Weekly Sports Report

The howling has begun in earnest, and like the character played by Peter Finch in the movie "Network," I'm sick and tired of it and am not going to take it anymore!

Yes, the BCS Bowl system is badly flawed. Virtually anyone with an ounce of sense will admit as much. But the "powers that be" (read the presidents of BCS conference schools and the most influential bowl committees) are clearly unwilling to make any meaningful changes to the system. Oh they tinker with the formulas used to determine the BCS Standings occasionally, but serious problems will arise almost every year unless a playoff system is finally adopted.

Let's examine the "major problems" causing all of the controversy this time:

1. There could be as many as four undefeated teams remaining AFTER all of the bowls have been played.

Reply - At the moment, it is highly likely that #3 Auburn will miss out on the National Championship game in the Orange Bowl on January 4th. Well, the same thing happened to USC last season. Though LSU won the BCS Championship by defeating Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, USC was voted the #1 team in the polls after defeating Michigan in the Rose Bowl. If only one undefeated team remains from a BCS Conference after the bowl games, they will be the undisputed National Champions. If there are two, I hope the polls will once again result in a split championship scenario. Enough of these results could eventually produce sufficient support for a playoff system to be adopted.

2. A BCS Conference team that's not a conference champion but is ranked in the top 6 in the BCS Standings (i.e. Texas this season) could miss out on a BCS Bowl if there's a team from a non-BCS Conference ranked in the Top 6.

Reply - Everyone knew the "rules" for the BCS going into the season. Texas had an opportunity to make it into the Big Twelve Championship game, but lost to Oklahoma. Once that happened, the Longhorns needed some breaks to get a BCS Bowl bid and didn't get them. Personally, I think it's about time a non-BCS Conference team like Utah finally will capture one of the two "at-large" BCS Bowl slots. The BCS Conferences have done everything in their power to ensure that the "big money" generated by the BCS stays with their own schools. Like most other issues in sports, this one is all about who gets the money!

3. The Big East champion will have, at best, an 8-3 record and therefore is not deserving of a guaranteed BCS Bowl slot.

Reply - This one really is comical! All of the supposed "experts" spouting this nonsense conveniently forget to mention that the ACC stole the Big East's premier team (Miami) and another power (Virginia Tech) after last season. Guess which teams will be playing for the ACC title on Saturday. Yep, Miami and Virginia Tech. Without them, the ACC would be a total mess this year. How many BCS Conferences could afford to lose two of their best teams? Very few, I'd say. Take USC and California away from the PAC 10 and what's left is not very appealing. The NCAA did nothing to prevent the ACC's raid on the Big East. They must be given a few years to make their league worthy of retaining their guaranteed BCS Bowl slot. Is this somewhat unfair to the top non-BCS Conference schools? Perhaps, but Utah won their way into a BCS Bowl and Boise State might do the same. To state that as a whole the Big East is only stronger than the Sun Belt Conference in Division 1-A, as a couple of columnists have done, is sheer lunacy! When you examine the records of all the teams in these conferences, that argument doesn't come close to holding water! There's one more important point. There have been several other seasons during which teams from BCS Conferences lost three or more games, yet won their conference championship and played in a BCS Bowl. I certainly don't recall hearing any great outcry when that occurred! What's different this time? Oh yes, this time it's the Big East. Maybe I'm being a bit paranoid, but I see the outsized shadow of ACC Commissioner John Swofford behind this campaign. He has certainly been doing everything in his power to destroy the Big East. Maybe he's recruited some of his media friends to help in the effort.

In coaching news, four more Division 1-A vacancies exist. Stanford's Buddy Teevens and Tony Samuel of New Mexico State were fired, while East Carolina's John Thompson resigned before the pink slip arrived. Today, Notre Dame announced the firing of Tyrone Willingham, who compiled a 21-15 record in his three years at the helm of the Irish. The "Urban Meyer Watch" is now officially underway in South Bend. Meanwhile, there could be a new hat in the ring for the Florida job. Butch Davis just resigned as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, leading to speculation that the ex-Miami Hurricane honcho could be headed to Gainesville.

