I'm exhausted! Even the most adamant of college football fans has to be a bit fatigued after 15 straight days of football (including the NFL). In general it is every football fan's dream -- not having to worry when a game will be on.
Over the past 27 games, a lot of interesting scenarios have played out -- a few upsets, a few teams deciding not to show up, a few great comebacks/attempts and a great four game set by the BCS (even though the system is inherently flawed). Mix all of that in with friendly wagers, some nice banter and a few captain and diets, and heaven was as close to earth as possible.
Over the past few years I have given my predictions to all of the bowl games with little to no success. Since I didn't feel the need to take another beating I decided to write a de facto diary. This way being wrong is only a matter of opinion.
New Orleans Bowl -- Arkansas St. 19 vs. Southern Mississippi 31
I love bowl games, but it is five days before Christmas. I thought the reason why we couldn't have a playoff is that playing games in mid-December would interfere with the student/athletes' finals (just as it happens when eight basketball teams spend a week in Maui).
Oh by the way -- if you are Arkansas St. and you get blown out by Army do you deserve to be in a bowl game?
GMAC Bowl -- Toledo 45 vs. UTEP 13
Let's just be happy the game wasn't in Las Vegas. How could UTEP coach Mike Pryce even begin to comprehend the city's temptations? Do you think it is coincidence they chose to send the WAC's most pious team (BYU) to the Sin City Bowl?
Dec. 22 (my first remote throw of the 2005 bowl season)
Pure Vision Las Vegas Bowl -- California 35 vs. BYU 28
This is the exact reason why you shouldn't wager on teenagers who are on vacation. Cal (-9) wining easily by 21 points midway through the fourth, gives up 14 meaningless fourth quarter points. So that is why Vegas is booming.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl -- Colorado St. 30 vs. Navy 51
Let's see here, the nations' worst run defense (Colorado State) against the nations' top rushing team (Navy). What does that spell? 556 rushing yards and a blowout win for Navy. Also that was the most athletic Navy team in the past 40 years.
Fort Worth Bowl -- Kansas 42 vs. Houston 13
If you are not over .500 (Houston 4-4) in Conference USA you should not be playing in a bowl game.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl -- Nevada 49 vs. Central Florida 48
This is why Lou Holtz believes kickers should be banned from the game. A four-and-a-half hour thriller between Central Florida and Nevada, where 97 points were scored, was decided by a missed extra point in overtime. The only person who was happy with this result was the guy who got stuck with No. 9 for the winner and No. 8 for the loser (not me).
Motor City Bowl -- Memphis 38 vs. Akron 31
DeAngelo Williams is the real deal. When you are grouped in career yardage with the likes of Tony Dorsett, you are sitting in some high company. The only question is how many miles are on Williams' tires?
Champs Sports Bowl -- Colorado 10 vs. Clemson 19
Kudos goes to Colorado for not laying down. Kudos also goes to Tommy Bowden who finally scrapped his spread offense and won with his fantastic defense.
Insight Bowl -- Arizona State 45 vs. Rutgers 40
Rudi Carpenter was playing Madden 2001 where you could sprint back 30 yards and then just throw the ball as far as he could and the receiver would catch it. Also, Dirk Coetter is the next great offensive mind -- ASU put on a track meet.
MPC Computers Bowl -- Boston College 27 vs. Boise State 21
Unless there is a dome, bowl games do not belong in Idaho (see hail/sleet storm). Also, memo to host city: If one of the teams in the bowl is from the host city, try to avoid having a pep rally at the welcome dinner for both teams. Do you really think Boston College felt rewarded by being in Boise? Try to leave the sleeping dogs lie.
MasterCard Alamo Bowl -- Nebraska 32 vs. Michigan 28
Rule No. 1 for good bowl games: You can't have Sunbelt Conference referees for a game between Michigan and Nebraska. The entire crew looked like they were deer in headlights. Michigan had to blow two crucial timeouts just to have calls replayed with only one being properly overturned.
Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit called the game and mentioned the fact that the crew was from the Sunbelt Conference and wondered what effect that would have on the game. Other than the Michigan defense not showing up, they had the most impact on the game. The only call they got right was the final play when the entire stadium rushed the field.
Another interesting dynamic of this game was that Tirico is from Ann Arbor and he does a pretty good job of not outwardly rooting for the Wolverines, but is counteracted nicely by Herbstriet trying hard not to lose his Buckeye ties.
Lastly, if you are Michigan tight end Tyler Ecker and you are running down the sideline with one guy to beat on the final play with all-world return man Steve Breaston on your hip begging for the ball, do you:
a. Run out of bounds - ending the game?
b. Get tackled out of bounds - ending the game?
c. Hook slide at the 33-yard line - ending the game?
d. Pitch it to Breaston and block for him -- winning the game?
e. ACT trick answer: A, B and C.
Emerald Bowl -- Georgia Tech 10 vs. Utah 38
Someone must have told Georgia Tech to wear their ice skates to this game. Utah wasn't slipping on the field, but the Yellow Jackets looked like they couldn't walk.
