1. Jim Harbaugh and Stanford dismantled Pete Carroll's USC Trojans this weekend 55-21, then rubbed it in Southern Cal's face by going for a 2pt conversion in an attempt to get to 50 points. What are your thoughts on the game, the 2pt conversion, and what it means for these two teams going forward?
Mattare: To say that this game is the beginning of the end for Southern Cal is short sighted, but it certainly puts a huge chink in their armor of invincibility. Harbaugh and his boys were out to prove the Oregon game was no fluke and did just that in laying the smackdown on the Trojans. In the here and now this game means that USC's season is toast and Pete Carroll has to figure out how to pick up the pieces during the offseason. It also means that as long as Jim Harbaugh is at Stanford they're going to be a force in the Pac-10. Right now he's wreaking havoc with mid-
Now I wanted the 2pt conversion part of this question to get its own paragraph. I loved it, I absolutely loved it. David didn't just slay Goliath with one stone to the head--David went over to Goliath when he was on the ground, kicked him, then started beating him with Goliath's own hand while screaming "STOP HITTING YOURSELF, WHY ARE YOU HITTING YOURSELF?" Plenty will criticize and they're probably right, it was terrible sportsmanship...but one of the things I love most about sports (and specifically college sports) are bitter rivalries where the teams absolutely loathe each other. Harbaugh's "Eff You" conversion attempt will be like throwing jet fuel on a fire that barely existed on Southern Cal's end.
Mikey: USC-Stanford was by far my favorite game last week. When's the last time Stanford just smacked a top 10 conference opponent on the road? I'm not going to research it but I'll bet that it's never happened (and might not again). The 2 point conversion attempt was just them enjoying one of the finest games in team history on all fronts. USC has been doing that this whole decade to the Pac-10 and they have to learn to handle it just like every other team. That game just makes me wonder what the Cardinal could do to Notre Dame's D when they play.
For the future I don't think this game means much for USC. They know they have to rebuild their defense next year, but their offense will be fine and they'll be near the top again. For Stanford, though, this game is huge. It really shows the level that they've risen to in the past few seasons under Jim Harbaugh and will get them more national respect for future seasons. Also it will be big for recruiting because California is filled with high school football stars and this may help Harbaugh lure some away from USC and other top Pac 10 teams.
2. If the final three weeks go as people expect the three teams atop the BCS will be the winner of the SEC Championship, Texas, and TCU. Look at the resumes of Texas and TCU--does TCU have a legitimate argument that they should be the ones to get a crack at the championship?
Mattare: Absolutely they do. Texas has one good victory on their resume, a 41-14 victory over an Oklahoma State team that was missing its best player. TCU went to Clemson and won in Death Valley, went to BYU (the same team that beat Oklahoma) and destroyed them in Provo, then did the same thing to Utah. Is TCU a better team than Texas? I don't know, I think it'd be a pretty close contest in spite of the talent gap. The question isn't whether TCU should be in the championship though, it's whether they have a legitimate argument. The answer to that question without a doubt is yes.
Mikey: This is a tough call. TCU doesn't have any argument against the winning SEC team no matter what happens, but when compared to Texas it can easily be debated that they deserve a title shot over the Horns. TCU's 3 best wins are at Clemson, at BYU and Utah; Texas' are Oklahoma, Texas Tech and at Oklahoma St. Those wins matched up against are really similar quality but what sways me to TCU's side is how they've been playing in their big games this year. BYU and Utah were by far the 2 biggest games for TCU and they won them by a combined 59 points, neither of them were close after the 1st quarter. In Texas' biggest game (Oklahoma) they looked terrible and almost got beat by a struggling Sooners squad without their best player. Good teams seperate themselves from other good teams by how they play when everything is on the line, and TCU has been extremely more impressive than Texas in that kind of situation.
3. Lane Kiffin and Rich Rodriguez have had turbulent years and this week contained definite low-lights for both. Kiffin is dealing with getting blown out by Ole Miss and the fact that three of his players have been charged with armed robbery. Rodriguez also got blown out last weekend and admitted to investigators this week that they didn't keep mandatory practice logs. Who is more likely ride out the storm and be successful?
Mattare: With each passing day it seems like Rich Rod is on his way out the door sooner rather than later. I think that Rodriguez is the better coach and if he were given time he'd be a huge success in Ann Arbor, but he's proven to be an absolutely terrible fit at Michigan. Right off the bat you could tell he didn't quite get the culture of such a big time school (telling boosters/fans they should get a life was a pretty terrible start) and once momentum got going the wrong direction its snowballed. He's legitimately two terrible ref calls that went in his favor from being 3-8.
Lane is a snarky, arrogant little bastard who everyone outside the state of Tennessee wants to see fall on his face, but he surrounded himself with a fantastic staff that includes one of the best recruiters in the country (Orgeron) and one of the best defensive coordinators in NFL history (his pops Monte). Assembling a good staff is one of the most important and sometimes underrated parts of becoming a successful coach in college football. For all the verbal diarrhea that's come out of Lane's mouth over the past year he's done a great job picking his coaches.
