Tag Archives: bowl games

Bowl Season’s Biggest Winner: ACC Football

If you’ve read my articles here before, then you know I am admittedly a huge SEC homer. I was raised on SEC football and would not feel the way I do about the sport of football as a whole if it weren’t for the SEC.

Last year, the SEC did pretty well overall in bowl play. I would’ve given them props for that. In fact, I probably did. This year, it was a mixed bag for the conference I love.

But, there was a conference that really did shine in the most unimportant games of the season. That conference, to most people’s surprise, was the ACC.

Earlier this year I wrote an article trying to tell people to show ACC football some respect. After all, you don’t have to like the ACC to respect it. And now those of you that did read that article back then will see that sometimes I’m right. (I’m also wrong sometimes, too.)

But instead of just bragging about being right about that call, I will walk you through exactly how the ACC proved that I was right this bowl season. As I said above, bowl games are largely unimportant. That being said, they do come with bragging rights for the teams and conferences that fare well.

So, here’s to the ACC. Enjoy your bragging rights for the next eight months, and we’ll see what happens next year.

The ACC did take 3 L’s in bowl play. One of those really wasn’t that bad, in my opinion. But Louisville’s (vs. LSU) loss and Pittsburgh’s (vs. Northwestern) loss were both inexcusable. In a somewhat comical manner, I did manage to call the outcome of that LSU game on Twitter though. #SorryNotSorry

Let’s face it: Lamar Jackson had to carry Louisville this season, and if he was shut down then the team was hopeless. LSU shut him down and the Cardinals were hopeless.

And as for Pitt, I really didn’t see that loss coming. I guess that’s what happens when you cough up the ball four times. Northwestern wasn’t bad this year, but it also wasn’t good. Even with four turnovers, I’m still surprised Pitt dropped this game.

The other ACC bowl loss, the one that I don’t think was all that bad, was North Carolina’s loss to Stanford. North Carolina had some great moments this season, including victories over both Miami and Florida State. The Stanford Cardinal had a more solid season overall so I wouldn’t have expected a win from North Carolina in this one. Keeping the game as close as the Tar Heels did was actually pretty impressive. Here’s to moral victories!

Now, let’s discuss the ACC’s wins. And as I write this, there are eight of them. There could potentially be nine after the College Football Championship game. But I won’t get into that. My SEC bias might start showing again.

Boston College beat Maryland. But who really cares? Maryland is only recognizable in the college football world because of its hideous uniforms. Not to mention, Maryland left the ACC. The joke’s on them now.

Going into the bowl game with Wake Forest, Temple had actually put together a pretty good season. The Owls finished out the season with a convincing win over Navy, which was actually doing pretty well this year. The Demon Deacons jumped out to an early lead over the Owls and managed to hold onto that lead for the remainder of the game. They also had cool shiny helmets, so that’s a win too.

I never thought I would say beating Kentucky in football is a good win, but I’m saying it now. Georgia Tech’s win over Kentucky may not be as impressive as the win over Georgia during rivalry week. But now the Yellow Jackets are on a roll against the SEC East, having won their last three games against teams in the division. As we all know, the SEC East is not exactly full of formidable opponents. It’ll be interesting to see how the Yellow Jackets fare against one of the SEC East’s better teams, the Tennessee Volunteers.

Speaking of SEC East opponents that aren’t formidable, N.C. State dominated Vanderbilt in a game that was never close. N.C. State wasn’t exactly impressive during regular season play either but it did finish the season on a high note with a big rivalry win over North Carolina on the road. With that win and this dominant performance against Vanderbilt, it seems that the Wolfpack may be gaining momentum.

Arkansas may not be in the SEC East, but the ACC did notch another win over the SEC as a whole when Virginia Tech topped Arkansas in comeback fashion. Arkansas has always been confusing under Bret Bielema, and you never know what to expect from the team. Virginia Tech under Justin Fuente has been incredibly impressive, and the win over Arkansas just solidified that.

I don’t like West Virginia and I never have, but watching Miami get a relatively easy victory over the Mountaineers wasn’t any fun for me as a Gator fan. Mark Richt has done pretty well in his first season with the Hurricanes, and topping that off with a bowl win over a ranked opponent was a great sign for Miami fans. Maybe they’ll finally be able to forget the dark days of Al Golden.

Floridians can be proud of the college teams in their state because Florida State also managed to get an impressive win over Michigan. Michigan was supposedly a playoff contender but after an embarrassing first half in this game, Florida State made the Wolverines look like pretenders. As much as I may dislike both teams, I have to admit that this was a great win for the Seminoles and for the ACC.

Last but not least, there’s Clemson’s College Football Playoff beatdown of Ohio State. This was a glorious moment for me as an Ohio State/Urban Meyer hater. The one team from the Big Ten that did make it to the Playoff wasn’t even able to score a single point against Clemson. Talk about pretenders! I truly have a huge smile on my face as I write this. Clemson absolutely destroyed Ohio State, just showing the rest of us how overrated the Buckeyes (and the Big Ten teams) were this season.

Here it is: Yes, the ACC had a couple bad losses and one loss that was a moral victory so to speak. Still, the ACC had numerous good wins and a few great wins this bowl season. Like I said before, maybe it’s time to finally give credit where credit is due.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo courtesy of Ken Lund.

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AutoNation CureBowl Preview

I’m going to be upfront with you: this introduction section was originally going to be filled with jokes about how there are too many bowls and I was going to call this game something slightly different every time I mentioned it. Then I started doing research on the AutoNation Bowl. Turns out that it’s not just the AutoNation Bowl.

It’s the AutoNation CureBowl.

Yes, this probably isn’t going to be the most exciting game but it might be the most important game. No, it’s not going to decide the champion of the College Football Playoff. I’m sure most fans have already checked out or will never watch this game.

But they should.

The AutoNation CureBowl teams with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to help fund cancer research. 91 cents of every dollar contributed goes towards research which is a pretty fantastic ratio. The Orlando Sports Foundation who is the nonprofit organizer says that there will be a minimum donation of $150,000 which they will make up the difference if there’s not but they hope to be presenting a much bigger check than that.

