Okay, I admit I’m annoyed that USC missed that damn extra point, thus causing me to lose my bet with my classmate Mike (the Irish Bruin) that the Trojans would beat the Irish by at least 21 points. But there’s annoyed, and then there’s annoyed. Yikes.
Don’t worry, Mike, I’m not that upset. :) And yes, I will pay up… notwithstanding that my original prediction (”USC will win by three touchdowns”) was literally correct… we did win by three touchdowns, we just missed a PAT!
On the bright side, my teams are now 2-0 against Mike’s teams this season. First the Irish over the Bruins, then the Trojans over the Irish. On Saturday, I go for the hat trick. :) BEAT THE BRUINS!!!
P.S. By the way, Becky and I are safe & sound back in South Bend, in case anyone was wondering. Tomorrow (er, later today), the home stretch of the semester begins…
P.P.S. I just noticed: this is the 22nd consecutive college football-related post, dating back to this one early Saturday morning. Eventually, dear readers, I will start blogging about something other than football again, I promise. :)
P.P.P.S. But not quite yet! First, another football observation. You may not know this if you’re not either a Pac-10 fan, a reader of Texasyank’s blog, or an obsessive-compulsive watcher of the scrolling scores at the bottom of the screen on ESPN, but Arizona State beat Arizona, 28-14 on Saturday (I love 28-14 games… they always remind me of USC’s 2003-04 national title), and although the Sun Devils’ bowl-clinching win wasn’t enough to save their coach’s job, it was enough to set the stage for a potential five-way tie for fourth place in the Pac-10. If USC beats UCLA on Saturday (a big if, and let’s all vigorously knock on wood now, shall we?) and Cal beats Stanford, this is what the final standings will look like:
1. USC (8-1)
2. Cal (7-2)
3. Oregon State (6-3)
4(t). Oregon (4-5)
4(t). Arizona State (4-5)
4(t). Arizona (4-5)
4(t). UCLA (4-5)
4(t). Washington State (4-5)
9. Washington (3-6)
10. Stanford (1-8)
Heh. I love it! And the best part is, everyone except Washington and Stanford is bowl-eligible! But out of UCLA, Arizona and Wazzu, only one will get a Pac-10 bowl spot; the others will be praying for an at-large bowl invitation.
Commenter “CT” writes: “Although not supposed to be released for another hour and a half, the new BCS standings are hidden away on the college football hall of fame website. … USCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lead is surprisingly substantial. Much more than any projections I had seen. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve jumped to #1 in two computer polls!” Here is the link to the PDF file.
In case the file gets disappeared, here’s a copy on my server.
No time to fully think through the implications just now (I’m at the airport, using free Wi-Fi, but boarding will commence shortly), however it looks like Cal’s chances of cracking the Top 14 are less than I thought (they got jumped by Wake Forest and Tennessee), and it looks like the odds of Notre Dame getting locked out of the BCS by an automatic bid for Louisville as slim-to-none, as LSU is now ahead of the Cardinals and two teams can’t take advantage of the “top four” rule.
UPDATE: Okay, thinking quickly about this Cal thing… they’re #18. The Rutgers-West Virginia loser will certainly fall behind them, so that brings them to #17. If #22 Georgia Tech beats #17 Wake Forest in the ACC title game, the Bears might gain a spot, but on the other hand, the Yellow Jackets might jump them. Likewise if #20 Nebraska beats #12 Oklahoma. And Arkansas didn’t fall as far as I thought. If #4 Florida beats #9 Arkansas, the Razorbacks might fall behind the Bears, or they might not. In order for Cal to have any chance, all three of those things would have to happen… and also, the Bears would have to avoid falling behind Texas despite the fact that playing Stanford will presumably hurt their computer ratings. So, I don’t like Cal’s chances much.
In other news, Oregon State is now ranked #24. Just saying.
