Thursday, March 25, 2004

Early Games 03

New Year's Day, 2003
10:04: gain consciousness, eyes closed, smiling thinking about watching games ALL DAY LONG.
- walked out into the living room where Judy (Mandy's mom) is flipping channels - first onscreen image she stops on is the opening title of a movie: "Flesh and Blood" - gotta like that omen.
- Options: can watch pregame on TV or go get coffee. Definitely Coffee. Listening to XM on the road, the comedy channel has George Carlin talking shit about football. "It's a ground acquisition game." I get that Carlin was important to develop early comedy but really - by 87, he wasn't funny. And now, it's just sad.
- On ESPN radio, Tony Kornhieser has Al Michaels. God sports talk sucks.
- My gas station has, as always, stellar coffee. Great creamers, and 52 cents to refill my 7-11 mug. My system is flawless. But since we're talking coffee, if you're making it at your house, it's basicly Folgers Classic (medium) and Coffee Mate creamer. Anything more high brow, you paid too much. Anything less, you've got bad coffee.
- Wrong kind of salsa. Damn. Resist the queso jar. RESIST!
- On XM, I've got BBC on the way home - 2 islands in the pacific got crushed by a tycoon, Brazil has a new President, it's 2003 and let's get it ON!

11:03 - You're looking LIIIVEEEE at Mandy's living room, cuz this is the one day of the year that I really regret not having cable. ESPN has Michigan and Florida. There's another game on, but we'll get to it.
Quick Index:

2-3: Florida coach Ron Zook vs. ranked teams (I think it says more that he's played 5 ranked teams in one year).
6.5: Inches of rain that fell on Tampa Bay last night, home of today's Outback bowl, but today's weather is perfect (the storm was a "frog strangler" as the good ol' boy announcer will eventually call it)
47: conference titles between these schools
5: Heisman winners between the schools
5: Heisman winners at USC - apropos of nothing...
0: times these teams have met.

