- The Washington Times - Monday, November 29, 2004

The Washington Times’ college football writer takes a look at the week that was:

Auburn better prepare for a disappointing December.

The greatest hose-job in the modern history of major team sports is just one week away. If Southern California, Oklahoma and Auburn all win next week, the Trojans and Sooners will advance to Miami for fanfare, pageantry and a shot at the national title in the Orange Bowl. And the Tigers will take their flawless record, brilliant backfield and brutish defense and report to the Forgettabowl.

The BCS has spoken, or at least mumbled its intentions. The computers love Oklahoma. The voters love USC. And short of a first loss, next Saturday’s margins, however lopsided or slim, aren’t likely to change the current rankings.

Frankly, the Back Judge is sick of comparing and contrasting the relative merits and shortcomings of the three undefeated squads (not to mention Utah).

The fact of the matter, and the fact upon which virtually everyone can agree, is that no unbeaten team from a major conference should get shut out of the national title game. If a squad from the SEC, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-10 (the Big East is now an intramural league) finishes unblemished, it should be guaranteed a title shot. Any system that does not deliver this guarantee is a travesty and not worth recognizing.

The Back Judge fears secession and encourages insurrection. Please direct reams of visceral correspondence to:

BCS Cartel

700 West Washington Street

Indianapolis, IN 46222

Bronze Boy, take 34 — Matt Leinart/Norm Chow, take a bow. You have to love how USC’s junior quarterback and his Oz-like OC waited until the season’s penultimate week, on national TV, in prime time, against Notre Dame to break out a career performance. Leinart finished the game 24 of 34 for 400 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions, as the Trojans scored 38 unanswered points to turn a first-quarter eyebrow-raiser into a 41-10 laugher.

Leinart’s campaign needed a defining performance, and now it has one. The junior slinger now leads Oklahoma freshman tailback Adrian Peterson by a comfortable margin in most Heisman polls.

Game balls and gassers — The Back Judge gives his team leather to Louisville, a team which capped the most impressive offensive month of the last decade with a 70-7 splattering of Cincinnati Saturday to claim the Conference USA crown. The Cardinals are easily the best offensive team in the nation; forget that blue-turf clown show in Boise. Louisville has strapped an average of 61.5 points on its last four opponents, and nobody wants to go bowling opposite Stefan LeFors, Eric Shelton, Michael Bush, Josh Tinch and J.R. Russell. Give the points and take the Cardinals. And watch Louisville’s Bobby Petrino in the postseason coach-courting frenzy.

The individual game ball goes to Syracuse senior strong safety Diamond Ferri. Forced into the backfield after an injury to second-string tailback Damien Rhodes, Ferri rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns and added a 44-yard interception return for a third score in the Orange’s 43-17 upset of Boston College. Mama clearly knew what she was doing when she penned his birth certificate.

The team gassers go to Virginia and Tennessee. The Boohoos have played three ranked teams this season and lost to each by an average score of 34-11. Can we all agree to stop the sickening Al Groh gushing now? Yeah, he’s a slice of Tuna, a pro guy ready to change the face of college coaching, a defensive guru and a recruiting tornado. He’s also a double-digit loser in the games that define the season. Enough already. He’s a good coach, not a great one.

As for the Vols, Tennessee gives up 33 and 31 points in consecutive weeks in near-upset losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, a pair of teams who rank 105th and 114th, respectively, in the nation in scoring offense. That’s almost as embarrassing as Phil Fulmer’s tailored tarpaulin orange jacket. Now the flailing Vols travel to Atlanta for the SEC title game where they’ll face an angry Auburn team which already humiliated them (34-10) in Knoxville. Atlanta. No defense. Merciless opposition. Sounds like a Sherman-style beating in the offing. Is it too late for Fulmer to forfeit?

Our individual gasser was ticketed for Iowa State kicker Bret Culbertson, who shoved a 24-yard potential game-winner against Missouri that would have sent the Cyclones to the Big 12 championship (instead it’s Colorado), but Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball swiped the chagrin by doubling his on-field folly with a cosmically clueless quote. After losing track of the downs deep in Georgia territory on the last possession of Georgia Tech’s 19-13 loss to the Bulldogs, a brain-burp that resulted in a clock-stopping spike on third-and-21 followed by a suspense-closing toss out-of-bounds on what Ball obviously thought was third down, the Tech sophomore had the gall to say:

“The scoreboard said one thing, the refs said another. When you’ve got a game that close, you’ve got to expect a little home cooking.”

So, let’s get this straight, Reggie, you forget the down, proceed with a pair of stupid plays and then try to shovel off your incompetence on home cooking? Wow, take three laps around I-285.

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