Sunday, November 29, 2015

Meet the Final Four Selection Committee

If one is a big fan of "diversity" when it comes to appointing people to various stations in life -- and is willing to accept the incompetency that usually comes with it -- then one would be quite enamored with the panel of "experts" that will decide which four college football teams get to play for the national championship. Let's meet them.

The Chairman is one Jeff Long. Why this panel needs a chairman is a good question, much like why the Supreme Court needs a Chief Justice. If they all have equal votes, then what's the point? But I suppose somebody has to rap a gavel and call the meeting order. Tough job. At any rate, Long is the AD at Arkansas. He might know a little bit about football.

Barry Alvarez. BA was a long-time coach at Wisconsin and moved up to AD himself. He definitely knows football.

Lieutenant General Michael Gould. He was an Air Force flyboy and made his way up through the ranks to oversee the Air Force Academy. And just what, pray tell, do generals know about college football? Likely very little. Does Mikey wear his old uniform with all the fruit salad on the front when he sits in on such meetings? Do the others have to stand at attention and salute him when he enters the room? Unknown. But this doesn't seem right.

Pat Haden. Currently the AD at USC. The good Mr. Haden has made the news several times in recent years. Unfortunately, it was always for his bumbling at Southern Cal. Coaches, players, scandals, you name it, and if there was a way to screw it up -- Pat would find it. But now he's deemed an expert. Right.

Tom Jemstedt. Ever heard of him? Me neither. Turns out, Tommie spent almost 40 years as a bureaucrat with the NCAA -- in basketball. How'd they come up with this guy?

Oliver Luck. In the past, he was a suit for the NFL, oversaw NFL Europe -- which folded -- and then landed at West Virginia. Leave it to the by-Godders to put a guy in charge of their athletic programs fresh off his last venture going belly up. Further, leave it to the NCAA to decide he morphed into another expert overnight and put him on the almighty Committee.

Archie Manning. You remember Arch. He was supposedly a legend at Mississippi. Problem is, he never won squat in college or the NFL that followed. Evidently, Ole Miss has some pretty low standards for legend status. Then again, Archie has two famous kids. You know, the QBs that have made arguably the stupidest commercials in the history of TV endorsements. Lots of them, especially the eldest. The man has no shame. But count Arch another expert these days.

Tom Osborne. This guy has the right stuff, on one condition. As the long-time head coach at Nebraska, including winning national titles, then moving up to AD himself, Ozzie definitely knows college football. Or used to. The condition? Hopefully he wasn't brain damaged from the three terms he spent in the US Congress. Hang out with incompetent people for six years and sometimes the stupidity has a way of rubbing off. Plus he's 76. He has STILL got the right stuff or been reduced to a blithering idiot? Another unknown.

Dan Radakovich. Another ever heard of him. And another me neither. Turns out Danny is the AD at Clemson. It DID come as somewhat of a surprise when Clemson popped out #1 in the first Committee rankings. Nobody saw that coming. Hmmm. Maybe he should be Chairman.

Condoleezza Rice. We all remember dear Condi. With W, Darth, Rummy, and another anal general appropriately named Colon, they merrily led our country into an unwinable war over weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist. Countless thousands died, billions of dollars were spent and, years later, the situation is ten times worse than it was before Ms. Rice was supposedly the smartest person in any room she entered. What does she know about college football? Likely absolutely nothing. But the political gig didn't work out, so she had to be appointed to SOMETHING  -- right?

Mike Tranghese. Who? Oh wait. He was the Commissioner of the Big East. Question. Do they even play football in the Big East? If so, does anybody care?

Steve Wieberg. Stevie was a reporter. Reporters know everything. These people are veritable geniuses. Don't believe that? Ask one. They'll tell you. Nuff said.

Tyrone Willingham. Ah yes. Who can forget the ever lovable Ty? He was a head coach at Stanford, Notre Dame, and Washington. And his teams crashed and burned every place he went. Fired, fired, and fired again. But like Condi, he needed a position, dammit. So even though he was a career loser, why not put him on the panel that will decide which four teams get a chance at being the ultimate winner? This is typical logic is the world of the NCAA.

