Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday (BOISE! OHMYGOD!) Quickie

Boise. Oh my god.

No way. No effing way. No way that game finished the way it did: With Boise getting... well, out-Boise'd.

Losing a big lead? Missing a chip-shot FG to win in regulation? (Or another in OT, setting up the loss?)

When Boise, after losing their huge lead, hit that bomb with less than 10 seconds left on the clock setting up an easy FG, you were just like "Of COURSE they just did that."

Then, the miss.

Hol-eeee shhhhh....

I don't believe in this at all, but gosh did it feel like fate/karma/whatever were conspiring against them to say: No, this isn't your year.

And so there will be no BCS debate about Boise State. There might not even be a New Year's Day bowl, given that they won't even win the WAC.

I'm sorry, but this is why college football's regular season matters. That game totally undercut the "Death to the BCS" argument that CFB's regular season isn't as great as fans think it is.

It IS that great.

Boise's consolation -- although no Boise fan will care -- is that they were involved in the best game of the year... one of the most memorable games in recent college football history.

And, as much as anything, it is a great reminder that no game should be taken for granted: Not Oregon's season-finale against Oregon State... not Auburn's season-finale against South Carolina. I could see both teams losing. In fact, I think both teams WILL lose.

If Boise State can lose -- check that: if Boise State can lose in the way that they did last night -- then Oregon can lose on the road to its biggest rival or Auburn can lose on a neutral field to a team that nearly beat it in September, beat Alabama thoroughly and has been playing as well as any team in the country for the last few weeks.

This game should have restored -- or affirmed -- your faith that anything can happen in college football. And that college football's regular season remains supreme in sports.

Auburn stakes its claim: Auburn had no business winning that game. Down huge to rival and defending national champ Alabama. At Alabama. In front of a frenzied crowd, smelling Auburn blood. Cam Newton totally shut down -- seemingly solved.

Then... the comeback. TD after TD. Defensive stand after stand. It was as impressive of a win as we have seen in college football this season -- more than enough to justify ranking Auburn No. 1. Cripes, it was almost as jaw-dropping as Nevada's win over Boise. And that's saying something.

All that said: Given how well South Carolina is playing -- they throttled Alabama and nearly beat Auburn at Auburn back in September -- it is entirely possible that Auburn could win the rivalry war, yet lose the BCS battle.

-- D.S.

PS: Just realized I didn't hit "Publish Post" on yesterday's post. So I just did. Please read the post directly below, if you want to see it. Sorry about any confusion.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday 11/26 (Very) Quickie

The Friday after Thanksgiving reminds me of nothing if not the first inklings of the Tiger Woods scandal. Remember when we all thought it was just a benign car accident involving Tiger?

It's the Day of the Year in college football: Auburn-Alabama, Oregon-Arizona and, arguably, the late-night headliner, Boise State at Nevada. Everything (or nothing) could change. Must-watch.

(Speaking of college football, Texas's Worst. Year. Ever. -- and I'm talking about worse than anything in the pathetic Mackovic Era -- was completed with the team 5-7 and ineligible for a bowl. My question: How many bowls would take a sub-.500 Texas -- and their massive, if disappointed, fan base -- if they had the choice? I'd bet 80 percent.)

Thanksgiving NFL: Tom Brady rules. Not much more to say about it than that. His performance on the early-afternoon Thanksgiving stage might be the indelible image that voters remember in a month when they are filling out their MVP ballots.

*Moral victory for the Cowboys? If you only looked at Dallas' season in the context of the last two weeks (The Garrett Era), yesterday's loss to the Saints was a disappointment. If you see it as part of a larger terrible season, having a competitive game against the defending league champs on the team's biggest tradition game, keeping it close is a pretty good result.

*Jets win again: In case it wasn't obvious, every team needs its "Brad Smith," the do-it-all former QB who can catch, run, return kicks, take snaps under center, whatever. His shoeless romp was the highlight of the day.

