Trojans proved to be too much.

USC now finds itself ranked second in what are now called the "human polls" following Michigan's loss, and will probably pass the Wolverines with victories in their last two games with Notre Dame and UCLA. Possibly joining the Trojans en route to Glendale, Arizona is our Songleader of the Week, Lara, a sophomore BizAd major from Newport Beach, CA. It's her first year on the squad, and her happiest memory to date has been "singing the Beach Boys' “California Girls” at Sweet Caroline’s Karaoke Club." Before attending SC, she spent several years with the American Ballet Theatre in New York City, and she "...continue[s] to train in Newport Beach when I am not practicing with all the girlies at USC." Like every other member of the squad since the late-70's, she hails from Orange County, wants a career in commercial real estate, has long dreamed of being a songgirl and "being part of the Spirit of Troy," and chose USC because "[T]he reason I was so attracted to this campus was that I was looking for a school which was highly academically ranked, had a recognized dance and spirit squad, a lively social scene, and a strong Greek community. I found all that I was looking for here at USC."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Rest in Peace, Bo.

UPDATE: The Dead Schembechlers disband.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

U.S.C. [6] 35, Oregon [21] 10: They're back...at least for a week. The Trojans played their most impressive game since Nebraska, easily handling the Ducks on both sides of the line to move back into the driver's seat for the BCS. The game was marred by a bizarre double-reversal of a call early in the 4th quarter, in which an Oregon TD was reviewed, reversed and called incomplete, then reversed a second time after a Ducks' appeal. Pete Carroll, whose quest to win back-to-back-to-back national titles was thwarted by an inept instant replay booth in last year's Rose Bowl, was seen to crow on the sidelines how much "(he) loved instant replay," after the first reversal, then reverted to a string of f-bombs after the second.

USC is now three wins away from a match-up January 8 in Glendale, AZ with the winner of Ohio State-Michigan. None of the three games are a gimme; even the finale against UCLA promises to be scary, as the Bruins wish to preserve the rivalry's all-time record for consecutive wins (8) by stopping the Trojans this time.

Should SC prevail, it will give the nation a chance to see this week's Songleader of the Week appear in her first BCS Title Game. She's Ruth, a squad rookie in her junior year, who hopes to take her business degree into the "Real World" with a Fortune 500 Company, where she can market and brand manage to her heart's content. She has great taste in movies ("Gone with the Wind, The Deer Hunter, Memoirs of a Geisha, Pretty Woman, Eternal Sunshine [of the Spotless Mind], Four Rooms, Pulp Fiction, and anything made by Quentin Tarantino"; it certainly beats the typical Songgirl preference for Sleepless in Seattle or Notting Hill), and is a beauty pageant regular, having been both Miss Huntington Beach (where she hails) and Miss Culver City, and having competed in the Miss California and Miss Los Angeles pageants (where she won the "talent award"). Quoth Ruth: "It is such an honor to be a part of such a large piece of USC tradition."

Dave Zirin, on this weekend's Game of the Century [Pt. 1]:
This is farce carrying the threat of tragedy. The game should be an invitation to have some fun. Instead it becomes a backdrop for a raging bouillabaisse of testosterone and alienation. To the people of Columbus, and a university with a proud tradition of student organizing and solidarity, cheer yourselves hoarse for the Buckeyes on Saturday. But save your anger for the people who deserve it: the administrators who hiked your tuition while spending hundreds of thousands on stadium upkeep; the politicians who interfered with your right to vote in 2004 and the corporations that have created a Rust Belt state whose once-proud assembly lines are increasingly idle. (Emphasis added)
Only The Nation would make references to Woody Hayes, the Dead Schembechlers, and W.E.B. DuBois in the same article.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Arkansas [11] 31, Tennessee [13] 14: Their spot in the SEC Championship assured, thanks to Auburn's shock home loss to Georgia earlier in the day, the Razorbacks kept their outside hopes for a BCS Title berth with a convincing victory at home. It may well be that the opening loss to USC was as important to the 2006 NCAA football season as this week's Ohio St.-Michigan game; the one-sided victory is the only thing keeping the Trojans ahead of Florida for the fallback position in the championship, while it has kept what is arguably the best team in the South an also-ran for consideration.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Now it gets interesting. USC leaped forward to number 3 in the BCS rankings, and stands the best chance of benefitting from the misfortune of the Michigan-Ohio State loser. The Trojans still have home games with CAL and Notre Dame, followed by a visit to the Rose Bowl against crosstown rival UCLA, all in the next three weeks. Should they stumble, Florida(4) has the easier schedule down the stretch, Notre Dame(5) has the match-up with SC to propel them to the top, Rutgers(6) is still unbeaten, and is doing very well in the computer rankings, and the loser of this Saturday's version of the Game of the Century will have a legit claim, particularly if the result is close, controversial and/or exciting. Out of luck: Arkansas, which has the bad loss at home to USC; Boise State, unbeaten but untested; and Wisconsin, which had the bad luck of playing in the same conference as the two giants of this season.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rutgers [15] 28, Louisville [3] 25: And suddenly, there was pandemonium. Winning their biggest game since they helped invent the sport more than a century ago, the Scarlet Knights rallied from an 18-point deficit to stun the Cardinals, and stake a viable claim for a BCS Title game berth. Jeremy "the Judge" Ito's 28-yard field goal with 13 seconds left, kicked after an offsides penalty had negated an earlier miss, proved the difference. Only a visit to Morgantown on December 2 against West Virginia stands between Rutgers and an undefeated season.

