Breaking down 2008’s debut week
Every year it happens. We usher in another calendar of life on Planet Earth, and there to greet us is a week full of wonder: nonstop football games, most of which mean something, wrapped up by a three-day stretch that includes NFL Wildcard Weekend and then the BCS National Championship Game. I’m here to tell you who is going to win all the games, or make a fool of myself while trying, depending upon who actually does end up winning all the games. Since that makes total sense, let’s proceed.We begin with the Rose Bowl, set for this afternoon. Love the Illini’s turnaround (2-10 in 2006 to 9-3 this year), but USC is too hungry after a year of underachievement to lose. Trojans, 38-24.Sugar Bowl, set for this evening: Hawaii wounds a little SEC pride on SEC turf, using a passing attack unlike any Georgia has seen to upset the Dawgs by a whisker, 36-34.Fiesta Bowl, set for Wednesday night: West Virginia has some of the best skill players in America, but Oklahoma has a better overall team, including a pair of under-the-radar receivers in Juaquin Iglesias and Malcolm Kelly who will do well in the NFL. Sooners, 31-20.Orange Bowl, set for Thursday night: This is the least exciting BCS bowl, but I’ll take Kansas in a nod for the Big 12 over the Big East, 27-17.Wildcard Weekend: Washington rides its high one more week to defeat Seattle in Seattle, 19-13; Jacksonville outslugs Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, 22-14; the Giants finally put the Bucs in their mediocre place, 31-21; and San Diego routs Vince Young and the Titans, 33-10.As for college football’s national champion, that would be a little team from Columbus, the Ohio State Buckeyes, who I think have the ultimate advantage on defense against an LSU offense that isn’t as explosive as Florida’s was last year. Good game, nonetheless, 24-20. …Gotta love Jose Canseco, fairness crusader. The admitted steroids abuser will reportedly name more names in a sequel to his 2005 steroid memoir “Juiced.” Canseco’s lawyer Robert Saunooke told the New York Post the book will accuse players not named in former Sen. George Mitchell’s report. “We had hoped that the Mitchell Report would have been more revealing,” Saunooke griped. Thank heavens, then, we have Jose Canseco to fill in the gaps. …Does anyone accelerate faster than Devin Hester? He now has 11 kick return TDs (seven punts, four kickoffs) in his two-year career, only two shy of the all-time NFL record, which Brian Mitchell needed 14 seasons to set. …So much for the Portland Jail Blazers. Traditionally the NBA’s moribund, most poorly behaved franchise (which is saying something), the Trail Blazers have won 13 straight games and have done so with the youngest roster in the league, a group of well-behaved, hungry players led by Brandon Roy, the team’s talented and versatile (he’s 6-foot-6) second-year guard out of Washington.The Blazers’ streak began on Dec. 3, right after they lost nine of 10. …Hall of Fame NFL coach Marv Levy is reportedly stepping down as Bills GM. His credentials and performance in the front office aside, this feels like a smart move. Levy is, after all, 82 years old. …What the NHL is doing in Buffalo today, holding an outdoor game at the Bills’ home stadium between the Sabres and Penguins, does well to give the league an old-fashioned feel, even for one day. Among other quirky rules, the league is having the two teams switch ends midway through the third period, just to keep it fair. …Sticking to the NHL, it’s difficult to dominate your opponents in goal differential night in and night out. For example, the Wild is eight games over .500, but has been outscored 104-101. Which makes it all the more impressive that Detroit, the NHL’s best team at 29-7-3, has outscored its foes by a whopping 55 goals this year (141-86). Only two other teams in the league boast goal differentials over 13. … In parting, Patriots fans can be a little over the top (at least the 500 I know), but it was a treat to watch the object of their affection this autumn, a 16-0 regular season. Nothing like watching Tom Brady direct an offense, or Randy Moss open up his stride downfield before leaping toward the heavens for a football. Nor, for that matter, is anything as awkwardly amusing as a Bill Belichick press conference after a victory.Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs on Tuesdays. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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