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23 Nov 2009

One Foot Inbounds: Les Miles' Missteps

by Robert Weintraub

Three years ago, I attended the Ole Miss-LSU game in Death Valley, courtesy of the great Dr. Lou Levin, the uncle of my editor at Slate, Josh Levin. It was a classic night game at Tiger Stadium, LSU struggled to an overtime victory, and everyone had a good time. Actually, that's not true -- the dozen or so season ticket holders with whom I made the trip and tailgated had a surprisingly intense disdain for coach Les Miles. Keep in mind, the win gave the Tigers a 9-2 record, and LSU went on to crush Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, which propelled them to a BCS championship the following year. Nevertheless, Miles was held in low regard. I wrote it off as typical SEC dissatisfaction with anything but an unbeaten team that wins every game by three touchdowns.

Now I know what they were talking about.

Simply put, Miles' (and his staff's) endgame ineptitude in Oxford Saturday was epic, and if the stakes were higher (say, if LSU had been unbeaten), it would have been a sackable offense.

A quick recap -- LSU trailed by eight with about 90 seconds left. The Bayou Bengals picked on Rebels corner Marshay Green all day, and Marshay stood up to the attention. But now, Rueben Randle suckered him on a hitch and go, and quarterback Jordan Jefferson hit Randle with a 25-yard touchdown pass. With their top two backs out with injuries, LSU had to throw a fade pass on the two-point play, and it fell incomplete.

Down by two, LSU then recovered an onside kick, a strange one that never took the high hop and skipped along the ground cutting worms. With 26 seconds left, LSU completed a short pass, and, according to Miles, called time out. But the referees either never heard him, Miles wasn't nearly demonstrative enough with the signal, or the refs ignored him because they want Florida and Alabama to be undefeated going into the conference title game. OK, maybe not that last one.

So 19 precious seconds ticked away before the timeout was granted. Bad, but just wait. Down to only a Hail Mary, Jefferson failed to reach the end zone -- but WR Terrance Toliver somehow came down with at the Rebels 6-yard line. There was a single second left, and the clock stopped to move the chains (college football's best rule).

As Dr. Levin and all of the Cajun Riviera screamed at Miles to run in the field goal team for a hurried but easy kick, LSU inexplicably lined up to spike the ball. Of course, the clock restarted when the chains were set, and it's impossible to spike the ball without any time runoff. Victory, Ole Miss, 25-23.

How Miles didn't have his team prepared for that situation defies belief. Sure, they probably didn't expect the Hail Mary to be caught in the field of play, but that's why Miles makes almost $4 million a year -- to be ready for the unexpected.

Houston Nutt, whose early season misuse of Dexter McCluster qualifies him for the same bad coaching wing of the Hall of Shame Miles occupies, was so flabbergasted with the win he almost knocked the microphone from sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson's hand, before molesting her and jogging off. Billy Cannon's fabled punt return seems more distant than ever after this one.

Speaking of poor coaching -- Charlie Weis, everybody! His travails are pretty well documented, but it should be noted that losing in overtime to UConn, a tough, hard-nosed squad playing with passion for a fallen teammate, isn't nearly as bad as going down to a different Big East basketball power, Syracuse, last season. But it was great drama. After seemingly every play, the NBC director cut to Weis, as the pendulum swung between Charlie's imminent firing and him saving his job for another week. Fumble by the Irish in its own territory late in the game -- cut to Weis, he's gone! Winning touchdown overturned by penalties on back-to-back plays -- cut to Weis, he's coming back! Huskies score in overtime -- cut to Weis, see ya, buddy! Notre Dame ties it -- cut to Weis, you can't kill this guy! UConn finally wins it, 33-30 in double overtime -- cut to Weis, waddling off the field, and into oblivion.