NBA Last Night: John Wall was stymied in Atlanta (the Wiz seem set on only beating the league's dregs, while always losing to all teams that are any good), but in the late game, Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon showed that the Clippers have a hell of a good young combo to build the franchise on.

How many of you hit up the stores today? Good luck.

-- D.S.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

11/25 Thanksgiving Quickie

Happy Thanksgiving!... Per yesterday's discussion: So thankful when the Heat lose (again x3)... BTW: The Bulls are the anti-Heat... Wow, the preseason experts really slept on UConn, didn't they?... How many bowls would happily take a sub-.500 Texas?... Ever tried to apologize for a huge screw-up by text message? It's just not the same, VY... Boise State would beat any team in the country in a one-off game, yet it's not inconsistent to be willing to admit Boise might not go undefeated if they had to play in the SEC, week in and week out... NFL Picks: Pats in a rout, Saints in a rout, Jets in a rout... Don't forget to set your fantasy rosters... Best Thanksgiving dinner food: Stuffing, and I'll take mine from the ol' classic plain Pepperidge Farm jumbo bag...

-- D.S.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

11/24 Quickie: Thanks, NFL Week 12,
Jeter, P-Jax, UConn, CFB, JoePa, More

Today's Names to Know: Thanksgiving, Auburn vs. Alabama, Kellen Moore vs. Colin Kaepernick, Hal Steinbrenner vs. Derek Jeter, Phil Jackson vs. Pat Riley, Duke vs. Miami Heat, Kemba Walker vs. Brandon Knight, Josh Hamilton vs. Miguel Cabrera, Joe Paterno vs. 2011 and More.

Thanks. It is one of the most enjoyable days of the year: The day before Thanksgiving, when everyone says what they are thankful for -- in sports and otherwise.

Let's start with sports: I'm thankful for -- among other things...

*The Saints' onside kick in the Super Bowl.

*The feeling I had when Gordon Hayward put up his OHITSGOINGIN! shot at the buzzer in the national-title game.

*Tim Tebow being a 1st-round NFL draft pick and sticking it to the draftniks.

*The Wizards winning the John Wall lottery.

*College football Saturdays with Mrs. Quickie and my kids.

*Every time the Heat lose.

Would love to hear the sports things you are thankful for. I'll try to update the comments as much as possible during the day.

And then I'm thankful, as always, for every single visit each of you has made here over the past year. It has been a great year in sports, and I sincerely appreciate that you make the time to commiserate about it here. We are into the 5th year of this blog, and just like the Daily Quickie years ago, I find the renewed enthusiasm every day to keep it going because of you.

Heading into the new year -- and this exciting new venture of mine -- I am hoping to have built a product you love to use. Thanks in advance for your support... and for your patience as I promote it like I have never promoted anything in my life. (Speaking of which: Have you liked the Facebook page or followed the Twitter feed yet?)

Thanks again, and here's to a Happy Thanksgiving for you and your families.


NFL Week 12: My Favorite Storylines
1. Thanksgiving football: My favorite tradition.
2. Vick Watch: At Chicago, not easy.
3. GOTW: Packers-Falcons
4. Leslie Frazier's coaching debut: In DC.
5. Titans without VY: Rally or fold?


CFB Weekend Preview: HUGE. And it comes on Friday, not Saturday: Auburn at Alabama, then Oregon hosts Arizona, then Boise plays its toughest game of the year, at Nevada.

We could enter Saturday with a totally shook-up BCS outlook... or it could simply be one more week of "Oh, sure: Oregon and Auburn"... although both could lose NEXT week, too.

Picks: Alabama. Oregon. Boise. (Remember, if you truly hate the BCS, you should be rooting for Auburn to lose, but still jump unbeaten Boise in the final BCS standings, even with 1-loss.)


Yankees play hardball with Jeter: I completely agree with the way the Yankees are handling the Derek Jeter negotiation, and yesterday's public comments from the team were the best yet:

Says GM Brian Cashman: "We've encouraged him to test the market and see if there's something he would prefer other than this. If he can, fine. That's the way it works."

