Archive for October, 2006

Euphoria in Oregon

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Via YouTube, here’s local NBC affiliate KGW‘s coverage of the Trojans-Beavers game:

And here’s a fan’s YouTube video of the postgame on-field celebration.

There’s also this chaotic clip, 4 seconds long and of self-described “crapy quality,” showing fans rushing the field. It’s even more “Zipprouder-esque” than my UCLA video.

I have to admit, as much as that loss totally sucked for me as a Trojan fan, I’m happy for the Oregon State fans. Getting a win like that, at home, rocks.

P.S. Did I just say “I’m happy for the Oregon State fans”? Nah. I deny ever typing that. I blame Karl Rove!

Hold that Rutgers hype…

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Did I jinx the Scarlet Knights with my post below? After jumping out to a 17-0 lead at halftime over lowly UConn, the Huskies have rallied, and now it’s 17-13 Rutgers early in the fourth quarter.

I’m kinda torn, because I think Rutgers is a great story and I love rooting for them, but at the same time, I gotta have some home-state pride here. Besides, a UConn win would be ideal for fans of the Irish, Trojans and all other one-loss teams, cuz then we could root for Rutgers to beat the West Virginia-Louisville winner without worrying about the undefeated Scarlet Knights potentially leapfrogging us. So, in conclusion: GO UCONN!!!

UPDATE: Rutgers just scored a touchdown on a blocked punt, their second defensive TD today. The Scarlet Knights are lucky UConn is such a bad team, because most teams would be beating them right now. As ESPN’s commentators have observed, this is a classic “trap game” scenario, and Rutgers will be very fortunate if they escape the trap, as it now appears they probably will. It’s 24-13 with 8:36 left.

UPDATE 2: Rutgers wins, 24-13, to move to 8-0. But superstar runningback Ray Rice suffered an ugly-looking injury during garbage time (not sure why he was still in the game). He was able to put some weight on his injured leg as he left the field, but… I dunno. We’ll have to wait and see. Hopefully he’s okay, and will be able to play against Louisville a week from Thursday.

The day after

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

The new polls and BCS rankings are out, and USC is just ahead of Notre Dame — by a measly 19 points in the coaches poll, 22 points in the AP poll (with Cal in between them), 24 points in the Harris poll, and .009 points in the BCS. That’s just what I predicted yesterday at CJ’s, when I said the Trojans would finish barely ahead of the Irish in an extremely close USC-ND-Cal trio. But then I got pessimistic and ended up guessing on the blog that the Trojans would be at the bottom of that trio, ranked #11. I should have stuck by my guns. Oh, well.

Anyway, the Trojans are #9 in the polls and #8 in the BCS. The Irish are #11 in the AP poll, #10 in the coaches and Harris polls, and #9 in the BCS. (The higher BCS rankings are because the computers love USC and ND, and don’t much care for Tennessee, ranked #8 in all the polls.) Of course, it’s all really immaterial anyway, and frankly not worth arguing about, since USC plays both Cal and Notre Dame next month. If anyone has a beef, it’s teams like Rutgers and Arkansas, who arguably have more impressive resumes than either the Trojans or the Irish, yet are ranked behind both of ’em. (Granted, Arkansas lost at home to USC, so that makes their argument a bit problematic — but at the same time, it’s abundantly clear that they’re a very different team now.)

It will be very interesting to see how this all plays out, especially if either USC or ND win out. If Rutgers goes undefeated, beating both West Virginia and Louisville, I don’t think I’ll be able to root in good conscience for either the Trojans or the Irish to finish ahead of them in BCS. Frankly, that would be an injustice, especially given how well the Big East has performed in out-of-conference competition this season. We might all subjectively suspect that an undefeated Rutgers team would have less of a chance than a one-loss SEC team, or USC or ND, would of hanging with Ohio State or Michigan — but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a chance to prove us wrong. (We were wrong about Ohio State’s chances against Miami in ’02, weren’t we? And about Oklahoma’s chances against USC in ’04? And about West Virginia’s chances against Georgia last year? College-football conventional wisdom is often wrong. Hell, at least 75% of what I write in this post will probably look completely idiotic a month from now, much like my Sept. 24 guarantee of a USC win over Notre Dame — “Fact is, USC is good… very good” — presently looks rather foolish.)

On a related note, let’s all just stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and marvel at the fact that we’re talking about the proper relative BCS rankings of USC and… Rutgers. Heh.

Anyway, getting back to yesterday’s game debacle against Oregon State, via Conquest Chronicles comes this picture from the L.A. Times of the Trojans looking shell-shocked in Corvallis:

And, from the Oregonian, a great picture of two OSU players celebrating:

Bah. Humbug.

