Monthly Archives: January 2007

The End

Well, the championship game was a disappointment. I lost $15 (I bet one more person than I remembered), and the game wasn’t even close. Ohio State’s 84 yards of total offense made overcoming Florida’s offensive onslaught an impossibility. The Gator defensive line dominated all night long, and Troy Smith never remembered how to throw on the run (I told you they should have given the Heisman to Vince Young). The first quarter loss of Ted Ginn, Jr. didn’t help the Buckeyes, either.

I can’t really say I enjoyed this season of college football as much as 2005. The “Bush Push” USC-Notre Dame game and the “Vince Young vs. USC” national championship will forever be etched in my memory. Still, there were some games I’ll remember in the years to come. To close out the season, here are my five most memorable matchups of the year:

5. Michigan State 41, Northwestern 38. This game was great for its historical significance rather than its importance to the course of the season. Michigan State overcame a record deficit of 35 points to beat the Wildcats, kicking the final field goal with 0:18 left on the game clock. The next weekend the Spartans were dominated by Indiana, but hey, at least they made history!

4. Texas 22, Nebraska 20. This game was played in snow. Sophomore walk-on Ryan Bailey kicked the game-winning field goal for the Longhorns with 0:23 on the clock after Nebraska foolishly fumbled away an upset. Vince Young was walking the sidelines. Those elements make for a pretty awesome game.

3. Auburn 27, Florida 17. A week after falling to Arkansas, the Tigers rebounded with a primetime thriller. Down 11-17 off of a safety and two field goals, Auburn’s defense lifted the team, which never scored an offensive touchdown, over the national-champions-to-be in the second half. Any game where ne’er-do-well Tre’ Smith flips into the end zone for a touchdown (congrats on the Pontiac Game Changing Performance, Tre’) is an instant classic. I still believe God was on our side that night.

2. Florida 17, South Carolina 16. South Carolina sent scares into a lot of SEC opponents this year, but none was as big as their near-upset in Gainesville. Spurrier’s Gamecocks were a field goal away from ruining the Gators’ title game hopes when Jarvis Moss blocked Ryan Succop, who has the funniest name of any kicker in the nation. The block wouldn’t be noteworthy were it not for Moss’ block of an extra point and another blocked field goal in the first half. Steve Spurrier probably threw a visor out of the stadium afterwards.

1. Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42. I missed all but the opening minutes of this one. From what I’ve heard, this one ranks up there with the wild finishes of history. With 1:02 left in the game, Oklahoma returned an interception to go up by a touchdown. With 0:07 left, Boise State scored on a hook-and-ladder play from 35 yards out. After a Sooner touchdown in overtime, Boise State scored and decided to go for two. They brilliantly executed the backyard football-esque Statue of Liberty play to win. To top it all off, Bronco tailback Ian Johnson proposed to his girlfriend on national television moments after scoring the winning conversion.

To all the people who read this column during the season, thank you. I appreciated all the comments, positive and negative, that many of you posted at the ends of my articles. Have fun waiting for August to arrive!

My Title Game Prediction

Ohio State wins. I have $10 riding on this prediction, so they’d better. I was so busy unpacking my room that I forgot to write a more in-depth analysis, and now I’ve run out of time. Sorry folks. I will write a year-ending article some time after the championship with my list of the season’s best games. Hopefully tonight’s will earn a spot.

Title Game Preview

Since I’ll be on the road most of Sunday and Monday headed to my new home in California, I’d figure I’d get this out of the way.

Like most people, I’m predicting Ohio State to win Monday night. Here’s why:
Living in the southeast, I’ve had several chances to watch Florida this year. They have never impressed me. They lack any dominant victories over important teams (and have, indeed, lost a game). It’s difficult to tell whether or not they actually belong in the national title game.
Ohio State, meanwhile, dominated nearly all of their opponents. The only doubt that enters my mind now is that Michigan, which pretty much did the same, just simply got spanked by USC in the Rose Bowl. I don’t think UMich could’ve been anymore down than USC was about getting in the national title game – after all, had USC beaten a very mediocre UCLA they would’ve gone.