Here's a recap of last week's action:


South - Kent State won their 4th in a row, topping Central Florida 41-24. Golden Flashes' QB Joshua Cribbs threw for a career-high 389 yards and 4 TDs. With the loss, UCF fell to 0-11. The Golden Knights also have a 15 game losing streak, the longest current streak in Division 1-A.

Midwest - Toledo captured the MAC-West title with a come-from behind 49-41 victory over Bowling Green. The Rockets trailed 27-7 at the half, but stunned the Falcons by scoring 35 straight points, 28 coming in the 3rd quarter. The go-ahead score came on a 20 yard pass from junior QB Bruce Gradkowski to sophomore WR Steve Odom with 2:20 remaining in the 3rd quarter. Toledo will face Miami (Ohio), the MAC-East champ, in the title game on Thursday night.


East - In the 97th renewal of the "Backyard Brawl," Pittsburgh upended West Virginia 16-13. The Panthers' win kept them alive for a share of the Big East title and a possible BCS Bowl berth. The Mountaineers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the 1st quarter on a 6 yard TD run by sophomore RB Jason Colson and a 26 yard field goal by senior Brad Cooper. Pittsburgh closed the gap to 10-6 at the half as junior Josh Cummings booted 2nd quarter field goals of 37 and 35 yards. The teams traded 3rd quarter field goals, a 20 yarder by Cummings and a 31 yarder by redshirt freshman Andy Good. The Panthers' winning score came on a 2 yard run by sophomore QB Tyler Palko with 4:06 left, capping off a 14 play, 65 yard drive. WVU had one final opportunity, but senior QB Rasheed Marshall misfired on a 4th down pass from the Panthers' 33 yard line with 42 seconds remaining. Palko completed 14 of 38 passes for 165 yards and junior RB Tim Murphy added 106 yards on 20 carries. For the Mountaineers, Marshall was 14-26 for 145 yards and carried 18 times for 104 yards.

Connecticut improved to 7-4, edging Rutgers 41-35 in Piscataway. Senior QB Dan Orlovsky led the Huskies' attack, completing 19 of 30 passes for 264 yards and 3 TDs. Two of Orlovsky's scoring strikes went to sophomore TE Dan Murray, including a 32 yarder in the 3rd quarter that put UConn ahead to stay 28-21. The Scarlet Knights made things interesting when Willie Foster took a kickoff 80 yards for a TD with 2:14 remaining. However, the Huskies recovered the ensuing on-sides kick and ran out the clock. For Rutgers, junior QB Ryan Hart was 26-33 for 279 yards and 2 TDs.


Midwest - Colorado remained alive for the Big Twelve-North title, edging Nebraska 26-20 in Lincoln. Buffaloes' Junior QB Joel Klatt completed 18 of 29 passes for 222 yards and a TD, and senior RB Bobby Purify added 130 yards and a score. For the Cornhuskers, sophomore QB Joe Dailey was 29-55 for 306 yards and 2 TDs, but was picked off four times. With the loss Nebraska fell to 5-6, their first losing season since 1968 and also stopped their record consecutive bowl appearances streak at 35 years.

Southwest - In Austin, #6 Texas rallied past Texas A&M 26-13, keeping their BCS Bowl hopes alive. The Longhorns appeared poised to break a 6-6 tie in the final minute of the first half. However, sophomore QB Vince Young lost the handle on the ball as he attempted to leap over a pile at the goal line. Senior CB Jonte Buhl picked up Young's fumble and raced 98 yards for a TD to give the Aggies a 13-6 lead going into the locker room. The 2nd half belonged to Texas. On the 1st possession of the 3rd quarter, sophomore SS Michael Griffin blocked an Aggie punt and Bobby Tatum recovered it in the end zone for a TD. Senior Dusty Mangum then put the Longhorns ahead with two 3rd quarter field goals of 44 and 52 yards. Senior RB Cedric Benson iced the win with a 1 yard TD run with 5:34 left. Benson finished with 166 yards on 36 carries. Young completed 13 of 19 passes for 140 yards and also carried 20 times for 94 yards and a score. For the Aggies, junior QB Reggie McNeal was 20-38 for 261 yards and a TD.

