Was Orange Bowl final game for Harbaugh and Luck at Stanford?

Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh (above) celebrates with players including quarterback Andrew Luck (R) after they defeated Virginia Tech in the 2011 Discover Orange Bowl NCAA football game in Miami, January 3, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

Here are three quick-hit observations from Stanford’s 40-12 rout of Virginia Tech in the 2011 Orange Bowl.

1. Will this be Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck’s final hurrah at Stanford?
If it was, they certainly went out with a bang. Luck completed 18-of-23 passes for 287 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in the win, while Harbaugh left no doubt in anyone’s mind that he can coach in big games, small games or sandlot games. If Luck, a redshirt sophomore, were to declare for the NFL draft he would be the No. 1 pick in April. The Panthers aren’t going to pass on taking a quarterback, but Luck said last week that he’s leaning towards staying for his junior year. Harbaugh, on the other hand, is probably moving on. He’s gone as far as he can go at Stanford and if he wants to coach his alma mater, I doubt Michigan would think twice about telling Rich Rodriguez to shove off in order to make room for him. If Harbaugh wants to go to the NFL, the 49ers have already expressed interest and I’m sure the Panthers will/have as well. Harbaugh says he won’t rush any decision, but I’m sure one is forthcoming.

2. What a bad night for the entire Virginia Tech program.
The Hokies kicked a field goal right before halftime to cut Stanford’s lead down to 13-12 and then they forgot to come out for the second half. Their offense couldn’t sustain drives, their defense couldn’t limit the big plays and after the Cardinal went up by two touchdowns late in the third quarter, VA Tech completely checked out mentally (even though there was still a quarter to go). Tyrod Taylor made a couple of great plays with his arm and legs, but struggled keeping drives alive because he was always in third-and-long thanks to his running game (or lack thereof). Give credit to Stanford’s defense – they came to play.

3. You’re right BCS, this is way better than a playoff.
Three BCS bowl games are in the books and two of them were blowouts. The TCU-Wisconsin game had an exciting finish, but the Oklahoma-UConn game was a dud (as expected) and the second half of the Orange Bowl was like watching Stanford scrimmage against its scout team. The BCS obviously can’t control what happens after the opening kickoff, but they hype these five games as if they’re the best five games fans will see all year and so far they’ve been lousy. The title game and the Sugar Bowl can still save the action but the BCS can’t look anyone in the eye and say this is better than a playoff. Maybe VA Tech and UConn would have been blown out in a playoff game too, but at least Stanford and Oklahoma would be moving on to the next round. At least we’d still have more football to enjoy instead of: Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12 – hey, thanks for coming out!

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BCS odds released: Florida 3-point favorite over Oklahoma

The opening point spreads for the BCS bowl games have officially been released with oddsmakers establishing the Florida Gators as 3-point favorites over the Oklahoma Sooners in the national title matchup.

Rose Bowl: Penn State +10 vs. USC
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech +2 vs. Cincinnati
Sugar Bowl: Utah +10 vs. Alabama
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State +10 vs. Texas
BCS National Championship Game: Florida –3 vs. Oklahoma

I would say oddsmakers have the opening lines pegged right. And if (“if” – ha!) I were a gambling man, I would definitely lay the wood on USC to beat Penn State and Alabama to beat Utah, although the public will certainly push both of those lines up over the next couple weeks and the Utes might give ‘Bama a game because of their defense and the fact that the Sugar Bowl is a letdown for the Tide after losing to Florida in the SEC Championship.

The other bowls I’m not so sure about. The Bearcats have had a great season, but Frank Beamer’s defense looked stifling in the ACC Championship Game and you have to like what Tyrod Taylor brings to the table, although Cincy’s defense is no joke either. And the Buckeyes beat the Longhorns three years ago in Austin so a pissed off Texas team should still get a game from Terrelle Pryor and OSU.

The title game is a doozy. The public loves the favorite, so that line will likely go up, too. And for as well as the Gators are playing, one has to believe Sam Bradford and the Sooners’ dynamic offense will keep that game close. That might be a game to take the over, although the opening total has been set at 71.5.

Now take all the above information and fade my ass to a nice pay day.

Couch Potato Alert: 10/3

Auburn vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt has endured 25 consecutive losing seasons, but the Commodores are looking to go 5-0 for the first time since 1943, and are trying to earn their first bowl appearance since the 1982 Hall of Fame Classic. They find themselves in sole possession of first place in the SEC Eastern Division. Auburn needs a win on Saturday to have a realistic shot of capturing the SEC Western Division title. The Tigers did derail the Commodores’ early season success last year with a 35-7 blowout win at Auburn. Coverage will begin at 6 PM EST Saturday on ESPN.

Florida State vs. Miami
Both teams seem to be on the right track in restoring their reputations as conference contenders despite inconsistent early season performances. This will be the second straight meeting in which neither school is ranked in the polls, and it will be the first time that Miami won’t be hosting the game in the Orange Bowl. Miami’s old home had been a house of horrors for Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, as he was 5-9 against the Canes at the Orange Bowl. Regional coverage begins at 12:30 PM EST Saturday on ABC.

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
The Terrelle Pryor Show continues this week on the road. He has shown the skills that made him the # 1 recruit in the nation by proving he can run and pass in back-to-back home victories over Troy and Minnesota. Now comes the real test – a game at Wisconsin’s raucous and rowdy Camp Randall Stadium. The talented Badgers are no doubt angry, as they’re coming off a 27-21 loss at Michigan in which they blew a 19-0 halftime lead. Regional coverage begins Saturday at 8 PM EST on ABC. Click here for the official Ohio State vs. Wisconsin smack thread.

Chicago Cubs vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
Do you believe in curses? If you live in Chicago and root for the Cubs, yes you do. Cubby fans get excited every April, and are heartbroken by October. They have endured eight straight playoff losses, including five in a row under Lou Piniella. The Cubs will have to play better baseball in Los Angeles to bring the series back to Chicago. But history doesn’t bode well for Cub fans, as Piniella is 3-10 in playoff games against Joe Torre, and the 2001 New York Yankees are the only team to come back from a 0-2 deficit in a divisional series. Guess who managed that team….Joe Torre. Saturday’s game 3 coverage will begin 10 PM EST and if necessary Sunday’s game 4 at 4 PM EST on TBS.

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