P.S. Notre Dame is #10. With losses by Arkansas and Oklahoma and/or Louisville, they could potentially move into the top 8, which would make them an “automatic” selection. But that’s a mere formality. For the Irish, practically speaking, eligible = automatic, unless USC loses (thus moving Michigan up to #2) and Louisville somehow jumps LSU for the #4 spot (or #3 if Florida loses — doesn’t matter), thus earning an automatic at-large bid as the highest-ranked non-conference champion in the #3 or #4 spot, and the Rose Bowl shuns both the Irish and Louisville and takes LSU with the final “open” at-large spot. Very unlikely.
P.P.S. Boise State is #8. They’re automatic anyway for being in the top 12, but also, they’ll be ahead of the Big 12, ACC, and possibly the Big East champion. Nice! Hello, Fiesta Bowl. (Ya think there will be extra tickets available for cheap after the Boise faithful have had their shot at them? I’ll be in Phoenix on Jan. 1, and would love to cheer for the Broncos against Oklahoma or Nebraska…)
Notre Dame almost got doubled up by USC last night, 44-24, and as a result, the Irish’s poll ranking doubled, from #6 in both the AP and coaches polls last week to #12 in both polls this week. (The AP isn’t part of the BCS formula. The new Harris poll, which is, isn’t available yet.)
To remain BCS-eligible — which would virtually assure the Irish of an invitation to either the Rose or Sugar Bowl, barring a bizarre sequence of events that could result in Louisville getting an automatic at-large berth (more on that in a later post) — the Irish must remain in the BCS top 14. Since the computers have generally liked them better than the human pollsters all season, and since the computers don’t consider margin of victory (a fact which hurt the Irish last year, but helps them this year because of the lopsided losses to Michigan and now USC, and the too-close wins against Michigan State and UCLA), I assume ND won’t plummet far enough in the computers to fall out of the top 14 in the BCS.
As for USC, the Trojans leapfrogged Michigan to become #2 in the new AP poll, and increased their margin in the coaches poll from 16 points to 46 points. So basically, they picked up 30 new second-place votes from among the 63 voters. That’ll help them overtake Michigan in the new BCS standings. Beat UCLA and they’re in.
Oh, and by the way, expect the outrage over Wisconsin’s exclusion from the BCS to build. The Badgers are ineligible because of the rule that no conference can have more than two teams in the BCS (so anyone who blames pro-Notre Dame bias for their exclusion is an idiot). But now they are ranked #6 in the coaches poll and #7 in the AP poll. In the final BCS standings, they’ll finish ahead of the Big 12 and ACC champions, Notre Dame and Boise State, probably the Big East champion and possibly one or two BCS-bound SEC teams. And yet they’ll be playing in their second straight Capital One Bowl, while all of those teams are playing in the big-money bowls.
From the Trojansphere & Domersphere:
Conquest Chronicles: “Was There Ever Any Doubt?”
The Displaced Trojan: “USC-ND Post-Game: ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s In The Numbers”
According to USC Trojan: “Is Notre Dame overrated or USC was too good?”
Rakes of Mallow: “I Hate The Southern Cal Fight Song”
Classic Ground: “Not there yet”
Her Loyal Sons: “Legacy?”
No time to post full standings now, but congratulations to Gahrie, champion of the Irish Trojan’s Notre Dame Pick ‘em Contest!
As for the USC contest… if USC beats UCLA next Saturday by 5 points or more, C. Basset will win. If the Trojans beat the Bruins by between 1 and 4 points, David K. and lex icon will finish tied for the win. If UCLA beats USC, Josh Rubin will win.
BEAT! THE BRUINS!
[A] lot of pundits, and even some Notre Dame fans, seem to be taking away from the Michigan game a lesson that goes something like “oops, we drank the kool-aid again” — i.e., we bought into the Notre Dame hype, again, and we were wrong, again. I’ll join the chorus too: I believed ND would be significantly better than last year, but I now realize they’re, at best, only marginally better …
What’s funny is how predictible it is that, two months from now, everyone will have forgotten the lesson we learned on Saturday. I’m telling you right now: the kool-aid will make a comeback.
