Everyone has an arch nemesis. Mine just happens to be my older brother. But our mutual hatred (okay, maybe that's an exaggeration) has led to many an entertaining discussion through the years. And because much of the debate has centered on college sports, it seems only appropriate we take these debates to the blogosphere to settle them once and for all. (I mean, who wouldn't want public affirmation that Big Bro's always wrong and I'm always right?) Here's your weekly ATQ Blogger Debate, affectionately known as Sh*t My Brother Says.
PaulSF: Alright, Big Bro. Let's talk turkey. Is it immoral for Duck fans to eat turducken today?
GrumpyJDH: Seriously, Paully? You're gonna sell me out in front of God and everyone? I didn't plan the menu, for your information. My job is merely to make short work of it. By the way, one of my co-workers told me she considers turducken morally reprehensible. Literally. It's some sort of carcass violation or something. When did people become so…loathsome?
PaulSF: I don't know, but while we're on the subject of loathsome people, remember when the "'Zona Zoo" stormed the field with time left on the clock in regulation, only to watch their squad lose the game in OT? Then, they retaliated by throwing garbage at the Duck cheerleaders as they were leaving the field? Arizona fans sure are awful, aren't they? Or maybe they're just not ready for the big time.
GrumpyJDH: How could they not be ready? They've only been waiting for...well, forever. Speaking of teams that have been waiting for the big time, were you aware Auburn's been to precisely one big-time bowl since 1990 (the 2004 Sugar Bowl)? Before we talk Ducks/'Zona, (1) who's going to win the Iron Bowl tomorrow? Perhaps more importantly, why?
PaulSF: For me, this one's a no-brainer. Since Nick Saban took over at Alabama, the Tide is 24-3 in Tuscaloosa. It's also managed to rattle off 20 straight at Bryant-Denny since that embarrassing home loss to Louisiana-Monroe back in 2007. Needless to say, the home-field advantage alone might favor the Tide. But Auburn's suspect defense is the kicker. The Tigers are giving up 356 yards and 25 points per game, both of which rank outside the top 50 nationally. And it's not like Alabama's O has struggled either. It's averaging 435 yards and 35 points per game. Which is why the Tide is gonna roll all over Auburn. You heard it here first.
GrumpyJDH: Well, not exactly (ESPN Insider access required), but your logic is definitely sound. The Tigers got to 11-0 by turning most games into track meets and literally sprinting by their opponents. However, they also won some more traditional battles when they squeaked by LSU (27-24) and Mississippi St. (17-14). In other words, they've done exactly what the Ducks have done: won games every which way and avoided an L. So far, I should say. Like you, I think they meet their match tomorrow against a team that is highly motivated and, more importantly, very much capable of taking them out. Only difference, according to Big Bro? I think it's close. The Tide won't roll but they'll alter the BCS landscape, nonetheless.
PaulSF: Which leads us right to our next question: Assuming the Tigers crap the bed, (2) who takes Auburn's place at No. 2? Or maybe a better question, who's most deserving of that coveted No. 2 spot?
GrumpyJDH: That's two questions, actually, but (finally) the answers are one and the same: Boise State. No question in my mind. TCU is a great little ballclub, but they've done all they can and it isn't going to be enough. No matter how severely they demolish the Lobos (bet the house on that one, by the way), Boise will drop the hammer on Nevada and be sitting pretty at No. 2 come Sunday. And this will mean that despite all the hand-wringing by BCS detractors this year (yours truly included), the system will once again successfully match the two best teams in the country.
PaulSF: You might need to explain yourself to Ohio State's president. I do think a lot of folks saw this coming, though. After absolutely demolishing Fresno State last Friday night, the Broncos are now poised to take over the No. 2 spot. Some have speculated that it would take a beat-down of Nevada to do it, but those people obviously forgot how the BCS formula works. Remember, the BCS computers don't take margin of victory into account, so even a 45-42 win over the No. 19 Wolfpack would more than likely give the Broncos enough of a boost to leapfrog the Frogs, unless of course the pollsters punish them by moving TCU ahead. But that ain't happenin'.
GrumpyJDH: Not this year, no. I think even the hard-to-impress East Coast voters (well, most of them) seem more willing to give the boys from Boise a shot at the title should Auburn or (gulp) Oregon trip up. Of course, the BCS also determines the matchups for four other games. We've (rightfully) been focused on the NCG all this time, but what do you think about the other potential matchups? Anything that piques your interest? Actually, let's just cut to the chase: (3) Is the 6th best team in the BCS standings going to get completely shut out and end up in San Antonio?
PaulSF: Unfortunately for Stanford, it's looking pretty likely. Due to a quirky rule that forces the Rose Bowl to take the highest ranked non-AQ team should the Big Ten or Pac-10 champion play for the national title, the (assumed) 11-1 Cardinal is on the outside looking in. If the Ducks head to Glendale and play someone other than Boise State or TCU (read: Auburn), the Rose Bowl will be obligated to take the higher ranked non-BCS team. In fact, even if either the Broncos or Horned Frogs do get into the national title game, the Granddaddy may end up taking the other team anyway to get their non-AQ obligation out of the way. So yes, it's not only possible that Stanford will be stuck with the Alamo Bowl, but actually pretty likely. Pac-10 commish Larry Scott should probably work on fixing the conference's bowl affiliations. You know, after he fixes everything else Ted Hansen managed to screw up in his 26 years at the helm.
