The Dash breaks out the Adriana rating system

Updated: November 13, 2006, 9:01 AM ET
By Pat Forde | ESPN.com

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football (Beaver Believer [1] T-shirts sold separately):

November Feast
The morose among you will look at the calendar and sigh. Just 33 days of regular-season football left.

Seems like only yesterday Cal (2) and Arkansas (3) were throwing up on themselves in their season openers. Now look at 'em, ranked 10th and 13th, respectively, in the BCS. So we have traveled a bit down the road to Glendale, Ariz.

But The Dash is here to motivate the morose and galvanize the glum for the stretch run. View your 32-ounce stadium cup as half full, comrades, not half empty. There is much tailgate meat yet to grill, much tailgate beer yet to swill and much college football yet to thrill us.

Between Halloween and the Saturday after Thanksgiving, college games will be on television 19 of 26 days. Who among us does not need a little UAB-SMU (4) on Halloween night? Who in Pigskin Nation could fail to be roused by Buffalo-Akron (5) on Nov. 9? Think back to the long summer nights without football and tell The Dash: Don't you owe it to your soul to tune in Bowling Green-Toledo (6) Nov. 21?

Thought so.

In case you need further inspiration, The Dash offers this list of 10 November games that must be seen, complete with an Adriana Lima (the all-time Dashette) rating system:

5 Adrianas: Game of the Year candidate matching unbeaten teams.
4 Adrianas: Huge game with potential national title/BCS/Heisman implications.
3 Adrianas: Major matchup with conference championship/BCS implications.
2 Adrianas: Big game with major bowl stakes and strong potential for psychodrama.
1 Adrianas: Still beats the hell out of watching the NHL.

Here are your 10 games of greatest impact upon the Bowl Championship Series and beyond:

1. Michigan-Ohio State (7)
At Columbus on Nov. 18.
Rating: 5 Adrianas.




Big as big gets. This game is always immense, but it's never matched teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 -- especially with the winner ticketed for the national championship game. And if things get squirrelly, maybe the loser, too.

Subplots: Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith has a chance to lock up the Heisman Trophy. Lloyd Carr has a chance to unload the final bullet from his critics' gun by beating Jim Tressel -- or he could reload their ammunition by losing to Coach Sweater Vest for the fifth time in six years.

2. West Virginia-Louisville (8)
At Louisville on Thursday.
Rating: 4½ Adrianas.




Unbeaten teams, explosive offenses, plenty of star power, plenty at stake. This monster kicks off Big East Month in college football, as the former orphan of the BCS plays a series of marquee games down the stretch. As Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said Monday: "It's been a long while from where everyone was taking their shots and we were going to die and we didn't deserve to be in the BCS."

Subplots: Is the best offensive player in the league West Virginia's Steve Slaton or Pat White, or is it Louisville's Brian Brohm? Is the best coach in the league West Virginia's Rich Rodriguez or Louisville's Bobby Petrino?

3. Notre Dame-USC (9)
At Los Angeles on Nov. 25.
Rating: 4 Adrianas.




Not quite the gigantic event it was in '05, but not far behind. This is another top-five national rivalry, regardless of record -- and the records are good. If both teams get there with just one loss, there could be significant BCS ramifications. Think either side might enjoy knocking the other out of the national championship picture?

Subplots: Notre Dame has payback burned into its brain after last season. Brady Quinn could be mounting his last charge at Smith in the Heisman race -- and if he has a game like Joe Montana did in his last appearance in the L.A. Coliseum, engineering an epic comeback in 1978, that might do it. USC could be fighting to continue its dynastic run of the previous four years.

4. Louisville-Rutgers (10)
At Piscataway on Nov. 9.
Rating: 3½ Adrianas.




Another huge Thursday nighter. No matter what happens Thursday in the 'Ville, there will be at least one unbeaten team in this game. And there figures to be two teams in the BCS top 12 at worst. If the West Virginia-Louisville game is the biggest in Cardinals history, this could be the biggest in Scarlet Knights history.

Subplots: Ray Rice's Heisman campaign could use a jump-start after being held to 79 yards against UConn. Winner takes a big step toward securing one of the top two spots in the Big East. Depending on where Notre Dame lands, that could mean the Gator Bowl at worst.

5. Tennessee-Arkansas (11)
At Fayetteville on Nov. 11.
Rating: 3½ Adrianas.




Somebody's national title hopes are extinguished right here, and somebody's hopes for a BCS bid (as conference champion or at-large) are extended. A Razorbacks victory could go a long way toward landing them in the SEC championship game. A Volunteers victory keeps the pressure on Florida in the East.

Subplots: Houston Nutt and Phil Fulmer began the year on the hot seat; they could be battling here for SEC Coach of the Year honors.

6. Cal-USC (12) At Los Angeles on Nov. 18.
Rating: 3½ Adrianas.




If the Golden Bears get here 9-1, they'd have a chance to earn their first Rose Bowl bid in 48 years -- at worst. The BCS title game could still be in play. Unseating the four-time Pacific-10 champions would make it even sweeter. Or USC could take a big step toward a fifth straight league title with a win.

