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Monday, December 08, 2003

I need a palate cleanser.

Apologies to those of you among the 190-odd visitors each day, but I'm pretty theologied-out right now. But I'm still spoiling for controversy, so fortunately the sports world came along right in time to provide one: College football's crowning of a national champion will involve screams of "Usurper!" from the West Coast.

Why? Because while flesh and blood human beings voted USC as No. 1, HAL had much greater enthusiasm and confidence in Oklahoma. Because of a convoluted and arcane computer ranking system that takes into account such relevant factors as the coaches' comparative sartorial styles, Oklahoma remained Number 1 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings despite being pummeled by perennial fraud Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game.

Would someone please pull the plug on the ridiculous BCS? I know: it feels happy! It feels happy!

In its defense, the BCS did get one thing right: it does have the top four teams in the country in its top four. And it correctly has my beloved two-loss Wolverines listed at No. 4. Then it craps out. Allegedly because the Pac-10 had a down year, lowering USC's strength of schedule rating in HAL's sensors. Yeah--like the Big-12 was a monster this year....Speaking of which, any Longhorn fans in the house? Y'all got absolutely positively reamed this year. The No. 5 team in the country should not be going to the freaking Holiday Bowl. Under no circumstances should that ever happen.

I hear the siren song of a Division I-A football playoff system, getting louder by the year. Anyone for a little December Madness?

I'll finish up with some brief thoughts on Michigan vs. USC. The first is for fans of the University for Spoiled Children: I despise your team with the rage only a heartbroken child can know. My first Rose Bowl was in 1977 (I was seven and a half), and I blinked away tears as Michigan came up short. Then there was the 1979 Rose Bowl, which featured Charles White being credited with a touchdown despite carefully depositing the ball on the two yard line before going into the end zone. Ever since, I've had precisely one and a half moments of vindication against the fighting prophylactics: 1989 and 1988, the latter being the 1/2. I was forced to root for the Spartans that year as they vanquished SC. Talk about feeling dirty.

Finally, my thoughts on the key to victory. No, it's not the running game of Chris Perry, who will be happy to carry the ball 90 times if necessary, getting 4.5 yards a pop.

No, it's not the receiving corps. Yes, SC fans--fear the receivers--and here's your heads up: the deadliest of the bunch is Jason Avant, not Braylon Edwards. Avant kills you with a thousand cuts. By the time you notice the blood loss, it's too late. But the receivers will not decide it.

Nor will Michigan's athletic, if erratic defense--at turns suffocating and suffocated--decide it.

No, the game rests in the hands of one John Navarre, statistically speaking (the important qualifier) the greatest quarterback in the history of the program. If we see the John Navarre who showed up at the end of the third quarter of the Minnesota game this year and continued to show up afterward--the one who resembled Brian Griese and Tom Brady--the Wolverines will win a close one. If we get the Navarre who stood too long and insecure in the shadow of Drew Henson--the guy who reliably froze up in big games in hostile environments--then SC wins by at least two touchdowns. At least.

Any and all football thoughts welcome below.

Especially from Patriot fans, who owe my fair state the appropriate gratitude for grooming Mr. Brady for you.

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