Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: BCS Got It Right-ish

Today's Calls: Florida vs. Oklahoma, Giants vs. Eagles, Steelers vs. Cowboys, Cardinals vs. History, Matt Forte vs. Gale Sayers, Marty Schottenheimer vs. Romeo Crennel, Lakers vs. Celtics, Michigan vs. Duke, Stephen Curry vs. Michelle Wie and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: After all that, I think the BCS got it "right-ish." And, with this system, mostly right counts as a win for fans. ↵

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↵Florida vs. Oklahoma: The best team in the defense-first SEC versus the most prolific offense not just in the offense-happy Big 12, but arguably in college football history. On paper, that is a compelling matchup. ↵

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↵Ahh: If only Oklahoma got to play only offense in the national title game. ↵

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↵But, alas, they have to play defense. And against a Gators offense that is at least as good -- if not even more talented -- than the offenses that have lit up Oklahoma's D in the Big 12. ↵

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↵Or that lit up Oklahoma's D in the Fiesta Bowl in either of the past two seasons. Or that lit up Oklahoma's D the last time they played for a national title, in 2005 against USC, when OU got clocked. (For BCS chokery the past few years, Oklahoma makes Ohio State look successful.) ↵

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↵Florida took on the 3rd-ranked D in the country on Saturday afternoon and hung 31 on it. Oklahoma's D is notable mainly for being ranked roughly equivalent to OU's scoring average these past 5 games: In the 60s. The Sooners won't score 60 -- but Florida might. ↵

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↵I'm not sure fans can ever be completely satisfied with Oklahoma, rather than Texas, repping the Big 12 in the national championship game -- especially if Oklahoma follows recent form and gets waxed. (Truth be told: As a Florida fan, I would have been much more nervous about playing Texas.) ↵

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↵That said: SEC vs. Big 12 is the pairing most fans want to see. ↵

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↵At the very least, the BCS system got that right. ↵

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↵BCS Bowl Sneak Peek: ↵

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↵Fiesta: Texas will have a hard time jumping Florida in the AP poll if the Gators win, but they can at least take out their frustrations on Ohio State, whose fans are looking at a 3rd straight BCS bowl beating (at least it's not a title game this time). ... ↵

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↵Sugar: I would have much rather seen an Alabama-Texas matchup, with Utah getting Boise State in an all-Cinderella Fiesta Bowl. As it stands, Nick Saban gets a crack at the Urban Meyer family tree through Utah, strategically game but likely physically overmatched. ... ↵

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↵Rose: USC-Penn State is the best pairing of "names" of the non-national title game bowls. As good as Penn State's defense is, USC's defense is even better -- and USC has this habit of taking out its BCS frustrations by annihilating Big Ten teams. Hardly the way for JoePa to go out in '08. ↵

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↵Orange: Yikes. Va. Tech vs. Cincy? Again: Yikes. (Let me ask you: Do any of you remember watching Va. Tech vs. Kansas in last year's Orange Bowl? Didn't think so.) ↵

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↵Heisman Watch: At the beginning of the season, I thought Tim Tebow had no chance to win the Heisman. As late as last week, I thought Colt McCoy deserved to win it (even ahead of Bradford). After Saturday night, I think Tebow deserves the Heisman this season. (You might not be shocked at that; I am.) ↵

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↵(Let's put it this way: If he wasn't the Heisman winner a year ago, I think he would have had it locked up this year, as long as voters waited to see what he did on Saturday afternoon. I hope voters don't skip over him because he won it last year. And now he says he's leaning toward coming back in '09.) ↵

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↵From Who's No. 1 in college football to Who's No. 1 in the NFL: Entering the final month of the NFL season, consider the top of the league shaken up: The Giants as prohibitive favorites? No longer. ↵

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↵Between injuries (Brandon Jacobs, Aaron Ross), the off-field distractions and the punishing loss to the suddenly surging Eagles, for the first time this season, the Giants don't look like the best team in the NFL (even if they did back into clinching the East). ↵

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↵With Steelers' gritty win over the Cowboys in Pittsburgh, you have to call the Steelers and AFC South-clinching Titans the new favorites. ↵

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↵What about the Cowboys? Not after the way Romo got roughed up in Pittsburgh: 3 INTs (incl. that game-killing pick-6), plus 3 sacks and generally struggling going on the road against the NFL's best D. This was a game the Cowboys could/should have won, which says something; they didn't, which says something, too. ↵

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↵So who's really No. 1? It's hard not to elevate the Titans -- with the Steelers close behind. ↵

