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The question is not whether Saquon Barkley is the best running back in this draft class. The question is whether any running back, even one as good as Barkley, warrants a top-five draft selection in the NFL in 2018.

31 Dec 2008

SDA/FEI Bowl Mash-Up Part III

by Russell Levine and Brian Fremeau

Bowl season has hit the halfway point, and what have we learned?

We've certainly seen that the ACC is money in the bank -- if you pay attention to point spreads. My bowl-picking partner Brian Fremeau has ridden a wave of ACC success, including three teams that lost but covered the spread within a point of the number, to a 13-4 start in his picks, seizing the season-long lead in the process.

The ACC was such a mystery all year with four or five different teams at times looking like the league's best, but there has been know mystery this bowl season. ACC clubs have been a stone-cold lock, going 6-0 against the spread (but just 3-3 overall).

The lesson, as always: gambling changes everything.

There are four more ACC teams on this week's docket, and you probably don't need to read Brian's game previews below to know that we're both picking all four. Our only disagreement comes over which ACC squad to back with our Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week picks -- Brian favors Georgia Tech, while I prefer Boston College.

Brian also joins me on this week's podcast to break down the bigger games and to discuss some of the week's off-the-field news, including the suspension of perhaps Alabama's best player for the Sugar Bowl against Utah.

I hope you'll listen in.

This Week's Games

Armed Forces Bowl (at Forth Worth, Texas), Dec. 31, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Houston (-3.5) vs. Air Force

The SDA Podcast



Houston defeated both Tulsa and East Carolina, the best teams in Conference USA whereas Air Force fell to the top teams in the Mountain West: Utah, BYU and TCU. But the Falcons did win a rainy and windy mid-September clash against Houston and did so without completing a single pass. On the season, Air Force led the nation in rushing attempts per game. Houston was second in the country in passing attempts per game, and really hit their stride offensively late in the year, scoring at least 40 non-garbage points in each of its final four games. Air Force has the better field goal kicker, making 22 of 25 on the season, the fifth-best percentage in college football.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Houston | RUSSELL: Houston

Sun Bowl (at El Paso, Texas), Dec. 31, 2 p.m. ET, CBS
no. 24 Oregon State (-2.5) vs. no. 18 Pittsburgh

A BCS bowl berth as a conference champion remained possible for both of these teams deep into November, a significant turnaround after each started the year on the wrong foot. After coughing up a hairball against Bowling Green in August, the Panthers clawed out victories over seven bowl-bound teams to not only save head coach Dave Wannstedt his job, but earned him a healthy contract extension. Oregon State is this year's reason USC isn't playing for the national championship. The Beavers upset the Trojans in Corvallis by controlling field position and continued to thrive in that area the remainder of the year, finishing the season ranked 10th nationally in Field Position Efficiency.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Pittsburgh | RUSSELL: Oregon State

Music City Bowl (at Nashville), Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Boston College (-3.5) vs. Vanderbilt

Boston College has the longest bowl winning streak in the nation, in part because it hasn't faced a particularly formidable set of opponents in that span. Since joining the ACC, the Eagles have finished in no worse than a tie for second place in the ACC Atlantic Division and has lost the conference championship game two straight years. Yet, once again Boston College is relegated by the league to a less-prestigious bowl than they perhaps have earned. Their annual reward is a great opportunity to extend the streak, this time against the Commodores, losers of six of their last seven games including to Duke and Wake Forest, lesser ACC teams than Boston College. Vanderbilt was anemic offensively down the stretch, scoring more than 14 points only once in those final seven games. Bad news for Vandy: BC comes into the game with the No. 1 defense according to FEI.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Boston College | RUSSELL: Boston College (Edelstein Lock)

Insight Bowl (at Tempe, Ariz.), Dec. 31, 6 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Kansas (-9) vs. Minnesota

Two more teams with less than stellar finales face off in this game. On October 11th, the teams had a combined record of 9-2 -- since then, Kansas and Minnesota limped home with three wins in their final combined 11 games. The Jayhawks at least had an excuse, playing Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas in its schedule rotation of three Big 12 South teams. Minnesota managed to play -- and lose badly to -- only two FEI top-40 opponents (Ohio State and Iowa), fewer than any other BCS conference team faced this year. Stronger offense (Kansas) or stronger defense (Minnesota)? In the only other Big Ten vs. Big 12 match-up this bowl season, Northwestern held their own against Missouri. Can Kansas play with more motivation and focus than the Tigers did?

THE PICKS -- FEI: Minnesota | RUSSELL: Kansas

Chick-fil-a Bowl (at Atlanta), Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
LSU (+4) vs. no. 14 Georgia Tech

Defending national champions don't usually fall as far as the LSU Tigers did this season, and they were fortunate it wasn't worse. LSU erased a four-score second half deficit to Troy in mid-November and two of its three conference victories were by a single possession. The Tigers were only truly competitive in a loss once, a 31-30 finale against Arkansas. Georgia Tech's triple-option picked up steam in November, totaling at least 280 yards in each of its final four games and topping the 400 mark against Miami and Georgia to close out the year. The Yellow Jackets have the offense and defense to handle LSU and Paul Johnson's system is already running on all cylinders.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Georgia Tech (Edelstein Lock) | RUSSELL: Georgia Tech

Outback Bowl (at Tampa, Fla.), Jan. 1, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN
South Carolina (+4) vs. Iowa

Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks thoroughly dominated North Carolina State in their season opener but never really looked the part again as they fought their way through what, in retrospect, appears to have been a less-than-stellar SEC schedule. Iowa stomped a few more teams, but the one-point victory over otherwise undefeated Penn State on November 8th is the only truly significant difference in the two resumes. The Hawkeyes can really play some defense, though, holding every oppponent offense it has faced under its average per-game scoring output. Offense has been a liability for South Carolina and a major culprit has been taking care of the football. The Gamecocks threw the second-most interceptions of any team this season (24) and lost another nine fumbles.