#14 LSU routed Arkansas 43-14. Senior QB Marcus Randall paced the Tigers' win. He completed 10 of 14 passes for 173 yards and 2 TDs, both to junior RB Joseph Addai. Randall also carried 17 times for 79 yards and two scores. For the Razorbacks, senior QB Matt Jones was 12-29 for 158 yards and 2 TDs. The loss dropped Arkansas to 5-6 and out of bowl eligibility.

West - Arizona finished their 1st season under Mike Stoops on a high note, upsetting arch-rival #14 Arizona State 34-27. Redshirt freshman QB Richard Kovalcheck had a big game for the Wildcats, completing 17 of 31 for 240 yards and 3 TDs. Two of Kovalcheck's TD tosses went to Mike Jefferson. Junior RB Mike Bell added 137 yards on 22 carries. For the Sun Devils, senior QB Andrew Walter was 23-38 for 320 yards. However, he was forced to leave the game midway through the final quarter with an injury to his right shoulder.


East -
Syracuse spoiled Boston College's final Big East game, upsetting the Eagles 43-17. The loss also cost Boston College sole possession of 1st place in the Big East and a BCS Bowl. The Eagles ended in a four-way tie with Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and West Virginia at 4-2, but lose on conference tie-breaker rules. B.C. immediately fell behind 7-0 as junior RB Damien Rhodes ran for a 69 yard TD on the game's first play from scrimmage. Rhodes started in place of injured senior Walter Reyes, but he was forced from the game with a leg injury after gaining 107 yards on 8 carries. The Orange upped their lead to 24-7 before the Eagles scored in the final minute of the 1st half. Freshman LB Brian Toal blocked a punt and it was returned 26 yards for a TD by fellow freshman CB DeJuan Tribble. Syracuse controlled play in the 3rd quarter, outscoring the Eagles 6-0 on two field goals by senior Colin Barber. With the injuries to both Reyes and Rhodes, senior SS Diamond Ferri was pressed into double-duty. Ferri responded by carrying 30 times for 141 yards and 2 TDs. He also scored on a 44 yard interception return in the 4th quarter to ice the win. For the Eagles, freshman QB Matt Ryan, starting in place of injured senior Paul Peterson, completed 24 of 51 passes for 200 yards and a TD, but was intercepted three times. The win made Syracuse bowl-eligible and gives them a remote shot at a BCS Bowl. It remains to be seen if it also will save the job of head coach Paul Pasqualoni.

South - #7 Louisville improved to 9-1 with an emphatic 70-7 rout of Cincinnati. The win clinched the CUSA title for the Cardinals. Louisville's ground game and defense were dominant. Junior RB Eric Shelton carried 10 times for 160 yards and a TD, sophomore Michael Bush rushed 12 times for 105 yards, and seldom-used reserve Kolby Smith tallied 3 TDs and 71 yards in just 5 attempts. Junior WR Montrell Jones had 2 TD receptions, one from senior QB Stefan Lefors and the other thrown by freshman Brian Brohm. Jones also scored on a 71 yard punt return. The Cardinals' special teams also chipped in, returning two blocked punts for TDs. The Bearcats played without their starting QB, senior Gino Guidugli, who was injured. His replacements combined for just 8 completions in 27 attempts for 33 yards.

