Making pitch for some fun

Yankee Stadium, Wrigley Field tilts prelude to battles

November 18, 2010|By Chris Dufresne

Let's be honest: This weekend is just killing time until next weekend, when a season's field could get flipped at Tuscaloosa's Iron Bowl and Reno's "Biggest Little Football Game in the World," Boise State at Nevada.

Now is the time to muse, reflect, relax and take in a ballgame at Wrigley Field.

America's pass time: Illinois and Northwestern are exchanging lineup cards Saturday at Wrigley Field. The football configuration is precarious to say the least, with only a few feet separating the back line of the east end zone from a padded wall.

Aside from the safety risk, it leaves Steve Bartman ample room to interfere with a potential Northwestern touchdown pass.

In New York, Notre Dame and Army play the first football game at the new Yankee Stadium after playing 21 times, from 1925 through 1946, at the old Bronx haunt.

Saturday also marks the 90th anniversary of George Gipp's last game.

Hail to Victor … somebody: That cold day in hell when self-respecting Michigan State fans have to sing Michigan's fight song has arrived. Sparty needs Ann Arbor's help.

Michigan State (9-1) can't get to the Rose Bowl in a three-way tie at 11-1 with Wisconsin and Ohio State, even though the Spartans defeated Wisconsin and didn't play Ohio State.

The tiebreaker rule in the three-way scenario goes to the highest-ranked team in the BCS standings. Wisconsin is No. 7 this week, Ohio State No. 9 and Michigan State No. 12.

And now you know why Wisconsin scored 83 points on Indiana last week.

Michigan State's must beat Purdue and Penn State and scream, "Go Michigan!" The Wolverines host Wisconsin this week before closing shop at Ohio State.

Next year, the Big Ten splits into divisions and plays a title game … which doesn't help now.

Urban and Austin: Florida (6-4) and Texas (4-6) are a combined 10-10 after starting the year ranked No. 4 and No. 5. Florida lost Saturday at home to its 1966 Heisman Trophy winner, and Texas lost to Oklahoma State for the third time … since 1916.

Mack Brown's long-faced Longhorns need two wins to be bowl-eligible a year after playing for the national title, and many have erased the circle around the "W" they had this week for Florida Atlantic.

Quarterback play is killing the Gators and Longhorns. John Brantley, Tim Tebow's replacement, has eight touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Garrett Gilbert, Colt McCoy's replacement, has seven and 15.

Pac-10 tough: Here are the nation's eight toughest schedules, according to this week's Sagarin Ratings: Washington, Washington State, UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona State, California, USC and Stanford.

Football Bureau of Investigation: The last thing Auburn needed was the FBI asking questions about the father of its star quarterback.

Unlike the NCAA, which has no subpoena power, the FBI's guns are loaded. The bureau chatted Tuesday with John Bond, the former Mississippi State player who claims Cecil Newton was seeking up to $180,000 for his son, Cam.

There has been no link to Auburn, so the Tigers are moving toward the national title with fingers crossed.

Playing it unsafe: Only a cynic would conclude the SEC took no playing time away from behemoth defensive tackle Nick Fairley to protect Auburn's national title interests. Fairley did not actually maim Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray last week. Film shows him only planting Murray into the ground and rubbing his face mask on Murray's chin until it drew blood.

And that spear to Murray's back well after the whistle was a personal foul but definitely not a helmet-to-helmet blow. It only forced Murray's head to violently whiplash like a crash-test dummy.

cdufresne@tribune.com

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