Weis, of course, is one of those innumerable withered branches that fell off the Bill Belichick tree. The Belichick "To Go Or Not To Go For It" controversy continues in other precincts of this Web site, but a different New England coach went Belichick times eleven in the Harvard-Yale classic. Leading 10-7 with about 2:30 to play, Yale faced a fourth and 22. Proving that one can coach at Yale with a Community College degree, Tom Williams called for a fake punt, one involving a reverse no less. Needless to say, it came up well short. The Crimson responded immediately with a touchdown pass from Peyton Man ... er, Collier Winters, to win the game 14-10. By the way, Collier Winters -- what a perfect name for the Harvard quarterback! Williams' decision probably won't lead "Pardon The Interruption," but then he doesn't have the genius rep Belichick does -- for good reason, apparently.

It wasn't quite as memorable as "Harvard Defeats Yale 29-29," but those raccoon coat-wearing, sloe gin fizz-sipping Cambridge elites will be talking about this one for some time nonetheless.

(Side note -- throughout the first quarter, large swaths of the Yale Bowl remained empty. This is the fabled Harvard-Yale rivalry? But sure enough, by the time of the denouement, the place was packed. I guess they know a little something about tailgating in the Ivy League.)

Unlike Yale's head coach, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh was being mentioned as an impending "genius," thanks to immense wins over Oregon and USC. But in "The Big Game," against arch-rival Cal in Palo Alto, some of that brilliance wicked off Harbaugh. Down by three late in the game, Harbaugh too elected to go for a fourth and 8 deep in his own terrain, rather than punt. Stanford had all three timeouts left but chose to go for the long odds. Fail. Instead, Harbaugh handed the Golden Bears an easy three points. That proved critical when Stanford drove into the red zone with seconds to play, but needed to go for the touchdown. Quarterback Andrew Luck ran out of, well ... luck, and tossed a pick that sealed defeat.

Cardinal back Toby Gerhart plowed for four more touchdowns in the game. Put him in the "send him a ticket to New York" category, along with C.J. Spiller. But the back on the other sideline, Shane Vereen, was no "Chicken George" when it came to replacing injured Jahvid Best (too obscure a reference?). Vareen hauled the mail 42 times for 193 yards and three scores. More importantly, Vareen allowed Cal to keep the ball away from Gerhart. The Bears ripped off drives of 70, 62, 85, 92, 72, and 72 yards, scoring on five of them. My stepsister Jill, a Berkeley grad who was in the house for "The Play" and got married on Cal's campus, was happier than Uncle Lou, that's for sure.


  • This week's co-MVPs are Jeremy Foley and Mal Moore, the athletic directors of No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama, respectively, who managed to schedule Creampuff U. and Tomato Can State with rivalry games and their SEC Championship collision ahead. Combined score -- 107-3.
  • Continuing the friends and family shout-out theme -- many moons ago, I went to an epic Lafayette-Lehigh game courtesy of my buddy Ted, who was a Lafayette undergrad at the time. Theo is hurting today because Lehigh pulled out an overtime thriller. Hopefully no one was seriously injured in the annual battle for the goalposts.
  • In case you went to bed at a normal hour, Oregon pulled out a late night doozy at Arizona. The Ducks drove 80 yards in less than three minutes to tie the game at the death, then pulled it out in the second overtime. The Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State now takes on an added dimension -- the winner heads for the Rose Bowl.
  • Northwestern pulled out a stirring 33-31 win over Wisconsin. Another impressive win for Pat Fitzgerald, while Notre Dame falls again. Hmmmmmm ...
  • Kansas was bad in every respect against Texas, but the one that irked me the most was the futile onside kick in the first half, with the game only 14-6. It wasn't the attempt that bothered me, but the execution -- kicker Jacob Branstetter tried to dribble one to himself, but the weak poke only pushed the ball about six yards.
  • Texas may be good, but they remain the most obscure "unbeaten and headed for the BCS title game" squad ever. No memorable wins, nothing about their style of play that leaps out at you, no running game, mostly faceless defense -- if it wasn't for receiver Jordan Shipley, the Longhorns would more anonymous than TCU or Boise State.
  • Telling sight between the hedges -- after a brutal fumble on the goal line (quarterback Joe Cox pitched it to his back who was only a step away and expecting a handoff), thousands of Georgia fans filed out. This despite the fact that a) the opponent was Kentucky, b) there was more than two minutes left, and c) Georgia had all three timeouts. Never doubt the wisdom of crowds -- Cox got the ball back, only to be intercepted on the first play, and Georgia lost by seven.
  • Worse afternoon in a rivalry game -- Tate Forcier of Michigan, or Mark Sanchez of the Jets? Both made innumerable turnovers and handed the game away. At least Sanchez can smile when he hits the ATM.
  • Obligatory Syracuse Orange update -- the ‘Cuse spanks No. 24 Rutgers 31-13! The stunning result makes quarterback Greg Paulus 2-0 on Senior Night: one at Duke, one at Syracuse.