So if no other reason, that’s why you should be paying attention to this game.

But maybe you’re like me. You were already going to watch this game but for monetary reasons instead. Maybe you’re a little more curious about the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Central Florida Knights and who’s going to do what and more importantly, who’s going to win.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Maybe. No refunds.

Sure, when you look at the records, Arkansas State looks like they should win the AutoNation CureBowl since the better record belongs to the team from the Sun Belt Conference. Records can lie, though. The Red Wolves got trucked early on in the season by Toledo and Auburn. Also, come on man. It’s the Sun Belt.

Now UCF isn’t exactly playing in the Big Ten but at least there are some real teams on the schedule. The Knights got walloped by Michigan but so did everyone not named Ohio State or Iowa. UCF also hung tough against Maryland, Houston, South Florida, and Temple. All those teams except Maryland won at least nine games. I’m just saying.

Here’s an interesting fact: The Central Florida secondary has only allowed three touchdown passes over the last six games.

Now you’re looking at a spread of just six points with Arkansas State playing the role of the underdog. That’s not a lot especially when you consider that Central Florida hasn’t been exactly amazing on offense and the Arkansas State pass rush has 31 sacks this season. It’d probably be a closer line but you have to take into account that this game is being played in Orlando, Florida.  You know what’s in Orlando? The University of Central Florida. This is a home game for the Knights.

Take the Knights and the points.

The intriguing bet is the over/under at 50. I’m sure you’re expecting me to tell you to take the under. But you’d be wrong. Sometimes the “lesser” bowls like the AutoNation CureBowl tend to be really exciting games. Sometimes they’re better than the big bowl games. I don’t know if this is going to be a shootout and in fact, I’d bet against it, but a 27-24 game? Yeah, that I can get behind.

Once again, no refunds but that’s not why you should be invested in this game. You should be invested in this game simply because we can help fund cancer research.

E-mail Tim at [email protected].

Image courtesy Flickr via Creative Commons

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Playoff Selection Process Starts Labor Day Weekend

This year’s Week 1 provides the single greatest opening week of games in the history of the sport. From showdowns like USC-Alabama and Florida State-Ole Miss to the glorified scrimmages between Michigan State-Furman and SE Louisiana-Oklahoma State, it is best to follow our advice: “don’t lose.” 

Because of the quality of the slate of games, it highlights the most flavorful aspect of this grand ol’ game. The regular season is a time for men, not for the faint of heart.

Am I overstating? No. It’s the only sport on the planet where what you do in Week 1 is important in determining who qualifies for the championship round. This has been true since the inception of the BCS and the intensity has been ratcheted up with the College Football Playoff.

Here’s the deal. The playoff committee’s job starts Labor Day weekend. For the perceived contenders with expectations of the CFP, they’d better bring it right away. To the teams starting the season with modest expectations but want to shock the world? Their road to Tampa kicks off in Week 1. There is little room for error in college football and that is a great thing.

If Oklahoma falls to Houston on Sept. 3, they’re on the brink. Can’t lose again. If Houston wants consideration for a playoff spot, the Coogs must beat OU and Louisville and everyone else on their slate.

If Wisconsin beats LSU at Lambeau Field, the expectations and possibilities open up. If Tennessee wants this to be a special season, it can’t lose to Appalachian State.

We may disagree on many points. For instance, I believe that college football produces the best regular season of any organized sport in the world. I also believe that staying at four teams is critical for the sport’s long-term, year-round health.

The people that disagree with me on those issues have a right to their opinion, even if they’re wrong. Those folks are the guy who attends the Rose Parade but spends his whole time checking Twitter so people at home can tell him how beautiful it is. They’d see it, too, if they’d just bother to look up.

The nature of the sport is very clear. If a team plays a good schedule from top to bottom and wins them all, they’ll be there. If they lose one, they’re taking their chances. Lose two and the stars will need to align. And, if you go out of your way to take the path of least resistance to earn a spot in the playoff, do it at your own risk (we’re all looking at you, Baylor 2014).

Most fans will enjoy the games this weekend because football is back. But, it’s more than that, much more. Stuff gets real this week, people.

For college football to be enjoyed to its fullest, it’s a must to recognize the significance of each week. Because what happens Labor Day Weekend will impact who the selection committee chooses in December.

College Football Playoff: A Rose By Any Other Name Wouldn’t Smell As Sweet

Fixing the Bugs

Everybody needs to understand that the College Football Playoff is still a work in progress. It will at be at least a few more seasons before the committee works out all the glitches of the brand new system.

One of the glitches the committee was recently forced to deal with was the failure of the New Year’s Eve semi-final games, to which the committee has officially decided to move the semifinals away from.

This decision comes on the back of a pair games that saw ratings drop 35% from the previous CFP semis. It is important to note that these games were not very close.

However,  no major sporting event’s TV ratings should drop that much simply from the result. It was clear to everyone, and eventually to the committee, that the New Year’s Eve semifinals needed to change.

So, everyone should be excited that, starting in the 2018 season, the College Football Playoff semifinals will be moving to December 29.

Wait that can’t be right…December 29, really? Oh, and in 2019 they move to the 28, splendid.

Yes, because we all know nothing screams “college football” like New Year’s Eve-Eve-Eve-Eve.

The Numbers Game

In all seriousness though, why has the committee had such a problem with this? They keep moving the date around instead of going back to the one day when people are guaranteed to watch Bowl Games: New Year’s.

In most college football families, watching the Rose Bowl and the other New Year’s games are a tradition. Thus, it is incredibly nerve-racking to see the committee moving further and further away from this date.

Even when NFL games steal New Year’s Day, the Rose Bowl always puts up great numbers. In 2012, when played on the 2nd of January, the Rose Bowl TV ratings didn’t drop any significant amount.

Even when the Rose Bowl ratings dropped to a record low 7.4 last year, on the backs of two teams, Stanford and Iowa, with rather small followings compared to the behemoths, such as Ohio State or Norte Dame, whom often compete in the Game of Rose, the Rose Bowl’s ratings were still relatively close to the CFP games, whose low numbers should have dwarfed that year’s Rose Bowl match-up.

