A day that had a rather severe start for yours truly is having a wonderful finish.
You get up at 3 a.m. (Iowa time) to get to the Tampa airport for the first of three flights that get you back to Cedar Rapids, two of them on American Eagle planes that would make sardines claustrophobic.
That was after eight days on the road, and eight nights of not getting one decent night of sleep. Maybe that came from staying in a hotel that was too close to an airport. Or too close to a freeway. Or too close to a Waffle House.
But the first blast of Midwest winter air felt great as I stepped outside The Eastern Iowa Airport. Tomorrow, it will probably feel like winter. Which is less than great.
So I got home, settled in, turned on the tail end of the Cotton Bowl, and fell asleep. I completely missed the Liberty Bowl, which was intentional. I slowly came to with the Sugar Bowl on in the background. I’d see Utah was ahead, and assume I was dreaming. Especially when it was 21-0.
Then I woke up, and naturally Alabama clawed back to 21-17. Yecch.
But the Utes got even tougher, and held on to vanquish the Crimson Tide.
I love this for two reasons. One, Alabama Coach Nick Saban is a joyless mercenary. Every game his teams lose is good for sports and the planet.
Two, I had Utah No. 5 in my latest AP Top 25 ballot. No one in the AP panel had the Utes any higher. I had them above USC and Penn State, and caught grief from fans of both because of it
But look at me (and Utah) now, my babies! That’s a Top Three team at the worst, the end. At 13-0 with wins over bowl-winners Oregon State and TCU, and now this disposal of the vaunted Crimson Tide in New Orleans, which is in SEC country.
Utah took its BCS bowl invitation and rubbed the power conferences’ faces in it. Just like Boise State did two years ago.
I’m under no obligation to put the winner of the Florida-Oklahoma BCS title game No. 1 on the final AP ballot next Thursday night. I probably will, anyhow, unless it’s a lousy game.
But let’s see what Texas does against Ohio State first. I may vote Texas No. 1. Or USC. Or, dare I say it, Utah.
Utah 31, Alabama 17. Such dire predictions for 2009 have been issued in many circles, but the year is fabulous so far.