Nevertheless, there has been no better team in the country this year than OSU. I don’t think anyone in this country could run with them, of course, I’ve been wrong before. While I ultimately don’t have a rooting interest in this game, I’ll probably be hoping that UF can keep it close just to make it worth watching. Realistically, I like for OSU to win by at least two touchdowns. (I am going to regret typing that.)

The Bowls, 1/1-1/7

Why do I always wait until thirty minutes before a bowl stretch starts to write an article? Well, here’s my analysis up to the national championship game…

Tennessee vs. Penn State, Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, 11 AM ET, ESPN): Tennessee was a few plays away from beating Florida and LSU, the two SEC teams in the BCS. They were also a few plays away from losing to Air Force, Alabama, and Kentucky. Penn State’s four losses were to the top three teams in the Big Ten and Notre Dame. I think Tennessee pulls it off, but it is going to be a good game.

Auburn vs. Nebraska, AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1, 11:30 AM, FOX): Auburn’s two losses this season came during games that started before noon. They also came against teams that were coming off big losses, and Nebraska was handled in the Big 12 Championship game. Brad Lester, a Tiger tailback, will not play due to suspension, along with some key defensive backs. Tommy Tuberville has done a poor job of motivating his team for the post-season recently. Sad as it is, I think Nebraska’s going to win this one.

West Virginia vs. Georgia Tech, Toyota Gator Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM, CBS): Even if Georgia Tech figures out a way to contain Slaton and White, the Yellow Jackets won’t be able to outscore the Mountaineers.

Arkansas vs. Wisconsin, Capitol One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM, ABC): I’m pretty interested in this one. Both offenses have been run powerhouses of late, so this should be a ground-pounding struggle. Wisconsin is still unproven, having only played one ranked team (Michigan). Arkansas, on the other hand, was a quarterback away from a shot at the national championship. Arkansas will win, but I’m not sure what the margin will be.

USC vs. Michigan, The Rose Bowl presented by Citi (Jan. 1, 5 PM, ABC): Lloyd Carr is about to go all out on USC for being swindled out of a rematch with Ohio State by the voters at large. I can’t wait to see Pete Carroll’s face as the two coaches shake hands at the end of the game. It should be priceless.

Boise State vs. Oklahoma, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1, 8 PM, FOX): This is a BCS matchup? (Oklahoma wins close.)

Louisville vs. Wake Forest, FedEx Orange Bowl (Jan. 2, 8 PM, FOX): This is a BCS matchup? (Louisville wins big.)

Notre Dame vs. LSU, Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 3, 8 PM, FOX): There are quite a few teams that deserve this BCS spot more than Notre Dame, but I guess we’ll have to live with their favored position in the media’s eyes. LSU is supposedly the most talented team in the SEC, despite being destroyed by Florida and held to three points by Auburn. JaMarcus Russell has been a beast, and it will be fun to see him dominate the Fighting Irish as a farewell address.

Cincinnati vs. Western Michigan, International Bowl (Jan. 6, 12 PM, ESPN2): Throwing this game and the next between the Sugar Bowl and championship game is offensive. Also, this game is going to be played in Canada, so doubly offensive.

Ohio vs. Southern Mississippi, GMAC Bowl (Jan. 7, 8 PM, ESPN): I’ll probably leave this on the TV while I unpack for the first day of classes on the 8th. Seriously, how far into January is the bowl season going to stretch?

Ohio State vs. Florida, BCS Championship Game (Jan. 8, 8 PM, FOX): More on this later on in the week. I just thought an extra reminder of the date, time, and channel couldn’t hurt anyone.

Sorry folks, no picture on this one. I have just ten minutes to get ready for a day of football viewing.

Bowls, Jan. 1-7

Here we go kids. Are you ready for this? All times central.