A Permanent Fix

My addendum to the College Football Playoff is this: From now on, The Rose Bowl will always be one of the two CFP semis, on January 1 or 2. Then, the follow-up game immediately after will be the second semi, and will rotate between bidding cities and the former BCS bowl locations. Because, as much as people may try to argue, we all know that the Rose Bowl is on another level.

I mean, come on, it’s literally called “The Granddaddy Of Them All.”

People will always care more about the Rose Bowl than any other generic Bowl that is made. The Rose bowl is the ultimate in the College Football world, and it needs to be the permanent centerpiece of the CFP.

Lets make the Rose Bowl the start of the College Football Playoff from here on out and allow it’s ratings to help boost the following Semifinal. Stop trying to make other games as prominent as the Rose, and simply use the Rose to boost TV ratings, viewership and corporate interest as much as possible.

At the end of the day, wouldn’t it make sense to center the biggest event in college football around the biggest single game in college football? Truly, in order to keep people fully engaged in the CFP, we should make sure that they are watching the best game they can.

The Rose Bowl is the heart of all things college football, maybe even all things college sports. As such, I think it would be wise for the CFP committee to make the Rose Bowl the official start of the College Football Playoff.

It will really help cement the brand of the CFP, and provide college football with a bright future for years to come.

E-mail Cooper at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @uf_goetz.

Photo courtesy of Ken Lund – Flickr

Too Many Bowl Games?

Finally, the folks at the NCAA came up with something I can actually support. It seems that the NCAA has placed a three-year halt on adding additional bowl games, effective until after the 2019 season.  I mean, let’s be honest here. Do we really need to have 41 bowl games? I love football as much as the next guy, possibly even more, but I can only do so many bowl games. Hell, I can’t even recall the all the names of the bowl games. It’s as if they change names and sponsors every year. It’s getting hard to keep up with and in the quest to add more (money)-excuse me, more games to satiate the football soul, the very essence of the game has been lost in the shuffle.

I cannot even remember who played in most of the bowl games outside of the main bowls I grew accustomed to- about 20 or so bowls. Now that I mention it, 20 bowl games sound a bit excessive. My one redeeming argument is that there are at least 40 good teams playing in these bowls so the entertainment factor is significantly higher.

Last season there were three teams (Minnesota, Nebraska, and San Jose State) with losing records playing in the postseason. Over the past 45 years prior to this season, only four teams total with losing records were able to play in a bowl game. Where have we gone wrong? There’s a piece of me that has a bit of sympathy for under-performing programs that get a shot to salvage a season that would, in most cases, be deemed a wash. However, the football purist in me is cringing at the fact that there are too many games. Not every team needs to make the postseason. The postseason has become so over-saturated with games, to the point that teams don’t necessarily have to sweat about their performance during the regular season.

It’s as if the NCAA is rewarding mediocrity. It dilutes the spirit of competition. Not every program is going to, nor are they supposed to win. This reminds me of a commercial that I saw where a father and son are leaving a championship game, which the son won, and all the players on his team as well as the team that lost received the same participation trophy as a culminating prize. No championship trophy for the champs? It’s this everybody’s-a-winner mentality that drives me up a wall. Sure, it’s great for children because accepting defeat is a difficult skill to manage. However, in sport, there has to be a winner. Otherwise, why strive to be the best you can be? It makes no sense to bust your ass when, in the end, they’re all going to be receiving the same amount of recognition for “participating.” It’s unacceptable.

I love competition. Competition is why we play the game. Yeah, it’s fun to play the game, but as former NFL coach and current ESPN NFL analyst Herm Edwards says, “you play to win the game.” And if you win enough games, you should be rewarded with a bowl berth. Teams should not be rewarded with bowl berths just to fill slots.

I feel that the NCAA should just cut down on the number of bowl games played. Having 41 bowl games  is flat out ridiculous. I can’t imagine sitting through all those games. At some point, the quality of play and overall significance of the outcome mean absolutely nothing. These are factors that dampen the quality of bowl season. Alas, football’s popularity is at an all-time high, so the NCAA is milking the passion of loyal watchers just to line pockets. It’s a sad day indeed.

When the 2019 season concludes, we’ll see if there is still a need to add more bowl games to an already crowded postseason schedule. My hope is that a ton of common sense bricks fall on the collective heads of the NCAA bowl committee and they realize that they are slowly killing the sport. The last thing I want to equate bowl season with is boredom. If the NCAA is not careful, those days may be upon us sooner than we think. Football heavens help us!

Photo Courtesy: CityofStPete

New Year Breeze: Hope Frees, CFB Semis & NFL Regular Finale

We’re in the singularly scintillating time of season for college foot-bowl semifinals (blowouts), NFL playoff-slot finalization, the carnage of NFL coach elimination, and the eternally springing hope of a New Year’s clear determination to do different, better: thinner, happier, more productive. Filled with the freshly-fallen inspiration of life enchantment , still untainted by time’s gritty-truth-cycle, I’d like to offer this re-working (ruining) of New Year’s classic tune as a gift from hope’s fleeting seat, or a garish gargle of peril to come, depending on if you feel the beat, sung: *(To the tune of “Auld Lang Syne“)* Should bubbly bottles be full-bought, as fizz post-pop floats on; Ice trays refilling drinks all night, some drunks last long past dawn; Thy Chicken Breasts be microwav’d, skat jazz speak best left behind; And friendly faces to deflect, from jocks Time thought divine. *(If you don’t like this rhyme-mime let Mr. Tom Waits tell you what’s fine and divine between New Year grime)

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

Link Dinks and Dunks https://twitter.com/nickbreezus/status/683435887506644992 No surprise, OSU’s sometimes QB Cardale going proA look at ‘Bama’s stud in the fading fullback field…Who will watch the playoff on New Year’s fricking Eve?…Auburn tops Memphis in Birmingham Bowl…Nice video on the world of East St. Louis (MO.) High School football

CFB Game of the Week: $$$2 Alabama 38 vs. #3 Michigan State 0 (Cotton Bowl – CFB Semi) If you didn’t know the final score and only saw the first couple drives for each team, you might’ve thought this game played out as a low-scoring, grind-it-out, defensive affair. Of course, you’d be wronger than ketchup on cereal as Alabama quickly adjusted to Sparty’s D mostly suffocating stud RB Derrick Henry by countering with QB Coker to flossy-Freshman WR Calvin Ridley, opening the floodgates from a weapons-grade warehouse of whoop-ass. I weep for East Lansing a bit, as the “little-brother” tag they’d seemed to have shed by (barely) beating Michigan, Ohio State, winning the Big Ten title and making the Playoff has now come creeping back since being so thoroughly outclassed against ‘Bama.

