After a steady diet of college bowl games for the past three weeks and the start of the NFL playoff games last weekend, the avid football fan is beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The BCS national champion should be crowned in a couple of days while the world champion of the NFL won’t be known for the next four weeks.

As far as this Korner is concerned, we believe the national champion of college football emerged when Utah beat Alabama 31-17 Friday night in the Sugar Bowl game.

Those BCS bozos who thought they had everything figured when Florida and Oklahoma were named to play for the national championship anticipated there would be four or five teams with only one loss after Thursday night’s game and that nobody would object to their choice of teams for the Orange Bowl.

But Utah (13-0) threw a monkey wrench into their calculations by playing like the nation’s only undefeated team and had 21 points on the scoreboard of the Sugar Bowl game before the Crimson Tide supporters finished reading the newspaper articles telling how great 10-point-favored Alabama was this season.

Even Alabama head coach Nick Saban said that his team was the only one to have an undefeated regular season in a “real BCS conference.” What Saban did without realizing it was to give Utah plenty of bulletin board material that did nothing but fire up the Utes.

So now, if Texas beats Ohio State and Oklahoma upsets Florida Thursday, there’s a slender chance the Associated Press pollsters would recognize the fact the Longhorns beat the Sooners in Dallas and reward them as the nation’s No. 1 team. Of course the BCS wouldn’t do that because it would make them look like the idiots they are. And Utah will finish third at best in either poll.

This Korner is being written before Monday’s Fiesta Bowl involving the Texas Longhorns and without knowledge of the results of that bowl or any others that follow it.

And as far as the NFL wild card playoffs were concerned, despite all of the visiting wild card teams being favored last weekend, only the two winners on Sunday—Baltimore and Philadelphia –went according to how the Las Vegas boys figured while Arizona and San Diego came through on Saturday with upset victories.

NFL’s Most Valuable Player Peyton Manning did everything he could to pull out the victory for the Indianapolis Colts Saturday night. But he doesn’t play defense, and the Chargers’ drive in the overtime produced the winning touchdown and the 23-17 win that punched their ticket for this week’s Divisional Playoffs. Head Coach Norv Turner is 12-1 in December and January at San Diego.
The Colts were a two-point favorite in that game at San Diego while wild card Atlanta was favored by a point at Arizona, but the Cardinals rallied in the second half to eliminate the Falcons 30-24 for the franchise’s first home playoff victory in  61 years.

The 30 points scored by the Cardinals were their most in the playoffs, breaking a record set by the then-Chicago Cardinals in the NFL championship victory over Philadelphia in 1947.

On Sunday the 3-point favorite Baltimore Ravens used a tenacious defense to subdue the much-improved Miami Dolphins 27-9 while the three-point favored Philadelphia Eagles used defense to beat the Vikings in Minnesota 26-14.

The Divisional Playoffs are set for this week as the Baltimore Ravens travel to Tennessee to take on the top-seeded Titans Saturday at 3:30 p.m. and Arizona meets Carolina at 7:15 p.m., while Philadelphia goes to New York to face the top-seeded Giants at noon on Sunday and San Diego takes on the Steelers at 3:45 p.m. in Pittsburgh.

All of this weekend’s Divisional playoffs will be rematches from the regular season.

Prior to this weekend’s action, the Las Vegas boys published the odds to win Super Bowl XLIII based on a $100 bet: New York Giants would pay an additional $255; Pittsburgh and Tennessee $335; Carolina $450; San Diego $1250; Baltimore and Philadelphia $1500 and Arizona $3350. Indianapolis was $1050; Atlanta $2250, Miami and Minnesota $3350.

Tennessee is favored to win the AFC at an additional $150 on a $100 bet; Pittsburgh $1170; San Diego $675 and Baltimore $800. To win $100 on the New York Giants in the NFC one would have to put up $145; Carolina would pay an additional $195 on $100 bet; Philadelphia $825 and Arizona $1800.

KWICKIES…The top-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team saw their undefeated season come to an end as they were upset by Boston College (13-2) 85-78 in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener Sunday. It was the first loss for the Tar Heels in 14 games.

The Texas Longhorns needed a victory in Monday’s Fiesta Bowl to move into second place on the all-time major college list. The ‘Horns were tied with Notre Dame with 831 wins for second place, trailing only Michigan with 872 victories.

Last week we mentioned the free agents signed by the Houston Astros but neglected to list the free agents who have yet to sign with their new team. Long-time catcher Brad Ausmus wants to play closer to his home in San Diego while lefty pitcher Randy Wolf has yet to pick a new team. This Korner hopes Wolf elects to remain an Astro.

JUST BETWEEN US…Although Florida jumped from a 1-point favorite to a 3-point favorite over Oklahoma in Thursday’s BCS Championship Game, this Korner likes the Sooners in a high-scoring upset, like 41-34. And while we’re sticking out our neck let’s also Fearlessly Forecast the 3-point underdog Baltimore Ravens to go to Tennessee and upset the Titans 21-17 and the 5-point underdog Philadelphia Eagles to surprise the defending world champion New York Giants 20-17. The nine-point favored Carolina Panthers shouldn’t have much trouble with Arizona, winning 27-21 and six-point favored Pittsburgh should utilize the wintry weather to nip San Diego 16-13 in this weekend’s NFL Divisional Playoffs.