Capital One Bowl (at Orlando, Fla.), Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, ABC
no. 16 Georgia (-7.5) vs. no. 19 Michigan State

It seems so long ago, but most experts pegged Georgia as a prime contender for the national championship this season. Conventional wisdom posited that the only thing that might trip them up was a difficult schedule including road trips to the likes of LSU, Arizona State and Auburn. Those three teams flaked out, but Florida, Alabama and Georgia Tech were all FEI top-10 teams in 2008 and all dismantled the Bulldogs, earning Mark Richt's team an SEC consolation prize once again. Michigan State was also steamrolled by the best teams it faced this season, and like Georgia, took care of business against the rest. The Spartans' workhorse Javon Ringer enters the game with 370 carries on the season, falling somewhere between Kevin Smith and Ray Rice on the abuse spectrum, and will need to carry another heavy load if MSU expects to win.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Michigan State | RUSSELL: Michigan State

Gator Bowl (at Jacksonville, Fla.), Jan. 1, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Nebraska (+2.5) vs. Clemson

Speaking of preseason expectations flushed away, Clemson went from darkhorse national contender to same old underachievers in the blink of eye this year, then underachieved some more leading up to the mid-season firing of head coach Tommy Bowden. It is nothing short of astounding that the team is now in a New Years Day bowl game. One big reason for the turnaround -- Bowden's Tigers collected only two opponent turnovers in four FBS games; interim and now head coach Dabo Sweeney's Tigers collected 16 turnovers in six FBS games. Nebraska very quietly won eight games under its new coach Bo Pelini, but a best win against the likes of Western Michigan tends not to resonate nationally. Against FEI top-60 opponents, the Cornhuskers gave up nearly 40 non-garbage points per game.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Clemson | RUSSELL: Clemson

Rose Bowl (at Pasadena, Calif.), Jan. 1 4:30 p.m. ET, ABC
no. 6 Penn State (+9) vs. no. 5 USC

The Rose Bowl hasn't featured the champion and best team from both the Pac-10 and Big Ten since 2003, but this year holds tremendous promise to restore the traditional luster of the "granddaddy of them all." Penn State and USC stood by in the shadows as the so-called "national semifinals" played out in the Big 12 and SEC, but FEI has ranked either the Nittany Lions or Trojans in one of the top-two spots more frequently this season (12 times, combined) than Florida and Oklahoma (10 times, combined). Both teams were very good at everything this year, USC somewhat moreso on defense and Penn State somewhat moreso on offense. Under Pete Carrol, the Trojans always appear to be most comfortable in their biggest games, but if Penn State can match that effortless swagger, they definitely have the talent to win the game.


Orange Bowl (at Miami), Jan. 1, 8 p.m. ET, FOX
no. 12 Cincinnati (-2.5) vs. no. 21 Virginia Tech

In their best season in forever, Cincinnati found itself on the wrong side of the scoreboard only twice this season. The losses to Oklahoma and Connecticut were dominant ones, however, whereas Virginia Tech lost a handful of games narrowly. The Hokies best game of the year also came in its finale, the ACC championship game blowout of Boston College, while the Bearcats turned in one of their worst that same day in a forgettable come-from-behind win over Hawaii. The overall profiles of these teams are similar, and the Big East has edged out two ACC teams in two hard-fought bowl games already this year. Unless the Florida and Oklahoma fans are already in town, there probably won't be a very big crowd on hand to see this one.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Virginia Tech | RUSSELL: Virginia Tech

Cotton Bowl (at Dallas), Jan. 2, 2 p.m. ET, FOX
no. 20 Mississippi (+4.5) vs. no. 8 Texas Tech

Aside from the BCS championship, this is the only other bowl game pitting the SEC and Big 12. It also pits teams that provided two of the most defining moments of the season -- Texas Tech dramatically dealt Texas a knockout blow in the year's best game and Mississippi's one-point victory over Florida prompted Tim Tebow's soundbite of the year. Mississippi slugged games out defensively this season while Texas Tech fed quarters into the pinball machine. Red Raiders' games averaged 3.2 points per non-garbage possession while the Rebels' games were played at a much more pedestrian 1.9 points-per-possession rate. Whichever team takes charge of the game's pace will probably control the scoreboard as well.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Mississippi | RUSSELL: Texas Tech

Liberty Bowl (at Memphis, Tenn.), Jan. 2, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN
Kentucky (+3) vs. East Carolina

East Carolina was the talk of college football after back-to-back victories over Virginia Tech and West Virginia kicked off the season. They held a prolific Tulsa offense on its home field to its lowest output of the year in the Conference USA championship game. In between was a mishmash of non-competitive losses, narrow escapes, and modest successes. Which team will show up in the Liberty Bowl? Skip Holtz had his team playing on all cylinders in the Hawaii Bowl last season. Half that effort might be enough against a Kentucky Wildcat team that toppled exactly zero FEI top-80 teams.

