Posts Tagged ‘TCU’

New Year’s Day = College Bowl Games!

If you’re a football fanatic like us, New Year’s Day is synonymous with college football and the tradition of bowl games.  There are some lesser known games today, like the TicketCity Bowl featuring Northwestern and Texas Tech.  There are also some “ho-hum” games, like the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with Connecticut and Oklahoma that we just cannot seem to get too excited about.  But thankfully there are also some great bowl games, which we highlight below. 

Outback Bowl – Featuring Penn State and Florida, 1 PM  EST, ABC

Two college football coaching giants meet in Tampa today – Joe Paterno, the legendary icon who, at 84, dismisses all ideas about retirement and Urban Meyer, who has announced (for the second time) that he is retiring from the college gridiron. 

While both teams are 7-5 and have had mediocre seasons, it should still be a great game to watch.  Here’s our take on the contest..

If the Gators play inspired football, determined to win one last game for their outgoing coach, they can probably pull off a victory.  What will the Gators’ attitudes be like?  It is hard to say, but even Urban Meyer himself recognizes that it is a key component of the game.  This week, he said, “I think the older players will play like there’s no tomorrow; they’re the invested group. I hope the younger guys carry the torch.”  He went on to say that this season is the first time in 10 years, “we have not followed the plan to win.”  All season long the Gators have played uninspired football, so it is a real concern for Meyer and a possible make or break factor in the game.

Another major element in today’s game is the injuries that are plaguing Florida.  Florida will be missing 5 starters, most notably corner Janoris Jenkins, which should give Nittany Lions QB Matt McGloin an offensive edge.   Even without all the injuries, Florida’s pass defense was poor.  The Lions will have to exploit this weakness if they want to pull off a victory.

Neither team has any superstars, which means the game may come down to the intangibles.  Motivation is certainly one intangible, but weather is another.  With game time temperatures expected to be in the upper 70s, Penn State may struggle keeping up with Florida’s speed. 

Prediction:  Florida 24, PSU 17

Capital One Bowl – Featuring Alabama and Michigan State, 1 PM EST, ESPN

Alabama began the season with high hopes.  A national championship seemed a real possibility as the Crimson Tide started the season with a 5-0 record and a #1 ranking.  In the last 6 games against Division I opponents the Tide went 3-3 and they found themselves out of national championship contention and relegated to a bowl game they are not very excited to be part of.

On the other side of the field, Michigan State ended the season as Big Ten champs (sharing the title with Wisconsin and Ohio State).   The 11-1 Spartans feel slighted since they were not invited to one of the elite BCS Bowl games and would love to walk away with a victory against the defending national champions.

Will Michigan State’s desire to prove they belonged in a more prestigious bowl game be enough of a motivator to win?  Or will Alabama look at this game as a way of salvaging a disappointing 9-3 season?  I think Alabama’s offense will be the deciding factor in this matchup.  QB Greg McElroy has thrown for nearly 2800 yards and just 5 INTs this season.  The Spartans will have to respect the run and crowd the line of scrimmage to contain last year’s Heisman winner Mark Ingram and running back Trent Richardson.  That will give McElroy the opportunity to showcase his arm.  Look for wide out Julio Jones, the Tide’s leading receiver with over yards this season, to be a critical factor in the game.

Prediction:  Alabama 30, Michigan State 21

Gator Bowl – Featuring Mississippi State and Michigan, 1:30 PM EST, ESPN2

The bowl season just wouldn’t be complete without one of our very favorite college players – Michigan QB Denard Robinson.  One last chance to see this dynamic, dual-threat player with the untied cleats is simply irresistible!

The game plan for Mississippi State is basic and simple – STOP DENARD ROBINSON.  The 8-4 Bulldogs have a strong run defense, but have struggled against the pass.  Expect Robinson to show that he is not merely a running, scrambling QB (over 1600 yards and 14 TDs this season), but an efficient passer (over 2300 yards and 16 TDs) as well.

