I’m very intrigued by tonight’s Big East showdown. Cincinnati has a pretty clear road to the BCS if they beat South Florida, and the Bulls have the same if they win. For South Florida that’s especially surprising because stud QB Matt Grothe is on the sideline for the year. There is all sorts of intrigue in this one – is Cincinnati for real? How about South Florida’s surprisingly stout defense? Can Cincy QB Tony Pike put himself into the heart of the Heisman race with a big performance here? How about Cincy receiver Mardy Gilyard? Do the Bearcats deserve national championship consideration? How much of a joke is the Big East? This is probably the highest profile Thursday night game we have seen yet this year. Last week we saw Nebraska, and Ndamukong Suh made a big leap into the Heisman race thanks to that game, so anything can happen here. I really respect Cincy coach Brian Kelly and tend to think that he has things going in the right direction with this program, so I am hoping for them. It’s a tough team in tough location, though, so it certainly won’t be easy.
Speaking of the Heisman, is it just me or is this the least interesting race we have seen in a long while? It was supposed to be a three horse race -Tebow, McCoy, and Bradford – but injuries and generally underwhelming play has ended that race before it starts. Tebow still probably leads the race by default, but his numbers are not at all Heisman-worthy right now. Jimmy Clausen has climbed up the charts with his play, but I expect that to end with a thud after he runs into the USC defense on Saturday and gets humiliated. The award has turned into a de facto recognition of the best QB in the country, but this year there is hardly a QB who seems worthy. This has been a year for the defenses, so maybe it should go to that side of the ball. Suh is probably worthy, but there is virtually no chance that an interior lineman would win regardless of how ridiculously good he is. Eric Barry had early hype and has lived up to it, but a Heisman is, to an extent, an award for a coach, too, and I can’t see voters rewarding Lane Kiffin just yet. So much for the defense. If I had to make a pick right now I think I’d take wide receiver Jordan Shipley of Texas. All in all, though, it just hasn’t been much of a star-powered year so far. There’s still time, I guess – the first BCS rankings only come out this week, so the season is still reasonably young.
Strange moves by Joe Torre today. He dropped pitchers Jeff Weaver and Jon Garland from the playoff roster for the Phillies’ series, and added Hiroki Kuroda and rookie Scott Elbert. Weaver won game one of the first series, and Garland was more than solid since joining the Dodgers from the D-Backs. The argument for Elbert is that he is a lefty, and the Phillies have so many lefties, but I think I’d much rather have a proven righty than a rookie lefty – especially because it’s not like Elbert has shown that he’s the next Fernando Valenzuela. He hasn’t even lasted three innings all season. As for Kuroda, he was held out of the first series with a herniated disk, so I don’t see how a rusty and potentially injured Kuroda is an improvement over Garland or Weaver. Odd.