Assuming the Irish are able to bounce back and knock off Michigan State next week, the only real challenge on their schedule between now and Nov. 25 should be the UCLA game, and I use the term “challenge” loosely there. In all reality, Notre Dame should win its next eight games with relative ease, and arrive in L.A. riding the wave of four consecutive blowouts against Navy, North Carolina, Air Force and Army. The “return to glory” talk will have started up again, the Irish will be in the Top 5 again, and the dreams of a national championship will be very much alive when Charlie’s boys show up at the Poodle’s house. … All the pundits and fans will believe in the Irish again, having been re-convinced of Charlie Weis’s brilliance by eight consecutive victories, most of them blowouts, albeit over weak-to-mediocre opponents. The “swagger” will be back. The hype will be at a fever pitch. The Michigan game will be all but forgotten.
All but forgotten, that is, until USC turns it on, busts loose, and gives Notre Dame a beatdown nearly as thorough as Saturday’s. … [T]he Trojans will blow the Irish away by 20-some points… and everyone will suddenly remember the Michigan game, and will say, “D’oh! We drank from the kool-aid again, again!” The uncomfortable comparisons to Ty Willingham will again rear their ugly heads, the “Charlie still hasn’t yet won a big game” refrain will return…
I can see it now. So predictable.
More recently, during the North Carolina game, as I criticized the Irish defense for giving up three offensive touchdowns in three quarters to the horrible Tar Heels offense, I got into a bit of trash-talking with Nick about the USC-ND game. Nick kept citing the Trojans’ loss to Oregon State as a reason why my confidence about the USC-ND game was unjustified. I responded that USC’s performance against the Beavers was an abberation, whereas the Irish defense’s performance against UNC was pretty typical of how they’d been playing all season. And then came those fateful words: “Look, I’m not defending the Oregon State loss. All I’m saying is, we’re going to win by three touchdowns. That’s all I’m saying.”
That prediction led to my bet with Mike, against a 21-point spread — which I lost because of that damn missed extra point. Still, my “three touchdowns” prediction was basically correct, and I was certainly more right than all the people (including, at times, myself in the subsequent weeks) who were calling me crazy for making such a bold prediction and such a crazy bet.
So in other words: I told you so. :) The Irish are a good team. But the Trojans are much better. They’re faster, stronger, more talented. That’s been clear all season to any objective observer (hence my repeated assertions that the Irish couldn’t win unless USC failed to bring its “A” game), and tonight it became head-smackingly obvious.
*Certain blatantly incorrect (but largely irrelevant) aspects of my original prediction have been conveniently omitted to make me look smarter than I actually am. :)
P.S. Oh, by the way… in addition to FIGHT ON, TROJANS!!! BEAT THE BRUINS!!!, let me also say:
GOOOOO IRISH, BEEEEEAT GATORS/RAZORBACKS/WOLVERINES!!!
“The road to Glendale, Arizona is paved with Trojans”? Um, I don’t think I like that! I think it’s paved with the Irish safeties and cornerbacks USC trampled en route!
But, AAAAAHHH!!! How could they miss the extra point??? Now I’m still in line to lose my bet! Harumph.
Oh, well. I suppose that’s not the most important thing. :) The most important thing is, can we say “Beat the Bruins” yet?
UPDATE: Touchdown Samardzija… so it’s 37-24 with 3:39 left. Do the Irish have a miracle in them?
UPDATE 2: The answer is no. :)
Onside kick returned for a touchdown! USC 44, Notre Dame 24!
BEAT THE BRUINS!!!
Just when it looked like USC’s offense was moving the ball at will again, Steve Smith dropped the potential nail-in-the-coffin touchdown, and the Irish are still in it. But the Trojans lead, 28-17, at the start of the fourth quarter.
FIGHT ON, ‘SC!!!
