Monthly Archives: January 2012

Bowl Games 2011: Epilogue

Wherein this post has had more advance planning than LSU’s offense apparently did last night.

The final tally is up over in the usual place. This year I managed to predict 24 games correctly. I honestly didn’t think I was doing that well until I looked back over the index. I’ve been doing this since the 1999 season, and this is the best I’ve ever done by a pretty decent margin. With 24 games correct and 11 wrong, I had a winning percentage of 68.57%. The last time I broke 60% was in 2006, and before this year my previous best percentage was in 2004, with 64.29%.

So, yeah, go me! Too bad I didn’t allocate my confidence points correctly on ESPN, but alas.

As we prepare to enter what will for sure be another turbulent offseason, I have to say this has been one of the strangest seasons I can remember. Unfortunately, this isn’t due to anything that happened on the field (2007 still holds that title), but more because it felt like each scandal that broke this year was trying to top the next. First Ohio State surprised us, then Miami shocked us (well, that was more the extent; I doubt anyone was surprised that there was a scandal at Miami), but then Penn State did both and then some.

As per usual, this site will be more dormant over the next eight months, with occasional posts on soccer and baseball. But at some point the dust from various lawsuits will settle and everyone’s out-of-conference schedules will be known. Then I will rank them and tell you about them, and then try to get a post up once a week detailing that weekend’s games.

So, until then.

Quick addendum: apparently this is my 400th post on this website. Thanks for reading!

Bowl Games 2011: The Last One

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, January 9
9:00: Louisiana State vs. Alabama (BCS Championship Game @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Let’s get this out of the way: this isn’t going to be 9-6 again. I didn’t say it was going to be high scoring, mind you, just that someone is probably going to score a touchdown this time around. (Not necessarily an offensive touchdown, though.) Both of these teams are really, really good. But I can’t really pick Alabama. For starters, LSU already been them in Tuscaloosa. Secondly, that game came down to special teams, and I think we’ll see a repeat of that here, and that really is the Crimson Tide’s Achilles’ Heel.
Previous meetings: Depending on the site you look at, Alabama either leads the series 45-24-5 or 45-23-5, depending the status of either team in 1895. And of course, neither counts the game they already played this year, so really it’s either 45-25-5 or 45-24-5. Anyway, both teams have been playing each other for a long time, though before the standardization of conference scheduling they tended to play off-and-on in blocks, meaning they have only been meeting consecutively since 1964. Alabama was the dominate team in the series before 2000, though, going 42-15-5. LSU is 9-3 since then, though, reflecting the reversal in fortunate for both teams over the past 11 years, including 5 straight LSU wins during the Bama Dark Ages of 2003-2007 (also conveniently bookending seasons in which LSU won national titles). Nick Saban went 4-1 against Alabama during his tenure at LSU, with the only loss coming in 2002.
Last bowl game: LSU is in their 12th straight bowl game. The first game in the streak was a 28-14 win over Georgia Tech in the 2000 Peach Bowl. Last season, they beat Texas A&M 41-24 in the Cotton Bowl. Alabama is appearing in their eighth straight bowl game, the first of which was a 20-16 loss to Minnesota in the 2004 Music City Bowl.
Fun facts: The University of Alabama SGA (Student Government Association) is known as “The Machine” due to its propensity for cranking out Alabama politicians.

Bowl Games 2011: Part 5

As the “New Year’s Day” games wrap up, here’s a preview of the other five games before the last one next week.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday, January 3
8:00: Michigan vs. Virginia Tech (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Why is VPI in this game? I’m nominally an ACC partisan and even I’m not sure. At any rate, VPI had no answer for Tajh Boyd, and if they couldn’t contain him, it’s extremely difficult to see how they’ll stop Denard Robinson. That’s not to say this’ll be a blowout like those two Clemson games, but I just think this’ll be a more low scoring contest and that Michigan will make enough plays to win.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: This will be VPI’s 19th consecutive bowl game, good for the 3rd longest streak in the country. The streak began in 1993 with a 45-20 win over Indiana in the Independence Bowl. Last year, they got destroyed by Stanford in the Orange Bowl, 40-12. This is Michigan’s second straight bowl appearance. Last year, they lost to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl, 52-14.
Fun facts: I call it “VPI” because the full name of the university is actually “Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University” and that’s what old-time residents of the Commonwealth (like my late grandfather) called it. It also provides me a way to be absolutely clear to what “Tech” in the ACC I refer to on this website, which is to say, the one in Georgia. It’s also an important reminder why the answer to the trivia question “how many schools in Division I-A football do not have ‘university’ in their name” is five: the three service academics, Boston College, and Georgia Tech.

