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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ranking the Bowl Games

The general consensus from people I've talked to is that this year's bowl matchups stink. I can't really argue -- there aren't a ton of games I'm really interested in. But rather than simply write off the season, I decided to take a closer look. So, in order from worst to best, is how I'd rank the bowl games this year.

34.) Little Caesars Bowl -- Marshall vs. Ohio. I'd much rather watch "We Are Marshall" while drinking with Frank Solich. This game offers nothing to me.

33.) New Mexico Bowl -- Fresno State vs. Wyoming. Fresno State has the seventh-ranked rushing offense nationally and the 111th ranked rushing defense. So at least with all the running, this game will end quickly.

32.) R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl -- Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee. MTSU has a pretty impressive pass rush (first nationally in TFLs, fourth in sacks) so I suppose that's something.

31.) Insight Bowl -- Minnesota vs. Iowa State. Nothing says excitement quite like the ninth-best teams from two overrated conferences. Easily the most boring of any BCS vs BCS games.

30.) International Bowl -- South Florida vs. Northern Illinois. South Florida isn't great, but they're solid. This looks more like an early season tune-up game than an end-of-the-year bowl game.

29.) Valero Alamo Bowl -- Michigan State vs. Texas Tech. Who fell farther from last year's Cap One Bowl, Georgia or Michigan State? Tip o' the cap to Mike Leach, who actually did a nice job of rallying a decimated Texas Tech team to eight wins this year. But it doesn't make this any more interesting of a matchup.

28.) St. Petersburg Bowl -- UCF vs. Rutgers. Rutgers is a feisty team, but they're built on the run. Central Florida has a strong pass rush and is stellar at stopping the run. Three of UCF's four losses came against Texas, Miami and C-USA champ East Carolina. They're not bad.

27.) Outback Bowl -- Northwestern vs. Auburn. Is there anything worse than putting middling, slow-footed Big Ten teams against the SEC? It's always ugly.

26.) Bowl -- South Carolina vs. UConn. Consider me mildly intrigued. That may be enough for me to actually watch this one.

25.) S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl -- Utah vs. Cal. Two teams that started the year with high aspirations but faded quickly. Remember when Cal was ranked No. 6 in the nation? That actually happened this season.

24.) GMAC Bowl -- Central Michigan vs. Troy. Worth watching just for Dan LeFevour. Central Michigan was easily the best team in the state of Michigan this year. Who would thunk that?

23.) EagleBank Bowl -- Army or UCLA vs. Temple. I like that this is like the NCAA hoops play-in game. Also, as a Philly guy, I'm thrilled to see Temple doing well and will be interested in seeing the Owls and standout running back Bernard Pierce, who rushed for more than 1,300 yards. I remember sitting at Temple games at an empty Veterans Stadium back in the day… you could honestly have played linebacker for them in the second half if you'd asked nicely.

22.) Roady's Humanitarian Bowl -- Bowling Green vs. Idaho. You don't watch for the teams. You watch for the blue field. I like to get really blitzed on rum-and-cokes beforehand just to add to the effect.

21.) Texas Bowl -- Navy vs. Missouri. Missouri allows just 96 yards per game on the ground. Navy averages 278 yards per game on the ground. That's an interesting matchup.

20.) Emerald Bowl -- Boston College vs. USC. Ah, the Emerald Bowl. The Chan Gailey Special. This year, the role of Georgia Tech being crushed by an inferior opponent because they've officially quit on their season will be played by Southern Cal. Enjoy!

19.) Meineke Car Care Bowl -- Pitt vs. North Carolina. The battle of two teams that I never bought into this year, but both showed some promise. Seems like a good matchup, and I'll promise to actually respect the winner.

18.) Champs Sports Bowl -- Miami vs. Wisconsin. I want to like this game because on paper it seems like a good matchup. But it just stinks of a game that neither team plays well and both teams probably peaked in Week 5.

16.) Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl -- Houston vs. Air Force and AutoZone Liberty Bowl -- Arkansas vs. East Carolina (tie). I put these guys here because this should have been Arkansas vs. Houston in the Liberty Bowl if ECU hadn't ruined it. The over/under on that game could have been 308 and I would have still taken the over. I'm angry we can't see it.

15.) Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl -- Kentucky vs. Clemson. Randall Cobb vs. CJ Spiller, a matchup of two teams I could care less about but two players that are among the most athletic in college football.

14.) FedEx Orange Bowl -- Iowa vs. Georgia Tech. If you like matchups of two maddeningly frustrating offenses to watch, you're gonna love this one.

13.) Sheraton Hawaii Bowl -- Nevada vs. SMU. Nevada runs the ball a lot (1st in the nation at 362 yards per game). SMU throws the ball a lot (267 yards per game with June Jones as their coach). Of all the mid-major matchups besides the Fiesta Bowl, this one is easily the most intriguing.

12.) Pacific Life Holiday Bowl -- Arizona vs. Nebraska. Worth watching if only to see Ndamukong Suh, but this pits two pretty solid defenses against each other and two teams both on the upswing. The Holiday Bowl has a long history of pitting two teams about to take a big step forward the next year against each other. I could see that happening again this time around.

11.) AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl -- Texas A&M vs. Georgia. Neither team is particularly good, but you have to admit, it's an intriguing matchup. And tell me you're not curious to see how UGA's D looks without any coaches. I mean, didn't we make the joke that they looked like they hadn't been coached all year before? Now here's our chance to see the real thing.

10.) AT&T Cotton Bowl -- Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss. Dexter McCluster is worth watching all by himself, but this should actually be a pretty good game. Both teams spent time ranked in the top-10 this year, and both disappointed a bit for different reasons. It'd be better with Dez Bryant, but it'll be good no matter what.

9.) Konica Minolta Gator Bowl -- West Virginia vs. Florida State. So long, Bobby. I hope you go out with an absolutely hysterical and crazy post-game interview with Holly Rowe.

8.) Brut Sun Bowl -- Oklahoma vs. Stanford. Two teams capable of putting up a lot of points. Toby Gerhart is amazing. If Andrew Luck wasn't doubtful for the game, this would easily be in my top five.

7.) MAACO Las Vegas Bowl -- Oregon State vs. BYU. A matchup of two top-20-caliber teams. Not a sexy game, but will probably be an awfully good one. I also love that BYU always plays in Vegas for its bowl. Nothing like a hilarious juxtaposition during bowl season.

6.) Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi -- Ohio State vs. Oregon. Because who doesn't enjoy seeing Ohio State get another BCS beat down?

5.) Chick-fil-A Bowl -- Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee. Tech is vastly underrated. Tennessee is at least entertaining. Eric Berry should do a nice job of embarrassing Tyrod Taylor, but Tech's defense could have a field day with the Vols, too. There's a lot to like about this matchup.

4.) Tostitos Fiesta Bowl -- Boise State vs. TCU. Yes, I'm interested in watching the game. But no, I am not happy about the matchup. Both of these teams deserved a chance to beat a big boy. It'll be fun to watch, but it would have been more fun to watch them get a real shot.

3.) Capital One Bowl -- Penn State vs. LSU. Marquee matchup that has the potential to actually deliver the goods. Both have good defenses, both have coaches with national championships to their credit, both have been in the top 10 virtually all season. This could be a very, very good game.

2.) Allstate Sugar Bowl -- Florida vs. Cincinnati. I've said all year I think Cincinnati can beat Florida. Now I get to actually find out if I was right. I'm very excited about this matchup. I wonder if Timmy will have an inspirational speech planned or if Florida will fold after the SEC title game loss the way Alabama did last year.

1.) Citi BCS National Championship Game -- Texas vs. Alabama. I think you can make a valid case that TCU deserved its shot here, and certainly you can complain about how Texas played down the stretch. But honestly, this is the matchup people wanted to see all year, and chances are, it really is pitting the top two teams against each other. It might not be Texas-USC with Vince Young and Reggie Bush, but it isn't too far off.

So… which games are you most interested in seeing?


Grammar Police said...

Shouldn't that read "rather than simply WRITE off the season"?

Trey said...

I think you're extremely wrong, and Florida is going to do everything possible to prove those teams can't play with the big boys. Especially if Cinci doesn't have a head coach.