And there you have them. A couple qualified. A couple more maybes. A few somewhat suspect, and the rest fall into the category of  -- you've got to be kidding.

Final thought. Add them up and you'll discover the motley crew above consists of exactly thirteen people. Many consider 13 to be an unlucky number. But in the whole scheme of things, it just kind of fits in with all the rest of the collective "wisdom" used in assembling this heretofore mysterious bunch to make decisions affecting colleges and their fans across the nation.

Or, put another way, it's just another example of how resilient America actually is. We will survive this, like we have all the other boneheads that have been put in positions of power over the years.

Yet you'd think there should be a better way of going about this stuff......

Saturday, November 28, 2015

College football Final Four

After three months of ups, downs, upsets, and talking heads from hell spewing gibberish, the college football championship has finally cleared up. Somewhat. As we all know, only four teams will qualify. That's up to Condi and her fellow geniuses on the mysterious Selection Committee to decide.

Four spots. One has been taken. The Oklahoma Sooners are in. How they managed to lose to lowly Texas earlier in the year is a good question, but they just blasted Okla St. on the road to claim the Big 12 title.

The Big 10 sorted out the men from the boys. Ohio State went into Michigan and clobbered the Wolverines. But it really didn't matter. That's because Michigan State had already defeated both of them in their own houses earlier. And the Spartans put an exclamation point on the Big 10 East a few hours later by demolishing Penn St. to the tune of a six touchdown difference.

Next up for MSU is Iowa in the Big 10 conference championship game. This will be played next Saturday at a neutral site -- Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes had already taken care of biz in the Big 10 West by going into Nebraska and knocking off the Cornhuskers. This was something Mich St. couldn't do -- their only loss. At that, Iowa is a perfect 12-0.

Whoever wins that game -- and methinks MSU remains the class of the Big 10 field -- is in the national championship semis.

That's two.

In the initial Selection Committee rankings, somewhat surprisingly Clemson popped out #1. They remain undefeated, having gone into South Carolina and dusting off the Gamecocks. There's no way #1 falls out of the top four unless they get beat. Clemson's only remaining hurdle is North Carolina in the ACC championship game. Could this be the proverbial upset special? Maybe. The Tar Heels aren't too shabby, and for a #1 team, the Tigers haven't exactly been blowing their opponents away. Plus it will be played in Charlotte. A neutral site, but likelier more fan friendly to the Heels.

If Clemson prevails, they're most certainly in. That would be three. But if they get upset, the Committee's would have a whole lot of reciphering to do -- in a hurry. And while the Tigers would drop off the Final Four radar -- who would take their spot?

Baylor got beat again. Okla St. got trashed. #6 Notre Dame losing at #9 Stanford on a last second field goal did nothing to help either team's chances of moving up. They're both out. TCU bombed out a while back. So who would be left? Florida? They just got rolled by Florida St. Could the Buckeyes still sneak in after demolishing Michigan? But that would give the Big 10 two teams in the Final Four. It's unlikely the Committee would roll that way. I'd wager the Committee is hoping Clemson indeed knocks off North Carolina. It would save them a major headache.

As for the last, you already know who it's going to be. Yeah, Bama suffered a loss earlier in the season to Ole Miss, but they're recovered nicely. All they have to do is knock off Florida in the SEC championship game. Hey, if the Seminoles could beat the Gators, then good luck to the Gainesville bunch when they take on the Tide.

So there you have it. The Final Four.

It shall be Clemson, Alabama, Oklahoma, and whoever wins the Mich St./Iowa game.

Who needs an almighty committee to ordain the obvious?

Unless, of course, an upset or two happens next week. In that case, the super brain trust will have to come up with something else.

A look at the actual members of the Selection Committee next time. You think the government is screwed up? Wait until you get a load of this motley crew.......

Friday, November 27, 2015

Eagles and Packers. What happened?