The OFI Top 25

Every week, Robert votes in the BlogPoll, hosted by mgoblog, and available on CBS Sportsline.

Rank Team Delta
1 Florida
2 Alabama
3 Texas
5 Cincinnati
6 Boise State
7 Georgia Tech
8 Ohio State
9 Oregon 1
10 Pittsburgh 1
11 Virginia Tech 2
12 Clemson 2
13 Oregon State 5
14 Stanford 5
15 Oklahoma State
16 Iowa
17 Penn State
18 California 5
19 Utah 1
20 Nevada 1
21 Miami (Florida) 1
22 LSU 10
23 Brigham Young 2
24 Temple
25 Central Michigan
Last week's ballot

Dropped Out: Wisconsin (#19), Rutgers (#24).
Lurking: USC, Navy, Houston, Wisconsin

Posted by: Robert Weintraub on 23 Nov 2009

30 comments, Last at 24 Nov 2009, 3:59pm by Jeff Fogle


by billsfan :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 1:59pm

Harvard's loss to Penn last week made "the game" largely irrelevant, but it still manages to draw a larger crowd than any other Ivy matchup.

(I also like the Eagles)

by Jeff Fogle :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 3:14pm

I live in Austin, so I have to ask...do you think "obscure" is the right word to describe a Texas team that had prime time ABC or ESPN appearances against Texas Tech, Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Kansas...along with the national appearance in the early kickoff against Oklahoma? I could see "may not be as good as their ranking," or "untested vs. elite competition because the Big 12 has been a disappointment." Obscure?

Colt McCoy just set the all-time record for wins by a QB with 43. The media is constantly talking about his accuracy (still #1 in the nation in completion percentage). The defense is stellar by all measures I've seen, including FEI here at the FO website. Not sure how to judge "memorable" for wins. Going on the road in consecutive weeks to beat Missouri and Oklahoma State 82-21 in prime time TV games was impressive. Both are going to bowls, and Okie State is expected to go to the Fiesta Bowl if they beat Oklahoma.

The win over OU for Texas in their toughest test wasn't very impressive. Can't argue that Texas may not live up to expectations from this point forward. We'll have to let that play out. Obscure? They're on TV all the time (and will be in national telecasts in each of their next three games). Kirk Herbstreit even tried to freestyle the school song for goodness sake (lol).

We definitely get flooded with local coverage here in Austin. Is Texas really "obscure" on a national scale?

by robwein (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:08pm

I'll concede that "obscure" might not be the best word, but keep in mind I'm not referring to UT overall, just this particular team. Obviously the Horns are one the biggest programs going. But the average fan who doesn't live in Austin doesn't usually have to work so hard to conjure an undefeated team on the verge of playing for the title. "Anonymous" doesn't quite capture it, either, but it's very hard to identify, even at this late date, what the Horns hang their hat on, aside from McCoy to Shipley. You and I know they play great D, and have a deep, fast squad with few weaknesses, but compared to UF, Bama, and I'd argue even TCU and Boise, you can't put your finger on why the Horns are so good, other than a weak sked.

That's not at all to say they can't win the title, just that the Q rating on the '09 Horns doesn't approach other unbeatens of recent vintage.

by Jeff Fogle :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:59pm

Appreciate the response Rob. I think we'll have to disagree here. Not sure what the mainstream world is seeing "Q-rating" wise with the other contenders that would make Texas seem obscure. Who are the offensive studs on TCU and Boise who are drowning out Colt McCoy in media coverage? I don't think the people watching the games on TV every week are having trouble identifying what Texas hangs their hat on. Parts of the country getting different games on the ABC prime time package aren't seeing them as much, and may be focused on other teams. It's not like ESPN'S website or studio coverage is ignoring them though.

