Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Orange Bowl - USC v Iowa

7:59pm – You’re looking LIIIIVVVEEEE at Mandy’s living room, where Judy is finishing up the Golden Girls. Appropriate pregame for a Miami-based broadcast. The batman is has just showered off the last dirt and grass from what was,by far, the most brutal Playstation session of his career, a 61-59 SEXTUPLE overtime showdown between New Mexico and New Mexico. The Batman FINALLY stopped the suffering by sending the Lobos on an inside blitz that stopped the Statie’s fullback dive on their final mandatory 2-point conversion. It was the first time since the 1st OT that either team failed to score a touchdown and PAT. A typical PS2 game lasts 40 minutes, never more than an hour, even if its 2 pass happy teams.
This one went 2 hours. I’m still twitching.
Steven Corbett, from The Daily Show, opens the Orange Bowl with his smart guy-dumb guy Fed Ex-commercial format. Its fun to hear people famous for other stuff mention your football team.
8:00 – Tim Brandt gives us a “the Orange Bowl on Aaaa Beeee CEEE Sports!” and it’s nice but, again, no Keith Jackson. Damn.
8:04 – Key breakdown – Carson missed 8 days of working out doing the Heisman bad-food-banquets thing. Hmmm…
8:05 - Here come the Hawkeyes! Hand in hand, row by row. They look ready.
8:06 – SC enters chaoticly, amid a sea of boos. It’s an Iowa home field, but then, we knew that was gonna happen.
8:07 – There appears to be a giant map of America on the field, probably some pre-game feel-good bullshit. I hate the Orange Bowl.
8:08 – SheDaisy does the national anthem. SheDaisy? Was Lil’ Bow Wow busy? I REALLY hate the Orange Bowl.
8:09 – Fox is showing Election, the brilliant Reese Witherspoon-Matthew Broderick high school comedy, and I’m skipping SheDaisy to watch maybe the sickest and greatest seduction scene of the 90s – when the lech teacher seduces Reese’s Tracy. “You might think growing up with no dad might mean I was looking for a Father figure. But it had nothing to do with that. It’s just that he seemed so strong and made me feel so safe and protected.” Then he hands her a Cream Soda over Lionel’s “3 Times a Lady” and leads her to the bedroom.
8:10 – What Fox WON’T be showing is the next cut after Tracy disappears into the bedroom (“What I remember most was our long talks” she says as she disappears), when the Lech, now recounting it all to Broderick, says “her pussy juices are so wet.”
8:12 – Back to the game, Brandt just called SC the “Men of Troy” – I hate that. It’s just a sloppy devolution of “Women of Troy” which is the official name of the schools’ women’s teams, because the school for some reason didn’t want to call women “Trojans.” I mean, if you’re embarrassed by “Trojans,” wouldn’t that be across the board?
8:14 – Here’s the kick and we’re underway.
8:15 – The rout is on.
8:16 - And it wasn’t an 80 yard return or a 98 yard return. It was 100 yards. That’s a full-marks, 10-out-of-10 for Shitty Starts. On the replay, every guy in red looks scared to get hit.
8:19 – SC’s second play from scrimmage, Carson hits Kelly for 65 yards. I guess we’re playing Big Play ball. At least we’re not playing 3-and-out ball.
8:20 – Iowa is among the nation’s worst in pass defense. That’s a good sign. On the flipside, Iowa has knocked out 7 QBs.
8:21 – Pass interference in the endzone. Fresh set of downs inside the 5.
8:22 – Fargas runs it in, and 8 minutes in, they’re trading Sunday punches! Could be a game!
8:26 – Iowa returns the KO to the 40. Fuck!
8:33 – As Iowa, behind Banks rushing, marches into the redzone, we just found out that Troy Palamulu, is on the sideline with a bad hamstring. The hits keep coming.
8:36 – LB Matt Gootegrode sacks Banks outside the 20 with a textbook ankle-hook into a double-leg takedown. If he’s not a former wrestler, I’ll root for Miami.
- 3rd and goal is incomplete, Iowa settles for a FG and SC gets a stop.
8:40 – Mandy just got here with sushi. This piece is about to get funnier.
8:41 – Palmer sacked. Again. Yip – HEElarious.
8:44 – On 3rd and long, Carson tosses one 15 yards for a first down. That looked easy. Not showing much in the way of rubber-chicken-circuit rust. Iowa has committed 5 penalties so far.
8:46 – After two great runs, screen pass for 15 yards. I can’t believe this. I am slack-jawed here. The Machine that ran up 96 on UCLA and ND looks like its still alive.
8:50 – Carson stiff-arms (might say, ‘gave him the Heisman…’) his way out of a sack then way-overthrows Kelly on purpose. Heady play.
8:51 – First down pass to Williams. They are making this too easy.
8:52 – Carson overthrows his receiver on 3rd down, and it took Iowa 13 minutes of game time to stop Palmer.
8:54 – Just showed USC Song Girls and Iowa cheerleaders back to back. It’s so one-sided, it’s not even worth discussing.
8:58 – Mandy starts to breakdown Palmer, starting with his name: “ ‘Carson Palmer.’ Reminds me of a pretty boy.” That’s double-bad for Palmer, cuz once you get downwind from Mandy’s judgement, there’s no way home.
9:10 – And here we go: “What kind of name is Carson? Might as well call him Blaine.” And so from here on, we will.
9:18 – SC misses a field goal. So far we’re 10 points behind on special teams.
9:20 – Banks seems to be warming up, scrambling around.
9:22 – Still no Palamulu.
9:23 – Tight end Dallas Clark makes a catch with what Brandt calls his “soft hands.”
9:24 – Mandy looks up from her sushi and want s to know what Palmolive has to do with football. So do I.
Turns out the “soft hands” crack and a sideline update on “Palamulu” got turned sideways in the Mandy Analysis. Give her a break – she’s concentrating on sushi. And by the way, the Yellow tail roll is awesome.
9:26 – Iowa’s #1 safety is out, too.
9:37 – Iowa fumbles, Blaine is back on the field and here we go!
9:38 – Fargas on a Student Body right for 8 yards.
9:39 – Student body right, five yards.
9:40 – Student body left, two yards. Not a great gain, but the offense has rhythm.
9:42 – Field goal, tie game, 10-10. Like the ND game, the score doesn’t reflect how completely SC has taken over this game’s tempo.
9:43 – Jordon-on-Jordan Gatorade ad. You know what – I am 100 percent OVER anything you can show me with computer graphics. Anything.
9:45 – Flipping channels, Saturday Night Fever on Cinemax, backseat gangbang scene. Everybody remembers this movie as a fun disco flick; nobody remember this bit. I mean, it’s a savage sequence, the guys switching out banging the broad with the other 3 in the front seat, her crying and begging them to stop.
9:48 – Damn! With under a minute to go, Banks draws a roughing penalty – questionable, but understandable – at midfield and then scrambles to the 1 with 10 seconds to go.
9:50 – They line up, all 22 players in a row between the hash marks, on the 1yd line. Banks rolls out, incomplete to the tight end.
9:51 – Iowa elects to kick the FG with 5 seconds left… hmmm. What on EARTH do you have to lose going for it?
9:53 – After two false starts, SC blocks the field goal – and achieves the double-whammy of holding at the 1-yardline and getting back 3 points on special teams.