Few thought the Philadelphia Eagles were anywhere near Super Bowl caliber this year, but at least they were expected to be somewhat respectable. New coach Chip Kelly had been an innovator and a winner in his previous jobs. His preseason purge of proven star players raised a few eyebrows, but he had been given the benefit of the doubt -- plus a hefty multi-year contract. Surely the mad genius in the city of brotherly love had a plan that we doofus NFL fans failed to comprehend.

And everything was semi-OK for a while. The Eagles were holding their own, hovering around the .500 mark. It would take time for his systems to be fully grasped and properly executed by the team.

And then the wheels fell off. At home, Philly got torched by 4 touchdowns courtesy of the Tampa Bay Bucs. 45-17 in their own house. How embarrassing. Just yesterday on Thanksgiving, they gave up another 45 to the Lions in another lopsided loss to the Motown puddy-tats. 45-14 on national TV. Yow. Ninety points allowed in the last two games to sub-par teams. Ouch. Next up, they travel to New England to face the Pats. Good luck with that. Kelly can smirk all he wants, but eventually Philly ownership is going to wonder just what kind of fine mess they got themselves into by hiring this guy and giving him control over player personnel. Things are not going well -- to say the least.

The Green Bay Packers seem to be an enigma as well. Remember, they started off the season 6-0. Cheeserland was content. Lambeau leaps abounded. All was as expected in Green Bay.

And then they took a tumble as well. They got beat 29-10 in Denver, which was also undefeated at the time. No shame there. The following week, the Packers would lose 37-29 at Carolina. The Panthers were also undefeated -- still are. No shame there either.

Next up they had the woeful Detroit Lions coming to Lambeau. Time to get back on the right track again. But something most unexpected happened. The Lions went into Green Bay and eked out a win against the Packers. Nobody saw that coming. Certainly not the bookies. The Packers were an overwhelming favorite. But they lost to the Lions -- THE LIONS -- at home for the first time since Daddy Bush was occupying the oval office. This was not supposed to happen.

The Packers would recover nicely the next week, beating a very good Minnesota Vikings team on the road. But then they came back home and lost to the Bears. THE BEARS!!

[The cheeseheads have to be wondering what's going on with their heroes? Sure, they lost wide-receiver supreme Jordy Nelson early on, but every team has injuries. The Patriots have been decimated both at wide receiver and their O-line, but they keep finding a way to win. And this is Green Bay, dammit. It's not like they have any other teams to root for.]

The make it or break it crossroad for the Packers will likely come next Thursday night when they visit the Lions. Two Thursday games in a row for both teams. Seems fair enough. The Motowners have won their last couple games, though at home against a below average team and one that is in freefall (Raiders and Eagles).

The Lions pretty much already eliminated themselves from the postseason after a horrific start. They're playing for, ahem, cough, cough, Detroit pride, and maybe a few jobs are on the line. But aren't they always in the NFL?

But if the Packers at least temporarily right their ship with a win in Detroit, their playoff scenario would become a little rosier. Lose, and they'd be back in a dogfight with the other riffraff of the NFC. The only two good teams appear to be Arizona and Carolina. The Cards are 8-2 and visit the woeful San Fran 49ers  this Sunday. Make that 9-2. The Panthers are 11-0. Nuff said.

Either way, the NFC road to the Super Bowl -- and what else matters? -- is going to go through Phoenix or Charlotte for the Packers. If they get that far.

The difference between the Eagles and Packers, other than the obvious this year? The fans in one city won't hesitate to express their disapproval of bad play by their team. They can raise hell with the best, or worst of them. The other ever booing their heroes? Not a chance. They could lose every one of their remaining games -- including being swept by the lowly Lions -- horrors -- and wind up missing the playoffs entirely. But they'll always be held in high esteem by their faithful flock.

Guess who's who?

Big 10 football. And the winner is....

As this is written, nobody knows yet. In the "west" Iowa has taken care of business. They went into Lincoln and downed Nebraska fair and square. This was something Michigan State couldn't do just a couple weeks ago. Of course the Hawkeyes benefited greatly from Husker QB Tommie Armstrong and his uncanny ability to throw ill-advised passes, hence interceptions. Picks galore.