GrumpyJDH: I'm not sure he'll live long enough to fix everything. You know, I feel bad for Harbaugh and his players but I can't say I feel terribly sorry for Stanford, the university. I mean...it's Stanford. They don't exactly need our sympathy. Moreover, they couldn't even fill half their (much smaller) stadium for a huge game against Arizona a few weeks back. You shouldn't really expect the big boy bowls to come calling when you can't even get the folks out for a big conference showdown on The Farm. On the bright side, the Rose Bowl has always been loath to mess with the Big 10 v. Pac 10 tradition (Hansen again). I envision a Wiscy-Stanford showdown if we end up squaring off against Boise in Glendale. That's must-see TV in my book.
PaulSF: Power versus power. That'd no doubt be fun to watch. While we're on the subject of bowl invitations, let's talk Pac-10 bowl eligibility. With six bowl affiliations and only three teams currently bowl-eligible (Oregon, Stanford and Arizona), (4) is the Pac-10 going to come up short? Dr. Saturday discussed whether or not this would undermine the Pac-10's perceived depth. There's no doubt SEC fans are champing at the bit.
GrumpyJDH: I don't know what champing is but it doesn't sound good. Neither does the Pac-10's chances of filling more than four of its admittedly crummy bowl tie-ins (one more round of applause for Mr. Hansen, everybody). Cal's going to beat the Dawgs, so they should be good to go. Everyone else? Good luck. ASU is paying for a schedule that included too many heavyweights and, oddly, too many lightweights. Washington might beat Cal but would still need to beat the Cougs in Pullman (no sure thing). OSU would merely need to knock off the Cardinal in Palo Alto or upset the BCS apple cart by beating us in Cornvalley. Nawgonna, nawgonna, nawgonna happen.
PaulSF: Well, since we're already talking about the postseason (and let's be honest, we have been since, like, Week 4), and in light of yesterday's announcement that Chipper made the final eight for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award, let's talk postseason awards. (5) Who are your favorites to win the Pac-10's offensive, defensive, and special teams players of the year, as well as your conference coach of the year?
GrumpyJDH: It won't be a Ducks sweep, but it may be a state of Oregon sweep. LaMichael James walks away with the offensive player of the year award. Cliff Harris runs away with the special teams player of the year award. Coach Kelly drives away with the coach of the year hardware. When Chucky (ESPN Insider access required) is awed by your scheme, you're probably doing something very right. Guess the only one I struggle with is defensive player of the year. Oregon State's Stephen Paea is the best defensive player in the conference (in my opinion), but his numbers aren't eye-popping. Then again, he's the only Pac-10 defender who made the semifinalist cut for the Chuck Bednarik award. He's a destitute man's Haloti Ngata and looked virtually unblockable last Saturday.
PaulSF: I'm going to agree with you on your first three, but definitely NOT on your last. Don't get me wrong: Paea is one of the best defenders in the conference and a unanimous pick for first-team All-Pac-10. But he plays for the conference's eighth best defense (at least statistically). And besides, why can't the nation's top-ranked team clean-sweep the Pac-10 trophy case? If I had one, my vote would go to Kenny Rowe. Rowe's quietly been dominant this season, and he's got the stats to back it up: tied for second in the conference in sacks, fourth in tackles for loss, tied for first in fumbles forced. Oh yeah, and he's the best defender on the Pac-10's best defense. So yeah, gonna go ahead and say Oregon (the team, not the state) is more than deserving of the monopoly.
GrumpyJDH: And you call me a homer? Can't wait to hear your take on tomorrow's big showdown. Actually, we should probably get to that before this turns into "Brother v. Brother: War and Peace Edition."
PaulSF: Yeah, we should probably lay low for a while. Before we get to the football game prediction, though, how about a prediction for the Duke-Ducks basketball game at the Rose Garden on Saturday night?
GrumpyJDH: A whole bunch to not nearly enough.
PaulSF: Way to go out on a limb, Joe. Then again, we're talking about Duke. The reigning national champs Duke. The No. 1 team in the country Duke. That Duke. At least they won me some money in our bracket pool in April.
GrumpyJDH: Which you promptly spent on wine, women, and song.
GrumpyJDH: You would. Hey, what say we get to the game prediction before it starts, huh? (6) How does the Black Friday clash at Autzen play out?
PaulSF: Although we've tended to play wild, close games with 'Zona in recent years. I'm predicting an absolute shellacking. Oregon 48, Arizona 10. Yeah, you heard me. 10.
GrumpyJDH: I dunno. I think that Wildcats offense is capable of doing more damage, though the elements will certainly conspire against them. The history of warm weather teams playing up north isn't good (see USC). I'm going with Oregon 42, Arizona 17.
PaulSF: How about warm weather teams playing up north…in November? Look it up.
Alright, Big Bro. It's unfortunate we won't be spending this Thanksgiving together. But if you happen to (finally) pick up an XBOX 360 and a copy of Black Ops this weekend, you'll know where to find me.
GrumpyJDH: Yeah…Welcome to Dorksville. Population: you and all your gamer buddies. But, seriously. Have a good Thanksgiving, Little Bro. Even though I'm guaranteed more leftovers in your absence and significantly more love and affection from Mom, I am going to miss hanging out with you over the holiday weekend…sucker!!!
PaulSF: Thanks for rubbing it in. Expect a punch in the face around Christmas Eve. In the meantime, enjoy the turducken. And to the rest of the ATQ community, Happy Thanksgiving from your two favorite brothers (other than your own, of course).