The War By the Shore?
The Conflict at the Coliseum?
The Scrap in South Central?
|That's right, we very well could see OSU-USC Rd. 2 in January. (US Presswire)|
Anyone remember all the way back to 2007, when No. 1 changed hands more times than a doobie at a Snoop Dogg house party? Buckeyes-Trojans is the game of the day, sure, but let's not forget it's the third week of the season. Conference play isn't in full swing and, at last check, Beanie Wells has a toe boo-boo.
Instead of looking at Ohio State-USC as the end all for 2008, let's not forget it could be played again at the end of the 2008 season.
"With the way the BCS worked last year, anything is bound to happen," USC linebacker Rey Maualuga said. "There's a chance it might happen."
Might? This is a showdown on Saturday. It could be Ali-Frazier in four months. If there is any justice, there will be a rematch on Jan. 8 at Dolphin Stadium.
A.) This parity thing isn't through putting us through the spin cycle yet. The loser is not necessarily going to have its dreams crushed Saturday night. LSU lost its last home game and got to the championship game last season. Same for Ohio State. It's not hard to envision both teams running the table after Saturday. Assuming Wells returns healthy at some point, the Buckeyes should still bulldoze its way through the Big Ten. USC doesn't have a speed bump left on the schedule.
Pipe down, Stanford. You had your say last year.
B.) Arguably the best player will not play in the game. The benefit of the doubt might suddenly go to the Buckeyes. Without a healthy Beanie, do they get a sympathy vote from the pollsters if they get blown out? Does an injured foot somehow keep Ohio State in the national championship picture?
"We go in thinking we cannot lose this football game," Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman said. "This could be our season."
The Bucks and their fans are tired of taking it in the, uh, back side. In some quarters -- OK, mostly everywhere from Portland to Miami -- they are a national punch line. A pregame show last week featured a fan holding a sign that read: "I could start in the Big Ten."
Winning back respect is only part of what is at stake here. Who knew that Ohio State has played in the last four No. 1 vs. No. 2 games, and split them? This is No. 1 vs. No. 5, but the point is that Jim Tressel's Columbus Crew has some big-game experience.
|1. Pete Carroll, USC||77-14-0||.846|
|2t. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma||99-22-0||.818|
|2t. Urban Meyer, Florida||72-16-0||.818|
|4. Mark Richt, Georgia||74-19-0||.796|
|5. Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee||147-46-0||.762|
|6. Bobby Bowden, Florida State||374-119-4||.757|
|7. Joe Paterno, Penn State||374-125-3||.748|
|8t. Jim Tressel, Ohio State||210-73-2||.740|
|8t. Steve Spurrier, S. Carolina||164-57-2||.740|
So does USC. It has been No. 1 for most of this decade, it seems. It is playing at home, where it has lost three times in the Pete Carroll era.
To quote former USC linebacker Keith Rivers (and John Belushi): "It's not over until we say it's over."
Call it a warning or hope, WWL doesn't care. Just don't be surprised if you see this game again -- in January.
Scouting the Nation
More Game of the Saturday: When does five equal one? When USC's "Stable" is doing the math. Those are the five running backs who each scored a touchdown and combined for 208 yards against Virginia.
The one is Ohio State's best running threat if the Beanster doesn't play: Terrelle Pryor.
Did you hear the ones going around about the Pac-10 officials? Pac-10 officials are so clueless they think the spread option is a choice between Parkay and Land O'Lakes. ... Pac-10 officials just flagged the Lincoln Memorial for excessive celebration. ... Two words: Replay malfunction. ... Pac-10 officials thought the Fifth Down Game (Missouri-Colorado, 1990) was a training film. ... Pac-10 officials think the mortgage payment is a judgment call. ... Pac-10 officials love the new timing rules. Popcorn in only seconds? What is this thing you call a microwave?
|UCLA and BYU meet again. (Getty Images)|
LGBRI II: Hate to say this, but Georgia at South Carolina. WWL knows that Spur Dog got arguably his best Gamecocks win last year in Athens. But this game is a mismatch. Georgia's defense is a given. The offense under Mike Bobo looks lethal.
Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier's quarterback legacy is being tarnished. In his four seasons, none of his quarterbacks have thrown for 2,400 yards. This year's guys -- Chris Smelley and Tommy Beecher -- have been sacked nine times and thrown six interceptions.
Spurrier might be missing his best receiver Kenny McKinley (hammy) and maybe some of his mojo.
|Johnson's Jackets are fired up. (Getty Images)|
I hate Ike: Thoughts and prayers not only to the football teams but the folks around Galveston and Houston having to deal with Hurricane Ike.
Football seems trivial right now but, because of the postponement of the Arkansas-Texas game, the Hogs face a brutal stretch coming up. Arkansas now has consecutive games against Alabama (Sept. 20), at Texas (Sept. 27), Florida (Oct. 4), at Auburn (Oct. 11), at Kentucky (Oct. 18). Those five schools are all off to 2-0 starts. Four of the five are ranked. Counting last season, they are a combined 53-22 (.707) since the beginning of 2007. Four of the five won their bowl games. Only Florida lost.
Ike is sure to blow, but it also sucks if you're a Hogs fan.
|Weis stirred the pot this week. (Getty Images)|
In an effort to drum up ticket sales, promoter Charlie Weis broke out with, "To hell with Michigan," over the summer. Spinmeister Charlie then proceeded to say the remark paid respect to Bo Schembechler who was famously known to rant, "To hell with Notre Dame."