11:05 - John Navarre on the sideline, warming up. Last seen at the end of an unimpressive effort in Columbus, Ohio, throwing an endzone INT against Ohio State which gave us the bowl line-up we have now.
11:06 - My parents just called. I'm on the phone with them as I type. FUCK. This is going to be serious juggling.
Key points from the parents conversation:
- my parents celebrated New Years last night at 10 pm then went home.
- The Air Force game apparently came down to a goal line stand at the buzzer. My dad wishes he'd stayed up for it.
- My sister is back in LA.
11:09 - Kickoff in Tampa Bay. Still on the phone.
11:10 - Rex Grossman is majoring in Travel and Tourism. Gonna have to keep track of cheesy majors today. Wait, it gets better - UF RB Graham is a Liesure Services Management major.
11:13 - Parents finally off the phone, after giving them Judy's email and assuring them Xmas presents were all passed out correctly to Mandy's sisters. KILLING ME.
11:18 - LSU FG, 3-0.
11:21 - Fox's idiot announcing team just told us that Simms sucking in the clutch "has toughened him up mentally."
11:25 - Mandy has me up and ironing jeans during the game (this will not stand), and Karen just called to talk to Judy cuz she thinks her boyfriend might dump her today. LOT of balls in the air here at the WarrenDome.
11:48 - Best talent so far today is LSU QB Marcus Russell. This guy is optioning, running and throwing all over Texas.
11:51 - ESPN shows Michigan's stats versus Ohio State, illustrating that Navarre and thems dominated the Buckeyes - which I've been saying since that afternoon. Let's not get started.
11:53 - LSU goes back up 10-7 on a Russell pass. Had to be watching the UF-UM game on ESPN to be told that the teams in the Fox game, LSU and Texas - flagship schools of adjoining, closely aligned states - last played 40 years ago today in the Cotton Bowl.
11:56 - Cedric Benson picks up 11 yards on a leftside run -1st play of the 2nd quarter and Hook'em's 4th offensive play of the game. LSU's Russell is running this game. Another one of these bad openings for UT that you can't quite put on Simms, but that reflect on him anyway.
11:58 - 3 more and out for UT.
11:59 - Flip back. Florida seems to have scored. Seems to have come off a 50ish yard play action down-the-middle streak to the RB. On the replay, about 15 Wolverines appear to have bounced off him before tripping him up at the 2.
12:02 - 2003 is 12 hours old, and UF has 159 yards to UM's 40. Still, 7-7.
12:03 - And if you liked that total yards stat, you'll love this one: LSU 268- Texas 17. Can that be right? This is Fox, afterall.
12:04 - Make that 280 or so. LSU guy just ran around, over and through all 11 UT defenders for a TD. 17-7, LSU.
Double commercial, and Tommy Lee Jones is telling me that SBC, the Cotton Bowl's title sponsor and a major Texas telecom company, is just a big ol' heapa "working people" who want to help you "get home for dinner." Next ad is for the NY Stock Exchange. I don't know anything about SBC, but I DO know that if you get Tommy Lee Jones to do your ads and you are the telecom company for a big chunk of Texas and the NY Stock Exchange advertises on your football game - you are not just a blissful utopian worker's paradise dedicated to no greater good than making sure "working people" get "home for dinner."
12:08 - Simms wakes up. From the 50, finds Roy Williams, against LSU's best corner Cory Webster, open over the middle. It's all Williams, who outsprints Webster for 40 yards, and it's 17-14. Simms celebrates on the sideline with a little geek-spas dance that looks like he's being electrocuted.
12:11 - "Now That's What I'm Talking About" - my favorite ad, the ESPN sports ad, where the guy in the hotel room closes the ad yelling "Now That's What I'm Talkin' About!" at the TV. Gonna report that everytime it comes on.
12:12 - It's the Outback bowl so we get a sideline interview of Outback pres. Paul Avery - He is "over-elated" to have Florida and Michigan. And then Paul is On Message like Air Fliesher: "At Outback we love football games but we also love the restraunt business. When we have people come out to Outback Steakhouse and enjoy their dining experience, its just like winning a bowl game for us." He wants to thank all the "Outbackers" for their loyalty, all around the country. It's such a hideous moment of corporate propoganda I want to go take a shower, but that's the nature of this beast, so let's not dwell.
12:14 - Florida's corners and special teams take over. On 2 straight plays, Florida corners step in front of Navarre passes like they knew it was coming. Each time they drop a sure-TD pick. And Michigan's punter is the most wanted man in Florida. For the third straight punt, he felt the breeze of a Florida corner go by his head as he kicked. This punt goes for 19 and Michigan is teetering on the edge of getting run out of here.
12:18 - Just found out from watching Florida-Michigan that Simms' TD pass was his first in the Cotton Bowln his career. Holy shit.
- That makes two times I got great info on the UT game from watching the UF-UM game. And there's a reason for that - the Fox show is unbearable. They have 3 guys in the booth, and sometimes its silent for 20 seconds. They never seem to be talking about the play at hand. And the picture looks and sounds like I'm watching a 3 year old tape on SLP - the crowd sounds like its over a phoneline.
12:22 - Michigan's 3rd first down of the day, now 1/6 on 3rd downs.
12:23 - Why not throw it up? Michigan gets its 4th first down with Navarre to Braylan Edwards for 34 yards on a streak. First play I've seen today where Michigan completed a pass without a Florida guy grabbing him as soon as the ball got there. Still, UM can't run.
12:25 - what the fuck? Michigan's Bellamy, a wide receiver, takes the snap on a trick play, then fakes a hand-off to the running back, and then casually turns toward the line and runs for about 10 up the middle. Overall, the play looks like 22 guys on the field, all trying to take orders from somebody not talking loud enough. So now UM is on the 2.
12:26 - Didn't get in on 3rd down. Florida's D-line, when not dealing with trick plays, is unbelievable. They showed an overhead shot of the Dline - not ONE Michigan player moved over the goal line -every lineman got stood up at the line, all the receivers got jammed at the line and the running back got hit by a linebacker at the 2. Not one blue jersey in the endzone.
12:30 - Michigan, from the 1, gets the TD on 4th down. Sort of like Ohio State only backwards, UM actually leads a game they are getting whipped in. In 6 possession, UM had 49 yards. They got 83 yards on that drive, but most of that was a deep bomb, a trick play and a 1-yard 4th down. So we'll see.
12:33 - Back on Fox, where the whole world seems asleep - Cedric Benson takes it in from the 2. These announcers, in a stock-price voice, say, "He's in. Cedric Benson with a 2 yard touchdown" and then shut up for 30 seconds while we fail to hear anything except this murmur that might be the band. This Fox outfit is HORRIBLE. Apparently Roy Williams set this up with some crazy catch and run, which is what the color guy just said in 14 seconds he woke up this quarter. Not that Fox is going to show it.
12:36 - And get this - for halftime, Fox is showing BOTH BANDS. WHO shows bands during halftime? People stuck in the fucking stadium don't watch the bands. Ever heard of a studio show? How about 15 minutes of The Simpsons? Maybe Fox didn't know they were covering this game until, like, 3 days ago. If I was SBC, I'd pull the power to the Cotton Bowl
12:39 - Just re-showed Roy Williams' last catch - 60+ yards. He caught it on a quick slant, wrestled his way out of two LSU guys' grip to stay on his feet, and then outran everybody to inside the 5. Williams has 2 catches for 126 yards.
12:41 - and the Fox guy just gave Simms the credit for "bringing back Texas."
12:42 - Simms beats a blitz to find his TE over the middle for about 20 yards. Nice play.
12:43 - That's it, I'm staying with Michigan-Florida. While I was gone, UF got a field goal and leads 16-14. Now, first play back, Navarre over the middle to the TE for 43 yards, the crowd totally roars, the announcer is fired up, the color guy has the telestrator, this is the varsity.
12:44 - Navarre TD pass. Michigan has solved Florida and is ahead a legit 21-16. That was also about the 87th play decided by a slip - in this case, a Florida corner - on this rain-logged field.
12:47 - Here's what happened - I turned the TV and saw Roy Williams walk off the field after apparently some big play, and Simms hurries the team to the line and here's the snap - at least 15 seconds - and not a word from the Fox crew. And it turns out there is plenty to say since there's about 12 seconds left in the half and Simms' pass is caught too far inbounds, so Texas' field goal unit gets onto the field, lines up and kicks in about 7 seconds on a running clock. NICE work. Too bad he missed. 21-17 halftime, and LSU and Texas are ALMOST overcoming Fox's absolutely
12:48 - Back on ESPN, Grossman fumbles on a scramble - helped in no small part by a helmet-to-numbers shot from a linebacker. Hail Mary falls incomplete, and its 21-16 in Tampa.
2 Great first halfs. 4 big teams playing like big teams. Not only are the scores almost identical, but Michigan and Texas stayed close early only because of big turnovers from the D, and then went up on 2 late, length of the field drives.
