December 31, 2006

Bowl Day - What used to be...

Ready to ring in games on New Years'! And, the 2nd, and 3rd, and 8th. Ugh.

While tomorrow will be a great day with six bowl games featuring conference champions from the Big XII and Pac-10. However, I harken back to the day of watching all the games on the 1st and crowning the national champion that night.

The noon-1:00 pm slot contained the Citrus, Cotton, and Gator Bowls. ABC would televise the Citrus Bowl, CBS the Cotton, and NBC would carry the Hall of Fame. Things got even better for those of us with cable when the Outback Bowl came along and added an eighth game for the day.

Next up at the 4-5 range was the Rose on ABC, and the Fiesta on NBC. If the national championship game was here, it did not move to another time, this was its slot and that was that. Notre Dame won their championship in the Fiesta Bowl in 1988 and we still had two bowls left.

The Sugar and Orange Bowls would wrap up your day. The Sugar on ABC, the Orange on NBC. (Hell, NBC used to be a player for all college football - not just Notre Dame and the Gator Bowl). One day, eight bowls and all was settled.

Now, we will still have two bowls PLUS the national championship game after a 5-day delay. Sometimes the newer things aren't better.

December 29, 2006

C-A-T-S, Cats! Cats! Cats!

Who knew that Rich Brooks had a brass pair calling for a fake punt followed immediately by a 70-yard bomb from Andre Woodson to Demoreo Ford. Kentucky controlled most of the game after that point, giving up worthless yardage and points down the stretch to wrap up a 28-20 win over Clemson in the Music City Bowl.

Normally a trip to the bowl in Nashville is not a desired event, but 35,000 Cat fans packed the stands and witnessed UK's first bowl win and 8-game winning season since 1984. Since WWII, Kentucky has only fielded eight teams that went on to win eight games in a season. The Wildcat fanbase has been a divided house since the hiring of Brooks, but after the old man's calls today, I think fans are completely on the same page.

This is a team that will enter 2007 on a high, returning 73 players out of a 79-scholarship roster, thanks to NCAA probation. The Cats have earned respect with this win over Clemson and finished 4-4 in the SEC in the process. Recruits have mentioned that UK had things going in the right direction, but until now, not all of us were convinced.

Today silenced this critic, for sure.

Photo Credit: University of Kentucky Sports Information

Thank God for the Pokes and Tide

What is going on in this bowl season with blowouts ruling the day? Some are understandable. Kansas State played one miracle game at home against Texas, otherwise the Wildcats were a fair to middlin' team. Rutgers was one overtime play away from the BCS. 37-10 Rutgers.

Texas A&M and California was expected to be a much different game. Cal has been living more on reputation than actual results. Losses to physical teams had become the norm with the Bears - losing to Tennessee, USC, and Arizona. Texas A&M is physical defined. What the Aggies lack is the Wrecking Crew of old. Speed killed in San Diego and now Cal gets nine months to focus on getting revenge, hosting Tennessee. 45-10 California.

Which brings us to the lone competitive bowl played to date amongst 12 games completed. Oklahoma State was the better team for most of the game, but handling prosperity is a problem for a lot of middle of the pack teams in conferences. Alabama scored on a punt return then immediately got a gift of a fumbled kickoff, cashing in for a 31-31 tie. The Cowboys went back down the field to kick the game winning field goal. We have our first nominee for a bowl game classic and it took a pair of 6-6 teams to make it happen. Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31.

What is going on?

Photo Credits: Star Ledger (Rutgers); Contra Costa Times (Cal); Oklahoman (OSU)

December 28, 2006

Momentum a sham

The End of the (Jeff) Bowden Era: Happy Days.

I didn't watch the whole game last night due to being out with friends and seeing We Are Marshall however, it was plenty enough of a shock to see the 44-27 final score. My viewing came catching glimpses of the game at a restaurant and seeing UCLA lead 10-7 after the first quarter.

I get home to find the old adage of taking a team because they have the "momentum" to be completely trashed. UCLA had defeated their crosstown rivals in a huge game, ending the Trojans national championship hopes. Florida State was last seen circling the toilet bowl at home to Florida.