Holiday Bowl -- Oklahoma 17 vs. Oregon 14
This is the second straight year in the Holiday Bowl that the team (Oregon) whom felt that they were snubbed by the BCS (last year was California) got beat by a team that flat-out wanted to be there more that they did.
Adrian Peterson again proved that when healthy he may be the best back in the country.
Music City Bowl -- Virginia vs. Minnesota
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl -- LSU 40 vs. Miami (FL) 3
Independence Bowl -- South Carolina 31 vs. Missouri 38
Vitalis Sun Bowl -- Northwestern 38 vs. UCLA 50
It must have been a rule on this day that the team that jumped out to a 20-point lead was doomed to lose. Minnesota, Northwestern and South Carolina all blew leads of more than two scores. Miami was the only team that didn't bother to show up - then immediately reverted to Miami circa 1989 where they decided they would just beat up the Tigers after the game instead of trying to score.
Two great totals were in play as well.
First the UCLA v. Northwestern total of 74. Northwestern jumps out to a 22-0 while UCLA quarterback Drew Olsen looks like he is throwing the game. Then UCLA scores the next 36 points to take command and then promptly sits on the ball for the entire second half. Then Northwestern scores a touchdown late in the fourth to get the game within one score and fails to convert on the two-point conversion. The onside kick promptly gets returned untouched for the touchdown to push the total to exactly 74.
How does Vegas know this stuff?
Still Northwestern drives with a myriad of two yard passes to score on 4th and 6 to again bring the game back to within one score and the over to only see the same UCLA receiver (Brandon Breazell) return another onside kick for a touchdown with 10 seconds left to push the total over by 14 points. I have seen some weird things, but that may be the topper.
The other total was 41 between LSU and Miami. I am convinced that someone on LSU's staff had the over because instead of sitting on the football and virtually ending the game they added a 50-yard field goal for good measure to win the game 40-3 meanwhile inciting a brawl.
Meineke Car Care Bowl -- N.C. State 14 vs. South Florida 0
AutoZone Liberty Bowl -- Fresno State 24 vs. Tulsa 31
EV1.net Houston Bowl -- TCU 27 vs. Iowa State 24
Did they plan these games here on purpose, because everyone was focusing on the later NFL games? It was naptime during the N.C. State v. South Florida game. Iowa State again proved that they are the best choking team in college football and, oh, I forgot Tulsa beat Fresno State.
Even God rested one day. The NFL took over with more exhibition games than the 27 college bowl games. Anytime Brooks Bollinger and Jim Sorgi win on the same day you know there wasn't much riding on the line. Kudos to the Packers, Jets and 49ers who screwed up their draft position by winning meaningless games.
Capital One Bowl -- Wisconsin 24 vs. Auburn 10
Nokia Sugar Bowl -- West Virginia 38 vs. Georgia 35
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl -- Ohio State 34 vs. Notre Dame 20
Outback Bowl -- Florida 31 vs. Iowa 24
AT&T Cotton Bowl -- Alabama 13 vs. Texas Tech 10
Toyota Gator Bowl -- Virginia Tech 35 vs. Louisville 24
One myth that was definitely busted in the Monday games was that the SEC is the only conference with speed. Wisconsin (Brian Calhoun, Brandon Williams), Ohio State (Troy Smith, Ted Ginn) and West Virginia (Steve Slaton, Darius Reynaud) all proved that they actually have good players outside of the vaunted SEC.
Also nothing shows what Barry Alvarez has done for Wisconsin football more than the dismantling of the supposed superior Auburn Tigers. Everyone said Auburn had too much speed when in fact it clearly vice versa. This game was absolutely one of the most satisfying wins of the Alvarez era to watch. It has been said before and been proven time and time again -- if you give Barry a month to prepare he'll find a way to beat you.
FedEx Orange Bowl -- Penn State 26 vs. Florida State 23
Isn't there a law not to keep two men more than 76-years-old awake past midnight? If not, there should be. Despite the Penn State overtime win this game was unbearable to watch. Anytime there are more punts that any other stat, the game should just end. Lastly I am not going to ask anyone to retire because it is not my decision, but is JoePa cranky because he 500 years old or was he always like that?
The Rose Bowl Presented By Citi -- Texas 41 vs. USC 38
One thing is for sure, there has never been a more hyped game than this one. The only fact that was missed is how this will set college football back another 10 years because the BCS accidentally got it right.
As for the game, it may have been the greatest college football game ever -- great players, stunning performances, two long winning streaks and No. 1 vs. No. 2 for the National Championship at the Rose Bowl. The players for certain didn't disappoint and Vince Young vaulted himself in the top three players chosen if he chooses to enter the draft.
The only disappointment was Pete Carroll. He has done no wrong since arriving in L.A., but this night he was atrocious. First off, take the points in the first quarter -- you know they will come back to haunt you later. Later, I have no problem going for it late in the game to cement the title, but then you have first and 10 from midfield and your Heisman Trophy winner does not touch the ball because he is not even in the game for the final four plays boggles the mind. LenDale White is a fine player, but I will take my chances with Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.
Congratulations to Texas and thanks to all of the other 63 teams for some fine entertainment over the past few weeks.
Only three months to March Madness!