“If we can come out and beat O-State that would clear everything up.”— Michigan senior safety Brandon Harrison about the 3-8 Wolverines’ upcoming game at Ohio State.
Everybody has a dream.
1. Cool Cats: The Big Ten’s Coach of the Year will probably be Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald.
The Wildcats are 8-3, and will go to a very good bowl with a home win Saturday over decaying Illinois.
In rain, sleet and snow, Northwestern gutted out a 21-14 win at Michigan. That was its first win in Ann Arbor since 1995, when Fitzgerald was the Wildcats’ star linebacker.
“All of a sudden you come out in the second half and it’s snowing,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a beautiful Big Ten football weather day.”
It wasn’t so lovely to Michigan fans. Most fled their stadium long before the game ended.
They didn’t want to see the Wolverines clinch their first eight-loss season in the program’s 129-year history.
Harrison, so optimistic in the “Opening Kickoff” comment, wasn’t as cheery about the game that had just ended.
“I’m sick to my stomach right now,” he said.
2. Empty Win: LSU’s Tiger Stadium also was emptied out in the fourth quarter of the Troy-LSU game. Those who stayed witnessed the biggest comeback in Tigers history.
LSU rallied from a 31-3 hole for a 40-31 triumph.
The Baton Rouge Advocate’s Randy Rosetta called it “a comeback that will survive as the stuff of legend for years to come in front of the sparse but hearty few thousand fans who stuck it out.”
LSU quarterback Jarrett Lee was booed and benched in the first half. For the seventh time this year, he had an interception returned for a touchdown. But he completed 11 fourth-quarter passes and last year’s national champs awakened in time to avoid an embarrassment.
“Not one time in our minds did we think we were going to lose this game,” Lee said.
Which is more than you could say for LSU’s fans.
3. Band Goes Digital: At halftime of the USC-Stanford game, the ever-irreverent Stanford band formed the number “24,” on the field, referring to the Cardinal’s point total in its shocking 24-23 win at USC.
The band formed the letters “OJ” for its opening number, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
O.J. Simpson won the Heisman Trophy when he played at USC, you see. Forty years ago!
The Trojans won this time around, 45-23.
“There was a lot of talk about revenge coming into the game,” said Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh. “That’s a word I don’t use in college football.”
“It was revenge,” said USC tailback C.J. Gable.
Stanford, for some odd reason, lined up for a field goal on the game’s last play. USC Coach Pete Carroll, for some odd reason, called a timeout. Stanford changed its mind, and Alex Loukas threw an 18-yard touchdown pass.
“Loukas wanted to go for the end zone,” Harbaugh said. “So I said, ‘Let’s go for the end zone.’ . . . I just wanted to get the last points.”
Carroll’s reaction to Harbaugh’s decision-making: “He can do whatever he wants. I don’t care.”
“If Harbaugh stays at Stanford a while rather than going off to the NFL,” wrote Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News, “this could turn into quite the snarky annual kickoff appointment.”
1. Axed: A not-so-funny thing happened to Minnesota (7-4) on its way to a New Year’s bowl. It lost to Northwestern and Michigan at home, then fell 35-32 at Wisconsin Saturday after holding a 21-7 halftime lead.
The Paul Bunyan Axe remains in Madison.
“We’re going to lay on a sword for the next couple days,” Gophers Coach Tim Brewster said. “We’re going to bleed this one out hard. This will be tough to let go.”
Iowa hopes he’s right. The Hawkeyes will try to extend Minnesota’s misery Saturday night in the Metrodome.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, will try to get to 7-5 by beating Cal Poly Saturday in Madison.
“I really don’t know how the bowl system works,” Badgers center John Moffitt said. “I feel like there’s three guys in a room and they flip a quarter. I’m trying to go every game, one game at a time — just try to win out.”
The Hlist questions why it takes three guys to flip quarters, but not as much as it wonders why Wisconsin is playing Cal Poly in mid-November.
2. Coldcocked: Florida’s 56-6 win over South Carolina was Gamecocks Coach Steve Spurrier’s worst loss in his 309 games as a head coach in college and pro football.
“A loss is a loss, whether it’s by one point or 50 points,” Spurrier said. “Sometimes getting your butt beat real good is better than a one-pointer or two-pointer.”
Sunday, Spurrier sounded more like an apologist than the brash Ol’ Ball Coach who directed Florida to six SEC titles and the 1996 national championship.
“We’re not the first team they’ve ever scored 50 on lately and may not be the last team. But we are 7-4,” he said.
The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi: “Seeing Spurrier coming back to The Swamp and getting clobbered was like watching an aging Sinatra returning to the Sands and forgetting the words to ‘My Way.’
“Urban Meyer came to Florida and wanted to be like Steve Spurrier.
“Now Steve Spurrier’s at South Carolina and wants to be like Urban Meyer.”
3. No, Prez, No!: We don’t need our presidents worrying about sports, unless Alabama Coach Nick Saban is close to nuclear capability. Even if he isn’t, he needs to be watched closely.
Anyway, Barack Obama really doesn’t need to pander to the masses by pushing for a college football playoff.
“I don’t know any serious fan of college football who has disagreed with me on this,” Obama said on “60 Minutes” Sunday. “So, I’m going to throw my weight around a little bit. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
“Certainly it’s an important issue for college football and colleges,” said Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany. “Where does it stand in the list of challenges we have in America today? I would say it’s not very high.”
If only the Big Ten Network’s ghastly “Friday Night Tailgate” used that kind of common sense.
“I look forward to talking with (Obama) and explaining to him that it’s not in the best interest of the academic integrity of our institutions,” Ohio State Chancellor Gordon Gee said.
The Hlist thinks that would be useful.
Because in these challenging times, our new president will need all the laughs he can get.
“If 35-7 against Kansas on the road isn’t good enough for someone, we’ll just go wherever they tell us to go.” — Texas Coach Mack Brown on a suggestion the Longhorns’ latest win might not have wowed pollsters.