Shanoff's WUC: Fiesta, Welker, Mayo, Arenas

Today's Calls: TCU vs. Boise State, Welker vs. Wild Card, Bengals vs. Jets, OJ Mayo vs. USC, Gilbert Arenas vs. Twitter, Jim Zorn vs. Bill Cowher, Brit Hume vs. Tiger Woods and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: I would argue that TCU-Boise is nothing less than a national semifinal game ... for next year's national championship. ↵

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↵Last week, I predicted that Boise State would win next season's college football title. I would like to amend that: I think that it will be either Boise State or TCU -- whichever of them wins tonight. ↵

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↵Let me expand on Hayes and Curtis: All other things equal -- unbeaten records, non-BCS status, quality wins, national rep -- the winner of this game will get the nod over the loser when it comes to picking between them to crash the BCS title game a year from now. ↵

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↵With virtually their entire teams returning intact, both will go undefeated. Both will have high-profile regular-season wins. Both will have the halo effect from this season's BCS breakthrough. The effort DID chip away at the BCS establishment, and that will pay off next year when TCU, Boise and one BCS-league team (I'll say Ohio State) will be undefeated. The winner of their game tonight will have the advantage in the minds of the coaches and Harris pollsters who will help decide next season's national-title pairing. Not just in the preseason -- but in the final ballot. ↵

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↵Only one unbeaten non-BCS party-crasher will be given an invite to next year's national championship game. With both teams looking even stronger in 2010 than they did in 2009, tonight might as well be the head-to-head "playoff" to pick between them. ↵

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↵After watching the way the Bengals laid down for the Jets -- essentially, Cincinnati threw the game -- my question is why these teams that are "resting for the playoffs" (can't we just call it "tanking?") don't just forfeit, saving everyone the hassle of traveling and suiting up. Teams can do what they want, strategically; my problem is the cynical way it's executed. ↵

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↵Wild Card: Are the Pats now finished? I was all set to pick the Patriots to win the AFC title; without Wes Welker, though, they might not even make it past the Ravens next week. ↵

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↵Love the "rematch" story lines -- Cowboys-Eagles after Dallas crushed Philly, and Packers-Cards after Green Bay routed Arizona (who was tanking). Meanwhile, the Bengals get a rematch with the Jets, and if there was any karmic justice in the world, the Bengals would lose, as punishment for the tanking. ↵

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↵Early Super Bowl Pick: Chargers over Vikings. ↵

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↵NFL Week 17 Talking Points: ↵

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↵• If not for Peyton, Favre would have been MVP. Wow. ↵

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↵• Zero sympathy for the Steelers; they had their chances. ↵

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↵• Congrats to Chris Johnson: "2,000" is a hallowed number. Better: Broke Faulk's record for most yards from scrimmage. ↵

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↵• New coach, same result: The Broncos can't finish seasons. ↵

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↵• Speaking of which, the Giants are an even bigger joke. ↵

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↵• Did Eric Mangini save his job with that 4-game streak? ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Jamaal Charles (and Jerome Harrison!) ↵

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↵• Here's hoping that Pat White is OK. ↵

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↵CFB Weekend Hangover: Aside from playing for a national title, there wasn't a better way for Tim Tebow to go out ... Doesn't the Mike Leach drama feel like it happened a year ago? ... It will be hard for any of the remaining bowls to dislodge the Auburn squeaker over Northwestern for bowl season's "Miss Congeniality." ↵ ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Kentucky is insanely talented, but UK is also immature. There was a moment of foreshadowing in the first 5 minutes of the win over Louisville, as Kentucky lost their heads. That could equal an early Tournament exit against a tough, veteran team like Purdue. (Compare UK's win to the way No. 1 Kansas, all business, throttled a good Temple team.) The best sign for Kentucky was the way that John Wall seems to be playing well above all the petty nonsense. ↵

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↵Scandals: Can you imagine how bad the OJ Mayo stuff must have actually been for USC to penalize itself so (relatively) harshly? I'd still like to see the NCAA step in and punish them further; it's not like USC didn't reap huge benefits while he was there -- or that we all didn't see this coming from literally the first contact Mayo's "reps" had with Tim Floyd. By the way, like DeCourcy, I'm not holding my breath that USC is as self-flagellating about allegations against Reggie Bush. ↵

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↵Coaching Carousel: Expect plenty of firings today. The real question is how quickly the teams will move -- say, the Redskins firing Zorn/hiring Shanahan or the Bills hiring Bill Cowher. Also tenuous: Eric Mangini, Lovie Smith, Tom Cable, Raheem Morris. (Though I wouldn't be surprised to see all four with their jobs intact ... through next season, at least.) ↵

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↵NFL Draft Watch: Joe Haden is in, and he will undoubtedly be the first CB taken. But it was obvious as of Friday that THE story of the NFL Draft will be the debate over Tim Tebow. Elongated wind-up, "intangibles," yada yada yada ... some team will take him in the first round. What makes Tebow so fascinating is that scouts and draftniks can't seem to stand his skills, yet he defies their assessments. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Rams will have the No. 1 overall pick. I cannot imagine a D-first coach like Steve Spagnuolo wouldn't want DT Ndamukong Suh. I know they have massive problems on offense, too, but Suh is simply too good to pass up. ↵

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↵NBA Talking Points: Gilbert Arenas is back to being insane. The whole gun incident was crazy enough, but then Gil went on a riveting Twitter bender over the weekend -- it's not that he said anything so controversial; he was just rambling and unfiltered, with an undercurrent of defiance. Remains to be seen whether this is good or bad for him. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "My message to Tiger is, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'" -- In a new twist on the Tiger saga, Fox News anchor Brit Hume on his advice for Tiger, who is reportedly a Buddhist. (I should have gone with an Arenas tweet, but there were too many to pick from.) ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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