1:01 - Halftime highlights - Boise State wins. Told ya so. Washington loses. Told ya so. Fresno State wins. Didn't tell ya so, but would have. And Maryland, who gave up 90 points in its last 2 bowls, beat Tennessee 30-3. Coach Fulmer, shaky for years, will never recover.
And just saw the last play of the Air Force game - how about that? Virginia Tech holds them off at the goal line, which included a heads up play by the AF QB, unable to get into the endzone, intentionally fumbling after the buzzer to try to keep the game alive.
"You are now operating on reserve battery power. Save your work now or-" click.
1:19 - You're looking LIIIVVEEEE at mandy's living room, and we're now plugged into the wall, off battery power, and Michigan opens with a 20 yard swing pass, right after ESPN notes that Florida leads 180 to 30 in rushing yards. We'll see if Navarre's arm remains up to the task.
1:20 - Florida is 106-2 in games holding their opponent under 21.
1:21 - LSU time of possession in the first half: 20:14.
1:23 - Florida can pass, too. Sandwiched between two Michigan guys, UF's Jacobs pulls in a lob pass that looks like a hook shot in reverse - he jumps, one hand goes up over the defense and the ball falls into it. Catch of the Day candidate .
1:25 - Two straight 15-or-so yard runs and Florida is on the move. That makes a crazy circus catch and two runs. Great plays by everybody except Grossman. Not really seeing a lot of Will-Grossman-Go-Pro drama.
1:26 - As Dre might say, 'soon as I said it, seems I got sweated" - Michigan just collapsed the pocket, forcing Grossman to scramble, and he promptly launched a 35 yard rope to Ratliff, coming across the endzone, wearing a defender. Gutsy, improvised, pinpoint touchdown throw, all Grossman. Florida 23-20.
1:31 - Who needs Roy Williams - or a running game - when you have Berlain Edwards? Navarre dumps it to him over the middle for maybe 5 yards, and he just outquicks Florida's entire secondary for 48 yards and damn near a TD. I might be done with Hook'em and Fox.
1:34 - UM: Two runs for first downs, they're inside the 10 and now it is Michigan on the move.
1:35 - RB Perry busts it over the middle, relatively unchallenged for his 3rd TD. 28-23 Michigan. First commercial of the half, let's get back to Dallas.
1:36 - where did Fox get these announcers, the Braves? They don't speak, and when they do, its like they're on the phone just off-mic and throwing in a few comments on the game when they get a break. LSU's dynamite QB Randall is hurt and not running well, and just got pissed off enough to pick up a flag and throw it at the official. Talk about your sure way to make sure you're about to be ankle-deep in more flags...
1:38 - Hook'em, when will you learn? With the unsportsmanlike penalty, LSU has a 3rd and 22 from inside the 10, Randall runs a draw play and the running back goes for almost 50 yards.
1:41 - "Now That's What I'm Talking About"
1:44 - Hook'em forces a fumble and recovers and the Fox guys suppress a yawn. I'm done with this game. Sorry Rabbi. ESPN's ingame highlights are more educational than the Fox guys, and LSU appears out of gas anyway, if UT can close.
And we all know how UT closes in the Cotton Bowl. Probably nothing to worry about.
1:45 - And just like that, Auburn-Penn State is underway, on no less than ABC! Goodbye Fox!
1:48 - Penn State blocks Auburn's early FG attempt and its 0-0.
1:49 - OK, I went back for one more glance at UT-LSU and on the one play I watched, Roy Williams didn't do anything but take a reverse and weave through half of LSU and carry the other half the last 5 yards into the endzone. 28-17 UT and say goodnight to Huey Long's Tigers.
1:51 - Here's the difference between ABC and Fox. ABC's XXX says, "its clear the QBs are going to have to start making some plays" - snap, Penn State QB Zack Mills keeps, comes down the line, turns up and runs for about 30. The Fox guys would have been too busy plugging Police Chases.
1:54 - We're back at Tampa, and Michigan is up 35-23. Damn. How did I miss that?
1:57 - On third down, Florida receiver Jacobs drops a perfect 45 yard Grossman pass in the endzone. Plays like that, made and unmade, make games. Florida punts and Michigan can now seriously clamp down if they score.
2:02 - I am ON FIRE with the remote. Checked in on UT for the first time in...13 minutes and as soon as I click over, UT pins LSU at the ONE on a punt. Stellar special teams and that's a closer-move. That play tells me UT is gonna ride this out.
2:03 - Mandy's BACK!!! She brought Movies including Inventing the Abbott's and here's how good I am at movies - I saw that probably 6 years ago and probably nobody remembers it and yet it took me 2 seconds to tell Mandy: "you see Jennifer Connally's boobs."
2:08 - Michigan is driving, eating clock, and ESPN tells us that NC State is up on Notre Dame, 21-3. Actually, that game started about an hour ago, but you won't be reading about it here. Not on NBC. No way. And Mike Gollic, the ESPN booth color guy, IS the guy from Swingers, John Lambraeu or whatever. No difference.
2:14 - Grossman takes over 88 yards away. BIG series.
1st play, Michigan drives him back and hits him in the endzone. Grossman almost sacked for a safety but gets rid of it.
2nd down - Grossman on a swing pass pass to the 33.
1st down - Grossman over the middle, under pressure for 14 yards.
1st down at the 50 - Florida tries a reverse which develops slow, but the UM linebacker misses the tackle for a loss and it goes for about 7.
2nd down - Grossman scrambles for the first down and if he'd done this all year, he'd be The Man.
2:17 - Just pointed out, The Big 10 is 3-0 in bowls so far. Quick update on UT - they're finishing off LSU 35-17.
2:18 - Uh oh. Grossman, being hit, dumps to TE Ben Troupe on the left flat who runs for the 1st then VAULTS the Michigan safety for 8 more yards. Florida, behind Grossman and a Playstation vault, are at the 3 yard line and the game is ON!
2:21 - TOUCHDOWN Florida, Grossman rifles - and I mean SMOKES - one to TE Aaron Walker in the endzone, who catches it standing up, all alone. 88 yards and it could have been 800. Grossman could have marched that drive to Orlando. Awesome, pressure effort. Let's see if Navarre can answer!
2:25 - Here comes Navarre.
- run for 2
- Swing pass, incomplete
- 3rd and 8 - Navarre pass batted down by Florida line.
- Punt
2:29 - On key 3rd down, Grossman sacked. Florida punts for 30 yards. This is a day of ATROCIOUS special teams.
2:30 - UM's Chris Perry takes a screen about 30 yards. Big play from Michigan.
2:38 - Mandy wants to be an Officer in the Alaska guard. This is WAY too big of news to be handed while Michigan is driving with under 5 minutes.
2:39 - Michigan FG, 38-30, 2:30 to go, Florida has 2 timeouts. Don't need to tell you what's shaping up.
- KO - return to the 27. 73 yards away.
- Michigan gets a sack with 1:23 remaining, timeout Florida.
STAT: Gators have not come back to win from a halftime deficit in a bowl since 1969.
2:44 - Wow. Grossman scrambles with nobody opens, heads to the sideline, runs out of bounds and gets HIT LATE for the 1st down. Tough call to make - he ran for it, the defense is playing hard, and that's just a case of too much hustle on UM.
- 1st down, Grossman, complete to the Mich 27, 1st down.
- Reverse, the receiver gets caught in the backfield and heaves it up to avoid the loss - INTERCEPTED, MICHIGAN WINS.
Kind of a shitty ending, but HELACIOUS football game, Judy social turmoil, Mandy's career and parental phone calls notwithstanding.
Michigan running back John Parry has 4 rushing TDs, though 3 of those were dives set up by Navarre, who passed for 319 yards.
Michigan safety Lavar Hobsen, who hit Grossman late on the last drive, makes the winning pick.
ANALYSIS: Where was this team against Ohio State? Well... maybe, just maybe, they were there, and Ohio State was just that good. But no. There's no way Ohio State has a better pass defense - 30 points better - than Florida.
2:51 - back in Dallas, first image I flip to is Bevo, UT's mascot, passed out on the sideline. He must be listening to these announcers. In the first minute of me watching, here is what they do: insult Simms for calling a time out ("you've got to be kidding.")
2:53 - Bevo is back on his feet.
2:54 - Simms picked off, and these Fox guys have achieved room temperature. I'm genuinely concerned that maybe 2 of them have stopped breathing. What if they're box is sealed and they ran out of air - or there's a Co2 leak - and we're really watching 3 guys DIE live and nobody knows? Here is ALL they said in about a minute of airtime: "Simms throws, that is... intercepted (exactly the same inflection as a traffic report)" "after all that they throw an interception."
2:56 - silence. Imagine somebody was watching this game on ABC and you were listening top their TV over a phone - or on Real Audio on a 14.4 modem - then you have an idea about the crowd noise Fox is managing to broadcast.
2:57 - "Over the middle it won't be enough, texas will take over at the 35 and the DPS is reporting slowing on I-35 through downtown Dallas."
2:59 - UT wins - Mack brown silently dunked in gatorade, the band silently ecstatic, players noiselessly yelling into cameras - just as Auburn comes out to kick off for the second half with Penn State in a 6-0 slug out. So we've got one game from here on out (not counting NC State and Notre Dame). Rose Bowl starts at 4:30, following this game.

