Happy New Year's! We are 23 games in with 12 to go. Our beloved Fighting Irish rounded out their season with another gut wrenching defeat, and now the only thing standing between us and the official start of the college football offseason is 12 more bowl games. Time to power through.
This is one of those unusual years where there are no bowl games on January 1st due to it falling on a Sunday. We can't disturb the NFL schedule now can we? So Monday the 2nd will have to be our New Year's Day bowl substitute. It is what it is. This final installment of the OFD Bowl Preview will take us from the 2nd through the BCS Championship on Monday January 9th.
I have to say that I'm really not a fan of dragging these games out like this. It wasn't that long ago that there was a big flurry of games on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day then that was it. It was over. You had all of the big games that everyone wanted to see on those two days where most everyone was off work and really able to enjoy watching them. I really miss that.
Frankly I think dragging these games through the first week of January hurts the interest level more than it helps it. And this thing where we squeeze in a couple of mid December caliber games right before the BCS Championship is complete buffoonery. Play those games in mid December and I'm all about it. Play them on January 7th and 8th and I'm not tuning in. And if a guy like me isn't tuning in then you have definitely lost a very significant chunk of what would have been your audience. Apologies for the mini rant. I'll get on to the games.
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Rankings are per the BCS Standings.
*All times listed below are EST.
Games after the jump.Monday 2 January
Ticket City Bowl
#19 Houston (12-1) vs. #22 Penn State (9-3)
I have a couple of things to discuss about this game. I get the fact that moving the Cotton Bowl from the Cotton Bowl Stadium to Jerrydome was a somewhat painful thing for a lot of people. I mean hell, the stadium is called the Cotton Bowl for crying out loud. But allowing the Ticket City Bowl to be played in Cotton Bowl Stadium in the New Year's Day slot previously occupied by the Cotton Bowl is a little more of a makeup to those partial to said stadium than I think is justified. It is also just adds to the overall confusion of the whole sordid affair. Enough on that.
As for the matchup itself Penn State literally fell to this game because no bowl wanted to touch the Nittany Lions with a 10 foot pole in the wake of what has gone on there in the recent past. I can't blame them as they are a PR nightmare right now. But the resulting matchup here leaves everyone scratching their heads. I can't imagine that Penn State is in any way excited about playing this game and the chances of them showing up has to be in the negative. They also aren't going to travel any fans right now and Houston isn't exactly known for packing the house, no matter how good they are. Despite this Case Keenum and the Coogs have a little something to play for here even though Kevin Sumlin is outbound to College Station. A few Houston faithful will make the trip to see the Coogs get it done.
#17 Michigan State (10-3) vs. #16 Georgia (10-3)
They should just call this B1G vs. the SEC day. There are three consecutive matchups here that have the two conferences squaring off. I looked at each one of these games independently and they all look like they could go either way. In this one both defenses are great statistically and neither offense is particularly powerful. I like Dantonio as a coach and Kirk Cousins is a great leader for Sparty. But in the end I think the underappreciated Mark Richt and his slightly more athletic Georgia squad will steal a W here in a close one.
Capital One Bowl
#20 Nebraska (9-3) vs. #9 South Carolina (10-2)
This is another tough one. Both teams have run the ball pretty well but are relatively one dimensional in that respect. Interestingly both teams play really good pass D but are a little vulnerable to the run. Expect the clock to run quickly in this game as these two teams just pound on each other. I went with the Cocks here solely because the Huskers have been pretty inconsistent and seem to be unraveling a bit. Carl Pelini is jumping ship and their recruiting class is not coming together at all. I take both of those things as signs of internal issues and honestly think Bo Pelini is closer to being on the outs than anyone is talking about just yet. I also think Spurrier will be sure that his guys show up for this one as he's probably still smarting from that whole title game bit where Tommie Frazier went nuts on his Gators en-route to the 95' National Title. Cocks.
Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)
Both teams are wallowing at 6-6 with their own coaching issues. Urban Meyer is taking over in Columbus but his system and staff aren't quite there yet. For the time being the current staff is more concerned about where they will be working next year than anything else. On the other sideline Florida will be auditioning interim offensive coordinator Brian White after Chuck Weis bolted for Kansas. I could see that actually playing to Florida's favor as White is less likely to outsmart himself with his game plan and just let his playmakers do what they do. On the other side of the ball the Gator defense has actually been pretty solid and I think that gets it done against a very pedestrian Ohio State offense.
