Posted 11/09/2009 at 02:52 AM
College basketball gets underway tonight with opening round action in the 2K Sports Classic. Thereís not really a marquee matchup in the quartet of games, with the home teams all heavily favored. I'm on one of the games, and it's available right here at vegasinsider.
Locally, Iím looking forward to UNLVís Tuesday exhibition against Washburn. Itís going to be a very cool couple of days, as the 1990 UNLV National Championship team will be honored Monday night with a gala at Green Valley Ranch. Iíve got my tickets to that event and canít wait to see that awesome team together again some 20 years after their phenomenal title run.
For those of you here in Las Vegas, Iíll be doing my show, with Steve Cofield, from the concourse at the Thomas & Mack on Tuesday leading up to the game, starting at 4 PM on ESPN1100, or online at werlv.com. After the game, stop by our new home for Rebel Extra, The Grind, right near Tropicana/Paradise. We will be broadcasting live after every game from that location, home and away, and The Grind will definitely be the spot to catch the Rebels when theyíre on the road.
On to some college football, where the worm did some substantial turning this weekend. Several heavily played favorites went south, with 15 underdogs scoring outright wins. The most notable occurrence was the Northwestern upset of previously unbeaten Iowa. Letís face it, the Hawkeyes had themselves a miracle run in getting to 9-0. They have an outstanding defense, but the inconsistent attack had been a problem all season, and this was bound to happen at some point. My feeling is that Kirk Ferentz did an absolutely incredible coaching job to get Iowa as far as they did, and the Hawkeyes can still get to the Rose Bowl if they can find a way to upset Ohio State this weekend. That wonít be easy, as the Buckeyes have put things together and just dominated Penn State in a superb performance at Happy Valley, but unlike the ridiculous post-season setup that accomplishes nothing, the Big 10 race will be decided on the field.
The most incredible finish of any game Iíve seen this season took place Saturday in Tulsa, where Houston rallied to nip the Golden Hurricane in a wild 46-45 shootout. The Cougars looked dead in the water when they failed to convert a two-point conversion very late in the game, and it sure appeared as though Tulsa had a thrilling 45-43 win locked up. But Houston caught a huge break on the ensuing onside kick when one of the Tulsa players lost control of the ball after getting bumped by his teammate, and the Cougars got possession. They still had little chance with almost no time remaining. But QB Case Keenum managed to complete two passes and get the clocked stopped, leaving them with a 51 yard FG attempt on the final play of the game. Considering that redshirt freshman Matt Hoganís career best was just 34 yards, Tulsa still looked like a winner. But Hogan coolly nailed the kick and the Cougars had yet another spectacular win to remember in what has been a dream season for the Cougars.
Wally Pipp, meet Lou Gehrig. Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly is about to be forced into a very tough decision. The Bearcats lost starting QB Tony Pike a few weeks back to an injury, and Zach Collaros was supposed to just hold the fort until Pike returned. Pike is close to being ready for action, but despite the fact that he had passed himself into the headlines as one of the nationís top QBís, itís entirely possible that he might not get the starting gig back. Collaros is putting up astonishing numbers for Cincy through the air, and heís a far more dangerous runner than Pike. Obviously, itís a problem most coaches would love to have, but itís still going to be a very tough call for Kelly as to which QB gets the majority of the snaps going forward.
Iíll return in a day or two with a preview of a couple of this weekendís biggest games, so be sure to check in daily.