Editor's Note: Dr Football submitted his article BEFORE the decision was made to postpone the game. The decision was made to run the column anyhow
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Georgia Tech fans will have water on the brain for several reasons this week as the Jackets prepare for their Orange Bowl showdown with Miami.
First and foremost is the fact that Hurricane Wilma is gathering strength in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to move slowly toward the west coast of Florida as the 12 noon kickoff approaches. Will it come blowing through Miami and force the game to be called off, as the season opener against Virginia Tech was called off in 2000 because of a horrendous electrical storm?
Right now, I'm still optimistic. Tracking maps at the National Hurricane Center indicate that Wilma will be west and north of Cuba at 2 p.m. Saturday, which is about when the second half will be starting, but that may not be good enough. Since I'm writing this early in the week, there is also the possibility that the game could be moved up to Friday or pushed back to sometime in November.
Even if the game should be called off or postponed, Tech's players could be facing a water hazard if they stay back on their own campus. As was reported by the media last week, a Tech freshman was arrested for making water-bottle bombs, one of which exploded and caused two dorms to be evacuated.
Now, it turns out that this student was a nuclear and radiological engineering major, which leads me to this inevitable conclusion: I think we now know what happened to some of those WMDs that were never found in Iraq.
The campus has been secured and a suspect has been charged with making the bombs, but the unfortunate fallout from this incident is that our Second Amendment right to bear exploding water bottles is now under assault. As one of my libertarian Tech friends reminded me, "When exploding water bottles are outlawed, only outlaws will have exploding water bottles."
But anyway – we'll assume that the Jackets will be able to play in Miami as scheduled and that the only bombs to be thrown will be those that Reggie Ball tosses to Calvin Johnson.
Last week's game against Duke – when Tech finally awoke from its sleepwalking state to put away the Dukies with four touchdowns in the third quarter – shows that you can never have enough running backs. When P. J. Daniels went down in the first half with an injury, Tashard Choice stepped in nicely and registered his first 100-yard game with Tech. I'm glad we've got Choice back there (although I also hope Daniels recovers enough to suit up against Miami this weekend.)
As shown by their performance against Duke, Tech's special teams continue to look poorly coached and prepared. Two consecutive roughing-the-kicker penalties? Really, that's ridiculous. Then add to that a boneheaded call to run the ball on fourth down, which went exactly nowhere. Chan, it's been clear for a long time that you need a new quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. It's time to think about some changes at special teams coach as well.
I went to my local sports bar to watch the Tech-Duke game and was able to see the Southern Cal-Notre Dame matchup at the same time on an adjoining big-screen TV. Lucky me – that was one of the most exciting games any of us will ever be privileged to see. It is obvious that this year's Heisman Trophy winner should be either Matt Leinart or Reggie Bush of the Trojans. After watching them pull out that victory over the Irish, I still don't know which of those two I would vote for. Bush made big plays all game and slithered through the Notre Dame defense for three touchdowns. Leinart faced the most crucial play of his entire college career – fourth and nine deep in his own territory, with less than two minutes to play – and floated a 61-yard pass play to Dwayne Jarrett to set up the winning touchdown, which Leinart scored. That is coolness under pressure – which is the mark of a champion.
Is there some way that Leinart and Bush could share the trophy this year?
The release of the first BCS poll shows that, once again, the SEC is not living up to its hairy-chested boasts that it's the strongest conference in college football. Southern Cal, Texas and Virginia Tech are way ahead of any SEC team in the standings, which means that an SEC team could finish undefeated again this year and still not be invited to the big game.
The Georgia and Alabama fans are already crying about this "injustice," but I think the SEC is getting what it richly deserves. The SEC schools have always been the ones who fought the hardest to keep the discredited, corrupt bowl system in place and keep out a true playoff system that would decide a legitimate national champion. Okay, fine. You've got your bowl system. You're also not going to get a chance to play for a national championship. That seems fair to me.
One other word to all you SEC fans – if you want your teams to be considered for the BCS championship game, then you need to tell your athletic directors to start scheduling out-of-conference opponents that are a little more challenging than Louisiana-Monroe, Boise State, and Middle Tennessee.
I'll step down off my soapbox and take a question.
Q. I hope things improve. Been a fan since 1946, and I don't believe I have seen it this bad in all my years, except the Lewis era.
A. I'll agree that things aren't perfect, but I will give Chan Gailey all due credit for the way Tech made the necessary adjustments at halftime against Duke to put the game away in the second half. Now, if only he could fix it so that Tech played that well in the first half.
Q. What's the deal with Miami firing one of its assistant coaches in the middle of the season?
A. That is one of the big mysteries of this college season. Miami Coach Larry Coker canned his defensive line coach, Greg Mark, on Monday, but won't say why he did it. "This is a private, in-house matter and I will have no further comment," Coker told the media. When this kind of stuff used to happen at Oklahoma under Barry Switzer, you could speculate that someone had gotten arrested for discharging a firearm in a dormitory or was doing the nasty with someone else's wife, but on this one we don't have a clue. I only hope that the resulting turmoil on the Miami team can somehow work to Tech's advantage this weekend (if the game is even played, of course).
Well, it's about time for me to wind this up. Someone just put a water bottle on my door step, so I probably ought to check it out. Before I do, here are this week's picks –
Virginia Tech at Maryland. The Hokies are methodically grinding their way towards the ACC championship game. It's hard to see the Terps beating the 10-point spread here.
Georgia Tech at Miami. If the game is actually played, I would be tempted to grab those 16 points and put my money on the Jackets.
Northwestern at Michigan State. The Spartans are 12-point favorites at home, but Randy Walker and the Wildcats are surprising people this year. I think they can surprise them again on Saturday.
Florida State at Duke. The Bataan death march continues for the Blue Devils, who won't come within 30 points of the Seminoles – especially with FSU still seething over that loss to Virginia.
N. C. State at Wake Forest. Watching the Wolfpack get blown out by Clemson last week makes me even angrier that Tech didn't put them away the week before. If the Jackets could have taken care of business, it would have put another nail in Chuck Amato's coffin and put the N. C. State program in free fall. We'll have to rely on Wake Forest to do that in this pick ‘em game.
Virginia at North Carolina. The Cavs may still be floating after that victory over FSU. Is John Bunting savvy enough to take advantage of that? Oh, get serious.
Arkansas at Georgia. The fans of the trembling chihuahuas will tell you that their victory over the Razorbacks entitles them to a slot in the BCS championship. Boo-freaking-hoo. You're not going there.
Temple at Clemson. This is where Tommy Bowden kicks his annual salary drive into high gear and wraps up another one-year extension on his contract.
Tennessee at Alabama. I thought this one was supposed to be played on "the third Saturday in October." This Saturday will be the fourth one for the month of October, unless I've completely forgotten how to read a calendar. Another example of the lax academic standards at SEC schools. Take Tennessee and the three points.
Texas Tech at Texas. The Longhorns are 16-point favorites at home, which I think is way too much. The Red Raiders have been stomping some testicles this year with their pass-on-every-down offense and should be good to beat that spread even if they don't win outright.
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