(quick break for a nooner)
"Now That's What I'm Talkin' About!"thankee
3:19 - On 3rd and goal, Penn State stops Auburn on the 1, but Auburn converts on 4th down - just like Michigan did to get their first TD against Florida. Auburn gets its first points of the game late in the 3rd and 7-6.
By the way, we'll be adjorning to Jeremy's for the Georgia-FSU Sugar Bowl.
3:25 - ABC reminds the Big 10 is now 4-0, with Penn State trailing by one, and Iowa and Ohio State to come. Auburn LB Ratliff just sacked Mills, and Ratliff is from Valdosta, GA. Let's go Big V!
3:31 - ESPN is playing The Season with Florida State.
- it took about 32 seconds to see a lineman, at his apartment, with a white Escalade outside and a pet snake. Awesome.
- Post-game locker room tape after the Notre Dame loss - awesome. The black guys go NUTS over Chris Rix. The white guys stick up for him. Uh oh.
- Interview with Rix - Is this the Real World? Has anyone seen him and Steven from the Vegas show in the same room? He has the look-in-the-camera-and-don't -move-your-head technique nailed. He has totally mastered the I'm-totally-baring-my-soul look when he says, "and maybe that caused some issues with the team."
- This show just reminded me that Wake was up 24-3 on Florida State before they rallied back. Not an excuse for Oregon, but something to consider.
3:42 - McPhearson tanks against NC State, and then the bad check-thing emerges.
3:43 - 4th Q getting started between Aub and Penn State, still 7-6. Mills is out, some guy named Robinson is in at QB and as soon as I said that - boom - he turns a roll-out into a 20-yard sprint up the middle. He made 3 guys miss.
3:45 - Fallout from the McPherson deal - in an interview, Florida State's Anquon Bolder has the most ghetto-fab all-orange sweater-knit cap combo of the new year. This guy can get loose in the secondary against Florida AND direct traffic at an accident site. Unbelievable. Rix does his interview shirtless.
3:49 - Penn state field goal is good, but FLAG ON THE PLAY!
3:50 - kick is good, and comparing the coaches on The Season to the ones in this game, when is Joe Pa gonna get with the times and get some Thermo-orange-tineted Oakley death shades? Or is that just Southern Coaches? So far, Bowden, the NC state guy and a Georgia Tech guy all have them.
3:51: Back on ESPN, Chris Rix is DQed from the Sugar Bowl for oversleeping a test (whew - if those are the rules, fair to say my playing time in college would have been "limited"), so Bowden basicly has Trachelle AND Brynn thrown out of the house for the bowl game. Still, Rix's post banishment interview is Reality TV homerun. He fires up a nice-boy sweater, tips are frosted, hair gelled straight up, eyes moist but firm. It's a reality TV performance worthy of Trent Lott on BET.
4:00 - Quick 4-play microcosm of the Penn State-Auburn game. Penn State knocks auburn backwards for 3 plays, and Auburn punts them to the 1 yard line. There's 16 points on the scoreboard and I think they already cleared the Over.
4:02 - After being pinned at the 1, State fumbles at the 5, but gets it back. That would have been it for sure. Auburn takes the punt at the Penn State 40, 5 minutes to go, here comes nut cuttin' time.
4:07 - "Now That's What I'm Talking About"
4:08 - Auburn's kicker. HERE'S a storyline worth watching. Apparently, ol' Boy was All-SEC one year as a punter, then was All-AMERICAN last year as a field goal kicker - and this year is 8 for 15, and has been blocked once today. Talk about wheels comin' off. But it looks like he'll get his chance as Auburn is slowly grinding down inside the red zone.
4:10 - Never mind. Auburn RB vaults into the endzone on a 17 yard run with 2:09 remaining. AU goes for 2.
4:13 - Auburn's kicker, Duvall, kicks the KO out of bounds, giving PS an extra 15 yards. Jeeezzz.
4:14 - Larry Johnson, 72 yards on the ground. Auburn's main guy - 172. And NC State crushes ND, 28-7.
4:15 - WHAT IS THAT? So Mills throws to the TE, who gets the ball knocked loose, then the Auburn picks it up and rumbles 10 yards, no whistle. Once HE'S down, they say it was an incomplete pass for PS, which basicly let guys hit each other for an extra 5 seconds in a loose situation. Terrible refing.
4:16 - No doubt about that one - interception Auburn, and that should do it.
4:23 - WHAT? Auburn just DIDN'T punt on 4th and 14 at midfield, missed by forever on the attempt and now Penn State is driving at the 50. They would have stuck Penn State on their own 20. Now, after a 1st down pass, the Lions are at the AU 40. I've heard the AU coach is on the hot seat and couldn't see why, based on record, but based on that call, if they lose, I would say fire that coach.
4:27 - Here we go, Penn State faces 3rd and 10, from the 40ish, 9 seconds to go.
4:28 - Auburn wins, but close. Mills, about to be sacked, shovels the ball forward and two laterals later time expires.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Sugar - FSU-v-UGA