Wednesday, January 4
8:00: Clemson vs. West Virginia (Orange Bowl @ Miami Gardens, FL; ESPN): The winner of this game depends entirely on which Clemson team shows up. Are going to get the offensive juggernaut that went 8-0 and then demolished Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game? Ore the one that went 1-3 with losses to Georgia Tech and NC State, got blown out by their in-state rival, and needed a last-second field goal to beat Wake Forest? I’m going to go with the Tigers, but very, very cautiously.
Previous meetings: Only one, back in the 1988-89 Gator Bowl. Clemson won 27-7.
Last bowl game: This is Clemson’s seventh straight bowl game. They lost in last year’s Car Care Bowl (now the Belk Bowl) 31-26 to South Florida. WVU is making its 10th straight bowl appearance. The streak started back in 2002 with a loss in what was then the Tire Bowl (then the Car Care Bowl and now the Belk Bowl) to Virginia, 48-22. Last year they lost to NC State in the Champs Sports Bowl 23-7.
Fun facts: Somewhat famously, West Virginia’s campus features a personal rapid transit system. It’s basically a mini-elevated rail system used to move students around the campus, which is separated into three distinct parts that, due to history and geography, are about two miles apart. In total, the line contains five stations and covers 8.65 miles.

Friday, January 6
8:00: Kansas State vs. Arkansas (Cotton Bowl @ Arlington, TX; FOX): K-State is 10-2, but those two losses came to a couple of the best passing attacks in the country. Arkansas is also in that category. However, Arkansas has trouble against the run, and that’s what these Wildcats do best. I think both of these teams will get their points, but that the Razorbacks will come out ahead in the end.
Previous meetings: Four. Back in 1910, the Wildcats won 5-0, which they followed up with a 3-0 win in 1911. They also beat Arkansas 16-7 in 1926. The last meeting was in 1967, when the Razorbacks got on the board with a 28-7 win.
Last bowl game: This is K-State’s second straight bowl game. Last year, they lost to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl, 36-34. This is Arkansas’s third straight postseason appearance. They lost to Ohio State in last year’s Sugar Bowl, 31-26.
Fun facts: Here’s how you get a stadium named after you. By 1989, Kansas State had the losingest football program in history at 299-509-41 (or thereabouts, it sort of depends on who you ask). Bill Synder has changed all that, though. In his original tenure, from 1989-2005, the Wildcats amassed a 135-58-1 record good for the 10th-winningest team in that period. Of course, the subsequent Ron Prince era was a little rocky, which is how you get invited back to coach once again.

Saturday, January 7
1:00: Southern Methodist vs. Pittsburgh (BBVA Compass Bowl @ Birmingham, AL; ESPN): Both of these schools have been in the headlines so far this offseason, though mostly for the dalliances of their coaches. Todd Grahm left for his “dream job” at Arizona State, leaving behind a locker room of pissed off players. June Jones, meanwhile, was moments away from that same job, but had his offer withdrawn at the last minute. So which is worse: abandoning your team without warning, or attempting to abandon your team without warning and then having it backfire on you at the last moment, forcing you to go back to Dallas and say “no, see, I almost got that other job but I really want to be here!” I guess we’re about to find out, because on paper I’m giving SMU the edge.
Previous meetings: Five, but only one back in SMU’s glory days in the 80’s. SMU won the first game in 1938, and lost 34-7. Two years later the teams were locked in a 7-7 tie, and then in 1942 Pitt won 20-7. SMU then won 33-14 in 1948. They finally met again in the 1982-83 Cotton Bowl, when SMU managed a 7-3 victory.
Last bowl game: SMU is making its third straight bowl appearance. Last year they went to the nearby Armed Forces Bowl, where they lost to Army 16-14. Pitt is making its fourth straight bowl game and second straight appearance in this very bowl. Last year they beat Kentucky, 27-10.
Fun facts: Pitt is famous for its Cathedral of Learning, which is the second tallest educational building in the world. It’s 535 feet tall and has 42 stories, and contains many of the school’s classrooms and meeting rooms.

