Monthly Archives: January 2015

Bowl Games 2014: Final

And thus, the 2014-2015 college football season is concluded.

My final results are up, but if you don’t want to click the link, then I’ll put it here: I went 23-16 this year (which means I am now 274-220 overall). I got off to a pretty strong start, but other than going perfect on New Year’s Eve I pretty much faded down the stretch. In particular, New Year’s Day was a disaster for me, as I missed three out of the five games. Afterward, I failed to really recover, going 2-5 down the stretch.

But hey, there’s a reason why I always say, “all predictions wrong”. Nonetheless, I do continue to get more than half of them right. Perhaps next year I’ll start comparing myself against the spread or use other metrics than just wins and losses, but that’ll be determined sometime next December I suspect.

Some closing thoughts on the season as a whole.

  • For starters, my Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets finished eight in the AP Poll, blissfully one spot ahead of Georgia and Tech’s best ranking since finishing ninth after the 1998 season. I never expected this sort of season, but neither did anyone else. Next year, it is unlikely we will surprise anyone. With Justin Thomas returning, I suspect we will start the season ranked in the top 15, and maybe even the top 10.
  • How about those Buckeyes? They committed four turnovers and won by 22, which really means that it wasn’t even that close.
  • Will we see a shift in the perception of the power five conferences after this? I believe that we’re back to some real parity in college football. The only way we can really tell, though, is if we get more power five teams playing each other during the season. We’ll see how that shakes out when we do our usual out-of-conference schedule rankings. Suffice it to say, though, reports of the Big Ten’s death were greatly exaggerated.

And with that, this site will be mostly dormant again through the spring and summer. That said, do look for some content relatively soon, as arguably my favorite part of the World Cup will start up again this spring: qualifying.

Until then.

Bowl Games 2014: The Big One

And here it is.

While I don’t think a four-team playoff is really ideal, this is the closet we’ve got for now in major college football. Let’s enjoy it for what it is.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, January 12
8:30: Oregon vs. Ohio State (College Football Playoff National Championship @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): There are better, and more in-depth, previews than I can provide here. But I’ll high the highlights. For starters, let’s talk about the games that proceeded this one.
I think most of us expected Oregon to beat Florida State, but goodness I don’t think anyone expected the annihilation that occurred, largely of FSU’s own doing. It’s hard to survive five turnovers against anyone (where was that against us in the ACC title game?), but against the most efficient offense in the country? Forget about it.
Ohio State over Alabama will be the upset of the year, provided the Buckeyes lose this game. Like many others, I gave them no shot, what with their backup-backup quarterback against a Nick Saban defense. Forget about it, right? Well, not so much. Ohio State go off to a slow start, but they came out in the second half and dominated the game.
What’s at stake for these teams? For Oregon, it has to be a little validation, I would think. In their current run of success (with Pac-10/12 titles in 2009, 2010, 2011, and this season), the national title has eluded the Ducks. They made the title game in the 2010 season, only to be beat by Cam Newton and company, starting the narrative that they just weren’t tough enough to challenge the all-mighty SEC. Indeed, I can’t help but wonder if Duck partisans feel a bit cheated that their path to the national title won’t have Alabama or any other SEC school in it.
For Ohio State, in many ways, this is a team that is almost playing with house money, which feels a bit weird to say about a team with the sort of historical success they Buckeyes have had, but hear me out. This is the second season since the 2012 team that went 12-0 but was on sanctions. No one gave them any chance after they lost Braxton Miller, and then no one gave them any chance after the loss to Virginia Tech. (Indeed, the weirdest thing about reading recaps of that game are the bits about how it’s a solid victory for VPI and a way for them to get back in the national discussion. Uh, not so much, as it turns out!) No one gave them a chance to beat Alabama. Yet, here we are.
As for the game itself, I expect points. These two teams boast two of the most efficient offenses in the nation. Their defenses are also pretty similar, though the Big Ten still has enough plodding offenses to skew the numbers somewhat. Overall, I came in thinking this one was going to be hard to call, and the research I have done so far has only supported this. I guess this is true of most games, but this one is really going to come down which team plays better tonight. I think Oregon is still slightly better, so that’s going to be my guess.
Confidence: not applicable, as to win the group I’m in I have to pick strategically and go with Ohio State.
Previous meetings: Eight, actually, and Ohio State has won all of them. The first was all the way back in the 1957-58 Rose Bowl, which the Buckeyes won 10-7. Apparently they hit it off, as the two teams met in the regular season four time in the 60’s. Another home-and-home occurred in 1983 and 1987, but that was it until Ohio State’s 26-17 upset of Oregon in the 2009-2010 Rose Bowl.
Last bowl game: This is Oregon’s tenth straight bowl game, going back to a 17-14 loss to Oklahoma in the 2005 Holiday Bowl. They beat Texas 30-7 in last season’s Alamo Bowl. Thanks to their 2012 sanctions, Ohio State didn’t go to a bowl that year despite going 12-0. If they had, their bowl streak would stretch back all the way back to the 1989 season. Instead, their streak is now two, and last year they lost to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, 40-35.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