The Seminoles were headed 2,600 miles west with turmoil in the coaching staff. UCLA appeared to heal wounds of the season and come to San Francisco as a cohesive unit looking to build upon the win and point toward a big 2007 splash.


Coming up today are three classic examples of "momentum" games. Kansas State already won their big home game with Texas but stumbled against Missouri the next week. They play a possible disappointed Rutgers team that went 10-2 and yet must play three days before New Years'. Meanwhile, Alabama is the definition of disappointment and they host an Oklahoma State team coming off a bounce-back season under second-year coach Cale Gundy. Lastly, Texas A&M also beat Texas in their last regular season game and will face a California team that also had higher hopes coming into the season than where they stand right now.

Sound familar?

December 27, 2006

Not convinced.

Heading into the latter, more meaningful half of the college basketball season, its time to take a peek at the RPI ratings on Teams will be entering conference play in the next week or so, from here on the RPI non-conference ratings are set. Some teams helped themselves whereas others have work to do. While its a good thing being ranked without beating anyone, the conference slate could toll bells for these paper tigers.

Connecticut. The Huskies lost everyone from last year's Elite Eight team and notably, Jim Calhoun scheduled his troops to play a ton of stiffs. UConn's schedule of strength is #311 in the country out of 336. To date they haven't played a single game away from Gampel Pavilion. However, to their credit, the Huskies will play at LSU, Indiana, and at Georgia Tech before the year is done, but for now, the Huskies do not deserve the #12 AP ranking they have received. Much more is to be learned about this team in the coming months.

Ohio State. The Bucks' wins have all come at home with the highest RPI ranked team being Loyola-Chicago at #42. They have only won one game away from home on a neutral court in Indianapolis against Cincinnati in crushing fashion. What is known about the Buckeyes is that they have two sterling losses at North Carolina and Florida. Those losses won't hurt them, but their #6 ranking is still based on projection rather than performance.

Alabama. Currently the Tide sit at #8 in the AP, owning wins over Iowa and Xavier on a neutral court in the Virgin Islands and having won at North Carolina State. Before trumpeting the horn for the Tide, it should be mentioned that those three teams have records of 7-6, 8-4, and 7-4 respectively. The only other appearance away from Tuscaloosa was a 14-point loss to Notre Dame in South Bend.

Texas A&M. The Aggies have losses at LSU and against UCLA in Anaheim, however their "best" win was a triumph at Auburn. Unlike Connecticut, the Aggies have no more games against any eyebrow-raisers to help them out. The Big 12 is down so they should be fine, but any unforseen stumbles could cause problems.

LSU. The Tigers will be pulling for the Aggies as they are their best win, having defeated A&M in Baton Rouge. LSU has lost to Wichita State at home, Texas in Houston, and to Washington on the road. The problem is that they have the before-mentioned Connecticut left on the non-conference slate. Will a win over the Huskies help?

Clemson & Oregon. The last of the undefeateds. Clemson's best mark is a road win over South Carolina. Oregon came across the country and beat Georgetown in D.C. Neither win completely punches their ticket, so both teams will need to prove themselves.

December 20, 2006

The Bowl Games I care about... Part I

TCU got things started with a 37-7 rout of Northern Illinois last night, but we all saw this one coming, right? TCU is a fairly respectable program that righted the ship after starting 3-2 for the year, ending up at 11-2. My perception of the program is that you can go and play at Texas or A&M after waiting two years behind other guys or you can play at TCU right away.

That aside, the bowl games for me truly do not start until the 27th. Why the 27th, is this an arbitrary date? No chance. Florida State will take on UCLA in the first bowl game that pits BCS school vs. BCS school. Call me crazy but if we're never going to put a undefeated, non-BCS team in the title game then why should I care about watching the lesser ilk of the non-BCS world?

The Noles-Bruins tilt kicks off a streak of 19 out of 24 bowls having BCS vs. BCS matchups. Alright, I am counting the Fiesta Bowl as Boise State and Oklahoma is interesting to me although Boise isn't a BCS school. However, its only the bowls that do feature the BCS pairings that hold my attention.