The same tired (but partially true) storylines of “Vastly superior SEC line play stomps Spartan hopes” and “Alabama’s stockpile of seasoned 5-star recruits smashes MSU’s overachievers” have already begun to spin out of control, and I just hope we can all remember how great Alabama is and how no one can take away the massive step Michigan State’s program has taken recently, now sitting comfortably among college football’s elite. Perhaps some teams are just perpetual media underdogs, no matter how consistently excellent they are.

Perhaps the Carolina Panthers would’ve gotten smashed by this Crimson Tide machine, which now appears enroute to its 4th national championship title in the past 7 years, once those pesky Clemson Tigers get out of the way.

One Play From the Game, My Way: Derrick Henry trucks Shilique Calhoun to end Sparty’s evening, season THIS IS WHAT I’M DOING TO DEPRESSION, DISTRACTION, AND INACTION IN 2016 https://vine.co/v/iqln6AYMeqL MSU’s outstanding DE, Shilique Calhoun is the player Derrick Henry so effortlessly flings to the field in the Vine above. Shilique Calhoun will likely be a 1st or 2nd-Round pick in this April’s NFL Draft, was a 2nd-team All-American this past year, and is “oh-by-the-way” 24 years old. In other words, he’s a bona-fide beast with age and size on his side.

However, Derrick Henry is this year’s Heisman winner, touting a mutant stregth-size-speed combination and a left-handed stiff-arm made of malice and built to bust egos. This is just one play from many, and things happen so fast in games that it’s terribly unfair to slow them down, slap ’em on a repeating Vine, and have the outstanding player quickly beaten in a singular instance seem as though his soul was stolen and smashed by a superior. I hope this is understood.

Having said that, it’s impossible to ignore the synchronicity captured in this moment of ill-will Bama’s RB visits upon Calhoun and the overall terror the Crimson Tide forced down Sparty’s throats all day long. Bama didn’t just beat MSU, they flippantly tossed them aside, just as Henry does here. Calhoun’s attempt to tackle here isn’t even a minor annoyance to Henry, who’s seemingly considering what he’ll do with his NFL millions as he trucks through the air toward pay-dirt.

One of the most amazing feats exhibited in this burst of beasting, is how Henry not only shoves Calhoun to the ground via his face while running at full speed, but how he manages to u-turn the entire trajectory of an explosive, 6’5″, 250-pound athlete trying with everything he has to impede the runner’s progress. At the end of the tackling attempt, Henry displays once again the amazingly-casual brutishness (with which he seems to always play) in this scoring run, while Calhoun’s moving the opposite way of whence he came, exemplary of these teams’ opposing trajectories after the trouncing.

3 Joke-thoughts Inspired by the Above Vine: 1. If your New Year’s resolution is to be healthy, this is how strictly you must treat sweets and fast food 2. Public Service Announcement for Children: This is how to treat strangers with candy 3. This is what my mind does to the occasional desire for self-improvement

One other nice play from the game: Calvin Ridley TD catch vs. tight coverage exemplifying the fight ever-present, natural within football, competition

Let the Bowls Continue! (Selected Bowl Roundup)

#1 Clemson vs. #4 Oklahoma (Orange Bowl – CFB Semifinal)
Watson makes Sooners scheme seem an elementary education, as Tigers roll on to Tide and ‘O-homa takes a forced vacation

Navy vs. Pittsburgh (Military)
Cadets’ QB K. Reynolds makes Narduzzi’s new nuts rusty with NCAA TD record in hand and victory glad

Baylor vs. UNC (Russell Athletic)
Baylor beats the Tar outta Academic Heels

LSU vs. Texas Tech (Texas)
Lenny F. jets Tech back to rec specs, Tigers spoil oil money fun

Houston vs. FSU (Peach)
Cougars luger cold pie to Seminoles, Herman on path to Holy Role

Michigan vs. Florida (Citrus)
First-year coaches bowl shows Harbaugh shoulders above, Wolverines give Gators the glove

Notre Dame vs. Ohio State (Fiesta)
Battle of dissed playoff misses confirms Buckeyes better than most that matter, splatter Irish

Stanford vs. Iowa (Rose)
Ed did good in spurting Christian (McCaffrey), as old Bronco seed produces current Cardinal deeds destroying Hawkeye’s needs

Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma St. (Sugar)
Rebels Freeze Gundy’s Monday Morning Men, send Cowboys back to poking cows

NFL WEEK 17 PORTION OF THE PROGRAM

NFL Link Dinks and Dunks of the Week https://twitter.com/nickbreezus/status/683129804204412928 Chip Kelly somewhat surprisingly canned in Philly…The rest of the “Black Monday” coaching firesManziel out at Cleveland, lusts for Jerry-dome…Steve Smith Sr. coming back to the Ravens in ‘16…How will ‘Bama’s Heisman-winning workhorse RB Derrick Henry…A look at the future of virtual reality in football

NFL Game of the Week

Seahawks 36 vs. Cardinals 6 With Arizona already earning the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs, it wouldn’t have shocked anyone for them to come out a little flat against Seattle on Sunday night. It was surprising, however, to see the team in red appear limper than a soggy tater-tot, slogging (apparently) through thick soup (dry heat?) while Seattle soared in, over, and around the Cardinals to a dominating win. Russel Wilson was his recently-unstoppable self, completing 19 of 28 passes for three scores, 4 kittens saved from trees, 2 robberies thwarted, and 650 hope-filled inspirations instilled throughout the United States. Tyler Lockett jitter-bugged past would-be special team heroes in the return game, the Seahawks stifled Carson Palmer’s aerial attack, and that fearsome Seattle defense shut down impressive ‘Zona RB David Johnson from the get-go, leading to a wire-to-wire destruction of a team that just last week looked like the best team in the NFL. What this says for the playoff hopes of both teams is anyone’s guess. Was Seattle just working its way through a typically tough regular season, honing, tinkering, just trying to stay healthy, and now in prime form for a thrice-repeat run to the Super Bowl? Was Arizona really just sleepwalking through this game with their immediate playoff fate already sealed, resting their excellence until it matters most? More importantly, do they have the transcendent and fleeting ability of very few to “turn it on” when they want and need to? Only time will tell those of us lucky to live to see it all unfold.

