Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday live blog, Vol. 8

It's one of the various rivalry weeks that close the season. It's the year's penultimate edition of the Saturday live blog. (You honestly don't want to hear from me during the Iron Bowl.) And it'll be updated continually throughout the day. Enjoy.

12:25 a.m. College Football Final has drawn to a close, and with it go both the season's 12th week and the live blog's eighth installment. As always, thanks for reading, and Roll Tide anyway.

12:17 a.m. Thank you for making light of Kirk Herbstreit's jaunty little hat, Rece Davis. You bring joy on a day with so little of it.

11:57 p.m. The Tebow hasn't the time to listen to your attempts to find a reason he might not get the Heisman. He's too busy breaking SEC rushing touchdown records -- as a sophomore quarterback.

11:40 p.m. Say what you will about Lou Holtz, but I remember him getting mocked for being on the Kansas bandwagon weeks before it became the trendy thing to do. If I weren't already a temporary Jayhawk, I'd become one just to help Sweet Lou out.

11:33 p.m. From an outsider's perspective, going from LSU to Michigan would be a lateral move at best for Les Miles. But if mama calls, no one could blame him for answering. Either way, it'll be annoying to hear Michigan inserted into every single mention of LSU's national title run in the weeks and months to come.

11:14 p.m. The onside kick falls directly into Red Raider arms, and the upset is complete. It's field-storming time in Lubbock.

11:10 p.m. The Sooners get the ball with under a minute left and immediately complete a 46-yard prayer to the Tech 10. The next play is a touchdown pass with 31 seconds left. This game will not end. Red Raiders, 34-27. Oklahoma + onside kick = endless fun.

11:05 p.m. Oklahoma misses another last-ditch shot at a TD pass. Texas Tech faces the challenge of running off the final 3:10 with little in the way of a running game. This is why football is still on TV four hours after it started.

11:03 p.m. The Sooners have it back deep in Tech territory again with three and a half minutes left. It's officially the only active game left in the country, and it's officially fourth down again.

10:53 p.m. Oklahoma's comeback effort stalls in the left corner of the end zone after the officials rule that what looks an awful lot like a fourth-down touchdown is in fact an incomplete fourth-down pass. Fun fact: Just a few days ago, Mike the Pirate famously griped that Big 12 officiating decisions hurt his team against Texas.

10:46 p.m. BCS nightmare scenario: LSU loses to Arkansas or Tennessee. Kansas and Missouri both go down by the time the Big 12 title game is over. Hawaii wins out to clinch a BCS bowl. West Virginia loses to UConn. Arizona State finishes off USC before falling to its in-state rival in December. And Georgia Tech rises above Chan Gailey equilibrium to topple Georgia. Now, after the dust settles, swallow hard and brace yourself for the strong possibility of an Ohio State vs. Hawaii national title game. Breathe deeply and don't let them smell your fear.

10:25 p.m. Clemson's hopes and dreams for an ACC crown bounce harmlessly in front of the crossbar. What, you thought Tommy Bowden's team would end up with nice things? Have you learned nothing from the past decade of stark disappointment?

10:23 p.m. Except for that monster sack. Now it's a 54-yard field goal attempt that BC will get three opportunities to ice.

10:22 p.m. Down 20-17, Clemson converts on a clutch fourth down with 24 seconds left. A couple of plays later, it's down to 11 seconds with two timeouts in field goal range. No reason this shouldn't at least go to overtime.

10:18 p.m. Pain returns to Death Valley. A Clemson receiver drops a wide-open touchdown pass that would have sent the Tigers to the big show in Jacksonville. Still 38 seconds left.

10:16 p.m. Cincinnati put a late scare into the mountain men, but West Virginia escapes the Queen City with its Big East destiny -- and at this rate, maybe its national title destiny -- in hand. Meanwhile, BC is up on Clemson with a minute left, which probably somehow will lead to Matt Ryan getting the Heisman.

