Monday, November 14, 2011

Football Wrap Week 10: Return of the Wrap (and the Ducky Boys/Boise State Blues)

Took a week off from the Wrap due to the Penn State scandal and processing all the information. Everything else felt trivial and even though I had a wrap ready to go, I scrapped it. Starting fresh this week.

Raise your hands if you expected to see Oregon back in the BCS picture. Okay, maybe they weren’t totally dead but I wasn’t exactly ready to ride for them after LSU became the second SEC team to beat them in a calendar year.

But here we are, a month later and guess who’s back? The Ducky Boys after steamrolling Stanford on the road just like they did last year. Back up to No. 4 in the BCS and suddenly the Rose Bowl isn’t the only thing in their picture. I crowned them that nickname last year after they mauled Stanford so I'm bringing it back.

I’m surprised but I shouldn’t be. I should’ve remembered 2 years ago when Oregon lost to Boise State in their season opener and still wound up in the Rose Bowl. Their strength is getting better as the season goes on and wearing down teams with their speed as their offense clicks into gear. The Pac-10 hasn’t been able to stop them and it’s to their credit that they aren’t afraid to play anybody.

Oregon hosts USC, ranked No. 18 but somehow not in the BCS Top 25 and their Civil War game with Oregon State. Then there’s the Pac-12 title game vs. Arizona State or UCLA. Arizona State just lost to Washington State so there’s a good chance they could lose to Arizona or Cal. Meanwhile, my Bruins only have to win one to get into the Pac-12 game, which I still can’t fathom.

Anyways, Oregon could face SC, Oregon State or UCLA. Not a strong schedule. Let’s compare to Alabama and Oklahoma State.

OK State’s schedule = Iowa State, home vs. Oklahoma minus Ryan Broyles and a couple others. Blast you, Big 12 for no title game. Cowboys could win out without a problem.
Alabama’s schedule = Georgia Southern and the Iron Bowl with Auburn.  Alabama’s hungry to avenge last year’s Iron Bowl so I like their chances to win out a bit more than OK State.

Of course, the trap could be if Oklahoma wins and leapfrogs everybody. Not to mention if LSU somehow finds a way to lose to Arkansas, which I doubt. But I’m playing it safe and just assuming LSU is straight while 2-4 could be shaken up.

I’m not opposed to rematch games because if a team loses early, they should be able to get another crack at the title. And if the 2 best teams already faced each other, let’s do it again like Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. Yet my problem is if a team loses in the final month yet somehow leapfrogs teams who win out, even if the game was pretty even.

So Oregon has a tough road back still but it’s not entirely impossible. Now all they need to do is actually win a BCS Bowl Game since Ohio State and Auburn got em....

Quick NCAA Tidbits

1. Boise State – Barely an hour or so after Georgia helped their cause with a win, the Broncos saw déjà vu. Dan Goodale, meet Kyle Brotzman, he’ll be escorting you to your new home in Witness Protection. (To be fair, Boise State’s been shaky all year and I could see where Kellen Moore missed having some help at WR)

Speaking of Deja Vu, I had dang near the same pic of K. Moore on the blog last year after the loss.

2. Kansas State sure loves drama – last week vs. OSU and this week, 4 OT vs. A&M. At least they won this time.

3. Robert Griffin The Great strikes again – a 4th quarter, 21-point comeback. Not bad for the Baylor legend.

Virgo’s Top 10: 1) LSU, 2) Oklahoma State, 3) Oregon 4) Alabama, 5) Arkansas, 6) Oklahoma, 7) Clemson 8) Stanford, 9) Virginia Tech, 10) Houston

NFL Top 5

1. It can be the Super Bowl, it can be regular season but to paraphrase Chris Berman, nobody….circles the Buffalo Bills like the Dallas Cowboys. How’d that Beat Em Down taste!!!! Only thing Buffalo did right was Nelson giving his touchdown ball to his girlfriend, a Cowboys cheerleader. Dallas stayed winning on and off the field.

Don Juan DeMarco almost looks a lil like Emmitt Smith right here. 

2. San Francisco had their national test and passed it. They stopped Eli Manning on a 4th quarter drive. One more reason why I have faith in them and Jim Harbaugh is your Coach of the Year. (Speaking of surprises, anybody notice Buffalo and Detroit are coming back to Earth hard?)

3. So what’s more shocking: Kansas City couldn’t beat a Denver team that threw only 8 passes? Or Baltimore airing it out and only letting Ray Rice rush 5 times. Embarrassing and stupid and before you cue the Tim Tebow praise, read Kordell Stewart airing out some truth. 

4. Tom Brady can’t beat Mark Sanchez in the postseason but he can definitely embarrass him in the regular season. But is Rob Gronkowski about to be the NFL’s best tight end now? He’s definitely Top 3 at this point.

5. As somebody pointed out, we haven’t had too many great nationally televised games since that New Orleans-Green Bay opener. Mainly I think because there aren’t more than 6 great teams. Green Bay, San Francisco, New England, Houston, Chicago and New Orleans and maybe Pittsburgh at 7.

If you can tell me the 3rd best team in the AFC with a straight face, go ahead. Houston’s a sleeper cause they have the best 1-2 RB combo in the league. But everyone else is potentially shaky. The NFC’s definitely top heavy but shaky as well.

I’m wondering if this has anything to do with the lockout and of course it does. There’s enough evidence to see that certain teams aren’t sharp and the best teams just happen to be able to mask it better than most. Let’s call it lockout parity – parity created by lack of practice and conditioning. We’ll see what happens after a month from now.

Finally some closing words on Penn State, after which I will say no more on here until recapping it in my Year in Review. I was burned out on the coverage because I’ve been discussing this for over a week while some have been on it since Tuesday. But as the details unfolded and things happened, I realized something.

The ultimate danger in this story is that when a brand or entity becomes important, protecting it at all costs trumps common sense. This applies to celebrities as well as sports and we had a failure here of administrative levels only comparable to the SMU pay-for-play scandal and still worse.

For once, a major sports scandal has nothing to do with players and I hope they and the student body persevere yet realize they can be great by rallying around each other and the victims. They can be great by stepping up where older adults did not and I in turn will not judge the whole body by a few idiots who I know litter every college campus.

Joe Paterno’s legacy takes a huge hit yet I won’t demonize him nor have I. He has to live with what he didn’t do enough of for 9 years. Same with Mike McQueary, who will probably be resigning at some point under pressure. Living with guilt sometimes is just as bad as anything criminal, ask Arthur Dimmesdale from my favorite novel.

I’ve been extra sensitive being around my kids lately at Sylvan and church. I look out for them even more now because should something happen to them, I’d risk my career to save them or never forgive myself.

One can hope that the victims of this tragedy will find some closure in Jerry Sandusky’s eventual conviction. One can hope that like Barack Obama said, we all do some soul searching, As more information comes out, I also hope we continue to see good, thorough reporting to make sure something well fleshed out for the record.

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