El Perfecto En Miami!

Baseball has its perfect games. Bowling has its perfect scores. Martha Stewart has her perfect everything. (You might say the old girl has perfected perfection. Think of that felony rap as just a slightly misfolded, napkin of perfect Belgian linen.) So what about college bowl games? Can they, even on the BCS level, ever attain perfection?

I submit that the historians of the schoolboy game will, in an era yet to come, regard the final 30 minutes of play in the 2011 Orange Bowl (yes, I'm old enough to dispense with the name of the sponsor for the bowl games I've been watching since I was eight) as near to perfection as it gets during bowl season. Especially if you're a Stanford fan who (a) isn't in the habit of automatically blocking out days every year devoted to a bowl roadie and (b) hadn't been to BCS game in 11 years, let alone ever won one.

In case you've forgotten, in this short-attention-span-social-networked world we live in, Stanford thoroughly dismantled Virginia Tech on a balmy night in south Florida, 40-12. Friggin' 40 to freakin' 12. And the 12 included a busted-play TD (however spectacular) and a safety that was an "excuse me" reflex by an offensive lineman.

This, after a dream year of smoking each and every opponent, save the one who will be playing in for the National Championship next week.

And no, it was nowhere near as competitive as the final score. In the second half, anyway.

Set aside the eye-popping, jaw-dropping numbers racked up by the Stanford offense against an ACC team not known for its Swiss-cheese defense.

Set aside the stalwart, slow-suffocation defense that Stanford mounted against a Hokie offense that had the talking (pin)heads on thee ESPN pre-game show slobbering all over their Ralph Lauren Purple Label suits and ties.

Then, let us assess this one through the lens of the Stanley-D Game Perfection Assessment (tm), better known as the GPA. You will agree that the acronym is appropriate for Stanford and something to which all NCAA institutions should hasten to embrace and adopt.

On a grading scale of zero-point-zero to four-point-zero (no advance placements), we rank this game as follows on the subjects of...

Venue: Pretty cool. I mean, where else can you go in the continental U.S. the first weekend in January and have a beach party disguised as a pep-rally, imbibe better mojitos and margaritas, smoke genuine Cubans, walk miles of shoreline boardwalk reeking of sunscreen, enjoy a perpetual soundtrack of Afro-Cuban and Jan Hammer (Miami Vice, for those who don't recall the 1980s), hear a polyglot of languages, and enjoy some of the most spectacular, genuine Art Deco architecture in the land? Did I mention the sunsets? Nowhere but Mee-Ah-mee, amigos. South Florida richly deserves this 4.0.

Pep Rally: When you turn the mic over to the mellifluent and likeable Dave Flemming, radio voice of the Cardinal and San Francisco Giants, it's automatically big-time. Throw in a Stanford sports legacy like Adam Keefe, a Rose Bowl QB like Todd Husak, a Nutrisystem-slim Chris Marinelli and Chris "Genuine" Draft, whistle out the "Johns" (Etchemendy and a surprisingly high-decibel Hennessy who was working the crowd like the warm up act for Dave Chappelle) then top it off with the LSJUMB, under a big-time canopy normally associated with MTV gigs, and you MUST bestow full marks! 4.0.

World's Largest Indoor Tailgate: Granted, if this was Arlington, Texas, you could have put the cities of Menlo Park, Palo Alto and half of Mountain View inside Jerry Jones' new House of Humbleness. Not just the populations, the towns. But the Orange Bowl wasn't played there this year. Indeed, no games of any consequence were. At Sun Life Stadium, a joylessly concrete yet functional facility in the strangely named district of "Miami Gardens" that's not really Miami and where I saw no gardens, there was not one but two tailgate parties dominated by red-clad, full-throated Cardinal boosters. Not to mention enough comestibles and potables to satisfy and quench the throng. The Band conga-lined its way, serpentine-like, from one gathering to another, posing and mugging as only the Incomparables can. Played good tunes, too. No Jan Hammer, but Steve Miller would do just fine. I grade it 4.0.

Half-time adjustments: Stanford made them and the hapless Hokies paid dearly. To be fair, Virginia Tech might have adjusted, too, but if they did, it wasn't noticeable. Let's just say that Hokie QB Tyrod Taylor got better looks at Shane Skov and Tom Keiser than he did of any of his receivers. Taylor may have been wearing some of Skov's eyeblack by the final gun, which came unmercifully slowly for the Hokies as the TV commercials merely prolonged the inevitable. On the Cardinal side, Andrew Luck was Andrew Luck. It was awesome and it rained rotten luck on Coach Frank Beamer and his maroon and orange-clad charges. On the awards podium, the team munched Florida oranges soft-tossed by Jim Harbaugh as he dodged questions about his future almost as artfully as Stepfan Taylor dodged tacklers and Coby Fleener eluded coverage. On the topic of upper-case "L" Luck, how can his decision to stay in school not merit a solid 4.0 in this "half-time adjustment" metric? I grade it 4.0.

So there you have it. Four-point-oh perfection. Fun in the sun, a BCS trophy on the shelf, and a Heisman front-runner who just wants to be a college kid. If this isn't perfect, then "perfection" is overrated.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for September. No matter what the "deal" is with Harbaugh.


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