But first, Bro’, did you see that? No, it wasn’t an extraterrestrial object hurtling toward a meteor-proof Toyota. It was Vince Young using his speed and his massive 6′-5″, 233 pound sinew machine to stage one of the most memorable comeback two-minute drills this Turkey has ever seen. What a pro Vince Young is going to be!
And what of USC? They almost wrapped up their third [still somewhat mythical] national championship. They were this close. Ballsy call by Pete Carroll on fourth and short–and with LenDale White running up the gut as well as he had been doing all night, winding up with 20 carries for 124 yards, it was the correct call, too. It could have won the game right then and there.
Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post and ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption predicted the outcome of the game on the PTI Show with partner Tony Kornheiser:
Kornheiser: What’s your prediction for tonight’s Rose Bowl game?
Wilbon: It’s going to be 42–40.
Kornheiser: 42–40 WHO?
Wilbon: I didn’t say anything about WHO. I said 42–40!
It wound up 41–38. Close enough, Wilbon. If any of you went to bed before the game ended, shame on you! This hard fought Rose Bowl was well worth staying up late a second night in a row.
Total offense wound up a small edge for USC: 574 to 556 total yards. That’s just about even. Both team had 30 first downs. Even. These were two evenly matched opponents playing above the level of all the other BCS teams. I don’t think anyone was really even close.
That is why I do not take issue at all with Texas and USC finishing #1 and #2 in both polls. My blue and white blood does not even boil on account of Penn State not moving up. These two far and away deserved to be #1 and #2.
That said, what a magnificent accomplishment for the Nittany Lions to finish this Cinderella season at #3. At the outset, this Turkey predicted a 7–4 season and a minor bowl. Phil Grosz, the perennially optimistic publisher of Blue White Illustrated went on record stating that the coaches should consider anything worse than an 8–3 record a failure. We all laughed at Phil. Well, we wound up 10–1 and played in—and won—our first BCS bowl. We regained national recognition. We shut a lot of mouths. So, finishing #3 in the polls is fine with this Turkey. It is truly an excellent ending to a most excellent season.
Who better to be #4 than our next-state rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes. They lived up to this Turkey’s expectations and spilled green Irish blood on the Arizona sands. A happy result and a well deserved #4 ranking with only a loss to #1 Texas and another to #3 Penn State to mar their record. The Buckeyes have truly great defense that was missing one of its key players, linebacker Bobby Carpenter, who was injured. Congratulations to the Ohio State Buckeyes on finishing the season #4.
The two polls have the next two positions flipped. AP puts West Virginia at #5 and LSU at #6. USA Today has it reversed. The Nittany Turkey ate his words after the Sugar Bowl, feeling that WVU couldn’t play on the same field with Georgia. The Mountaineers kicked ass! So did LSU, playing the Miami Hurricanes in a non-BCS bowl, the last annual Peach Bowl, which next year will be renamed the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (only chickens, no peaches). Miami seemed not to show up for the game, and this week they fired all their assistant coaches. The fact that LSU had two losses versus one for West Virginia should have caused WVU to finish higher, but the USA Today coaches probably were biased against the Big East, considering the Mountaineers’ victories against weaker opponents. Still, they beat Georgia fair and square, with Shockley playing for the Bulldogs. This Turkey believes that West Virginia deserves to be #5.
Both polls agree on Virginia Tech and Alabama being #7 and #8, respectively, and so does the Turkey. However, I believe that Marcus Vick ought to be sent packing for his conduct unbecoming a quarterback. Even in the heat of combat, deliberately tromping an opponent’s leg after the play is unacceptable behavior. Virginia Tech had better clean up its act.
At #9, there is a huge anomaly—a travesty, even. The Notre Dame lobby apparently sent several cases of Old Bushmill’s to the sports writers who vote in the AP poll, who placed three-loss Notre Dame ninth, while the coaches of the USA Today poll chose TCU for that position. I won’t whine and moan about this favored treatment for the Irish, who were sent back to South Bend with their leprechaun tails between their legs. I just cannot see the justification for them placing so highly when they lost their bowl so convincingly. TCU had only one loss, early in the season to SMU. The sportswriters apparently wish to marginalize the Mountain West conference. This old Turkey will go with TCU in the #9 spot.
Georgia, with three losses, rounds out both polls at #10.
Below #10, the water is muddy, but one more travesty sticks out like a sore thumb. Both polls rank Auburn #14 and Wisconsin #15. Do WHUT, Buford? Yeah, you read that right. Wisconsin comes to the Capital One Bowl and kicks Auburn’s war eagle yellin’ ass up and down the field for an hour, they both finish with 9–3 records, and Wisconsin still winds up beneath Auburn in both polls? Does this make any sense to you? Do they have to play best two out of three, or what?
Of the Big Ten schools, only Penn State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin finished in the Top 25. Michigan and Iowa, with bowl losses, fell out of the rankings.
So, what do you all think of the rankings?
Again, nice analysis TNT. The ranking of Auburn/Wisconsin also jumped out at me. Doesn’t make sense how a team can beat another team with the same record, from comparable conferences, with comparable loses and still be ranked below the team they beat. ND is also unworthy of a Top 10 ranking, even before they played OSU, but I’m not surprised. They’ll probably be ranked #3 going into next season. Hopefully we can kick their a**es and bring them back to earth.
Oh, I also must say that I came close on my pre-game score prediction for the UT/USC game. I thought Texas would win 42-35. I figured both teams would put up a lot of points and yardage, but it would come down to who played better defense. However, I was pretty far off with the PSU game prediction (I thought PSU would win 31-17). At least they won :).
The Nittany Turkey says
The Wisc/Auburn thing surprised me because it was that way in both polls. You would expect that sort of bias (along with bias toward ND) from sportswriters, but the coaches should know better!