Thursday, January 07, 2010

Bowl Games 2009: The Last One

Here it is, folks, the last game of college football until September. As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday, January 7
8:00: Alabama vs. Texas (BCS Championship Game @ Pasadena, CA; ABC): As much as I would love to pick Texas here, it's very difficult to actually do so. Let me rehash the things you've read everywhere else: Texas's offense struggled against the only two teams they played that had good defenses (Oklahoma and especially Nebraska), no one besides McCoy can run the ball effectively, and while Texas sports a competent defense themselves, so did Florida and yet they couldn't keep Alabama out of the end zone well enough for the tight contest this probably will be.
However, something I've seen a lot of so far this bowl season is rust, that is, teams coming out flat, offenses struggling early in games, etc. (And if you think it's bad now, next year's title game will be on the 10th. Ugh.) This could work in either or neither team's favor, but if the stars align and Alabama's defense comes out slow and lets Texas put a couple of quick scores up that will change the entire complexion of this game. I don't rate the chances of that happening very high, but I think that's what the Longhorns have to hope for.

Previous meetings: These two teams have met before, but despite their historical dominance Alabama is actually winless in this series (0-7-1, to be exact). They haven't faced off since the 1981/82 Cotton Bowl.
Last bowl game: Alabama, quite satisfyingly, lost last year's Sugar Bowl to Utah, 31-17, while Texas won their BCS game (the Fiesta) 24-21, over Ohio State.

To wrap up my bowl prognostications, I'm 16 of 33 (or about 48.5%). By my standards, that's pretty bad. While it's not quite the debacle of 2005, I still prefer to be at least in the upper 50's. I also ran an ESPN Bowl Mania group among my friends this year. I came in 6th, which was good for dead last. I currently have 250 points and will finish last regardless of tonight's result. So props to my friend Will (whose particular brand of insight has appeared here before) for running away with the asimsports Bowl Mania Group crown, with a straight-up record of 22-11 and 388 points heading into tonight.

Anyway, I hope you've enjoyed my brand of "analysis" here on asimsports this college football season. While I'll certainly try to talk about baseball more this year, it's a long season and yet it doesn't lend itself to weekly updates. 

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bowl Games 2009: Almost There!

Well, I'm going to get all the way up to the title game with this post. Because you just can't get enough for my devastatingly wrong insight, no?

Also, if this doesn't get you ready for the last vestiges of 2000-2009 football, then I don't know what will.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong:

Saturday, January 2
12:00: Northern Illinois vs. South Florida (International Bowl @ Toronto, Canada; ESPN2): Unfortunately, ESPN decided not to bring back last year's all-Canadian announcing team, which I personally found to be the most interesting thing about the game. At any rate, USF should be able to take care of NIU.
Previous meetings: I'm not entirely sure why, but these two teams have met before. NIU won the first meeting 20-17 but lost the second, 37-6 back in 2001 and 2002, respectively.
Last bowl game: NIU lost to somewhat hometown favorite Louisiana Tech 17-10 in last year's Independence Bowl, while USF beat Memphis 41-14 in the St. Petersberg Bowl.

  • Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi (Cotton Bowl @ Arlington, TX; FOX): Well, it's the first Cotton Bowl that's not at the Cotton Bowl - this year's edition is at Jerry Jones's Intergalactic Space Palace. Ah well. At any rate, I have Oklahoma State by 10 but right now I'm not feeling terribly good about it. Both these teams are coming off disappointing seasons - OSU had aspirations at the Big 12 South and lost to Texas and, even worse, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Ole Miss started the season with a top ten ranking generated almost entirely off their success in this game last year. I'll stick with OSU, but it'll be interesting to see how this turns out.
    Previous meeting: The only other meeting between these two was the 2003/2004 Cotton Bowl, which Ole Miss won 31-28.
    Last bowl game
    : Oklahoma State is making its fourth straight bowl appearance. Last year they lost to Oregon in the Holiday Bowl 42-31. Ole Miss, meanwhile, broke their long bowl drought and generated more hype than ever thought possible in last year's Cotton Bowl, where they upset Texas Tech 47-34.
  • Connecticut vs. South Carolina ( Bowl @ Birmingham, AL; ESPN): As you probably know by now, UConn's been through a very up-and-down season and basically needed an upset of Notre Dame a few weeks ago to stay in the running to make a bowl game. South Carolina, well, had a very South Carolina kind of season - good but not great, and their fans love them anyway. I like the Visor Boys in this one.
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
    Last bowl game: UConn is working on a nice little streak, though their most recent bowl game was the 38-20 win over Buffalo in the International Bowl. The Fightin' Visors got destroyed by Iowa in the Outback Bowl 31-10.
5:30: East Carolina vs. Arkansas (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Yarr! Provided Arkansas shows up, I don't think they'll have a lot of problems with ECU, though it certainly wouldn't be the first time Pickney and Co. have pulled off a big upset.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: ECU lost last year's Liberty Bowl 25-19 to Kentucky. Arkansas missed a bowl last year and lost the 2007/2008 Cotton Bowl 38-7 to Missouri.

9:00: Texas Tech vs. Michigan State (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): I don't even know what to do with this bowl anymore. A few weeks ago, this looked easy. Michigan State suspended ten players and Texas Tech should be eager to make up for a lackluster season, right? Wrong. Texas Tech managed to fire their most successful coach ever and should lead to the most interesting off-season coaching drama we've had since Las Cronicas Locas de Boss Hawg back in 2007. Texas Tech still has all their players, which should make them an on-paper favorite, but hell if I know what's going to happen in this one.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Michigan State disappointingly lost to Georgia in last year's Capital One Bowl, 24-12, while (as explained above) TTU lost the Cotton Bowl to Mississippi, 47-34.

Monday, January 4
8:00: Boise State vs. Texas Christian (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; FOX): I can't help but cynically refer to this as the "Separate but Equal Bowl" because I honestly do not think anyone at the Fiesta Bowl was thinking "Gee, I would really like to use my position after the Sugar to select a mid-major team! Screw Penn State and/or Iowa!" At any rate, like I think most people I believe TCU is the technically superior team, having faced better competition than Boise and displaying an ability to defense against some at least somewhat legitimate offenses (note the plural: the only legitimate team Boise played was Oregon). So I'll stick to my guns here.
Previous meetings: Both previous appearance were in bowl games. TCU lost the first meeting in the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl, while they did win last year's Poinsettia Bowl.
Last bowl game: The Poinsettia, as hinted at above. Boise has made a bowl every year since 2002, and if there were more games then they would've gone to one in 2001 (as they went 8-4), extending their streak back to the 1999 season. TCU has a similar streak, though in their missing year they wouldn't have been eligible anyway, as they went 5-6.

Tuesday, January 5
8:00: Georgia Tech vs. Iowa (Orange Bowl @ Miami, FL; FOX): I would rail against the stupidity of scheduling bowl games after everyone has to go back to work here, but I think those arguments are very well worn at this point. At any rate, here's what we know: 1) Iowa has a very good defense 2) GT has a very good offense. We also know very little about Iowa's offense and GT's defense other than that they're not very good.
So what to expect  from this game? I have no idea. On the line for Tech is a bowl losing streak that dates to 2005 (no bowl wins since the blowout over Syracuse in 2004), and the potential for the ACC to go 4-3 overall in bowl games this year. If I have time before Tuesday (which I very much doubt), I may write more on this game.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Huh, I guess GT has the same problem LSU's page did. I don't seem to recall this game at all. Anyway, Iowa blew out South Carolina in last year's Outback Bowl, 31-10.

