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Dates you don't want to miss

October 26, 2006|Chris Dufresne

There are dinner-and-a-movie dates, the fruity kind you eat and, in college football, these important upcoming calendar events:

* Nov. 2. Breeders' Cup Week in Louisville. West Virginia is also in town to play Louisville on Thursday night in a game that possibly involves national championship jockeying. It's arguably the biggest game in Big East history -- but still not big enough to play it on a Saturday.

* Nov. 7. Former Tennessee quarterback Heath Shuler, a strong-armed Democrat, is making a congressional run in North Carolina's 11th district.

Republicans hope Shuler finishes second again, as he did to Florida State's Charlie Ward in the 1993 Heisman Trophy race. Shuler was a first-round bust for the Washington Redskins in 1994. One website joke is that he should never be allowed near Washington again.

* Nov. 8. Bobby Bowden turns 77, and he has to be feeling older by the minute. Florida State has lost more games in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, three, than it did in its first nine years in the ACC from 1992 through 2000.

Some boosters think it's time for Bowden to step down. Some at Penn State said the same thing two years ago about Joe Paterno a year before his team went 11-1.

"Something good is going to come out of this," a beleaguered Bowden said this week.

When was the last time Florida State even won a conference title?

Try last year.

Some boosters, 30 years ago, ran Bowden out of West Virginia.

Some boosters are dumb.

Some boosters may not remember that, before Bowden started blowing whistles in Tallahassee, Florida State was an arm pit. Before that, it was a women's college.

* Nov. 9. Louisville at Rutgers. Don't laugh, but the undefeated team here might be Rutgers. Ticket demand is so high in Piscataway fans will be allowed to watch the game from a hill in the stadium's open end and portable bleachers will be imported for the band. Also, we hear Tony Soprano is looking for two.

* Nov. 11. South Carolina at Florida. Steve Spurrier has made so many round-trip social visits to Gainesville this fall -- induction into the school's Ring of Honor; ceremony to celebrate 1996 national title team -- it's believed he has earned two free airline tickets.

This time the second-year South Carolina coach is back for business. What if, 10 years after he coached Florida to a national title, he knocked the Gators out of one?

* Nov. 18. The "Monster Truck Weekend" of college football as No. 1 Ohio State plays host to No. 2 Michigan in Columbus while No. 3 USC plays host to No. 12 California at the Coliseum.

* Nov. 23. Boston College at Miami. It was on this date in 1984 that Doug Flutie heaved his famous last-second pass in the Orange Bowl. The only vertically challenged leader making news this time around is Miami President Donna Shalala.

* Nov. 25. Notre Dame at USC. Two years ago after this game, Notre Dame fired its coach and hired Charlie somebody-or-other. Also on tap: Will North Carolina at Duke make Duke 0-12 and make everyone look forward to the real North Carolina at Duke in basketball?

Boise State is at Nevada, possibly with an unbeaten season and major bowl berth at stake in a game at Reno -- the Biggest Little non-BCS city in the world.

* Dec. 2. The Southeastern Conference title game (will the SEC champion get BCS-snubbed again?), UCLA vs. USC (Can Karl Dorrell afford another "Rout 66?"); Rutgers at West Virginia (will national columnists have to hitchhike there to chronicle a Mountaineers' march to the Mountaintop?); Cal at Stanford (Might this be the "big" game that sends Stanford to 0-12 and Cal to its first Rose Bowl since 1959?).

* Dec. 3. Final BCS standings are revealed. It could break as cleanly as last year, when USC vs. Texas was forwarded by unanimous consent. Or, chaos and calculator confusion might ensue and deliver BCS flashbacks to 2000, '01, '03 and '04.

* Dec. 9. The Heisman Trophy announcement in New York City. It'll be bigger news if, by then, it is reported that last year's winner will have to give his Heisman back.

* Dec. 16. Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, site of the Division III title game, the culmination of a champion crowned by a playoff. What a concept. This year's projected game: Mount Union (eight titles the last 13 years) vs. fill-in-the-loser.

* Dec. 21. Joe Paterno turns 80. No one expects him to do a cartwheel. After last year's dream season, Paterno is back to being Mr. Cranky. Bowden and Paterno have won more major college games than any two coaches but this season they are a combined 9-6.

* Jan. 1. Rose Bowl. Anyone ready for Boise State vs. West Virginia?

Not really. A better scenario, should the Rose lose Ohio State/Michigan and USC to the BCS title game, would be Cal against Notre Dame in the Irish's first appearance in Pasadena since the Four Horsemen rode.

* Jan. 8. BCS national title game in Glendale, Ariz. If Ohio State gets there after beating Michigan on Nov. 18, well, rest assured, the Buckeyes will be well-rested.

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