A five-pack of predictions

Jan 292009
Authors: Sean Star

Normally this column isn’t one to stray too far off campus. But it’s the dog days of the Mountain West basketball season, so what the hell.

From more than 1,500 miles away and with no access or press pass, I present your unofficial guide to Super Bowl XLIII.

The game may not seem, as the people say, like a sexy matchup, but there is still at least one reason to get geeked about this weekend.

It’s the first Super Bowl you can buy booze on the same day of the game in this state. Thankfully, that means an end to last-minute trips to Wyoming to pick up that much-needed extra 30-rack.

Anyway, about the game. It’s nearly unanimous among those who know much about the NFL that the Steelers should win. And that’s not just because their franchise has a far richer history.

If the regular season means anything, then the Steelers are the much better team. They played a tougher schedule and won more games.

And to throw in a classic cliché, great defense usually always beats great offense.

But the best thing about sports is that no one really knows who is actually going to win.

Pittsburgh would probably win about eight times out of 10. But that’s the thing: How are we supposed to know Sunday won’t be one of those two days?

I don’t, and neither does any other yahoo out there.

The only thing anyone outside of Arizona or Pittsburgh can hope for is an entertaining, competitive game.

And in order for that, here are five things that need to happen.

No. 1: Larry Fitzgerald needs to continue playing like the best player in the league, like he has for the first three games of the playoffs. Fitzgerald has already broken Jerry Rice’s record for the most receiving yards in one postseason,

but he hasn’t faced a defense like Pittsburgh’s, and that includes Philadelphia.

Articulate and selfless, Fitzgerald is exactly who the NFL needs as its next great superstar. Another dominant performance Sunday would cement him as such.

My guess is that Fitzgerald is good but not great – something like 95 yards with one score.

No. 2: Hines Ward needs to play. And I mean play a majority of the game, not just suit up, go in for the first series and then stand on the sidelines the rest of the game. The Steelers’ wide out suffered a sprained knee in the AFC Championship and is officially listed as questionable, though he’s claimed since last week that he’s going to play.

With the signature ear-to-ear grin he wears after every first-down catch, Ward is simply fun to watch. If he’s unable to play, not only would it hurt the Steelers’ chances of winning but it would be a shame for us fans.

Based on the bone-crushing blocks he’s known to throw, Ward is a warrior. So my guess is that he’ll play, and play well.

No 3: Arizona needs to pull off a trick play. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has gained a reputation for his admiration of the trick play, as the Cardinals have already successfully pulled off two flea-flickers this postseason.

Whisenhunt, you might remember, is also the former Steelers’ offensive coordinator who designed the wide receiver reverse pass a few years ago in Super Bowl XL to help Pittsburgh beat Seattle.

My guess is that when Arizona tries its antics, the Steelers will do what they do best and defend it.

No 4: Ben Roethlisberger needs to pull off one of his signature scrambling miracles. The Steelers quarterback has a knack for holding on the ball until the last possible minute before delivering a pass that looks like it was drawn up in the dirt. Two weeks ago he did it when his desperation heave found Santonio Holmes, who then turned the busted play into a touchdown.

Few things are as fun to watch in sports than a quarterback scramble away from a pass rush while trying to find an open man down field, because a majority of the time it ends in a big play, for either the offense or defense.

My guess is that at least once Big Ben pulls off an incredible scramble, one that ends up being the key play in a scoring drive.

No. 5: The commercials make a comeback.

Unless my memory fails me because the game was so great, but last year was not a good year for commercials. What happened to the classics, like Magic and Bird playing a game of horse for a Big Mac?

My guess is that the ads make a comeback this year. Because the economy is so rough, companies will be sure their millions of dollars are well spent.

So if the Steelers do blow out the Cardinals, at least maybe there will still be something fun to watch. But again, let’s hope that’s not the case.

Collegian columnist Sean Star can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

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