One would think somewhere along the line a Nebraska coach would have taken dear Tommie aside and told him a couple things.
1) Our receivers are wearing the red uniforms. The opponent is in white. The objective is to hit the red guys between the numbers with passes -- not the other way around. And,
2) The next time you think about throwing up a lob into the wind off your back foot into double or triple coverage -- don't. A lot of things can happen, and they're all bad. Get out of bounds. Take the sack. Eat it. Whatever. But no more of that stuff --- OK?  Those guys in white are already pretty good. We don't need you helping their cause.

In the "east" things are a little bit more dicey -- or maybe not. If Michigan State can take care of its own business at home against Penn State, they will meet Iowa in the Big 10 conference championship game. The Spartans are heavy favorites and will likely cruise to victory. But what if they don't?

Bigger upsets have certainly happened. No way was that rag-tag bunch of USA college kids going to beat the mighty Soviet Red Army team in Olympic hockey back in 1980. But they did. What were the odds Buster Douglas would KO iron Mike Tyson? Very long. But it happened. Remember when Mohammed Ali, at the peak of his career was defeated by Leon Spinks? LEON SPINKS??

While most consider Mich St. a "lock" over Penn St., nothing's for sure until the game clock reads zero and the Spartans have more points than the Nittany Lions. Ya never know about such things. Excuse the tired cliche, but that's why they play the games.

In an earlier Saturday contest, Michigan squares off at home against Ohio State. That should be a rock-em, sock-em affair. Two really good teams getting after each other. And between the head coaches, Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer have a long history of being winners wherever they coached in the past. As head coaches go, both these guys are still a relatively young age. The UM/OSU rivalry between them could go on for another decade -- or more. Perhaps even outdoing the infamous Schembechler/Hayes hate-a-thon era before they call it quits.

Nevertheless, obviously one team has to win and the other has to lose that game. Thing is, Mich. St. will know the result before they take the field against Penn St. But from the Spartans point of view, that game is irrelevant.

If they beat Penn St., they'll move on to face Iowa. But if they should so happen to get upset -- the UM/OSU winner will take their place in the conference championship game.

How ironic would that be? MSU beat both UM and OSU on the road and would have to sit by and watch one of them face the Hawkeyes while they waited to see what sort of "doesn't matter" bowl game they wound up in.

And the stakes are quite high. Between Iowa, Mich St., Mich, and OSU, somebody's going to emerge as Big 10 champions. Whoever that is will certainly get a spot in the Final Four national championship showdown. There can be only one from the Big 10. The SEC will get a spot, probably Bama, and the winner of the Big 12 will grab another. Okla, Okla St., and Baylor are in contention. Clemson's already #1, and if they stay clean in the ACC (who's going to beat them?), that pretty much fills up the bracket.

Sure, Notre Dame is mentioned occasionally, but their independent status might have finally come back to haunt them. Even if they wallop Stanford out west, not likely, they don't have the luxury of playing for a conference championship to further show off their talents -- because they don't belong to one. While the other big boys are slugging it out on national TV with the "Selection Committee" closely paying attention, the Irish will be sitting home getting no exposure whatsoever. Notre Dame would have to absolutely demolish the Cardinal and hope a whole lot of things fell just right with other games to sneak in. Chances? Slim to nada.

The best part of all this? My merely one year old 50 inch TV decided to quit a while back. It was under warranty. But getting the powers that be to actually honor the "protection plan" I paid for was quite another matter. Imagine Stephen King and Wes Craven teaming up to write a movie script. Throw in the bureaucracy, red tape, hoops to jump through, and incompetency typical of a governmental agency. Add a few hours in the twilight zone of an 800 number telling the same story over and over again. Let's not forget the attempted repair trips that came after waiting a few days apiece for parts that didn't work.

