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Fourth and Inches by Doc
The regular college football season is quickly coming to an end. What an exciting season it has been.
The early pollsters were right on in their prediction; Southern Cal to be No. 1 followed by Oklahoma. Auburn has to be the big surprise and may be No. 1 before it's all over. One certainly can't take Utah out of the picture either. The Utes have to be the 'Cinderella' team of college football. They started the season with a big opening win over Texas A&M and just never looked back. How will they do in a Bowl game? Obviously it depends on who they play. The defense is still suspect. Win or lose the Bowl, Utah has had a great year. As for Coach Urban Meyer, the Utes will miss him. One can't believe he would leave.
Some of the disappointing teams of the season have to be Kansas State, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Minnesota.
At the start of the season I predicted Michigan would win the Big Ten Conference title, followed by Wisconsin. The Wolverines did share the title with Iowa, mainly because of Wisconsin's faltering at the end of the season.
The big surprise in the conference had to be Iowa. What a great job Coach Kirk Ferentz has done with this ball club. The Hawkeyes started the season with only two starters returning on the offense. The complete backfield graduated last spring.
I for one thought Iowa would have a big rebuilding year. We went against the 'Hawks' as a Top Game, when they went on the road against Arizona State. Iowa got toasted 44-7. That game may have turned the Iowa season around. Ferentz reached out and asked more from all his players and they certainly responded. After the Arizona State loss, the Hawks went to Michigan and got drilled there. This just confirmed my reasoning that it would be a big rebuilding year. The next two games Iowa was at home, against Michigan State and Ohio State, winning both. One still had to question whether they could win on the road. In the next few weeks we got our answer as Iowa went on the road and beat Penn State, Illinois, and Minnesota. What's amazing about these wins, the Hawks won these games despite losing their five top running backs. With almost no rush offense, Iowa still shared the title. I certainly have to give credit to Coach Ferentz and all his players. As for this Iowa team, it has cost us more losing units, and me personally, than any other team I can ever remember. We have to accept the fact that this team just got better each week, had good, chemistry, and we just never caught up with it.
One of the more interesting games this week in a shortened college schedule, has to be the Notre Dame/Southern Cal encounter. The oddsmakers have made the Trojans a 22-point favorite. Seems like a bundle. The Irish are 6-4 for the season. Not a good record for Notre Dame, however in their defense, they've played a wicked schedule. One has to question what happened to their defense in the home loss against Pittsburgh.
As for the Trojans, they just keep winning. Next week Southern Cal is on the road against UCLA. Look out! This could be an upset in the making, with the Trojans having a big game this week and the Bruins having three weeks off to prepare. This UCLA team is much better than most people think.
One game I certainly will have interest in is the Missouri - Iowa State match up. The Cyclones have really put it together as of late. Win this one and they will find themselves in the Big 12 conference championship against Oklahoma. Speaking of disappointments, Missouri has to be one of the biggest in the land. Missouri was picked by many to win the Big 12 North. Losing a non-conference game to Troy State should have spelled trouble early. Losing two close games to Texas and Oklahoma State just seemed to take the wind out of their sails. Now in a five-game losing streak, and losing their last two home games, I don't look for it to get any better in this final.
Thanksgiving day always seems to be the day to eat a lot of turkey and take Detroit at home. The Lions are a 7½-point underdog and just could be the side. The late game is probably as unpredictable as any, that being Chicago at Dallas. The Cowboys are struggling to say the least, and the "Tuna" has to be wondering why he took the job. For some odd reason, I think the Cowboys will pull this one out. A big delicious Thanksgiving dinner however, may be more suitable than playing these two games. But it's Thanksgiving; must wager a little.
I see in the paper today that the NBA handed out some stiff suspensions for the Friday night fracas in the Detroit/Indiana game. No question these players deserve this treatment, however something is also going to have to be done concerning the fans. Buying a ticket certainly doesn't give anyone the right to throw ice or beer. I'm sure the league and the teams themselves will address this issue. Whatever happens, hopefully this kind of behavior will end.
This Monday night the Packers host the Saint Louis Rams. The Packers are always tough at home. Hit hard by injuries, one has to wonder if QB Brett Favre can continue to pull this team out. The man is a remarkable athlete. Losing his father a year ago, a brother-in-law just recently, and now Favre has something else to worry about. His wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She keeps telling her husband, "Don't worry about me and play on." Something tells me the competitiveness of Brett has rubbed off on his wife Deanna. I can't see Favre retiring after this year unless his play really goes downhill. Whatever happens, Favre enjoys playing the game and could go down as the best QB ever.
This coming Saturday, November 27, we will officially be starting our college basketball picks. As in past years, we will be taking it slow for the first couple of weeks. Our selections will be available weekdays, Monday through Thursday, at 3:00 p.m. CST, and Saturday and Sunday after 10:00 a.m. CST. We showed a nice profit last year and expect to do even better this year. Obviously our main goal is to make money, but also it's important to have fun and with our service I think that's evident.
This will be our last Fourth and Inches column until the Bowl Issue in early December.