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Originally published Monday, January 7, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Bud Withers

Bizarro college-football season leaves us spinning

Maybe we should have known something was amiss in August, when ESPN the Magazine's college-football issue arrived in the mail, featuring...

Seattle Times colleges reporter

Today

Ohio State vs. LSU, 5:15 p.m., Superdome, New Orleans, Ch. 13

Maybe we should have known something was amiss in August, when ESPN the Magazine's college-football issue arrived in the mail, featuring Brian Brohm and Louisville on the cover.

Nice chic idea, right up until the time Louisville lost to five-touchdown-underdog Syracuse and spent the bowl season like the rest of us, watching it.

I wasn't around for the Amos Alonzo Stagg-Howard Jones-Pop Warner days of college football, but I assume we can risk this thesis: When Louisiana State and Ohio State clash tonight in the BCS title game, it will end the strangest, wackiest, most bizarro-world college season in history.

Lloyd Carr, the Michigan coach, began it with two home losses and a defense of all things Maize and Blue. He ended it (and his career) the other day by being carried off the field after a bowl victory against 2007 national champion Florida.

So ludicrous was the season that each successive apocalypse registered a little bit less. After awhile, we got punchy. Appalachian State shook Michigan's world on the opening Saturday of the season, a game some said was the biggest upset in college-football history. Five weeks later, Stanford was arguing for copyrights after beating USC.

Lurch with us on one more ride through autumn 2007 — way more dizzying than any concoction partisans of LSU and Ohio State are downing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans:

Preseason: The first AP poll has USC and LSU Nos. 1-2, Michigan fifth and Louisville eighth. Very soon, that won't look so good.

Week 1: Running a spread offense, App State announces the arrival of the 2007 season by beating Michigan. Ohioans, always empathetic to Michigan, begin buying up Appalachian State T-shirts.

Week 3: Washington is 20 yards away from taking a 14-3 lead on Ohio State in the third quarter. That night, USC throttles Nebraska, 49-31. It even seems to matter.

Week 4: Louisville loses to Syracuse, 38-35, a game that ranks among the biggest point-spread (36) upsets ever. But the day's resonating event happens in Stillwater, Okla., where OSU coach Mike Gundy calls out Daily Oklahoman columnist Jenni Carlson, bellowing, "I'm a man! I'm 40!" (Gundy was interviewed at halftime of the Insight Bowl last week by a female reporter. Thankfully, she wasn't Jenni Carlson.)

Week 6: Jack Thompson's nephew, Tavita Pritchard of Clover Park High School — starting for Stanford only because T.C. Ostrander had a seizure in a restaurant — engineers the biggest point-spread upset of all time (41) against USC. In the polls, there's also this: South Carolina, which won't go to a bowl, is No. 7; Georgia, which some will claim is worthy of the BCS title game, is 4-2 and No. 24.

Week 7: No. 1 LSU loses to Kentucky, and California is heir to the top spot for about two hours. Then the Bears kick one away to Oregon State and decide the rest of the season isn't worth playing. Ohio State becomes No. 1, mostly because no one else is. No. 2 is South Florida, a team that will allow 56 points in the Sun Bowl to Oregon's fourth-string quarterback.

Week 9: All it takes is two wins for Georgia to climb from 24th to 10th in the polls. The Bulldogs flood the field and get an orchestrated celebration penalty after their first score against Florida. Everything is different in the SEC, including celebration flags.

Week 10: Notre Dame loses to Navy for the first time since 1963, part of the 2007 Charlie Weis Lamentation Tour. "People better enjoy it now," says Weis, not that anybody needed encouragement.

Week 11: Ohio State loses to Illinois at home, torching its national-championship aspirations — in any other season but this one.

Week 12: Oregon loses quarterback Dennis Dixon and its shot at the national title. Kansas and Missouri are now Nos. 2-3 behind LSU. And Midwest farmers now harvest their crops before they plant them.

Week 14: West Virginia fluffs its berth in the BCS championship game by losing to 28-point underdog Pitt. Ohio State and LSU somehow jiggle back to the top.

Now they compete for a coveted title: Least Absurd, Season That Was.

Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or bwithers@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-10.
bwithers@seattletimes.com | 206-464-8281

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