But finally, mercifully, and after a few trips back to the store raising hell where I bought it from in the first place -- the new TV I had been entitled to all along of equal or greater value finally arrived earlier today. I moved on up to a 55. Works great -- for now. Knock on wood.

Bottom line?

Bring on the games.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers

This would appear to be an example of two NFL franchises heading in opposite directions. The Cowboys' elevator is in free-fall towards the sub-basement while the Panthers are quickly rising to the penthouse.

Consider the Jones boys in Big D. Especially starting QB Tony Romo. Da Boys went 2-0 to open the season, but then Romo suffered a broken clavicle/collar bone. He would be out for a couple months. Enter back-up QB Blaine Gabbert. He would go 0-3, no surprise there, before being benched in favor of Matt Casell.  MC went 0-4 and presto, the Cowboys were then 2-7, their playoff chances slim indeed. But then back came Romo. His first game was a win. 3-7. Could there still be hope?

Turned out -- not. The undefeated Carolina Panthers hit town for the turkey day game and not only blistered the Cowboys in their own opulent back yard, but Romo was re-injured, perhaps the very same collar bone. Sure looked like it. If so, Romo is likely done for the year. Regardless, make that 3-8 with an exclamation point and tell the fat lady she can commence singing her aria. It's over this year in Dallas.

On the other hand, wunkerkind/freak Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are now 11-0. Only the New England Patriots also remain undefeated, but they have a major problem with receivers. As in, they're running out of them. The first and second stringers have been lost to injury, and a C-teamer just went down. Between their head coach and their QB, no names needed -- you know them -- the Pats have long been famous for plugging various holes over the years with no-namers and continuing to get the job done, but good grief. Arguably the best QB of all time still needs speedy receivers that can run routes, catch passes, and take the inevitable hits. More on that in a future post.

Nevertheless, that begs a question nobody would have remotely considered when this season began. Can the Carolina Panthers go through the regular season undefeated? The answer is -- actually it's quite possible. Consider their remaining schedule.

A game at New Orleans. The Saints are back to being the Aints. Home and home with the Atlanta Falcons. A decent team at 6-4, but nothing special. The NY Giants. They're 5-5. Eli's still prone to bonehead plays and head coach Tom Caughlin still has that exasperated/clueless look about him. Shouldn't be a problem. And the Panthers finish up with Tampa Bay. The Bucs remain the Bucs. No other explanation necessary.

And wouldn't that be something if it happened? Hey, despite their current gaudy 11-0 record, closer inspection reveals a couple other things about Carolina. It's not just Cam. Their defensive front is very tough to run on. The linebacker corps is led by likely the best overall backer in the league, one Luke Kuechley.

Both on offense and defense, the Panthers have made plays when they needed to all season. Look at it this way----

If a team has scored over 120 points more than they've given up, they're obviously doing a whole lot of things right. And there's no reason whatsoever to think they can't continue their stellar play, especially given their remaining schedule mentioned above.

The Panthers are already a lock for the playoffs. The only question that remains is whether they'll sew up home field advantage throughout. Granted, the Arizona Cardinals have an even more impressive plus/minus ratio when it comes to points, but they've suffered two defeats. With only five games remaining, the Cards would pretty much have to run the table and hope the Panthers stumbled badly down the stretch to wrest away home field advantage in the playoffs. That's likely not going to happen.

Carolina is gaining more confidence by the week. Barring major injuries -- especially to Cam Newton -- these guys are going to be a mighty tough out when the playoffs roll around. Particularly if they're playing at home.

On a related note -- New England plays at Denver this Sunday night. Will they stay undefeated as well? Maybe. The Pats are scrambling for receivers but the Broncos will be starting a QB nobody ever heard of before. Mercifully, it appears the Peyton Manning era has finally limped to an end. When a guy with that many years in the league starts throwing more picks than TDs, something is terribly wrong. Frankly, it's called Father Time. He always wins in the end. It will be interesting to see how that game plays out.

