Thursday, December 22, 2005

Oh Joy it's College Bowl Season!

Tuesday night kicked off the first of 28 college bowl games. Beyond Southern Miss and Arkansas St alums, there were four people in the country that cared. No one cares because 56 of 117 division one teams make a bowl. A bowl is supposed to be a reward for a good season; rewarding half of the eligible teams with a bowl is the equivalent of getting a D in school. The defense is always made that it's a reward for the kids and also grants an extra month of critical practice time. For a lesser football program like Akron or Tulsa this is truly a reward, but teams like 6-5 North Carolina St or 7-4 Michigan it's hard to believe they care that much. Why not give every D1 team permission to practice through December and trim the number of Bowls down to 12-15? Take the Minnesota Gophers for example. They have been to three of the last five Music City Bowls, it is certainly not a prestigous bowl or any great achievment to win 7 games every season. In a system with less bowls, the years that the Gophers have a great season and win 9 or 10 games would be much more impressive.
Instead of watching 28 games in two weeks, here's a cheat sheet of five intriguing games for different reasons. Obviously the Rose Bowl speaks for itself, and should be a better game than last year's Orange Bowl.
MPC Computers Bowl Dec 28 Boise St Broncos vs. Boston College Eagles
The Broncos have become a serious football school by beating up on WAC opponents. This year they beefed up their schedule for more of a challenge. They lost big at Georgia and barely lost to Oregon State. Now they face a pretty tough Boston College team in Boise on the Smurf Turf. The Eagles boast DE Mathius Kiwanuka, who is a (pick one cliche) tenacious, ferocious, relentless pass rusher. As the Broncos continue to look for National respect, they will now do so without coach Dan Hawkins, who took the Colorado job.
Alamo Bowl-Dec 28 Michigan Wolverines vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers
It probably won't be an exciting game to watch, but one to keep an eye on. In a battle of struggling powerhouses, the loser of this game may be looking for a new coach. Considering the history of these two teams this matchup would normally be on New Year's. Both teams still have lots of talent but did not produce wins this year. Nebraska is still learning the forward pass, while Michigan continues to learn how to play hard and smart every week. Michigan does have a lot of offensive talent that will return next year, lead by RB Michael Hart and WR Steve Breaston, so they could again be overrated at the beginning of 2006.
Sun Bowl-Dec 30 Northwestern Wildcats vs. UCLA Bruins
This game is worth watching if no other reason than UCLA RB Maurice Drew.  He is the closest thing to Reggie Bush in college football, running, receiving and returning he's a threat to score. Quick, who was the best QB in the Big Ten? Northwestern's Brett Basanez had the most passing yards, completions, and fewest int's. The Wildcats spread offense will put up points and they beat Wisconsin and Michigan St this year.
Peach Bowl-Dec 30 LSU Tigers vs. Miami Hurricanes
This is a potential title game for 2006. Without poorly timed November losses, both teams could have played in BCS games. Both teams have very good defenses with young talent on offense. 'Canes QB Kyle Wright is a freshman that improved throughout the season as he gained confidence in his receivers. The Tigers had a very good season despite the chaos around them. QB Jamarcus Russell is a good passer, who also can run when needed. WR Skyler Fulton is the main target when LSU needs a big play.
Fiesta Bowl-Jan 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Ohio St Buckeyes
This is a very big game for many reasons. The two midwest schools compete for many of the same recruits, both have large national fan bases, lots of stars on both teams and great traditions. Ohio State has an exciting defense with a boring offense, while the Irish are the opposite. With coach Charlie Weis being crowned a "genius", the Irish are expected to win. If the Buckeyes realize Ted Ginn is their best offensive player and get him the ball, they are the more talented team. The Irish will play well and fall short, but next year should be a preseason top 5.