One Game-Defining Play, My Way: Sherman Waxes Poetic Given this game was such a thorough Cardinal ass-kicking by the Seahawks, and reflective of those pesky CFB semifinal blowouts , I’m just gonna leave this right here as a symbol of what played out in many parts of the country this past week. Despite some lopsided scores, it was still thrilling brilliance.

https://vine.co/v/ibP30plQiwq

 

NFL Results Roundup

Jets @ Bills
Rexy Bison Boar ruins the hopes of Jersey Shore, eats more than lap band prefers in celebre

Patriots @ Dolphins
Tannehill thrills South Beach with Fins win and Belichick encouraged to suck a Peach

Saints @ Falcons
Brees keeps saying “Suck deez” too late, but berates ATL on boards of score

Ravens @ Bengals
Ray-J McKieran leads the B’s past the B’s, AJ to AJ mentions refuse to end

Steelers @ Browns
Big Knee Braced-Ben beats Browns, then Cleveland fires everyone

Jags @ Texans
Texas Open-carries and tea-bags Jags, we all wear paper face-bags

Titans @ Colts
Pagano’s (supposedly) fiery-seat beats Tennessee dreams of avoiding defeat

Washington @ Cowboys
Cousins crew keeps rolling, apparently Saban’s Crimson Tide have won more in the Jerry-dome this year than the ‘Boys, true story

Eagles @ Giants
Coughlin set to resign? Eagles lose Chip on shoulder but push win boulder uphill, sneak thrill over NYG

Lions @ Bears
Deeeeeetroiiiiiit fooooootballll beats Chi-town’s blustery bullshit

Bucs @ Panthers
Cam-town recovers from last week’s surprising upset and smokes Tampa, ample

Raiders @ Chiefs
Close contest but Reid knows best with KC beating Oakland’s tease

Chargers @ Broncos
The Return of Peyton brings Broncos to beat electric-&-soon-to-be-LA Chargers

Seahawks @ Cardinals
Carroll’s curmudgeons put Palmer in the defeat dungeon, beat the hell outta AZ

Rams @ 49ers
San Fran takes Tomsula from also ran to run Saint Louis to South Cali egregiously

Vikings @ Packers
Peterson wins rushing crown, powers Teddy and the Gang past the Artist Formerly Known as Aaron Rodgers

Selfishly Sprayed Tweets from the Peak

Ranking the SEC Bowl Games of Importance

The satisfaction of reaching a bowl game varies among programs across the SEC and college football. Having the luxury to virtually prepare for next season with a postseason game to foreshadow is how some teams may approach the bowl season as in Auburn, LSU and Tennessee returning its starting quarterbacks for next season with a talented enough roster to make an impact. Other teams like Arkansas and Mississippi State look to provide a proper send off to two of the nation’s most efficient passers along with a couple of other all-conference performers.

The once dominant SEC, yes I used that in the past tense, has taken a step down this season with underperformance and the lack of big quarterback play. The conference usually hangs its hat on its successful bowl showing and looks to capitalize on some favorable matchups heading into the new year. Making the conference look good is one thing, but individually some teams need a good showing to help boost the program’s image or to continue to ride its success. Here is the breakdown of which games I view are most important to the programs and teams individually regarding the current status of the team.

#10. Tax Slayer Bowl: Georgia vs. Penn State

With the departure of Mark Richt and the absence of eventual head coach Kirby Smart, this game is really just something to enjoy on your New Year’s Day hangover. The Bulldogs still without all-conference runner Nick Chubb can reach the 10-win mark for the fourth time in five seasons. But yet, Bulldog fans wanted Richt out and the demands were met. Welcome to college football, folks!

Game Details: Jan. 2 at Noon EST on ESPN // Jacksonville, FL // EverBank Field

#9. Citrus Bowl: Florida vs. Michigan

Frankly, just getting to a mid-tier bowl in his first season as head coach, Jim McElwain has already had a successful inaugural season in Gainesville. With quarterback issues and an inconsistent offense, not much is expected from this Gator squad on New Year’s Day. Amazingly making it to the SEC Championship Game with 10 wins, the Gators have already reached its peak this season and getting to 11 wins is just a luxury. Having that opportunity alone tells you what a fine job McElwain has done this season or the lack of a strong East division or a little bit of both.

Game Details: Jan. 1 at 1 p.m. EST on ABC // Orlando, FL // Orlando Citrus Bowl

#8. Sugar Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Oklahoma State

A pseudo fumble play essentially eliminated them from going to Atlanta for its first ever SEC title game appearance and the Rebels will settle for second place in the SEC with a Sugar Bowl berth. The game is important to many in the game but from an outsiders’ perspective the game will just be entertaining to watch as we know the program is in good hands with or without a win here. One thing is for certain though: NFL scouts will be aplenty.Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.14.13 PM

Game Details: Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. EST on ESPN // New Orleans, LA // Mercedes Benz Super Dome

#7. Liberty Bowl: Arkansas vs. Kansas State

Having won its past two bowl games versus the Big 12, the Razorbacks are prone to having hot finishes as of late. The key to ending this game with a win is to carry the victory over to next season. Arkansas dominated a declining Texas squad a season ago, but failed to keep the momentum into the 2015 season. The importance of this game is to win, but to also deliver a bright spot to the 2016 season without Brandon Allen.

