One of the games you won’t be seeing this week, but should be on the schedule: The Bacon Bowl.
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
100th ROSE BOWL: STANFORD vs. MICHIGAN STATE, Wednesday at 2 p.m., ESPN:
Pull up a chair, wave at Vin Scully as he’s escorted up Colorado Blvd., serving as the Grand Marshall of the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade, then tune in later in the day to see him flip the coin that will determine who’ll defer the kickoff until the second half in the latest edition of this iconic game. Stanford actually helped kick the whole thing off in 1902 – on the wrong end of a 49-0 score against Michigan in Tournament Park (on the campus of Cal Tech) that was so ugly, the game was called with eight minutes left and organizers decided to put football on hold for more than a decade. They replaced it with chariot and ostrich races. Which, according to all accounts, may not be such a bad idea to bring back of the Cardinal and Spartans decide to play a brand of defense-first football that will come far from lighting up the scoreboard.
Michigan State’s run defense is ranked No. 1 in the nation, surrendering just 80.8 rushing yards a game. It doesn’t explain how Ohio State had 273 against them on the ground in the Big Ten championship game, but the Spartans still prevailed. “They’re a big, physical, strong defense, and they believe in playing team defense more than I’ve ever seen,” said Stanford senior running back Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for 1,618 yards and 20 touchdowns this season behind his equally huge offensive line. “But we pride ourselves on being the exact same thing, being strong and moving guys against their will. It’s going to be a test of will.”
Stanford should have a fewer butterflies about this whole BCS bowl business – the Cardinal was here a year ago and outlasted Wisconsin, 20-14. “It’s very much a business trip,” said Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan, whose last trip to L.A. was watching USC pull off an upset against his team at the Coliseum. “We came down here for one reason, and that’s for the game.” We’ll be there to see Scully, trying to talk him into at least join the guys in the booth and call a few plays.
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