UPDATE: Now 31-17. Love the field goal; it improves the odds that I’ll win my bet with Mike Tran that USC will win by 21 points or more. :) But first let’s win the game. Brady is dangerous in the hurry-up. 10:45 left. C’MON TROJANS!!!
After going 6-for-7 passing in the first quarter, Booty was 1-for-7 in the second quarter, and what looked like it was turning into a rout is suddenly a ballgame. It’s USC 21, Notre Dame 10 at halftime. Notre Dame’s defense stepped it up, and USC made a bunch of mistakes reminiscent of the Oregon State game. The Trojans are lucky the Irish didn’t take better advantage of their opportunities, because this could easily be a 21-17 game at this point, or worse.
Now, it’s time for some Pete Carroll Second-Half MagicTM. GO TROJANS!!!
Liveblogging will probably be fairly limited, because I want to actually watch.
UPDATE: WOOOOOO!!!! 14-0 USC.
UPDATE 2: Trojans 21, Irish 3!!! YEEEEAH!!!
But, uh, what is up with the camera work in this game?!? They’ve missed several seconds of several plays, and they just completely missed USC’s last touchdown. Wake up, ABC!!!
UPDATE 3: Notre Dame just fumbled the ball inside the red zone (inside the 10, actually), and USC recovered. w00t!
“This is the best I’ve seen USC play this year, I think.” –Becky. Indeed. We’renocking on wood that it continues! FIGHT ON!
UPDATE 4: John David Booty just tripped on the grass. Damn that Charlie Weis, clearly he bribed the Coliseum groundskeepers to let the grass grow long. ;)
ACK! Irish block the punt! … Touchdown Irish! … 21-10 Trojans.
Okay, I’m going to stop liveblogging now, back to just watching. USC was doing better when I wasn’t liveblogging. :)
BEAT THE IRISH!!!
Cal, currently #19 in the BCS standings, needs to finish in the Top 14 to become BCS-eligible — which would virtually assure them of an invitation from the tradition-happy Rose Bowl to play Michigan in Pasadena on New Year’s Day, if USC reaches the national title game. The Bears were left for dead, BCS-wise, after losing to Arizona and USC in consecutive weeks, but they are now virtually guaranteed to finish #16 or better if they beat lowly archrival Stanford next week, thanks to yesterday’s losses by #13 Texas and #18 Boston College, and today’s loss by West Virginia (which assures that next week’s WVU-Rutgers loser will finish below the Bears).
With Boise State soundly beating Nevada at the moment, it doesn’t look like the Broncos will fall behind the Bears. So, who else still could? #6 Arkansas, after losing to LSU yesterday, would probably fall out of the Top 14 with a loss to Florida next Saturday. #9 Louisville would probably tumble with a loss to Pitt today (Louisville leads 24-17 at halftime) or UConn next Saturday. And Georgia Tech, if they lose to either Georgia today or the Wake Forest-Maryland winner next week, would certainly fall behind the Bears.
In all likelihood, the Bears need two of those three things to happen. #15 Oklahoma losing next week to #22 Nebraska would also seem helpful, but it would create the possibility of the Cornhuskers leapfrogging the Bears even as the Sooners fall behind ‘em. So the Bears — and the Rose Bowl committee — need to root against Arkansas, Louisville and Georgia Tech. With all three teams playing next week, the Bears’ hopes of their first Rose Bowl appearance since the Eisenhower Administration are definitely not dead yet… unless Notre Dame beats USC tonight. Cal’s hopes are totally dependent on USC winning out and reaching the title game.
P.S. #21 Wake Forest might jump Cal if they beat Maryland and Georgia Tech, which would negate the Yellow Jackets falling behind them, so the Bears might want to root for Maryland (not in the BCS top 25) tonight.
Also, Utah beating BYU would help the Bears in the polls, even though BYU isn’t ahead of them in the BCS. Utah leads by 3 right now.