Game Details: Jan. 2 at 3:20 p.m. EST on ESPN // Memphis, TN // Liberty Bowl

#6. Belk Bowl: Mississippi State vs. NC State

Mississippi State was picked to finish last in the always highly competitive West division in the preseason and managed to come away with eight wins. Finding a way to get to eight wins was huge for this program and compliments Dan Mullen’s ability to hang in there with some of the top teams in the division. With Mullen’s name being tossed around for some coaching jobs it’s unsure to note how comfortable Mullen is staying in Starkville for a longer period of time. I’m guessing a win here sure would help. Oh, and we’ll miss you Dak!

Game Details: Dec. 30 at 3:30 p.m. EST on ESPN // Charlotte, NC // Bank of America Stadium

#5. Texas Bowl: LSU vs. Texas Tech

Pretty much having to “rehire” Les Miles as its head coach, LSU has the opportunity to get to nine wins in what has been a very interesting and lopsided season. With a win here, it gives LSU officials that doubted the direction of the program the chance to not say, “I told you so,” with a loss here motivating that comment. Regardless, LSU has the opportunity to capitalize on its impressive amount of bowl victories in its history currently at 23 wins.

Game Details: Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. EST on ESPN // Houston, TX // NRG Stadium

#4. Outback Bowl: Tennessee vs. Northwestern

What more positive things can we say about this Tennessee program with Butch Jones? We’ve tried to embrace the new culture but the wins and intensity has yet to stick. Jones isn’t on his way out, but if an unattractive loss came to the Big Ten’s Vanderbilt, there will be some heavy heat on the program heading into 2016, but I don’t have to warn you about that happening.

Game Details: Jan. 1 at Noon EST on ESPN 2 // Tampa, FL // Raymond James Stadium

#3. Music City Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Louisville

Screen Shot 2015-12-17 at 5.29.28 PMThe offensive schemes in this matchup of Kevin Sumlin and Bobby Petrino are intriguing enough without whatever is going on in College Station at the moment. First off, the Aggies are going to have to find a quarterback to start the game and Sumlin will need to find a way to distract viewers and followers from the dark cloud looming over the campus. A win would of course help the rumors and exaggerations from spreading even further.

Game Details: Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN // Nashville, TN // Nissan Stadium

#2. Birmingham Bowl: Auburn vs. Memphis

The punishment of finishing with an underwhelming 6-6 record is a bus ride two hours up the road to take on the number one rated NFL draft quarterback Paxton Lynch (good luck with that). Gus Malzahn is 0-2 in bowl games at Auburn and both losses have come when failing to hold fourth quarter leads. Malzahn’s seat is getting warm and another bowl loss, even without much of a defensive staff, would be an extremely disappointing outcome and would create some murmurs throughout the fan base.

Game Details: Dec. 30 at Noon EST on ESPN // Birmingham, AL // Legion Field

#1. Cotton Bowl: Alabama vs. Michigan State

We knew Alabama would get here somehow to be the lone team to represent the SEC. The importance of this game falls on the shoulders of the SEC and the Alabama program itself. The SEC’s stance on this game is hoping to at least have Alabama win for a chance to win another national championship for the conference. As for Alabama, the loss to the later national champion Ohio State did not settle well in Tuscaloosa and if the Tide were going to drop another, I imagine there would be some uncomfortable feelings toward the football program.

Game Details: Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN // Dallas/Arlington, TX // AT&T Stadium

Pac-12 Notebook: Arizona, Oregon State, and Colorado

Arizona: Welcome to the team that won the Pac-12 South last season, but who is getting no love from the pre-season prognosticators in terms of repeating with another South title. Why? Good question. Being in Tucson, a great college town, but not next to any major city does hurt them with national recognition. Two, besides Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, can anybody name a starter on either side of the ball? Some people might be able to say Scooby Wright or maybe, MAYBE Anu Solomon, but most wouldn’t in my honest opinion. While their hated rival in Arizona State, USC, and UCLA garner most of the attention with the division, the Wildcats are quietly going about their business of preparing for the upcoming season. That’s just how they like it at Arizona. They are not going to beat their chests, they will just go to work and get ready to smack teams around for the 2015 season. Don’t sleep on this version of the Cats. If you do, you may be missing out on an extremely talented team.

The three headed monster of Anu Solomon (QB), Nick Wilson (RB), and Cayleb Jones (WR) form a talented “Big 3” for the Wildcats. Each of these players is going to have to learn how to get better to close the deal this year and possibly win the South or even the Pac-12 title. Scooby Wright is the All-American who came out of nowhere and won the Butkus Award for the best linebacker in the country last season. For the Wildcats to crash the party again, the maturity and experience that they gained last season will have to continue this year.

There is talent here in Tucson. People inside the Pac-12 and in Tucson know that, it may be time that the rest of the country gets acquainted with what Rich Rod is doing down in the desert. To be beat the Cats, it’s going to take a complete team effort by the opposition. As I said earlier, do not sleep on Arizona. You just may regret it.

Oregon State: There are many story lines in Corvallis, but I’m going to concentrate on the quarterback battle and defense. Head Coach Gary Andersen has many things to decide in the next few weeks, but probably the biggest is who going to start under center for the Beavers. One thing is for certain, it’s going to be a freshman. As of right now, the race looks like it is down to a couple of candidates. Seth Collins, freshman quarterback, seems like the most likely candidate right now. He can run, he can throw, and he’s a very athletic player. However, there is another quarterback challenging for the starting position and that player is Marcus McMaryion whose development has come as a surprise to many. In the last scrimmage, McMaryion’s play stood out and has certainly opened the eyes of the coaches and now the race to be the starting Beaver quarterback is a legitimate two man race.

Defense in Corvallis will be something that the fans are just going to have to have patience with. New DC Kalani Sitake, who was the DC at Utah last season will be installing a 3-4 defense and will be replacing just about everybody on the defense from last season. It’s going to be a chore for Sitake to stop the high powered offenses in the Pac-12, so the fans are going to have to give him and the player’s time to adapt to the new schemes. Sitake likes to be aggressive with pressure from all angles and with a new defensive scheme for the players, can he be as aggressive as he has been in the past? Does he dial it back a bit and let his players learn and get better as the season goes on, and slowly dial up the pressure as the players develop during the season? Whatever he decides, it’s going to be fun to watch what the Beavers can do to stop all the offenses in the conference.

