A College Football Christmas

A College Football Christmas

Sports Central | Kyle Jahner ( Sports Central | Monday, December 24th, 2007 )

I have been a very good, er, boy this year, and would like to parlay this behavior into presents, as is custom … only as a college football fan, these presents I am asking come in the form of appropriate endings to the season.

Given the nature of the regular season, this could take a while.

First, let the Boise State Broncos win a game in Hawaii. Chris Peterson was good and loyal, promising to stay on the horse in Idaho while coaches at other programs looked for greener pastures. Since he is content to stick with blue pastures, a decisive win over East Carolina should be the least you could do for him.

This one probably qualifies as a stocking stuffer.

And if you could see it in your heart, give Lloyd Carr a fair sendoff in the Capital One Bowl. Whether he retired or was fired (asked in no uncertain terms to retire), we will never know for sure. But if Vegas was taking bets, fired would have even better odds than the Gators have in this bowl. Granted the loss to an entire Appalachian State team of players Michigan wouldn’t have even looked at in the recruiting game was a black eye to the program. But Carr has been a solid coach in Ann Arbor for over a decade, and a class act. He deserves to go out with dignity.

Of course, with Tim Tebow and Florida on the other sideline, a win might be the 50″ HD plasma TV on the list.

Also, please help the BCS bowl snubs prove their worth. You know, rather than slip into a manic depressive state, allowing a bowl beneath them against a lackluster opponent to douse its competitive fire and result in an even more depressing loss.

Arizona State would have been a logical choice for the Fiesta Bowl. They’re a local, 10-win team in arguably the second best conference in the nation, and a program rejuvenated by a new coach. But when the Rose Bowl selected 9-3 Illinois over obvious 10-win, eventual BCS at-large selections Georgia and Missouri, and with Hawaii securing an automatic bid, there were no at-large slots left. Ironic that the Rose Bowl sticking to its Big Ten/Pac-10 tradition (despite the lack of a BCS worthy Big Ten team) ended up hurting the Pac-10. So let the Sun Devils have a little fun in San Diego at the Holiday Bowl against Texas.

That one should be doable. Mack Brown has a heavy shortage of big-time wins without Vince Young at his disposal. Ask Oklahoma.

And speaking of obvious BCS at-large selection Missouri, the Orange Bowl went ahead and ignored the fact that Kansas had lost to the Tigers, didn’t win its division, and only had a better record because that Missouri win forced the Tigers to play Oklahoma a second time. You know, that Oklahoma team Kansas didn’t play once. In fact, Kansas’ best win came against 7-5 Texas A&M, a resounding 19-11 victory. Missouri beat Texas Tech, BCS bound Illinois, and oh, did I mention, Kansas?

A Missouri loss in the Cotton Bowl to an Arkansas team reeling from a head coach defection and inner turmoil would be a lump of coal in the stocking, and undeniable proof that either Gary Pinkel or Chase Daniel clubbed baby seals in the offseason. Then again, no one but Oklahoma could keep the Tigers below 35 points, so I can’t imagine the Arkansas defense will do much better.

Speaking of clubbing defenseless entities, Rich Rodriguez was the lone coach of a BCS team to leave its program before its bowl. Not that a lot of BCS coaches will be changing sceneries; generally that kind of success keeps the coach and the school in a state of mutual happiness. But when the coach sells out, consider mutual happiness ended. (Since you started reading this article, 5,368 West Virginia fans completed their Rodriguez voodoo dolls and went straight for the heart with a needle. Roughly a third of them skipped the pins and began ripping limbs off.)

I personally think building a program into national title contention is more of a challenge and accomplishment than taking the reigns at a ready made power that just happens to be a little off course. Greg Shiano at Rutgers, and until now, Rich Rodriguez, were examples, both local products winning 10 games at programs where it was thought unlikely-to-impossible. And you can help the program make the leap permanent; remember, Miami was nothing before the 1980s. But coaches have the right to take a better job; it’s their career. Michigan has a vastness of tradition and resources unimaginable in Morgantown.

And it would be unfair to West Virginia and Michigan to continue a sham while both should begin moving in their new directions (especially mid-recruiting season). Still, it would be nice to see the team he leaves behind get in one last hurrah. Unfortunately they run into an Oklahoma team on fire. Then again, Oklahoma was a prohibitive favorite in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, too…

… Which brings me to my most important wish, a bowl season full of interesting games I don’t want to turn off at halftime. And if you can muster, I think everyone could use a game with just a fraction of the excitement of the Fiesta Bowl last year. Let Hawaii give Georgia a run for its money in the Sugar Bowl, or give us an amazing moment in a bowl we don’t even see coming.