Robinson enters the game rested and healthy.  Since he is the workhorse on the team and carries much of the offensive load, he takes a lot of hits and suffered various injuries this season.  A healthy Robinson will likely put up points for the 7-5 Wolverines, but it may not be enough to win the game.  The Michigan defense has struggled all season and were ranked 102nd in points allowed and 108th in yards allowed.  Statistically, it was the worst defense in the history of Wolverine football. 

The Bulldogs offense is solid and will be a challenge for the Wolverines.  MSU lost by only a field goal to #1 ranked Auburn and their other losses were to ranked opponents.  For Michigan to win, the Wolverine defense will need to finally step up this season.  

An interesting aspect of today’s game is how it may impact the future of Wolverine Head Coach Rich Rodriquez.  He has been on the hot seat all year.  In his 3 seasons at Michigan, he has a 15-21 overall record and is an embarrassing 6-18 in the Big Ten and 1-10 against ranked teams.  In addition, under Rodriquez the team had a number of NCAA violations related to practices and offseason workouts.  The outcome of today’s game may very well determine whether Rodriguez will return as the Michigan Head Coach.

Prediction:  Mississippi State 31, Michigan 27

Rose Bowl – Featuring Wisconsin and TCU, 5 PM EST, ESPN

Unbeaten TCU enters the Rose Bowl, referred to as “The Granddaddy of them All”, looking for validation.  As a Mountain West team playing in one of the elite BCS games, and after losing in the Fiesta Bowl last year to Boise State, TCU wants to prove it can play with the “Big Boys”.  Indeed, the 11-1 Badgers have a roster full of big boys.  Their offensive line is gargantuan with every starter over 300 pounds and at least 6’ 4”.  This massive line has allowed 3 different Badger running backs to rush for at least 860 yards each this season. 

Will this offensive line prove to be too enormous for TCU’s defense?  While the Horned Frog defense IS smaller, they are also renowned for their speed.  Combine that with solid tackling and leverage and TCU may just be able to handle the big boys.  After all, TCU has the top ranked defense in the nation!

While the Badgers’ ability to put up big points (averaging 43.3 points per game) is notorious, TCU’s offense is powerful as well and ranks 4th in scoring and 9th overall.  In fact, TCU’s offense also averages 43.3 points per game!  Both teams have scored an identical number of points – 520.  The Badger’s defense will be challenged with this dynamic, balanced offense led by senior QB Andy Dalton, who can both pass AND run.

With the Badgers ranked #4 and the Horned Frogs #3, today’s Rose Bowl looks to be the marquee matchup of the day.  These eerily, evenly matched powerhouse offenses will undoubtedly provide an exciting contest.  But games like this are won in the trenches, which should give the Badgers the edge and their 4th consecutive Rose Bowl victory.

Prediction:  Wisconsin 38, TCU 27

Sit back and enjoy today’s games.  With less than two weeks of college football remaining, soak up every moment you can! 

Happy New Year! 

From Your Gridironglamourgirl Team!

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Boise State Falls to Nevada in OT… Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz Oh What a Relief it is!

College football’s most divisive team, Boise State, lost 34-31 in overtime to Nevada last night.  The Broncos were ranked 4th and were undefeated this season.  In fact, they had not lost a game since 2008, when they fell to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.  Poinsettia Bowl?  Honestly, I did not even know that bowl existed.  This loss makes it quite likely Boise will end up in a similarly named bowl of obscurity.

If you detect a bit of mockery in my tone, you are right.  Politically correct or not, I am willing to admit that I am celebrating Boise State’s defeat.  I have felt all along that they were undeserving of their 4th place ranking.  Given the current structure of the BCS, I have little faith that the actual top teams will be playing for a national title.  The idea of Boise State playing in a BCS bowl game seemed so unjust and bizarre to me.  Thankfully last night’s loss will ensure that the Broncos will not be national championship contenders.  Whew!  What a relief. 

A few days ago Ohio State University President Gordon Gee offered his opinion about Boise State and 3rd ranked Texas Christian University being possible BCS contenders.  Since that statement, he has been widely criticized.  While Gee’s words were perhaps not as eloquent as one would expect from a university president, the basic concept he was trying to convey resonated among many fans.  During an AP interview, Gee said

I do know, having been both a Southeastern Conference president and a Big Ten president, that it’s like murderer’s row every week for these schools. We do not play the Little Sisters of the Poor. We play very fine schools on any given day. So I think until a university runs through that gauntlet that there’s some reason to believe that they not be the best teams to (be) in the big ballgame.