Colorado: In Boulder, Colorado there is optimism. Optimism that hasn’t been there in a very long time. Head Coach Mike MacIntyre has been talking about making “the turn” this season because of the experience gained during last season. He’s even talking bowl games. Whoa… what did he say? Bowl games? Yes, bowl games for the Colorado Buffaloes is what the coach is discussing for the team. Why he is talking about the postseason? Well, in part, because his players are and have the confidence that they can do something like that in 2015. “I can talk about it with this team because they believe it.” Said MacIntyre recently at the team’s media day.

The team really believes in themselves because of how close they were last season in terms of getting some big wins. They took UCLA down to the wire last season and were within 5 points or less on a few occasions last season, so the team took that as confidence for this season. The Buffs lost to Utah by four points and lost to California in double overtime by three points. Looking at the narrow losses that they had in 2014, it’s easy to see why the players have this type of bravado about going to a bowl.

The issue that they have is that they are in arguably the best division in college football. The Pac-12 South, where 5 out of the 6 teams went to a bowl game last year and all of them are returning most of their talent and have gathered other talent to come to their respective schools, so they have just as much depth, if not more, than Colorado. It’s a tough road ahead of them, but the confidence beaming from Boulder is not going unnoticed.

Instead of Expanding Conferences, Maybe Eliminate Them Instead

I made the mistake of ignoring college football for about 45 days this year. Some call it a vacation; others call it stupidity. The ignorance wasn’t planned, but life and what we in Ohio like to call Summer – warmer temperatures, but with daily rain – got in the way. I was quickly jarred back into my college football reality when I saw words on Twitter that indicated the Big 12 was in trouble (it isn’t) and that the Pacific-12 is again considering expansion (it shouldn’t).

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear: the current conference makeup in college sports is a complete cluster. Almost none of the 2010-2013 moves now make any sense. I know it’s all about money, but you can’t sell me on Missouri in the SEC or Nebraska in the Big Ten.

At the time, the moves made sense because the Big 12 was an absolute joke, and no one had the guts to tell Texas to shut up and fall in line. Don’t forget the Pac-10 wanted to be bigger and there was all this “new” television money.

Blame whomever you want for that round of realignment or deck chair re-arranging, but to put college fans through it again is stupid.

Yes, stupid.

Since I try not to be one to complain about something without a potential solution, I’ll offer one that changes the complete landscape of college football and probably collegiate sports as we know it.

Eliminate the conferences.

Yep, for football, eliminate the Power-5 conferences and construct some type of model where FBS teams are split into two divisions. After you split them into two easy divisions, — sure East and West work — roll the FBS post-season and championship back to the NCAA’s control and have the association become the central schedule maker for FBS football.

Two divisions gives you a few things that fans want to see:

  1. Traditional rivalries every year. Notre Dame/USC, Texas/Texas A&M, Ohio State/Michigan, Oklahoma/Nebraska, etc.
  2. Eliminates bad conference games. Ohio State/Nebraska, Iowa State/Any good team, Colorado/USC, etc.
  3. Eliminate conference championship games. Let’s be 100% real with each other, none of us need to see a Power-5’s conference championship game. If we really want that extra game then convert it to a regular season game.
  4. Eliminates games versus the FCS. Alabama playing Western Carolina, Oregon playing South Dakota or any of those other teams is disrespectful to college football’s most important fans: those who pay for tickets. FBS teams can play FCS teams in the spring if you really need to see Ohio State beat the pants off Youngstown State.
  5. Dynamic and yearly scheduling. College athletic directors have done a great job of selling you on how important it is to schedule games in eight years in advance. The reality is if you told Jerry Jones in February that he could have Ohio State and Notre Dame on opening weekend in September, he’d find a way to make it work. I also have faith that fans from both schools would fill AT&T Stadium with less than a year’s notice. If we can do this for playoff bowl games, we can do it for great regular season games.

I won’t pretend all these ideas are peaches and cream, and yes, some traditional – albeit terrible – rivalries won’t survive, but the truth is that college football is being held back by conferences.

The organization that already funnels significantly more money back to its member schools, the NCAA, is in a better position to manage television contracts on a national level than individual conferences. For those of you that want a 16-team playoff, this is easiest way to get there.

The association can tier television money based on a schools finishing playoff position. The champion and runner-up can have the most, positions three through eight can evenly split another pool; nine through 16 can split a smaller, third pool and everyone else can get the money back they put into participating in football.

It could work like your basketball bracket pool; Bob from accounting is terrible at picking teams, but we’ll give him his $5 back for participating.

This idea is a rough draft, but no, I don’t intend to pay student-athletes unless they’re funding their own education and athletic training, I’ll eliminate probably half the bowl games, and it’s completely fair to reduce the size of FBS by about 20-30%. I propose we only allow FBS expansion once every five years without exception, and new entrants will have to prove their worth against third-tier FBS schools in spring football games.

How crazy – or stupid – is this idea? Are you in favor of additional conference realignment? Leave a comment below or e-mail Damien at [email protected]. Damien is on Twitter @damiEnbowman.

Fixes to the College Football Bowl System

80 teams. That is the number of FBS teams that will get to play in a post-season bowl game in 2015 now that two new bowls are starting up this year. There were three approved, but Austin has decided to postpone its inaugural bowl game to 2016, bringing us to *gasp* only 41 for the year. How can I be certain my favorite 6-6 or 7-5 team will make a bowl? What will I do without one more opportunity to watch two mediocre teams when I should be out holiday shopping?