My brother-in-law Casey, insightful as always, says: “The typical game plan of smoking weed for the first 3 quarters and then having a cup of coffee at the start of the 4th finally seemed to flounder.” Heh. He adds: “Watching USC this year, you knew this would happen. We’re just not that good of a team. Still, I expected losses to Cal or Notre Dame; not to Oregon State. They’re not even the best football team in Oregon.”

The Times‘s J.A. Adande sounds a similar theme, saying the Trojans were unmasked:

It’s probably better that it ended this way, on a tipped two-point conversion pass with seven seconds remaining. There was no valid reason to extend this game into overtime, just as there was no reason to continue the charade that USC is one of the top teams in the country.

The Trojans did not play well enough to win at Oregon State on Saturday. Truthfully, they haven’t played well enough this season to be included in the national championship spotlight.

As long as they kept winning and the computers kept loving their numbers, the Trojans held an inside lane in the race to the Bowl Championship Series title game. To anyone watching carefully, however, the Trojans’ No. 3 ranking looked phony, like a big studio movie topping the weekend box office numbers when it opened against a couple of artsy independent films.

Even the final score of Oregon State’s 33-31 victory was deceptive, masking how badly USC was outplayed for three-fourths of the game.

Yes, the Trojans showed heart in fighting back from a 23-point deficit to make it a one-play game, and quarterback John David Booty showed moxie in leading USC to a touchdown in the final minute. But that doesn’t mask the soft coverages, weak pass rush and four turnovers that gave Oregon State a 33-10 lead in the first place.

And it doesn’t show just how fortunate the Trojans were — thanks to a blocked field goal here, a bungled play there — that the Beavers didn’t blow them out in the first half.

“I love the comeback and all that kind of stuff,” USC Coach Pete Carroll said. “Right now we aren’t patting ourselves on the back about that.”

It’s a time for self-flagellation, not adulation. It’s time for the players to wonder why they aren’t performing at their peak, time for the coaches to ask themselves why they’re not reaching this group and getting improved results.

“We’ve been working our butts off trying to get where we’re at,” USC linebacker Rey Maualuga said. “Come game time, people are, I don’t want to say underestimating our opponent, but we’re just not playing to where we’re supposed to be playing at. People are not playing to the best of their ability. Toward the end, you saw us get deep down and [come] back. I guess we waited until something happened in order to strike back.

“We’re not at the best yet. After this loss, hopefully everyone will realize that.”

Hopefully, indeed. I do think there is some reason to hope things will change after this loss, particularly given the way the offense played in mounting their late comeback — notwithstanding that it’s pathetic we needed a comeback against Oregon State in the first place. That’s a given. But as I wrote earlier, during that comeback the Trojans looked better than they have pretty much all season, like they were finally “clicking.” In comments on that thread, Becky wrote:

I think that the OSU game may serve as a benchmark in USC’s season, an ugly crucible that served to catalyze the offense. From the depths of a dark, hideous loss to a less-than-stellar opponent, I think the thunderous rumblings of true champions were sounding beneath the surface of this offense. I have more hope for the rest of the season now than I did before they lost.

I don’t know if I’m quite as optimistic as Becky is, but I do think it’s possible this loss will end up galvanizing the Trojans to a better finish than most people are currently imagining. Adande’s column represents the conventional widsom among the college-football punditry: that USC was overrated all along, and now they’ve finally been unmasked as a team with no business thinking about a national championship. This is leading to comments like “They could easily end up with 4 losses” and “I wouldn’t be surprised at a 1 and 5 remainder of the season for SC.” This gives Pete Carroll a rare opportunity to use every coach’s favorite motivational gimmick, the “nobody respects us” meme, to get his players back on track, really working their asses off and focusing on each game like it’s for the national championship.

The best thing going for USC in this regard is that they’ve got Stanford up next. The godawful Cardinal are the ideal whipping boys for a good team coming off a terrible loss. If the Trojans had escaped Corvallis with a win, a lackluster performance against Stanford — obviously not a loss, but an umimpressive win along the lines of Notre Dame’s — might have been expected. But now, if these Trojans have a whiff of pride, I fully expect them to come out and hang 50 on Stanford by the end of the third quarter, while holding the Cardinal to 10 points or less (not counting garbage time). And if they can put on a performance like that, it should give them some confidence heading into the brutal home stretch against Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame and UCLA.

