Saturday, December 22, 2007

Rolling Through the Bowls

Well well, after my inauspicious start to bowl season, I've come back onto the winning side. Last night, Florida Atlantic capped off a great season to take their first ever bowl victory of what promises to be many. Earlier today, Cincinnati showed a little Big East toughness by knocking off Southern Mississippi. Right now, i'm watching the halftime show of the New Mexico Bowl and, surprisingly enough, New Mexico is leading Nevada 20-0 at their home stadium.

My prediction record: 2-1

December 31
Peach Bowl, Atlanta, GA
Clemson University vs. Auburn University

This could be the best of the non-BCS bowls this postseason. Auburn came oh-so-close to taking out LSU in Baton Rouge earlier in the season, and took some big victories against Alabama and Florida. Clemson is simply fun to watch on offense and they can score a lot of points if the opposing defense isn't paying attention. Having the game be a just-about-equal distance from both Clemson and Auburn means the crowd should be pretty even. My prediction? I like Auburn more than Clemson, personally, so I'll just pick them winning by a field goal.

January 1
Outback Bowl, Tampa, FL
University of Tennessee vs. University of Wisconsin - Madison

Another great matchup that everyone will automatically give to Tennessee because "the SEC is faster and the Big Ten is weak". Obviously, those people haven't seen PJ Hill run the ball because he is fast and strong when he gets the chance to run. Of course, Tennessee is a strong team and I think this will be quite the shootout in Tampa. There will be big plays on offense interspersed with a lot of defense from both teams. Unfortunately, Wisconsin won't quite have what it takes to beat the Vols. Tennessee wins by a touchdown.

January 1
Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX
University of Missouri vs. University of Arkansas

Well, this one would have been a great game except that Arkansas went and fired their head coach and will probably never go to another bowl game after this year. Missouri will be angry because they were snubbed by the Orange Bowl for no reason whatsoever and they'll want to prove their worth to the nation. This game will be a blowout -- Arkansas shouldn't even show up.

January 1
Capital One Bowl, Orlando, FL
University of Florida vs. University of Michigan

This is one that has the potential to be a good game except for one thing: I'm pretty sure Michigan fans stopped caring after the team lost to Appalachian State way back in September. Since then, it seems like Michigan just kind of sleepwalked through the season. Of course, Michigan's sleepwalking can still take down a lot of Big Ten teams, but they could not beat Ohio State at the end of the season. Florida, on the other hand, has Tim Tebow, who Florida fans and members of the media equate to the second coming of Jesus, and they'll have a gigantic crowd packed into the Citrus Bowl to cheer them on. Florida wins huge.

January 1
Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, FL
University of Virginia vs. Texas Teck University

A lot of people might look at the top-25 ranking that UVA is carrying into this game and automatically give them the game. Unfortunately, as they showed us when they played Virginia Tech, the Cavaliers can't really stop a well-oiled offense. Did I mention that Texas Tech has one of the best offenses in the country with the country's best receiver hauling in any ball that comes anywhere near him? Yeah...Michael Crabtree brings in at least three touchdowns and Texas Tech wins this one over Virginia.

January 5
International Bowl, Toronto, ON
Rutgers University vs. Ball State University

Ball State is a very spunky team out of a very spunky Mid-America Conference. Unfortunately for them, Rutgers is just a terribly strong team. Rutgers, who couldn't win on a $5 scratch-off ticket ever since defeating Princeton in the first-ever intercollegiate football game, has made their third straight bowl game and does not look to be slowing down for a long time with Greg Schiano at the helm. Ray Rice will run circles around the Ball State defense and Rutgers will come away with the victory.

January 6
GMAC Bowl, Mobile, AL
Bowling Green University vs. University of Tulsa

A totally fun matchup of non-BCS schools the day before the National Championship game. I'm going to be honest here: I don't know much about either of these teams and no one is going to care about this game outside of Bowling Green and Tulsa, so I'm just going to pick Bowling Green. Their colors are so totally can they lose?

There you have it! All of the games that don't fit into that wonderful BCS system have been picked. I'll be back later with the five BCS games. In the meantime, enjoy the football!