Schedule strength can be tough to quantify. Haven't seen the most recent assessments of FEI here at this site. Those will probably be up soon. Sagarin at USA Today has the top teams like this in schedule strength today:

Alabama 41st
Florida 50th
Texas 56th
TCU 60th
Cincinnati 65th
Boise State 98th

I'm at a bit of a loss as to why a weak schedule is the theme of the Texas season given how it fits in with the other undefeateds (I think FEI will show them worse than Sagarin though if I remember right). Or why their accomplishments would seem so non-descript. I'm obviously at ground zero for local media coverage, so I'm flooded with stuff others aren't seeing. It's not like ABC/ESPN has been ignoring the program. Texas has been on ABC/ESPN 5 of the last 7 weeks, with four of those games in prime time. Four of the five wins were blowouts. The announcers weren't scratching their heads trying to figure out why Texas was so good.

I'm guessing from a distance you live in an area that was getting different games in prime time on the ABC package. I'm jealous if you got to see the Oregon/Arizona thriller when we were stuck with Texas over Kansas 51-20!

Is Texas really an "International Team of Mystery" to most of the country?

by huston720 :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 3:20pm

How come Stanford is ahead of Cal? Stanford has one more loss, the same number of PAC-10 losses, and just lost to Cal. I know it was a close game, but it seems like Cal should be ranked higher than Stanford right?

by seamus (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 4:08pm

Even as a Cal fan, I can't justify the Bears holding a higher rank than Stanford. How many other teams in the top 25 lost consecutive conference games by a combined 72-6? If the USC and Oregon games had been just less humiliating, I think Cal would be higher ranked.

by huston720 :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 4:12pm

Ok that sounds reasonable to me. I'm not a fan of either team, and hadn't followed the PAC-10 closely outside of USC/Oregon so i was just curious seeing as Stanford had one more loss, just lost to Cal and had the same conference record. Plus since the game was close it makes sense to write it off as an upset.

by Harris :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 3:34pm

One can excuse Lesticles (sort of) for making a bad decision in the heat of the moment. But Williams called a timeout to set up his brain fart. I can't even begin to fathom what he might have been thinking. It was 4th-and-22!

Hail Hydra!

by David W. (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 3:52pm

No, that Ben Vereen reference wasn't too obscure. Now if you had mentioned "Tenspeed and Brown Shoe..."

by Packerpalooza (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 4:01pm

Everyone seems to be penalizing Wisky pretty hard for losing on the road to a team loaded with 21 seniors on Senior Day playing out of its mind. Did folks SEE the touch passes by Kafka? The Wildcat quarterback was dropping passes over the shoulder where only his guy could make a play. Yes the secondary let some guys run pretty free but other times the Badger defender was RIGHT THERE. And to no avail.

I dump on Wisco when appropriate. But given that Northwestern was playing at a fever pitch the entire friggin' game and it took a rare Clay fumble to foil the last real Badger drive for a field goal that would have won the game I think they merit some slack.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 4:17pm

Yeah, I don't think Texas is "obscure" with McCoy and Shipley running the offense. But then again, I can't name anyone on defense, so at least that part holds.

I'm really looking forward to the jockeying for the final BCS position. The 6 conf. champs plus TCU are 7 automatics. The loser of 'Bama/Florida will get a Sugar Bowl invite. And I think the Fiesta (most likely) has to take Boise State for fear of more congressional hearings and other external pressures. That leaves just one spot. Assuming Cincy and Georgia Tech prevail, there will be 4 two-loss teams fighting for that spot.

OK State
Penn State

Honestly, I don't who I take if this scenario plays out. Then all the other factors like travel distance, ratings, ticket sales, etc. come into play. My current guess:

Championship: Florida - Texas
Rose: Oregon - Ohio State
Fiesta: Boise State - OK State
Sugar: Alabama - Cincy
Orange: Georgia Tech - TCU

by huston720 :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 5:21pm

It definitely is going to be an interesting selection process since there are so many deserving non-traditional teams. I think the key domino will be the Ok/OK St game. If Ok St wins I think it will probably get selected by the Fiesta to replace Texas, and would bump out Boise St. I hope Boise St. gets the nod even if Ok St wins, but I don't think the external pressures will be enough to force a bowl to take Boise over a known draw such as Iowa/Penn St.