THE PICKS -- FEI: East Carolina | RUSSELL: East Carolina

Sugar Bowl (at New Orleans), Jan. 2, 8 p.m. ET, FOX
no. 7 Utah (+10) vs. no. 4 Alabama

The Utes are the only undefeated team left in college football, but they've lived on the edge more than once this season. Their 2004 Utah counterparts wore the same uniforms but were a little bit more deserving of an elite opponent like Alabama. That Utah team obliterated nearly everyone it faced; this one escaped four games on the year by three points or fewer, against both the good (TCU, Oregon State) and bad (Michigan, New Mexico). That said, Utah did many things well this season offensively, defensively and on special teams. The Crimson Tide, however, will easily field the strongest defense and offense (even without suspended Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith) the Utes have seen all year.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Utah | RUSSELL: Alabama

International Bowl (at Toronto), Jan. 3, 12 p.m. ET, ESPN
Buffalo (+5) vs. Connecticut

Buffalo saved its best for last, knocking out previously undefeated Ball State in the MAC championship game and capping a magical year for coach Turner Gill's program. The International Bowl is the school's first bowl appearance ever, coming 50 years after the program turned down its only other bowl offer as a defiant stance against segregation and discrimination (the 1958 Tangerine Bowl bid was offered on the grounds that Buffalo's black players could not participate). To win this one, Buffalo will need to slow down the nation's top rusher, Connecticut's Donald Brown, averaging over 150 yards per game. They'll also need to keep drives moving against a stifling Huskies defense. Ranked No. 8 overall by FEI, Connecticut's defense held opponents to the 16th lowest third down conversion rate and the lowest fourth down conversion rate in the nation.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Connecticut | RUSSELL: Connecticut

Fiesta Bowl (at Glendale, Ariz.), Jan. 5, 8 p.m. ET, FOX
no. 10 Ohio State (+8) vs no. 3 Texas

The Ohio State team and fans can just order their usual favorites at the local restaurants in Phoenix, as the Buckeyes make their fifth January trip in seven years to Arizona. They will be reasonably familiar with the opponent as well, having squared off in a home-and-home series with Texas that sparked respective national championship appearances for the two teams in 2005 and 2006. The Longhorns have the edge in every phase of the game and navigated a Big 12 South guantlet for all but a few lousy seconds in Lubbock. Ohio State lost to both of the Rose Bowl participants, and whalloped No. 37 Michigan State in its only victory over an FEI top-40 team. The Buckeyes have, however, looked better and better as the year and quarterback Terrele Pryor have matured, and can certainly defeat Texas if the Longhorns still have the championship snub stuck in their spurs.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Ohio State | RUSSELL: Texas

GMAC Bowl (at Mobile, Ala.), Jan. 6, 8 p.m. ET, NFL Network
no. 23 Ball State (-2.5) vs. Tulsa

Ball State and Tulsa may have 20 combined FBS wins, but they have the worst combined strength of schedule of any bowl match-up this season. The Cardinals' week two victory over Navy is the only FEI top-50 win by either team, one of only two games even played by either team against the top-50. Both teams blew their conference championship games as favorites. Both teams also feature prolific offenses -- Tulsa boasts the gaudier traditional numbers (total offense, scoring offense, etc.), but only has a 0.2 points per possession edge over Ball State when adjusted for pace of play.

THE PICKS -- FEI: Ball State | RUSSELL: Tulsa

Picks Table

The Picks
(* - "Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week")
Visitor Spread Home FEI Says Russell Says
Houston -3.5 Air Force Houston Houston
Oregon State -2.5 Pittsburgh Pittsburgh Oregon State
Boston College -3.5 Vanderbilt Boston College Boston College*
Kansas -9 Minnesota Minnesota Kansas
LSU +4 Georgia Tech Georgia Tech* Georgia Tech
South Carolina +4 Iowa Iowa Iowa
Georgia -7.5 Michigan State Michigan State Michigan State
Nebraska +2.5 Clemson Clemson Clemson
Penn State +9 USC Penn State USC
Cincinnati -2.5 Virginia Tech Virginia Tech Virginia Tech
Mississippi +4.5 Texas Tech Mississippi Texas Tech
Kentucky +3 East Carolina East Carolina East Carolina
Utah +10 Alabama Utah Alabama
Buffalo +5 Connecticut Connecticut Connecticut
Ohio State +8 Texas Ohio State Texas
Ball State -2.5 Tulsa Ball State Tulsa
Season-long Results
("Fred Edelstein Lock of the Week" record in parentheses)
  Last Week Season Total
FEI: 7-3-0 (0-1-0) 67-67-3 (7-9-1)
Russell: 4-6-0 (0-1-0) 66-68-3 (6-10-1)

Posted by: Russell Levine on 31 Dec 2008

108 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2009, 12:01pm by Scott P.


by Chris (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:05pm

So if both guys finish 50% or worse, and you pay a 10% juice on your bets, then how much are you down? The "locks of the week" also don't have any better winning pct. than your regular picks either.

by Jon :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:13pm

FYI - I think Cincy mainly lost to UConn by such a big margin because Tony Pike went down with an injury. That game was close in the first half while he was still in there. VT is a tough matchup for them with their secondary, but I'm not sure that VT has seen that kind of passing attack all year.

I like Pitt over Oregon State if only because it looks like Jacquizz Rodgers is out.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:29pm

Well, hopefully I won't have to work all day tomorrow as well... Between family, travel, and the job, I've seen maybe an hour of bowl game action so far, total. 3-2 (1-0) on my Part II picks, time to see if I can do better and regain the lead over Russell and FEI I've had almost all year.

