The de facto column on what to look for in this weekend's bowls


Get out those No. 2 pencils. It's quiz time. Let's match the college football bowl game with its sponsor.

1. Weiser Lock a. Alamo

2. Outback b. Copper


3. Federal Express c. Holiday

4. Mobil d. Independence

5. Builders Square e. Fla. Citrus

6. IBM OS/2 f. Gator

7. CompUSA g. Fiesta

8. USF&G; h. Used to Be

the Blockbuster

9. Poulan/Weed Eater i. Cotton

10. Thrifty Car Rental j. Orange

11. Carquest k. Sugar

The answers: 1-b, 2-f, 3-j, 4-i, 5-a, 6-g, 7-e, 8-k, 9-d, 10-c, 11-h

How did you do? Total your correct answers and check them on the scale below:

0: You'll find the comics in another section.

1-3: Lucky guesses; you probably get all your sports from local television.

4-6: You'd be up on sports more if your kids didn't hog the TV to watch Nickelodeon.

7-8: Not only do you know these, but you know who's going to win each game . . .

9-10: . . . And you frequently call radio talk shows to say who'll win.

11: You geek.

Let's hope this little exercise puts to rest forever any talk about the need for a championship playoff system in major college football. The bowl system obviously is too filled with tradition for anything so crassly commercial to intrude.

This year, NBC has the de facto national championship game, the Orange Bowl. (No, de facto isn't the name of a European fax machine firm that is sponsoring the game. It's a Latin phrase indicating that what we're talking about is what we're calling it, though that's not what it is actually called. It's enough to make you wonder why people say Latin is a dead language. Or is that a de facto dead language? But I digress. And in parentheses yet.)

Dick "Oh, my" Enberg is the play-by-play man for the Orange Bowl, joined by analyst Bob Trumpy. Enberg can recall when New Year's Day wasn't such a bowl-athon.

"I think the abundance of games [there are eight on network TV tomorrow] has diluted the importance of the day," Enberg said in a news conference this week. "Some of us are old enough to remember when there was just a handful of games, and all the teams were championship caliber."

One solution would be a playoff, but Enberg said he's not sure that is the answer to producing an uncontested national champion every year, and Trumpy agrees.

"I don't think there's ever going to be a perfect system," Trumpy said, "unless you have all teams play all teams, and that won't happen because of conference affiliations. . . . I wouldn't mind one more game if every year you have two undefeated teams."

As for the Orange Bowl, Enberg came up with a uniquely Middle American vision of the matchup between Tom Osborne's Nebraska and Bobby Bowden's Florida State teams.

"If this game were a Rockwell painting," he said, "I'd picture a big field with a huge combine knocking down wheat, and Tom Osborne is at the controls. . . . Outside the field, there'd be Bobby Bowden in a red convertible."

Trumpy didn't say whether he thought the game could be depicted as one of those paintings with dogs playing poker, but did say: "Even though Florida State is a 17-point favorite, Nebraska is not intimidated. . . . The fact that Notre Dame ran for 237 yards in beating Florida State gives Nebraska delight. There is certainly a scenario for Nebraska to win."

Trumpy added that just winning might not be enough to make the Seminoles No. 1.

"For Florida State to win the national championship, they have to win by a lot," he said, defining a lot as 10 or more. "For Nebraska to win the national championship, they have to win by one."

Trumpy also said it's a simple matter why Nebraska has come up short in recent Orange Bowls.

"The recurring theme is the high school athletes in Florida are better than the high school athletes in Nebraska," he said. "Size and strength can win in the Big Eight, but they can't win you a national championship."

Orange slices

The last time Enberg called an Orange Bowl, two years ago, a power outage knocked out NBC's audio and video, and the network ended up carrying an international feed while studio anchors Gayle Gardner and Paul Maguire tried to follow the action without rosters. . . . Trumpy said Seminoles quarterback ,, Charlie Ward is headed for the NBA, not the NFL. "A Heisman winner playing in the NBA is something [NBA commissioner] David Stern would drool over," Trumpy said.

Stupid analyst tricks

Soon-to-be-unemployed "NFL Today" analyst Terry Bradshaw was a guest on David Letterman's show Tuesday, and he zinged the host -- verbally and physically.

Talking about CBS's loss of the rights to NFL games, Bradshaw said maybe the network could have retained the package for $14 million more. That figure happens to be Letterman's reported salary.

When Letterman had a song played from a country album Bradshaw once recorded, the former Steelers quarterback responded with a playful slap to Letterman's face. "People thought he was mad, saying they heard a pop," Bradshaw told USA Today. "But that slap wouldn't have wounded a wing on a fly -- it was fun."

Tie me nose tackle down, sport

David Hill, who will run Fox's new sports operation, apparently betrayed his lack of NFL expertise during Fox's negotiations for rights to the NFC. Hill, an Australian, kept referring to "football matches," The Washington Post reported. . . .

Next week, Washington's WAMU (88.5 FM), a public radio station that can be heard in Baltimore, will air a weekly sports talk show on Mondays at 8 p.m., "The John Feinstein Show." Strangely enough, the host will be Feinstein, the sports-book-writing machine.

This just in from Bristol

ESPN2, which tells us it's the sports channel for people who do, will run four hours of celebrity "Max Out" episodes starting today at 1 p.m. Guests range from terminally anguished pop singer Michael Bolton to actor Lorenzo "Your Father Looked Marvelous" Lamas to actress Heather "I Always Get You Confused with Heather Thomas" Locklear. . . . As if that weren't enough, ESPN, which, I guess, is the sports channel for people who don't, will carry the Miniature Golf Association of America championship Sunday at 4:30 p.m. The event was held in Jacksonville, Fla., which more or less explains this whole NFL expansion thing.


Bowl games on network television New Year's Day, with announcing teams (P: play-by-play, A: analyst, S: sideline reporter)

Bowl Teams Time Ch. Announcers

Hall of Fame Mich.-N.C. State 11 a.m. ESPN Ron Franklin (P)

Mike Gottfried (A)

Jerry Punch (S)

Citrus Tenn.-Penn State 1 p.m. 13 Mark Jones (P)

Tim Brant (A)

John Spagnola (S)

Fiesta Arizona-Miami 1 p.m. 2 Tom Hammond (P)

Cris Collinsworth (A)

Paul Sunderland (S)

Carquest BC-Virginia 1:30 p.m. 11 Verne Lundquist (P)

Dan Fouts (A)

Cotton Texas A&M-ND; 4:30 p.m. 2 Charlie Jones (P)

Todd Christensen (A)

John Dockery (S)

Rose UCLA-Wisconsin 4:30 p.m. 13 Keith Jackson (P)

Bob Griese (A)

Lynn Swann (S)

Orange Neb.-Fla. State 8 p.m. 2 Dick Enberg (P)

Bob Trumpy (A)

Sugar Florida-West Va. 8:30 p.m. 13 Brent Musburger (P)

Dick Vermeil (A)

Jack Arute (S)

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