We begin this week with our bowl overview.
To say there are too many bowl games (35) is like saying Russian President Vladimir Putin is a serious man.
Over half, of the 120 teams playing Division One college football, “earn” an invite to postseason play. Translation: the bowls have simply become another way of rewarding mediocrity.
Is anybody interested in watching a 6-6 team playing in a bowl game?
Here’s an injustice.
Tenth ranked Boise State (12-1), who lost its only game, to a ranked, one-loss Nevada team, by a missed chip shot field goal, gets sent to Siberia, to play in Las Vegas on December 22 (Merry Christmas), because they are not part of the “big-boy” network.
But the following five pack of 7-5 teams: Florida, Northwestern, Penn State, Texas Tech, and Michigan, all kick off on New Year’s Day.
If we could be the Czar of College Football, we’d cut the bowl number down to 15, begin playing the day after Christmas, and end the post season, on the day in which it was always intended – New Year’s Day –when the National Champion would be crowned.
We would also never break the format for the Rose Bowl – it should always be Big Ten vs. PAC 10 – no exceptions. This year TCU will be playing in Pasadena, while one loss Ohio State and Michigan State play elsewhere.
Our 15 would include the following: Rose, Cotton, Sugar, Orange, Fiesta, Gator, Capital One, Liberty, Outback, Holiday, Sun, Capital One, Chick-fil-A, Music City, and Meineke Car Care.
In that “Murderer’s Row” lineup, nobody would be worse than 9-4, it would be must watch television.
Unlike the Jan.6, GoDaddy.com Bowl; which features Miami (Ohio) against (6-6) Middle Tennessee, or the December 18 bowl season opener; the New Mexico Bowl, featuring a pair of 6-6 squads, BYU vs. UTEP – Yuck!
That said, outside of the BCS match-ups, we think the following threesome might be worth watching.
No. 15 Alabama vs. No. 7 Michigan State – Capital One Bowl – January 1, Orlando (ESPN, 1 p.m.)
Bama is a strong favorite (10 points) against an 11-1 Michigan State team, who gave forth ranked Wisconsin its only defeat.
Coach Nick Saban will have the Tide ready after the bitter taste of historically blowing a 24 point lead in the Iron Bowl; a 28-27 loss to Auburn.
While on the Sparty side, Coach Mark Dantonio wants to show that his Michigan State Spartans deserved to be in a BCS game, and that the Big Ten can hold up against one of the powers in the SEC.
No. 21 Mississippi State vs. Michigan – Gator Bowl – January 1, Jacksonville (ESPN2, 1:30 p.m.)
The intrigue and focus of this game is the employment status of Michigan Coach $Rich Rod. A loss, especially on of lopsided magnitude, and the Administration of Michigan might pull the plug on its beleaguered coach; Rich Rodriguez.
On the other side, the Bulldogs, under Coach Dan Mullen had a terrific year (8-4), having won seven of its last nine, making them very capable of putting that employment ending hurting on the Maize and Blue.
Florida vs. Penn State – Outback Bowl – January 1, Tampa (Ch. 5, 1 p.m.)
The coaches are the focus of this game.
On the Florida side, we have two time national champion winning Coach, Urban Meyer stepping down (health) at the age of 46, while on the Penn State side, we have the Lion of Happy Valley – 84 year old JoePa- coming back for one more season. Amazing!
A word of advice: the most important factor to take into consideration when analyzing any bowl match-up is; which team really wants to be there?
For example; does Nebraska, who walloped Washington 56-21 in September, really want to play the Huskies again in the Holiday Bowl? Or does Oklahoma, a 17 point favorite, really want to be playing a 4 loss UConn team in the Fiesta Bowl?
Despite the bowl plethora, we don’t advocate a playoff system, maybe a plus-one, but nothing more.
If there was a playoff system in place, Bosie State’s loss to Nevada would not have carried as much weight, or Auburn’s phenomenal comeback against Alabama might simply have dropped the Tide into a lower seed, and who cares about that!
We treasure the importance of the college football regular season. It’s the best of all seasons in any sport.
We’ll be back the Wednesday before New Years to give our analysis for the two January 1, BCS games. Until then, Peace, and Merry Christmas.