Houston, Oregon State, Boston College, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska, USC, Cincinnati, Texas Tech (Edelstein), Kentucky, Utah, Buffalo, Texas, Tulsa.

by Joexxx (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:38pm

I used the FEI picks in my bowl pool. So far it's 9-8 straight up. We'll see how it does the rest of the way.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:52pm

My picks: Pitt, BC, Kansas, LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, Nebraska, Southern Cal, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Kentucky, Alabama, UConn, Ohio State, and Tulsa.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 12:56pm

Oh, and UConn is my Edelstien.

by tphoskin (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:09pm

Why are there only 5 games on for New Years!! I really hate what the BCS has done to New Year's day college football.

by Joexxx (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:23pm

I disagre with using the qualifier "only". At the peak, I think there were 7 games on New Year's day. Of course the 5 now are lesser bowls since the top tier ones are spread out because of the BCS.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 2:56pm

I like the big bowls having the stage to themselves. I used to hate missing all or parts of the Sugar, Fiesta, Orange Bowl when they were on concurrently.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 3:53pm

Danielson and Lundquist (Sun Bowl, CBS) are a bad duo.

Confused and unaware of what's going on in front of them.

by Tundrapaddy (not verified) :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:50pm

I think they're auditioning to be one of Fox Sports' NFL teams for next year.

by lionsbob :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 4:22pm

I am going to be at the Sugar Bowl. Looking forward to that for sure.

The Andre Smith is upsetting, but it really sounds like it was a family member who was trying to make a move sooner rather than Smith himself...but who knows.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:01pm

It was funny to hear Saban preaching about why he suspended him when Saban was talking to Alabama while under contract with the Dolphins (indeed, it was during the season).

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:21pm

Gary Danielson doesn't remember Pitt using any play action passes even though they used play action on THEIR FIRST PLAY FROM SCRIMMAGE.

He also omitted Anthony Schlegel from the famed Ohio State linebacking corps.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:32pm

Pitt not getting any pass rush.

If I remember correctly, it was the Sun Bowl a year ago that had the worst all around production of a game I've ever seen from a station. Repeat performance this year, although they can't quite measure up to last year.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:35pm

Oregon State kicker needed to hook it, and he did, but he did it just a little too much. Almost touched the upright as it was going outside it.

by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 5:39pm

Apologies to those paying close attention, but I corrected the FEI pick in the Iowa/South Carolina game -- FEI projects Iowa to cover, not South Carolina as originally published. Now, of course, it is sure to be wrong.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:00pm

Weird sidenote: All three punters used so far have tattoos, I believe.

Not to denigrate heart illnesses, but if there ever was a punter injury, it would be "elevated heart rate".

Typical CBS buffoonery. Danielson starts yakking again about how great Bell is, and the cameras want to zoom in on the player, right? THEY GOT THE WRONG PLAYER. And they didn't notice. Astonishing.

Stull is 7/21 for 45 yards and an INT.

I noticed one of the Pitt OLs has RIP written onto his eye black. Stations usually like to tell a story about it, but CBS needs to have everything pointed out to them, because they have no perception on their crew.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:07pm

Hekker with a very impressive punt, but the officials called a player going out of bounds, coming back in, and being the first to touch it. Not sure if the call was correct, but Wannstedt chooses to have the penalty assessed on 4th down. Rekick, Pitt ends up with 46 yards of field position because of a good return.

No change with Lundquist and Danielson, though. They still don't know what they're seeing.

by ChrisH :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:13pm

I'm probably the largest Oregon State homer on this site, and this game is boring me to death. With both Rodgers missing, our offense can't do much right (that play calling on 1st and Goal at the 5 was awful, however) and it almost makes me happy we didn't make the Rose Bowl, as we'd have been killed probably.

by ChrisH :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:16pm

Alright, if this game ends 3-0 somehow, I'd give the MVP to Oregon State's punter, as no one else has done anything really.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:16pm

One of the Oregon State players has a blond ponytail. How cute.

Hekker is the Player of the Game. Two punts so far (one didn't count) that were great, and the last one couldn't have been done better. Wow.

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:25pm

Disappointing to hear about Danielson and Lundquist-Verne's normally a very good professional, up there with Al Michaels, and Danielson's the only announcer who every week will tell you what play is going to be run before the snap and be right. Pity they're just mailing it in.

by ChrisH :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:32pm

The announcers have been awful from the start, and usually I just don't notice when it's bad. This is just really bad, though, which suits the game. It's almost over, though.

by ChrisH :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:37pm

And the low point in announcing comes when they announce that Pitt trying to kick a 58 yard FG with 2:08 left (career long of 44 yards for the kicker) instead of going for it, or punting (2 timeouts left) is good strategy. Pitt also ran on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd downs of that drive, gaining 1 yard total and burning off almost 2 minutes of clock. OSU now at midfield, running out the clock and in best case for Pitt, they get the ball inside their 20 with 1 minute left. Going for it there has to be better odds.

by Yinka Double Dare :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 9:08pm

I'm pretty sure they don't watch anything but SEC games, so I'm sure they knew nothing about either team. Danielson in particular is awful now - it's like he's being paid directly by the SEC rather than CBS, he's a complete shill. He's definitely one of the worst Tebow jocksniffers you'll come across, and lord knows there's a ton of those.

Oh, and Florida still owes him a championship ring for his spending the entire second half of the SEC Championship Game campaigning for Florida to be in the title game rather than, you know, actually broadcasting the game.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:36pm

"Now Oregon State knows that a timeout wins the game." - Danielson

No, Gary, a first down wins the game.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:47pm

3-0 final. Historically bad offensive performance by Pitt. Oregon State was lousy on offense as well.

The main problem for Pitt is their offensive line (they sucked to begin with, and they were missing their LT to boot), second is QB play, and third is the playcalling.