In all seriousness (as serious as talking about college football can be anyway), the number of bowl games has been in the ridiculous territory for a while and is now reaching outrageous realms. The number of bowls has been growing in bunches annually, and has given us a vast increase from the total of 25 we had just 15 years ago. Adding to the issue of the sheer number of bowls are the eligibility rules. For the simplicity of this article, the eligibility rules state a team must be at least 6-6 to be eligible for a bowl game, though different intricacies of the rules and exceptions can change this a bit. Already last year the bowls were close to not having enough eligible teams to choose from and now the number of bowl games and subsequent spots is only increasing. But is this problem based on the eligibility rules themselves or the number of bowls? And how do we fix it?

I say we just eliminate half the bowl games. Ok, that’s not realistic and probably not entirely necessary either. However something needs to be done about the current system, and I have some ideas on how to improve the situation at hand. One is to address the number of bowl games along with the conference tie-ins that bowls have and another is with the timing of bowls. My last idea is the most drastic, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

The most prominent issue is obviously with the number of bowl games. There is a growing concern that one of these years there will not be enough bowl eligible teams to fill the available slots. Ideally, we could eliminate five or so bowl games. Do we really need to reward teams who finished 6-6? Unfortunately, since the head honchos who run each bowl games are making bank off of them, I doubt they are going to willingly give up the right to host a bowl game. This makes one thing certain, there cannot be anymore new bowls approved unless another one has dropped out. There has already been a 60% increase in the number of bowls since 2000 and that percentage shouldn’t go any higher. It isn’t about me not wanting to see average teams I don’t care about. My team is Miami and they were 6-6; I didn’t think they deserved to be in a bowl game either.

Some things that are not huge issues but just bug the hell out of me are bowl tie-ins and the timing of games. Some of the traditional tie-ins are fine, but in general I don’t see why we need them. This is particularly the case with New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day bowls where the same four or five Big 10 and SEC teams seem to play each other year in and year out. Can’t we just make a rule where a bowl can only have the same bowl tie-ins for three years at a time? It would give teams a chance for exposure in new recruiting territories and increase ticket sales by slowing the pace of fan bases getting tired of attending their teams’ bowl games in the same locales.

The thing that bothers me more however is non-major bowl games being played after New Year’s Day. There is something to be said about a sport’s season crescendo-ing to an end. College football doesn’t exactly abide by this. It will be one thing to have New Year’s Day traditions like the Outback Bowl being played after the playoff games, which take place on New Year’s Eve, this year. It’s another thing, a ridiculous thing, to have irrelevant games like the Alamo Bowl and Liberty Bowl being played after the New Year’s Six and before the Championship Game. It needs to stop. These bowls with less prestige should be played during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

That leaves me with my last idea for spicing up the bowl season, which is allowing FCS teams to be eligible for bowl games. There are some obvious logistical details that would have to be worked out. The Top 8 teams for the FCS playoffs, as chosen by a committee, receive first round byes. These teams are generally around 10 win teams, consisting of the likes of North Dakota State and Eastern Washington who have recently knocked off FBS teams, and should be eligible for an FBS bowl game. Being eligible would allow them the option of being in a bowl game. The caveat is that the playoffs are set about two weeks before the end of the FBS season, so a program would have to decide between being in a bowl game and the chance for the Division 1-AA championship. Because of this, deciding on a bowl game would guarantee them a spot in a bowl.

I don’t think that having an FCS team would be a negative for a bowl game and in fact, would likely only increase interest in the game. The lowest ten bowl games sold 62% or less of the possible tickets, so I don’t think having an FCS team could make that much worse. It could even improve attendance if the game is close to the FCS campus or gives its fans and alumni a once in a lifetime opportunity to see its team in a bowl game in a sunny vacation spot. Then there’s TV viewership. TV ratings are already off the charts even for the early bowl games. And are people watching because they are actually interested or just because it is any football game? Give the nation an FCS underdog versus a traditional power who had a down year and even more folks would tune in.

So what is the incentive for FCS teams to do this? Sure, they would be giving up the chance to compete for that year’s 1-AA championship, but there are a couple of good reasons a team would choose to do so. The first is publicity. Unless you are North Dakota State, FCS teams aren’t getting any national hype. Being in a bowl game would give them infinitely more publicity and national exposure than they could ever get otherwise. The second, and most obvious reason, is money. No FCS athletic department made money in 2013 and only one football program brought in a profit. Let’s face it, it costs a lot of money to provide a football team and there is a reason FCS teams play on the road against big time FBS teams. Those checks for upwards of a million dollars help support those athletic departments. The Bottom 10 bowl games paid out anywhere from 300-750 thousand dollars per slot, and that type of money would go an extremely long way for an FCS program. From exposure to money for scholarships and facilities, I could see an FCS team choosing a bowl game.

The details of money distribution would also have to be hammered out. As always, it comes down to money. FCS teams would be doing it for that reason, so there wouldn’t be a lot of issues there. The one thing that I was hung up on for a while though was finding a reason the FBS teams and conferences would allow this. After all, the money paid out for each bowl slot goes to that team’s respective conference and is then shelled out to its members. Whatever respective conference would be losing a bowl spot to an FCS team. On the other hand, many teams lose money in lower tier bowl games and the conferences have to use some of their overall bowl profits to make up for those losses.

This is the solution I came up with. The monetary payout for the FCS team’s slot would get split in half. The FCS team doesn’t have to share its payout with other members of a conference so even half of $300k-750k would allow the school to make a profit even after considering expenses such as travel, hotel rooms, and ticket allotment. They could make an even bigger profit if the bowl they go to is local enough that the team could bus as opposed to flying. The other half of the payout would go to the conference that was supposed to have a team in that bowl game. The conference then wouldn’t completely lose out on that money, and it would be 100% profit without even sending a team to the game. That particular conference would also not have to worry about using part of its overall bowl profits to cover a possible net loss from one of its teams playing in that bowl game.

There certainly isn’t a perfect plan for fixing the current bowl system, especially with the number of bowls going nowhere but up. Considering that fact, I think having all less-important bowls before New Year’s Eve, switching up bowl tie-ins, and allowing FCS teams to be eligible would spice up a bowl season that is vastly dominated by the three playoff games. The college football playoff has greatly increased interest in the New Year’s Six bowl games and the national championship game. It’s time we did something about the two weeks preceding them.