Monday Morning Quarterback

The Monday Morning Quarterback goes under center for its penultimate regular-season installment, online only, and still operating on Vegas time . . .

Orange 45-35!
Remember when backers of the current college football postseason fiasco told us we couldn’t have a playoff because it would devalue the regular season? What would you call a system wherein a regular-season head-to-head result is rendered completely worthless?

I’d call it the Bowl Championship Series. Texas beat Oklahoma 45-35 on Oct. 11 at a neutral site, yet it’s the Sooners who will represent the Big 12 South in the conference title game, by virtue of a higher spot in the BCS ratings. Thank goodness we’ve got a regular season that means so much. And of course, it was the most meaningless for Texas Tech, a team not even in the conversation even though it is part of the three-way tie.

Red Big 12! Of course, the Big 12 deserves its share of blame in this, too. How can BCS ratings outrank head-to-head competition? How can the league not find a way to have its two best teams meet for the title. There’s really no defense for the Big 12 in this, which is no surprise, since nobody in the league has played any defense all season.

Red 13: The ol’ QB was in Vegas this past weekend, where the sports books were calling Rutgers a 13-point favorite against the University of Louisville Thursday night. The last time the Cardinals were that big an underdog? Actually, not so long ago. The Cards were 17-point ‘dogs at West Virginia last season. Before that, you had to go back to the Florida State upset win of 2002, when the Cards were 14-point underdogs.

This brings up one of the most amazing stats of the Bobby Petrino era at U of L: After losing at Miami as a 9-point underdog in 2004, the Cardinals under Petrino were never a regular-season underdog again. They were favored to win 29 consecutive regular-season games, 25 of them by double-digits. Average spread: – 20. They were nationally ranked in all but one of those weeks, and the run actually extended into the beginning of Steve Kragthorpe’s tenure, when the Cardinals began the season ranked in the top 10 and were favored in their first six games.

Blue 107: Wildcats’ national ranking in total offense. They’re a tad better in passing efficiency, ranking No. 106.

Hut! Hut! What New Mexico State coach Hal Mumme may be living in soon, after the grounding of his Air Raid-West style offense. Mumme’s boys lost 57-2 to Utah State Saturday, and rushed for a negative seven yards.

First and 10: You want real chaos, consider this. Florida’s computer rankings are so low that even if the Gators beat Alabama in the SEC Championship game — a toss-up at best — there’s a chance they might not move up enough in the computer rankings to break into the BCS title game. That’s right, folks. A Florida win could give us Texas-Oklahoma, II.

Third and three: As in 33, as in the age of new Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin. I hate to join the chorus of naysayers on this hire, but where’s my robe? SEC football is a different animal. There are guys who are bred for it. They are cocky, maniacal sociopaths. They are Urban Meyer up three touchdowns still throwing deep in the fourth quarter at Tallahassee. They are Nick Saban absolutely torching punter P.J. Fitzgerald with a 30-point lead. They are Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, Les Miles. Lane Kiffin? The Vols are casting against type.

Tennessee Christmas: So it looks like UK’s two most likely bowl destinations are the Music City or Liberty bowls. It’s going to be hard for Cat fans to get charged up over a third straight trip to Nashville. Memphis is a spot that shouldn’t be underestimated, given the work it has done on the Beale Street area in recent years. Even in a trap-game against an offense-happy C-USA opponent, Memphis is the better destination.

Addendum: Back to the U of L underdog stat. In three games as a double-digit underdog since 2000, the Cards have covered all three times, and won straight-up twice. But remember, the MMQB is for entertainment purposes only.

Stat of the week: Tennessee threw only eight passes in its win over Kentucky on Saturday.

Quote of the week: I’m giving up on coaches, let’s go to the blogs: Everydayshouldbesaturday.com, where the potency of Oklahoma’s offense is described thusly: “To stop Oklahoma, you may need tactical nukes, and even then given their recent streak, they’d probably just ricochet off someone’s hands and into Jermaine Gresham’s for a touchdown.”

The pick: U of L will hang tough at Rutgers, but not tough enough. Scarlet Knights by 7.

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