Sunday, January 8
9:00: Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois ( Bowl @ Mobile, AL; ESPN): This is almost required viewing, just for the offensive fireworks alone. (Don’t let Arkansas State’s 20th ranked defense fool you.) I’d say something along the lines of “well, NIU’s rushing attack should let them use up the clock” except that they won a game 63-60 earlier this year without the aid of any overtime periods. I think in the end the Huskies’ offense will just be too potent.
Previous meetings: As ASU began their transition back to Division I-A, the two teams met 7 straight times starting in 1990. Based on that, it’s not too surprising the Huskies won the first 5 games and usually by pretty comfortable margins. The Red Wolves broke through win their only win in the series in 1995, 28-21 victory, and then went right back to losing with a 31-30 loss in 1996, the two teams’ last meeting.
Last bowl game: Arkansas State is making its first bowl appearance since the 2005 New Orleans Bowl, where lost to Southern Miss, 31-19. That game was also their first ever bowl game. The Huskies, meanwhile, are making their fourth straight bowl game. Last year they destroyed Fresno State in the then-Humanitarian Bowl (now the Potato Bowl), 40-17.
Fun facts: is a domain registrar. I would highly recommend against utilizing their services.

Bowl Games 2011: Part 4

Happy New Year!

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, January 2
12:00: Houston vs. Pennsylvania State (TicketCity Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPNU): I think it’s pretty safe to say that Penn State is the best team Houston has played all year. The Nittany Lions also sport the nation’s 5th ranked pass defense against the country’s top passing offense. So this is a pretty classic battle of “unstoppable force meets immovable object”. Then again, Penn State’s offense is just not in any realm that we could really consider “good”, so even if the defense does generate a few stops (and while they’re good, it’s unlikely they’ll completely shut the Cougars down) I don’t think their offense will be able mount a convincing enough response.
Previous meetings: Two, in 1964 and 1977. Penn State won both games by scores of 24-7 and 31-14.
Last bowl game: The Cougars didn’t go to a bowl game last season, so their last post-season appearance was the 2009 Armed Forces Bowl, where they lost to Air Force 47-20. Penn State is headed to their 7th straight bowl game. Last year they played in the Outback Bowl and lost to Florida 37-24.
Fun facts: Houston began life as a junior college component of Houston’s school system in the 1930’s. It became independent by 1945, though, and in 1953 became the first university to have its own TV station, KUHT. Also, I like calling the game the “Zombie Cotton Bowl” due to the location of the game.