The bottom line is this: if this team plays the way it did in the first 40 minutes against Oregon State, they’ll finish the regular season 9-3 or 8-4 or even 7-5. But if they play like they did in the last 20 minutes, they’ll surprise everybody and finish 11-1, earning at least a Rose Bowl bid, and perhaps even a trip to Glendale. It all depends on how this team responds emotionally to the loss. Will they respond like Spartans, or like champions? We haven’t seen these Trojans go through the crucible of true adversity yet; now we will. Let’s see what happens.

Courant endorses Lieberman

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

The editorial page of The Hartford Courant, Connecticut’s largest-circulation newspaper, is generally liberal in its positions on issues and candidates. For this election the Courant has endorsed: (a) the progressive Democratic challengers for Governor & Lt. Gov. over Republican incumbent Jodi Rell and her runningmate; (b) the incumbent Democrats for the four other statewide executivebranch elective offices; and (c) surprisingly, all 5 Democratic candidates for the U.S. House, 3 of whom are challenging incumbent moderate Republicans whom the Courant has often supported and/or praised in the past.

And, for the United States Senate, the Constitution State’s left-leaning newspaper-of-record today urges the re-election of yet another good progressive Democrat: Joe Lieberman.

…This election is not solely about a war gone sour. There are critical domestic matters long simmering – the solvency of Social Security, health care access, huge budget deficits and more. For the most part, bitter partisanship rules. It will take more members of Mr. Lieberman’s ilk to restrain a free-spending, scandal-plagued Congress and an increasingly powerful president, or to turn attention to other urgent matters such as the environment and energy independence.

…Mr. Lieberman is cast by some as a Republican in disguise, enabling the GOP in its wild spending sprees and ethical lapses. The record shows Mr. Lieberman to have a moderate-to- liberal voting record much on the order of Democratic colleague Sen. Christopher Dodd. This session alone, Mr. Lieberman voted for stem cell research funding, against the Bush tax cuts, for guest-worker programs, and against federal cuts in welfare, child support and student loan programs.

To be sure, Mr. Lieberman has long challenged Democratic orthodoxy, especially on security and moral matters. That’s fine. His challenges have often nudged Democrats to the middle…

…In 1991, Mr. Lieberman told a conference organized by the Heritage Foundation and the Progressive Foundation that “the old assumptions of the left and right are no longer working” and that the political system needed to embrace “a new consensus that drops ideology and replaces it with rationality.” He has been true to this vision for the past 18 years, earning bipartisan political capital that will be needed in the difficult six years ahead.

Read the whole thing.

(Their thoughtful & spot-on gubernatorial endorsement of John DeStefano is worth a Re-link & a Read, too, especially since it’s the second Courant editorial published today which mirrors My opinions exactly. :)

CNN Breaking News

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Hospital official reports seven survivors treated after airliner crashes in Nigeria; 97 feared dead Visit CNN for the latest.

Voting machine company linked to Hugo Chavez

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

In a development that makes the Dubai ports deal look downright peachy, we learn:

The federal government is investigating the takeover last year of a leading American manufacturer of electronic voting systems by a small software company that has been linked to the leftist Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chávez.

So basically, we shouldn’t be surprised when “El Diablo” is declared the winner of the Virginia Senate race.

Just for fun…

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

The Just-For-Fun BCS and Bowl Projections

Final BCS Standings
1. Michigan (12-0)
2. Auburn (11-1)
3. Arkansas (12-1)
4. Rutgers (12-0)
5. Ohio State (11-1)
6. Texas (12-1)
7. USC (11-1)
8. Boise State (12-0)
9. Florida (11-2)
10. West Virginia (11-1)
11. Notre Dame (10-2)
12. Cal (10-2)

Oh, imagine the controversy! SEC champion Arkansas, which couldn’t climb in the polls fast enough and far enough to get ahead of Auburn, misses out on a title-game bid in favor of a team it lost to, a team that didn’t even win its division! (“Impossible,” says you. Colorado/Nebraska 2001, says I.) Meanwhile, an undefeated BCS-conference champion (Rutgers) finishes behind two one-loss teams, and doesn’t get a title bid! And of course, Ohio State, beaten on a last-second field goal against #1 Michigan, ends up behind this motley crew at #5! So…

Championship Game: Michigan vs. Auburn
Rose Bowl: USC vs. Ohio State
Sugar Bowl: Arkansas vs. Notre Dame
Orange Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Rutgers
Fiesta Bowl: Texas vs. Boise State

Auburn beats Michigan, Ohio State beats USC, Arkansas beats Notre Dame, Rutgers beats Georgia Tech, and Boise State beats Texas. Who is the legit national champion? If you’re an AP voter, who do you put at #1?