If OK St. wins I'm guessing the Sugar takes the Sec loser, the Fiesta takes OK St. Then the fun begins with the Orange Bowl. The logical choice would be TCU, but I'm guessing there will be a lot of sentiment to take Paterno and PSU. Then the fiesta would take TCU and the Sugar would get Cinci.

Championship: Bama - Texas
Rose: Oregon/Orgeon St - Ohio State
Fiesta: TCU - OK State
Sugar: Fla - Cinci
Orange: Georgia Tech - PSU

If OK St loses then the Fiesta probably takes TCU, the orange takes PSU, the Fiesta takes Cinci, and the sugar takes Boise St.

Championship: Bama - Texas
Rose: Oregon/Oregon St - Ohio State
Fiesta: TCU - Cinci
Sugar: Fla - Boise St
Orange: Georgia Tech - PSU

Of course someone will probably get upset and throw the whole thing into chaos.

Also just think, if Ok St, and Oregon St both win, we could have all three OSU teams in BCS bowls, including a tOSu v OSU matchup.

by peachy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 5:35pm

Agreed - the 'anchor' bowls always prefer to invite a replacement from the same conference if they can, so I'd be surprised if an eligible Okie St didn't get snagged by the Fiesta (assuming Texas plays for the title.) Boise should be rooting hard for the Sooners right now...

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 5:10pm

and if the stakes were higher (say, if LSU had been unbeaten), it would have been a sackable offense.

I think lying about it afterwards should have made it a sackable offense this time. Specifically, Miles claimed he was trying to get the field goal team on but there just wasn't time, when video clearly shows him trying to get Jefferson to spike the ball. How can LSU not spare $40k a year for an assistant who actually understands clock management?

by Jeremy Billones :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 6:12pm

I don't know how the draft order works. Is there any way they can rig it so that TCU and Boise State play each other? I seem to recall the basketball selection committee managed to pair off all the mid-majors last year...

by Jeff Fogle :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 6:21pm

Would be a replay of last year's bowl meeting between the two. TCU won 17-16, failing to make the most of a 472-250 yardage advantage. Don't think either team would be all that interested in a rematch. TCU thinks they've already proven superiority. Boise State would have to be concerned about the physical matchup again (outrushed 275-28)...though that will be an issue against a few possible BCS opponents.

by peachy (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 7:45pm

It's conceivable, but the bowl selection order makes it dicey. Assuming it's Bama/Florida as #1 against Texas as #2, only the Fiesta and Sugar would be able to take both(the Rose will have both anchors, and the Orange one) - and that's unlikely, because the Sugar will undoubtedly take the Bama/Florida loser with the first pick, and the Fiesta will presumably take Okie St if it can with the second.

It's also important to remember that the bowls ultimately make their own decisions, within the constraints of the eligibility rules and the selection order. If the Fiesta takes TCU & BSU, it will be because the men in blazers think that's the best course for their bowl - they aren't going to fall on their swords in order to screw the little guys at someone else's behest.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:26pm

Yeah, the BCS equivalent of the couch at Omega house.

by Will :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 7:42pm

My meaningless BCS Projection, assuming OkSt, Texas, and GaTech win out. Feel free to swap Florida/Alabama, Cincy/Pitt and Oregon/Oregon St as you see fit.