In Athens, #8 Georgia edged Georgia Tech 19-13. The Bulldogs scored on their first possession on a 28 yard TD pass from senior QB David Greene to fellow senior WR Fred Gibson. However, Greene fractured the tip of his left (throwing) thumb on the play. Following the next series, Greene was replaced by junior D.J. Shockley who guided Georgia to a 16-0 halftime lead. The Yellow Jackets stormed back in the 3rd quarter, closing the gap to 16-13 on one yard TD run by junior RB P. J. Daniels wrapped around two Travis Bell field goals. Greene then reentered the game midway through the final period and directed a drive that culminated in Brandon Coutu's first career field goal, a 44 yarder with 2:22 left. Greene was 6-12 for 80 yards and Shockley completed 5 of 16 passes for 112 yards. For Georgia Tech, sophomore QB Reggie Ball was 13 of 33 for 140 yards.

#11 Virginia Tech remained in 1st place in the ACC with a 24-10 win over Virginia. The loss ended the Cavaliers' chances for the title. The game was scoreless at the half. Virginia got on the scoreboard early in the 3rd quarter on a 32 yard TD pass from junior QB Marques Hagans to senior RB Alvin Pearman. Following a 31 yard field goal by sophomore Brandon Pace, the Hokies took a 10-7 lead on a 45 yard TD pass from senior QB Bryan Randall to redshirt freshman WR Josh Hyman. Virginia tied the game at 10 early in the final quarter on a 19 yard field goal by junior Connor Hughes. Virginia Tech then took the lead for good on another TD catch by Hyman, this one from 32 yards out. They iced the win on a 33 yard TD run by junior RB Cedric Humes with 5:08 to play. Randall completed 16 of 22 passes for 200 yards. Humes, filling in for injured starter Mike Imoh, carried 13 times for 91 yards. For the Cavaliers, Pearman had a game-high 152 yards on 28 carries.

#15 Tennessee, warming up for their SEC Championship game against Auburn, needed two 4th quarter TDs to rally past hapless Kentucky 37-31. The winning score came on a 12 yard run by Gerald Riggs with just 38 seconds left, capping off a 60 yard drive. For the Vols, junior QB Rick Claussen completed 26 of 41 passes for 349 yards and 2 TDs. Senior RB Cedric Houston added 129 yards on 24 carries. Kentucky's senior QB Shane Boyd was 20 of 32 for 218 yards and 2 TDs, both to freshman WR Jacob Tamme. The Wildcats have now dropped 20 straight to Tennessee.

Maryland held on to defeat Wake Forest 13-7. The Terps 3rd string QB, sophomore Sam Hollenback, made his first career start a winning one, completing 16 of 27 passes for 164 yards. Maryland led 13-0 at intermission on a 13 yard TD run by junior RB Josh Allen and two field goals by senior Nick Novak. Novak is now the all-time ACC scoring leader with 393 points. The Demon Deacons scored in the 3rd quarter on a 5 yard run by junior RB Chris Barclay. It was Barclay's 30th career TD, tying the school record. The Terps saved the victory when junior SS Chris Kelley recovered a fumble on their one yard line with 8:25 remaining. Allen carried 18 times for 74 yards before suffering a torn knee ligament. Barclay had a game-high 103 yards.

Elsewhere, Junior QB Jay Davis was 18-35 for 227 yards and 3 TDs and ran for another score as North Carolina State drubbed East Carolina 52-14. Back-up QB Robert Lane ran for one TD and threw for another as Mississippi topped Mississippi State 20-3 to capture the "Egg Bowl." Memphis improved to 8-3 with a 31-15 win at South Florida. Junior RB DeAngelo Williams carried 28 times for a career-high 263 yards and 2 TDs. Finally, junior QB Dustin Almond tossed two 3rd quarter TD passes to help rally Southern Mississippi past UAB 26-21.