Subplots: Cal RB Marshawn Lynch is still hanging around the edges of the Heisman chase and could significantly help his candidacy here. This is a matchup of the top two QBs in the league in pass efficiency: Cal's Nate Longshore and USC's John David Booty.

7. Texas A&M-Texas (13)
At Austin on Nov. 24.
Rating: 3 Adrianas.




The Longhorns should be in the thick of the BCS title chase, especially if all the Big East teams have a loss by then. The Aggies have two very difficult games between now and then, but this could be the moment that cements their return to prominence. They'd like nothing more than to end Texas' long Big 12 winning streak along the way.

Subplots: Texas QB Colt McCoy could cinch up national freshman of the year honors in this game. Or, if it goes the other way, Aggies coach Dennis Franchione could remove himself from the hot seat for years to come.

8. Boston College-Miami (14)
At Miami on Nov. 23.
Rating: 2½ Adrianas.




BC-Wake Forest Saturday is bigger from a BCS standpoint. BC-Maryland Nov. 18 could be bigger from an Atlantic Division championship standpoint. But playing the traditional powerhouse Hurricanes on Thanksgiving night, on the 22nd anniversary of Flutie-to-Phelan, to wrap up what could be the Eagles' best season since that game, would be huge.

Subplots: Could be Larry Coker's last game as coach at Miami.

9. South Carolina-Florida (15)
At Gainesville on Nov. 11.
Rating: 2½ Adrianas.




Depending on what happens to Tennessee, the Gators could be playing to win the SEC East and advance to the SEC title game. The fact that they'd be doing it against the biggest hero in Florida history -- in the house that the Head Ball Coach named and all but built -- adds just a little heat to the proceedings.

Subplots: Steve Spurrier is 1-0 against Urban Meyer, to the discomfort of Florida president Bernie Machen and athletic director Jeremy Foley, who opted to go with Meyer instead of rehiring Darth Visor in 2004. Heaven help Meyer, Machen and Foley if Stevie Boy comes out of this 2-0.

10. Boise State-Nevada (16)
At Reno on Nov. 25.
Rating: 2 Adrianas.




Boise State could be striving to close up a 12-0 season and lock up the Broncos' first BCS bowl berth, which would come automatically if they finish in the BCS top 12. Right now they're 14th, but many teams ahead of them should lose at least once in the next month.

Subplots: Rookie head coach Chris Petersen would have a fairly strong national coach of the year resume if he went undefeated. Running back Ian Johnson will be putting the finishing touches on his dark-horse Heisman campaign.

E-Mailers Of The Week
The Dash always receives a weekly abundance of witty, wise and yes, weird e-mail from the faithful (and slightly disturbed) readership. But this past week was a veritable cornucopia of compelling correspondence. So instead of a single E-Mailer of the Week, The Dash honors a gang of four.

The Leprechaun
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesWhen not working the crowd, the ND leprechaun enjoys reading The Dash.
First came a missive from Kevin Braun (17), who serves as the leprechaun at Notre Dame football games. When last week's Dash included faux excuses by each of America's premier one-loss teams, the little shillelagh swinger took exception to The Dash's assertion that the ND leprechaun didn't bring his A game when the Irish were crushed by Michigan. Wrote Braun:

In response to your critique of my performance during the Michigan game, I quote Michigan State grad Mike Valenti: "I was busy firing up my section! I did my job! I paid my $75 and I got a bunch of old asses on their feet into the air and got them cheering their asses off! I didn't choke! I showed up to play!"

(Dash comment: That's a pitch-perfect parody of the nine-minute philippic by Detroit radio personality Valenti (18) after Michigan State gagged against the Irish in September. In a burst of invective that will live long on the Internet, Valenti lost both his voice and sanity on air. If you haven't heard it yet, a Google search is in order.)

Next came this update from Washington kicker Michael Braunstein (19), whom The Dash gigged a few weeks back for excessive cockiness, especially in light of his modest accomplishments (he was 4 of 6 on field goals at the time, with a career long of 32 yards):

"So I am now 9 for 11 with a long of 47 which came in overtime. So next time you mention me in one of your articles try not to be so harsh.

Thanks,

Michael Braunstein
University of Washington kicker

(Dash comment: Congrats, Michael. Mason Crosby (20) has been warned that he may start hearing footsteps from the Pacific Northwest.)

Next was a slightly self-promotional e-mail from Alan Cofer (21), who renamed the Florida-Georgia football rivalry. In a fit of collegiate correctness, presidents of the two schools urged that the annual game in Jacksonville not be referred to by its traditional moniker, "The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party". So the Red & Black (22), the plucky student newspaper at Georgia, had a contest to rename the game. Cofer was the winner with the following entry:

The World's Largest Non-Alcoholic University-Sanctioned Family-Fun Event and Bowl (No admittance without passing alcohol awareness test)

(Dash comment: I'll drink to that.)