10:03 p.m. Clemson has a chance to achieve a meaningful goal -- an ACC championship game berth -- and isn't cracking under pressure. If you needed a final piece of evidence that we've slid through the wormhole into the parallel universe, there you go.

9:39 p.m. Oklahoma's players are getting injured right and left, its allegedly No. 4 team is getting trounced 34-10, and the ESPN on ABC, etc., broadcasters are joking around in the booth with Bobby Knight. All in all, not a very good night to be a fan of a team wearing red and white. I can sympathize.

9:31 p.m. I've tried to find something noteworthy to say about football in the last half-hour, but it seems Alabama has, at least temporarily, killed my joy for the game, and even Nick Saban's apology to the fans for the sorry performance today didn't bring it back. All it does is remind me of why Saban is apologizing.

9:01 p.m. Oklahoma mounts a drive deep into Red Raiders territory and the Texas Tech defense... holds?!? It's 27-10 with halftime knocking at the door. West Texas will be rocking tonight.

8:46 p.m. South Florida is schooling Louisville in the finer points of getting gored Pamplona-style by a bunch of angry, charging Bulls. It's 41-10, and it's not even halftime yet.

8:37 p.m. Texas Tech 27, Oklahoma 7. More evidence that you shouldn't trust undefeated teams that lack a rich tradition just because they win impressively every week. Besides, their coach weighs a lot. Better to vote for the names you know and trust.

8:33 p.m. ESPN on ABC, etc., just flashed up the following total yardage figures: Texas Tech 226, Oklahoma 38. And that was before the Red Raiders converted on another fourth down attempt. Any of those poll voters want to remind me why the Sooners, who lost at 5-6 Colorado, are so clearly superior to an undefeated Kansas team that won at Colorado?

8:20 p.m. West Virginia, emerging from the twisted, burning wreckage of a firebombed college football season, is casting a dazed look around the barren landscape and asking why it shouldn't get a chance to be king. The Mountaineers are trying out the scepter up in Cincinnati, leading the Bearcats 21-10 at the half.

8:16 p.m. Harrell hits a wide-open Crabtree in the right side of the end zone. Texas Tech, 20-7. Yarr, matey.

8:12 p.m. Oklahoma: a one-loss, top-five national title contender with an injured starting quarterback on the road in a nationally televised night game against a conference rival that plenty of observers have written off for the season. Sound familiar?

7:57 p.m. Amazing, sick cutbacks and speed from Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree puts Mike the Pirate's club at the Oklahoma 1-yard line after a touchdown is called back on review. Quarterback Graham Harrell sets it right on the next play to put the Red Raiders ahead, 13-7. I'm not sure why I'm so transfixed by this game with Boston College-Clemson and Cincinnati-West Virginia available elsewhere, but I'll chalk it up to the combination of Trump and Mike the Pirate feeling so... so cosmically right.

7:47 p.m. Texas Tech is hanging tough with the Sooners midway through the opening quarter. It's 7-6, and the Red Raiders' defense, far from complete system failure, has yet to allow a point to Oklahoma. Trump appearances must be a good luck talisman.

7:16 p.m. Donald Trump has introduced the Texas Tech offense. The Texas Tech offense has delivered a pick-six to Oklahoma on the opening drive. This stuff won't fly on The Apprentice.

6:54 p.m. It's been a football lull for the last 30 minutes or so. The options have been largely limited to Southern Miss-UTEP and Baylor-Oklahoma State. I chose going outside to soak up some night air instead. Indisputably, I made the right call.

6:17 p.m. Around the Big Ten: Michigan State rallied to claim its seventh win and lock up a bowl berth. Indiana saw a 21-point lead over Purdue evaporate, only to grab the Old Oaken Bucket with a last-minute field goal. Wisconsin held on to win a wild one over Minnesota, the best 1-11 rival it has. And Western Michigan improved to 4-7 by sending Iowa back to a .500 record that may not be enough for a bowl in a conference with 10 eligible teams.

