Even internal to the staff here at One Foot Down we have an ongoing debate about the bowl games. It is just one of those topics that brings about several different perspectives. Hate the BCS? Are you looking forward to the playoff? How many bowl games are too many? How many will you actually watch?
We are two games into a 35 game bowl schedule and between now and January 7th another 33 bowl games remain. They are the only thing left between us and the off season. So what better time to throw a few bowl related questions on the table for some discussion? Five questions, five answers, let's do it.
1. What about bowl season do you enjoy the most?
I do thoroughly enjoy bowl season for several reasons. I am a true college football junkie and I love watching all of the matchups that you get between the various conferences in the bowl games. But for me personally my affinity for bowl season mainly comes down to tradition. I love everything about the holidays and in my world bowl games being on TV is just part of the overall holiday experience. I grew up in a house where we watched every single bowl game that came on TV without exception. Granted there were significantly less bowl games back then but I still have that positive mental association.
When I think back to holidays as a kid one of the images that always pops into my head is controlled chaos in the house with a bowl game on in the background. No matter who else was there or what else was happening my Dad was glued to the TV if a bowl game was on and I was typically sitting right next to him. So were a bunch of other friends and family. The bowl games were just part of the scene and a piece of the overall holiday experience. To this day watching all of the bowl games continues to be part of our family holiday tradition.
2. Is 35 bowl games too many? How many should there be?
Yes I do think that 35 games is about 10 games too many. I think chopping it down to 50 teams playing in 25 games would go a long way towards making bowl season seem significantly less watered down. For starters it would quickly eliminate all of the 6-6 teams that get included to round out the field of 70 teams. I think that reducing the field to 50 would add a little more meaning back in for the teams that earn bowl berths and potentially add a little more interest to the remaining bowl games.
3. Assuming that you have to stick with 35 total games, if you could change one thing about the bowl scheduling what would it be?
I actually have two things here. One is an easy fix and the other will never happen. Regardless here they are. For starters I would take the two lower tier bowl games that are currently played between the BCS games and the BCS Championship Game that first week of January and move them back to some time between 15-20 December. Both the BBVA Compass Bowl and the Godaddy.com Bowl are lower tier games that have no business being played as the last two games prior to the BCS Championship.
I wouldn't mind those games at all if they were played in mid December. I just feel like the bowl games should get progressively better throughout bowl season. I actually enjoy the lower tier bowl games as a bit of a warmup for the big finish but by the time the BCS games are over I really don't want to watch those two games. It just feels like a huge step backwards in quality and I'm not interested in watching them. And if a guy that's a college football junkie like me isn't watching them then nobody is watching them. It also artificially extends bowl season for another couple of days. Why not play the BCS Championship on Saturday January 5th?
The other thing is something that just won't happen due to the fact that tWWL owns the rights to broadcast 33 of the 35 games. Due to said ownership they have these games spread out so that there is very little overlap between them. We still get a little overlap on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day but I seem to remember as a kid that there was an insane little flurry of games on those two days. I remember my Dad rigging up 3 TV's in the living room so that we could all sit around and try to watch all of them. I love that, and I wish we would go back to it. I would prefer to start bowl season after December 20th and go back to ending it with one big crazy flurry of games on January 1st. I hate dragging those last few games out across the first week in January. Most people have gone back to work at that point and it makes those games more challenging to watch. It will never happen for the reasons mentioned previously but I really wish that it would.
4. Which 5 bowl games are you most excited to watch this year?
This is tough this year because the BCS games are pretty weak with the exception of the BCS Championship game. Due to this I'm actually more interested in a few of the other matchups this year.
1. BCS Championship- Notre Dame vs. Alabama: Self explanatory.
2. Cotton Bowl- Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma: I'm really looking forward to this game for two reasons. One I want to see how Johnny Manziel performs now that he won the Heisman. Two I want to see how this Texas A&M team performs against a quality Big 12 opponent in Oklahoma. I see this game as a good measuring stick for A&M and to a lesser degree the SEC as a whole.
3. Chick Fil A- LSU vs. Clemson: I see two interesting storylines here. One Clemson got absolutely embarrassed in the Orange Bowl by West Virginia last year. Will Dabo Swinney do a better job of prepping his team this time around? Also any time Leslie Miles is on the sidelines in a big game something highly entertaining is bound to happen right?
4. Holiday- Baylor vs. UCLA: This might be a little bit of wishful thinking on my part since I will actually be attending this game but I think this one has all the makings of a crazy shootout. Baylor has a great offense and zero defense. UCLA is a pretty solid football team all around. The Holiday Bowl also just has a strong tradition of producing some pretty wild and memorable bowl games. I see the entertainment potential in this game as being pretty high.
5. Alamo- Oregon State vs. Texas: I really wasn't that inteterested in this game until Brian Harsin left Texas for the head job at Arksansas State. Enter Major Applewhite. He was co-offensive coordinator with Harsin but now it is his show. I liked Applewhite when he played for Texas and I thought that Mack really made the wrong decision when he opted for Chris Simms over Applewhite in the early 2000's. It just seemed to me that when Applewhite was on the field he found a way to win and I have always thought of him that way. The Texas faithful didn't like Major on the bench or all of the ugly losses to Oklahoma much either but Vince Young bailed Mack out of that fire before it got too hot. How ironic is it that all these years later Mack is back in a sticky situation as the Texas front man and Applewhite might actually be the guy that can buy him a little breathing room? I really want to see if Applewhite can be the spark that helps Texas pull this one out in his debut as the sole offensive coordinator on the 40 acres.
6. Buffalo Wild Wings; TCU vs. Michigan State: I had to throw this one in there as an honorable mention. TCU had a tough season but still boasts a very good defensive unit and they always come ready to play. I also think that Michigan State might be the most criminally underrated 6-6 team out there. After losing to Notre Dame they managed to lose 5 more games by a grand total of 13 points. I think this one sets up to be a very good defensive battle. Think of this game as the polar opposite of the Holiday Bowl. It has potential.
5. We will continue to discuss the BCS Championship Game between Notre Dame and Alabama at length. But as of right now what do you see as the most critical aspect of this game for Notre Dame?
We have had many great discussions about this game and we will have many more. Murtaugh's series examining how the two squads compare to one another has been a great tool for this. But I'll take a minute here to expand on something that I mentioned a couple of days ago. I really think that the key to the game for Notre Dame is going to be the ability of the Notre Dame offense to effectively move the football against the Alabama defense. To do that I think Notre Dame is going to have to effectively spread Alabama out and make them play in space. More specifically Notre Dame is going to have to effectively throw the football early in the game.
That takes us right to he that should not be slept on. I really think that Everett Golson is the key to this game for the Irish. Notre Dame is going to have to soften that Alabama defense up with the pass to set up the run. From there they will have to stay balanced and keep Alabama honest. Golson is going to have to make good reads, take care of the football and make Alabama pay when they let a Notre Dame receiver get a step in space. Golson is also going to have to move the chains with his feet on occasion to sustain drives. EG doesn't have to be spectacular but he needs to make good decisions, take care of the football and make the most of red zone opportunities. If he is able to do those things I really like Notre Dame's chances against the Crimson Tide.
What do you think?