December 4, 2012

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Bowl Season Observations

By: Joe Williams

College football’s regular season games have been played, the bowl selections have been made and now all there is to do is wait…for 2014. In two years we will finally get the college football playoff we’ve been waiting for. Until then, we are stuck with the BCS system that, every year, is filled with controversy.

Should Oklahoma have made a BCS bowl?

This year, the BCS has delivered the most disappointing and uninteresting lineup of games since the BCS system began. The Rose Bowl has a team that has already lost five times this year in Wisconsin. The Orange Bowl has a team that was never in the BCS discussion until there was one day left in the season and has the experts complaining that they don’t deserve to be in the game in Northern Illinios. In the Sugar Bowl we have a team that benefited by not having to play in its conference championship game in Florida taking on a team that has lost two of three and has not faced a ranked opponent all season in Louisville. And of course the BCS Championship Game will feature possibly the two most hated teams in college football (Notre Dame and Alabama) so many fans won’t even know who to root for. The only bright spot is the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon against Kansas State should be a good one.

Why is everyone getting so bent out of shape about Northern Illinois reaching the BCS anyway? So Oklahoma doesn’t get in this year. So what? The Sooners have played in the BCS eight times. I’d rather see some new blood get a chance. It’s not like the Sooners are left out of a national championship shot. Has everyone forgotten what happened when Boise State (2007 and 2010) and Utah (2005 and 2009) were in the BCS and people thought they shouldn’t be? I’m not saying Northern Illinois will beat Florida State. But they qualified for the game. If Oklahoma was so worried about playing in a BCS game it should have performed better against Notre Dame or Kansas State.

What happens if Alabama beats Notre Dame, leaving Ohio State as the only undefeated team? I don’t think it will happen and I don’t think it should happen (because the Buckeyes are not bowl eligible), but what are the chances that Ohio State could end up No. 1 in the AP and we have a split national championship? Talk about college football controversy.

If we have learned anything about college football and the people who run it over the years, it is that the most important thing is money. That is why I am surprised that we are still able to find out who will be playing in what bowl game before the actual BCS selection show is on TV. Why haven’t they come up with a selection show similar to the NFL draft where we have representatives from each bowl game coming up to the podium and announcing the team they have selected to play in each game. We would have teams all around the country gathered around the phone waiting for a call. I would have loved to see a split screen of the reactions from Oklahoma and Northern Illinois when the match-ups were made official. That would get higher ratings then having somebody from ESPN telling us what we have already known for days.

There are 35 games still to play. I’ve got no interest in most of them (East Carolina vs Louisana-Lafayette and Duke vs Cincinnati for example), and only one game means anything. Fortunately, we will go through this just one more time.

December 20, 2011

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College Football’s Bowl Games: Part IV

By: Anson Whaley

No matter what side of the aisle you’re on when it comes to the BCS, bowl games are one reason college football is such a great sport. The system matches two teams that may never play otherwise and with 35 games, chances are that your favorite team ended up in one.

Yesterday, we broke down games 19-26. (For yesterdays article, click here.) Here’s a quick look at the remaining 9.

TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (Ohio State vs. Florida): Here’s yet another Big Ten-SEC game featuring two programs that are used to competing in BCS bowls. Neither team has been particularly impressive and each is only 6-6. But Florida has yet to record an impressive victory as their best win probably came against a 7-5 Vanderbilt team. Give me Ohio State in this game.

Rose Bowl (Wisconsin vs. Oregon): The first of the BCS games is a good one, pairing two very similar teams. Both are 11-2 and feature two of the top rushers in college football in LaMichael James and Montee Ball. The offenses are ranked No. 3 (Oregon) and No. 4 (Wisconsin) in the nation, but Wisconsin has had a much stronger defense. Still, I like Oregon, who’s played a tougher schedule against top teams.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Stanford vs. Oklahoma State): The Fiesta Bowl features two more top five offenses. Instead of running backs, though, these teams are led by two premier quarterbacks – Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden. Oklahoma State could be playing in the national championship if not for a late-season slip up to unranked Iowa State in two overtimes. One thing I like about the Cowboys is how they’ve fared against other top quarterbacks. They forced Heisman winner Robert Griffin III into a bad two-interception game and did the same against Oklahoma’s Landry Jones. For that reason, I’ll take Oklahoma State who might be able to get Luck to make some mistakes.

AllState Sugar Bowl (Michigan vs. Virginia Tech): The Hokies could have had an undefeated season had they not faced Clemson who handed them both of their losses. I’m pretty high on Virginia Tech in this one and the difference could be running back David Wilson, who has more than 1,600 yards on the season. Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is a huge talent, obviously, but he’s capable of some poor play as we’ve seen with his 14 interceptions on the season. The Hokies’ defense? No. 8 in the country. The Wolverines also have a top ten defense and even though they’ve scored more points this season, I’m taking Virginia Tech.

Going to their first BCS Bowl since 2007, Michigan fans would love a Sugar Bowl win to end a great season.