8:27 – You’re looking LIIIIVVEEEE at Jeremy’s apartment, a compulsively clean and orderly place owned by Mandy’s old friend Jeremy, who is all about the Gators and is dying to explain how Zook lost this morning’s game on that reverse in the closing minutes. He has a point. Grossman was on fire, why take the rock out of his hands? We’re usually at Jeremy Yards on Thursdays to watch Friends, but only when I can stomach that show, which is about once every 3 weeks. Scrubs helps, but really, somebody stop the bleeding on Friends. Casey, Jeremy’s roommate who got out of the Air Force and stayed in Valdosta, just showed too. Jeremy was out partying it up last night for New Years, so we may get stories about that as the night progresses.
Really looking forward to this game for three reasons: 1 – Florida State ALWAYS plays big just when you expect them to fold, and with BOTH of their QBs out for discipline, this is a textbook Owen Wilson/Dennis Leary scenerio. Never comfortable as the lead, always dropping unexpected games or losing major showdowns. But when backed into a corner, playing the #2 role (the Leary-as-cop role, Wilson-in-Zoolander role) nobody comes out swinging harder than Florida State.
2 – I love the coaching thing in this game, Georgia’s Richt versus Bowden. Richt told the Georgia press this week that nobody other than his dad has had more of an influence in his life than Bowden. And while Bowden is obviously not far off from getting out, Richt just re-upped for an unheard of 10 years at UGA. So this is clearly the graduation game for Richt from the Bowden protégé role. Best story of all the Bowls, by far.
3 – Can’t WAIT to see what Bowden is going to do with BOTH of his QBs out for dicipline.
And here we go…
8:30 - Lynn Swan starts off with a one-on-two interview of Richt and Bowden at the same time. Nice effort by Swanny. Bowden says he knows – just knows – Richt is going to be running out routes on him. Richt is way more serious and obviously wants to get this over with.
8:37 – UGA QB David Green is 20-5 as a starter and the SEC Offensive player of the year. Linebacker David Pollack is THE SEC Player of the Year, first defensive pick since the 80s. And he’s a sophomore.
8:39 – Booth guys, Gary Daniels and Bob Griese (is Keith Jackson OK? I can’t believe he would skip the Rose Bowl AND do another game without Griese) mention that UGA fans and players have been doing an inordinate amount of talking this week – believable here in Valdosta, georgia’s closest major population center to Tallahassee. “They’re forgetting,” an FSU guy supposedly said in return. “We’re Florida State.” I agree, on the Dennis Leary principle.
8:41 – We’re underway and in the proud line of great sounding names at FSU– Cedric McIntosh, Tamarick Vannover, Peter Boulware – we can now add sophomore Fabian Walker, who has attempted exactly 8 passes in his college career and is tonight’s QB, sent into the breach with Rix and McPherson gone. I’m calling him Fab from here on out. But if Fab F’s up, we’ll have a real treat – Mr. Orange Gear from this afternoon’s The Season, starting WR Anquan Boldin (ANOTHER great name) is Walker’s back-up at QB. Fab and Dr. Orange. Loving it.
8:44 – Fab can run! Facing 3rd down Fab sprints left, turns upfield, hits the circle button on his Dualshock 2 controller and 360-spins past two defenders for the first down. Most athletic play of the day since Troupe vaulted that Michigan guy.
8:45 – Fab can throw! Hits a lovely 20 yarder and the Seminoles are on the move!
8:50 – Fab can option! Fab keeps on third, but UGA’s run D bottles him up, led by Pollack and a senior cornerback who, in an upset over Fab, takes best name of the game - Boss Bailey.
8:52 – So what is with the Braveheart-like ad for Dominoes Cinamon sticks. I’ve been waiting all day to declare a dumbest ad winner, and I think this is it. Cinamon Melto-Fat buns or whatever, delivered by an army of face-painted, insult-the-memory-of-Braveheart geeks? What? THAT is supposed to make me run to the phone? And of all the things that might sell with pizza, who thought up Cinnamon Barf Rolls?
8:57 – Georgia goes up 3-0 on a mostly harmless opening drive.
9:02 – Kick off. Question kicking around the room right now: Chevy Avalanche – for or against? Mandy’s a longtime supporter and Casey is clearly in her camp. Jeremy hates it, but he drives a Ford F150, so he hates all Chevys. I think it looks like a transformer and rank it just above the Aztek for onroad silliness, but what do I know?
9:07 – First Jeremy story: he got jobbed at Xmas. He spent about $100 each on two sets of friends, and it looks like they got him stuff worth, tops, $20 each in return. That puts him $160 down on gift value. Ouch.
9:10 – Georgia intercepts Fab. Early game jitters, that’s all.
9:12 – “Now That’s What I’m Talkin’ About!”
9:15 – Fab is back in, throwing like crazy, hitting his tight end on 2 out of 3 plays. Prior to tonight, Florida State threw to the tight end 5 times ALL YEAR. Think they were afraid Richt might be on to them?
9:20 – Fab can dump! On a roaring UGA blitz, Fab gets off a quick dump over the middle to pick up 20. FAB!
9:21 – Fab can score! Fab rolls out left and hits no less than Dr. Orange for a TD and the lead, 7-3!
9:25 – AFLAC trivia question: Georgia wears small white and black bone stickers on their helmets. What do the colors mean?
9:26 – Guesses – offense and defensive big plays. But there are way more white bones than black bones to be seen on helmets. OK, how about white for a good play, black for a bad play (badge of shame-type deal). Or maybe white for a good play, black for Game MVP.
9:37 – Georgia brings in DJ Shockley at QB (ANOTHER stellar name – and that makes sense because Georgia and Florida State probably compete for more of the same players – from the same name pool – than any 2 schools in the nation). This is standard for Georgia, going to Shockley as the game progresses.
9:38 – Not standard: On his first snap, DJ Shockley Shock scrambles and coughs up the ball directly into an FSU linebacker’s arms, elicting a hardy “Motherfuck!” from Mandy and a “Oh my word, what the fuck was that?” That’s my girl.
9:41 – Boss Bailey pretty much single-handidly stops an FSU drive.
9:43 – First chink in the armor, Fab! UGA’s Bruce Thornton picks off Fab and runs untouched for a 70 yard TD return, 10-7 UGA.
9:44 – THE SLUTS JUST GOT HERE! Out of the wild blue, three dirty little things that Jeremy seems to know just showed up in full war paint, tank tops, sub-pelvic-lace-up jeans, navel rings and – between them – zero bras. Holy shit, Jeremiah, wha’chu got in that case!
9:48 - AFLAC answer – White for good plays in a game. Black for academic achievement. The sluts, now draped over each other in the classic, mildly sexual three-on-the-couch-in-the-space-for-2 position, don’t react.
9:51 – ABC zooms in on its second really ugly UGA cheerleader of the game, as UGA punts to FSU’s 38.
9:52 – So if I take the visuals of this last ad with any kind of seriousness, then Michelob Ultra is basicly Gatorade Beer. I mean, the ENTIRE AD was vague, blue-filter, low-angle shots of kayaking, mtn biking, soccer practice and tank-topped weight lifting and the Michelob Ultra label spun in the background. Sidenote: last night at the liquor store, Mandy wanted some Mich Ultra (which is actually decent beer, ludicrious ad campaign aside) and they were out and the liquor guy said, hey, get Miller Lite. Read the label – same carbs, same calories. And he’s right. Mich Ultra has 92 calories per bottle, Miller Lite 95. Coors Lite was right there at 102.
No, these things SHOULDN’T matter when picking beer, but if they DO, then there’s your answer.
Back in Jeremy Yards, I make a crack that Mich Ultra is really “Mtn Bike Beer” and the sluts giggle. The I say “you just pour it in your Camelback and you’re good for days” and get kind of a dead-eye do-I-laugh-now? look.
Overreached with the Camelback. Lesson learned.
9:53 – Shockley hits a 38 yard TD over the same short FSU corner who got beat on Notre Dame’s infamous first play.
9:56 – UGA’s #1 reciever has 933 yards on the year – the school record! NO receiver has ever gone for a grand at UGA. Wow.
9:58 – YES! The Fab Era comes to an end and here comes Dr. Orange to line up at QB! And right out of the gate, he Seneca Wallaces his ass upfield for a 1st down.
9:59 – PERFECT 60 yard pass from Dr. Orange into the endzone goes right through a reciever’s hands. Tragic and Big O is bent over in anguish.
10:02 – The sluts just left, and they’re still in the driveway when the shittalk starts. According to them, they aren’t going anywhere. Just out to see a movie, and then stopped by to see Jeremy, which Mandy doesn’t buy for a second because they were each dolled up in full Saturday night battle gear. One is somebody’s boyfriend, but he threw her out last night. The other two – the cute one and the pudgy one (Jeremy’s word) – are sisters. “The oldest among ‘em wasn’t but 21,” says Jeremy. Mandy seems to think one of them likes him. We’ll never know. Strange little episode.
10:03 – Mandy on the sluts: “Those were beer drinking shirts. You wear those to get your free beer.” I hate chicks.
10:07 – Halftime, time of possession – FSU 22:40, UGA 7:20. Michigan and Florida showed us how much that matters. UGA, actually, scored 2 TDs in 18 seconds.
10:15 – Interview with Ken Dorsey. OK, I’ll say it. Are we sure he’s not really Toby McGuire? He even talks with that lilting almost-geek-but-cool akwardness. And – and this had been on my mind ALL SEASON – watch Dorsey’s uniform. He wears #11.
Now, there is something about the numbers on his jersey – to my eye, the “1”s appear to be the EXACT dimensions in shape (width/height ratio) and distance apart to EXACTLY mirror the dimensions of the World Trade Center. Seriously. And I’m not looking for ghosts – I’ve never seen another “11” printed somewhere and thought “Hey! World Trade Center!” Just look at his jersey and see what you think – I think the key ratios are right on.
And onto the second half….
10:30 – Worst halftime gimmick ever. A guy from Ft. Worth just won $200,000 for identifying a bunch of college mascots on a TV screen. God, was that bad.
10:32 – Jeremy Story #2 (unless you count the sluts, which would make this #3) This one’s about his buddy Mike Moran, who don’t give a fuck. This makes the SECOND buddy named Mike Moran in Georgia I know second-hand, neither of whom give a fuck. The other is Randall Wilkes’ buddy Mike Moran.
How little of a fuck does Jeremy’s Mike Moran give? Well, try this – On a dare (of course) he once crumpled up a Burger King aluminum ashtray into a ball and swallowed it. “He had to go to the hospital,” said Jeremy, “But he won the bet.”
I will miss Georgia because of Mike Moran.
10:39 – Mousa Smith, UGA’s stellar running back, breaks 1000 yards on the year, UGA’s first 1000 yard rusher since Garrison Hearst.
10:42 – UGA goes up 20-7, and we’re going home.
10:56 – Just got home and UGA tacked on a FG.
11:00 – 12 hours of football. OVER HALF OF MY YEAR! YES!
11:11 – I’m in bed at 11 past 11, and apropos of nothing, ABC takes this moment to tell us that Florida State played 11 bowl teams this year.
11:12 – Dr. Orange makes a Roy Williams-esque crossfield run for a first down.
11:13 – Dr Orange goes back to the long ball and connects for a 40 yard TD. I knew that was good the instant he threw it. NO WAY FSU’s receivers drop TWO sure-TD passes from Dr. Orange – who himself is a receiver – in the same game. No way. It’s almost a ballgame again, 23-13.
11:19 – UGA is 1/7 on third downs, which is trending like the UGA-Florida game where they went 0/13… only they just converted one to keep a drive alive, so that makes them 2/8 and Florida State is starting to slacken.
Over the next 40 minutes, Florida State obviously has no idea what to do on offense and Georgia gets bored of watching them. It’s basicly Dr. Orange handing off or Dr. Orange trying to scramble, and UGA’s defense is too fast to do either on without the threat of a pass. There is no order or method to it at all. This game is over.
MIDNIGHT – With 1 minute to play, FSU misses a 4th down and that’s your ballgame. I think Florida State would have won with a real QB. Dr. Orange knew 2 plays – throw deep or run around – and he kept it close. A practiced passing attack probably would have won this.