Friday, December 21, 2007


A couple of weeks of practice turn out to be all you need to topple Navy's triple-option offense. Navy went out and jumped to a fast 17-7 lead. But Navy's defense couldn't hold back Utah and, when they were in a hole, their offensive line could not hold the Utes' defense back long enough for some big passes and the game ended on an interception.

As such, my prediction record: 0-1.

December 31
Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, TX
Air Force Academy vs. University of California - Berkley

I really don't know where to go with this game, but I think the Golden Bears' Pac-10 schedule will prove the difference in this game. They picked up some great wins throughout the season (namely at Oregon, still including Dennis Dixon), while picking up some rather embarrassing losses. Air Force has been good, but if the Bears show up to play, they'll come out on top.

December 31
Humanitarian Bowl, Boise, ID
Fresno State University vs. Georgia Tech

The second of our two cold-weather bowl games (though this is the one that's actually outside). Georgia Tech is really a mess this year, and I can't even put up the excuse of strength of schedule for them. Chan Gailey is out as coach and Paul Johnson is in, but Paul Johnson's big-time offense won't be in effect for this one. Fresno State was pretty darn good in the WAC this season and gave Hawai'i their biggest test of the year. Also, going to a stadium in Boise that the Bulldogs will be familiar with is going to help them a lot. Look for Fresno State to take victory.

December 31
Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
University of South Florida vs. University of Oregon

Both of these teams started out great this season. In fact, this was picked to be a possible BCS matchup by the time we got to this point in the season. Unfortunately, South Florida could not hold up their momentum and rattled off some ugly losses in October and November. Oregon posted some huge wins, including a home victory over USC, and they were #2 in the country when their quarterback, Dennis Dixon, went down with a busted knee. Without Dixon, everything simply fell apart for Oregon. South Florida is healthy and ready to go and their super-strong defense will make Brady Leaf look like a pee wee QB. South Florida wins.

December 31
Music City Bowl, Nashville, TN
Florida State University vs. University of Kentucky

This game was really interesting until the beginning of this week. Then Florida State managed to lose 23 of its players for the bowl game because of an academic cheating scandal. The emotions will be low for Florida State coming into this one. Kentucky, despite some second half losses, still have a Heisman-caliber quarterback, an equally good running back, some good receivers, and an offensive coordinator with one of the coolest names in football (Joker Phillips). Kentucky will roll, just like they did against Clemson last year in Nashville.

December 31
Insight Bowl, Tempe, AZ
Oklahoma State University vs. Indiana University

This game gives us a showcase of two excellent QB-WR combinations. Oklahoma State will be sending out QB Zac Johnson and WR Adarius Bowman, while Indiana will put QB Kellen Lewis and WR James Hardy on the field. Both QBs can run and pass and both WRs can make any defense look silly. That will be interesting because both defenses already look marginally silly, and these offenses are good. This will be a high-scoring game, but I think the added emotion of IU playing in Terry Hoeppner's memory will push them over the edge like it did against Purdue. Indiana (and, most importantly, I myself) will be partying in the desert for New Year's Eve.

Well, there you have it. Another batch of bowls and, hopefully, a few correct picks. See you 'round, folks.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Again With The Bowls

Back once again. Let's jump right into the next set of bowls.

December 28
Emerald Bowl, San Francisco, CA
Oregon State University vs. University of Maryland

Maryland is a total underachiever this season and the only reason they're in a bowl game is because there are 32 games. Oregon State, on the other hand, is a mildly impressive 8-4 in a very tough Pac-10. The fact that the game is in San Francisco will not help Maryland at all and the Terrapins will be at a distinct disadvantage thanks to the crowd. Look for Oregon State to walk away fairly easily with this one.

December 29
Meineke Car Care Bowl, Charlotte, NC
University of Connecticut vs. Wake Forest University

Connecticut has been surprisingly strong this season, but I've had a feeling that they're a bit of a fraud. After all, it took some terrible officiating to give them victory over a very poor Louisville team. Wake Forest is nowhere near the level they were last year when they won the ACC, but they are still strong. Since the game is about 100 miles away from Winston Salem, there will be a lot of Black and Gold in the stadium. Look for the Deacons to take care of business.