Wednesday, January 6
7:00: Central Michigan vs. Troy (GMAC Bowl @ Mobile, AL; ESPN): Central Michigan will likely come in with a chance to score the MAC's first bowl win (unless NIU pulls off the upset), powered by Dan "Rust Belt Tebow" LeFevour. Troy, meanwhile, will pack the house at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in what should be a better game than most would expect. However, I still like CMU more overall.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Troy lost to Southern Miss 30-27 in last year's New Orleans Bowl, which was their 3rd bowl game ever in their DI-A existence. Central Michigan lost last year's Motor City Bowl 24-21 to Florida Atlanta.

And with that, I'll be back next week with a preview of the National Title Game. Until then!

    Friday, January 01, 2010

    Bowl Games 2009: 2010

    Happy New Year! As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

    Friday, January 1
    11:00: Northwestern vs. Auburn (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN): Well, I would ordinarily say I'm surprised by this matchup - I didn't think NU had much of a chance of going to a New Year's Day bowl, and like everyone else I was surprised when Auburn got picked to go to this game. Auburn will probably take advantage of Northwestern's QB Kafka's general ennui to pull ahead and win this game.
    Previous meetings: I'm not entirely surprised, but it's still a little weird that these teams have never met, despite playing football since 1892 and 1902, respectively.
    Last bowl game: Northwestern lost to Mizzou 30-23 in last year's Alamo Bowl. Auburn was last seen in the Chick-fil-a Bowl in 2007, where they beat the Orange and Purple Tigers 23-20.

    • Florida State vs. West Virginia (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; CBS): FSU may come out and punch WVU in the mouth, but after that I just don't think this version of FSU has the defense to be able to keep up with West Virginia's offense. Could be high scoring, though.
      Previous meetings: The 1981/82 and 2004/2005 Gator Bowls, both of which FSU won.
      Last bowl game: FSU decisively won last year's Champs Sports Bowl over Wisconsin, 42-13, and some of you may recall Pat White rallying WVU to last year's 31-30 win over UNC in the Car Care Bowl.
    • Louisiana State vs. Pennsylvania State (Capital One Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): I just checked, and apparently I did pick LSU for this game, and I have to say three glasses of champagne are making me question why. I'm guessing LSU's general incompetence at managing a football game will be counter-balanced by the fact that Penn State lost to the only two good teams they played all year and have been massively overrated since.
      Previous meeting: The only other meeting between these two was the 1974 Orange Bowl, which Penn State won 16-9.
      Last bowl game: It says here LSU won last year's Chick-fil-a Bowl 38-3 over Georgia Tech, which is funny because I can't seem to remember that at all. I guess the site's just wrong. Anyway, Penn State lost last year's Rose Bowl 38-24 to USC.
    5:00: Ohio State vs. Oregon (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ABC): Ohio State has managed to perform better since being upset by Purdue, but I still think this offense isn't really where it should be. Oregon, meanwhile, is firing on all cylinders and I frankly don't think they will have many problems scoring on Ohio State here.
    Previous meetings: These two teams' first meeting was actually the 1957/58 Rose Bowl, which Ohio State won. In fact, Ohio State has won all of the games in this series, the last contest being a regular season matchup in 1987. Overall, OSU is 7-0.
    Last bowl game: Ohio State lost to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl last year, 24-21. (As you probably know by now, even with OSU's general run of success as of late, they haven't made it to Pasadena since 1996/1997.) Oregon beat Oklahoma State in last year's Holiday Bowl 42-31.

    8:00: Florida vs. Cincinnati (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; FOX): I still expect this game to be reasonably close, though when I originally did my predictions I think Brian Kelly was still at Cincy and UF had no particular reason to rally around their coach after what could only be called a disappointing season for the Gators. Circumstances have changed, and I think Florida will still win, but probably by more than three.
    Previous meeting: The only previous meeting was a 48-17 Florida win back in 1984.
    Last bowl game: Florida won last year's BCS Title Game over Oklahoma 24-14. Cincinnati lost to VPI in the Orange Bowl 20-7.

    Corrections Dept.: Apologies to the Air Force defense, which apparently had the best pass defense in the country and showed it off in their win over Missou.