Welcome to the final Weekend Primer of the regular season. All these upsets have been fun and entertaining and everything, but look at the havoc they've wrought: at this point we're virtually assured of the least marquee title game since Robbie Bosco and BYU claimed their national championship ... after winning the Holiday Bowl. And to those who believe that the current system is fine and that the regular season is a playoff, since everyone else has lost during said playoff, does that mean you've got Hawaii ranked No. 1?
Oklahoma vs. Missouri in the Big 12 title game. If you're looking for one single fact that sums up this bizarro season, here it is: The so-called number one team in the nation is an underdog in this game. Which means they'll probably dominate.The pick: Sooners by 3
Cal vs. Stanford. After coming within seconds of the No. 1 ranking, the Golden Bears have disappeared faster than the speed of DeSean Jackson's mouth. Stanford, meanwhile, has been the ultimate enigma under first year head coach Jim Harbaugh: an inconsistent, Trojan-killing, choking-against-Notre Dame, loudmouthed enigma. Still, the best part of this Bay Area rivalry is that we're treated to endless reruns of the greatest play in sports history.The pick: Cal by 13
As the SEC continues to back up Les Miles' claim that USC has an easier road than if it played in Dixie, LSU backs into an SEC title showdown with spectacularly average Tennessee. In a fitting showcase of the best defensive conference in the country, this game features teams that have given up 34, 41, 43, 45, 50 (twice) and 59 points this season. What is widely considered to be top-to-bottom toughness in the SEC would pass for mediocrity everywhere else.The pick: LSU by 7
Tracking the fortunes of college football's greatest corporation, Notre Dame, we find the stock to be ... holding steady. Our long national nightmare is over: the Irish have no more games to play. Yes, they did end the season on a two-game winning streak, but now is not the time to start lighting couches on fire in South Bend (after all, it's not like Stanford has beaten anybody this year). Charlie Weis supporters say he's stockpiling a horde of blue chip recruits; he must be hiding them in that oversized hoodie. So we can look forward to an Irish team that will be twice as good next year ... which means they'll go from three wins to six, and will become the first 6-5 team to receive an at-large BCS bid.The pick: ND begins next season in the Top 20.
USC's quest to fulfill Jim Harbaugh's Nostradamus-like prophecy as the greatest team ever (to not bother showing up for 80% of the season), continues in Los Angeles, where the Trojans take on crosstown rival UCLA. Yes, Los Angelenos are known for showing up fashionably late, but seriously, Pete Carroll, your team finally gracing us with its presence eleven games into the season is a little too fashionable.The pick: USC by 17
This week's law enforcement roundup takes us to Iowa City, where former Iowa football player Lee Gray was arrested last week for allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover police officer. In a related story, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz has been selling an underachieving program to Hawkeyes fans for several years now.
In a muddled, chaotic season, we will have a fitting Heisman winner: the best player from either the fifth-best team in the SEC (Florida's Tim Tebow) or the sixth-best team in the SEC (Arkansas' Darren McFadden). In a related note, it looks like that 'Glenn Dorsey for Heisman' campaign probably ran out of gas somewhere around the sixth Razorback touchdown. Oh, and sorry, Chase Daniel, your team's record is too good for you to have any real chance at the trophy.
1. Tim Tebow2. Darren McFadden3. Chase Daniel4. Dennis Dixon5. Not Brady Leaf
Back in the sport's old days (you know, the era when the Chick-fil-A Bowl was known as the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl), all the best rivalry games were played on the same day: The Game. The Big Game. The Civil War. Bedlam. The Iron Bowl. The Backyard Brawl. The Apple Cup. But television and wacky scheduling have stretched these classic matchups out over three weeks. Picking through the ruins of yet another great tradition, here's a quick rundown of the best remaining rivalry games:
Oregon State vs. Oregon: Come on, Dennis Dixon on crutches has to be better than the other stiffs the Ducks trotted out last week Pick: UO by 3
Pitt vs. West Virginia: The Mountaineers' title hopes would be on shakier ground if they weren't matching up against Dave Wann-stachePick: WVU by 28
Arizona vs. Arizona State: The winner can change its reputation from sun-tanned party school to sun-tanned party school with the better football team; this one's for bragging rights all over Lake Havasu. Pick: ASU by 7
Army vs. Navy: See above (just kidding). Pick: Navy by 14
And the Granddaddy of Them All...
North Texas vs. Florida International: Sure, they're a combined 2-20, but in a showdown like this, you can throw the records out the window. In fact, you really should. Pick: UNT by 3
Seeking experienced coach to resurrect moribund once-dominant program. Experience with spread offense and familiarity with blue chip high school recruits preferred. Heavy travel (once a week, not including recruiting visits). Long-term contract negotiable but not likely to be honored. Positions open in Ann Arbor, Lincoln, Fayetteville, Atlanta, and possibly Los Angeles and Baton Rouge.
One of the enduring quirks of this season is that the SEC and Pac-10 have completely switched personalities: the SEC is home to 50-point thrillers and shootouts, while the Pac-10 boasts low-scoring, defensive slugfests ... Seriously, I was just kidding about the Army-Navy game ... Nothing says college football tradition like crowning your champion January 8th on Fox ... Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers was bitten by a police canine during Saturday's Iron Bowl, marking the third time a Dog has bitten the Tigers this season ... Speaking of the Iron Bowl, the season of college coaches switching jobs just doesn't feel right without Nick Saban's name attached to every single opening, does it?
"After you retire, there's only one big event left ... and I ain't ready for that."-- Bobby Bowden, Florida State coach