Even MORE mercifully, perhaps a day will come -- the sooner the better -- when we fans will no longer have to gag over Peyton's moronic TV ads. If the plug has finally been pulled on his football career, then please -- god have mercy, PRETTY PLEASE -- somebody put an end to these stupid commercials. Peyton never needed the money in the first place. He's got millions on top of more millions from playing football. The endorsements, particularly when he dragged his dopey brother along, only prove the family has no shame.

But for now -- go Panthers.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!!

If you're an NFL fan, may the teams of your choice prevail in the Thanksgiving triple-header.

Major League Baseball is in the off-season, but every team will crow about the trades and/or free agent signings they make. Everybody's always a winner. Right. We'll see how that works out next year.

The NHL and NBA have been underway for a month or so, but only their hard cores are paying attention. All-around fans don't take pucks and hoop seriously until after the Super Bowl is over. There has long been only one gorilla in the sports room.

Congrats to Kyle Busch on coming back from serious injury to win the NASCAR title. Still don't like the guy, never did, but he earned it.

There's a probably a golf and tennis tournament going on somewhere every week, but does anybody really care? Wake me up when the linksters show up at the Masters and I'll program the DVD to record the live action at the Australian Open. Maybe.

College football is reaching it's regular season climax. Lots of things can happen in the next couple weeks. Teams in and teams out of the national championship chase. And of course, 60 or 70 others will be going to a bowl game somewhere. These days a team has to be flat out terrible NOT to make it into a bowl game. That will commence in a few weeks.

Idle thought: If Santa brought as many presents to the precious little darlings as the NCAA and TV people foist off B games on the viewing public during the holiday season, maybe a whole generation of kids would grow up to be (sorry Walt) the imagineers of tomorrow, instead of the mindless droids of recent times. One can hope.

Nevertheless, here's wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all. May you be amongst family and friends while enjoying a feast. Stuffing. Taters and gravy. Bread, muffins, ham roll-ups, and green bean casserole or other veggies. A variety of salads and desserts. The works.

These are great days every year for people to get together and chow down. If you back it up a couple weeks, the turkey population likely wasn't enjoying it so much. They experienced the usual annual gobbler Holocaust.

But right or wrong, that's just sort of the way it works these days. Men will watch the football games, belch here and fart there before they nod off, while the women will be talking a language in another room the men wouldn't understand anyway. Something about gossip and what sort of trash they were suckered into marrying in the first place. They've given the best years of their lives to those heathens in the other room. Look at them. They're pigs.

All of which usually boils down to two things. The boys haven't been taking care of bedroom business lately, but the girls will surely be out amongst the throngs tomorrow -- Black Friday -- buying all sorts of goodies that are supposedly on sale -- but really not if one looks closer.

And it's just another year......

College football playoffs madness

It really is crazy and a whole lot of different things can happen in the next couple weeks to upset an apple cart here and there.

Consider the Big 10 (actually 14, but who's counting)? Michigan State controls its own destiny. After defeating the reigning national champ Buckeyes on the road --with their starting QB out no less -- the Spartans have jumped to #5 in the eyes of the almighty Selection Committee. Still on the outside looking in at the Final Four. MSU's next game is at home against Penn State. This should not be a problem. It would be a huge upset if the Nittany Lions knocked off MSU.

On the other side of the Big 10 ledger is Iowa. The Hawkeyes have quietly remained undefeated and are now among the Final Four indeed. But they have to go to Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have a long history of knocking off undefeated teams when they dare visit Lincoln. They did so to Michigan State just a couple weeks ago, else the Spartans would currently be in the Final Four as well.

But let's assume both IU and MSU win their last regular season contests in a couple days. Those two would meet in the Big 10 conference championship game in Indianapolis. Somebody'g gotta win, and somebody's gotta lose. The winner will almost certainly be a national championship semi-finalist, while the loser will go to a lesser bowl game somewhere else. In the latter case, there will be a lot of fanfare/local hype, and the marching bands will put on a great show. But the result of the game actually means very little.

