With the great matchup in the SEC Championships today, it’s almost a shame that I’ll be stuck watching this presumably meaningless rivalry game. I know, I’m assuming that USC will blow out that team in the girly baby blue uniforms, but c’mon. Lets be real.
And that’s why I’ll be switching back and forth between CBS and ABC for the next three hours.
That’s right. The first ever two-game running game diary.
1:31pm pt – The SEC champ game is already living up to the hype – ‘Bama and the Gators are tied at seven, midway through the first quarter. Is there a chance USC gets into the natty champ if Bama wins and Oklahoma wins? We all know Texas got screwed out of the Big 12 Championship, but could the BCS really put a team in the national championship that didn’t even win its own conference?
1:35 – UCLA QB Kevin Craft has thrown almost as many touchdowns to his team (7) than he has to his opponents (6 int.’s returned). He’s also thrown 12 interceptions and no touchdowns in the last four games. Norm Chow is a genius!
1:38 – Following the kickoff, the game referee announces the Trojans’ “Failure to wear the required equipment,” penalizing USC with a timeout. UCLA calls a timeout to even things up. Is a jersey really equipment?
1:41 – UCLA goes three and out and Stafon Johnson watches the ball bounce out of bounds at the 13 yard line. On the first USC offensive play, CJ Gable takes a handoff and fumbles while stretching for extra yards. I don’t understand why Stafon Johnson isn’t starting. He’s been the most consistent runner for the Trojans all year. He deserves to be the starting back.
1:45 – As if the USC defense isn’t heralded enough, a lot of the opponents’ points have come off of Trojan turnovers deep in their own territory.
1:47 – On third and 11, Norm Chow shows a flash of coaching creativity. Craft throws a lateral to Dominique Johnson who launches a horribly underthrown pass that’s somehow reeled in by Kahlil Bell. Chow apparently trusts his wide receiver to throw more than his QB.
1:50 – Alabama leads Florida, 10-7. Why does Tim Tebow get a coaches headset? Maybe it’s a Heisman thing.
1:52 – Todd Blackledge, one of today’s announcers, says that the UCLA defense hasn’t given up a touchdown in the past two weeks. Really? By comparing the UCLA defense to the SC defense, Blackledge might want to look out for Rey Maualuga after the game. I hope he has good health insurance.
1:55 – The USC drive dies around the 26 of UCLA and David Beuhler misses a 41-yard field goal. I promise I wasn’t trying to jinx the Trojans when I predicted a blowout.
1:58 – Same score in the SEC champ game. I’ve decided that the ‘Bama helmets are the ugliest in all of college football. You’re off the hook, Ohio State.
2:00 – Why is Kevin Craft still throwing the ball? UCLA’s QB stats thus far: Johnson is 1-1 with 21 yards and a TD. Craft is 1-2 for -3 yards.
2:03 – Mark Sanchez rolls out and throws a bullet to Damian Williams for 31 yards. Man, I love watching this guy play when he’s on his A-game.
2:06 – Big balls Pete goes for it on 4th and four and Sanchez throws it up to Anthony McCoy for a first down. Two plays later, Joe McKnight takes a handoff after lining up as a receiver, and runs it in to paydirt to tie things up. Announcer Mike Patrick compliments soon-to-be Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian (yeah, it’s a rumor, but Sarkisian didn’t blatantly deny it, so it’s probably true) on his play call.
2:12 – Beuhler has another kickoff bounce way short of the end zone. It’s just not his day today.
2:13 – Craft throws a pass that lands between two SC safeties. There wasn’t even a blue jersey in the frame. Does UCLA not have a backup QB?
2:18 – Sanchez efficiently marches the Trojans down the field, and throws a 12 yard screen to Damian Williams who makes a couple UCLA defenders look like armless sissies, as he bowls through them and runs it in for a score.
2:22 – Rey Maualuga tries to reenact his vicious hit from two years ago against former UCLA QB Cowan. Rey forgot that the QB has to have the ball before he can be hit that hard, as he takes three steps after Craft released the ball and drills him, resulting in a personal foul penalty.
2:25 – I don’t know why, but all of Tim Tebow’s passes look like they’re in slow motion. The Gators are driving and looking to take the lead in a 10-10 game. Wasn’t this supposed to be an offensive explosion?
2:30 – Brian Cushing puts a lick on Craft as he releases the ball, nearly throwing an interception to Taylor Mays. As if Craft probably isn’t confident enough, he’s gotta be pissing his pants facing this defense.
2:31 – With the UCLA offense struggling, Blackledge says that the team is “depending on it’s punter to help carry the team.” Mike Patrick adds that the punting game has been the lone bright spot this year. Gerald Washington then blocks Aaron Perez’s punt. Somewhere, LenDale White is laughing
2:37 – I was wondering why campus seemed so dead today – but that sea of red in the Rose Bowl is a good explanation. Literally half of the stadium seems to be wearing cardinal.
2:38 – Sanchez tries to force a pass to Turner and cornerback Michael Norris makes a great one-handed catch for an interception. Time for some more Kevin Craft action! Oh Yeah!
2:41 – The sideline reporter says that Neuheisel thinks Bell is one of his offensive MVPs. Bell is averaging 2.8 yards per carry this year. How the hell has UCLA scored any points this year, let alone won four games??
2:43 – We’re serenaded by “ring my bell” as we cut to a commercial and Patrick teases the story behind the victory bell when we return. Credit those ABC producers for playing the corniest music possible. I can’t take bell-ringing seriously after this Texas Tech guy. This poor sap’s embarrassment might explain the disappearance of the Band “Hansen.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFxwOLbImcU).