Bowl Games 2014: The Run-Up

Let’s go ahead and do the last six bowl games before the title game.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Friday, January 2
Noon: Houston vs. Pittsburgh (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): Houston’s defense is pretty good, but they haven’t faced James Connor yet. I like Pitt a lot in this one.
Confidence: 37
Previous meetings: Two. Houston won the first in 1996, 42-35, and Pitt won the second in 1997, 35-24.
Last bowl game: The Cougars lost last year’s Birmingham Bowl to Vanderbilt, 41-24. This is Pitt’s sixth straight bowl game, with the streak starting with one of the worst games of all time, a 3-0 loss to Oregon State in the 2008 Sun Bowl. They beat Bowling Green in last year’s Little Ceasar’s Bowl, 30-27.
Announcers: Tom Hart and Matt Stinchcomb

3:20: Iowa vs. Tennessee (Taxslayer Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN): The Vols are a young team that got better as the season went on. Meanwhile, I just plain don’t like the Hawkeyes, and nothing in their last four games is helping my perception of them at all. In terms of numbers, these teams are basically identically, so I’m going with my gut and picking Tennessee.
Confidence: 23
Previous meetings: Two. The first was in the 1982 Peach Bowl, which Iowa won 28-22. Tennessee won the second in 1987, 23-22.
Last bowl game: The Hawkeyes won lost last year’s Outback Bowl, 21-14 to LSU. Tennessee’s last postseason appearance was in the 2010 Music City Bowl, a 30-27 loss to North Carolina.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Rod Gilmore

6:45: Kansas State vs. California-Los Angeles (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): I just never figured out what the heck to do with UCLA this year. In the second half of the year, it looked they turned the proverbial corner, putting together a solid five game winning streak. Any good feelings in Westwood were promptly destroyed by the Stanford Cardinal and their 31-10 plowing of the Bruins. Kansas State, however, was perfectly predictable in their three loses. So I’m going with the consistent team over one that flashes very occasional flashes of brilliance.
Confidence: 24
Previous meetings: Two. The Bruins won the first meeting in 2009, 23-9, while K-State won the second in 2010, 31-22.
Last bowl game: This is K-State’s fifth straight bowl game, going back to the 2010 loss in the Pinstripe Bowl to Syracuse, 36-34. They beat Michigan in last year’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (the Tempe one), 31-14. This is UCLA’s fourth straight bowl game, dating to a 20-14 loss to Illinois in the 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl. They whipped Virginia Tech 42-12 in last year’s Sun Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore and Brock Huard