Mikey: This one's a no brainer: Rodriguez. Kiffin plays in (by far) the toughest, most talent-rich conference in the country that never has a down year. He has to compete with Florida, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, etc. for the same recruits and its going to be hard for him to convince them to come rebuild Tennessee when they can go to one of the top SEC teams and be an instant title contender. In the Big 10 bad teams win every week, but if you look at the winners of SEC conference games each week its almost always a quality team. Kiffin's got a huge hill to climb and if he has to suffer another incident like the armed robbery it could be over for him soon.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, plays in a conference with only 2 consistently good programs (Ohio St., Penn St.) and changes order every year. We already see that he can recruit top talent to come to Michigan and with a few seasons to coach his guys there's no reason he can't compete for a Big Ten title every year (its not that hard). He'll be judged big by how he does against Ohio St. but fans will give him at least a couple seasons to start judging him solely on that. Rodriguez has already put up with cheating allegations too so I imagine he'll find a way to squirm out of this one and land on his feet much easier than Kiffin will with his situation.
4. Let's just pretend for a minute that the current top 16 teams in the AP poll were thrown into a bracket for a playoff and all games were played on neutral fields. Which of the eight underdogs (teams ranked #9-16) would be the most dangerous team with best chance to go deep in the tournament?
Mattare: The trendy pick would probably be Stanford but I'd take Oregon. Yes, I know that the Ducks just got run all over by the Cardinal, but I think that the Stanford debacle was a combination of Stanford having two weeks to prepare and the emotional low that follows stomping Southern Cal (Stanford, you should note this). If they were to meet again (entirely possible since their seeds would be #11 and #14) on a neutral field I think Oregon comes out on top. Who really wants to take on the duo of Jeremiah Masoli and LeMichael James on a neutral field?
Mikey: I like Oregon more than any of the other teams from 9-16. The Ducks are still playing great football and have an offense that can't be stopped by almost any D in the nation right now. Their loss at Stanford is looking much better because of the way they're playing, and (unlike USC) they were on the road and at least competitive in the game. The Boise St. loss was just an early season hiccup and I guarantee if the Broncos came to Eugene it would not be the same game we saw in September. With all the weapons they have and the way they've played against good teams its easy to see that Oregon could challenge any team in the country on a given night.
5. The Nittanys only have one game left in the season while the Irish have a pair. Pick the bowl you'd like to land in and your ideal opponent.
Mattare: Notre Dame should just stay home unless the new coach can come in and coach the bowl game. There comes a point where you just want to cut losses and file the season away as a failure. I've reached that point. If we have to go to a bowl I'd like the Gator Bowl against Miami. That way I'll have extra incentive to drag myself out of bed by noon on New Year's Day and Miami's secondary is bad enough that we'd have a shot.
Mikey: I think Penn St. will get invited to the BCS but will opt out and play in the Capital One bowl because its in the afternoon and Joe Pa likes to be in bed by 4:30. Notre Dame should go to the Brut Sun bowl because Brut may never sponsor a bowl again and there's no way you want to miss out on that chance.
RAPID FIRE FINISH--140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
Mattare: Kansas coach Mark Mangino is under fire for "grabbing, yelling, and poking a player" who was laughing during a practice...explain to me why Magino is in trouble and this player isn't being called out as a pansy?
Mikey: I heard Mangino threw BBQ sauce on the kid's leg and tried to take a bite out of him. Gotta sympathize with the student, that's traumatic.
Mikey: The Heisman Race is a currently a complete toss-up. Name a dark horse with a real shot at winning.
Mattare: Toby Gerhart. He's a beast and will have ND's Swiss Cheese D to make a case on national TV Thanksgiving weekend. Worst-Heisman-Race-Ever.
Mattare: Tony Dungy is now mentoring the New Mexico coach who decked his staff member. Is he in line to become the next Dr. Phil or the next Dalai Lama?
Mikey: Dungy's prime to become the next Lama. He's already short, scrawny, bald, and has that hippie "Free Tibet" bumper sticker. Put it on the board.
Mikey: We like two of the worst teams in pro football--the Skins and the Bears. Who you got in that matchup?
Mattare: HAIL TO THE REDSKINS, especially if it's a night game. You gave to regret trading in Sexy Rexy for this prissy wannabe Jay Cutler.
Mattare: Now that you're officially part of the blog you have the chance to explain for yourself the events of that summer night where you beat Billy like a drum in basketball. Please recap your memories of that ass whooping.
Mikey: Fresh off some spaghetti pie I was feeling like Larry Bird. I drained two in Billy's eye & became King of Schnecksville while Billy wept in his car.
Mikey: The 24 hour college basketball marathon really got the season started right yesterday. Who's your pick to cut down the nets this spring?
Mattare: Just picked up the College BBall Bible (Blue Ribbon Preview), haven't had a chance to study it in detail. A hunch: Coach K strikes back.