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The annual Texas-Texas A&M clash was one of several longstanding college football rivalries felled by conference realignment, and after just one year off, willingness to restore the tradition by whatever goofy means necessary is already on display. Texas state representative Ryan Guillen has filed a bill to reestablish the series, under threat of scholarship restrictions. (Wait. What?)
If this sounds … curious to you, you’re not alone. We enlisted the kind assistance of SI.com legal analyst Michael McCann, who offers this take on Guillen’s bill, with the obvious part right up front (emphasis ours):
1) I don’t think this bill has a plausible shot of becoming law. Using the law to interfere with the scheduling of college football games seems like a dubious use of legislative authority and government overreach.
2) If it defies the odds and becomes law, the two schools would likely claim the law is unconstitutional — specifically, the argument would be that the state lacks legal authority to regulate the scheduling of games or at least lacks the authority to regulate the scheduling of games for a non-health reason like this. Scholarships also impact interstate activities, which are usually the domain of the federal government, so that would be another argument against state authority.
Assorted newsy bits — of varying degrees of importance — you might have missed over the long weekend:
• Didn’t we already do this headline a week ago? ”Imminent” can mean a lot of things! In the cosmic sense, the NCAA’s investigation of Miami has spanned less than a fraction of an eyeblink, but here we are, riding on a human-speed space-time wave, just twiddling our bloggy thumbs until the ‘Canes’ notice of allegations drops. The latest rumblings, per Bruce Feldman, involve a very large book being thrown at ex-Miami and current Louisville assistant Clint Hurtt and other former ‘Canes colleagues. We’ll have more on this when we actually see the notice of allegations, unless we don’t see this notice of allegations, in which case we’ll be right back here next Monday writing a third variation on this same headline.
• And speaking of the NCAA: On the final day of the annual NCAA convention, the latest raft of changes — touted as an effort to streamline NCAA regulations — were unveiled. Your friendly neighborhood Bylaw Blogger takes a look at one proposal, regarding recruiting start dates, that was left out of the bundle.
We’re still really hoping this Clancy Pendergast thing pans out for USC, because a name like that following “Monte Kiffin” makes writing Trojans football/The Thorn Birds fan fiction that much easier. But until Lane Kiffin actually lands a defensive coordinator for 2013, we’re going to have to work with what we have. And what we have, in this case, is Oregon defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti turning down the gig, per a report in The Oregonian:
The Trojans recently reached out to Aliotti, who just completed his 21st season as an Oregon assistant. He began his career as an Oregon graduate assistant in 1978; he became best known for coordinating the “Gang Green” defense that helped the Ducks reach the Rose Bowl after the 1994 season. Aliotti’s defenses have been overshadowed by Oregon’s “blur” offense in recent years, though Kelly praised Aliotti and the defense virtually every chance he could.
That celebrated unit had its most alarming night of the 2012 season in the Coliseum last November, allowing the Trojans to amass 51 points and 615 net yards, albeit in a losing effort.
• By the time you see this post, all of this information will be out of date. Just keep this soothing mantra in your minds, and we’ll all get through this together:
When it all boils down, we’re all members of the Human Race Conference. #footballhugs
— Good Bull Hunting (@GBHunting) November 28, 2012
Change begets stress, and even good stress is stress, our mama has always said, so continue those deep, cleansing breaths while you read these releases from Middle Tennessee State and Florida Atlantic announcing their intent to join Conference USA in 2014. Karl Benson is making solar puns in all caps, so give him a little hug if you see him. And our pal Steven Godfrey finally realizes why Rutgers cut him off for a story a couple weeks back.
• Bowltyme! Our postseason schedule is up and running, with new bowl teams added as they’re announced. It’s also in a font large enough for you to read first thing in the morning without your glasses a couple weeks from now, when you sit upright in bed and are terrified you have overslept into the New Mexico Bowl.
Our weekly highlight show of lesser FBS luminaries. Non-AQs and independents, be welcome. WE HAVE MUCH TO DISCUSS.