  • Outback Bowl, Penn State vs. Tennessee (10:00am, ESPN): I hesitate to call this heavy-weight. Neither team is really in the top tier of their conference this year, but I see UTenn as a more solid team that should pull out a victory.
  • Cotton Bowl, Nebraska vs. Auburn (10:30am, FOX): Name programs, to the rescue! The Big 12 North still sucks, though, and if Auburn’s offense shows up to this game they should prevail.
  • Capital One Bowl, Arkansas vs. Wisconsin (Noon, ABC): Don’t look, but Wisconsin’s only loss all year was to Michigan. The only reason they’re not in a BCS bowl is because OSU and UMich are. While I like the SEC in the Outback Bowl, I have go with the Big Ten this time around.
  • Gator Bowl, Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia (Noon, CBS): I honestly can’t believe we’re playing in a New Year’s Day Bowl. This hasn’t happened since I’ve been there, and indeed, not since the last time Tech was a Gator Bowl (I’d guess, too tired to look it up).
    Obviously, WVU worries me. And Tech has had a lot going on behind the scenes. Of course, you’d think Tech would be at a disadvantage without their starting quarterback, but our starting QB has, for lack of a better word, sucked in his last two and now he can’t play. Taylor Bennett, you best be stepping up.
    WVU’s backfield worries me. There’s a ton of speed back there, and I watched those guys run all over Maryland. Tech’s defense blitzes hard and often, and the question is whether or not we can stay with the ball no matter where it goes. The soft spot of our defense – the secondary – is not as big of a concern here because WVU does not pass very well. (A sort of Arkansas of the Big East, perhaps?) Corners and safeties blitz a lot in our defense, and I expect to see 8 guys in the box a lot.
    On offense, Tech need to use the best damn WR in the country to exploit WVU’s dreadful secondary. Expect, however, to see a healthy dose of #22 from the backfield. That’s not really a bad thing, though.
    Overall, this game will be very tough for the Jackets. I’m not one, however, to predict my team to lose. Bowl games present a quandry – unless you’re playing in Glendale for the crystal football, none of these games really matter. But the intangible factors do matter. Everyone at Tech remembers the bad taste of the Emerald Bowl last year and absolutely rotten offense in the past two games. WVU can score in bunches, the question is, will Tech’s offense show up? We need at least two touchdowns, something we only accomplished once in our last four games, and that was against Duke. The Jackets really need this to show that this season wasn’t a fluke.
  • The Rose Bowl Game, Michigan vs. Southern Cal (4:00, ABC): Man, this is weird. This is ABC’s 2nd and last bowl broadcast – the rest of the BCS games are on FOX. As much as I hate Musburuger, I dislike FOX announcers on the whole and I’m not that optimistic. Anyway, I always like watching the Rose Bowl, but we have two very disappointed teams here. I fell Michigan is the better team here, and should win as long as they are not overcome by bitterness.
  • Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma vs. Boise State (7:30, FOX): I like rooting for the little guy as much as anyone else, and will probably take a rooting interesting the boys from the blue turf. But, seriously, I don’t see how they can beat Oklahoma. This is BSU teams is not nearly as good as that Utah team that last busted the BCS. Look for scoring, but look for OU to win by at least two scores.
  • Orange Bowl, Wake Forest vs. Louisville (Jan. 2, 7:00, FOX): So, uh, Wake is a pretty decent team. They execute well and take their time on offense. Louisville does the same thing, except they can throw the ball and put up some points in a hurry. I like rooting for the ACC and teams like Wake, but I don’t know how they can prevail over Louisville. They will really need to take the Cardinals out of there game to do so…
  • Sugar Bowl, LSU vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 3, 7:00, FOX): Notre Dame is here for one reason – to sell more tickets. I’m not sure they need the help, though – LSU should have well more than a simple majority of the fans. ND has failed to beat any major oppenent they’ve played this year. Their best win remains – you guessed it – the opening weekend victory against Georgia Tech. Look for LSU to win a rout.
  • International Bowl, Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati (Jan. 6, 11:00am, ESPN2): This is sort of anticlimactic, you might say. I say it helps re-whet your appetite for college football leading up to the title game. The scheduling quirk is probably a result of the 31st being a Sunday, which means NFL games rule the roost. And I like Cincy here.
  • GMAC Bowl, Ohio vs. Southern Miss (Jan. 7, 7:00, ESPN): C-USA isn’t exactly a power conference, but Mobile is 100 miles from Hattiesburg so this should pretty much be a home game for USM. I like them to win.

I’ll do a separate preview for the title game. For the time being, though, can we scratch “it’d take too long” off the list of reasons not to have a playoff since the bowls now go into the second week of January. Just sayin’.