2:52 – A UCLA player slide-tackles the punter Greg Woidneck, giving USC a first down. Olay!
2:55 – Sorry I’ve abandoned doing the running diary for the SEC champ game. Actually, why am I apologizing? USC’s offense should be dominating. This game is still relatively close!
2:57 – An official, Matt Jordan, is injured on a Joe McKnight run. The replay shows a UCLA defender got pushed into him. For the refs that just sit in the middle of the field, I don’t understand how more of them don’t get run over by players.
3:02 – Stafon Johnson finishes off the 70-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown scamper, keyed by the roughing the kicker penalty. And David Beuhler finally boots a kickoff out of the end zone. ‘Bout damn time.
3:06 – Is it bad that I’m more excited to see Craft play more than anything else in this game? I didn’t know I could be so amused by such an awful quarterback. Craft doesn’t disappoint – he throws two passes that are nearly intercepted and UCLA goes three-and-out.
3:11 – With 48 seconds left in the half and the ball at their own 35, USC will try to put a few more points on the board. Two passes to McCoy and Ronald Johnson move the ball to the 23, where David Beuhler will come in for another field goal try. Another miss.
3:15 – At the half, Craft has thrown for as many yards on 13 attempts, 21, as Johnson did on UCLA’s one TD pass. I think he just might have a future in the Canadian Football League.
3:24 – I guess Blackledge and Patrick were right about UCLA’s punter carrying the team – his longest boot racked up more yards, 64, than UCLA’s offense mustered in the entire half, 61. Rick Neuheisel’s second half strategy will be to appeal to the NCAA to change the rules so an offense can move the ball by punting it.
3:34 – Random tangent – I was talking with my friend, Berf, and we decided that Michigan is the worst state in the U.S. right now. Not only are the American automakers going down the drain, Plaxico Burress (Michigan State alum) is hoarding headlines as he faces jailtime for shooting himself in the leg, Rich Rodriguez was a total dud in his first year at Michigan, and the Lions haven’t won a game all season. On the bright side, Michigan will soon overtake Washington as the state with the most suicides. Oh wait…
3:39 – The second half opens with a mosh pit at midfield between the two teams. Nothing like the pregame fight against Notre Dame, but plenty of jawing. How can teams who suck so bad come up with material to trash talk with?
3:42 – On third and 11, Sanchez takes off and dives head-first to the first-down marker, and the refs call a personal foul on a helmet-to-helmet hit on Sanchez at the end of the run. Speaking of Plaxico Burress, UCLA is really shooting themselves in the leg with these penalties. Sanchez hooks up with Turner on the very next play for a 17-yard touchdown.
3:46 – Woah. Was that crazy lady who shoved Owen Wilson’s face into her cleavage in “Wedding Crashers” just do a commercial for Kay Jewelers? Man, I love holiday season ads.
3:49 – With a comfortable 21 point lead, I’m switching over to the SEC game for a bit. It’s 20-17 ‘Bama. After the Gators run a Wildcat formation play, usually reserved for the injured Percy Harvin, the cameras cut to Harvin on the sideline talking to a police officer. I wonder what an officer has to do to get the privilege of working a game like this. Must be hard protecting those 300-pound players from the crazy fans.
3:54 – The Gators run the option what appears to be about 50 percent of the time. The Florida offensive playbook must be as long as a “Dick and Jane” story.
4:02 – Back to the SC game where Mark Sanchez dives head-first on another six yard run. Dear Mark — I know this is a rivalry game, but we’d hate to see you go the way of Troy Aikman and finish your career as an incoherent game announcer because of your multiple concussions.
4:06 – UCLA has 102 penalty yards. They also have 102 yards of total offense. A balanced attack, indeed!
4:09 – SC has moved the ball down to the Bruins’ 23 yard line, but the drive stops there and David Beuhler will attempt another 40 yard field goal. Another miss. Beuhler…? Beuhler…? Beuhler…?
4:16 – Florida leads Alabama 31-20 with 2:24 left in the fourth. A late interception by the Gators seals the deal and secures their spot in the natty champ. Go Mizzou!
4:21 – Marc Tyler is now running for the Trojans, officially signifying that this game is all but in the books. Don’t get me wrong – Tyler’s a great back. He’s just so far down on the depth chart that he gets a lot of garbage minutes action.
4:25 – Great. Blackledge is getting nostalgic. He tells the audience about his victory over the Trojans in the 1982 fiesta bowl. Thanks, Todd.
4:27 – You know how quarterbacks wear those forearm covers that flip up and have all the plays written on them? I bet Craft’s just says “DON’T SUCK!” written all over it.
4:30 – I just realized how few camera shots we’ve seen of Norm Chow – if any at all. After this offensive performance by UCLA, I’d rather have him wear a cardinal “A” on his shirt for the next year (“Scarlet Letter” style) than keep the victory bell.
4:38 – For whatever reason, Sanchez is still in the game and is still throwing the ball. Maybe Carroll just wants to try and get him into the Heisman discussion. It would be the ultimate Trojan horse if Carroll could sneak Sanchez in as a Hesiman candidate.
4:44 – With just under two minutes, Craft is suddenly completing some rhythm passes…until he floats one just out of the reaching dive of Maualuga. Then, Drew McAllister picks off the very next pass, and as Craft returns to the sideline, Neuheisel gives him a look as if to say “Did you even read the message I wrote to you on your forearm band??”
4:49 – The Trojans run out the clock and take their 38th conference title, beating UCLA 28-7. It will be at least a Rose Bowl appearance by USC, with the natty champ as a very, very long shot if Mizzou wins later tonight. Until next time, Fight On!