November 22nd, 2012 by Patrick Sturgeon
PATRICK STURGEON (aka “Paddy The Brick”) once again gives a personal overview of his top three College Football games to watch live on ESPN America this week and picks his winner for each game. Check local listings for all our game times in your region.
WEEK THIRTEEN GAMES TO WATCH
#19 Michigan at Ohio State
The 100,000 seat Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio is the setting for one of the best rivalries in college football. Ohio State and Michigan. As a youngster growing up in Ohio, I can remember vividly how much everyone anticipated this game each year. The entire state of Ohio came to a standstill for three hours on a Saturday in late November.
I remember watching Buckeye running back Archie Griffin, who is still the only player to win the Heisman Trophy twice. I remember the bitter rivalry that developed between OSU coach Woody Hayes and Wolverines head man Bo Schembechler. You just don’t get characters named Woody or Bo anymore. Now we have coaches named Brady (Michigan) and Urban (Ohio State) leading their respective teams. And like their legendary predecessors, the current head coaches grew up in Ohio just like yours truly.
This year’s game has some interesting sub plots. Ohio State is on probation and is not eligible to play in a bowl game, so they will be playing their final game for pride and bragging rights for another year. Michigan needs a win and a Nebraska loss to make the Big-10 Championship game. QB Braxton Miller [pictured] should have another outstanding game for the Buckeyes. Michigan will counter with a two-prong offensive attack. Backup turned starter Devin Gardner has flourished in three straight games at quarterback, while former starting QB Denard Robinson has become more of a running back / wide receiver threat since he returned from injury.
The Wolverines have lost five straight at the “Shoe” in Columbus, and I expect this trend to continue. But it will be super close.
Final Score: Michigan 24, Ohio State 28
Auburn at # 2 Alabama
Two years ago, I travelled to Tuscaloosa, Alabama to see the Auburn – Alabama game, or what is commonly known as the “Iron Bowl.” I can tell you first hand, it’s the loudest stadium I have ever been to in my sporting life. The atmosphere was electric, the fans of both teams stood for the entire game. Every activity during the pre-game, commercial time outs and halftime was synchronized to the umpteenth degree. The chants of ‘Roll Tide Roll’ echoed throughout Bryant–Denny Stadium which holds 101,821 football loving fans. Most of the ‘Bama fans wear some form of houndstooth merchandise that was made famous by legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant who was rarely seen without his trademark houndstooth hat.
During my visit in 2010, Alabama jumped out to commanding 24-0 lead and were on their way to another touchdown when they fumbled out of the end zone. But that season, Auburn had a quarterback named Cam Newton, who calmly lead the Tigers to a remarkable 28-27 comeback victory, won the Heisman Trophy and National Championship and was selected as the first pick in the NFL Draft by Carolina. Auburn (3-8) has fallen on hard times since then and head coach Gene Chizik might be roaming the sidelines for the last time on Saturday.
Alabama fans have been waiting for this Auburn return visit since that overcast day. But Alabama have had a few things to cheer about, the Crimson Tide won the national title last year and were ranked number one for most of this season before being upset by Texas A&M a few weeks ago. But because of the magic of the BCS, Alabama is right back in the national championship picture after unbeaten Oregon and Kansas State both lost last weekend. The Crimson Tide need to win against Auburn to earn a spot in the SEC Championship game against #3 Georgia. The winner of that SEC Championship game will most likely play in the BCS National Championship game in Miami on January 7.
Even if Alabama is a heavy favourite to defeat inner state rival Auburn, it’s still the Iron Bowl and anything can happen. But something tells me that Alabama will rise to the occasion. Roll Tide / War Eagle !!
Final Score: Auburn 13, Alabama 35,
# 1 Notre Dame at USC
Our third live game on Saturday night is another storied college football rivalry. When I think about Notre Dame – USC, I instantly flashback to Nov 27, 1974. I remember watching that amazing game with a bunch of my buddies. Notre Dame jumped out to a 24-0 lead (sound familiar – see above) and then USC came storming back to win 55-24 in the highest scoring game in this long-lasting series that started in 1926. The catalyst was USC running back Anthony Davis, who scored right before halftime and returned the second half kickoff 102 yards for another TD. The Trojans were off and running behind Davis’ four touchdowns. For that day and that game only, I became a USC fan, how could you not. “AD” (Davis’s nickname) became the rallying cry for all the kids in the neighbourhood. We all wanted to be the “Notre Dame killer”. (Davis scored 11 TD’s versus Notre Dame in 3 games).
Fast forward to Sept 1, 2012. I am standing on the sideline of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland as Notre Dame enters the field to play a game against Navy in the Emerald Isle Classic. I am a long way from my backyards in Youngstown, Ohio. “How did I get there, was it all a dream”. I was somehow magically responsible for the game being seen on television throughout Europe and the Middle East on ESPN America. It was at that very moment, that I became a diehard Notre Dame fan again. Call it the ‘Luck of the Irish’, call it my pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, call it whatever you want. But since that sunny day in Ireland, I had a strange feeling that there was something special about the 2012 Fighting Irish.
Saturday they are on the doorstep of making it to the BCS National Championship game. All Notre Dame has to do is beat USC. The Trojans will be starting freshman QB Max Wittek after starter Matt Barkley went down with an injury last week. I bet my man, Manti Te’o [#5 pictured], the star linebacker for Notre Dame is licking his chops getting ready for this game at the LA Memorial Coliseum. I think a couple of big defensive plays might land Te’o the Heisman Trophy, and enough big offensive plays by redshirt freshman sensation QB Everett Golson and company might land the Fighting Irish back to the land of relevant college football programs.
Die-hard Notre Dame fans like myself believe the Irish never left that land, however, non-Irish fans might sing a different song. Come Saturday night in Los Angeles, everyone in the US will be singing the Notre Dame fight song.
Final Score: Notre Dame 24, USC 14
Last Week: I was 2-1 for the weekend. I correctly predicted that Michigan would beat Iowa and Clemson would have little trouble with NC State. But I got caught off guard in the nightcap. Stanford upset unbeaten Oregon in overtime 17-14 in a very low scoring game. More importantly, the loss knocks Oregon down a few notches in their quest for a spot in the BSC title game, but the Ducks still have an outside chance if results go their way this weekend.
About the author
PATRICK STURGEON (aka ‘Paddy the Brick’) is the Director of Programming for ESPN America. He has been working in the TV sports business for 25 years. Patrick started his career in Arizona where he was a Emmy Award winning sports producer and director. He moved to the Europe in 1994 and has been with ESPN America since 2003. He has a broadcast journalism degree from the University of Kansas (Go Jayhawks!).
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