None of this matters, of course, since UConn is going to stun Rutgers tonight. GO HUSKIES!!! :)

CNN Breaking News

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

A Nigerian airliner has crashed near the country's capital city of Abuja, Nigerian government officials say. Visit CNN for the latest.

Football? Whatever.

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Forget the Beavers. Here’s some really big college-sports news:

Seniors Juan Delgadillo and Thomas Hale combined for nine goals to lift the top-ranked USC men’s water polo team to a 16-6 win over host No. 11 UC Irvine, bumping the Trojans’ winning streak to 37 straight victories and putting them at 18-0 overall and 5-0 in MPSF action.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! :) Fight on, Trojans!

Damn Beavers

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

So… that happened.

A few thoughts…

• First of all, congrats to Oregon State, its coaches, players and fans for a hard-earned, well-deserved win. Yeah, it obviously helped that USC turned the ball over a whole bunch of times, but the fact is, the Beavers earned this win, and they deserve to celebrate. I hope the folks up there are partying hard, well into the night. If there isn’t at least one couch set on fire tonight in Corvallis, it’s a travesty. :)

• Second, remember when I said the world was turned upside-down earlier Saturday, when Illinois and Indiana both had big halftime leads? Well, I didn’t know the half of it. You want a bizarro-world, upside-down sort of scenario? How about USC losing and Temple winning? The Trojans are on a one-game losing streak; the Owls are on a one-game winning streak. Think about that for a second.

• Speaking of streaks… this is precisely what I was talking about when I wrote after the Rose Bowl:

The streak had to end eventually, and…I’d rather have [it] end at the hands of an exceptionally good team like Texas — an equal — instead of some upstart.

Seriously, think about how much more painful this loss would be if it ended a 41-game winning streak. Having our quest to break the all-time record fall short because we lost to… Oregon State?! That would be unfathomable.

• It isn’t really surprising that USC lost to OSU this season. It’s just surprising that it’s this OSU. If we were going to lose to an OSU this season, you had to figure it’d be in Glendale, and Brutus would be on the sideline.

Scott Wolf notes something interesting: remember how, before the schedule expanded to 12 games, each Pac-10 team would have one conference-mate that they didn’t play each year? Well, before the change was made, the team the Trojans weren’t supposed to play this year was… Oregon State. D’oh!

• On a sophomoric, double entendric note: does the Beavers beating the Trojans make next month’s basketball showdown between the Trojans and the Cocks even more crucial? ;)

• It’s hard to find a silver lining when you just lost to Oregon State, but here’s my best effort: after looking bloody awful for nearly three quarters, the offense looked very good — better than they have since the Arkansas and Nebraska games — in the final 20 minutes of the game, when they marched down the field for several long drives and mounted a 21-point comeback that brought them within one deflected pass of overtime. Admittedly, a less aggressive OSU defense probably had something to do with that, but it is undeniable that the Trojan offense finally started “clicking” during the late third quarter and the fourth quarter. If the Trojans can take that and build on it, they may yet salvage a Rose Bowl berth out of this season (in which case, they may yet play that other OSU, if Michigan wins on Nov. 18) and vindicate my currently rather silly-sounding Sept. 24 statement about how good they are. We’ll see.

Stewart Mandel also sees a silver lining, looking ahead to not just the rest of this season, but next season:

[R]ight when it seemed USC was headed for an all-out meltdown, falling behind 33-10 with 4:51 left in the third quarter, John David Booty, Steve Smith and Co. went out and mounted a near-epic, Leinart-caliber comeback. Booty, after struggling much of the game, started hitting everything, Smith gave a performance for the ages (11 catches, 258 yards, two TDs) and the defense finally quieted Beavers QB Matt Moore. Ultimately, they fell two points short, but only after Booty (who threw for 405 yards and three TDs) drove them 80 yards in two minutes to score the potential game-tying touchdown with seven seconds left.

That, more than any of their wins over the past month, tell me the Trojans haven’t completely lost their swagger, and should serve as some solace to all those USC fans out there trying to cope with their first regular-season loss since September 2003. There will likely be at least one more loss before 2006 is over, but I’d be feeling a whole lot better about Booty’s chances of leading a potential title run in ’07. (Granted, I’d feel much better than that if Smith wasn’t graduating.)

• Yeah, speaking of Smith… man, he was awesome. Mandel mentioned the statistics — 11 passes for 258 yards and 2 touchdowns — and, holy cow, did you see a couple of those catches? Wow.

• Finally, a couple of questions for everybody:

1) Who should be ranked higher when the new polls come out: USC or Notre Dame?

2) Who will be ranked higher when the new polls come out: USC or Notre Dame?

