At least the BCS renewed my passion for AM radio. The Jones family took in Missouri/Kansas through the magic of the internet, with the 30-second refresh adding intensity and anticipation to a game that was exciting enough in real time for those who actually saw it. We made due with Zach’s call from the back seat. The kid’s got a future at ESPN. We listened to Zach’s BlackBerry call of Texas Tech/Baylor for a quarter and a half before Mrs. Jones Top Ten, in a pure "eureka" moment, noted that we were only about 40 miles northeast of Waco, which meant the 13-year-old could relinquish the stage to the Baylor Bears radio network. The Bears were doing their damndest to upset Tech, a result that would give our boys a clear path to the Big 12 title game. By the time we left Hubbard, Mrs. JTT started referring to the Bears as "we." Just outside of Bellmead, she noted that, were this game in Waco and not Lubbock, we would be driving straight to Floyd Casey Stadium and watching the second-half as a family, tired three-year-old or not. No one disputed this. Ah, the euphoria of a 28-14 lead for "us."
But this was the upset that wasn’t. The clock ticked down to zero just outside of Temple. We lost the reception a few miles later. The sun went down on a highway full of travelers just trying to make their way home. And we all pondered what might have been.
Texas Tech 35
Tech’s struggle with the Bears offered up the only potential chaos in the top ten. Graham Harrell saved his boys with three straight TDs down the stretch after losing Michael Crabtree to a foot injury in the second quarter.
Everyone else held serve easily. Florida looks like they are having so much fun on offense you half expect the stadium PA to cue up "Sweet Georgia Brown" as Tim Tebow leads his teammates through the Harlem Globetrotter weave. The Gators thrashed Florida State 45-15 in a frog-strangler at Doak Campbell. Like Texas Tech, they also lost their best playmaker in the second-quarter as Percy Harvin left with a bad ankle.
Move along if you were expecting an ugly bare-knuckle 10-9 affair between Alabama and Auburn. Oh, it was ugly all right, but only if you are a fan of the Plainsmen. ‘Bama beat their land grant cousins like a ball-peen hammer on pressed tin. The 36-0 result guarantees one BCS slot will go to the winner of the SEC title game between Tide and Tebow.
(All of a sudden I sort of like Alabama in that game. Huh.)
The Big 12? Not so simple. Texas battered Texas A&M in a cathartic 49-9 Thanksgiving night for Colt McCoy, then sat back on Saturday and watched Oklahoma go to Stillwater and put away Oklahoma State 61-41, a much more impressive feat to the UNIVAC.
So. By the slightest of margins, it will be Oklahoma benefiting from the Big 12 South fifth divisional tiebreaker (highest BCS ranking) and heading to Kansas City to play in the championship game against Missouri. The Tigers prepared for next week’s showdown by losing the annual border war to Kansas, 40-37. Todd Reesing outdueled Chase Daniel in another exciting episode of Battle of the Midget Quarterbacks from Texas.
Southern Cal doesn’t care about any of this. The Trojans, likely stuck at five in the BCS, crushed Notre Dame 38-3, not even allowing an Irish first down in the first half. Other than the 2005 classic, this series simply isn’t competitive anymore: modern football versus ghosts. Take the live Pete Carroll and lay the points against the late Knute Rockne.
Boise State, undefeated and kicked to the BCS curb by Utah, laid the wood to Fresno State, 61-10. When’s the last time Fresno State accomplished anything noteworthy in college football? The Bulldogs are long on reputation and short on resume.
It’s very easy to keep up with the Oregon State Beavers when you have a Google alert set for "Rose Bowl Dreams." Unfortunately, theirs ended in an ugly loss to Oregon, 65 to 38. The Ducks’ Jeremiah Johnson ran for over 200 yards in the first half.
USC will take that Rose Bowl bid, thank you very much. Because you know, if there is a team really in need of additional national exposure, it’s USC.
This raises an interesting question. Has college football turned into college baseball for teams that don’t play in the Sun Belt (the region of the country, not the conference)? Neither Penn State nor Ohio State played this weekend. Nobody in the Big Ten did, which makes sense given the weather. Nevertheless, the SEC and Big 12 were on full display. The ACC had a full slate, as did the Pac Ten. Next week, the Big Ten will sit at home again while the entire country watches other teams play. Can they really sustain this over the long haul?
Georgia Tech rushed all over Georgia in a 45-42 win at Athens that leaves the 9-3 Bulldogs wondering if they can have a do-over.
Mississippi crushed Mississippi State 45-0 and State’s Sylvester Croom announced that he was done in Starkville.
Cincinnati locked up the Big East with a 30-10 win over Syracuse. The ACC finally settled itself with a Boston College victory over Maryland and a Virginia Tech win over Virginia. BC and Va Tech will tee it up next Saturday in front of dozens of spectators in Tampa and end what has been a bizarre season in the ACC.
Ball State, God love ‘em, finished 12-0 with a 45-22 win over Western Michigan and will play Buffalo for the MAC title next Saturday.
Remember last year’s national champs? Think hard. LSU ended a disastrous stretch with a 31-30 loss to Arkansas in the final moments of their game Friday in Little Rock. The world keeps spinnin’ round.
Impressive Showing of the Week: Oregon
1. Alabama: Now I think they can beat Florida, just like I think the 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes could beat Florida.
5. Penn State
8. Texas Tech
Now, let me just say as we head into this joyous season that I am not bitter. I will be absolutely content on Saturday watching two teams that my alma mater beat by double digits play for the Big 12 championship. I’m fine with it. Delighted, even.
Rose Bowl Dreams: A Memoir of Faith Family and Football is the new book by Adam Jones.