December 29
Liberty Bowl, Memphis, TN
Mississippi State University vs. University of Central Florida

Mississippi turned a lot of heads this season by winning some huge games. UCF turned heads by having a heck of a lot of talent coached by a great head coach in George O'Leary. The major question in this game will be how a mid-level SEC team will fare against a great C-USA team. I know SEC teams just love to flaunt the speed of their defenses, but the difference in this game will be UCF's running back Kevin Smith. Look for UCF to bring a little love to C-USA.

December 29
Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, TX
Texas A&M University vs. Pennsylvania State University

I'd like to be nice to Texas A&M, but I just can't do it. Dennis Franchione has left the team in disarray after his booster newsletter scandal and he would've needed a miracle to remain coach there. That miracle did not come and the Aggies are left without a leader. The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, have known who their coach is for the past 40 years and will continue to know until Joe Paterno has finally passed on. On top of that, Penn State has been doing quite well this season in spite of themselves. Sure, there will be a lot of A&M fans in the stadium, but they'll be unhappy at the end of the day.

December 30
Independence Bowl, Shreveport, LA
University of Colorado vs. University of Alabama

This is going to be an ugly game, but it will be a close one. Nick Saban's Alabama team is a complete mess by Alabama standards, having lost to Louisiana-Monroe as well as Southern Miss and Auburn. Colorado had to deal with a sudden rise in performance from Big 12 North rivals Kansas and Missouri, but they pulled off a huge victory against Oklahoma early in Big 12 play. Both teams have stumbled down the stretch, but I think Colorado has a mental edge over the disorganized Crimson Tide. The Buffs will take the big victory and avoid their second-straight losing season.

There you have it. Come this (Thursday) evening, we will be watching the first of our 32 bowls. Navy vs. Utah in the Poinsettia Bowl will kick off the big postseason bash. I'll be back around later with yet another batch of bowls.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Bowling, Part Deux

More bowl predictions from yours truly, as we come up on the first game of the postseason.

December 23
Hawai'i Bowl, Honolulu, HI
Boise State University vs. Eastern Carolina University

East Carolina is better than you might think this season. However, Boise State, even without Jared Zabransky, is still a terribly dangerous team. Ian Johnson remains one of the best runners in the nation and he will probably run roughshod over ECU's defense. Look for the Broncos to be partying on the beach.

December 26
Motor City Bowl, Detroit, MI
Central Michigan University vs. Purdue University

This is somewhat interesting, because the teams have already played each other this season. Even more interesting is that Purdue knocked the stuffing out of the Chippewas. What makes it interesting is that this game has the potential to be a lot closer. One huge factor will be the crowd in attendance in support of the Chippewas -- Detroit is one of CMU's homes away from home. Of course Purdue will have a decent crowd there, but the atmosphere will be tipped in the Chippewas' favor. That said, I still think the Boilermakers, who play in a substantially tougher conference, will get their act together and find a victory.

December 27
Holiday Bowl, San Diego, CA
Arizona State University vs. University of Texas

The Holiday Bowl people got themselves a huge matchup. Texas is still Texas, perennial Big 12 power and they have a great set of players and a great coach. Arizona State, with Dennis Erickson as their head coach, has stepped up big time into the Pac 10's upper echelon. ASU may not have made it into the upper echelon had Oregon not fallen apart (literally and figuratively), but what happened cannot be undone, and the Sun Devils are for real. This will be a very good, very close game, and I think ASU will have the home field advantage, since this game is relatively close to Tempe, I see Arizona State taking this one.

December 28
Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, FL
Boston College vs. Michigan State University

Boston College was a pick to be in the national championship game at one point in the season, but they then lost some key games at bad times. Michigan State may actually be one of the most underrated teams in the nation, coming through a Big Ten that's considered weak by nearly everyone and playing a lot of strong teams very close. Unfortunately for MSU, BC also has a very potent offense and a pretty darn good defense as well. Michigan State may be good, but I cant see them going into ACC country and beating BC.