Says owner Hal Steinbrenner: "As much as we want to keep everybody, we've already made these guys very, very rich, and I don't feel we owe anybody anything monetarily."

Their offer to Jeter is MORE than fair, considering both Jeter's value to the franchise historically and his value relative to his age, skills and comparables around the league.

And they are spot-on to call Jeter's bluff: Derek Jeter knows that on the Yankees, he's "DEREK JETER... THE CAPTAIN!" On any other team, he's an overpaid, underskilled shortstop.

I hope the team holds its position. Jeter will take their deal. (And if he doesn't? The fans will be sad, but it's not like they're going to stop rooting for the team because of it.)


Heat Watch: Phil Jackson plays the Riley card. I love how Phil Jackson has dipped into the Heat's business by playing the "Riley" card. Jackson is more than likely not going to have to face the Heat in the Finals, and yet he is still playing mind games with them, just in case:

"The scenario that sits kind of behind the scene, is that eventually these guys that were recruited -- Bosh and James -- by Pat Riley and Micky Arison, the owner, are going to come in and say, 'We feel you [Riley] can do a better job coaching the team. We came here on the hopes that this would work,' and whatever, I don't know." Oh, Phil, but you DO know.


CBB Last Night: Duke rolled over Kansas State, as expected. Here is the best way to put this: Duke is what everyone thought the Miami Heat would be. (So where's the Duke Index?)

More: OK, so UConn is much, much better than people have given them credit for. If the season ended today (ha!), Kemba Walker would be 1st-team All-American.

(Really looking forward to UConn-Kentucky tonight in the finals in Maui. Really looking forward to the Walker head-to-head with UK's awesome frosh PG Brandon Knight.)


MLB Awards: Josh Hamilton wins AL MVP. Along with Votto in the NL, a terrific story of redemption -- one of the best in recent MLB history.

Hot Stove: Victor Martinez went to the Tigers. I still won't draft him in my fantasy league, after the way he has historically hurt my teams when I have had him, with his injuries, etc. (Meanwhile, Aubrey Huff re-signed with the Giants. And why wouldn't he? World champs!)


NBA Last Night: John Wall is back. And even if he was held scoreless in the 1st half, he came back in the 2nd and scored 25 points, including 3 points coming on 3-of-3 FTs when he astutely put up an absurd-looking 3 while Jrue Holiday was fouling him with just seconds to play in regulation, allowing the Wiz to tie the score and win the game.

(Tonight: Heat at Magic. Think the Magic want some payback for that early-season drubbing?)


Joe Paterno to coach in 2011: Is it a net-positive for the program, relative to him retiring? Probably not. Has Paterno reached the point where he can do whatever he wants? Absolutely. (Reached that point? He's been at that point for 20+ years.)

Skidmore hoops wins in 7 OTs: Division III rules!

Catch you tomorrow and/or have a great Thanksgiving.

-- D.S.

Sponsored Post: Rolling Along

Your weekly update on my travails in the Blogger Football League, sponsored by Procter & Gamble. For background, see this intro post.

Two wins in a row has me back on top of my division. After I eked out a win over KSK's Josh Zerkle in our KSK keeper league two weeks ago, last week I throttled him in this league, and that was while starting a DNP Antonio Gates. Even though he only had 8 points, I am still going to believe in my rookie RB LeGarrette Blount, to go with Chris Johnson in my backfield.

This week: I play Will Brinson's last-place Fuzzy Gullets, but he has won 2 straight -- he is prime to pull another upset. He has the MJD-Dwayne Bowe two-fisted KO talent. I am hoping that Antonio Gates can go. Three more weeks until the playoffs.

Here is this week's league recap, from Diana of the National Football Post.

Check out P&G's Take It To The House page on Facebook. Be sure to look for the new contest where you predict the players who will have the top 5 rushing or receiving plays from scrimmage, and if you get them all, you win some insanely good prizes.

