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Jones Top Ten - Week 3 - 2008

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The Duke sweatshirt went missing years ago. The last tangible proof that I went to grad school there, other than the diploma I guess, it was classic old school style with the white cut-out block letters in all caps sewn onto the dark blue front. I don’t know if they make them like that anymore. One night about a decade ago, the shirt attracted some attention at the Tavern (you’re never too far from 12th and Lamar). A bunch of us were shooting pool when a girl took notice of me, or the shirt anyway.

"That’s so cool, did you go to Duke?"

I was interrupted by my friend Trey Campbell, who was always quicker than me.

"Naw, he’s just a huge John Wayne fan."

She didn’t get it.

So much for that. If memory serves we ended the night at the Common Interest karaoke bar on Burnet. Campbell had enough cocktails in him to take a shot at "The Girl from Ipanema." Our group had enough cocktails in us to think he wasn’t all that bad. Looking back, it’s surprising Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau didn’t show up. An evening is never a total loss in Austin. You can always find some entertainment somewhere.

USC 35
Ohio State 3

And I thought this would be close. The game was over when Rey Maualuga ran back an interception in the second quarter for a TD and a 21-3 Trojan lead. But the most telling moment was a third-quarter strike from ‘SC quarterback Mark Sanchez to Damian Williams. The Buckeyes had eight guys in coverage, at least five of whom will play in the NFL some day; Sanchez delivered anyway. Good night, nurse.

What I find hard to believe is that Ohio State really isn’t bad. They can run the ball even without Beanie Wells, although the offensive line isn’t nearly as good as its billing. The defense can stop folks and this Terrelle Pryor kid looks special. None of it matters; they’re not USC. And there’s not a team left on the Trojan schedule that will beat them. Yes, friends, in week three I have determined one of the participants in the BCS title game.

Georgia wants to be the other one. The Dawgs sweated out a 14-7 decision at South Carolina and are no doubt happy not to visit Williams-Brice for another two years. The Gamecocks could have tied the game if not for a fumble into the Georgia end zone that ended the threat. Granted, Georgia fans will remind you that South Carolina’s defense is good. So is Ohio State’s, which didn’t seem to bother Southern Cal all that much.

The mid-day games provided most of Saturday’s excitement. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech were locked up 17-17 coming down the stretch while, one channel over, Purdue and Oregon were knotted at 23. Virginia Tech pulled out the first game 20-17 (Paul Johnson may be running the triple option at Georgia Tech because his quarterback cannot throw feed to starving birds). Oregon, after a nauseous start, came all the way back from a 20-3 deficit to knock off Purdue in double OT, 32-26.

Oregon’s comeback saved the Pac Ten from perhaps their worst non-conference day in history (I am not counting USC, only the mortal conference members). Brigham Young trounced UCLA 59-0 in an effort that must give Phil Fulmer acid reflux (well, worse than usual anyway). How, again, did Tennessee find a way to lose to UCLA?

Cal was worse. The Golden Bears traveled from the Pacific to the Atlantic, missed their first wake-up call and got run out of the stadium by a lousy Maryland team. The 35-27 final deceives; Cal was never in this game and likely won’t ever schedule an east coast date with any chance of an early start again.

Not to be outdone, Arizona State found a way to drop the nightcap to UNLV, 23-20 in overtime.

TCU quietly whipped Stanford 31-14. Throw in New Mexico over Arizona and that leaves the score Mountain West 4, Pac Ten 0. Probably not a stat the home office will drop into the mid-week press release.

Thinking Washington might be respectable? Thinking Oklahoma might come out flat on a west coast road trip? Thinking the fix might be in again with the refs? That’s what you get for thinking. Oklahoma scored 55. Washington scored 14. Ty Willingham’s agent scored a stiff drink and a list of Ivy League athletic directors potentially in search of a coach next season.

Missouri played the "anything you can do, I can do better" card on Oklahoma by ripping 69-17 at least a competently-coached and reasonably-skilled Nevada. Jeremy Maclin had a full highlight reel (injured my ass) by the time the Tigers had put 52 on the board early in the third.

Texas, whose game with Arkansas was cancelled due to hurricane, gets Oklahoma and Missouri back-to-back later this season. The Horns’ rotation at safety consists entirely of freshmen. Good times.

Auburn’s Wes Byrum kicked an edge-of-your-seat, dramatic, game-winning 36-yard field goal with 7:38 remaining in the second quarter to lead the Tigers to a key conference victory. Plainsmen 3, Mississippi State 2. No, seriously. I will spare you the bad baseball jokes (check your local paper) and simply note that Auburn may not have fully embraced the spread offense yet.

Penn State, on the other hand, has. The Nittany Lions fully embarrassed Syracuse 55-13. This assumes, of course, that Syracuse is still capable of embarrassment. Is there a traditional power playing worse football than Syracuse right now?

If you answered Notre Dame, you are incorrect. The Irish ripped Michigan 35-17. Don’t assume that reflects a new level of competence for the Irish offense; Casey Clausen was just to the north of average and the Wolverines gave the ball away six times. Nevertheless, Notre Dame should be much better than Michigan and, at the very least, showed it on Saturday. Irish coach Charlie Weis suffered a nasty knee injury in a sideline collision with a player.

‘Bama blasted Western Kentucky 41-7. Texas Tech destroyed Southern Money by roughly the same score. For that matter, LSU beat North Texas by about the same score. I’m detecting a pattern here.

East Cinderella ran into trouble with Tulane, but finally put the Green Wave back out to sea, 28-24.

Utah crushed Utah State 58-10.

Illinois escaped Louisiana-Lafayette 20-17. The announcers kept telling the viewers to keep it in perspective because Lafayette was a "pretty good football team." Really? The same team that gave up over 600 yards and 51 points to Southern Mississippi? Perplexing.

Wisconsin muscled Fresno State around the field for most of the night in a brutal 13-10 decision. I admire Fresno for the "any team, any time, anywhere" thing, but you have to close the deal at some point, especially at home.

Randomly noted, it’s possible that the best athlete in the Big 12 is actually Baylor’s freshman quarterback, Robert Griffin, who ran for an amazing 217 yards in a 45-17 laugher over Washington State. It’s also possible that Wazzu sucks audibly and simply wasn’t ready to play a game moved up to Friday night to escape Hurricane Ike. At least they’re good sports.

South Florida and Kansas played one whale of an entertaining Friday nighter. The Bulls prevailed over the Jayhawks 37-34 thanks to a key interception (and an uncharacteristic one) of KU’s Todd Reesing in crunch time. Sadly, Delbert Alvarado is no longer the hero for South Florida. He has been replaced by freshman Maikon Bonani, who sports a name almost as fun and won this game by drilling a 43-yarder with three ticks on the clock.

Impressive Showing of the Week: USC

1. USC

2. Oklahoma

3. Missouri

4. Georgia

5. Florida

6. The LSU/Auburn winner

7. The LSU/Auburn loser

8. Penn State

9. Texas

10. South Florida

So long, Ike, we won’t miss you.

Rose Bowl Dreams: A Memoir of Faith Family and Football is the new book by Adam Jones.

Rose Bowl Dreams