BCS Championship - Florida (auto) v. Texas (auto)
Orange Bowl - Georgia Tech (auto) v.Iowa (#3)
Rose Bowl - Ohio State (auto) v. Oregon (auto)
Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma State (#2) v. TCU (#4)
Sugar Bowl - Alabama (#1) vs. Cincy (#5)

At Large Pick Order:
1. Sugar Bowl - Alabama
2. Fiesta Bowl - Oklahoma State
3. Orange Bowl - Iowa
4. Fiesta Bowl - Texas Christian
5. Sugar Bowl - Cincinatti

If OkSt loses, but Texas and GaTech win out is how I can see Boise getting in:

BCS Championship - Florida (auto) v. Texas (auto)
Orange Bowl - Georgia Tech (auto) v. Cincinatti (#3)
Rose Bowl - Ohio State (auto) v. Oregon (auto)
Fiesta Bowl - Iowa (#2) v. Boise State (#4)
Sugar Bowl - Alabama (#1) vs. TCU (#5)

At Large Pick Order:
1. Sugar Bowl - Alabama
2. Fiesta Bowl - Iowa
3. Orange Bowl - Cincinatti
4. Fiesta Bowl - Boise State
5. Sugar Bowl - Texas Christian

Texas and Georgia Tech I believe will make it even if they lose their championship game, although it would change the "draft" order.


by huston720 :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:27am

I'm curious in your second scenario why you think Cinci, and even Boise would be picked ahead of TCU? I think it could go either way, though I think TCU would be more attractive to the Fiesta since they geographically and historically have some connection to the Big 12, and will be the highest ranked team after Alabama, and I don't think either Boise or Cinci would necessarily draw better ratings or more fans.

Either way it is shaping up to be an interesting selection show, much more exciting than most years where the final pairings are pretty much guaranteed. I especially think the Iowa/PSU decision will be interesting since you could make a good case for/against either team from a bowl's perspective.

by Will :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 10:58am

TCU is a very poor draw - they don't even sell out their home field on a consistent basis. Boise State has played in a very memorable Fiesta Bowl recently and did fairly well as a draw there - they would get the nod among the small schools, although I imagine Fiesta would take TCU over Cincy if they were the only two options.

Cincinnati going to the Orange Bowl is simply because they're closer. I don't see the Orange Bowl wanting any of the three schools, and simply going with the Big Six school. In actuality, the Orange Bowl is probably hoping for Pitt to beat Cincinnati.


by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:49pm

I believe that Cincy (or Pitt) is tied to the Sugar Bowl as the winner of the Big East. There's only room for four draft spaces (Sugar one, Fiesta two, Orange one):

1 - Sugar: Loser of SEC Champ (to keep conference tie-in)
2 - Fiesta: Probably OkSt if they win out (ditto)

Assuming TCU is in the top 4 (most likely), then they will have to be taken thanks to the BCS bylaws. Orange could opt for one of the Big Ten teams, leaving the Fiesta to take TCU and screwing Boise State. But I mentioned earlier, the fallout from leaving out an undefeated, top-5 BSU would be pretty bad for the BCS in general. That means there will be two non-AQs. Boise has shown that they can travel reasonably well, but Miami is a long way from Boise (but a lot warmer...). TCU is closer by a couple thousand miles, but the travel concerns come into play. Anyway, that's why I guessed:

3 - Orange: TCU
4 - Fiesta: Boise State

But it could well end up with:

3 - Orange: Iowa
4 - Fiesta: TCU

And Boise State left out in the cold. Literally, if they end up in the Humanitarian Bowl. But ultimately, I think the BCS Bowls will do what's needed to maintain the status quo, and that means taking Boise so they can point to these cases in the future about how non-exclusionary they are.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 12:58pm

Oops. I just checked, and you're right. The Big East doesn't have an automatic tie-in to any of the BCS Bowls, but they are guaranteed a spot. I was thinking back to the West Virginia Sugar Bowl, and thought they had an automatic tie-in.

Hmmm. TCU/Alabama would make for an interesting match in the Sugar. Two physical defenses. Orange Bowl of GA Tech/Cincy would be fun for the offense. And Boise State/OK State to see if Idaho can once again crush the dreams of Oklahoma. Strange state rivalry in the making?

by huston720 :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 2:19pm

I'm pretty sure the Big East isn't tied to any of the BCS bowls, in fact they seem to have played in the Orange Bowl a lot if I remember correctly. As for the BCS taking Boise to avoid looking exclusionary, I'm not as convinced of that argument, though I hope it happens. Remember it is the bowls themselves, not the NCAA making the selections, which is why ratings/attendence rules out over anything else. Congress would come after the NCAA not the bowls themselves.