Still, Bostick is way better than Stull, from the limited amount we got to see. He was sacked twice, but he at least can make throws that have a chance of being completed.

by ChrisH :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 6:47pm

And Oregon State wins the worst bowl game that anyone will watch this year. I'll take a nice 9-4 year of course, but that game was awful.

by Kevin Eleven :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 7:35pm

OK, so Vandy has it's first bowl game since 1982. It's in their home city.

And it's not sold out. Disgraceful.

by ChrisH :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 8:13pm

Honestly, with how worried people are about money this year, I'm not going to give people too much crap for not selling out a game for a team that doesn't have much football tradition, has their student body home for break, and isn't in a warm climate either. Yeah, I'd have paid to go to the Rose Bowl had OSU made it, but going to El Paso for the Sun Bowl was never a consideration of mine at all.

by Kevin Eleven :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 8:32pm

Right, but if OSU hadn't bowled in 26 years, and the game was in Corvalis...

by Tom Gower :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 9:10pm

I think you're being a little harsh on Vandy-it's a relatively small school, and I'd imagine its alumni disperse fairly significantly-it's not like it's a school that graduates 8,000 people a year, 75+% of whom end up in the same state and maybe even the same metro area.

by Josh :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 5:22am

Furthermore, most (70%?) of Vandy's students are out of state, and the Vandy dorms don't open for the spring semester until Sat. 1/3, so all those students that wanted to come back to school early (shortening their winter break by 2-3 days) to go to the game would not be able to stay in their dorms and would have to get hotel rooms. Yes, lots of students did go to the game, including yours truly, but due to the incompetence of the housing administration, the calendar (New Year's Eve in the middle of the week), Hannukkah, etc., the student body was underrepresented.

by Kevin Eleven :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:28am

But if Vandy has such a small number of students, wouldn't that minimize the impact of the student population not being able to attend the game?

If Vandy had gone to the Sun Bowl or the Alamo Bowl and it didn't sellout, that's one thing. Boston College doesn't travel well either.

But Nashville is a big city, and they did an extremely poor job supporting their local team. There just aren't enough excuses- given the circumstances, that game should have sold out.

by DoubleB (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 12:10am

Did Rice sell out the Texas bowl? They are even a smaller school, but the biggest problem for Vandy is that there just aren't many Vandy fans, even those that live in Nashville. It's Tennessee's world and they're just living in it.

by DoubleB (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 12:13am

Also, isn't the bowl game in the Titans stadium which seats a lot more than Vandy's 40,000 seat stadium?

by lionsbob :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 9:46pm

And it is not like Vandy has a large "in-state" population either.

Georgia Tech has given up, but LSU played to win early and Tech made bad, bad mistakes. I assume this game is over already.

by Sid :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 9:59pm

LSU blows out Georgia Tech to wrap up an awful day of football. I'm just upset that I watched so much of it.

by Dennis :: Wed, 12/31/2008 - 10:46pm

What a bad day for the FEI. GT was the top overall bowl PWE with 90%. Then BC was 86% and Pitt was 77%, and Minnesota was 56%. At least it got Houston right. Assuming LSU doesn't blow a huge lead, that makes FEI 10-12 straight up thus far.

by emcee fleshy .S... :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 12:38pm

My Jackets didn't quite cover the spread (Oh, so close!).

Thanks FEI, it was nice to be OVER-rated for a change!

by Kevin Eleven :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 1:23pm

It's 12:16 on January 1, there's one game on, and it stinks.

It just kind of dawned on me that there's not a single game today that I'm really looking forward to. Only Texas Tech vs Ole Miss, Texas vs Ohio State and Oklahoma vs Florida really piques my interest this year, and I'm going to miss the Cotton Bowl because I have to work.


by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 1:51pm

Here's to hoping that CBS only feels an obligation to screw up the Sun Bowl every year, and not other bowl games, like the Gator Bowl.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 1:57pm

As for FEI, it's pretty much impossible to do worse. Georgia Tech was its biggest lock of the bowl season, at 90.9%. Next highest was 88.1%. Not only did they lose, they were never in the game. Special teams hurt them early, and they just rolled over and played dead.

Here's to hoping it has a better day today.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 2:22pm

"Sweeney and his team share a private moment."

Guys, it's not a private moment if there's a video camera in the locker room.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 2:35pm

CBS back to its old tricks. A 1 one gain is a "two yard loss."

by Rocco :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 2:50pm

So does South Carolina not have any of that SEC speed that makes them impervious to Big 10 teams?

by navin :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:16pm

It doesn't matter when your QBs lead the nation in turnovers.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:09pm

Nebraska offense is proving how bad Big 12 defenses really are.

CJ Spiller is an impressive player, especially as a punt returner, but he has barely a 3.0 GPA after two years of college as a sociology major. That's just embarrassing.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:14pm

Clemson's punt return team is destroying the Nebraska coverage, but Clemson's offense has been unable to capitalize. Still scoreless.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:19pm

If Clemson had a competent QB, I think they'd be up 10-0.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:34pm

epic delayed reaction on the Clemson defensive TD by the CBS announcers. They didn't realize what happened until after the player was in the endzone.

by Rocco :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:37pm

UGA looks asleep offensively against Michigan State. I'm surprised that MSU is leading- they pretty much beat the teams they should beat this year (unusual for Sparty) and got smacked around by the two best teams they played in OSU and PSU. UGA is closer to OSU and PSU than the teams MSU beat but the Spartans are up 6-3 at half.

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:54pm

UGA looks like shit out there. Three turnovers and utterly idiotic playcalling at the end of the first half. UGA's defense has dominated MSU considering the field position UGA's offense gave MSU on a platter.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 3:55pm

more CBS gaffes:

"ball may have been tipped", when it went straight up in the air after it hit the defensive line. Really? May have been tipped? You ever seen a pass do that without being tipped?

