Brother v. Brother: Christmas comes early, those other BCS games, and a whole lotta hardware

Everyone has an arch nemesis. Mine just happens to be my older brother. But our incessant bickering has led to many an entertaining discussion through the years. And because much of these debates have centered on college sports, it seems only appropriate we take them to the blogosphere to settle them once and for all. Here's your weekly brotherly debate, affectionately known as Sh*t My Brother Says.

PaulSF: A spotless 12-0 mark. A National Championship berth. A Heisman invitation, a Doak Walker award, and an Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award in the bag. Are you kidding me?! Welcome to Cloud 9, Brother.

GrumpyJDH: I know, right? Pinch me. Actually, don't do that. I was being figurative.

PaulSF: How about I just touch you with my ice-cold finger, like you did 40 times during last year's March Madness party?

GrumpyJDH: HA! Ice-cold finger! You realize nobody has any idea what we're talking about, right? Plus, I might've been drinking.

PaulSF: You were definitely drinking...which is always good for a few laughs. I don't care whether or not our (four) readers know what we're talking about, by the way. Want to know why? Because we're in the BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, JOE!

GrumpyJDH: It's like a free pass almost. Permission granted to make no sense whatsoever, Paully! Not like you've ever needed my (or anyone's) permission, of course.

PaulSF: I always make sense, Joe. Unless what I'm saying is nonsense. Make sense? Anyway, 31 days until the big showdown with Auburn. That's one month from today until we face quite possibly the most dynamic college football player since Hershel Walker, and certainly the best in a Tigers uniform since Bo Jackson. And it's for all the marbles. I'm not sure I can wait any longer. We need to keep ourselves occupied, apparently. How did we get here?

GrumpyJDH: Well, we went to Knoxville. We went to the Stanford game in Eugene. We went to Berkeley. I went to the 'Zona game. We never witnessed a loss.

PaulSF: Not "we" as in you and me, Captain Literal. I mean "we" as in the program. (1) When did you know the Oregon football program had arrived on the national stage? In other words, what single event or moment in Ducks history made you think we're a force to be reckoned with, and that we would someday play for a national title?

GrumpyJDH: "The Pick" signifies that moment for most Ducks fans, but I doubt anyone east of the Cascades even took notice. Besides, I was there. I remember thinking only this: "We've arrived! We finally beat the flippin' Dawgs!" In reality, we probably announced ourselves to the nation on September 8, 2007. You remember, right? We're sitting in the Big House, surrounded by smug Michigan fans, and our boys are up 18-7 and marching. Dixon fakes the end-around, prances past a flummoxed Wolverine defender and into the end zone for a back-breaking score. Right then, I knew we were going to hammer them and explode onto the national scene. I also knew, more importantly, that we weren't a fluke. We had better athletes than Michigan and a decided schematic advantage. I knew, in short, that we weren't the same old Oregon, even if they weren't exactly the same old Michigan. Of course, I might've been drinking.

PaulSF: Joe, I've been meaning to talk to you about your drinking. You sure were, for the record...as was I...as was the morbidly obese and clearly incensed Michigan fan who tried to sit on us in the parking lot after the game. But I digress. For me, it was a decade ago this month. On December 29, 2000, Joey and the Ducks, coming off a gut-wrenching loss to Dennis Erickson's Beavers in the 104th Civil War (arguably the best OSU team...ever), faced off against one of college football's bluebloods, Texas. Harrington rushed for, threw for, and caught a pass for a touchdown, leading the Ducks over the No. 8 Longhorns to round-out a 10-2 season and set up the program's only 11-win season the following year. That is, until now. Here's a postgame quote from cornerback Rashad Bauman: "This was such a milestone for the program. They're a good team and a good program, but we were playing a team, not tradition. We dominated them." 'Nuff said.

GrumpyJDH: Apparently, "dominating" traditional powers has become somewhat of a habit for us: Texas, Michigan (twice), SC (several times), Washington (so many times I've lost count), Wisconsin, Michigan St., Oklahoma St., and Oklahoma (kind of). Pretty impressive cast of characters if you ask me...and all Oregon victims in the past 15 or so years. Of course, we aren't talking about this if we don't regularly take care of business against the not-so-traditional squads, namely "little brother" last weekend. (2) What was your take on the BCS-clinching beatdown of the Beavs?

PaulSF: It was pretty much what I expected. With a chance to play the spoiler and a bowl berth on the line, you had to know the Biebers would give us everything they had. And they did, which is unfortunate for them, because we played a pretty lackluster game by our standards and still won by 17.

GrumpyJDH: I prefer "workmanlike" to "lackluster," but I get your point. They didn't get our best performance and still needed a meaningless TD in the waning minutes to snag the backdoor cover. (Rats!) When you can beat your archrival on their field in a game that means plenty to both teams and do it by almost three scores.... Well, you're pretty danged good.

PaulSF: You know who else is pretty good? Coach Kelly. (3) Is there a better coach in the country right now than Chip Kelly?

GrumpyJDH: No, but apparently that opinion isn't shared by everyone. The Home Depot award went to Gene Chizik and the American Football Coaches Association didn't even select Coach Kelly as the clear-cut best coach in the west. Just goes to show you how pervasive subjectivity is in the college football world. I mean, sportswriters disagree about who should play for the national championship. Why shouldn't they have differences of opinion when it comes to determining the best coaches? I will say this. Jim Harbaugh probably deserves the mention as he gets every ounce of ability from his players. Every single ounce. If the Niners or Wolverines or Gators (?) come calling this offseason...well, look out NFC West, Big 10, or SEC, respectively.