Final results -
Best game, by far: Michigan-Florida. And Jeremy may be right – Zook might have legitimately cost them that game in the last minute. That reverse-pass was idiotic.
Best team, by far: Oklahoma. Every inch the sumbitches we all thought would be playing – and beating – Miami in a showdown of the last 2 National Champs. Ferocious defense. At least as good as the D that won it all in 2000.
Best player: Roy Williams was tough. Grossman at times was just unbelievable. LSU’s QB was great until he got hurt. And Fab and Dr. Orange were the most fun to watch. But OU’s Woolfolk took 10 points off the board for Washington State and led the secondary that totally shuttered WSU’s passing game. Woolfolk, MVP
Next big thing: Fab! Homeboy can ball.
Special awards: WSU’s defense, which didn’t surrender until late, despite the hopeless avalanche their offense was under; Florida State’s O, for putting on a show; Fox for the worst football coverage since the Heidi game; Tampa Bay and Pasadena, tied for best weather; me, for ignoring Notre Dame for 13 hours.
Finals: Big 10 – for real. Pac 10 – pathetic. Big 12 – monster. SEC – Maybe a step behind.

That was fun. Doing it again for SC-Iowa!

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.

Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State-v-Miami

9:40 – You’re looking LIIIIIVVVVEEEEE at Jeremy Yards, and we’ve got Jeremy and Casey, plus regulars Jason and Kristy, along with the batman and Mandy. Jason and Kristy are a fun twosome who had an alcohol-free wedding reception.
9:41 - Right now it’s the Batman flying solo with the remote cuz all of the above are out back smoking. Mandy smokes only when she drinks, which is tonight. But in a greater sense, Georgians kills me – their gene pool is allergic to cold. My girlfriend brings jackets and gloves to movie theatres. But its got to be in the low 50s-high 40s out there, the wind is whipping through the pines and the air – as always – is heavy with moisture. I know cold and it’s BRUTAL out there – yet they all run outside to smoke.
9:44 – You know the Outback ad where the guy is making dinner and he says, “it’s my mom’s special recipe” and its this hideous dirt-pie in corningwear and the girl puts the dog on the table to start eating it? Same idea with Kristy’s contribution to the evening: green bean casserole.
9:54 – There’s another guy here whose name I forget – He’s been around for a few Friends episodes and kind fits that ambiguously gay category. He starts quizzing me, what’s your favorite TV show (he can’t understand how I don’t like Friends), what’s your favorite car, what kind of music do you like. Once again, glad I left the Frankie Goes to Hollywood t-shirt on the hanger.
9:57 – Kirk Herbstreet, on the pregame show, tells us there are flyers circulating South Florida for a “victory party” tomorrow night, hosted by Willis McGahee. And Corso – who was 1-11 on the year – just picked the Canes. Karma wise, the rout is on.
8:00 – Keith Jackson (FINALLY!) opens with a Woody Hayes quote, “Anything easy ain’t worth a damn.” Nice. Keith, we missed ya.
8:01 – Jeremy just pulled the steaks off the grill. Wow. I think he skipped Winn Dixie (meat for the masses) and got these from Publix (upscale, recycled-grocery-bags-to-load-in-the-Rover grocery store). Good decision. This is exactly the kind of steak you will NEVER see at Outback.
8:03 – Just got the word – THE SLUTS ARE COMING BACK! Yes.’
8:04 – ABC cuts to commercial with Limp’s Rollin, which is as good a time as any to go get a hot roll. Jeremy is all about good chow. By the way – is playing cheesy florida-band Limp Bizkit at all prejudicial for ABC?
8:07 – Let’s get this out of the way early: The Bowflex ad on right now guarantees you “the body you want” in “just 6 weeks.” Really? It’ll get me in shape in just 6 weeks? We are a nation of sheep.
8:10 – The Air Force Singing Sergeants do the national anthem. Yes, that’s 100 times better than SheDaisy, and yes, everyone with a real job in the Air Force despises and giggles at the people who draw their paychecks doing Up With People gigs.
8:16 – Coin flip, featuring the astronauts of shuttle mission 110 – I DID THAT! I was on the TAL support for 110 about 6 weeks ago! They launched the night SC crushed UCLA. I would say that game was a “launching pad” for Blaine to the Heisman and SC to the big time but… well, I guess I did. I’ll take a lap.
8:17 – Dan Fouts is no Coy Detmer, but he is STILL an ugly man.
8:18 – Ohio State’s Tressel won 4 national titles at Youngstown State. That goes for quite a bit – his staff and his key players will probably be very disciplined and organized in the clutch.
8:19 – They show a tape of Miam’s Coker, and Jeremy – who is 5-11 of good ol’ boy - says, “Know who he sounds like? John Michaels daddy. Don’ he sound like John Michaels Daddy?” I love Georgia.
8:20 – We’re underway! And on OSU’s first play, there’s a flag before the snap. The game is already dragging.
8:21 – As Clarett is dropped for a loss, we’re told OSU’s whole line is juniors. Michigan and Ohio State might be 1-2 in next seasons preseason.
8:22 – His offense otherwise useless, QB Krenzel takes off up the middle and gets 8. He looks like he wants to play.
8:23 – Punt. Kristy, in a discussion of the Sluts Wednesday night outfits, says, “We’ll see what they wear tonight when it’s damn 40 degrees out!” Kristy, in small doses, kills me.
8:24 – Dorsey takes a sack and calls timeout with only 27 minutes to play in the half.
8:27 – The stats tell us OSU is awesome against the rush, but bad against the pass. Iowa had exactly the same stats.
8:28 – Miami picks up the first with a pass over the middle.
8:32 – After 2 first downs, Dorsey takes a sack, his second tonight versus 17 in the last 2 years. A Miami punt pins OSU at the 1.
8:41 – Dorsey’s first big pass, over the middle for 30 to Kelvin Winslow.
8:43 – Miami burns another TD – get ready for a touchdown. I don’t see Miami wasting 2 timeouts in the first 10 minutes with no points.
8:44 – “Now That’s What I’m Talkin’ About !” yes!
8:46 – Incomplete.
8:47 – OSU sends a HUGE blitz – Mike Doss right up the middle, untouched, full sprint. Dorsey does a little “ole!” to the left, Doss flies by him, Dorsey delivers over the middle for a TD, 7-0 Miami. That looked easy, Timeout snafus aside.
8:49 – OSU goes deep, and one Miami DB volleyballs it to another for an INT. We’re an out-and-up away from a blowout.
8:50 – Jeremy emerges from his bedroom wearing a well-worn “” shirt. He hates the guy. He can’t even talk about the reverse against Michigan.
8:53 – Miami punts. OSU has managed to hold against the emerging avalanche. McGahee can’t seem to run, which is a big part.
8:55 – With 28 seconds in the Q, OSU picks up its first first-down.
9:00 – Clarett keeps when he should have handed-off on a reverse, and gets dropped for a loss when the entire Buckeye team is on the other side of the field, expecting to block for the reverse. OSU’s defense is holding, but the offense is still on the bus.
9:01 – Krenzel looks confused.
9:06 – Psycho Hose Beasts are stalking Shane! Shane’s is guy who is from here and is now a Secret Service agent in DC (for now, his job is foreign diplomat details, taking the president of Zambia to the DC Galleria and shit) and apparently he’s in town for the holidays. And he’s being stalked by a girlfriend-hoochie of unclear origin. Also, he weighs, tops 110. So Kristy just left to go let Shane put his truck in their garage, so the hose beast won’t know he’s still in town if she drive-bys their house.
9:07 – Dorsey Intercepted. I thought that wasn’t supposed to happen. I thought Dorsey was unpickable, OSU non-pick-capable. OSU is sticking around against a better team, just like Michigan did with Florida.
9:08 – Slut #3 arrives, with her golfer boyfriend. I’m not sure if it’s the Callaway cap or the golf sweater with cheesy crest, but either way, this guy is broadcasting his golfness.