5:58 p.m. While I was busy lamenting the Loss of the Century, Vandy was busy coughing up a big lead to Tennessee. A 25-24 comeback win leaves the Vols a game away from winning the SEC East. Both teams went in opposite directions after the Third Saturday in October, but it'd be impossible to tell which one won based on the way they've played since.

5:53 p.m. What's left of space-time stays intact. The Tigers pick off Schaeffer and gets it back deep in Ole Miss territory after a slew of penalties. Look, an LSU game being decided before the last play!

5:44 p.m. Colonel Reb isn't crying yet. The Orgeron sends Brent Schaeffa scurrying to the end zone with the footbaw to cut LSU's lead to 27-17. The space-time hole is weighing its options.

5:42 p.m. Around the ESPN on ABC in HD on TV in the USA family of networks: Kansas is easily taking care of business against Iowa State, something that it should be noted that Oklahoma didn't do until late in the game. Penn State leads Michigan State by three in a land-grant shootout. Virginia Tech is pouring Miami's latest cup of annihilation juice. And over on ESPNU, Wake Forest has a 10-point edge over a surging N.C. State squad.

5:32 p.m. Well, I can't maintain radio silence forever when I've promised continual updates, so here goes. LSU casually has built a 17-point fourth-quarter lead at Ole Miss as it cruises toward the national title. The $2.8 Million Man trails Western Michigan in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame notched a three-touchdown victory over Duke, which ordinarily wouldn't be that impressive except that the Fighting Irish's winning streak is now a full game longer than Alabama's. And the Crimson Tide isn't the only team suffering a season-ending collapse; California, once No. 2 but now staring into the face of its fifth loss in six games, trails Washington by 11 heading into the fourth quarter.

4:45 p.m. Alabama's worst loss of the 21st century -- and likely one of its worst losses of any other century -- is in the books. ULM wins, 21-14, and deserves every bit of it. The Warhawks wanted the win and played hard as hell and got it. Alabama turned the ball over four times and earned the right to lose to a sub-.500 Sun Belt team. Even when Alabama lost to Central Florida and Louisiana Tech and Northern Illinois in the last decade, those teams had good records and were dangerous, bowl-eligible squads. ULM, even after storming out of Bryant-Denny with a win, is still 5-6.

This was an utter disaster for the Crimson Tide, and right now, I don't see how the team can recover emotionally to put up much of a fight in the Iron Bowl. This team is probably going to finish 6-6 with a four-game losing streak. That's bowl-eligible, but it's not bowl-worthy. The rebuilding process will be much longer and harder than anyone ever imagined.

4:14 p.m. Jimmy Johns fumbles. The Warhawks recover. That's Turnover No. 4. Disaster. Distress. Depression. Darkness.

4:10 p.m. Tennessee is about three minutes away from losing to Vanderbilt. Wisconsin is 30 minutes away from losing to Minnesota. And Iowa is 30 minutes away from losing to Western Michigan. None of these things matter, though, because Alabama is six minutes away from losing to Louisiana-Monroe.

4:01 p.m. Official Iron Bowl prediction: Auburn 91, Alabama 3.

3:48 p.m. And Alabama ends the third quarter by 1) stalling out and being forced to try a field goal and 2) allowing the Warhawks to block aforementioned field goal attempt. I thought we got the Nick Saban first-year loss of unspeakable horror (he dropped the homecoming game to UAB in his first year at LSU) out of the way last week, but it's looking more and more like it's coming today. I'm wondering if Alabama will ever win in November again.

3:43 p.m. D.J. Hall is back now? I think I missed something. D.J. didn't, though. That was a big play at just the right time.

3:40 p.m. Touchdown, Warhawks. Late in the third quarter, it's Louisiana-Monroe 21, Alabama 14. This is officially the emotional low point of all of my years as a Crimson Tide fan. Unless it gets even worse. At this rate, it very well might.

3:36 p.m. ULM has driven the ball to the Alabama 6. I have no idea what in the blue hell is going on here. This is abysmal.