  • Michigan State vs. Georgia (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ABC): How does Michigan State rank 39th in scoring offense but 60th in yards? Well, having good special teams helps, and that just happens to be Sparty’s only really clear advantage over the Bulldogs. Both of these teams sport top-5 defenses and are just good enough to get by on offense, generally. I’m going with Sparty by just a hair.
    Previous meetings
    : Two, both in New Year’s Day Bowl games in 1989 and 2009. UGA won both meetings. The first was the Gator Bowl, which they won 34-27 and the second was the Capital One Bowl, which they won 24-12.
    Last bowl game:
    The Spartans are still trying to forget their last bowl outing: a 49-7 shallacking from Alabama in last season’s Capital One Bowl. They are appearing in their fifth straight bowl game. UGA is making their 15th straight bowl appearance. Appropriately enough, their streak began with the 1997 edition of the Outback Bowl, where they beat Wisconsin 33-6. Last year they appeared in the Liberty Bowl, where they lost to Central Florida 10-6.
    Fun facts:
    East Lansing is, of course, a college town east of its namesake, Lansing. But, did you know that Lansing is the only US state capitol that is not also its county seat? Now you do.
  • South Carolina vs. Nebraska (Capital One Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): I wish I could say something more insightful other than “it’s hard to see how South Carolina is going to score enough points to win this game” but that’s pretty much all I have for this one.
    Previous meetings
    : Three times, and unsurprisingly, the Huskers are 3-0 against the Gamecocks. In 1964 they won 28-6, in 1986 they won 27-24, and in 1987 they won 30-21.
    Last bowl game:
    The Gamecocks are making their fourth straight bowl game appearance. Last year they lost to Florida State in the Chick-fil-a Bowl 26-17. Nebraska is also making their fourth straight bowl appearance and just came off two straight appearances in the Holiday Bowl. They lost to Washington in the latter game, 19-7.
    Fun facts:
    The Capital One Bowl used to be the Citrus Bowl, and is still played in that stadium in Orlando. Of course, from its founding in 1947 until 1983 it was known as the Tangerine Bowl. The name change occurred along with a notable boost in the profile of the invited teams. Confusingly, after that another game was founded that was called the Tangerine Bowl and is now played at the Citrus Bowl, but that’s a story for another day. Also, while working on this a promo for this game just advertised “Steve Spurrier’s bruising ‘D'” which is among a list of phrases I thought I would never hear.
  • Ohio State vs. Florida (Gator Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN2): It’s hard to imagine that the Gator Bowl needed a gimmick to match up Ohio State and Florida, but remember, these are two 6-6 teams that have some very big issues. Specifically, on offense: both rank in the bottom 20 of total offense. Florida’s defense is better in terms of yards per game, but in terms of scoring defense these teams are about identical. Even though Charlie Weis is now at Kansas, it’s hard to see Florida suddenly realizing that they are allowed to, like, score points and stuff. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, have a guy in Braxton Miller who is capable of winning the game for them but also plenty capable of losing it for them. However, the Gators really no guys in the former category, giving Urban’s new team the edge.
    Previous meetings
    : Only once, in the 2006-2007 BCS Championship Game. The Gators won 41-14.
    Last bowl game:
    Ohio State “appeared” in last year’s Sugar Bowl and “won” 31-26. Depending on how you interpreted the term “vacate”, the Buckeyes are making their 12th straight postseason appearance. This will be the last game in the streak due to the bowl ban for next season. The Gators, meanwhile are making their 21st-straight bowl game, the second longest streak in the nation. The beginning of the streak was the 1991-1992 Sugar Bowl, where they lost to Notre Dame 39-28. Last year, the Gators beat Penn State 37-24 in the Outback Bowl.
    Fun facts:
    Despite occasional moments of greatness, Florida football basically didn’t exist before Steve Spurrier was hired in 1990. Since then, the Gators’ are the winningest football program in the country.

5:00: Wisconsin vs. Oregon (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): Boy howdy, I sure do hope you like points! However, Wisconsin also plays that defense thing, so as long as the game doesn’t come down to a Hail Mary pass as time expires this season has shown that they should be okay. Then again, they haven’t played any offense that is quite like Oregon’s, either. Well, okay, really anything like Oregon’s at all. Wisconsin will of course have all sorts of size advantages on defense, but I don’t think most people would argue that they’re like LSU’s defense, which held Oregon to “only” 27 points. And Oregon will be more than happy to neutralize Wisconsin’s size with speed on both sides of the ball. That said, I’m going to go with my gut and take the Badgers.
Previous meetings: Four, and none have been Rose Bowls, but instead it appears that they played two sets of home-and-home series in 1977 and 1978, and 2000 and 2001. Wisconsin won the first three games, but Oregon took the last game 31-28.
Last bowl game: Wisconsin is appearing in their tenth straight bowl game, and their second consecutive appearance in the Rose Bowl. Last year, they lost to TCU 21-19. Oregon is making their seventh straight bowl game. Last year, they lost to Auburn in the BCS National Championship game, 22-19.
Fun facts: The cartoon version of Oregon’s Duck mascot looks a lot like Donald Duck, owing to the popularity of the Disney character during the mascot’s formative years and a handshake agreement between the Oregon athletic director at the time and Walt Disney himself. (These days, the agreement is much more formal.)

8:30: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): Both of these teams are good at throwing the ball and bad at defending against the pass. What does that mean? You guessed it – points! While Luck is the better quarterback, Oklahoma State really has more skill players around Brandon Wheedon, not to mention that Justin Blackmon guy. It’s hard to see how the Cardinal will have an answer for him, allowing the Cowboys to pull away in the end.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: This OSU is making their sixth straight bowl appearance. Last year they handily beat Arizona 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl. The Cardinal is making their third straight appearance, and last year they easily dispatched Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, 40-12.
Fun facts: The (in)famous Stanford tree mascot is actually the mascot of the (also (in)famous) Stanford marching band.