Sunday, November 12, 2006

BCS Hopefuls Caught Looking Ahead To Ohio State-Michigan Showdown

Anticipated all season, college football’s marquee matchup is set as #1 Ohio State and #2 Michigan will enter next Saturday’s showdown with undefeated records. This past week, fans wondered whether the Buckeyes and Wolverines would be caught looking ahead against Northwestern and Indiana, respectively. Both powerhouses cruised to victory, but most of their pursuers in the BCS standings were not so fortunate. The Ohio State-Michigan game is so eagerly awaited in the college football world, it caused the #3, 5, 6, and 8 teams to lose focus and fall from the national championship race.

The first strike came Thursday, as #3 Louisville fell to #13 Rutgers 28-25 in a Big East showdown. The result was further evidence of what we have seen from professional sports. Cardinals can win championships in baseball, but not in football. The Scarlet Knights’ dramatic victory came one week after Louisville celebrated in similar fashion against West Virginia. Apparently every Thursday this November, one Big East team will accomplish the biggest win in school history. So this Thursday night, look for the Cincinnati Bearcats to knock off the Bengals. As for Rutgers, one forward-looking writer foresaw their rise to glory back in September: Why Rutgers Will Win the National Title.

Also in September, Louisville accomplished what #5 Texas could not manage on Saturday: triumph at Kansas State. The Longhorns saw their dreams for a repeat championship dashed in a wild 45-42 defeat. Quarterback Colt McCoy scored a touchdown on the Longhorns’ opening drive, but a shoulder injury sustained on the play ended his evening early. While his Heisman and national title hopes are gone, there was some good news for McCoy on Saturday. A confused bystander was thwarted in his attempt to drag the injured Colt to the glue factory.

In completing four passes on his one drive, McCoy equaled the total for the entire game of Auburn’s Brandon Cox. Always mindful of showing southern hospitality to his visitors, Cox also completed four passes to Georgia defenders in a 37-15 debacle for the #6 Tigers. The upset came a week after bitter rival Alabama fell 24-16 to lowly Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa. Always trying to upstage their Iron Bowl adversaries, Auburn proved that it could accomplish an even more miserable home loss to an underdog group of Bulldogs.

Ohio State and Michigan were surely on the mind of #8 California, as the Bears hoped to play the winner on January 8 in Glendale, Arizona. The Bears made an early trip to Arizona this weekend, but they dropped a 24-20 heartbreaker in Tucson. Perhaps the Buckeyes did not receive the same message that reached Cal and Texas on their trip to Northwestern. This weekend, top 10 teams were apparently supposed to lose if they were on the road against Wildcats. The field at Arizona Stadium does hold a message that proved prophetic on Saturday. The mantra “Bear Down” is inscribed on the field, and the visiting Bears obliged by going down.

After Ohio State and Michigan, only #7 USC had a comfortable week among the top 8 as the Trojans routed Oregon 35-10. #4 Florida struggled mightily with visiting South Carolina but survived, 17-16. Jarvis Moss was the hero, blocking a 48-yard field goal attempt at the end, as well as an extra-point try by the Gamecocks earlier in the fourth quarter. Perhaps Moss was inspired by the “Block” sign held by Burt Reynolds in one of the Miller Lite “Men of the Square Table” commercials. If so, Reynolds is sorry he ever came up with the idea. A former Seminole would never want to help the Gators.