3:34 p.m. Coach O gonna put Brent Schaeffa in the game to play the footbaw and he gonna put a hurtin' on 'em, Jo Jo!

3:26 p.m. Alabama survives a serious Warhawk threat to preserve the tie. Seriously. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has a halftime lead. Over Duke. This shouldn't be huge news, but it is.

3:06 p.m. This Duke-Notre Dame game may be the worst thing I've ever seen purporting to be televised football. In fairness, though, Alabama-ULM isn't on TV this week.

2:57 p.m. Tied at halftime in Tuscaloosa. Disgusting. Meanwhile, in news involving SEC teams that aren't struggling with a Sun Belt also-ran, Arkansas is shredding Mississippi State with a balanced offensive attack. Georgia has done all it can to get a trip to Atlanta by knocking off Kentucky. And Vanderbilt is doing its part to make that happen, holding a 17-9 lead as the second half begins.

2:44 p.m. The defense finally holds, only for ULM to get the ball back at the Alabama 40 after the punt bounces off a Tide player's back. How is this the same team that almost beat LSU?

2:32 p.m. ULM methodically powers back down the field to tie it at 14-14. I know what I said about the Sun Belt, but I really hoped it wouldn't start playing out at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

2:25 p.m. Ohio State is going to the Rose Bowl again. Lloyd Carr is probably going to retire with a 1-6 record against the Sweater Vest and an 0-1 record against the Southern Conference. Buckeyes!

2:21 p.m. Terry Grant enters the game and provides a spark. Touchdown, Alabama. It's 14-7.

2:17 p.m. Barry Krause reporting from the sidelines: "The intensity down here is very much lacking." You don't say.

2:14 p.m. Touchdown, ULM. It's tied at 7-7. Not heartening.

2:10 p.m. A Wilson pass slides off the receiver's fingertips to become Interception No. 2. It's returned to the Alabama 1 as the first quarter ends. This would be a really bad day to keep turning the ball over, guys. A loss here could make the bowl bid disappear.

2:01 p.m. Syracuse is 2-8 and down 30-0 to UConn. Why is this on ESPN2 when both Arkansas-Mississippi State and Tennessee-
Vanderbilt are getting no TV love? Aren't Division II playoff games available, too? Get a camera to North Dakota posthaste.

1:58 p.m. Wilson lofts up a bad pass that the opponent snags out of the air. You wouldn't think this sort of thing would keep recurring after almost two years as a starter, but there it is again.

1:52 p.m. I shouldn't question the ways of motivational guru Mark Richt. Georgia has punched in three touchdowns to take control with 5:40 left in the third. Even if the Head Dawg calls for his fan base to show up to the Georgia Tech game in purple clown suits, I'll know better than to crack wise.

1:41 p.m. John Parker Wilson accounts for his first touchdown of the day. In a refreshing change from last week, this one is on the Crimson Tide's behalf. Alabama, 7-0.

1:38 p.m. Eli Gold on a monumental Andre Smith pancake block: "That was Pancake House. That was all of IHOP right there."

1:35 p.m. They've kicked off on senior day in Tuscaloosa. D.J. Hall won't play today due to an unspecified violation of team policy, but hey, Jimmy Johns will play. Eli and Snake will tell me about it.

1:30 p.m. It's not on TV and it's not homecoming, but the Alabama game against Louisiana-Monroe nonetheless is minutes away from kickoff. Why? Because Nick Saban thought it'd help to have a few more hours to rest up for Auburn next week. Further Saban justification: "Is somebody mad? Are we back at LSU now where if you don't play at night, we don't have enough to time to get ready for the game by drinking and eating all day and all that? If that's the case, I'll be glad to do it at night."

1:24 p.m. Michigan quarterback Chad Henne looks to be in excruciating pain, and not just the kind caused by trailing your main rival by 11 at home. You have to wonder how much longer he'll stay in the game with that shoulder flaring up.