That was a great half of football. SC’s offense was a machine, and Iowa was throwing big plays like crazy – and committed 9 penalties – and it started and ended on a big play on special teams. Can’t wait for the second half, to be watched in bed.

10:10 – Cinemax is now showing Blow. Just showed the CLASSIC Manhattan Beach moment when Johnny Depp made the mental leap from California fun guy to Drug Lord Legend: “we can sell all this shit for like $100. And if we don’t, we can smoke it!” The rest, with Pee Wee Herman as the hairdresser/supplier, is history. And damn – all those 60 chicks look hot. LOVE that hair.
10:15 – Carroll tells us SC is a 2nd half team. True enough.
10:20 - Iowa lines up wrong and gets a procedure penalty, their third in about 5 snaps going back to the fieldgoal block.
10:21 – 2nd and 14, Blaine hits Williams for 20. Just havin’ a lazy Sunday afternoon catch in the yard. This is unbelievable. Blaine is going right side of the field then left, go-to receiver then a back who hasn’t caught a ball since September. Of course it’s the system, but Blaine is on fire.
10:22 – Last 10 Hiesman winners are 5-5 in bowls.
10:26 – Touchdown to Williams who is WEARING a defender for the catch. It would have been a stupid forced throw if didn’t work, but it did, so I’ll flip through the adjective file and select “Nervy.” Palmer was 5-for-5 on that drive to 4 recievers, and they’re up 17-10.
10:30 – Kickoff – hold breath! … PHEW! Tackle at the 20.
10:33 – Nice picture of Banks and Dante Culpepper from Banks’ year at UCF. Iowa has a little drive going now, but on 3rd and 4, Banks calls timeout. Might need that later. On a sidenote – If Banks fucks up this game, he has a lot more to lose than Blaine, for purely racial reasons. A white QB who screws up his post-Heisman game can probably get drafted a lot easier than a black QB who screws up his. I mean, how many GMs will take a stab at “the next Dante” or “the nest McNabb” if you give them ANY reason to not do it? It’s racist and stupid, but it’s probably true. Makes me hope Banks rallies.
10:35 – Mandy is asleep and here’s a secret: she talks in her asleep, especially if you prompt her. She rolls over and vaguely opens two drunk-asleep eyes and, looking to prime the well, I tell her she looks pretty and she says, “you just want a guitar in the morning.” Do I!?!?!
10:37 – Iowa’s wheels are now hanging on by less than a loose bolt – after burning the timeout, Banks comes out and throws into the turf with nobody close. 47 days off, but let’s not scrap the bowls… please. Punt time.
10:38 – YES! On the punt, Iowa smashes through the SC guy’s Halo rule and OBLITERATES him. GREAT penalty, phenomenal pile-driver hit worth every inch of the 15 yards just to see a human get hit that hard! Better than a guitar in the morning.
10:39 – Better still, SC did something bad, so penalties offset and now they have to re-kick and here’s hoping they do it again!
10:40 – Well, I think we now have a working definition of Lucky Break – If the previous punt had held, USC would have been at the 50. Now, on a clean re-punt and with great Iowa special teams work, USC is inside its own 1-yard line. AND – wait for it – USC picked up a penalty on the play that puts them 1/2 the distance to the goal, so Blaine will start from inside the 18-inch line.
Well, Heisman winner – convince us.
10:45 – I’m damn near convinced. 3rd and 8, Blaine rolls through his own EZ, sees nothing, takes off upfield, gets the first and draws an out of bounds hit – USC is on the 27 and Blaine is a man among boys in this game.
10:46 – First play from the 27, Iowa still pissed at itself, Mike Williams – who is your basic Roy Williams as a freshman – makes a catch then carries 4 guys about 5 more yards and NEVER GOES DOWN – the ref blows it dead for forward progress, but 4 Iowa guys couldn’t get him off his feet.
10:47 – First and 10 from the 40ish, Blaine scrambles outside, picks up about 8, runs out of bounds and stops in front of the Gatorade table and starts drinking from the bottle. Nothing impresses me more in a football player than acting cool when you run out of bounds.