And finally, it will be a while after Christmas, and well, over a week after the New Year, too … that’s the problem, in fact. Ohio State hasn’t played since the week before Thanksgiving. The Buckeyes need some kind of preservatives, anything to keep them fresher than they were in last year’s title game. It’s the last game of the college football season, have some compassion. Help them get over the fact that they haven’t played a football game since the Minnesota Vikings were 3-6.

Of course, last year they were forced to play a fast, dangerous SEC team, and they played without their lethal wide receiver for a single offensive snap, and had its Heisman winning quarterback rendered ineffective … wait, they play LSU, another speedy, talented SEC team and no longer have a Heisman quarterback or a lethal receiver … damn. Still, could you see it in you to make this a game that goes into the fourth quarter undecided?

Okay, so I got greedy. And I guess a plus-one playoff for next year is out, too, huh? Yeah, thought so. Rats.

Well, there’s always next year.



Sports Central


Humanitarian Bowl Preview

Humanitarian Bowl Preview

Doc`s Sports | Josh Nagel ( Doc’s Sports | Monday, December 24th, 2007 )

Fresno State (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (7-5)

Conference Matchup: WAC vs. ACC

Date: Dec. 31

Location: Boise, Idaho

Spread: Georgia Tech -3.5

This is a matchup of programs with contrasting reputations; Georgia Tech, which seemingly never lives up to its potential, and Fresno State, the once-noted giant killer that consistently performs at a level that is a cut above most mid-major schools. Chan Gailey lost his job because of the Yellow Jackets’ perpetual mediocrity; under him, they always seem to field a solid team that was capable of competing with anyone in the ACC. Yet they always seemed to find a way to end up about7-5, headed to a fringe bowl game amid hope that better things were around the corner next year, only to do the same routine over and over again. What’s more, they inevitably lost to in-state rival Georgia, and the combination of those factors led to Gailey’s dismissal. Paul Johnson will take over next season, but defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta will coach the team in the bowl game. Fresno State was once America’s favorite mid-major sweetheart, when David Carr led the Bulldogs to all sorts of upsets against ranked teams and coach Pat Hill loved to rant about the lack of respect they received. But the Bulldogs never did reach the mid-major pinnacle enjoyed last year by Boise State and this year’s by Hawaii: the coveted BCS game. The Bulldogs nearly upset top-ranked USC a couple of years ago, but they have basically faded into simply a solid mid-major team that will always contend in the WAC. This team wins the games it should, but doesn’t pull off any big upsets. This formula was typified in this season, as the Bulldogs lost to Oregon and Texas A&M, and ran the table in the WAC with the exception of the aforementioned Hawaii and Boise State. A win in this bowl might put them back on the national radar as a mid-major capable of beating teams from BCS conferences. For Georgia Tech, it’s a chance to erase a season of mediocrity and welcome new coach Johnson on a positive note.

Fresno State can cover if: the Bulldogs can beat the Yellow Jackets at their own game. The programs are similar in that they fancy a physical style that features a strong running game and a sound defense. Freshman running back Ryan Matthews gained 866 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, while Lonyae Miller and Clifton Smith combined for 1,074 more yards and 10 touchdowns. But they have their work cut out for them against Tech’s 11th-ranked rushing defense The programs also are similar in that each suffers from maddeningly erratic quarterback play. It seemed the topsy-turvy Paul Pinegar era at Fresno would never end, but it did last year and Tom Brandstater has been a steady if not spectacular alternative. He has thrown for 2,369 yards and 14 touchdowns against just five interceptions, which is something that plagued his predecessor Pinegar.

Georgia Tech can cover if: the Yellow Jackets dominate the line of scrimmage with their formidable rush defense and make Fresno State one-dimensional. If they can shut down the rushing attack on early downs and force the Bulldogs to throw more than they would like, Georgia Tech has a good chance to take control of the game and exhibit its physical superiority. On offense, the Jackets will turn to Tashard Choice, who led the ACC with 1,310 rushing yards while no other ACC player even gained 1,000. Hopes for quarterback Taylor Bennett were high after he stepped in and had a great game against West Virginia in last year’s Gator Bowl (the Jackets blew a huge lead and lost, 38-35), but he has been inconsistent and disappointing, throwing for 2,045 yard with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.

General Notes: The Bulldogs are 7-19 ATS in their last 26 games overall and 2-6 ATS in their last eight non-conference games. The Yellow Jackets are 1-5-1 in their last seven games as a favorite and 2-5 ATS in their last seven games in December.

Doc`s Sports