1:17 p.m. The following is an actual exchange from the on-field halftime interview of Missouri coach Gary Pinkel. Pinkel: "We've just got to play better." FSN reporter: "And how do we do that in the second half?" Ladies and gentlemen, you're watching Fox.

12:54 p.m. It's a classic, old-fashioned, three-yards-and-a-cloud-
of-dust game up in Ann Arbor, where Ohio State leads 7-3 at the half. Meanwhile, in a game that improbably is of enormous national relevance, Missouri and Kansas State have been swapping the lead. Right now, it belongs to the Tigers, 21-15. In other news, Ron Zook's Fighting Illini are whipping Northwestern, and Zook's former nemesis, FSU, is easily handling the Maryland Terrapins.

12:35 p.m. Florida Atlantic is hanging in there with the Gators. Florida's lead is only 28-20 late in the first half in Gainesville. This is just two weeks after Troy took Georgia to the limit between the hedges. Remember when I pegged the rise of the Sun Belt as the shadow story of the season? I stand by that.

12:31 p.m. Dave (and also Dave) occasionally will refer to Dave as "Arch," even though he's just as much of a Dave as they are. Be not ashamed, gentlemen. Be bold. Be proud. Be DAVE.

12:25 p.m. I'd been under the impression that Harvard-Yale would be on WGN again this year. Naturally, though, when I consciously set out to watch a few minutes of a I-AA game, it's nowhere in sight. I have no hostility toward Lizzie McGuire, but the fact remains that she isn't playing for the Ivy League title.

12:18 p.m. Georgia is learning a valuable lesson: Motivational gimmicks lose their significance if you do them every week. After the Bulldogs stomped a mudhole in Auburn last week in the "blackout" game, Mark Richt called for a "red-out" this week. The results? A 10-0 Kentucky lead and a second quarter that just opened with Georgia's third turnover of the day.

11:53 a.m. I wasn't hallucinating when I heard the Coach calling a football game last week, because now he's back again. This time he's behind the mike for what's evolving into a Citadel blowout of VMI. No, I-AA football, you don't get Jim Ross. You don't deserve Jim Ross. You have to earn Jim Ross.

11:45 a.m. Through the benevolence of the artists formerly known as Jefferson Pilot, DAVE has been reunited this week as a single, unstoppable commentating unit. And through a quirk of television contracts, DAVE has ended up with Kentucky at Georgia, the day's marquee SEC game. Dave seems nonplussed about this opportunity, but Dave clearly is glad to be back with DAVE, and Dave barely can wipe the smile off his face. You'd think he just found out that DAVE is calling the Super Bowl. For all I know (and dream), DAVE might do just that.

11:37 a.m. Actually, Kirk Herbstreit, those Michigan seniors probably came back to try to win a national championship, not just to beat Ohio State, but I appreciate the effort.

11:32 a.m. If they're going to go down, Ohio State's backfield at least might want to force Michigan to expend the energy needed to tackle them instead of just sliding to the ground.

11:30 a.m. For the record, any suggestion -- from the Bristol types or otherwise -- that Michigan-Ohio State is the biggest rivalry in college football is completely off-base. The correct answer to that question is Alabama-Auburn, and the reasons are simple: We have to live with each other all year, and it's all we have. Michigan and Ohio State fans largely get to go back to their respective states to live among similarly minded people, and they also have a host of nearby professional sports franchises to divert their attention. In Alabama, though, the Crimson Tide and the Tigers are the sole focus of 12 full months of sports mania. No other rivalry can compete with that. Besides, you get bonus points when neither game participant has lost to a I-AA team.

11:15 a.m. Michigan and Ohio State have kicked off up in the Double A. Buckeyes! already has escaped Brent Musberger's lips at least three times. ESPN on ABC in HD on TV in the USA has made quadruply sure that we know that if five other teams lose and/or get decimated by a falling meteor, Ohio State will be right back there in line for a national title shot. So you most certainly should pay rapt attention to the Buckeyes!


Blogger Alex said...

RSD - sorry, been away for a while for job interviews - as always great job...a pleasure to read

10:16 PM  

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