Midwest - Missouri prevented Iowa State from winning the Big Twelve-North title with a 17-14 overtime win in Ames. The Cyclones tied the game at 14 on a 2 yard TD run by sophomore RB Stevie Hicks with 8:58 remaining. In the final minute, Iowa State junior FS Steve Paris intercepted a pass by Tigers' junior QB Brad Smith. Paris appeared headed for the winning TD, but Smith made a great play, knocking him out of bounds on the Tigers' 15 yard line. On 4th down, Cyclones' freshman Bret Culbertson was wide right on a 24 yard field goal attempt, sending the game to overtime. Missouri scored on their first possession in OT on a 25 yard field goal by freshman Adam Crossett. Iowa State then drove to the Missouri 3 yard line, but two plays resulted in a loss of 3 yards. On 3rd down, freshman QB Bret Meyer's pass was intercepted in the end zone by junior CB A.J. Kinkade. Smith finished with 13 completions in 24 attempts for 150 yards and a TD. He also carried 21 times for 101 yards and a score. The win ended the Tigers' five game losing streak.

Southwest - In Lubbock, Texas Tech scored 17 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to defeat #23 Oklahoma State 31-15. The winning score came on a 22 yard field goal by redshirt freshman Alex Trlica with 9:29 left. For the Red Raiders, senior QB Sonny Cumbie completed 31 of 46 passes for 283 yards and 3 TDs. Two of the TD passes went to sophomore WR Jarrett Hicks, who finished with 5 receptions for 96 yards. For the Cowboys, junior RB Vernand Morency carried 23 times for 109 yards.

Tulsa upset #24 UTEP 37-35, snapping the Miners' seven game winning streak. UTEP trailed 24-7 at the half, but rallied to close within two at 30-28. With 3:01 left, the Miners had a chance to take the lead, but Reagan Schneider was short on a 56 yard field goal attempt, his 4th miss of the game. Tulsa RB Brandon Diles then scored his 2nd TD of the game with 2:23 remaining to offset a late score by UTEP. The Golden Hurricane clinched the win when senior OLB Michael LeDet picked off his 3rd pass of the game with 28 seconds left. For Tulsa, junior RB Uril Parrish carried 21 times for 141 yards and a TD and Ashlan Davis returned a kickoff 74 yards for a TD in the 2nd quarter. It was Davis' 5th kickoff return for a touchdown this season, setting an NCAA record. For UTEP, sophomore QB Jordan Palmer was 21-44 for 318 yards and 2 TDs and senior RB Howard Jackson rushed 27 times for 132 yards and 3 scores.

Tulane knocked TCU out of bowl contention, upsetting the Horned Frogs 35-31. Freshman QB Richard Irvin made his first career start a memorable one, completing 22 of 37 passes for 282 yards and all 5 Green Wave TDs. His final TD pass was a 12 yarder to senior WR Chris Bush with 43 seconds left. It capped off a 99 yard drive after Tulane held TCU on a 4th and goal play from their two yard line. Bush had 6 receptions for 136 yards and 2 scores. For TCU, sophomore RB Robert Merrill carried 34 times for 143 yards and 3 TDs. Senior QB Brandon Hassell completed 13 of 22 passes for 217 yards and a score. Tulane still needs to upset Louisville on Saturday to become bowl-eligible.

West - #1 USC rebounded from an early 10-3 deficit to trounce Notre Dame 41-10. It was the 20th straight win for USC. Notre Dame scored first on a 1 yard TD pass from sophomore QB Brady Quinn to senior TE Billy Palmer. The teams then traded field goals, with Trojans' senior Ryan Killean hitting from 39 yards and the Irish's D.J. Fitzpatrick from 28. USC then totally took charge of the game, scoring on six of their next seven possessions. The Trojans tied the game on a 12 yard TD pass from junior QB Matt Leinart to true freshman WR Dwayne Jarrett, and the same combination connected on a 57 yard TD pass to give USC a 17-10 lead at the half. Leinart continued his hot hand, tossing 3 more TD passes in the final 30 minutes. He finished with 24 completions in 35 attempts for a career-high 400 yards. His 5 TD passes tied the school record. Jarrett had 6 receptions for 102 yards. For Notre Dame, Quinn was 15-29 for 105 yards, and senior RB Ryan Grant added 94 yards on 15 carries.

