'GameDay' goes off the beaten path to find the biggest little rivalry
The final full-pads practice of his life was just a couple of hours away. A couple hours earlier, he had attended a "Global Competitive Strategies" class and a philosophy class called "The Self." Also on this semester's docket: "Economic Institutions" and another general philosophy class.
D-III Did You Know?I have heard devotees of the division call themselves "D-III geeks." Unless you are one, you certainly will flunk the little pop quiz I am about to deliver. Don't worry, the "GameDay" set would go oh-fer, too.
Set your alarm clock on Saturday. Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and the rest of the "GameDay" crew will be at Division III Williams College. Tune in to find out about Amherst-Williams, the biggest little rivalry, Auburn-Georgia and everything else in college football.
When: Sat., 10 a.m. ET (ESPN)
Where: Williamstown, Mass
A couple of other noteworthy games in D-III on Saturday include rivalry battles for the Cortaca Jug (Cortland versus Ithaca) and the annual Indiana collision for one of my favorite "trophies," a 258-pound hunk of metal in a big wooden frame called the Monon Bell. The No. 1 team in Division III is perennial power Mt. Union. If you think Ohio State's defense is having a great season, that's nothing compared to the Purple Raiders. They have pitched five straight shutouts and gone seven straight games without allowing a touchdown heading into Saturday's collision with lowly Marietta College. Take that, Laurinaitis and Gholston!
On to the big boys("Finally," you say?) Speaking of the Buckeyes, I wonder how many other pollsters are like me: wrestling with the contradiction that Ohio State has not really proven itself to be the "best" team in the nation so far but is sitting at the top of our ballot as the "most deserving"? Maybe I don't have the guts to vote a team or two with a loss over an unbeaten team with a big name from a big conference. (Kansas is only one for two on that count, and Hawaii well, sorry, it's zero for two).
Goodbye, O.B.Like everyone else who has covered this sport for years, I have my list of Orange Bowl memories. Broadcasting the Miami-Texas A&M game early this season, I looked out at the place, and they all came flowing back. As the Canes close their era in the "Old Horseshoe in Little Havana" with Virginia's visit Saturday (ESPN2, 7:15 p.m. ET), here's a quick list of the most enduring moments I have spent there.
1. Colorado survives the "Rocket" scare to win the Orange Bowl and the 1990 AP national title. I saw the flag fly early in Raghib "Rocket" Ismail's punt return, so there wasn't the shock and outrage many watching on TV experienced when Dick Enberg finally spotted the flag after Notre Dame's Ismail had crossed the goal line. Hey, there wasn't any shock and outrage, period. I went to Colorado, and back then, I was a lot less detached than I am now. I was a student during the program's darkest days. To have the ol' alma mater win a title a few short years later was a thrill.2. The 1986 Oklahoma-Miami game. I never will forget my first game in person at the stadium I had seen host so many amazing football moments growing up, from the heroics by Jim O'Brien to Joe Willie to Doug Flutie. It was an electric day, won by Vinnie Testaverde and the home underdogs. 3. Florida State's crazy, drawn-out Orange Bowl win over Nebraska to claim the 1993 national title. The story lines were so powerfully drawn going in, and the last two minutes (which must have taken 45 minutes to play) come back to me like they happened yesterday, not 14 years ago. 4. One crazy matinee: Miami's 1998 upset of No. 1 UCLA, which featured a rally from being down 38-28 at the end of three quarters. Cade McNown kept throwing it to Brian Poli-Dixon and Danny Farmer, and Edgerrin James cut through the Bruins like they were warm butter. McNown passed for 513 yards, and James romped for 299. Both made a lot of future NFL cash that day, and both defenses left humiliated: the game produced 1,359 yards and finally was won by Miami, 49-45. Later that day, Kansas State blew a 15-point fourth-quarter lead to lose to Texas A&M, allowing FSU and Tennessee to claim spots in the first BCS game. It was the wildest final day of the season I have witnessed, and it all started with the game that left us shaking our heads in amazement for four-plus hours. 5. A tie for fifth between many of the Hurricanes' night games I have witnessed there. Any Miami sack in the closed west end of the O.B. brought forth an avalanche of noise, a roar reserved for just that occasion. I will miss those. I am guessing Miami fans have been missing them for awhile! When UM got after Stephen McGee of A&M that Thursday night this year ... well, it was a watered-down reminder of what used to be. It never will be the same in Dolphins Stadium, or whatever it is being called at the moment.