PaulSF: If I had to put money on it, I'd bet on Harbaugh being in Ann Arbor next fall. Rich Rod is clearly going to have to beg and plead to keep his job, while hoping Harbaugh isn't interested in coaching where his dad coached, where he grew up, and where he played. He is, by the way.

GrumpyJDH: Who wouldn't be? Michigan's down right now but the blue-chip talent keeps pouring in, the fan base is still every bit as rabid, and the guy who actually turns that ship around could run for mayor. Basically, it's the opposite of Harbaugh's current situation in Palo Alto, where he commands a nice, little program that almost nobody (including Stanford alums, apparently) even cares about. Oh, and this just in: Harbaugh's offense is tailor-made for the rough and tumble Big-10. "Rough and tumble" is my euphemism for boring, by the way.

PaulSF: Be nice, Big Bro. Those "boring" Buckeyes gave us...uh...all we could handle in last year's Rose Bowl.

GrumpyJDH: Speaking of which, Paully, let's talk other BCS matchups, shall we? (4) Who are your four winners for the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange, respectively?

PaulSF: Let's get the Fiesta Bowl out of the way first. Something tells me the folks in Glendale are thankful they've got the Natty this year, because UConn, despite winning the Big Least, has no business playing in the BCS. Oklahoma is going to roll the Huskies. In the Rose, I'm taking Wisconsin. Outside Nos. 1 and 2, the Badgers are playing arguably the best ball in the country, save for Stanford. Speaking of, expect the Cardinal to travel all the way across the country and embarrass Va Tech in the Orange Bowl. And, finally, I like the Sweater Vests in the Sugar Bowl, although Arkansas has played really well at times and could give Ohio State fits. What you think, Brotherman?

GrumpyJDH: I think you should pay more attention to recent bowl history. When's the last time Oklahoma "rolled" anyone they were supposed to in a bowl game? They're called Chokelahoma for a reason. I think that one's really close (decided by a field goal either way), though the Sooners probably pull it out. In the Rose, I like the Horned Frogs. It's my fishy line special of the bowl season (team that doesn't seem like they should be favored shows why they're favored). Stanford does the Pac-10 proud in the Orange and, finally, the Buckeyes waste the Razorbacks in a game that probably won't be close. By the way, these aren't my official predictions. We still haven't had any mass suspensions yet, though one Hawkeye-drug kingpin got in the spirit early.

PaulSF: Idle hands are the devil's workshop, eh? Switching gears, (5) which of the non-BCS bowl games pique your interest?

GrumpyJDH: If you like points and you can't wait for the Natty, the Hawaii Bowl (Tulsa v. Hawaii) shouldn't disappoint. If you like strength-on-strength and sub-three hour football games, it's hard to beat Air Force v. Georgia Tech in the Independence. If you're a former student of Notre Dame (guilty), you're loving the resuscitation of a once epic rivalry (Catholics v. Convicts) in the Sun Bowl. (Relax, Ducks fans; I transferred after one year.) Finally, if you like watching the Huskies get throttled, how can you possibly miss perhaps the dumbest bowl pairing of the year, a Washington v. Nebraska rematch in the Holiday Bowl? Whose bright idea was that? I'm blaming Tom Hansen, for the record.

PaulSF: You missed one: the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl. The Pistol against the nation's best rushing defense. We all saw how this turned out the first time: Pistol 1, Nation's Top Rushing Defense 0. I like the defense in Round 2. Here are a couple to ignore: any game involving Directional U (GoDaddy.com, Humanitarian), the Little Sisters of the Poor bowls (New Orleans, Little Caesars), and the TicketCity bowl. As if it wasn't boring enough watching Northwestern battle Texas Tech, it also starts at 9:00 a.m. PT on New Year's Day. In other words, delay that hangover by catching a couple extra hours of shuteye. Finally, there's the Outback bowl. Yawn. Who would have thought a match-up between Urban Meyer and JoePa would be Meyer's last game? Maybe the old man can impart some words of wisdom regarding work/life balance?

GrumpyJDH: So long as the Gators don't look to fill that vacancy with a certain award-winning coach out west, I'm happy. Meanwhile, our award-winning running back heads to the Downtown Athletic Club this weekend to watch Cam Newton win the really big hardware. Fair or no?

PaulSF: Even he doesn't think he deserves the Stiff-Arm. I've got to admit: James' honesty is refreshing. Want to know what's not refreshing? Athletes referring to themselves in the third person and using the "take my talents" catch-phrase in interviews. I guess we have LeBron to thank for that. Anyway, let's close this thing out and get your early NCG prediction. (Don't worry: I'll give you another shot the week before the big game).

GrumpyJDH: No way you're getting a score out of me this early, Paully. I want more "basking" time and I really haven't had a chance to delve into the matchup. I'll give you this, though: The two defenses are going to want to burn the game film. I'm not sure they reach the lofty total Vegas has installed (75 at last check), but a game in the high thirties/low forties seems almost a fait accompli.

PaulSF: Fair enough. Then how should we wrap this up? It's a strange feeling knowing there aren't any Oregon games to predict for another month.

GrumpyJDH: How about a simple "goodbye" to our loyal readers? Bye, Mom.

PaulSF: Suck-up. Well, until next week, folks, enjoy our collective early Christmas present. And try to avoid getting caught in the middle of an Auburn-Alabama shit storm.

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