Please tell me this is rock bottom. Wait, didn't I just write that last week?
It's the holiday season, and I'm tired of negatively writing the same thing over and over again each Monday. To come out and play like that on Senior Day is an embarrassment, is inexcusable, and is inexplicable.
I got a feeling it's going to be an interesting offseason. Beyond that,
I really don't have anything else to say about the game this week. Like you, I'll be waiting with baited breath for ESPN.com's bottom 10 ratings to come out.
Dan McCarney at the Greater Des Moines Cyclone Club
The ISU football coach had some very interesting things to say on Friday at the final Greater Des Moines Cyclone Club outing of the football season. Here are some of the key tidbits I reported on our premium board three days ago.
- Mac would not address any specific coaching changes until after the season. However, he did say that the nucleus of his staff would be back for sure. Now let the speculation begin as to who is or isn't in that sphere of influence. Mac said at the end of the season that if he decides any of the coaches are not doing their job they would be gone.
- No matter whom they sign in recruiting, there is no way that Todd Blythe and Milan Moses will not be the starting wide receivers next year. Mac says Blythe has been running smack while burning the defensive backs from the first day of practice and has a chance to be one of the best ever at ISU at that position.
- Cornerback Anthony Forrest's career is over. Mac said he doesn't believe that he can hack it academically with three kids and doesn't want to count on him anymore. Forrest, you might remember, was an eleventh hour academic casualty right before the season started.
- Tyson Smith's medical redshirt is a go and that he will be moved to WILL linebacker next fall.
- Hiawatha Rutland's career is over and he will never play football again. Right now the ISU doctors are still struggling to get the feeling back in his leg and foot.
- Over 90 percent of the 27 seniors that suited up for the home-finale on Saturday are on pace to graduate. No matter what you think about this stinker of a season, that is something to be proud of.
- Don't look for the "intriguing" – for lack of a better word – quarterback battle to involve anymore players next spring beyond Waye Terry, Austin Flynn, Cris Love, and Brett Meyer. That's because Mac was asked about JUCO QB commitment Terrence Highsmith. While saying he couldn't talk specifically about recruiting, he did say that any JUCO quarterbacks signed would probably end up with wide receivers coach Mike Grant. On a side note, I guess that indicates that Coach Grant is in that nucleus of coaches that will be back next year.
- Don't look for a bunch of JUCO quick fixes in recruiting this winter. Mac said the foundation of recruiting will continue to be high school players, and no longer would JUCOs that are not immediately qualified academically be considered after being letdown several times the past few years right by ineligible recruits right before the season started.
- Every position but place kicker and punter will be recruited this winter since Josh Griehbahn, Troy Blankenship, and Tony Yelk will handle those duties in 2004.
My Top 25
Ranking the top teams in college football this week.
1. Oklahoma (11-0)…The final regular season stop for the Sooner Schooner Sugar Bowl Express is Lubbock for a clash with Texas Tech's pass-happy, quirky offense. So much for B.J. Symons' Heisman campaign.
2. USC (9-1)…The Trojans just keep winning and winning impressively, but this week they'll fall in the BCS ratings because of a weak schedule. Outside of Ann Arbor, nobody else is rooting harder for the Maize-n-Blue this weekend.
3. Ohio State (10-1)…The defending champs get extra credit this week for winning a third game this season – and second one against a top-10 team – without the benefit of an offensive touchdown. The Luckeyes are destiny's darling again.
4. LSU (9-1)…Looked impressive in beating up a beaten up Alabama squad for a rare win in Tuscaloosa. However, a much sterner test awaits in Oxford, Mississippi.
5. Michigan (9-2)…It's the 100th meeting all-time between the Buckeyes and Wolverines, and wouldn't you know it, it's for all the marbles—again. If Michigan wins it will win convincingly, because it's impossible to beat OSU in a close one.
6. Texas (9-2)…The computers love the Longhorns, and that – along with their huge fan following – could be enough to land them an at-large berth in the BCS if they avoid the upset at Texas A&M in two weeks.
7. Mississippi (8-2)…It's the biggest home game for Ole Miss since…well…since forever. LSU is thinking national title with a great defense, while the Rebels are thinking SEC title with a potent offense.
8. Georgia (8-2)…The ‘Dawgs are in the driver's seat to represent the SEC East in the conference title game if they can beat lowly Kentucky this weekend in Athens.
9. Tennessee (8-2)…The Volunteers finally opened up the offense and Casey Clausen had a career game as a result. But will it be enough to land them a spot in the BCS? Probably not.
10. Washington State (9-2)…The Apple Cup looks like a blow out in favor of the Cougars, who are one win away from a third Pac-10 title and maybe even a third Rose Bowl appearance in seven years. But sound the upset alert because looks can be deceiving.
11. Texas Christian (10-0)…Last week America was gnashing its teeth over the prospect of the Horned Frogs playing in the BCS, but thanks to Southern Mississippi we won't be talking about TCU past Thursday.
12. Virginia Tech (8-2)…Avoided a complete meltdown when Temple missed an extra point in overtime, but the Hokies had their mojo stolen from them in Pittsburgh and will be a non-entity the rest of the season.
13. Miami, Fla. (8-2)…Also avoided a complete meltdown by stifling Syracuse late in the game, and thanks to Pittsburgh's loss the Hurricanes are back in the BCS picture.
14. Florida State (9-2)…The Seminoles are the first team to clinch a berth in the BCS by virtue of winning the ACC again, and now they'll sit back and wait to see where they land.