They put a graphic up after Steinkuhler tipped a pass for an INT. Turnovers: Nebraska 1, Clemson 0.

Clemson just threw a pick. They don't have any turnovers? They actually each had one at the time. Then the next play was a pick run back a long way.

Recap of first half:

1)Nebraska's offense is mediocre. They put up big stats during the season because they played a lot of bad defenses. Clemson has a good all-around defense.

2)Clemson's special teams dominated Nebraska's special teams the entire half. The exceptions were that Clemson hit a 48 yard FG and Nebraska's kicker screwed up a 20 yard FG.

3)Cullen Harper is a terrible QB. The most egregious play was when he took a sack after the INT return. He had his RB wide open in the flat the entire play. Instead, he waits 5 seconds, doesn't even make an attempt to throw or even pump-fake, and then gets absolutely buried 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 9:05pm

A bit premature on #1 there. Nebraska ended up with 350 yards, doubling Clemson's. Not bad against the #9 defense in the nation.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:14pm

Gator Bowl apparently had trouble even giving tickets away. Stadium is fairly empty.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:23pm

I question the play calling of the Clemson DC today. Very predictable. He sends the same big blitz every time it's 3rd and long.

by Rocco :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:27pm

ABC sends to commercial with a clip of a pretty blatant uncalled block in the back by a UGA player right before UGA runs a punt return deep into MSU territory.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 4:33pm

seriously, how has Harper not been benched?

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 5:06pm

Almost every sack by Nebraska has been Harper's fault.

Someone please tell him getting sacked is bad. He holds onto the ball forever, goes down easily, and makes no effort to get rid of the ball if he's under pressure.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 5:28pm

Spiller's stupidity could cost Clemson the game. Not surprising for a sociology major with a 3.0 GPA.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 5:39pm

Harper is still terrible.

Line of the day, courtesy of the CBS crew:

"Let's talk about Dabo Swinney... how fired he is..."

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 6:01pm

Harper is dumb, dumb, dumb. He had about 6-7 seconds to get rid of that ball.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 6:01pm

Harper cost them the game.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 6:46pm

stupid of Clark to call timeout. He could've waited until the end of the quarter. There was enough time on the playclock.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 7:04pm

Sounds like McKnight will probably miss the rest of the game.

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 7:19pm

Despite the way this game was billed, I haven't been very impressed with either defense thus far.

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 7:20pm

The Rose Bowl that is.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 7:34pm

that's game. USC wins.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 7:36pm

by the way, if there ever should've been a flag for excessive celebration, there should've been one on USC's TD to make it 24-7. They did everything they could to get flagged, but didn't.

by Kevin Eleven :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 8:09pm

They picked the correct two teams to play for the national championship.

Having said that (and I've posted it here before), Southern Cal really may be the best team in the country. I'd pick them to win on a neutral field against Florida or Oklahoma.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 8:11pm

I wouldn't. I think Florida is the best team in the country.

by War Eagle (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 8:30pm

Yeah, my takeaway from this game is that the Big 10 is bad. I'd certainly love to see USC play one of those teams though.

by beargoggles :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 1:30am

Agree. USC could definitely keep the score down against OU/Fla. And if Sanchez played like that...yikes. That's by far the best I ever saw him play. Rope after rope to receivers in stride. It didn't hurt that nobody was ever within a mile of #18, but he threw some awesome passes even when people were covered.

I'd guess SC to beat Oklahoma and 50/50 vs. Florida.

by Logged out (not verified) :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 10:49pm

Thom Brenneman can;t pronounce the name Byrd. Too funny.

by Rocco :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 10:57pm

It's always a little strange to see Kam Chancellor involved in a play where he isn't getting burned deep or whiffing on a tackle. That should have been an INT but in the end it really doesn't make a huge difference.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:25pm

Huber is the closest thing to ROBO-PUNTER that exists.

by Sid :: Thu, 01/01/2009 - 11:58pm

hey Brenneman, Taylor was not "well short of a first down" when he fumbled. It was very close and would've required a measurement.

by Rocco :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 12:33am

Cincy's tackling has been horrible tonight. That and Tony Pike throwing INTs like it's his job are why VT is winning 20-7 in the 4th.

by Rocco :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 12:33am

Cincy's tackling has been horrible tonight. That and Tony Pike throwing INTs like it's his job are why VT is winning 20-7 in the 4th.

by Solomon (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 1:55am

Penn State got stomped by Southern Cal, and the Big 10 fell to 1-5 in bowls this season (OSU-Texas still to come). PSU fared a little better vs. USC than Ohio State, but not by much.

One can argue the idea that OSU sucks or "chokes" in big non-conference games recently, but the entire Big 10 looks suspect vs. elite teams. The conference is still good enough to beat mediocre-good teams sometimes but is not where is was a few years ago. You can dog OSU, but remember OSU has won the last 4 Big 10 titles (2 co, 2 outright), so the problems extend to the entire conference.

Why do people dog OSU for losing the last 2 title games but give Oklahoma a pass for its recent poor performance in BCS games (4 straight losses, including 2 blowouts)?

Hopefully, Ohio State represents well vs. Texas. Tressel says Pryor and Boeckman will be on the filed simultaneously for some plays.