The P&G Blogger Fantasy League (BFL) is a group of 12 online sports folks competing on the fantasy platform for the chance to win a donation for a local charity, furnished by P&G. The NFL Entities have not offered or sponsored the sweepstakes in anyway.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

11/23 Quickie: Chilly, Rivers, Heat, Duke

Today's Names to Know: Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier, Philip Rivers, Vince Young, Rusty Smith, Dwyane Wade, Clippers, Spurs, Duke (Mason Plumlee!) vs. Kansas State (Jacob Pullen!), Terrence Jones, Joey Votto, Josh Hamilton, Derek Jeter, Billy Hunter, Herschel Sims and More.

Vikings fire Brad Childress, promote Leslie Frazier: I think that Childress had created such a toxic atmosphere (between his off-putting personality and his off-base play-calling) that the Vikings are primed for a turnaround under Frazier.

It's a scenario not unlike what the Cowboys have done the past two weeks under Jason Garrett. The same team that was a few Favrian miscues from going to the Super Bowl less than a year ago can play the spoiler -- if not the playoff entrant -- in the NFC.

Chargers crush Broncos: San Diego only just now hit .500, tied with the Raiders and a game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. And yet the Bolts feel in complete control of the division. If they can sustain the special teams not sucking, they will run away with the West (before falling short in the playoffs, as usual). Phil Rivers looked every bit like the MVP contender he is: 4 TD passes (on a season-low 233 yards from 15 completions). And, yes, I'm a bit bitter that TT didn't get any PT.

Vince Young's season is over: He's on the IR. The only question is whether his Titans career is over. Jeff Fisher obviously doesn't want him, but owner Bud Adams does. It will be fascinating to see who wins that argument. For now, though: "Rusty" (Smith) is the new "VY."

The Heat hit a new low: They got crushed, at home, by the mediocre Pacers, in Dwyane Wade's worst game ever. (Is that enough for you?)

For those of us rooting for Southbeachadenfreude (new Quickie vocab!), this is a phenomenal development. Yes, yes: It's a long season. But presuming that the Heat will do just fine in the playoffs (although clearly they won't end up doing fine enough), we'll take what we can get.

More NBA: So let me get this straight: Without Rajon Rondo, the Celtics lost to the lowly Raptors, then turned around and beat the Hawks?...

More eye-opening Ws: Hell of a win (just their 2nd) for the Clippers, beating the Hornets (finally regressing to the mean?)... Are the Spurs the best team in the league? (11 straight wins, including last night's over the Magic)

CBB: Duke-Kansas State is worth staying up for a 10 pm ET tip on ESPN2. (Although I suspect it's going to be a Duke rout.) Speaking of staying up, tune in early to ESPN at 9:30 to catch a glimpse of Kentucky super-frosh Terrence Jones, who destroyed Oklahoma last night. He looked really impressive.

MLB Awards: Joey Votto won the NL MVP -- I had Votto on my fantasy team two years ago, when he had his small nervous breakdown, so I am partial to him. But let's be clear: Albert Pujols was the best AND most valuable player in the NL. He is simply in that zone that Michael Jordan was in during the 1990s where voters give the award to the next best guy, or else they would have to give him the award every single year.

Today: AL MVP. All signs point to Josh Hamilton, who missed a (un)healthy chunk of the season but still put up monster stats. Between Votto's comeback from mental-health issues and Hamilton's comeback from drug problems, it's a hell of a year for MVP-level redemption stories.

Jeter-Yankees Stand-Off: Unless you are a Yankees fan blinded by loyalty to a single player over your team, it is hard to argue with the reasonability of Brian Cashman's position here: That Jeter's age and his on-field performance should factor into how much money the team gives him as he turns 37, 38, 39...even 40.

It is hard to buy Jeter's agent's position that the Yankees somehow "owe" Jeter even more than he is worth. What were all those mega-contracts of the past decade for? (I find the comps to players Jeter's age and who play his position -- which still shows the Yankees are paying well above market value for The Captain -- to be compelling.)