15. Florida (8-3)…If there was a tournament in college football, the young and hot Gators are one team all of the elite squads wouldn't want to face in the early rounds. Give Ron Zook credit for keeping this group together when it struggled early on.
16. Purdue (8-3)…What could've been? A kicker who had been flawless all season misses a chip shot in overtime and as a result the Boilermakers miss out on the Big Ten title. Oh well, at least they can beat up on Indiana this weekend.
17. Kansas State (9-3)…Coming off a historic woodshed beating of Nebraska in Lincoln, the Wildcats need to be wary of a letdown against Missouri – which still has a shot at the Big 12 North title as well – this weekend.
18. Iowa (8-3)…The Hawkeyes have been nearly unbeatable at Kinnick Stadium the past few years, but now they need to do something they haven't done all year if they want a major bowl bid: win a road game outside of the state of Iowa.
19. Miami, Ohio (9-1)…Forget about TCU, the best mid-major team in the country are the Redhawks, who took Marshall behind the woodshed on Saturday. On a neutral field Miami would beat the Horned Frogs by two touchdowns.
20. Bowling Green (8-2)…Northern Illinois' loss to Toledo opens the door for the Falcons to coast into the MAC championship game and a rematch with Miami of Ohio.
21. Pittsburgh (7-3)…What could've been a special season for the Panthers has been undone by their sheer inability to consistently stop the opponent from running the ball down their throats.
22. Nebraska (8-3)…Last week the Huskers were in the driver's seat for the Big 12 North Division title. Next week they may need to beat surging Colorado in order to save Frank Solich's job.
23. Oklahoma State (8-3)…Lost in the shuffle of back-to-back blowout losses courtesy of Oklahoma and Texas is the fact that the Cowboys have notched consecutive eight-win seasons for the first time in nearly two decades.
24. Boise State (9-1)…The Broncos were supposed to suffer a down-year after last season's splendid 12-1 record. A win over Fresno State this week delivers an undisputed WAC crown.
25. Minnesota (9-3)…The Gophers let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers – literally – with red zone turnovers in the first half against Iowa. Now they'll be relegated to another second-tier bowl game.
Out—#21 Michigan State (7-4), #22 Northern Illinois (9-2).
Honorable mention—#26 West Virginia (6-4), #27 Northern Illinois (9-2), #28 Utah (8-2), #29 Connecticut (9-3), #30 Maryland (7-3).
My Heisman Ballot
The top five candidates for the award this week.
- Jason White (QB-Oklahoma)… Great stats + quarterbacking the nation's undisputed top-ranked team = (usually) Heisman Trophy.
- Larry Fitzgerald (WR-Pittsburgh)… Great numbers again, and he's certainly the best player in America. But on a three-loss team he won't win the award.
- Eli Manning (QB-Mississippi)… Beat LSU and all of a sudden little Manning could steal the award late from Jason White.
- Chris Perry (RB-Michigan)… Has no chance to win the award, but with a big game in front of the nation against Ohio State he'll earn a ticket to New York.
- Phillip Rivers (QB-N.C. State)… Great numbers and a great career. He deserves an invite to the ceremony even thought he Wolfpack haven't had the season they were expected to.
Here's how I think the bowl game matchups will go based on my prediction of how the season will unfold. Of course, given the season ISU is having many of you may not care about these. But since I had to put them together for my radio program anyway, I figured I might as well publish them on the site.
Sugar Bowl—USC vs. Oklahoma
Fiesta Bowl—Pittsburgh vs. LSU
Rose Bowl—Texas vs. Michigan
Orange Bowl—Ohio State vs. Florida State
Humanitarian Bowl—Boise State vs.
Peach Bowl—Clemson vs. Florida
Capitol One Bowl—Tennessee vs. Purdue
Outback Bowl—Iowa vs. Mississippi
Cotton Bowl—Kansas State vs. Georgia
Gator Bowl—West Virginia vs. N.C. State
Silicon Valley Classic—Fresno State vs. New Mexico
Liberty Bowl—Utah vs. Southern Mississippi
San Francisco Bowl—Colorado State vs. Boston College
Sun Bowl—Michigan State vs. Oregon State
Independence Bowl—Arkansas vs. Missouri
Music City Bowl—Wisconsin vs. Auburn
Houston Bowl—Texas Tech vs. Northern Illinois
Holiday Bowl—Nebraska vs. Washington State
Alamo Bowl—Oklahoma State vs. Minnesota
Continental Tire Bowl—Miami, Fla. vs. Maryland
Fort Worth Bowl—Kansas vs. Houston
Insight.com Bowl—Virginia Tech vs. UCLA
Motor City Bowl—Northwestern vs. Bowling Green
Hawaii Bowl—Louisville vs. Hawaii
Las Vegas Bowl—Air Force vs. Oregon
Tangerine Bowl—Virginia vs. Connecticut
GMAC Bowl—TCU vs. Miami, Ohio
One Final Note
There will be no Monday Musings column next week because I'll be on Thanksgiving vacation. Therefore, allow me to take now to wish all of you a happy and safe holiday. As always, we here at CN are very thankful for the overwhelming support all of you have given us the past year, despite all the struggles and tragedies ISU has endured over that span. It shows just how loyal many of you are, and that bodes well for the cardinal-and-gold because it's you folks – not the players, coaches, administrators, and media that comes and goes – that really make up Cyclone Nation.
(Steve Deace can be heard on the radio in Central Iowa each Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network)