Pania Rose
Bellazon.comDashette Pania Rose loves reading The Dash's e-mail.
And finally came this information from alleged loyal reader Peter Sanders (23), who reports that Georgia Tech students wore "Fear the I" T-shirts Saturday when the Yellow Jackets played The U, otherwise known as Miami. Sanders explained:

The Georgia Institute of Technology is the only Institute in Div. I-A football, while Miami is one of 114 Universities (out of 119 total teams!). In that sense, GT has 11,400 percent more reason to go with "the I" than Miami does to go with "the U." Someone might want to explain to their fan base (and helmet designers) that it's generally the M and not the U that differentiates them from the team across the field (well, unless they play the other Miami). The real satire though stems from the fact that, based on the academic and behavioral standards (or lack thereof) that Miami holds their players to these days, they might be the least appropriate team out of the 114 to call themselves a University.

(Dash comment: Careful with those sweeping generalizations, Peter, or Brandon Meriweather (24) is going to leave cleat marks on your legs. And your research is flawed. Ever hear of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, also known as Virginia Tech? )

Chosen Dash correspondents will receive invitations to play touch football with Dashette Pania Rose (25) and friends. You're welcome.

Sophomore Coach Update
After the 2004 season, the coaching carousel spun as wildly -- and in some cases as unpredictably -- as it has in years. Most of the coaching Class of '05 has 20 games under its belt by now, which seems like a suitable point for a progress report:

Rollin': Charlie Weis (26), 16-4 at Notre Dame; Urban Meyer (27), 16-4 at Florida.

Upgradin': Terry Hoeppner (28), 9-11 at previously awful Indiana; Dick Tomey (29), 8-10 at even more awful San Jose State; Ty Willingham (30), 6-14 at former train wreck Washington; Bronco Mendenhall (31), 12-8 at Brigham Young.

Stallin': Les Miles (32), 17-4 at loaded LSU; Mike Sanford (33), 3-16 at UNLV; Hal Mumme (34), 2-18 at New Mexico State.

Bombin': Ron Zook (35), 4-16 at Illinois; Ed Orgeron (36), 5-15 at Mississippi; Walt Harris (37), 5-14 at Stanford.

Putting Out An APB For …
… Former Arkansas running back Roland Sales (38). Something of a one-game wonder, Sales capitalized on the disciplinary suspension of the Razorbacks' top two running backs before the 1978 Orange Bowl by coach Lou Holtz. Thrust into the starting role against heavily favored Oklahoma, Sales ran for 205 yards in a shocking 31-6 Arkansas triumph that exponentially increased Holtz's profile. Anyone with news on the whereabouts of Sales, please apprise The Dash.

Meanwhile, The Dash is pleased to report that former Rutgers running back J.J. Jennings (39) is alive and well in New England, where he works as a supply account manager for Xerox in Hartford, Conn., and lives in South Hadley, Mass. Jennings reports that he is the father of two daughters, Alyssa (26) and Lynsi (24) and is married to his second wife, Christine.

And, as you might have guessed, he's fairly psyched about the Scarlet Knights' annus mirabilis.

"I'm very excited, along with everyone else," said Jennings, who is a season-ticket holder. "It's new territory for us after the down years we've been through. … I really think it's going to be a winning program from here on out. I think [coach Greg Schiano] is going to stick around and reap the fruits of his labor. I'd like to see him become like Joe Paterno and put down roots there."

Jennings predicted that if Rutgers is on top of its game its next time out, Nov. 9 at home against Louisville, the Scarlet Knights "definitely can beat them."

And the old running back is a huge fan of the new running backs, Ray Rice and Brian Leonard. Asked who would win in a running back skills competition between J.J. Jennings and Rice, Jennings laughed.

"Oh, geeze, Ray Rice hands down," he said. "I was a good runner, maybe a great runner, but I didn't have the speed of Ray Rice. I was a converted fullback and I had a good line in front of me."

As Jennings will attest, Rutgers has a good future in front of it.

Point After
When shopping for a sports bar in greater Jackson, Miss., The Dash recommends the Alumni House (40) in suburban Ridgeland. It has more TVs than a Best Buy store, and they were well-situated for watching the deciding game of the World Series Friday night (The Dash is tepid on baseball but is a born-and-raised Cardinals fan).

Best of all were the rows of fluffy recliners in the non-smoking section, which came complete with fold-up TV trays. The only major drawback was the stunning lack of chicken wings on the menu. They offered Buffalo chicken tenders, which flat-out doesn't cut it. A sports bar without chicken wings is like the Yankees without pinstripes. What's the point?

The Alumni House offered a local beer called Southern Pecan, but The Dash was advised that it was a sweet-tasting brew, and that's where The Dash draws the line. Thankfully the bar carried the best beer brewed in America, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, in bottles.

Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com.