Avert Your Eyes

If you enjoy watching college football, this year’s slate of bowl games just might cure you.

There are 35 games, which means that 70 teams will participate;  demand for good teams far exceeds supply.  Thirteen teams with break-even records — 6 wins, 6 losses — got bowl bids, and one (UCLA) actually had a losing record.  This will make for some ugly games, I’m afraid.

Florida and Ohio State faced each other in the 2007 BCS Championship game, but this year they both limp into the Gator Bowl with 6-6 records.  The Meineke Car Care Bowl matches Northwestern (6-6), a school that hasn’t won a bowl game since 1949, against Texas A&M (6-6), which fired coach Mike Sherman at the end of the season.

Mississippi State (6-6) and Wake Forest (6-6) square off in the Music City Bowl.  The Bulldogs are 73rd in the country in scoring; the Demon Deacons are 75th in total defense, so a resistible force struggles against a movable object.

Arizona State fired its coach, Dennis Erickson, and then accepted an invitation to get stomped in the MAACO Bowl.  Its opponent, Boise State, would be playing in a BCS bowl if their kicker hadn’t pushed the potential game winning field goal wide right against TCU.  The Broncos will take out their frustration on the Sun Devils, who are mainly known for amassing penalties.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl presents two schools that must be starved for attention — why else would they risk more public humiliation?  As noted above, UCLA had a losing record (6-7) but petitioned the NCAA for permission to play in Kraft’s cheesy bowl.  Illinois (6-6) does have one player who is quite good; the aptly named defensive end Whitney Mercilus led the nation in sacks.  He will probably  be merciless against the Bruins’ offensive line, which yielded 24 sacks.  This game has already set one record that will never be broken:  Both coaches (Ron Zook and Rick Neuheisel) have already been fired.

Now, here are a few thoughts about the games you’ll want to see:

•  Fiesta Bowl          Stanford (11-1) vs. Oklahoma State (11-1)

Both teams feature excellent QBs in Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden.  Both teams have shaky pass defenses.  The Cowboys have a slight edge because of All-American wide receiver Justin Blackmon.

•  Cotton Bowl          Arkansas (10-2) vs. Kansas State (10-2)

Eight of Kansas State’s wins were by 7 points or less.  They’ll have trouble staying close to high-scoring Arkansas.

•  Rose Bowl          Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (11-2)

The Ducks averaged 46.2 points per game, third best in the country.  Wisconsin was fourth with 44.6 ppg.  Wisconsin plays solid defense too, but they haven’t faced the kind of speed that Oregon possesses.

•  Sugar Bowl          Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Michigan (10-2)

Both of Virginia Tech’s losses were to the same team — Clemson.  The Hokies’ defense is solid, but they’ll have to be spectacular against Michigan QB Denard Robinson.  He threw for over 2,000 yards and ran for over 1,000.  This will be close, but the edge goes to Michigan.

•  BCS National Championship Game        LSU (13-0) vs. Alabama (11-1)

Louisiana State allowed only 10.5 points per game, second best in the country.  You know who was best, right?  Yes, Alabama — 8.8 points per game.  I’m thinking the Crimson Tide won’t miss four field goals again as they did against LSU on November 5.  Alabama wins the rematch.

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8 responses to “Avert Your Eyes

  1. Some of those uglier bowl matchups make me believe that there are too many bowl games.

  2. You’re absolutely right, Sean. A few decades ago there were only a handful, and only good teams participated. There are two reasons there are now so many games: 1) Money; and 2) Additional practice time.

    The leagues and individual schools get more money — even the lousy bowls have payouts in the hundreds of thousands. The cities in which the games are played also benefit. Lots of tourist dollars come in from the influx of fans who stay in their hotels and eat in their restaurants.

    Teams that don’t qualify to play in a bowl game can’t hold practices, but the teams that do can keep practicing until they have played their bowl game. Among other things, that additional practice time gives coaches a chance to evaluate and improve the skills of players who will be back the following season.

  3. Like and agree with your blog. Found it by accident but glad I did. I think the Sugar Bowl is a travesty this year. What a joke. I mean, the game might be ok but the team selection is just wrong and so unfair. Also think that Oklahoma State deserved a chance at the title. Keep up the good work! I wrote a blog about the bowls myself. It can be found at nationalsportspost.blogspot.com

    • Yes, I saw your post about the bowls and left a comment there. Thanks for checking in here. Are you getting excited about the GoDaddy.com Bowl, pitting Arkansas State against Northern Illinois?

  4. Thanks for your comment! I’m a big fan of college sports and am looking forward to the games, including the one you mentioned. Check in with you later. Look forward to reading your posts from now on.

  5. What? No love for WVU in the Orange Bowl?

    • I’d feel a little better about the Mountaineers’ chances in the Orange Bowl if they hadn’t yielded 49 points to Syracuse in October. And if their last three wins hadn’t been by a combined total of 7 points. OK, I’ll say this much for them: West Virginia is the best team in the Big East, how’s that?

      • Okay, I’ll take it. Though you must understand, Tom, that the Mountaineers’ (much like myself) are just a bunch of simple country boys who are easily distracted by the big lights of the city. Thus, we do what we can.

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