• On teams about to move themselves outside our purview. Like we said this morning, we had no sooner finished updating our magnificent work of college football realignment art than word came down we might need to add Middle Tennessee State to it. And right as we were wrapping up this here column, Florida Atlantic joins the fray, chasing FIU to Conference USA. Consider this another plea for a dead period in conference realignment, for the sake of everyone’s collective multitasking abilities, at least until the bowls are over. What on earth else are we going to talk about in February if we get all this conference-hopping sorted out before Christmas?
And what to do with some of these teams going forward? We have a while to figure it out, obviously, but how to cover this ballooning middle class created by the sinking of the Big East? Will the Blue Raiders graduate from Profiterole-dom as Temple did last year? We’ll probably dedicate way more thought to this than we should; but, again, best to save that for the offseason when we have nothing better to do.
• Conference races drawing to a close. Where we’re at heading into that weird hybrid weekend of regular and postseason games: Kent State and Northern Illinois meet Friday night in Detroit for the MAC title game. Tulsa hosts Central Florida this Saturday for the C-USA championship. The Mountain West remains deadlocked in that wacky three-way tie between San Diego State, Fresno State and Boise State, with only the Broncos’ Saturday date with Nevada standing any chance of breaking it. The top two teams in the Sun Belt, Arkansas State and Middle Tennessee, play a final regular-season game Saturday that may as well be the conference title game. Utah State has clinched the WAC title outright with last week’s victory over Idaho. And Army and Navy will meet a week from Saturday for the right to hoist the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, with Air Force out of the race entirely for the first time since 2005.
• Bowltyme! Stewart Mandel’s latest postseason projections can be found here, along with a freshly-updated chart listing every accepted bowl invitation. Profiteroles playing this holiday season include Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl, Utah State in the Potato, San Diego State and BYU in the Poinsettia, Louisiana in the New Orleans, SMU in the Hawaii, Air Force in the Armed Forces and Navy in the Fight Hunger.
Snap Judgments from the Week 13 late slate. For more, check out Friday’s Snaps, Saturday’s early Snaps, Saturday’s midday Snaps, our recaps of Michigan-Ohio State, Florida-Florida State and Notre Dame-USC and our complete Top 25 review.
• No. 11 Stanford 35, No. 15 UCLA 17. With tonight’s victory, the Cardinal secured a share of the Pac-12 North division title and set up a rematch for the conference championship six days from now in Palo Alto. The win was all but assured midway through the second quarter, when Stanford jumped out to a 21-7 lead on a 49-yard Stepfan Taylor touchdown run; UCLA didn’t come within a score of catching up again all night. Stanford’s last conference title came in 1999; the Cardinal will be making their first appearance in the Pac-12 championship game.
Johnathan Franklin, he of the 131-yards-per-game rushing average, was held below 100 yards for just the fourth time this season, recording 65 yards on 21 carries and scoring one of the Bruins’ two touchdowns. Taylor more than doubled up Franklin, gaining 147 yards on 21 carries and scoring twice, all before being rested in the fourth quarter. UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, meanwhile, threw for 259 yards but was sacked seven times — bad even for an offense that ranked 110th nationally in sacks allowed before this game, and above even Stanford’s lofty four-sack average.
Not to take anything away from Stanford, which has done some very neat work this season in the absence of Andrew Luck, among other key figures, but it’s all right to feel the tiniest bit let down about this. If only for the sake of variety, it would’ve been interesting to see UCLA play Oregon for the first time this season and not the Cardinal for a second in a week. But if we got everything we wanted, there’d be no point in writing fanfic about Ron Prince becoming monarch-commissioner of college football, and where’s the fun in that? The battle for a Rose Bowl bid begins next Friday at 8 p.m. ET. [BOX | RECAP]
Snap Judgments from the Week 13 early slate. For more, check out Friday Snaps, Saturday’s midday Snaps, Saturday’s late Snaps, our recaps of Michigan-Ohio State, Florida-Florida State and Notre Dame-USC and our complete Top 25 review.