December 28
Texas Bowl, Houston, TX
University of Houston vs. Texas Christian University

This bowl will be fun, just because it will be a) sold out, and b) the teams play about 150 miles apart, meaning those people in the crowd will be wild. I honestly don't know much about either of these teams apart from this: TCU has been sniffing around the top 25 all season long. Also, TCU plays in a conference which is slightly stronger than Houston's. I'll take the Horned Frogs in this one.

I'll be back around later for some more bowl predictions. Can't wait until Thursday when the action all begins!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Let's Go Bowling!

As the first real snow of the season is hitting the area, I'm trapped inside with naught but a pot of coffee and a nice, warm fire. But I've still got my internet connection, and since I did such a good job predicting the Men's Basketball Tourney way back in March (at least for one weekend), I thought I'd try my hand at football's postseason. Since there are 32 games, it would be really silly of me to toss all of them into one entry. So I'll space them out nicely so you won't get bored out of your minds.

December 20
Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego, CA
US Naval Academy vs. University of Utah

This is a pretty simple one. Utah's signature win this season is over a terrible UCLA team. Granted, they won 42-0, but it's still not that impressive in the long run. Navy, on the other hand, has shown themselves to be full of that tough spirit that you might expect from a bunch of guys who are going to be defending military bases instead of end zones when they graduate. The running attack of Navy, mixed with the fact that it will amount to a Navy home game with all of the sailors stationed in San Diego, will give Navy the win.

December 21
New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans, LA
Florida Atlantic University vs. University of Memphis

These teams are matched fairly evenly, so picking a definite winner will be tough. If you look at the stats for these guys, the numbers are a lot closer than you might think. The New Orleans Bowl people managed to pick themselves out a heck of a matchup, and it should be quite the shootout. My pick? Florida Atlantic, because they have a little more momentum in this one, given the historic nature of their run this year.

December 22 Bowl, Birmingham, AL
University of Cincinnati vs. University of Southern Mississippi

A matchup of giant-killers -- Cincy has taken down so many great teams over the last couple of years, and Southern Miss put the beatdown on Nick Saban's Alabama squad this year. The key in this game will be the running game of Southern Miss. If they can put down some yards on the ground, this game will be close. Cincinnati has Southern Miss beat in pretty much every other offensive category. I'm going to go with the Big East team in this one -- Cincy has faced a lot more competition this year than Southern Miss has.

December 22
New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, NM
University of New Mexico vs. University of Nevada

This one seems pretty easy to me because it's a home game for New Mexico. They're 5-1 so far this year in University Stadium, and I fully expect them to go 6-1. In fact, I'm not even going to bother with the stats in this one because it just seems so painfully obvious to me.

December 22
Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, NV
Brigham Young University vs. University of California - Los Angeles

This is another really poor matchup. BYU is the 17th-ranked team in the nation, and UCLA just fired its under-achieving coach. UCLA was one of only three teams to put up a losing effort against Notre Dame, and they managed to do it in their home stadium. BYU, because they're in the Mountain West Conference, was not invited to a better bowl and had to settle for this horrible matchup. BYU will be marching victoriously down The Strip after this one.

Well, there you go. Five down, 27 to go. I'll come back tomorrow or something with the next batch of bowls.

Friday, December 14, 2007


So, tell me what's wrong with this picture...

That's right! Johnny High School is wearing what looks like an RFID ankle bracelet! Word on the street is that the Cincinnati Bengals are already talking to his parents and a family lawyer about contract terms...

Monday, December 3, 2007

A Long Weekend...

After something of a long week, thanks to the Sean Taylor situation, the weekend contained more ridiculous drama than should be allowed in a year.

