Welcome to another edition of Rankee’s Doodles…

I would say “thumbs up” to a tremendous day of sports watching except both of mine are soaking in ice from so much remote flipping…

Wasn’t it great that USC at Utah was on the invisible Pac 12 Network so as to not distract us from all the better games going on around it: Dodgers at Brewers, Purdue at Ohio State, Mississippi State at LSU, Oregon at Washington State, Grambling at Alcorn…

For what it’s worth, I have never seen a Dodgers’ starting second baseman make a better catch against the left-field wall to help secure a pennant…

Good riddance to Milwaukee and manager Craig Counsell’s relief pitching carousel charade. Not only do we get Dodgers vs. Boston Red Sox in the World Series, we get real starting pitchers. My favorite yesteryear memories of the Fall Classic are power arms like Bob Gibson, Denny McClain, Catfish Hunter, Tom Seaver–Fernando in 1981 and Hershiser in 1988…

The way Counsell shelf-stocked the NL championship series, lifting a starter after five pitches, was better fit for managing inventory at your local Costco…

USC fans by now know NOT to get excited when the 2018 Trojans get up 14-something early on a road opponent. USC led Texas, 14-3, before getting shelled, 37-14. Saturday night, the Trojans jumped out early on Utah, 14-0, and only lost 41-28…

Clay Helton after not scoring a touchdown against Stanford for the first time since World War II: “I thought we fought like warriors.” Helton after an ugly win over Colorado: “We control our destiny.” What will Helton say next…?”

If USC was relevant on the national stage there would be a lot of clamoring about whether Helton is a guy who can get USC to national-championship level…

I did NOT see USC vs. Utah (thank you DirecTV!) so will reserve further judgement, but I’m guessing my buddy Petros Papadakis would tell me the Trojans are still running a “Conference USA offense…”

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh and LSU’s Ed Orgeron, entering the season, were probably the most maligned big-program coaches in the nation. Neither of them could be trusted, right? Well look at them now? Harbaugh pulled off another signature win, 21-7, at Michigan State, the Wolverine’s first road win versus a ranked opponent since Notre Dame in 2006…

With No. 2 Ohio State’s shocking loss at Purdue, the team on College Football Playoff course right now is Michigan. The Wolverines have won seven straight since an opening loss to Notre Dame and control their fate in the Big Ten East…

Or, as Joel Klatt, FOX’s excellent analyst, said on his wrap from East Lansing: “Michigan fans, it’s real…”

Orgeron’s team beat the Starkville Cowbells, 19-3, setting up a huge SEC West showdown in Baton Rouge against No.1 Alabama in two weeks. LSU. The Tigers have now defeated four ranked schools this year…

Wasn’t Ohio State’s loss at Purdue just awful? Didn’t you feel for Urban Meyer and all the hard work his squeaky clean, transparent program has put in since the media “witch hunt” that led to his three-game suspension? Didn’t think so. Me neither…

Ohio State is not out of the title chase but faces an eerily similar disqualifying retort if the final playoff spot comes down to the Buckeyes vs. a second team from the SEC. Last year it was “Don’t lose at Iowa by 31.” This year it might be, “Don’t lose at Purdue by 29…”

It appears that Michigan and Michigan State do not like each other. Before Saturday’s game, Michigan star Devin Bush was caught on tape gouging out portions of the home field’s logo turf at midfield…

Later it was learned that a couple of Michigan players were “clothes lined” as Michigan State chorus-lined arm-in-arm (think Radio City Rocketettes) for their traditional pregame march down the field….”Total Bush league,” Harbaugh said after the game…

Schools I would have rather played a month ago than now: Purdue, Utah, UCLA and, wait, one-win Nebraska…?

Washington State, with Saturday’s 34-20 win over Oregon in Pullman, stands as the Pac 12’s only one-loss team. And that makes Mike Leach’s Cougars the conference’s best chance for the College Football Playoff. And by “chance” of course, we mean no chance…

More on Misery in Utah:  Helton is 19-0 in games played at the L.A. Coliseum but keep him away from the Bonneville Salt Flats….

Trojan fans can still, rightfully, ask what if…? Two years ago, at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, USC had a three-point lead at Utah late in the game…

The 1-2 Trojans, playing well in Sam Darnold’s debut at quarterback, faced fourth and three at the Utah 37…

The UTAH 37…

Helton called in the punt team. Utah got the ball at its own seven and drove 93 yards for the game-winning touchdown….

Oh, on that final drive, Utah converted twice on fourth down as it marched to the winning score…

Helton told the L.A. Times after the game: “You’ve got to trust your defense and I trust them,” he said. “Would I change the decision? No?”

Think about it: Helton trusted his defense more than he trusted Sam Darnold to get three yards inside his opponent’s 40-yard line…

That call would have been a no-brainer later in the season, as Darnold quickly emerged as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks…

No question, Helton played it safe. And it might have cost USC a chance at the College Football Playoff and a possible rematch against Alabama…

USC won nine straight after a 1-3 start and finished No. 3 in the final AP poll after a thrilling Rose Bowl win over Penn State…

That Utah loss denied USC the chance to win the Pac 12 South. The Trojans had to watch a title-game featuring two teams–Colorado and Washington–they defeated in the regular season…

Many thought the USC Trojans, at the end of the season, were the best team in the nation…

What if Helton had let Darnold go for it on fourth-and-three…?

What if…?

 

Pac 12 deprogramming: Or, to quote Pink Floyd, “Is there anybody out there…?”

USC played at Utah on the Pac 12 Network, UCLA hosted Arizona on ESPN2 and Colorado at Washington was primed for Prime Time on Channel 11 in the 12:30 p.m. slot. Until the game got bumped to Fox Business Network because of the weather delay that  pushed Michigan at Michigan State past its designated time slot…

Last year, a Pac 12 game got thrown to a lesser Fox affiliate for a truck race. Before last year’s Pac 12 title game, commissioner Larry Scott assured reporters something like that would never happen again…

Scott: “I don’t think a Pac 12 football game should ever be delayed for a truck race…”

Saturday, though, a weather delay forced Colorado at Washington to the FBN channel that was supposed to be airing a show called “Medicare Plans…”

Scott, in the midst of his most turbulent hours as commissioner, got caught with another horrible “optic” as Fox 11 ran the crawl that could not be turned off…

“Colorado at No. 15 Washington Pac-12 College Football now airing on Fox Business Network and the FOX sports app.  Check your program guide to find the channel number on your system…”

Scott said last December the “truck show” fiasco would be addressed with FOX sports executives….

Scott add, “We also know that there are always going to be situations where something runs longer or there is a weather (delay), and you might have to join a game in progress. So, we get that. But what I want to make sure is that we have strong alternatives and overflow channels where fans can go that have similar distribution to the main channel they’d be watching it on…”

Check your local program guide…