Lockout Watch: NBA union honcho Billy Hunter puts a lockout next summer at "99 percent." That doesn't mean the season will be cancelled, or even that it will have a delayed start. Plenty of wiggle room in the summer for the lockout to happen but still have the season get going by November. Most fans won't be paying attention to the NBA until then anyway.

Pop Culture: It is possible that Oklahoma State football commit Herschel Sims, a star RB from Abilene (TX) HS, may never reach career heights as a college football player as he did last night being featured on MTV's "World of Jenks."

The Death of 2-year-old Lucas Tang at Staples Center: This continues to be a horrible story.

-- D.S.

Monday, November 22, 2010

11/22 Quickie: Pats, Vick, Jets, VY, BCS,
Pelini, Jimmie, Jeter, UNC, MLS, More

Today's Names to Know: Tom Brady, Mike Vick, Ellis Hobbs, Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez, Vince Young, Jon Kitna, Steve Johnson, Oregon, Boise State, Taylor Martinez, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Votto, Derek Jeter, Terry Collins, Zombie James Naismith, UNC hoops, Udonis Haslem, Rajon Rondo, Colorado Rapids, Tim Tebow and More.

Don't forget
: Quickish, my new company, is coming, and I want to keep you as informed about it as possible. Keep up by liking Quickish on Facebook and following it on Twitter.

In Memoriam: Lucas Anthony Tang. You don't have to be the parent of a 2-year-old boy to be decimated by this. Horrible beyond words.

(I had this as a stand-alone post, updated this morning, but I just couldn't look at it on the site without kind of freaking, so I moved it here. It is not meant to diminish it as a story.)

NFL Talking Points:

*Big win for the Pats. They keep pace with the Jets, yes, but also showcase a strong performance over a very good Colts team. Brady was awesome. Peyton pulled a Favre at the end (to cap a 3-pick day). I saw someone say that from a Pats fan's perspective, this was a good make-up for last season's "4th-and-2," and I can't disagree that it was Bill Belichick getting his karmic payback for doing the right thing last year but not having it work out.

*Favre humiliated by Packers: In case you're wondering if it could get worse for Brett Favre after the past few weeks, the answer is: YES. Against his old team -- perhaps for the last time -- Favre was impotent while his longtime understudy Aaron Rodgers was ascendant. The contrast was startling. I love how it's a story that Favre acknowledged that the Vikings' playoff hopes are over. Just now? Wasn't that the case weeks ago?

*Jets stunner: This was a "No. Freaking. Way." finish for the league's most mesmerizing team. They should have lost. You could argue they deserved to lose. But Mark Sanchez was brilliant on the final drive -- as was that GW catch by Santonio Holmes -- and... just wow.

*Vick rolls on: LeSean McCoy was the hero for Philly (getting 50 on 4th-and-1 is quite acceptable), but consider that Vick was two easy drops -- not his fault -- from an extra 2 TD passes and a blowout win.

(Here's to a full recovery for Ellis Hobbs. The initial news this morning is positive. Another injury to watch: Austin Collie.)

*Vince Young has lost his mind: Something's not right. I appreciate not liking being benched, but to sulk, to throw your jersey and pads into the crowd, to scurry out of the locker room after the game. And if Jeff Fisher would rather go with Rusty Smith -- or whoever -- than VY, you know it's even worse than it appears to be. We're back to the "Vince Young is a headcase" meme.

*Jon Kitna > Tony Romo. I'm not sure if I'm kidding or not. Obviously, Jason Garrett is a huge factor, but you can't argue that Kitna the journeyman is entirely effective in the Cowboys offense, in a way that Romo wasn't before he got hurt.

*Chiefs and Bucs roll on. After a couple games, we could joke that they were flukes. Just about 2/3 into the season, both have affirmed huge strides this season. If this keeps up, it's hard to figure out which coach -- Todd Haley or Raheem Morris -- deserves Coach of the Year. (Now, I wouldn't trust either of them in the playoffs against a decent team, but that's not the point.)