This creates an obvious dilemma. Florida is probably the team most likely to advance, assuming they close out the season with wins against South Carolina this Saturday, FSU in two weeks, and in the SEC title game. Should the Gators falter, Texas is right behind, and playing, IMHO, the best football in the nation right now. Auburn follows, but there's a good chance they won't even qualify for the SEC Championship thanks to their earlier blow-out loss to Arkansas, which needs only one more win to clinch. Finally, USC, which smoked Arkansas, and plays an hellacious schedule down the stretch (but mostly at home: Oregon this week, CAL the week after, then Notre Dame, before playing UCLA in the Rose Bowl), could easily jump over the teams ahead of them. Lastly, the loser of Ohio State-Michigan will have only one loss; should that game be a classic nailbiter, and/or decided on a bad call, there will be two weeks between the end of that game and the selection of the BCS Championship teams to stoke the argument for a rematch.

There's no need, however, to stoke any arguments as to the Songleader of the Week. It's Megan, the third consecutive second year member of the Squad to win this prestigious honor. This future MBA from Vancouver, Washington (accross the river from Portland, OR) plans to pursue a career in advertising or marketing (my suggestion: the lucrative world of pharmacological sales), and says that the one word that best describes her is "Fun!" Her hobbies: "...dancing, the beach, all USC sporting events, and shopping. I love being outdoors, the ocean, and having fun! Traveling to new places and meeting new people are two of my favorite things."

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

L.S.U. [13] 28, Tennessee [8] 24: Most Exciting Game of the Season. The Tigers ended the Vols faint national title hopes by passing up a chip-shot field goal with four seconds left and instead going for the win. JaMarcus Russell impressively drove LSU down the field, eating up almost all of the final seven and a half minutes before hitting Early Doucet (love those names !!) to win a rare game in Knoxville.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Louisville [5] 44, West Virginia [3] 34: Well, that's one BCS semi down. The Cardinals exploded in the third quarter, taking a commanding 30-14 and then holding off a furious Mountaineer rally to move into the driver's seat for the other BCS position in the title game. Only road games against unbeaten Rutgers next Thursday, and Pitt on Thanksgiving weekend, stand between Louisville, which lost their two best players in their first two games, and the BCS Championship on January 8.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Oklahoma [19] 26, Missouri [23] 10: Breaking a regular season losing streak away from the friendly confines of Norman, the Sooners easily breezed past the resurgent Tigers. It was their first road win in over a year, and their first victory over a ranked team away from home in two years.

About the game itself, I can speak little, since I spent much of Saturday afternoon staring, in a progressively drunken stupor, at the SC-Oregon State shocker. As you probably know, the Trojans lost their first regular season game in three years, and only their second game anywhere to the Beavers since 1967. Oddly enough, though, it was probably their best effort since the win over Nebraska. John David Booty struggled at the outset, but was superb in the second half; I guess playing a prevent in the fourth quarter will make any QB look like John Elway. And my namesake had the game of his career, catching two touchdown passes, including one that put the Trojans within a conversion of tying in the final seven seconds.

But the Trojans fell short, and they now must win out to even qualify for a BCS game against a tough CAL team, which was idle. Not as idle was this week's Songleader of the Week, Anasheh, a senior sociology major(and the other co-captain) celebrating her second year with the team. Usually, it's easy for me to snark away at the cliched answers that seem to have been produced by rote, but one can't help but liking someone whose favorite memory of the squad is this:
I cannot even begin to explain how many funny moments we have shared together. Everywhere we have traveled, we have left our Song Girl mark. Even if we go somewhere really awkward (like Norfolk, Virginia) we make the best of our time. One of my most memorable moments would have to be the 2005 Rose Bowl Championship game. Better yet, that whole week was something I will never forget. We ate In-N-Out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner everyday, lived out of our cars, spent every waking hour together, cried on the rose parade float because we were almost positive we would die from pneumonia, and lost the championship title in the last minute of the game. You would think that after all that we would want to crawl up in a hole and hide. We didn’t. We actually grew closer and realized that we had just been a part of history.
Whatever may have happened to the Sunland native in Norfolk, VA that was so awkward must forever be a source of speculation. A pity she won't get another chance to cheer her school on to the national title.

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