By John Harris
November 28, 2012
How much can we say about the year that Notre Dame has had?
There is so much to love about this team that even those that hate Notre Dame can find something to appreciate. Okay, maybe not, but a man can dream, right? The 22-13 win over USC wasn't pretty but it was enough to send the Irish to Miami where they'll be an underdog, yet again.
I'm sure they don't mind at all.
Y'all know my connection to Bill and how I feel about him. In short, he's a friend and former teammate of mine from Brown University, so I've found myself cheering a lot more for Penn State this year than ever before.
Now, that being said, I can also call a spade a spade. Meaning? Meaning that if I felt he didn't do the job, I'd tell you... and there isn't anything I'd tell him to change from this past season. There couldn't have been a better man to handle that Penn State debacle than O'Brien. But, he had help…
The next three years will be tough, tougher than any of us could imagine at Penn State, especially because O'Brien will go forth sans some of the most mentally tough seniors in the history of the program. But, that said, winning eight games in a year in which some thought PSU was good for only three or four wins is victory itself.
The Bell Dozer came through in the nick of time in an overtime win in the latest version of Bedlam, the best game of the weekend, a 51-48 win for the Sooners over Oklahoma State in Norman. With that scintillating win, the Sooners are in position to play in a BCS bowl with a win over TCU this weekend…that is if Kent State doesn't ruin the party. Regardless, it was a wonderful win for the Sooners.
The tide almost turned on Florida to start the second half against FSU, but the tendency still held true -- if you don't get in position to knock out Florida early, the Gators will get you in the second half. After spotting FSU 17 unanswered third quarter points, the Gators answered with 24 fourth quarter points and an administered an SEC style beatdown in the fourth quarter.
Then again, just ask head coach Will Muschamp…his Gators know how to overcome the adversity on the field
You can have your Johnny Footballs and your Marqise Lees, give me this guy and I'll whip your backside on a consistent basis. The true sophomore set a Memorial Stadium record with 4.5 sacks in a 27-17 win over hated Clemson. There's not a more disruptive player in the country than #7 at South Carolina and he proved it against the Tigers explosive offense.
The San Jose State Spartans finished the regular season with 10 wins. Yes, that's right, San Jose State finished 10-2. That isn't SUPPOSED to happen, yet Mike MacIntyre and his Spartans did just that, including a 52-43 win over 2012 non-BCS darling Louisiana Tech in the 2012 season finale.
SJSU's only losses this year are to Stanford (by 3) and Utah State (the WAC champions). If you watched this team at any point over the past five years, you absolutely know that ten wins is a dadgum miracle. Undaunted, QB David Fales, DE Travis Johnson and LB Keith Smith led this team to an incredible 2012 campaign.
Just can't wait to see these two in the MAC Championship game on Friday night. #DriArcher #JordanLynch.
Three of the conference's top teams had the opportunity to make some kind of statement on ACC conference pride on Saturday. All three failed. Badly.
Sure, Georgia Tech had little chance of supplanting Georgia in Athens, but the Yellow Jackets were outclassed in a "Georgia just beat a D1AA team" sort of way. That said, Florida State and Clemson had home games against their respective rivals, Florida and South Carolina…and lost. They lost the physical battle. They lost the game. That simple.
The ACC didn't have a ton to lose, I guess, as most pundits don't look at the conference, as a whole, with a ton of respect, but the results on Saturday eroded any shred of dignity we could possibly bestow on this conference.
The Ducks won the Civil War and yet lost…sort of. Watching Stanford "win" over UCLA and seeing Notre Dame beat USC, the Ducks outside shot at a national championship opportunity evaporated along with the opportunity to play for the Pac 12 championship.
The good news is that the Ducks will be, more than likely, on its way to the Fiesta Bowl, presumably to play Kansas State. But this team had grand designs on more than just a BCS exhibition game. Injuries and Stanford caught up to them on the wrong night and it cost the Ducks dearly.
Louisville lost in triple OT to U Conn. Rutgers lost to Pitt. Well, let me be clear about that, Pitt kicked Rutgers a-- 27-6 and it probably wasn't even that close. Talk about stubbing its toe. The MAC champion has a chance to finish with a higher ranking than the Big East champion. Ouch.
My anger at Tressel has long since passed, but because of his inability to tell the truth back in 2010, the 12-0 2012 squad suffered its only loss of the season. This team should be playing this weekend in Indy against Nebraska for a shot to win the B1G and play Notre Dame for a championship down in Miami.
But, okay, so Tressel screwed up and has paid dearly for his transgressions. But, the Ohio State athletic hierarchy made the decision to go to the Gator Bowl last year with an average 6-6 team, when it could've instituted a bowl ban in 2011 that may have placated the NCAA. The ban last year could've allowed this year's team the opportunity it so richly deserved to play for a championship, B1G or national in nature.
So, what does Ohio State do for its finale, the Game v. Michigan? It brings Tressel back to fete him and the 2002 championship team during the first half of the game?!?! And, the fans give him a rousing standing ovation?!?!
First of all, how and why did Ohio State think it was a good thing to bring him back to campus in the first place? And, then to essentially flaunt him in front of the 2012 team that lost its opportunity to play for a championship as the fans in the stands cheered wildly?
Stop me when I get to the point when it was a good decision to do all of this. Then again, Gordon Gee and Gene Smith are still in charge so go figure. Head coach Urban Meyer and his staff did a great job with a team that could be top three to start next year, but with some forethought, it could've finished #1 this year.
But, beyond that, why bring…okay, I'll stop.
…mainly those that got cocky (you know who you are)...
This summer, I was part of a panel at a Texas Tech alumni function, which I love being a part of, for the second consecutive year. The last thing we were asked to do was give a prediction for the season, which I started off by saying that 6-6 was realistic and 7-5 could happen, but nothing more than that. Each panelist then followed with 7-5 and former star QB BJ Symons followed with 6-6.
So, after Texas Tech beat West Virginia in October, I got a few tweets from Texas Tech fans asking "what I thought about Texas Tech now". The implication wasn't lost on me: You missed on this one, dumb a--.
My response was something along the lines of "great win, long season". And, of course, one of them was from our friend Will who was instrumental in putting together that summer function. I'll admit that other team's fan bases would've been more obnoxious and maybe the Tech fans knew down deep not to truly buy in until all 12 were in the books.
With five losses over the last six games, including an overtime loss to Baylor in Jerry World last Saturday, the Red Raiders finished, well, 7-5. And, the only win over the past six weeks was an overtime win over Kansas at home. I don't point this out to poke any fun at anyone, but we've all been around this game long enough to see teams start fast and fade even faster. Or, the other way around (Rice for one), start slow and finish with a flourish.
This one, unfortunately, finished just as we expected. The problem is that it finished the same way as 2011 (lost seven of the last eight games) and that can't sit well at all for those in red and black.
But, I'll come back next year if you want me to…please?!?