Yesterday, the infamous BCS rankings made their first appearance
of the 2003 campaign. Directly under the espn.com version of the
poll is a long-winded explanation for a ranking system that’s
baffled many while satisfying few. But, what’s the point? Everyone
knows what’s going to happen at the year’s end: An overrated
mid-major will whine, an underrated west coast team will moan and a
basketball conference will receive its unearned courtesy bid.
No. 17 Auburn at No. 9 Louisiana State – 7:45 p.m., ESPN:
In August, many analysts were talking up an outside, risque pick
for national champion – Auburn. But the Tigers’ Sears Trophy dreams
lasted just two weeks. Then-No. 8 Southern Cal. traveled to Auburn
and embarrassed the Tigers 23-0. One week later, the Tigers lost at
unranked Georgia Tech 17-3. Auburn’s vaunted running attack was
kept out of the endzone in its first two games, and its national
title aspirations were crushed.
But, the Tigers are back on track. Junior Carnell “Cadillac”
Williams has separated himself from his fellow Tigers in a talented
backfield and has led the Tigers to five straight victories,
including consecutive wins over Tennessee and Arkansas. The win
streak stops in Death Valley, though.
Behind linebacker Lionel Turner and a host of speed-burners,
Louisiana State’s defense is the No. 4-ranked unit in the country.
Cadillac will turn jalopy against this furious front seven.
With running backs Joseph Addai and Shyrone Carey questionable
for the game, true freshman Alley Broussard needs to step up big
for the Tigers.
But the deciding factor in this SEC game will be Tiger Stadium’s
ear-piercing crowd. Thriving in night-game atmospheres, Death
Valley is arguably the toughest place to play in the country. In
the 1988 Auburn-Louisiana State game, the Tigers scored their
winning touchdown with 1:41 left and the purple-and-gold faithful
set off a Baton Rouge seismograph with a raucous celebration.
Louisiana State 24, Auburn 14
No. 12 Northern Illinois at No. 23 Bowling Green State – 4
p.m., ESPN2: Northern Illinois is this year’s college football
nightmare – a mid-major team that could go undefeated and still be
excluded from the BCS. But BCS officials won’t have to worry – the
Huskies’ run will end this week.
Northern Illinois running back Michael Turner ranks third
nationally in rushing yards (929) and boasts a 4.8 yards-per-carry
average. “The Burner” has earned water cooler Heisman talk since
the Huskies first win over Maryland. But Turner’s not the most
talented player in the country or the Mid American Football
conference. Turner’s not even the best player in this game –
Falcons quarterback Josh Harris is. The senior passed for 357 yards
and three touchdowns in a victory over Purdue and almost led the
Falcons past Ohio State with 326 yards through the air. Harris will
surpass 300 yards once again and lead the Falcons past Northern
Illinois in a shootout.
Bowling Green 38, Northern Illinois 35
No. 5 Southern Cal at Washington – 12:30 p.m., ABC: With
two of the most talented receivers in the country, this game will
boast Fourth of July-quality fireworks. It’s the battle for the
Williams surname – Mike vs. Reggie. Each player boasts a freak of
nature physique. Mike is 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. Reggie is 6-foot-4,
220 pounds. Both boast 4.4 40-yard dashes. But like Southern Cal.
is better than Washington, Mike Williams is superior to Reggie
Williams … and every other player in college football for that
matter. Mike and fellow-receiver Keary Colbert will torch the
Washington secondary, and Southern Cal. will stomp the Huskies in
Southern Cal. 42, Washington 17