Discuss. :)

Me, I’m not sure of the answer to either question. With regard to #1, the two teams look pretty similar to me on paper: both have suffered an awful loss (Notre Dame’s was awful because it was a humiliating blowout at home, USC’s was awful because of the caliber of the opponent), both have had a pair of victories where the team actually looked quite good (Penn State and Navy; Arkansas and Nebraska), and both have otherwise been unimpressive, playing down to the level of their competition and winning games by margins that were much closer than they should have been. So, which team would I rank higher? I dunno. Probably USC by a whisker, but admittedly that may be my bias talking.

As for question #2… I believe the Trojans will take a major hit in the polls, not just because they lost to Oregon State … Oregon Freakin’ State … but because the pollsters have a lot of pent-up anti-Trojan energy that they haven’t been able to release. The CW for a month has been that the Trojans’ unimpressive wins indicated that they were overrated, but because they were still undefeated, the pollsters didn’t want to punish them too badly. That energy will all get released now, and the Trojans will tumble. They’ll wind up ranked lower than at least four other one-loss teams (Texas, Auburn, Tennessee and Florida). I think they’ll be down somewhere in the Notre Dame/Cal/Arkansas range, which means somewhere between #9 and #12. My guess? #11, just barely behind ND and Cal but ahead of Arkansas.

What do y’all think?


Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Moblog audio post

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

source file
MP3 File

Beat the Beavers!

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Finally, after four straight Trojan games that I was unable to watch, tonight’s USC-Oregon State game is on TV here in South Bend… but, just before kickoff, our cable went out. ARRRRGH!!!!! I’m on hold with the cable company right now, but needless to say, if this problem doesn’t fix itself in the next few minutes, we’re going somewhere where we can watch this thing… friend’s house, sports bar, whatever. Details are still being worked out. In the mean time, Oregon State has taken a 7-0 lead and just intercepted the ball in the end zone when USC looked poised to score. Yikes!

UPDATE: Crap crap crap.

Crappity crap crap crap.


Oregon State 30, USC 10 with 7:55 left in the third quarter.


UPDATE 3: Okay, the Trojans are showing some life. It’s 33-17 at the end of the third quarter. Well, one of my teams has come back from a 16-point deficit in the fourth quarter this season… now it’s the other’s turn. Go Trojans!!! C’mon, Beavers, pull a Sparty!!!

He’s an Oregon State fan now, honest!

UPDATE 4: It’s a one-possession game! OSU 33, USC 25 with 12:02 left.

Joe2006 volunteer report

Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Today I spent three hours calling Joe Lieberman supporters from the state Lieberman headquarters. I was given a stack of voter sheets of people throughout Connecticut who had registered their support for him via e-mail. Most were in Fairfield County (Connecticut’s Gold Coast) and a lot were Republicans. Also a number were Independents. And, yes, there were Democrats, too. Which is also remarkable, given the recent choice by Democratic leadership and activists for Ned Lamont. Almost without exception, these are voters who want a centrist candidate and/or admire Lieberman’s 18-year record and conscience. Strangely (to me at least), it was very easy to talk to all of them about someone who had been a 3-term Democrat. Some Republicans and Independents had voted for him each time he had run as a Democrat . Many said “I don’t agree with him on some/most/almost all issues, but I know he is principled and I trust will make reasoned choices for Connecticut (and the nation).”

These conversations were refreshing experience for me. I have in the past worked as a phone volunteer calling Democrats for Democrats. This was something new: These were voters who, though party members, will be voting “outside the box” to support a seasoned politician on the merits of issues rather than party line.

Here in Connecticut, voting machines had their party levers removed long ago, but what I had mostly heard and seen up to now was party lever thinking. Pull away a party affiliation and people start to think in other ways.

I call this a Good Thing.


Saturday, October 28th, 2006

Michigan State is losing 46-7 to Indiana, early in the fourth quarter.

Forty-six. To. Seven.

To Indiana!

LOL! I love it! The Athletic Director should march down to the sideline and fire John L. Smith on the spot. Heh.

Alas, Illinois blew its big halftime lead and it looks like Wisconsin will win. So we won’t get to see both Illinois and Indiana win Big Ten games on the same day for the first time since 2002.

But Michigan State will become the first team since Wisconsin that year to lose to both the Illini and Hoosiers in the same year. (Well… barring a Spartan comeback even more miraculous than last week’s best-in-football-history comeback.)

This win will put Indiana one win away from becoming bowl-eligible, potentially making them the first time in Division I-A history to play in a bowl after losing to a Division I-AA team. The Hoosiers’ remaining games: at Minnesota, vs. Michigan and at Purdue.

UPDATE: Hoosiers 46, Spartans 21, final.