We start with the simple (and happy...for me, at least). Indiana's basketball team did something that it just hasn't been able to do for several years: go on the road, against a ranked opponent, and win. No wonder it's cold outside, Hell must've frozen over. Since I'm feeling lazy right now, I'm not going to bother trying to find out the last time the Hoosiers beat a ranked opponent on the road, but I can tell you it's been a pretty long time. A little execution and a lot of defense made the difference for the Hoosiers, with the Salukis' game being symbolized by Randall Falker's airballed free throw in the first half. This was a great warmup for Big Ten road games and I have a lot more confidence in this team going into Big Ten play.

Also in the happy department, the Football Hoosiers have officially punched their tickets to Tempe, AZ, to play Oklahoma State in the Insight Bowl. Now, I really don't know much about Oklahoma State apart from this: they are 6-6, and 4-4 in the Big 12; they have Kellen Lewis' long-lost twin at quarterback, since this fellow has the same throw-and-run abilities as the Hoosier QB; their coach can become very angry when provoked sufficiently. I know I'll be in Tempe come December 31 and I'll be wearing my Cream and Crimson.

In more sour news, the Washington Redskins still stink more than a pound of limberger. I have a sinking feeling that the defining play of this season for the 'Skins will be Joe Gibbs calling an illegal second timeout in an attempt to ice Buffalo's kicker -- a decision which resulted in a fifteen yard penalty which moved the Bills from a 51-yard field goal to a 36-yarder. This will be the play that ends Joe Gibbs' head coaching career, which is something that I ultimately think will benefit the team. Joe Gibbs is more of a personnel guy and a businessman at this point, which makes him a perfect candidate for the general manager position -- a post Dan Snyder has refused to fill up until now. Gregg Williams, whose defense is so utterly brilliant even without Sean Taylor, has proven himself as a decent head coach when he had zero personnel in Buffalo. Al Saunders, who seems to have not gotten a decent chance to put his insane offense on the field because of Gibbs' intervention, needs to get full control of the offense so they can have a set system and a reduction of confusion.

In the more ridiculous, yet entirely obvious, the BCS is still the worst thing that ever happened to the world of collegiate sports. I pretty much entirely agree with the fact that LSU and Ohio State will be playing for the national championship, because those two teams play the best defense in the country. Everyone will say that Ohio State, who has not played in two weeks, doesn't deserve to be #1 because, well, they didn't play. Not playing turned out to be the reason Ohio State got in because you can't lose a game when you're not playing -- every other top-ranked team in the nation fell victim to the post-thanksgiving football game. My one surprise was that Virginia Tech, who came into the weekend ranked higher than LSU and also won their conference championship game, got shafted by the human polls and placed behind LSU.

Now, you may hear a noise coming from I-70 East between St. Louis and Indianapolis. That would be the sound of really, REALLY pissed-off Missouri fans marching on the NCAA headquarters with torches and pitchforks. How in the name of all that is good in this world did Mizzou get beat to the BCS bowls by Illinois and Kansas? Oh, by the way, Mizzou beat BOTH of these teams on neutral fields in very convincing fashion. Now, I can maybe understand Illinois, who have turned their football program around in huge fashion, getting put into the Rose Bowl because the folks in Pasadena absolutely love that annual Big Ten-Pac 10 matchup. But Kansas, who lost in Kansas City to Mizzou just a week ago and is ranked BELOW Mizzou in the final BCS poll, has absolutely no right to be in the Orange Bowl. Instead, while Mark Mangino eats every orange and grapefruit in the state of Florida (along with a few immigrant children or something), Missouri is sitting in Dallas saying, "What the hell?" The worst part of this whole deal for Mizzou is that the Big 12 has two teams in the BCS bowls and wont defend them in the same fashion as the SEC when Auburn was shafted out of the title game in 2004. The other worst part of this deal is that there aren't any computers to blame this time around -- the rankings got it right this time around. This is entirely the fault of the representatives from the Orange Bowl and the folks in the BCS offices who said, (Person A) "Well gee, Missouri lost this week and Kansas didn't." (Person B) "Wait, Kansas didn't play because they lost to Mizzou last week." (Person A) "You're fired."

That's my rant. Stay tuned for a preview of IU vs. Kentucky on the hardwood and the Insight Bowl. Later, folks.