10:15: Oklahoma State vs. Washington (Cactus Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): Neither of these teams have sterling records or great wins, other than the Cowboys’s fluky overtime win over Oklahoma. By the numbers, though, it’s not close: Washington is demonstrably better on both offense and defense, and I expect those indications to carry the day here in this nightcap.
Confidence: 27
Previous meetings: Two. Washington won the first in 1980, 24-18, and Oklahoma State won the second in 1985, 31-17.
Last bowl game: This is the ninth straight bowl game for the Cowboys, dating back to the 2006 Independence Bowl, which they won 34-31 over Alabama. They lost to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl last year, 41-31. This is Washington’s fifth straight bowl game, starting with a 19-7 win over Nebraska in the 2010 Holiday Bowl. They beat BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl last year, 31-16.
Announcers: Dave Flemming and Danny Kannell

Saturday, January 3
1:00: Florida vs. East Carolina (Birmingham Bowl @ Birmingham, AL; ESPN): Why did I pick East Carolina? I continue to have zero faith in the Florida offense’s ability to anything, ever. ECU wound up having a disappointing season, honestly, but I doubt they’re going to have to worry about the Gators putting up 30 on them, which is about what it appears to have taken to beat ECU this year.
Confidence: 25
Previous meetings: Just one, a regular season matchup in 1983. The Gators won 24-17.
Last bowl game: The the Gators took a break last year, so this is their first bowl game since that 33-23 loss to Louisville in the 2012-3 Sugar Bowl. This is the third straight bowl game for the Pirates. In 2012, they lost to UL-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl. Last year, they beat Ohio 37-20 in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Neal and Andre Ware

Sunday, January 4
9:00: Toledo vs. Arkansas State (GoDaddy Bowl @ Mobile, AL; ESPN): I guess I could be accused of having an anti-Sun Belt bias, but well I just couldn’t bring myself to pick the Red Wolves over the Rockets. Apologies to all my readers out in Jonesboro.
Confidence: 26
Previous meetings: Two. Toledo has won both, with a 43-28 victory in 1990 and a 49-0 win in 1992.
Last bowl game: This is Toledo’s first bowl game since the 2012 Potato Bowl, where they got routed 41-15 by Utah State. This is Arkansas State’s fourth straight(!) GoDaddy Bowl. In 2011, they lost to Northern Illinois 38-20, and last year they beat Ball State 23-20.
Announcers: Allen Bestwick and Ray Bentley

Bowl Games 2014: 2015

Examining both playoff games, and the otherwise restored New Year’s Day slate. Apologies for grammar and spelling issues, I’m writing this way late.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday, January 1
12:00: Wisconsin vs. Auburn (Outback Bowl @ Tampa, FL; ESPN2): Obvious statement: this is not last year’s Auburn team. But goodness me, it sure seemed like Wisconsin got exposed by Ohio State in the Big Ten title game, did it not? Auburn’s had a pretty up and down year this year, but Wisconsin sort of scraped by after that huge win over Nebraska and then everything came crashing down. I have Auburn here, but they’ve had their share of inconsistency as well, so this one could probably go either way.
Confidence: 19
Previous meetings: Three, two of which were in bowl games. The first meeting, in 1931, ended in a 7-7 tie. The second, in the 2003 Music City Bowl, was won by Auburn 28-14. The last, in the 2005-6 Capital One Bowl, was won by the Badgers 24-10.
Last bowl game: This is Wisconsin’s thirteenth straight bowl game, going back to the 2002 Alamo Bowl, which they won over Colorado 31-28. They lost last year’s Capital One Bowl to South Carolina, 34-24. This is Auburn’s second straight bowl game, but that was a doozy: it was last year’s National Championship Game, which they lost 34-31 to Florida Statee.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Matt Millen

