After focusing on matters closer to home, both personally and athletically, in recent days, I now return to forecasting all the bowl games. However, I must remind you that I am quite bad at this, as evidenced by my sub-.500 prognosticating record in the postseason thus far, so, please, whatever you do, if you want a merry Christmas . . . Don’t Bet On It!
Last time, we finished up with the Outback Bowl, so we pick up with the next New Year’s Day tilt:
Capital One Bowl: LSU Tigers v. Penn St. Nittany Lions (Jan. 1): Lions and Tigers and credit cards, oh, my! With apologies to Joe Paterno, Penn State is the worst 10-2 team in the country. Unless this game comes down to any of the finer points of coaching (such as, for instance, when to call a time out), I really don’t see Louisiana State struggling too much in this one, regardless of the Bayou Bengals’ regular season struggles.
Gator Bowl: Florida St. Seminoles v. West Virginia Mountaineers (Jan. 1): Bobby Bowden’s most recent pair of employers meet in the Sunshine State for a swansong almost as annoying as Tim Tebow’s ongoing goodbye; not since the Judds have two people gone on a longer farewell tour, complete with an increasingly irritating line of ". . . for the last time"s. What no one seems to be noticing is that the ‘Noles have no business playing on New Year’s Day. There may not be two more irrelevant head coaches in Division I-A than Bobby Bowden and Bill Stewart, but I’ve seen the Mountain Men take care of business in a January bowl game before, so I’m taking West Virginia.
Rose Bowl: Ohio St. Buckeyes v. Oregon Ducks (Jan. 1): Much has been made of the cultural differences that will be on display in Pasadena when staid conservative Ohioans led by a head coach who plays it close to the vest (sorry) meet freewheeling progressive Oregonians led by a head coach who opens up the playbook, but, really, it’s much more simple than that. The Pac-10 champions play to win and the Big Ten champions play not to lose. The Ducks are thrilled to be back in the Tournament of Roses and the Buckeyes have a recent history of big-game faceplants. Oregon beat the Purdue Boilermakers and the USC Trojans, two teams to whom Ohio State lost. While my favorable forecasts for the West Coast BCS league in postseason play got off to a rocky start in Sin City, the Pac-10 recently has struggled much more with the Mountain West than with the Big Ten, so I am not dissuaded. Previous series meetings notwithstanding, I like the Ducks to take down the Bucks.
Sugar Bowl: Cincinnati Bearcats v. Florida Gators (Jan. 1): Will the more disappointed contestant please stand? The Sunshine State Saurians are still on their road to recovery and the Big East champions inexplicably are irate with Brian Kelly after he was about as forthright as a head coach with one foot out the door has ever been about his impending departure. I don’t know that two teams have ever been less motivated for the Sugar Bowl than this pair of sad sacks who are weepy over a major bowl game in the Big Easy, but, hey, if either of you would like to trade places and head to Shreveport instead . . . anyone? Anyone? That’s what I thought. When motivation, vel non, is not a factor, talent usually prevails. The more talented team would be, like, the Gators, or something.
Now that we’re all the way through New Year’s Day, we’re starting to get to the
crappy second-rate bowl games ESPN moved to early January to build hype for the national championship game really important matchups, so you’ll want to stick around for the rest of my bowl predictions and the upcoming Too Much Information breakdown of the Independence Bowl. In the meantime, though, please remember, above all else: Don’t Bet On It! Merry Christmas!