So, a last regular-season week with some real drama.
Three of the top five-ranked teams have games that could enhance or derail their national title hopes. Then there's today's Heisman Trophy presentation - which may have a smattering of interest to some Utahns.For No. 4 BYU, it has to defeat Hawaii late tonight to retain a chance for national title No. 2. The Cougars are heavily favored to do so, though there has been some concern that all the distraction created by Ty Detmer's Heisman Trophy saga may affect the team's concentration.
The game most likely to end in an upset - on paper anyway - is No. 5 Texas (9-1) against Texas A&M (8-2-1). It's a game that has a bearing on two other teams in the Top 5 - BYU and Miami. If Texas wins and finishes the regular season at 10-1, there's a chance the Longhorns could jump over BYU in both the United Press International and Associated Press polls. Texas is tied for fourth in the UPI poll with the Cougars. So, if a No. 2 or 3 Miami and No. 4 Texas meet in the Cotton Bowl, the winner of that game would likely have a much better chance of vaulting to the top than BYU should the Cougars beat an unranked Texas A&M in the Sea World Holiday Bowl.
However, should Texas A&M upset Texas, then much of the glamour of the Cotton Bowl is gone with a No. 2 or 3-ranked Miami playing probably a No. 12 to No. 15-ranked Texas. An Aggie upset would benefit BYU considerably since the Cougs would not be playing an unranked foe in a bowl but one ranked probably in the Top 15.
Of course, should Miami be upset by San Diego State, the Cotton Bowl might have a nightmare scenario - going from possibly a national championship game to one without either team in the Top 10.
Then there's No. 2 Georgia Tech's last regular season game - at unranked and unimpressive Georgia (4-6). On paper it's not close, but since games are played on some sort of surface, the Bulldogs have a 20 percent chance or so of upsetting their rivals.
Because BYU's game is so late - 10 p.m. Utah time - the Cougars will know how the other Top 5 teams have done before they play the Rainbows.
BYU NO. 2: The Cougars are ranked No. 2 in several unofficial polls (the only official ones are AP and UPI) - The National, The Los Angeles Times and Knight-Ridder. In each case the No. 1-ranked team is Colorado.
Miami Herald sports writer Gary Long on his AP ballot has BYU ranked No. 2 and Miami No. 3. In a recent television interview, he said:
"If they (Colorado Buffaloes) lose (to Notre Dame in Orange Bowl) and Brigham Young beats Hawaii and Texas A&M then they'll have my No. 1 vote."
ANOTHER SCENARIO: This from Gene Wojciechowski of the Los Angeles Times:
In the spirit of postseason uncertainty, we venture the following guesses: Notre Dame, which at last will feature a healthy Rocket Ismail, will find a way to beat No. 1 Colorado in the Orange Bowl . . . Overrated Nebraska will finally play well against someone other than Kansas, and beat Georgia Tech in the Citrus Bowl . . . In the Cotton Bowl, Texas will somehow defeat Miami in the biggest upset of New Year's Day . . . BYU will be challenged early by Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl, then pull away in the second half. A debate will rage: Notre Dame, Texas or BYU for the national championship?
Our pick: Texas.
Woj... - hey can we just call you Gene? - also commented on the paper's preseason predictions:
We aren't afraid to admit our many mistakes. Here's our scorecard of preseason predictions:
- We said Georgia, Houston and Louisville would be the three surprise teams of the year. Two out of three isn't bad.
- We said Ismail would win the Heisman Trophy but that Detmer was most deserving of the statuette. The award ceremony is Saturday.
- We said the winner of the Auburn-Florida State game would determine which team finished the regular season ranked No. 1. We weren't even close.
And finally, the L.A. Times' vote for Player of the Year is . . . Detmer.
Said Gene W.:
It is as simple as this: Notre Dame flanker Raghib Ismail is the most talented and exciting player in college football, but Detmer had, all things considered, the best season. Detmer did not miss a game; Ismail missed a game and a half. Detmer accounted for 4,869 yards and 38 touchdowns this season, with one game remaining; Ismail handled the ball only 125 times for 1,537 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. There is no doubting Ismail's impact on a game - he redefines the way it is played. But Detmer's record-breaking performances were too good to ignore.