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↵But how about who is playing the best right now? That team might not even make the playoffs: But if the Eagles somehow sneak into the NFC playoffs, they will run the table and win the Super Bowl. But that remains a big "if." (Wow, does that tie look like it's going to come back and haunt them.) ↵

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↵Week 14 Wrap: ↵

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↵How 'bout them Cardinals! Clinching the NFC West in Week 14? What an odd sensation for the Cards. And what an odd sensation for their fans: If you're a Cardinals fan under the age of 35 (or even 40), you likely have no memory of the last time they won a division title -- 1975. ↵

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↵AFC East: We have a 3-way tie, and the Dolphins were the only ones who really seem to want it. Miami beat the Bills in Toronto, while the Pats had to come back to beat the sorry Seahawks. Meanwhile, the Jets -- two weeks ago, the hottest team in the NFL -- lost to the 49ers. Yeesh. ↵

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↵Milestone Watch: 0-16. The Lions are 0-13. We have never in NFL history seen a team go 0-16 -- it is, in a league based on parity, arguably (and, obviously, historically) more difficult than going 16-0. At this point, how can you NOT be rooting to see history? Remaining: @Colts, vs. Saints, @Packers. ↵

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↵Rookie Spotlight: Matt Forte. Say what you want about the seasons being had by top ROY contenders Chris Johnson or Matt Ryan, but neither broke a record held by Gale Sayers, which Forte did yesterday (most scrimmage yards by a Bears rookie) ↵

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↵Fantasy Studs: Texans QB Matt Schaub (414 yds, 2 TDs -- anyone else have him on their bench? D'oh.) ... Saints RB Pierre Thomas (102 yds, 6.2 ypc, 1 TD rush, 1 TD rec.) ... Broncos WR Brandon Marshall (11 rec, 91 yds, 2 TDs). ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: I can understand the Browns firing Romeo Crennel -- but bringing back Marty Schottenheimer? This ain't "I Love the '80s" and it's not like Marty's track record since his heyday in Cleveland is all that special. What's next: Bernie Kosar unretiring to fill in at QB? ↵

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↵Next Week: Coming off their decisive win over the regional rival Redskins, the Ravens are 9-4 but still one game behind the 10-3 Steelers in the AFC North. The Steelers visit Baltimore next week. ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: It's the Celtics and Lakers, then everyone else. Boston earned its 12th straight W (Ray Allen: 35) against a Pacers team that foiled the Lakers last week; meanwhile, L.A. tied a club record with a 17-2 start to the season. One-quarter in, does the rest of the league matter? ↵

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↵CBB Wrap: If Michigan's win over UCLA last month was a program-maker for John Beilein, but the 15-point loss to Duke a night later was a return to reality, what does Saturday night's follow-up W over Duke qualify as? (Probably a signal that expectations for Michigan should be a wee bit higher. And for Duke? Lower.) ↵

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↵Stephen Curry puts up 44: Heading into his career-spotlight showcase at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night, how about Stephen Curry's 44, leading Davidson past in-state rival NC State on Saturday night? ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Winter Meetings (in Vegas!). Trades (Peavy?), free-agent bidding (CC?) and a lot of out-of-work investment bankers looking for jobs as GM errand-runners. Among other notable story lines: Will the Mets trade for a closer or sign K-Rod? (Omar Minaya reportedly met with him.) ↵

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↵Trade Rumor: J. Dye for H. Bailey? We already knew the White Sox were shopping Jermaine Dye. Did they find a trade partner in the Reds? Cincinnati is rumored to be ready to swap one-time "can't-miss" pitching stud Homer Bailey. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, how would the Tribune Company's imminent bankruptcy impact (a) the Cubs sale and (b) the Cubs' ability to be a player this winter? ↵

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↵Greg Maddux retiring: Count me among those who think he is the greatest pitcher of this generation -- the last 20 years. I'd go further: Maddux is one of the Top 5 pitchers of ANY era. ↵

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↵CFB Coaching Carousel: Sarkisian to Washington is confirmed, so the big intrigue is now in Auburn (the suddenly red-hot Turner Gill?); Syracuse (East Carolina's Skip Holtz?); and even Mississippi State (Urban Meyer protege/Tim Tebow mentor Dan Mullen?) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Congratulations to Michelle Wie, who got through Q-school and earned her LPGA card the hard way. She will still be the biggest name on the tour, but perhaps now she can concentrate on developing her game to back it up. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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