Discover Orange Bowl (West Virginia vs. Clemson): The Mountaineers have been a bit more lackluster than their record really indicates. They won nine games, but did so in a weak Big East and came out victorious in their final three games by a total of only seven points. Clemson struggled a bit after their 8-0 start, dropping three of their final five games, but I think they’re the better team. Look for the Tigers to win this one.

AT&T Cotton Bowl (Kansas State vs. Arkansas): The Razorbacks are the perfect example of what playing in a tough conference can mean. Their two losses were to LSU and Alabama – the two teams meeting in the National Championship. This is a strong Arkansas team led by quarterback Tyler Wilson who doesn’t make many mistakes as he’s had only six interceptions all season. The Razorbacks should win this one against the surprising Wildcats.

BBVA Compass Bowl (SMU vs. Pittsburgh): My alma mater, Pitt, has been extremely unimpressive this season. But they remain one of the best 6-6 teams out there, losing four games by only 13 points with some second-half collapses. The team has only been overmatched once this season, while SMU has suffered four blowout losses. The Panthers are also dealing with an unexpected coaching change but still have enough talent in this game to win.

GoDaddy.com Bowl (Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois): The winner of the MAC vs. the winner of the Sun Belt? I got nothin’. Give me Northern Illinois.

AllState BCS Championship Game (Alabama vs. LSU): This is the game everyone’s waiting for … well, at least everyone in Alabama and Louisiana. You know what wins championships? Defense. This game features the FBS’ top two defenses and some pretty good offenses as well. Both teams have played killer schedules and the game against the two in the regular season was close. But I remain amazed at LSU’s dominance this year, destroying some pretty good Oregon, Arkansas, and Georgia teams along the way. There’s no way I can pick against them and that’s why I think they’ll win it all.

December 13, 2011

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College Football Bowl Games: Part II

By: Anson Whaley

In part 2 of our picks for the College Football Bowl Games, we take a look at the games from Dec. 27th – 30th. (To look at  College Football Bowl Games: Part I , click here.)

 

Little Caesars Bowl (Western Michigan vs. Purdue): The Boilermakers will have a hard time trying to shut down one of the nation’s best receiving tandems in Jordan White and Chleb Ravenell. White had more than 1,600 yards receiving to lead the nation and is a handful to defend. Because of that (and a virtual home game in Detroit), I like Western Michigan.

Belk Bowl (Louisville vs. North Carolina State): The Wolfpack get home field advantage for this bowl (formerly the Car Care Bowl) and they beat pretty good Clemson and North Carolina teams this season. Louisville boasts an impressive defense, but I don’t know that they have enough in this one. My pick is North Carolina State.

Military Bowl (Toledo vs. Air Force): Two top 25 offenses take the field in this one and with seven wins in their final eight games, I’ll take Toledo in a shootout.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (California vs. Texas): This is another tough one to pick as both teams have been mired in the middle of their respective conferences. The difference could be home field, which should go to Cal with the game in San Diego. But after playing a tough Big 12 schedule, I’m going with my gut and taking Texas in a close one.

Champs Sports Bowl (Florida State vs. Notre Dame): Florida State had four losses, but three of them came against then No. 1 Oklahoma (by five), Clemson (who won ten games), and 8-4 Virginia. The fact that the game is in Florida should also help the Seminoles and they’re my pick in this game.

Florida State fans won't have to travel far to watch the Seminoles take on Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl.

Valero Alamo Bowl (Washington vs. Baylor): The Bears have had an amazing year with wins over Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, and Missouri and have come out on top in five in a row. With Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, leading the way, I think they win this one pretty easily over a mediocre Huskies team.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (BYU vs. Tulsa): Tulsa has lots of weapons on offense, but has struggled mightily in every game this year when they’ve played anyone of consequence. BYU is a sound defensive program and gives up only about 20 points a game. Because of that, I’m taking them to win their tenth game of the season.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Rutgers vs. Iowa State): Tough game to call here. Rutgers gets home field with the game in New York and has an excellent defense, but probably has some inflated numbers from playing in the Big East. Iowa State struggled this year, but faced seven ranked teams and won a home thriller against No. 2 Oklahoma State near the end of the season. I literally just flipped a coin and it came up with Iowa State. Scratch that – I’m picking Rutgers.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest): Another difficult one to pick, but I’ll go with Wake Forest here. They’ve played really well at times, beating Florida State and playing well in close losses to Clemson and Notre Dame. This one could come down to the play of quarterback Tanner Price. In Wake Forest’s six wins, he’s thrown 12 touchdowns to only two interceptions and never completed fewer than 60% of his passes. In their six losses, he’s had eight touchdowns and four picks, completing less than 60% of his attempts four times.

Insight Bowl (Iowa vs. Oklahoma): Hard not to like Oklahoma in this one. The Sooners have several impressive wins on the season and a few tight losses. They also bring in a top ten offense and a respectable defense. Iowa’s really been up and down all season and doesn’t have the firepower offensively to keep up against Oklahoma.

Check back next week for Part III of our look at College Football’s Bowl Games.