12:30 Baylor vs. Michigan State (Cotton Bowl @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): I have the advantage of writing this after witnessing TCU’s utter, savage beatdown of Mississippi last night, so I can tell you right now that if Baylor comes out as mad as TCU did, Michigan State stands basically no chance. Also, I don’t think at any point this season I thought Michigan State was as good as Ole Miss, but then again, did we overreate Ole Miss? At any rate, that’s not super-relevant to this contest, but what I do know is that the Bears are capable of wreaking havoc against any defense, and this Michigan State defense is not as good as it’s been. Also, their two losses have been to other offensive juggernauts, which does not bode well.
Confidence: 20
Previous meetings: Just one, a 28-10 win by the Spartans back in 1968.
Last bowl game: Probably unimaginable for most of their history, this is Baylor’s fifth straight bowl game. The current streak started with a 38-14 loss to Illinois in the 2010 Texas Bowl, and last year they lost 52-42 to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. This is Sparty’s eight straight bowl game, going back to a 24-21 loss to Boston College in the 2007 Champs Sports Bowl. They won last year’s Rose Bowl over Stanford, 24-20.
Announcers: Dave Pasch and Brian Griese

1:00: Missouri vs. Minnesota (Citrus Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): I picked Missouri here, but I view this game as kind of a toss-up, but more in the sense that I don’t think either team is especially good. That said, Missouri did rack up some solid wins over Texas A&M and Arkansas, in addition probably getting Will Muschamp fired. Minnesota got Bo Pellini fired, so maybe it’s about even after all?
Confidence: 21
Previous meetings: Eight, all between 1943 and 1970. Minnesota won the first three, but Mizzou had won or tied the last five, including a 34-12 win in 1970.
Last bowl game: Missouri won last year’s Cotton Bowl 41-31 over Oklahoma State. This is Minnesota’s third straight bowl game, having suffered losses in the previous two. First was a 34-31 loss to Texas Tech in the Houston edition of the Car Care Bowl, and then in a 21-17 loss to Syracuse in the rechristened Texas Bowl.
Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham

5:00: Oregon vs. Florida State (Rose Bowl @ Pasadena, CA; ESPN): Well, this is probably the most intriguing bowl in the land. When was the last time FSU was an underdog? Sure, there were games this year that some said they’d lose (versus Notre Dame and Georgia Tech), but I don’t think they were underdogs in either. I mean, they’re reigning national champions, have a Heisman winner, and they’ve won 17 straight. What more do you want? Oh, right, proof that they’re going to be able to keep up with Oregon at all. In case you haven’t been paying attention, after Oregon’s loss to Arizona (where they basically started backups along their entire offensive line), Oregon’s been doing to teams what FSU did to teams last year. After getting healthy, they got a rematch against those Wildcats and owned them to the tune of 51-13, and it wasn’t that close. Oregon is currently a nine point favorite, and personally I would probably pick them to cover that. They’re that good, I think.
Confidence: 29
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Oregon’s tenth straight bowl game, going back to a 17-14 loss to Oklahoma in the 2005 Holiday Bowl. They whipped Texas 30-7 in last year’s Alamo Bowl. Florida State owns the longest bowl streak in college football, with this being their thirty-third straight appearance. You have to go back to 1981 find a season where they didn’t make a bowl game. The following year, they beat West Virginia 31-12 in the Gator Bowl. Last year, they won the last ever BCS Championship Game over Auburn, 34-31.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

8:30: Alabama vs. Ohio State (Sugar Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): ESPN has been covering this game like the Super Bowl, but this is basically a dream matchup for the networks. I’ll grant you that this Alabama defense isn’t as good as it’s been in the past under Saban, but they still rank third in the country in scoring defense and, oh yeah, they have an offense now. Ohio State is good, but a quarterback making his second career start against the Crimson Tide defense? Well, it’s really hard to like those odds, even if he did utterly obliterate Wisconsin.
Confidence: 22
Previous meetings: Three, with two in bowl games. Alabama is 3-0 all time. The first was a 35-6 win in the 1977-8 Sugar Bowl, then a 16-10 win in 1986, and finally a 24-17 win in the 1994-5 Citrus Bowl.
Last bowl game: Alabama’s current eleven game bowl streak goes back to a 20-16 loss to Minnesota in the Music City Bowl. Last year they shockingly lost to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, 45-31. If not for sanctions, Ohio State’s bowl streak would be a lot longer, but instead this is just their second game in a row. They lost last year’s Orange Bowl to Clemson, 40-35.
Announcers: Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge