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Instant Independence Redux

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Best game of the postseason to date this afternoon in the Independence Bowl, the first contest we've seen yet to go into the closing moments. A 325-pound lineman jiggling in for a crucial late tying score on a tackle eligible play is a certain indicator of quality entertainment value, and also the kind of WTF?! inegenuity that should be on display in far more irrelevant bowl games. If it's eventually determined Joe Kines had any role in that call, that's it, SMQ endorses the rumpled coordinator for the `Bama head job, lucious pro targets be damned.

But Oklahoma State unleashed some staggering firepower for a middling Big XII school stuck in the middle of the Dust Bowl, headed by the breakout performance of Dantrell Savage, a savagely quick scatback who SMQ was surprised to learn transferred to OSU from junior college in SMQ's neck of the woods and thoroughly embarrassed Kines' defensive charges this afternoon. Thus the offseason Cowboy bandwagon is launched, reminding SMQ of his response to a November roundtable question about likely candidates for a "breakout season" in 2007:

One team that might get a lot of "darkhorse" attention before next season is Oklahoma State, which still can't play defense but has shown a lot of fight after a terrible season by whipping Nebraska and taking Texas A&M to the wire in overtime, will probably make a bowl game, and returns its talented quarterback, a bunch of other productive skill guys, and almost all of the terrible defense. Last year, Mike Gundy's first after a string of relative success under Les Miles, will probably go down as a blip. As long as it's still set to "crush" when playing teams it should, in fact, crush - which it was early this season - SMQ can see OSU generating some buzz through the first couple months of 2007, whether or not it deserves it. And expected results may always vary when things go well early on.

Didn't know who Dantrell Savage was, but you read it here first.

Highly-touted Bobby Reid will finish in the top 15 in the country in passing efficiency as a first-time-starting sophomore (likely ahead of Brady Quinn, for whatever the mysterious pass efficiency rating is worth), Savage will likely return with equally frightening freshman Keith Toston and three-fifths of the starting offensive line. The proverbial X-factor will be the status of all-league receiver Adarius Bowman, who used the national stage to justify the hype and might have some pro suitors if he's inclined (a month ago, this said he was "pretty sure" he's not).

Meanwhile, at the Holiday Bowl, the mandatory corporate halftime message from whale-loving Pacific Life extolled the symbolic virtues of the season's most, um, creative piece of congratulatory hardware, as seen from last year's game here. SMQ bets this is the only trophy case entry - at Cal, it would appear - that requires an accompanying explanatory paragraph.