For the BCS haters ... imagine the lovely debate that would have occurred if Penn State had beaten Iowa and played in the title game. That is, who would PSU's opponent be? The current BCS standings indicate Oklahoma.

by Tom Gower :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 3:58pm

No excuses for the Rose Bowl-USC is a much better team than Penn State, and the Nittany Lions' only chance was Sanchez having a particularly mediocre game, which clearly didn't happen. I think the B10 would have ended up with a much better bowl performance, though, if tOSU hadn't gotten the BCS berth, as would have been the case if, say, Oregon State had beaten Oregon. If that's the case, the Capital One Bowl is Ohio State-Georgia, Outback is Michigan State-South Carolina, Iowa plays Missouri in the Alamo, Northwestern plays Florida State, Wisconsin plays Kansas, and Minnesota plays WMU in the Motor City Bowl. I think that's much more favorable for the B10 than the actual matchups, and it was a very real possibility until the Beavers lost (and USC beat UCLA). Instead, a crappy year for the B10 still looks like a crappy year in bowl season (and it was a crappy year).

by mrparker (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 8:26am

A few thoughts on FEI,
I was parsing through the rankings and something really stuck out. The adjusted offensive ranks all make sense. They jibe with what I see. However, the adjusted defensive rankings seem way out of wack. Alabama as the 20th ranked defense in the country? I have no idea how the SOS component comes in to play but it seems to really foul up the defensive rankings.

Overall I have been paying close attention to FEI since two bowl seasons ago when it went something like 60 percent against the spread. I don't if Freameaux looks at the comments but if he does it would be interesting(at least to me) to get him to run his bowl week picks without adjustments on defense.

by Joexxx (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 12:36pm

I have to say I am totally unimpressed with FEI at this point. The bowl predictions are 13-14 straight up and 5 of the top 6 in confidence percentage have lost. Add in that it was exactly .500 against the spread on the season in the selected games, and it's predicitive ability seems to be pretty much the same as flipping a coin.

by princeton73 (not verified) :: Sun, 01/04/2009 - 11:22am

I have to say I am totally unimpressed with FEI at this point. The bowl predictions are 13-14 straight up and 5 of the top 6 in confidence percentage have lost. Add in that it was exactly .500 against the spread on the season in the selected games, and it's predicitive ability seems to be pretty much the same as flipping a coin.

uhhh....yes; FEI is wonderfully self-consistent and wonderfully meaningless in relation to the real world.

(but it's a clever system, you gotta admit)

by Kevin Eleven :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 9:37pm

SWEET opening offensive and defensive opening series by Utah. They scored quickly.

Interception on the first play of the second drive by the Utes!

EDIT: 14 - 0 UTAH!!!!!

by Kevin Eleven :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 9:56pm

Eleven minutes into the game, and it's 21 - 0 Utah.

Forgive me for a moment while I point out that I have been talking the Utes up on this board all year. :D

by lurking (not verified) :: Fri, 01/02/2009 - 10:43pm

football is such an unintuitive, ugly game sometimes....& that offside fake play is one of those times....announcers completely bewildered...anybody know the rule in question?

by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Sun, 01/04/2009 - 10:43am

So why won't Utah be National Champions? Beat four ranked teams, including the #4 team in the country and the #2 team in the SEC, finished undefeated.

What's the argument against them?

by Kevin Eleven :: Sun, 01/04/2009 - 12:43pm

The argument against Utah is that Florida already beat Alabama, and if those wins cancel out, Florida still had a far tougher schedule.

The deal was that the two teams ranked highest after the regular season would ply for the National Championship, and it would be unfair to move the goalposts after the fact. Having said that, I could see a pollster ranking Utah #1.

by Salvi's Headband (not verified) :: Sun, 01/04/2009 - 2:43pm

If Utah played in the Big East, they would probably be #1. And, given that it was a down year for the BE compared to the last two, and the MWC was pretty tough this year, I bet they WOULD have been undefeated in the BE.

by Dennis :: Sun, 01/04/2009 - 4:34pm

Let's not forget the Mountain West beat the crap out of the Pac Ten head to head this year and is ranked ahead of them in several of the computer rankings. The MWC was BCS-caliber this year. Obviously the Coaches poll has agreed to vote the BCS winner number 1, but the AP voters aren't bound by that. Utah deserves to be number 1.

by TheDude (not verified) :: Sun, 01/04/2009 - 11:47pm

Actually Kevin, regarding the idea of a tougher schedule, Both Utah and Florida played three top 25 teams during the regular season. Utah went 3-0, Florida went 2-1.

The sad fact is, with deal in place (polled rankings) college football is more like ice dance or a dog show than a true sport.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 10:01am

Dude, if one chooses to ignore literally everything except the stat that you used to make your point, you'd have one hell of a point. Only three games count, ignore the other ones.

And as if college football is the only sport where a team with a better record gets left out of the playoffs (11- 5 New England out, 8 - 8 San Diego in).

We're going to be hearing a lot of this sort of thing over the next few days..."settle it on the field", "we need a playoff", "let's do a plus one""Utah deserves consideration", etc. Brace yourselves.

We're also going to be dealing with a lot of politically fueled posts from people who want to feel good about themselves by "sticking up for the little guy". Don't be fooled by this- at the end of the regular season, the top two teams were and should have been Florida and Oklahoma.

They got it right. That's not as sexy and interesting thing to say as "oh my GAWD, Utah got screwed!!", but it's the truth.

by Joexxx (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 10:28am

"And as if college football is the only sport where a team with a better record gets left out of the playoffs (11- 5 New England out, 8 - 8 San Diego in)."

You miss the key point - college football (the FBS) does not have a playoff! The problem isn't that Utah was left out of the "playoffs", it's that they - along with 59 other teams - were eliminated from consideration before the season even started. A team from a non-BCS conference will never get to play in the BCS championship game no matter how good they are. That's the real truth.

by DoubleB (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 8:26pm

"at the end of the regular season, the top two teams were and should have been Florida and Oklahoma"

and that's based on what evidence?