9:10 – Clarett takes the ball and dances behind the line until somebody hits him. And Mr. Callaway has a 100 bucks on Miami.
9:11 – Delay of game on OSU. That’s 4 penalties (Iowa had 5 in the first half).
9:12 – WHAT? OSU tries a fake field goal and goes nowhere. They have an All American kicker. What was that? Worse, they executed it in slow mo. Niether team is charging in this game. That’s the only word I can think of.
9:13 – AFLAC trivia question: last national champ to be led in rushing by a freshman – Gotta be Georgia.
9:17 – Dorsey on 2nd and 11 throws for 15. That looked easy.
9:21 – Interception, OSU on a perfect Dorsey throw that his receiver cold missed. They are letting OSU stay in this game.
9:21 – Clarett gets 5, and the AFLAC Q is Georgia and Hershell Walker.
9:23 – Krenzel thows in the endzone, but its caught out of bounds.
9:27 – Gutsy? Krenzel takes a 4th and goal and pushes in, twisting out of the arms of two Miami guys. That looked and felt more like a desperation playcall than anything grounded in confidence. Shane just walked in with Kristy: Apparently, he messed with some girl here or in Jacksonville, or maybe both, and now she won’t let it go. Apparently, when they were driving from Valdosta to Jax, one of his DC hotties called his cell, and he made the mistake of answering. Now he’s hiding vehicles in friends houses and counting the days until he gets back to the Pres. Of Zambia.
9:33 – OSU strips Dorsey for a fumble, and Miami is officially in full retreat. Not like Rutgers, is it Ken? Or Temple? Seriously, I’m getting pissed thinking about this.
9:36 – Clarett winds it in for TD, OSU’s second in about 2 minutes and like Michigan against Florida, Ohio State is winning a game they shouldn’t be in.
– on the U of Miami commercial, between the pictures of microscopes and libraries and volleyball games, they squeeze in the bouncing image of the 3 blondes in the stands from FSU game. I KNEW they were going to make the big time.
- Ladies and Gentlemen… Warren Sapp’s sweater. Just something about Miami…
9:57 – The Eddie George-Warren Sapp halftime was the perfect way to fill the time. No bands, no stage shows, no idiotic onfield contests. Just get two alums from the pros to sit there and show how much this game means.
9:58 – I’ve decided on the most shameful ad campaign of the season: Selling Pontiacs with James Brown songs.
9:59 – I spoke too soon. We have a VERY stupid halftime contest, cheerleaders kicking field goals. And it involves GUY cheerleaders. This is sickening.
10:00 – Miami’s guy kicks wide right. Irony y’all.
10:02 – That was painful. OSU was 2 for 2, Miami missed both, and Kristy recounted the time from her cheerleading days she jumped up for a toe touch and ended up falling on her ass.
10:06 – Miami is quitting. On a third down swing pass, the receiver pulls up and tries a pretty spin – and misses the first – where if he would have put his head down and dove,he would have got it. And the marker was at his feet, so there’s no way he missed it.
10:10 Krenzel is the game’s leading rusher.
10:13 – OSU busts a 57 yard pass, longest of the year. First hint of offense all night.
10:14 – WOW. I think OSU is going to win. Miami intercepted in the endzone, but Clarett came across the field and stripped the ball back from the DB. Am I the only guy who just flashed DIE-RECTLY back to the 93 Alabama game in the Sugar Bowl? That was pure hard work. That’s the first indication from either team that they came to play.
10:15 – Brandt says “Clarett stripped him from behind.” Callaway says “I feel like I took it from behind.”
10:16 – Somebody asks him why he bet Miami. Cuz he needs to get back his 100 from betting on Florida State. And why would he have bet a quarterback-less FSU? “I like the underdog,” he says. Mandy says, “Well, you bet on the wrong dawgs!” He’s already a C-note in the hole and staring at another, but Mandy piles on anyway – that’s my girl.
10:17 – Field goal, Ohio State, 17-7. Clarett’s play aside, this game sucks. The phone just rang.
10:18 – Now THIS is unbelievable. The phone call delivers the news that the other two Sluts, sisters, won’t be coming because their mom went out of town and got married this week and didn’t tell anybody and they just found out. I will SO miss Georgia.
10:20 – I am RUNNING this broadcast. ABC just cut away to a highlight of the 1993 Sugar Bowl, and the infamous strip. My commentary over the clip: “Oh look at me I’m so good I play for Miami and I- Oh NO where’d my ball go, I guess I suck!!!” Picked up some GORGEOUS stink-eye from Callaway.
10:29 – OSU is on the move, with a nice pass play, but out of bounds. I think both teams are trying to do things, but they aren’t executing at all. Not blocking, not catching, not anything. And the defenses are just benefiting from the mess.
10:30 – Punt out of bounds. Poor execution.
10:36 – Dorsey throws incomplete, with nobody nearby. Somebody ran the wrong route. Execution.
10:35 – Winslow picks up a big 20+ down the middle.
10:36 – McGahee arrives. He picks up a right side run, and scrambles through defenders like he means it for an extra 5.
10:37 – Incomplete, wrong route in the endzone.
10:39 – Timeout Miami. Around the room, a discussion on the evening’s grilling turns into a tube steak-and-marinade jokefest. Not my kind of humor but at least people are distracting themselves from this game.
10:40 – Miami picks up a third down for a first and goal.
10:41 – McGahee TD, 17-14. Is Miami finally waking up to take control here?
10:50 – OSU goes 3 and out and will punt on the 4th’s first play.
10:53 – McGahee drives for a first down. He and Miami are in a rhythm.
10:54 – First down Miami, and Callaway is like to burst.
10:56 – Winslow – Huge catch for a first on third down. Winslow can play. IN fact, OSU can’t stop him.
10:59 – Don’t look at it! McGahee just torqued his knee BIG time. Oh man, that is gruesome. It’s not Krumerie, or whoever that Browns guy was in the Super Bowl, but it’s definetly rated M for mature in slow-mo. No reason why Miami can’t keep on without him, but that is hard to watch.
11:00 – Field goal attempt – 54 yards. Not even close. Somebody check and see if that wasn’t one of those halftime cheerleaders.
11:04 – Krenzel gets WWE crushed on a sack.
11:09 – Krenzel reminds Mandy of Case Spencer, a guy from High School she says she should have snapped up. You mean the quarterback? I say. No, she says, he didn’t play football, you just thought his name sounded like a quarterback when I told you.
Oh. THAT Case Spencer.
11:10 – OSU attempts a FG – wide right. Callaway called it. I’m not sure which team wants to win less.
11:13 – Winslow for 13 yards.
11:14 – Winslow for 12 yards.
11:16 – Callaway and Kristy just played the racial card as Miami fumbles.
11:19 – Clarett comes off with a cramp. There’s no excuse for that. That’s just not drinking water, and it’s 2003. There’s no way an athlete, in cool desert air, should cramp up.
11:20 – Krenzel on third down without Clarett, scrambles forward, puts his head down and gets the first. Krenzel and Winslow, and a few guys on the defense, are the only two guys who want to win.
11:24 – The Garth Dr. Pepper ad turns into a discussion of his maritial problems. Yip, this shootout has really got a stranglehold on this group’s attention.
11:26 – OSU punt.
11:27 – Callaway: “Give that N-r some room!”
11:29 – Dorsey takes a sack: “Stupid cracker!” At least he’s consistent, and in his defense, he’s looking at $200.
11:30 – 3 seconds to go, down to this Miami field goal.
11:31 – Callaway goes outside to smoke. Apparently, racial shit behind him, he’s spent. Timeout on the field.
11:32 – Miami guy is 3-for-6 this year from this distance. Considering the situation, this is so not-exciting.
11:34 – We’re going to OOOOVERTIME!