• No. 3 Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 10. Looky here, it’s two teams headed to major conference championship games next week! Don’t be too hard on Tech; the Jackets and their coach have battled the flu all week, were operating without the services of leading rusher Orwin Smith and still managed to pile up 458 yards in Sanford Stadium. It was scoring that posed the problem; Tech didn’t even attempt a punt in the first half but had three drives snuffed out by a fumble, a failed fourth-down attempt and an interception, respectively. Its second-half drives fared little better, ending in two punts, one touchdown and three more unsuccessful fourth-down conversions. Georgia’s first seven drives, by contrast: touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, punt, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. Mark Richt, in his postgame press conference: “Our goal was to win every phase of the game, for every unit to win. I think we may have done that.” Seems like a solid take, coach.
The result is the biggest margin of victory for the Dawgs in their year-end rivalry game since 2002. And speaking of records: With Saturday’s scoreboard assault, the 2012 Bulldogs are officially the highest-scoring squad in program history. That same 2002 team scored 450 points in 14 games; with 12 games down and two to go, this year’s squad is already at 456. Safety Bacarri Rambo tied Jake Scott’s school record for career interceptions at 16. And Aaron Murray is now the first SEC quarterback to put up three consecutive 3,000-yard seasons.
Saturday college football games of varying degrees of interest, grouped in highly subjective categories. For more preview content, visit Andy Staples’ Walkthrough.
• Biggest game with nothing riding on it: No. 6 Ohio State at Wisconsin, 3:30 p.m. ET. The Badgers already know they’re headed to Indianapolis, as the only other teams with fewer than three conference losses in the Leaders Division (the Buckeyes and Penn State) are ineligible for postseason play. But a win here would be the biggest [screw]-you moment for Urban Meyer since the 2008 Florida-Georgia game. And if you think Urban Meyer doesn’t live for [screw]-you moments, please see the 2008 Florida-Georgia game.
What is actually at stake: The NCAA all-time career touchdowns record, currently sitting at 78 and held by former Miami RedHawk Travis Prentice. Monteé Ball is one score away from tying and two away from breaking this record, and he has a chance to do both at home. He recorded 198 rushing yards and three scores last week against Indiana; if Ball does break the record, expect to hear the hollering in Madison as far away as Kentucky, and expect little bits of glitter to spew from this page. (Please protect your eyes accordingly.)
• Biggest game we feel like we couldn’t predict if our lives depended on it: No. 21 USC at No. 17 UCLA, 3:05 p.m. We have well established at this point in the season that even when relying on math and the best available logic, picking games is tricky work. It’s much more fun, and equally ineffective, to rely on factors like spite and cussedness and probably-imaginary-but-maybe-not-surefire jinxes to decide, particularly in rivalry matchups, which is why this weekend’s clash in the Rose Bowl scares the hell out of us. Some factors to consider: Whose coach to dislike (or grudgingly admire) more? Is it cosmically dangerous to even bring up that “football monopoly” talk at this point? Can we straight-up call this game for USC because keeping an opposing team’s costumed representative from poking one’s field with a sword is the furthest possible thing from a power move imaginable?
A couple selections of college football-like substances are on offer this evening in prime time viewing hours. We’re sure you have so many questions.
Florida International at Florida Atlantic
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Owls and Golden Panthers are scheduled to kick off at 8 p.m. ET in Boca Raton. The game will be televised on ESPNU and streamed on WatchESPN.
• What’s at stake here? Florida-based Sun Belt program bragging rights and little else. Both teams are out of postseason contention and occupy two of the three bottom slots in the SBC standings.
• Wasn’t Florida International supposed to be good this year? We certainly thought so! But instead of contending for top honors in a very deep Sun Belt, the Panthers have only just notched their first conference win of 2012, a 28-20 defeat of transitional South Alabama on November 3.
• Is this the stadium with the Schnellenberger statue? It absolutely is. We wait with breathless anticipation to see how it will be outfitted with a perma-puffing pipe and Santa hat for the upcoming holiday season. Schnelly Claus!
Hawaii at Air Force
• What information do I, the discerning sports fan, require in order to consume this game? The Warriors and Falcons are scheduled to kick off at 9:30 p.m. ET in Colorado Springs. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and streamed on WatchESPN.