Monday, January 02, 2006

Preview of a Grand Day

Outback

Robbie Andreu, Gainesville Sun: Florida, embarrassed two years ago by Iowa, says it is ready for the Hawkeyes this time.

Sean Keeler, Des Moines Register: The victor will be the team that wins the battle of special teams.

Cotton

Thomas Murphy, Mobile Register: Little did these 24 seniors realize what they were getting into when they decided to attend Alabama.

Don Williams, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: It's a classic matchup: Texas Tech's No. 1 passing offense against Alabama's No. 1 scoring defense.

Gator

Caulton Tudor, Raleigh News & Observer: Teams that beat Virginia Tech — Miami and Florida State — were the only teams that scored more than 17 points against the Hokies.

Mike Harris, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Virginia Tech is mad and wants to take out its frustrations on Louisville.

Capital One


Tom Mulhern, Wisconsin State Journal: It's all about Barry Alvarez for Wisconsin. The Badgers want to send their coach out a winner.

Kevin Scarbinsky, Birmingham News: It has been only two years, but so much has changed for Auburn since the last time the Tigers played Wisconsin.

Fiesta

Bob Hunter, Columbus Dispatch: A classic? Only time will tell if the game will match the buildup (subscription, so story is in comments).

Eric Hansen, South Bend Tribune: Notre Dame kicker D.J. Fitzpatrick says he's ready to make a difference if needed against Ohio State.

Sugar

Carter Strickland and Chip Towers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia's senior class won't lack motivation against West Virginia (registration).

Scott Rabalais, Baton Rouge Advocate: Pat White had committed to LSU, but the night before signing, decided he wanted to play quarterback. West Virginia was his gateway to success.

1 comment:

dawizofodds said...

Only Time Will Tell Whether Fiesta Truly Is a Classic

Bob Hunter
Columbus Dispatch

TEMPE, Ariz. — How would you describe this classic Ohio State-Notre Dame matchup in the Fiesta Bowl?

Once-in-a-lifetime? Well, no. Even if you’re only 11, this will be the third time the Buckeyes and Irish have met on the football field since you’ve been born.

Once-a-year? Actually, no. The OSU-Texas game in September is in that category and might have been a step above it; the two legendary college football programs had never met before this year.

Biggest bowl game in the last, say, five years? No, not even that. OSU’s dramatic overtime win over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl gave the Buckeyes the 2002 national championship.

Yet all over America, VCRs and DVRs will be whirring Monday. People realize that this Fiesta Bowl is one of those pairings that doesn’t come around often, and lots of Ohio State and Notre Dame fans will be recording their own personal copy of it, just in case.

This game has the potential to be a classic, one that people talk about for years, boring their children with details about fascinating plays and sideline incidents that occurred before they were born.

Let’s not kid ourselves. "Classics" are becoming more common these days, which in itself is a bit of an anomaly. By definition, a classic should never be common. But it is true that some games are destined to be remembered more so than others, and a few of those will be remembered for a long, long time. It’s not always easy to determine which games will have staying power, although most will not involve Rice, Houston or San Diego State.

Not all big games become classics; in fact, most of them don’t. The 1977 OSU-Oklahoma game was a classic, a rare meeting between two traditional powers that the Sooners won 29-28 on a last-minute field goal. But do you remember anything about the 1983 OSU-Oklahoma game? How about the 1996 OSU-Notre Dame game? Do you recall anything about either one other than the fact that the Buckeyes won?

Ohio State and Notre Dame have met only four times on the football field, and of the four, the 1935 game is regarded as one of the greatest games in college football history. But the other three carry little significance other than the fact that these two college football giants played.

Why? There are lots of elements that make a game memorable, starting with the personalities.

Charlie Weis vs. Jim Tressel? Maybe this is big or maybe it isn’t; we won’t know for sure until years later. The 2002 national title and four wins over Michigan in five years have given Tressel a nice start on his legacy, but Weis is still too green (sorry) to determine whether he’s the next Knute Rockne or Gerry Faust.

Brady Quinn vs. Troy Smith? Both quarterbacks are capable of having a big Fiesta Bowl as well as good pro careers. There’s just no way to know at this point whether their images will be seared into our collective consciousness.

Notre Dame’s explosive offense against OSU’s stingy defense? Again, this looks promising. Can’t you just imagine A.J. Hawk delivering a big hit on Quinn in the final minute to thwart a potential winning drive and preserve a two-point OSU victory?

Mostly, though, the game’s the thing. OSU-Texas might be regarded as a classic, particularly if the Longhorns beat Southern California in the Rose Bowl and win the national title, because their game against the Buckeyes was an exciting, backand-forth affair that was nationally televised in prime time.

The level of excitement is always key. In a touching display of personal irony, Dick Beltz once said that if he hadn’t fumbled in the 1935 OSU-Notre Dame game — the Irish recovered and drove to the winning touchdown in an 18-13 game — it wouldn’t be regarded as one of the great games. No one had to ask whether it was worth it; the former OSU running back carried the guilt for the Buckeyes’ loss for years.

Is it worth losing to be part of a game that will forever be remembered by college football fans?

The coach, player or fan who would say that it was probably hasn’t been born.

bhunter@dispatch.com