We have a feeling that after last week’s BCS shenanigans, this week is going to see the overdogs win like it never even happened. Well, most of ‘em, anyway.
There are probably people out there eying other matches for “Game of the Week,” but around here it’s all Houston at Tulsa on Friday. Tulsa will be battling not only to knock off the remaining undefeated non-LSU team, but to claim the C-USA West crown and advance to the conference title game. The C-USA champion goes to the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and even the also-ran usually gets a pretty good Booger Bowl.
G.J. Kinne is healthy, and Trey Watts (J.C.’s kid, for the Okies out there) is really showing some stuff as an RB. It’s time for another Heisman-candidate QB (Case Keenum, in this case) to take a swan dive. Tulsa’s the team that can do it, even with the bend-but-don’t-break D. (Which, BTW, has been steadily improving on the basic execution factors this year.) Even the oddsquad is pretty convinced about Tulsa; Houston may be the BCS #8, but the oddspuppies have them only giving the Hurricane 3.
Head Coach Bill Blankenship doesn’t get all the scrutiny felt by Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy, however. Having both manned up in their mea culpas for last week, they’re both on the hook to stop with the nonsense, and Bob’s first opportunity is on Saturday hosting Iowa State. Of course, the #9 Sooners have something to prove, and Iowa State is coming off a huge, epic, exhausting win, so the 28 points being given by OU sound pretty reasonable. We here at TOC love the Bell Dozer: it’s exactly the kind of thing west-of-the-Mississippi defenses don’t plan for, and SEC defenses are groomed from their cradles to stop.
The OK-State Cowboys, now #4, have the week off to get themselves in the right frame of mind for Bedlam on the 3rd. The Pokes will have the most riding on the game: if Arkansas were to beat LSU, and OSU could beat OU convincingly for the Big 12 title, the Cowboys could still beat a path to the BCSBG. OU’s done, however, as far as the BCSBG is concerned. This weekend and next they’ll be playing for no more than the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, max.
Navy and Army have finished the regular season, with the exception of The Game on the 10th. Chair Force will be at Colorado State on Saturday, playing for the Ram-Falcon Trophy (because there is one – and no, I checked. It’s not a vehicle).
In the Battle for the Commonwealth, #5 Virginia Tech will be gunning to thump the rival Yahoos, who have surged to a ridiculous #24 in the AP poll. The BCS has better sense on that score, and we’re counting on the Hokies to send Virginia back south where they belong. VT may be a bit overranked at the moment, but certainly much less so than the Yahoos (not to mention Clemson, in their heyday in the top 10).
After the disappointment last week, Nevada would probably love it if the season were over. But the Wolf Pack will be hosting Utah State on Saturday, fighting to keep the #2 spot in the WAC. Utah State, at 3-2, conference, is just the team that can take it away from 4-1 Nevada, so the Pack’s got its work cut out for it. One more game on the 3rd at New Mexico State. Finishing 8-4 and in second in the WAC should at least get Nevada a better class of Booger Bowl.
The best of the rest starts, of course, with #3 Arkansas at #1 LSU on Friday afternoon, duking it out for the, um, Golden Boot. (Hey, we don’t make up these rivalry trophies.)
We should note, to begin with, that miscellaneous Midwest teams played Tuesday night, probably to an empty stadium. And chronologically, the best of the rest starts with the annual rivalry classic between Texas and Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day. (Gig ‘em, Aggies!)
But the SEC West game is the biggie for the BCS this week, hands down. Wouldn’t it be wild if Arkansas won? Huh? It’s unlikely, but the Razorbacks have been improving steadily throughout the season and would do better against Alabama today than they did in September. Their offense frankly has more going for it than LSU’s. But then, the LSU D should have been there to keep the tsunami from hitting Japan in March. When the Big Asteroid is on a collision course for earth, threatening to extinguish life as we know it, we’ll just put Les Miles and his staff on the sidelines and let the LSU D handle it. Should be a great game, and will only overlap the Tulsa game in the 1Q or so.
We mustn’t forget the Iron Bowl on Saturday, however. Auburn hasn’t been doing much this year, but always plays the Tide tough. Should be another good one, and of course, if Arkansas can struggle past LSU, an Alabama win will speed up hearts across the South.
The Big 10 has its usual slate of classics of yesteryear, with a struggling Ohio State at Michigan (in a game that at one time regularly decided who would go to the Rose Bowl); Michigan State at Northwestern; and Penn State at Wisconsin.
Long-running rivalries are the theme of the weekend, however, and a lot of garage-sale items will be bronzed and on display. Pittsburgh and West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl; Duke and North Carolina in their no-name game; Clemson and South Carolina (motto: “The other USC”) playing for the Hardee’s Trophy, and no giggling; Florida and Florida State in the Sunshine Showdown; Ole Miss and Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl; Georgia and Georgia Tech in the “Clean, Old-fashioned Hate” match, which frankly has too many syllables; Oregon and Oregon State in the Civil War (good syllables, dumb trophy: the Platypus); Missouri and Kansas in the Border War, playing for the Indian War Drum; Purdue and Indiana playing for the Old Oaken Bucket; Rice and SMU playing for the Mayors Cup; Memphis and Southern Miss making the Black and Blue Bowl a reality; Notre Dame and Stanford playing for the Legends Trophy; Washington and Washington State for the Apple Cup; USC and UCLA for the “Bore Sensible Southern Californians Out of their Minds” Cup; and of course, Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) and Utah for the Rumble in the Rockies.
You’ll be happy to know that Iowa and Nebraska are starting a new tradition this year, dubbing their match the “Heroes Game” and using it as “a platform for celebrating local heroes.”
Our connections to Division II action are growing tenuous. But we note that Colorado State-Pueblo, Conquerors of the Big Texan and NWOSU, will be hosting Minnesota-Duluth in Round 2 on Saturday. Good luck to both teams.
The CNU Captains have bowed out of the Div III playoffs after a good run. But Franklin College will face Wisconsin-Whitewater, #1 seed in the West Region, on Saturday in Round 2. This may be the Grizzlies’ last at-bat for 2011. CNU’s winning opponent, Kean, faces Salisbury on Saturday in what looks to be a pretty even match. Best of luck to all.
Meanwhile, for those who can’t be content with the A&M-Texas game on Thanksgiving Day, the NFL has a pretty awesome line-up for us. Green Bay heads to Detroit for the early game, with the Lions, gunning for the best wild card spot they can get, trying to repeat their feat from 1962. Miami takes the field at Dallas for the Thanksgiving Coma Game at 3:15 CST. Cellar-dwelling Miami has been more half than bad the last few games, knocking off Buffalo and Kansas City as well as the Redskins. The improving Cowboys won’t have an easy time of it. The night game pits scrappy San Francisco against Baltimore in a battle of division leaders, and one the Ravens, with Pittsburgh on their heels, really need to win.
And a Happy Thanksgiving – and Good Football! – to everyone in TOC Nation (not to mention our allies in TOC World).