#10 Boise State completed their unbeaten season with a 58-21 win at Nevada. Sophomore QB Jared Zabransky paced the Broncos' attack, completing 17 of 25 passes for 244 yards and 3 TDs. Senior WR T.J. Acree had 6 receptions for 105 yards and a score. Boise State has now won 20 games in a row, and 26 straight in the WAC. For the Wolf Pack, sophomore QB Jeff Rowe was 24 of 42 for 245 yards and a TD.

Fresno State improved to 8-3 with a 62-28 rout of San Jose State. It was the 5th win in a row for the Bulldogs. Junior RB Bryson Sumlin carried 25 times for 134 yards and 3 TDs and Wendell Mathis added 128 yards and a score on 23 attempts. Junior QB Paul Pinegar got in on the fun, completing 12 of 19 passes for 228 yards and 3 TDs. For the Spartans, senior RB Lance Martin carried 23 times for 162 yards and 2 TDs. The only bad news for the Bulldogs was the end of their consecutive PAT streak at 148. Senior Brett Visintainer had his kick blocked following Fresno State's 5th TD of the game.

Hawaii rallied past Northwestern 49-41, keeping their bowl hopes alive. Senior QB Timmy Chang had a huge game for the Rainbow Warriors, completing 31 of 56 passes for 405 yards and 4 TDs. All of Chang's TD tosses went to senior WR Chad Owens, who finished with 9 receptions for 155 yards. Owens scored his 5th TD of the game on a 76 yard punt return. For the Wildcats, senior RB Noah Herron gained 90 yards on 27 carries. Junior QB Brett Basanez was 19 of 41 for 319 yards and a TD and ran for 2 scores. The loss eliminated Northwestern from bowl consideration.


Southwest - Junior QB Matt Kubik threw 3 TD passes, all in the 2nd quarter, as Louisiana Tech topped Rice 51-14. The Bulldogs scored two other TDs in the 2nd period, both by their defense. Kubik completed 7 of 11 passes for 174 yards.

Here's a summary of this week's key games:


Midwest - MAC Conference Championship Game - Miami (Ohio) vs. Toledo @ Ford Field, Detroit - The RedHawks, MAC-East champs, come into the game with a six game winning streak. The Rockets captured the MAC-West title with a come-from-behind win over Bowling Green one week ago.


East - Army vs. Navy @ Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia - The 8-2 Middies have already accepted an invitation to play in the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on December 30th.

South - SEC Conference Championship Game - #3 Auburn vs. #15 Tennessee @ the Georgia Dome, Atlanta - The Tigers need to win and pray that Colorado upsets Oklahoma. Of course if Auburn wins out, they may still earn a "Split National Championship" like USC did last season.

#4 California @ Southern Mississippi - This game was originally scheduled on September 18th, but was postponed due to a hurricane. A victory by the Golden Bears gets them an invitation to the Rose Bowl to face Michigan. The Golden Eagles have already accepted an invitation to the New Orleans Bowl on December 14th.

#10 Virginia Tech @ #9 Miami - The winner captures the ACC title and will play in the Sugar Bowl on January 3rd. The loser is likely headed to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta on New Year's Eve.

#7 Louisville @ Tulane - This is another game originally scheduled for September 18th. A win by the Cardinals gives them an undefeated record in CUSA play and a chance at a top 5 finish. The Green Wave need a victory to become bowl-eligible.

#19 Pittsburgh @ South Florida - A win assures the Panthers of a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. A loss, especially a bad one, could allow 6-5 Syracuse to creep past Pitt in the BCS Standings.

Midwest - Big Twelve Championship Game - #2 Oklahoma vs. Colorado @ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City - A win by the undefeated Sooners gets them an invitation to the National Championship Game in Miami's Orange Bowl.

West - #1 USC @ UCLA - The Trojans have the same scenario as Oklahoma. Win and play in the Orange Bowl. The Bruins are already bowl-eligible, but would relish knocking their arch-rival out of the National Championship picture.

Michigan State @ Hawaii - The Spartans have already been eliminated from bowl eligibility. The Rainbow Warriors will make the very short trip to the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve with a win.

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