Elsewhere, who wasn't a bit surprised when Clemson emerged #1 after the SC's initial bowl rankings? True, the ever lovable Dabo Swinney's boys are undefeated, but Clemson as #1? Really? And remember, those rankings came out before the above-mentioned defending champs and then still undefeated OSU went down to MSU.

No surprise with Alabama rising to #2. Though the Tide got spanked by Ole Miss earlier in the season -- if there's a way to get Bama in the Final Four, rest assured the Committee will find it. Something about ratings -- see cha-ching.

What IS a surprise is Notre Dame being demoted. True, they lost a close one at Clemson earlier in the year, no shame there, but they had risen to #4 in the only poll that matters. They were tentatively in the semis and won their following game. And when it comes to media darlings -- not to mention the horde of Irish faithful, alumni, and pretty much the Pope's football flock the world over -- we're talking legions of lemmings here -- it's astounding the Committee all but booted them from any chance of playing for the national championship. The Irish have to go to Stanford to finish their regular season, no easy task, and even if they totally demolished the Cardinal (highly unlikely) they probably STILL wouldn't get in. Thing is, Notre Dame can't showcase itself in a conference championship game -- because they don't belong to one. That independent status can work both ways.

Know what's goofier yet? Besides the fact one Condoleezza Rice (remember her?) still sits on the Supreme Football Committee -- as if she ever knew the difference between double roll-up coverage and the Sunday morning talk show circuit -- her and her fellow geniuses have deemed Oklahoma to to better than Iowa at this point in time. The Sooners are #3.

That seems quite odd, given OU needed overtime to beat woeful Tennessee, lost at lowly Texas, and at home barely squeaked by TCU 30-29 just last week. Next up, the Okies face their cross-state rival Okla St, on the road, in Stillwater. Again. somebody's gotta win and somebody's gotta lose. Though both teams already have one loss, whoever emerges victorious from that rodeo might well be in the Final Four.

So here's how yours truly sees it playing out.

Clemson's almost home free in the ACC. They'll wallop South Carolina this week and North Carolina the next. Count the Tigers in. Hurray for Dabo.

Same with Alabama. They'll cruise over Auburn and roll in the SEC conference title game. Nick Saban's crew gets another shot at a ring. Boo, hiss.

The winner of the Oklahoma Bowl is likely in if they do it convincingly. If not, and those pesky Leprachauns from South Bend absolutely trash Stanford  -- well -- there's that ratings and cha-ching thing again. Who do you think the TV people would rather feature in a world-wide broadcast? An Oklahoma team or the Irish? Is it even a close call? And tell me the TV people don't have influence with the mighty Committee, and I'll tell you I don't believe it. After moving on down for apparently no reason, it would hardly be a surprise if Notre Dame moved right back on up at the closing bell.

But you know who the best team in the country is right now and probably has been all along?

Michigan State.

Look out for these guys. They've gone through their Rodney Dangerfield treatment for the last several years while watching other high profile schools get the nod when it counted most. Yet top to bottom, they are most definitely the real deal, perhaps more so than ever this year.

Sure, they've been underwhelming in some games against vastly inferior competition, but they won. An argument could be made an elite team plays up or down to the level of their opponents, but in the end they win.

Also true enough is MSU needed a prayer to be answered in their game against Michigan. On the last play of that contest, it was granted. But it's also true that State got robbed of a win at Nebraska by a horrible non-call that was obvious (even more so with replays) that was blatantly apparent to everybody but the officials on the field. The Michigan miracle aside, had the zebras got that one right, the Spartans would now be undefeated and likely #2 in the committee rankings.

But it is what it is, and sometimes breaks even themselves out that way.

Therefore, don't be surprised if Michigan State finds it's way not only into the national semi-finals -- but wins it all.

I'm just saying, but how can a neutral observer root against Clemson with a goofball head coach named Dabo?

Love ya, Spartans, but I gotta get behind the Clemson Tigers. Hey, the whole state of South Carolina has no, as in ZERO professional teams in the big leagues. Not baseball, football, pucks, or hoops.

This might just be their only shot at glory.

And who can argue with that?