Here is yet another bowl rundown - The Pre-New Years' Bowls

Emerald Bowl: UCLA vs. Florida State
What is at stake here? UCLA is quickly becoming a media darling for 2007 after their win against USC. The Bruins can cap their season and begin to think big with a win. Florida State is here because this is where the conference sends its next to last team. Bowden still recruits well as evidence by their ranking on Rivals, however, the Seminoles are not the feared group that finished in the top five of football for 14 years running. Their 2007 slate is murder and a win would at least give hope heading towards next year.

Independence Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma State
Alabama needs to just get this game over with and find their coach for next year. Oklahoma State is an offensive dynamo with no defense. They are motivated to play here, the Alabama kids just want to stop answering questions about who is next to captain the ship. The surprising bit about this game is that Alabama throws the ball well despite all the notions that the Tide has no offense.

Texas Bowl: Rutgers vs. Kansas State
Greg Schiano isn't bolting to Miami after all, but the Scarlet Knights deserved better than a December 28th bowl in Houston. Kansas State got their signature win for Ron Prince against Texas. The sad part was to watch them promptly lose to Kansas the next week out, 39-20. RB Ray Rice of Rutgers and QB Josh Freeman of K-State are the players to watch.

Holiday Bowl: California vs. Texas A&M
At first glance the Bears should dominate this game because I would guess they won't repeat their 2004 failure against Texas Tech after missing out on the BCS that year. Cal is a great team when they can run the ball and not throw interceptions. In their three losses, the Bears rushed for 106 yards as their best effort and had a 3 TD/ 7 INT ratio. Texas A&M comes into this one off an extreme high, ala UCLA, after downing Texas in Austin, 12-7. The Aggies are a team without a trend for losing their three games. They've won with good and bad running and passing days. The Wrecking Crew has still not gotten back to the fearsome 90's - allowing seven games of 100 yards or more rushing. Both Oklahoma teams went for 220+. One thing is for certain, both teams want this game to build a strong start for 2007. This could be one of the best games and the Holiday Bowl is usually a setting for fantastic finishes.

Music City Bowl: Clemson vs. Kentucky
This is a head and heart game for me. My head says take Clemson, my heart goes with Kentucky. The Wildcats have three advantages in this game. First, they will have the crowd with over 40,000 Wildcat fans getting tickets. Second, they have survived 2006 with a favorable turnover margin (+9) that leads the SEC. Last, they see Nashville as a reward where as the Tigers do not. Clemson wins everything else on the field. They are bigger, stronger, and faster. The Tigers should roll over the bad Kentucky defense that allowed two 300-yard rushing days to Louisville and LSU. On the flip, UK can score. The Cats passed for 28 touchdowns and only LSU held the Cats QB Andre Woodson under a 100-rating. The Tigers only allowed six TD passes all year, but did give up seven 100-yard rushing games. The problem is that running the ball was a Kentucky weakness all year long.

Sun Bowl: Oregon State vs. Missouri
The Sun Bowl is much like the Holiday Bowl in that be prepared for close game. Last year was a shootout and this could be a repeat. Oregon State got their moment beating USC. Missouri is still searching for their moment. For appearance sake, both teams want to be here, however as of last week, Missouri had only sold 10,000 of their ticket allotment.

Insight Bowl: Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
Okay, this might be the least of my favorite BCS vs. BCS matchups in the 2006 bowl season. Minnesota rallied to get to 6-6 and save Glen Mason's job, again. Texas Tech has plateau'd under Mike Leach. In his eight years at Lubbock, Tech is 62-38, but has never won more than nine games. To his credit, the Raiders have never won fewer than seven, but I get the feeling that the fanbase is growing restless of third place behind Texas and Oklahoma. I could be wrong. All that aside, this is a classic battle of opposing styles. Minnesota will run the ball, Tech will fling it all over the field. Tech's puzzling moment came in a 30-6 loss at Colorado. Minnesota to its credit only lost to bowl teams and only beat a reeling Iowa squad at the end of the year. Rightfully so, this game is on NFL Network. I don't imagine too much protest about not seeing it as opposed to the New York fans wanting to see Rutgers on the Network's other broadcast.