As a side note, I didn't set out to pick against the B1G in all three of those games it just sort of happened after looking at each matchup independently. But historically speaking being bullish on the B1G in bowl season is the fast track to losing your respective bowl pool. I'll stand by for the flames should the B1G bust .500 on the 2nd to include the next game....
Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
#10 Wisconsin (11-2) vs. #5 Oregon (11-2)
This is another tough game to pick. I will be rounding out my bowl attendance this season by actually going to this game. I have been to many bowl games but I have yet to venture to Pasadena and I am really looking forward to taking in the spectacle that is the Rose bowl and what could potentially be a great college football game. I will have a full report for you on the back side.
I like Wiscy a lot and they have been very solid all season but I can't shake the fact that they really struggled going 1-1 against Michigan State. I watched a fair number of Michigan State games this year, obviously including the Notre Dame game, and never really felt like they were really that good. They are a pretty solid football team but definitely not elite and they gave Wiscy all that they could handle and more. I see Wiscy as being very similar to Stanford and I'm not talking about the uniforms. Both teams have great QB's and like to line up and just be physical. That didn't work out so good for Stanford against the speed of the Ducks and I don't think it is going to work out well for Wiscy either. This is really power vs. speed and I'm going with the speed. Quack Attack.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
#4 Stanford (11-1) vs. #3 Oklahoma State (11-1)
That thing I just mentioned about Stanford vs. Oregon, you can wash, rinse, and repeat it right here. I'm doubling down on speed over power. That said I still expect this to also be a very good football game.
As a side note from a fan perspective this is a really nice venue for a BCS game. I realize that the Fiesta Bowl is the poster child for BCS corruption etc. but purely from a fan game day perspective University of Phoenix Stadium is a very fan friendly venue. I have been to this game a few times and have always enjoyed it.
Tuesday 3 January
Allstate Sugar Bowl
#13 Michigan (10-2) vs. #11 Virginia Tech (11-2)
I honestly can't believe that Michigan is 10-2. The Hokies match up well against the Michigan run game and Bud Foster will find ways to pressure Predator into making mistakes. The Hokie D will bring the lunch pail and take advantage of those mistakes. VT gets it done.
Wednesday 4 January
Discover Orange Bowl
#23 West Virginia (9-3) vs. #15 Clemson (10-3)
Holgo vs. Dabo. Flip a coin. I'll go Tigers and most likely regret it.
Friday 6 January
AT&T Cotton Bowl
#8 Kansas State (10-2) vs. #6 Arkansas (10-2)
Kansas State is another team that I really can't believe went 10-2. They have to be one of the most overrated teams in the country. The Hogs also only lost 2 games this season and the two teams that they lost to are playing each other for the National Title. I think K State gets exposed here, perhaps badly. Hogs.
Saturday 7 January
BBVA Compass Bowl
SMU (7-5) vs. Pitt (6-6)
As mentioned in the intro this is horrible. I'll check the score a few hours after it is over. June Jones tried to leave for Arizona State then got stuck having to stay. His guys want to play for him I'm sure. Pitt lost yet another head coach and are waiting on Paul Chryst to come take over. I'll take Pitt.
Sunday 8 January
Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3)
Hugh Freeze and Gus Malzahn are in the process of high fiving at Arkie State. The Huskies on the other hand bring one final dose of MACtion to the bowl season. This game will be high scoring and insane yet nobody will watch it. I'll pick against the MAC for consistency sake.
Monday 9 January
Allstate BCS National Championship
#2 Alabama (11-1) vs. #1 LSU (13-0)
Since these two have already played once there isn't much left to say about this matchup. The Hat gets Saban in his backyard but we all know Little Nicky cares little about things like that. Bama will be ready to play. I always like the team that lost the first time in a re-match. Saban gets another title and we move on to the 2012 season. Is it September 1st yet?
By the way, who is going to win the OFD Bowl Challenge?