Me and Callaway agree on one thing – OU or SC would be walking away with a 20 point win right now against either of these teams. I guess this might be a great defensive game and I’m missing it, but no, I just see missed opportunites and uninspired play. Except for Winslow and Krenzel, and Clarett on that strip. Winslow is a man.

11:40 – Miami picks up a 3rd and 1 and Winslow scores the TD for Miami. Back on the bench, Dorsey pulls his guys together and yells “This ain’t over! Get it in your mind you have to go back out there! Get in your mind right now!” I remember watching him do the same thing against FSU. He looks a lot less like Toby McGuire when he does that.
11:50 – After a sack and some incompletes, OSU picks up a 4th-and-15 with a PERFECT out route to Jenkins. This game won’t die.
11:51 – Krenzel scrambles up the middle and takes ANOTHER lick. I think he’s gotten hit more than any two guys on his team. Krenzel’s a gamer.
11:53 – pass interference on Miami on the would-be game winner. I don’t know about the call, but the corner was cold-beat on the play so it seems fitting. Miami came off the bench and had to go back. That has to be a major buzzkill.
11:01 – Clarett scores. And they get a motion penalty on the PAT! Come on… 2nd OT
11:04 – After Krenzel mixes in some passes, Clarett takes it in on a nice dive up the middle.
11:05 – On second down, Dorsey gets absolutely wrung up. He tries to get up and falls over. He’s out. Huge hit. Can Miami get in the endzone without the 4th and 5th Hiesman vote getters?
11:06 – Back up Crudup is in. I’d call a fade to the EZ corner. Last thing OSU would expect.
11:08 – After Crudup connects for 8 yards, Dorsey comes in on 4th down. Nice. These aren’t the two best teams in America, but they got guts. Over on the couch, Jason just figured out, in a separate conversation, that the Bears played the Patriots in the Super Bowl in 86 cuz he “knew it was the team with the guy squatting on the helmet.” Yip, that’s the Pats.
11:10 – 4th and 3, season on the line. I wonder if they’ll go to Winslow. Gee, I can’t stand the suspense.
11:11 – WINSLOW! Wow. That OSU didn’t throw a net over him on that snap is unbelievable. And he draws a face mask!
11:13 – There have been 187 plays in this game. OSU Gamble has played 118 of them. I’d throw at him.
Miami at the 2 – Run for No gain. Incomplete. No gain on a run. Could McGahee have got it? Good question. OSU is playing tough, but then, Miami is Miami and they can’t pick up 2 yards for a national title?
11:17 – 4th down. Can I get down my car title and a year of paychecks on this play going to Winslow?
11:18 – Your 2002 National Champion, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Callaway: “Fuck this shit, we’re going home.” He and slut #3 are gone before Dorsey pulls himself off the turf.

Bottom line: Miami turned the ball over 5 times and it still Ohio State 3 fourth downs, a bad penalty and 2 OTs to beat them.
They played hard. They put on a dramatic show. Dorsey is a man, Krenzel (the game’s leading rusher – 81 yds to Miami’s team total of 65) is a man, Clarett is just flat gifted beyond anybody else on the field, Doss can bring heat and Winslow might be the best college player in America (11 catches for 122).
And SC or Oklahoma would have beat either one by 20.