Champs Sports Bowl: Purdue vs. Maryland
The Battle of the Once-Praised Coaches. Tiller at Purdue = the above discussion of Mike Leach. Tiller stands at 83-53 in his 11 years at Purdue, but outside of a watered down Big Ten Championship in 2000, the Boilermakers have been a solid, not spectacular club. Ralph Friedgen at Maryland started like a house on fire, posting 31 wins in his first three seasons before winning only 10 games over the last two. Both teams will say they are looking to build upon this win, but something tells me that the winner will only end up in the Part I review of Bowls I Care About for 2007 as well.

Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. Iowa
If Colt McCoy quarterbacks the Longhorns after a pinched nerve ended his day against Texas A&M, then Iowa could look more desperate than the Americans at the bowl's namesake. Iowa stinks, period. Kirk Ferentz' hopes of going pro ended after this year when the Hawks sputtered to a 2-6 Big Ten finish, 6-6 overall. Who knew that an overtime win over Syracuse would be indicative of the Iowa 2006 season? Barely surviving against comatose teams. If you can run the ball and have a quarterback that can at least pass for 150 yards, you can win this game. Texas on the other hand has NO motivation for this game. Back-to-back Rose Bowls and now you get to party down in San Antonio? Great. Still, the Longhorns are too talented to screw this up.

Chik-Fil-A Bowl: Georgia vs. Virginia Tech
Nothing like being able to drive to your bowl game. For Georgia this is their fifth game in Atlanta in four years. For Virginia Tech, they are the quietest 10-win team amongst the BCS teams. They beat a solid Wake team, but lost to Georgia Tech and Boston College. Georgia is looking to gain more experience for their quarterback situation. Matthew Stafford appears to be the winner, but Joe Cox is sticking around campus. Either way, Georgia is using this extra time to get that nailed down for 2007. Virginia Tech is anonymous. Seriously, name any player at a skill position, I dare ya! However, Beamer excels when his team is not known. Tech's motivation is simply to keep things rolling in Blacksburg. This game should be even, but really will feel like an exhibition game. Both programs have nothing to prove.

Tomorrow or thereabouts will be the run-down of the post New Year's Day Bowls...

December 05, 2006

The mess that is, but Michigan isn't special...

There really is nothing like watching your rivals melt the frick down. However, the sad part is that I could identify with them being a Notre Dame fan. I still wait for the year when Notre Dame gets #2 with a loss and the world will turn on its head.

But, you want to talk screw job? Auburn 2004 puts any one else's problems to bed. Auburn conquers what is annually the best conference in the nation and gets bupkus for it. You want to talk screwed? Even Miami of 2000 can't compare to their argument. They lost because of the pre-season polls. The funny thing is that everyone NOW wants to talk about Michigan being so much better, then why were they ranked below Florida to start the season? Was Florida to be screwed because their one loss came in an earlier scheduled game than Michigan? Pre-season polls are a culprit in this to be certain. They need to be dumped.

Before we get to poking fun let me say this, college football needs a playoff. There really is no reason why this cannot happen. Missed classes? Too much travel? Tradition? Puhleeze. As much as I will enjoy watching a traditional Rose Bowl this year, I am quite sure Michigan fans could do without the trip to Pasadena in favor of settling it on the field.

With the whining that is coming from the Wolverine fans, there are simply certain things that are absurd and beliefs that Michigan fans hold that I don't want to ever hear again. It's time to put all of it "on notice"...

1. Goal : Rose Bowl. One way to stoke your fire is simply to go out to Pasadena and beat USC, followed by Ohio State demolishing Florida. Make your points, campaign in vain to everyone. However, the built-in excuse is already forming. "We got screwed, how could we be motivated." The goal is the Rose Bowl each and every year so either its good enough to be in Pasadena or I never want to hear how special it is to make the trip out west.