10:48 – Fargas, on a draw, untouched, 50 yards, touchdown, ballgame, and the only question I want to talk about now is SC or OU?
10:50 – Keyshawn in da House, wearing – are you kidding? – an Elway jersey. That is SO random. I LOVE Key. I think up in the box, OJ has on a 33 Celtics jersey.
10:53 – On the replay of Fargas’ run, Kareem Kelly throws a gorgeous downfield block on the safety that opens up the last 25 yards for Fargas. Jeez, he’s the fastest SC player of all time, set a world record in junior track 50 meters and was the final-play hero of my staggering USC-UCLA playstation victory. What DOESN’T he do?
10:55 – Mandy, asleep like she’s dead, announces that, “momma’s got to get you something.” I REALLY hope it’s that guitar in the morning.
10:58 – On 3rd and 11, SC’s line knocks down a Banks pass.
11:00 – Blaine beats a blitz with an 15 yard slant pass.
11:02 – ABC shows a graphic of stats titled: Hollywood versus Heartland. Brandt mentions the “glitz and panache” of west coast football. Let’s see – your “heartland” is based on a quarterback rushing and a 100-yard kickoff return; SC is running sweeps, dives and short timing routes. Give me a break. SC is destroying Iowa tonight on fundamentals. They’re not even - as you always hear about Oklahoma and anybody from Florida including the Golden Girls - “a speed team.” These guys can just flat play.
11:08 – The Panache team just went up 31-10 on a glitzless series of sweeps from McCoulough, who carried most of Iowa into the endzone with him.
And SC is doing all this without its #1 defensive player.
11:17 – Last chance for Iowa. Less than 10 to go, down 21, and it would be 28 without the kickoff. If they don’t come alive on this drive, it’s over.
11:21 – It was looking good – banks hit Dallas Clark for 25 – but USC just intercepted Banks and that’s gonna do it.
11:47 – A back-up SC senior named Sunny Bird just scored his only college touchdown. Sunny Bird?! Love it. USC is 10-for-15 on 3rd downs against The Heartland.
11:50 – I just downed 4 benadryls – my sleep cycle is all fucked up – so bye for now.

Blaine throws for 304 yards, 3rd on the Orange Bowl all-time list. No. 1 is, get this, Frank Broyles from 1940. 300 yards in 1940! That’s awesome.

Don’t have much of a wrap up on this. SC, like Florida State, played 11 bowl teams this year and it showed. They owned the 2nd half, showed not a hint of nerves and beat Iowa in every detail imaginable. It was a 38-10 game if you take out points against the scrubs, 38-3 if you forget the first play, and that includes a 99 yard drive. Blaine was a big part (and between this game and Penn State’s effort, I think we’ve heard the end of the Heisman debate) but the running game set him up, and the defense, without Troy, hardly even got a dent.
One thing: Is Blaine a product of Norm Chow’s system? He didn’t do anything – tonight or in previous weeks – to really indicate deep talent. He just threw to open players and followed the script. Can he lead a comeback? We haven’t seen it. Keep that in mind as the draft talk starts.
Big redemption for the Pac-10, too. WSU, which peaked in September, got blown out by one of maybe 2 or 3 teams in SC’s league. So what? I’m laying that on the BCS as much as the Pac 10. And the rest of the games – who cares?
I’ll say this: USC would have beat Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Maybe not elsewhere, but in Pasadena, that would be all SC.
As for the Big 10, I thought Michigan went a LONG WAY towards bolstering Ohio State’s argument, but this puts the lie to that. You could say the conference resembles most of its fans – thick in the middle, weak on top. If this was the Big 10s best team – and, thanks to scheduling, no Big 10 booster can tell me it wasn’t - then they’re top end is well short of the other 3 conferences.
So Miami and Ohio State – products of weak scheduling – will meet tomorrow. If Ohio State wins a blowout, we can revisit some of this, but otherwise, I’m setting the PS2 to play out SC-OU and settle this.

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