I'm not saying it's wrong, but just because you write it doesn't make it true.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 11:42am

CFB does have a playoff: #1 vs #2.

It's simply false that teams from the non-BCS conferences are eliminated. They are eligible to be ranked in the BCS formula, and if they finish #1 or #2 they're in, simple as that.

by Joexxx (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 3:39pm

You can say the non-bcs teams are "eligible to be ranked in the BCS formula, and if they finish #1 or #2 they're in, simple as that" all you want. That doesn't change reality that the voters will never vote a non-BCS conference team into one of the top two spots.

It's like saying my 92 year old grandmother is eligible to become president of the United States. Sure it's theoretically possible that some bizarre series of events could occur that would get her elected, but we all know it's never going to happen.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 12:01pm

Well, it's interesting that most of the BCS controversies over the past few years have occurred when the BCS formula _disagreed_ with the voters. And every time, the consensus solution has been to increase the weight of the polls, and reduce the weight of other factors.

I agree, the human polls often suck. The computer polls should be weighted heavier. Good luck with that argument, though.

by Kevin 11 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 5:50pm

But there has yet to be a team from the non-BCS that has deserved a spot in the Top Two. At this point it has not happened, but so far it also should not have happened.

I honestly believe that an undefeated Utah team with wins over Michigan and Oregon State would have played for the National Title last year. This year, Florida and Oklahoma were better choices.

by Joexxx (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 6:27pm

A non-BCS team has not deserved a spot in the top 2 based on your subjective opinion. That's the bottom line - this is a system that is based 2/3 on subjective opinions. And when the rules state that the non-BCS conferences are considered inferior to BCS conferences, the voters are going to pick BCS conference teams.

by Kevin Eleven :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 8:48pm

"And when the rules state that the non-BCS conferences are considered inferior to BCS conferences"

Uh...what rule is that?

In your subjective opinion has there ever been a non-BCS conference team that should have been ranked in the top two before the bowls? If so, what team was it?

Onto the games, I'm picking tOSU and Tulsa.

by Joexxx (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 11:49pm

The rule that gives automatic bids to the winners of 6 conferences regardless of how good or bad they are, while the winners of the other 5 conferences have to be ranked in the top 12 to possibly get an automatic bid.

And yes, in my subjective opinion - which is worth exactly nothing just like your subjective opinion - Hawaii should've been in the top 2 last year and Utah should have been in the top 2 this year. Say what you want about Hawaii's loss to Georgia, if a team from a non-BCS conference can go undefeated when there are no other undefeated teams - and last year there were only two teams that had just one loss - and not have an opportunity to play for the national championship, then kick them out of the FBS. End the hypocrisy.

As for Utah this year, if USC had beaten Oregon State and was undefeated, they would be in the championship game, I think we can agree on that. The MWC was as good or better than the Pac Ten - they were 6-1 head to head and ranked higher in several of the computer rankings. So Utah won a conference just as good as USC's conference, and they beat the team that beat USC. So if USC would've been in the championship if they were undefeated, then Utah deserved to go because they were undefeated.

by Kevin Eleven :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 12:29am

Joe, please understand this...I am not arguing with you, or trying to show you up. I want to help you understand.

Yes, the champions major conferences get automatic BCS berths. But that literally has nothing to do with the championship game.

Literally nothing.


To wit: Cincinnati getting an automatic berth in the Orange Bowl had ZERO impact on the BCS standings, and who the #1 vs #2 teams would be.


by DoubleB (not verified) :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 8:23pm

If Texas loses tonight (which I think has very, very little chance of happening), I think Utah is going to get more than a few AP votes. I sense that Alabama game was an awakening of sorts for a lot of people. They kicked their ass from start to finish.

I posit that Utah's best four wins (TCU, Bama, Oregon State, and BYU) are comparable to Florida's (Oklahoma, Bama, Georgia, LSU) and Oklahoma's (Florida, TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State). After that, I think the quality drops a bit (Florida has Miami and Florida State); (Oklahoma has Cincinnati, Missouri, and Kansas). I don't think Air Force and Colorado State compare. The question is whether not losing any games makes up for the lack of resume in the middle. I think it does. I'm sure others think it doesn't.

The best argument for Utah is this: if Notre Dame had gone undefeated with the exact same schedule as Utah had this year, they would be a unanimous #1 and nobody would bat an eye. Are we really going to punish Utah because they wear jerseys that say Utah on it?

by Kevin Eleven :: Mon, 01/05/2009 - 9:11pm

"The best argument for Utah is this: if Notre Dame had gone undefeated with the exact same schedule as Utah had this year, they would be a unanimous #1 and nobody would bat an eye. Are we really going to punish Utah because they wear jerseys that say Utah on it?"

It may or may not be true that Notre Dame would have finished in the Top 2 ahead of Oklahoma or Florida with Utah's schedule- I concede the possibility. However, doing something stupid with Utah on the grounds that something stupid might be done with Notre Dame isn't a good argument.

I'm going out on a limb and picking Ohio State not only to beat Texas, but to beat them convincingly. Then again, I've overrated tOSU all year.

by Sid :: Tue, 01/06/2009 - 12:56am

I still can't figure out how Ohio State runs that coverage when Texas has to have a TD. All the defenders within a few yards of the line of scrimmage?

After they scored way too quickly on the previous drive. If they had running clock as a priority, they could've really left Texas with hardly any time at all.

And then they sack Boeckman with a three man rush in a situation where you absolutely have to get rid of the football?