2. "On a neutral field..." One of the common complaints is that Michigan, OMG, had to play Ohio State in Columbus!!! It's just not fair! Okay then, rip up the contract with Ohio State and play each year in a rotating site between say Cleveland and Detroit. Split the tickets 50/50 and that way, whenever each team has a year like your having, then they will have won/lost on a neutral field. Florida and Georgia do it, Auburn and Alabama did it, so there is precedence.

3. Reverse Argument.
4. Bo.
5. Big Ten Titles are Special.

- All three are linked. Conference titles should mean something so we're told. Oklahoma and Nebraska circumvented the system and Notre Dame sits as a threat to the system in that conference champions should only play for the title. I have a hard time believing that an one-loss UCLA team that just lost to USC at the Coliseum would get an argument over Michigan should the same scenario ever present itself. Bo would roll in his grave. A team that didn't win their all-important conference should get to play in the title game? No chance.

Simply put, any fan in their place would argue either way. If your Florida your going to argue conference titles, if your Michigan your going to argue the system.

6. Wisconsin = Awesome. In theory, all the conferences play each other except the Big Ten, or at least conference champions that is. The SEC would match up division champions if undefeated, the Big XII and the ACC as well for that matter. The Pac-10 all play each other as well as the Big East. Only in the Big Ten can you get a computer (they use them for something) to spit out a schedule where a team can win the conference by avoiding one of the two powers. 2005 Purdue could have run the table and won the conference without playing either team. Wisconsin only exists as a one-loss team because they didn't have to play Ohio State. What is Wisconsin's biggest win? Think about that and ponder at the same time the same Michigan fans who argue their win over Notre Dame and yet routinely give the Irish no credit for who they have beaten. Which is it? Are the Irish a credit to your win total because of our strength or have we not beaten anyone?

Lastly, Florida owns 8 wins over winning teams, whereas the Wolverines own 5. Florida's opponents also are five games better than UM. 89-56 for Florida, 84-61 for Michigan.

Look, all fun aside, we need a playoff to avoid all this mess. Even the computers (not polls) couldn't determine between Florida and Michigan, ending in a direct tie. Off the top of my head, I can't think of the last time that five teams could lay legitimate claim to the title. Lets turn the system into what its already designed to be by putting the top four teams (Ohio State, Florida, Michigan, LSU by rank, Louisville by opinion) seeded against each other and have the title a week later.

It would be a start.

December 03, 2006

My ballot...

No, I am not an official voter. This time I won't break it up - you get the straight poll. In parenthesees are the wins over BCS winners and their opponents combined record.

1. Ohio State (6) (73-71)
2. Florida (8) (89-56)
3. Michigan (5) (84-61)
4. Louisville (7) (77-67)
5. Wisconsin (3) (59-74)
6. Boise State (1) (64-70)
7. USC (8) (85-61)
8. LSU (5) (81-65)
9. Auburn (5) (78-68)
10. Oklahoma (5) (80-77)
11. Notre Dame (4) (77-67)
12. Virginia Tech (4) (72-62)
13. Wake Forest (4) (68-77)
14. West Virginia (4) (73-59)
15. Rutgers (3) (73-61)
16. BYU (0) (64-76)
17. TCU (1) (56-76)
18. Arkansas (4) (80-65)
19. Tennessee (5) (84-62)
20. California (6) (71-49)
21. Texas (4) (78-54)
22. Texas A&M (4) (71-61)
23. Boston College (4) (73-61)
24. Houston
25. Oregon State

-Alright, I didnt have time or the desire to look up Houston and Oregon State's statistics.

- There's only one issue here, and its my system and reasoning as to why I take Florida over Michigan. The Gators have beaten eight BCS winners vs. Michigan's five and the Florida opponent's record is five games better than Michigan's.

- With that said, the BCS games in my mind are set...

NC - Ohio State vs. Florida
Sugar - Notre Dame vs. LSU
Orange - Wake Forest vs. Louisville
Fiesta - Oklahoma vs. Boise State
Rose - USC vs. Michigan

Of course, this will all be revealed tonight at 8:00 p.m. on FOX.

However, AOL's Fanhouse is weighing in on the issue already and keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.

About Me

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Heavenly time period: College football season until the championship game of March Madness.