Anonymous said...

I would have enjoyed watching Boise and TCU getting a shot to knock off one of the truly big boys in the BCS for an entirely different reason... I don't think it would have happened. Boise State has a great offense, great player, blah, blah, blah. I don't care about Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, that was a very overrated OU squad from a bad Big 12. I don't care about Oregon getting caught in a trap in the first game of their head coach's career. Boise is fool's gold, and if they ever get in a game against Florida or Alabama, they're going to get drilled. Just like they got drilled Between the Hedges.

TCU may be a bit of a different story, they'd hang in against many BCS conference teams. They'd almost certainly beat the 2009 Georgia Bulldogs... but, I still think that if they got a game against Texas or Alabama or whoever that they lose.

Maybe I'm just a big conference snob. I just get sick of hearing about how the little guys would win if they got their shot, and having Boise trotted out there as the example. Boise has three games to get up for a year. Let's see them go undefeated if they had to do it ten times a year.

That said, I'm a playoff guy, because I want to see it proven.

Anonymous said...

"...running back Bernard Pierce, who rushed for more than 1,3000 yards..."

That's either a misplaced comma or an extra 0. 13,000 yards is certainly standout-ish.

I have to agree on 34: Marshall lacks a head coach.

jt said...

Anon 1012, I disagree with your entire premise about TCU/Boise/etc.

Teams from big conferences know that there is a chance for them to have leeway to not show up for a game. Do you have any doubt that had Florida lost to Arkansas and then beaten Alabama in the SECCG that they would still be in the MNC game?

A team like TCU must show up to play EVERY week. Any misstep and they're done. TCU actually dropped in the AP poll after winning a mid season game.

And because they don't play each other, let's look at common opponents for TCU & Texas:


Texas led 13-10 at halftime before cruising to a 41-10 win,

TCU was up 24-10 at halftime and held Wyoming to 100 fewer yards than Texas did, beating them 45-10.

TCU should be in the game because they earned in on the field this year. Texas is in the game because of the ridiculousness of the preseason polls and the name on the front of their jerseys.

Anonymous said...

The fact that Georgia is playing without coaches on defense is what intrigues me the most. I really think they will be better off without the ones they had.

It will also be interesting to see how much we rely on the directional kick during that game.

And TCU? Are you kidding me? They only beat Clemson because of a fluke ball bounce off of a players head that went for a touchdown. And who else did they play?

Boise State will kick their ass.

jt said...

But they beat Clemson, right?

And they pounded BYU and Utah, who were ranked in the mid teens at the time. Same as Texas' wins over ranked big 12 teams.

And you realize that thanks to Colt McCoy we are literally ONE SECOND from the possibility of AL vs. TCU right?

Sagarin has TCU & Texas both 2-0 vs the top 30. It's not like their resumes are that much different.

Anonymous said...

But they beat Clemson, right?

Yep. Just like 4 or 5 other teams did.

And in my opinion having TCU in the national championship game is not much different than having Texas in it.

McCoy won't even finish that ball game. Before that game is over he will wish that one second would have expired.

jt said...

I wasn't using Clemson as their measuring stick.

You could say that every team has a "they only beat so and so because . . ." game.

You chose to use TCU's vs. Clemson. And I just simply stated that they did, in fact, beat them, and that shouldn't be a negative.

Will Q said...

Anon @10:12,

A lot of the arguments you make were said about Utah vs. Alabama last year as well.

As the Senator said, however, this will be the ultimate put-up-or-shut-up for the mid-majors. The real reason they don't get automatic invites and MNC bids is because they don't put behinds in seats the way the bigger schools do. If TCU vs. Boise St. sells out, who knows what could result from it?

Anonymous said...

The story surrounding the Sugar Bowl will be about Timmy.

Will he or won't he weep?

Anonymous said...

As it turns out, Cincinnati would have been in the BCS championship game had Texas lost.

At least, if we assume since UC is actually #3 and TCU is #4.

You're kidding yourself if you don't think TCU can play with anybody. I'd much rather see them playing UF than UC.

Boise will play well, but TCU's overall resume and performance is much more impressive.

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