Monday, November 7, 2005

Well, the ‘Canes certainly put the quietus on this season’s potential BCS controversy by exterminating previously unbeaten Virginia Tech on Saturday night in Blacksburg.

Aside from Marcus Vick’s atrocious performance, the Back Judge was most stunned by Miami’s complete mastery of the Hokies in the trenches.

This wasn’t a scheme victory. It was an old-style physical throttling. Miami took Tech’s manhood in the 27-7 victory, and one shouldn’t be surprised if it takes the Hokies a couple of years to completely recover. Yes, such a loss, at home, in such national-title position could easily be that debilitating.

In many ways, Miami’s third offensive possession defined the game. On that drive, a methodical 18-play, 82-yard drive for a 10-0 lead, the Hurricanes lost starting tailback Tyrone Moss to a sprained left knee and starting quarterback Kyle Wright to a near-concussive late hit from Darryl Tapp.

With backup Kirby Freeman in for Wright, everybody from kindergarten up in the Commonwealth knew Miami was going to do nothing but run the ball. And the Hokies still couldn’t stop it. In a microcosm of its game-long dominance, Miami called runs on the first four plays after Freeman entered the game, and backup tailback Charlie Jones walked into the end zone on fourth down after those plays yielded 13 tough red-zone yards.

Kudos to the ‘Canes, who said all week they were going to turn Tech over their collective knee and then did exactly that. Shame on Tech. You just can’t come up that small in the moment. Most programs only get a handful of such games, contests with true title implications that you should win. After laying such a resounding egg, one has to wonder if Tech’s program has peaked.

The good news, of course, is that there is zero question about who belongs in the Rose Bowl. There’s two-time defending national champion USC. There’s No.2 Texas (9-0), which just keeps rolling behind Heisman candidate Vince Young. And then after a Carl Lewis-style leap of relativity, there’s everybody else.

Arizona, a team that was just 5-24 in Pac-10 play since 2002 entering the weekend, did the college football world the favor of outing previously unbeaten UCLA 52-14. So much for the supposed USC-UCLA showdown on Dec.3.

And the Back Judge doesn’t want to hear a peep out of Tuscaloosa. Sure, Alabama is unbeaten. But nobody is going to confuse the Crimson Tide with last season’s hard-luck Auburn squad.

For one, Alabama is still its three toughest games of the season (LSU, at Auburn, vs. SEC East champion) from running the table. Second, no team that scores a grand total of one offensive touchdown in its last three wins — against three teams with a combined SEC record of 3-14 — has a legit BCS beef with the likes of USC and Texas mercilessly throttling all comers on a weekly basis.

The bad news in all this Rose Bowl clarity, of course, is that the BCS goons are going to mistake good fortune for a good system, giving them an excuse to put the plus-one format back on the shelf.

Gameballs and gassers

Miami fullback-cum-prophet Quadtrine Hill gets some leather for boldly explaining early last week how his ‘Canes were going to handle No.3 Virginia Tech: “We are going to stomp them out. They think they are invincible up there in Blacksburg, but they have another thing coming.”

Indeed, stomped out, thing delivered, case closed.

Kansas gets team love for snapping its 36-game drought against Nebraska in style by pummeling the Cornhuskers 40-15. The last time the Jayhawks beat the Cornhuskers man had yet to walk on the moon, Watergate was just an address and Woodstock was simply Snoopy’s sidekick.

The most obvious gasser goes collectively to the Hokies. What an anticlimax. Where was your soul, your pride, your manhood? Run to Richmond and back. And take whoever designed those new unis with you. What’s with the unbalanced XFL shoulder stripe? Talk about your fashion faux pas; only Oregon’s yellow-on-yellow Fightin’ Highlighter look is worse.

Urban Meyer, take another lap. Florida doesn’t need two overtimes to beat Vanderbilt. It just isn’t done. Ever. To think he was the Golden Domers’ first choice, and they had to “settle” for Charlie Weis. That’s very Bowie-Jordan — think the Gators would trade?

All the way through the line, Phillip Fulmer. You’ve now officially murdered more talent than even Mack Brown, so don’t cheat us out of one painful step.

Finally, what happened to the Xavier Lee who broke every meaningful Florida prep passing record? The kid using his name at Florida State couldn’t hit a billboard from five paces, and the Back Judge’s toddler throws a tighter spiral. Seriously, who’s coaching quarterbacks at Florida State these days … Phil Niekro?

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