*Fantasy Studs: Ryan Fitzpatrick to Steve Johnson. Whoa. Down 21 before storming to a 42-point surge was like Montana-to-Rice out there for a little while. Plus, Johnson showed a little Ochocinco by lifting his jersey after a TD to reveal a phrase "Why so serious?"

Hot seats: Speaking of the Bills' comeback win over the Bengals, that might be Marvin Lewis's job (if not now, then certainly as Exhibit A if/when he is let go after the season ends.)

(Brian St. Pierre Watch: That 88-yard TD to David Gettis was fun to see, wasn't it? The back-to-back pick-6s? Not so much.)


CFB BCS: It's still Oregon-Auburn 1-2 in the BCS, with the biggest weekend of the season approaching -- my top two contenders face their toughest games of the season:

*Auburn at Alabama
*Boise State at Nevada

And Oregon hosts Arizona before its own toughest game of the season, at Oregon State (which beat down USC in a much more decisive way than Oregon did... not unlike the way Stanford beat down Cal much more decisively than Oregon did.)

In my BlogPoll ballot, I'm sticking with Boise at No. 1, with Auburn at No. 2. I'll keep Oregon at No. 3, but only a smidgen ahead of Stanford, which leap-frogged poor TCU, who I am clearly over-compensating about, given that I had them at No. 1 just two weeks ago.

See yesterday's post for a whole lot of BCS talk, including why any BCS-hater who isn't rooting against Boise State is being disingenuous.

Taylor Martinez vs. Bo Pelini: Conflicting rumors of whether QB Taylor Martinez is or is not leaving Nebraska, but if you watched the video of him being inappropriately chewed out by coach Bo Pelini, you wouldn't blame him for getting the hell out of there as fast as possible.

Pelini embarrassed himself and the school, all while humiliating his QB. Given Martinez's potential, I wouldn't be surprised if 30 schools hadn't already reached out to him to say: "Why would you put up with THAT?"


NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson -- winner of his 5th straight NASCAR title -- is the biggest dynasty in sports since... what? It's hard to compare to team sports, so since Federer? (But that ended, like, a year ago. Anyway: NASCAR is a little more boring for it. It is not good for the sport that the same guy has won the season championship for the last half-decade.)


MLB Awards Season: Joey Votto is expected to win NL MVP, ahead of Albert Pujols, who is the victim of the "Michael Jordan Effect," in which voters assume away one player's brilliance to the point where they pick the next-best player as MVP, because otherwise the same guy would win MVP every. single. year.

MLB Hot Stove: The gamesmanship continues between the Yankees and Derek Jeter. Now, it's Jeter's agent calling the Yankees' negotiating tactics "baffling." I'll stand by my current analysis: The Yankees are being irrational, relative to Jeter's value, by paying him so much; Jeter is being irrational in thinking that the team would suffer any consequences for letting him walk. They'll meet in the middle, because the Yankees don't want the bad PR and Jeter knows he won't be as appreciated anywhere else.

Mets hire Terry Collins as manager: This felt like a done-deal for weeks. He has the faith of the new Mets brain trust.


CBB: Wow, UNC had a terrible experience in Puerto Rico. First, they lost to Minnesota. Then they lost to Vanderbilt. They have the best player in the country -- and it's not a very good team. Welcome to UNC, Harrison Barnes: If you were going to be a one-and-done and play for a middling team, you might as well have stayed home and been a hero at Iowa State.



Quote of the Weekend: "I don't care if James Naismith was guarding me, which would be scary because he's dead." -- Rudy Gay, after his jumper over LeBron to lead Memphis over Miami. The idea "Zombie Naismith" is not just awesome, but the basis for a hell of a sports movie.

(Meanwhile, the Heat have lost Udonis Haslem -- a huge cog, perhaps the most valuable player outside the Big Three... perhaps more valuable than Chris Bosh, even -- for a while. As long as he is back by the playoffs, this is kind of irrelevant. But it sets them back all the more from gelling as a complete group. They were already without Mike Miller.)

