Friday, September 15, 2006

A Preview Of Separation Saturday, In Boxing Movie Terms

Featuring seven matchups pitting top 25 teams against each other, tomorrow has been dubbed “Separation Saturday” in college football. With all these heavyweights going toe-to-toe, it is not surprising that notable boxing movies are relevant to each of these games. The following is a brief guide.

#11 Michigan at #2 Notre Dame: The Boxer. Daniel Day-Lewis played an Irish boxer, while defensive back Tom Zbikowski plays for the Irish and is also a boxer. An interception of Michigan quarterback Chad Henne could bring a knockout blow to the Wolverines. Speaking of quarterbacks, Brady Quinn hopes to enhance his Heisman Trophy credentials in anticipation of being a Million Dollar Baby next fall.

#6 LSU at #3 Auburn: Rocky III. To defeat Clubber Lang, Rocky needed to have the Eye of the Tiger. The winner in this showdown definitely will. Perhaps Auburn’s Mr. T, coach Tommy Tuberville, will motivate his Tigers by showing up in a Mohawk and two tons of bling. The LSU Tigers will try to contain stud running back Kenny Irons, who was a Raging Bull in Baton Rouge last season with 218 yards.

#19 Nebraska at #4 USC: When We Were Kings. The Cornhuskers take on a program whose elite status reminds them of the mid-90s glory days in Lincoln. If USC scores at will during the first half, it could just be part of Nebraska’s rope-a-dope strategy. However, the Trojans’ reloading of talent means that the Coliseum is unlikely to stage a Requiem For a Heavyweight just yet.

#7 Florida at #13 Tennessee: Rocky II. Rocky reached the top when he dethroned Apollo Creed. Saturday night, Rocky Top will be in a frenzy as the Gators venture to Neyland Stadium. No word on whether either team chased chickens or punched sides of beef to prepare for tomorrow’s hostilities. This week, if you hear Florida coach Urban Meyer say, “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” he’s not talking about Knoxville.

#17 Miami at #12 Louisville: The Hurricane. Like Rubin Carter, the Hurricanes’ rushing offense was locked up by Florida State. In a rematch of a 2004 Thrilla, Miami visits the hometown of Ali. The Cardinals must deal without the injured Michael Bush. However, the Canes could get stung by another B (Brohm), whose passes don't float like a butterfly.

#15 Oklahoma at #18 Oregon: Rocky. The 1976 Oscar winner immortalized the phrase “Yo Adrian!” Sooner fans will scream “Go Adrian!” as Adrian Peterson runs against the Ducks. If he scores a touchdown, look for him to celebrate by running up the steps of Autzen Stadium and raising his arms in triumph. Meanwhile, Apollo’s nickname “Master of Disaster” is now applied to the designer of Oregon’s uniforms.

#24 Texas Tech at #20 Texas Christian: Cinderella Man. To have any hope of being a BCS Cinderella, TCU must knock off the Red Raiders in Fort Worth. They plan to pack a punch like Russell Crowe, unlike last year’s group of non-conference Renee Zellwegers faced by Tech. If they cannot capitalize on this opportunity, the Horned Frogs will be forced to lament, “We coulda been a contenda.” But in a Texas accent.

One highly ranked team has already tasted victory this week. #5 West Virginia routed Maryland 45-24 on Thursday night. The Mountaineers are The Great White Hope as quarterback Pat White hopes to lead them to a national title. Between now and the Louisville game on November 2, they’ll be fighting a bunch of lightweights.