Personally I'll be rooting for Oklahoma to beat OKie St so that the big ten bill get a second team, and Boise St will get in. And however you slice it I think we will get some good games.

by LSU? (not verified) :: Mon, 11/23/2009 - 7:56pm

Ranked because? Wins over?

by usedbread (not verified) :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 4:46am

UGA, Auburn, Washington, got hosed by refs v. Bama

by neilalice :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 1:41am

I initially thought Harbaugh's decision to go for it deep in his own territory on the 4th and 8 was a tad reckless, but it did give his team multiple chances to win. Even when the Cardinal didn't convert, Cal had such a short field that the Bears --- who as noted had been eating up the clock --- were not able to ice the game. If Harbaugh had punted, Cal might not have given the ball back. True, Cal kicked a field goal after stopping the fourth-down play, but that only put them up six, and Stanford had plenty of time to score a game-winning td. Enough time, in fact, that I was surprised they didn't feed Gerhart a couple of more times.

If anyone deserves to be called out for his fourth-quarter decisions, it's Tedford. He punted on a 4th and short from midfield when his team looked unstoppable, and let the Cardinal back in it. Even worse, Tedford didn't try to get a touchdown when given the short field after Harbaugh's gamble. Although it worked out for the Bears, Tedford's conservatism nearly cost his team.

by Jetspete :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 11:07am

Since the BCS spurs debate, I'm curious about what would happen if the most surprising, chaos causing event actually occurs, which would be Texas losing to Nebraska in the Big 12 title game. We have seen the big 12 title game be a monkey wrench in the bcs for years, from 1998, to 2001 to 2003. Nebraska earns its way into the Fiesta, meaning Texas takes and at-large spot away from Boise or a big ten runner up. And of course it means the winner of the SEC title game would need an opponent in the NC.

by huston720 :: Tue, 11/24/2009 - 3:55pm

Ok assuming texas losses to Nebraska and there are no other major upsets:

NC: Fla/Bama - TCU
Sugar: Fla/Bama - Cinci/Pitt
Fiesta: Nebraska - Boise St
Orange: GT - Texas
Rose: tOSU - Oregon/Oregon St

Sugar would replace the SEC champion with the loser first (assuming they don't have a rematch in the NC which would be unlikely). The I believe Orange gets Texas with the next pick. I think the Fiesta then goes with Boise hoping to boost TV ratings knowing that Nebraska will make up for any shortcomings in turnout from BSU. Leaving the Sugar with the Big East champ. If you think Cinci jumps TCU for NC then switch them.

The real apocylptic scenario would be if texas loses in the Big 12 championship game, and one of the SEC teams stumbles this week then beats the other in the SEC championship game. Then voters would have to decide whether to jump a one loss SEC champion over either TCU or Cinci. If not then we could get a TCU - Cinci National Championship. Just for the hell of it:

NC: TCU - Cinci
Sugar: SEC Champion (1 loss) - Boise St/Big 10
Fiesta: Nebraska - Texas
Orange: GT - SEC Runner Up
Rose: tOSU - Oregon/Orgeon St

Alternatively you could swap the SEC runner up and Texas if you think the Orange bowl takes Texas instead.

by Todd S. :: Wed, 11/25/2009 - 9:41am

Northwestern pulled out a stirring 33-31 win over Wisconsin. Another impressive win for Pat Fitzgerald, while Notre Dame falls again.

Rob, a few weeks ago you mentioned Michigan State's deplorable record in one-score games (6-20 at the time, if memory serves). Being a Purdue fan, I looked at their record during the same time frame, and found that they were 3 games "better" than MSU (9-17) during the same time frame. Northwestern, however, is the exact opposite. They are something like 24-6 in the same types of games (forgive me, I don't have the exact numbers). I think Fitzgerald will definitely get a call from Mr. Swarbrick in a couple of weeks.

EDIT: Actually, I think maybe Bill wrote about Michigan State, not Rob. Sorry for the confusion.