With all due respect, Charlie, until either of these teams can cross the goal line with any regularity, to hell with your offenses.
Look who's 1-1: Duke. The Fightin' Cutcliffes could start 2-1 for only the second time since 1999 with a win over suddenly bitter rival Navy. In last year's 46-43 Navy victory, Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis threw four touchdown passes then watched his team blow an 11-point second-half lead. Navy threw for a season-high 236 yards. This time, the Midshipmen are back atop the rushing stats. They should stay there with quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada back from a torn hammy.
Are the 'Cats back? Arizona (2-0 for the first time since John Mackovic in 2002) scored a combined 100-plus points in consecutive games for the first time since 1954.
|Tiller didn't foresee this. (Getty Images)|
"Coach Bellotti elevated the program a little higher than I had anticipated," Tiller said.
Are the New Mexico fans back? In the Land of the Rising Ticket Price, the Lobos are hoping to a return to normalcy. Some brilliant administrator had the idea to bump up ticket prices for last week's Texas A&M game from $32 to $50. The fans answered by staying away on a picture perfect day in Albuquerque. Only 28,007 showed up in 40,000-seat University Stadium. New Mexico had turned down a $1.8 million payday to move the game to San Antonio so at least it was worth it -- sarcasm added. Tickets are back to normal for Arizona.
It's a passing thang: A June Jones or Mike Leach quarterback has led I-A in passing each year since 2002. The trend continues when SMU goes to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders' Graham Harrell is currently first at 416.5 passing yards per game.
Um, 1955 called, it wants its novelty back: Missouri sports information will begin sending out 2,000 View-Masters to media equipped with 3-D slides of quarterback Chase Daniel in action.
|Get a Daniel View-Master now! (Getty Images)|
It is one of the more unique Heisman trinkets. Washington State and its Ryan "leaf" was brilliant. It's fall. It's Pullman. Go outside, pick up a bunch of leaves and stuff them in envelopes. Memphis spent $30,000 a couple of years ago sending out toy race cars to remind voters the "race is on" for tailback DeAngelo Williams.
Missouri's campaign is costing $25,000. The school plans to send new slides of Daniel throughout the season. The idea is to keep the quarterback in the minds of Heisman voters. Daniel finished fourth in the voting last year.
"That (Heisman) will not happen unless we win at a high level," coach Gary Pinkel said.
The Tigers try to go to 3-0 facing banged-up Nevada. Daniel needs 52 yards to become the school's career passing leader.
Battle of the brains: Either Rice or Vanderbilt will emerge from Vanderbilt Stadium 3-0. Vandy actually started 4-0 in 2005. Rice hasn't beaten an SEC team since 1980. The last time it was 3-0 was 1953. Owls coach Jess Neely took Rice to the Cotton Bowl that year. He had played at Vandy and left in 1966 to become the Commodores AD. Vandy, though, has its own problems with that annoying bowless streak (25 years).
Watch Rice's James Casey, who has lined up at seven positions in his career. Casey had a school-record 208 yards receiving against Memphis last week.
|Pelini should waltz to 3-0. (US Presswire)|
Once again, the objective is to keep everyone healthy. Saturday's opponent, New Mexico State, has been outscored by the Huskers 125-0 in two previous meetings. The Aggies are 1-18 against BCS conference schools since 1998.
As long as WWL brought it up ... Memphis was part of the most soul-crushing, mind-mending, gut-wrenching loss WWL has seen in decades. The Tigers (0-2, at Marshall) will try to recover from losing to Rice after of a game-winning, pick-six interception with 11 seconds left. The Tigers gave up 29 fourth-quarter points in a 42-35 loss.
"We're playing the same scheme that LSU won a national championship with. It's the same scheme (Bill) Belichick has done pretty well with at New England," coach Tommy West said. Isn't it obvious to everyone?
|The Bulldogs present a big challenge. (Getty Images)|
"I've seen quotes from (Fresno coach Pat Hill) directly that he's billing it as the largest game in school history. We're walking into an atmosphere that will be festive, shall we say," Bielema said. "We're playing a Top 25 (non-conference) team on the road. Not a lot of people do that."
Wisconsin's biggest advantage might be the return of All-American tight end Travis Beckum, who is making his season debut. Hamstring problems have hampered him since August.
"I just can't wait to go out there and play," Beckum said.
If only Jim Brown had some eligibility left: The great actor/athlete/activist will be among the Syracuse and Hollywood luminaries in town for the premier of The Express, a biopic of Orange great Ernie Davis. Brown, who helped recruit Davis to Syracuse, was a consultant on the film.
Joe Paterno, in town to spank Syracuse the next day, will be on hand throw out the first letterman (for a violation of team policy).
Back in the MAC: Things calm down a little for defending Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan this week. The Chips travel to Ohio a week after descending into the belly of the SEC beast at Georgia. This is Central Michigan's Brian Brunner blogging for NCAA.com this week:
"The hilly campus was rife with tailgaters for over a mile along the bus route to the stadium. There was one scene so bizarre (and frankly a bit frightening), that offensive tackle Andrew Hartline nudged me and had me look out the window. Groups of people were tailgating in a cemetery. Welcome to SEC football."