NBA: The Celtics losing to the Raptors was a clear indication of just how valuable -- as in "MVP"-level -- that Rajon Rondo is to Boston. Time to stop calling it a "Big Three" and just refer to "The One."


Colorado Rapids win MLS Cup for the 1st time: They had a good-not-great (7th-best) regular season record -- this is becoming a fun trend among MLS champs -- and got their Cup-winning goal off a deflection off a Dallas defender's leg, but a title is a title. (The unexpectedness of the MLS champ is a refreshing change from the monotony of NASCAR's Jimmie Dynasty.)


Tonight: Tim Tebow in his "Monday Night Football" debut. Given that he had two chances to score last week -- with two TDs to show for it -- expect Josh McDaniels to take advantage of the national platform to try to justify how smart he is for drafting Tebow by letting him have at least a few cracks at the end zone.

-- D.S.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday CFB Hangover: BCS Talk

Here's a question I'm going to dig into more during the week:

If you hate -- I mean HATE -- the BCS, would you rather see Boise State crash the BCS title game (which would allow the institutional system to claim that the system "works") or see Boise State NOT make the BCS title game in some kind of egregious way, like if Auburn loses to Alabama next week but still makes the BCS title game with 1 loss.

I would argue that if you hate the BCS, you need to be rooting for Auburn to lose, but still to beat out unbeaten Boise State for a spot in the national title game.

In other words, Boise State making the BCS title game is arguably the worst thing that could happen for critics that would like to see the BCS implode.

Meanwhile: The Wrigley game WAS pretty funky to watch. As someone rooting for Northwestern, the actual game outcome was less fun.

I am so impressed with Stanford. How impressed? Well, for starters, I think if Stanford played Oregon on a neutral field (rather than in Eugene), I think Stanford wins. I think Stanford destroyed Cal, while Oregon damn nearly lost to them.

And I think that just two weeks after ranking TCU at No. 1, I am pushing Stanford to No. 4, ahead of TCU and just a smidgen behind Oregon, who I have at No. 3. (Man, it's kind of unfair and ridiculous how I'm penalizing TCU at this point.)

I will keep Boise at No. 1 -- I think they would beat any team in the country, head-to-head. Boise has its toughest game of the season -- including Virginia Tech -- next Friday vs. Nevada.

Auburn is No. 2 -- for now. Obviously, their game on Friday against Alabama is The Season. My gut says that Alabama, motivated to absolutely ruin their blood-rival's season, will win. My head says that, as predisposed as I am to be awed by Bama, Auburn is better this season.

Prelim BlogPoll ballot: (1) Boise, (2) Auburn, (3) Oregon, (4) Stanford, (5) TCU, (6) LSU, (7) Wisconsin, (8) Alabama, (9) Ohio State, (10) Oklahoma State, (11) Arkansas, (12) Michigan State, (13) Oklahoma, (14) South Carolina, (15) Virginia Tech.

(I will say this: If Auburn does beat Alabama, it would be awfully hard not to slot Auburn at No. 1 in the country -- their schedule will have been more merciless than any, and that's not even including the following week's SEC title game against surging South Carolina, who Auburn barely beat at home back in September. The irony is if Auburn beats Alabama, only to lose a week later in the rematch with the Gamecocks, which could totally happen.)

The ultimate scenario is this:

*Oregon loses at Oregon State -- and, given the way OSU beat USC way more comprehensively than Oregon did, could totally happen.

*Auburn loses to either Alabama or South Carolina.

*Boise loses to Nevada.

Then what? I think we'd get unbeaten TCU vs. 1-loss Oregon in the national-title game, because I can't see pollsters putting a non-SEC-champ Auburn in the national title game.

(Of course, the more likely scenario is that Oregon and Auburn both win out, and the title-game pairing is devoid of much controversy, beyond a basic claim that Boise and TCU got screwed.)