It was an insensitive way to basically argue that schools like Boise State and TCU do not play with the “big boys”.  However, the OSU President should have looked at strength of schedule stats before making such a controversial, public statement.  It turns out that OSU’s strength of schedule (59) is only slightly better than TCU’s (68) and Boise’s (73).  These strength of schedule (SOS) stats have now been used against Gee by basically every sports commentator and writer around.

But to dismiss Gee’s arguments by simply quoting SOS data misses the bigger picture.  There is validity in what he was trying to say.  Frankly, the WAC and Mountain West conferences, which Boise and TCU play in, are NOT as competitive as the SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, PAC-10 or the ACC.  While teams like these do play weaker opponents, the majority of their games are against teams in more powerful conferences.  For example, #2 ranked Auburn has faced Arkansas (#12 at the time), LSU (#6 at the time), South Carolina (#12 at the time) and Alabama (#11 at the time).  Conversely, Boise State’s ranked opponents have been Virginia Tech (#10 at the time) and # 19 Nevada, whom they lost to last night.

Consider the argument from yet another perspective.  If you are a high school football player, being recruited to play at the collegiate level, would you choose a school from the Mountain West over ANY school in the PAC-10, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 or SEC?  Of course there are exceptions, but the majority of elite high school prospects choose colleges from the powerhouse conferences.  This means that week after week teams like Auburn, Alabama and OSU face athletes who are simply stronger, faster, bigger and yes, better.  So until Boise State and TCU can compete against better caliber opponents on a consistent basis, football fans like me will continue to doubt them.

All the controversy about strength of schedules, BCS computer rankings and so forth could be eliminated if a college football playoff system was implemented.  It would put an end to the endless arguing about who deserves to play in the major BCS bowls.  Gordon Gee is not a proponent of a playoff system and prefers the status quo.  If he truly believes OSU is far superior to teams like Boise and TCU, he should welcome NCAA playoffs. 

In the meantime, people like me have to sit back and hope that the football media darlings, like Boise State, fall from grace and get eliminated from the national championship discussion.  If you listen closely, you can hear the sigh of relief from football fans throughout the land.

BCS Standings, Week 11…Upsets Ahead for the Unbeaten Top Four?

As we head into this weekend’s slate of college football games, let’s take a look at the current BCS rankings. 

BCS Rankings, Week 11

  1.  Oregon
  2. Auburn
  3. TCU
  4. Boise State
  5. LSU
  6. Stanford
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Nebraska
  9. Ohio State
  10. Oklahoma State

The top four teams enter this weekend with perfect records.  Will they remain unbeaten and retain their BCS standings?  Here is a glimpse of the top 4 and what this weekend just may bring…

Number one Oregon (9-0) travels to Berkeley to take on 5-4 California.  Cal is unbeaten at home and smells an upset.  But the Ducks have a powerful, speedy offense that is unstoppable.  We think the Ducks break Cal’s home game winning streak on Saturday to keep its top position in the BCS rankings. 

Auburn (10-0) heads into the weekend at number two to face the 5-5 Georgia Bulldogs, who have won 4 of their last 5 games.  Auburn QB and Heisman hopeful Cam Newton is in the midst of “pay to play” allegations.  Each day the scandal seems to escalate and there is speculation that the NCAA may POSSIBLY ask Auburn to suspend Newton from game participation while the issue is investigated.  It seems unlikely that Newton will be benched for this weekend’s game, but the scrutiny and attention on him must be nerve-wracking.  Is it enough to derail the Tigers?  Nope!  We think Newton and the Tigers handle the off field distractions and earn a decisive victory.

TCU (10-0) earned the number three spot last week after a resounding 47-7 win against then #5 Utah.  Saturday, the Horned Frogs (some mascots are quite amusing, aren’t they?) face San Diego State, who enters the game at 7-2.  If an upset in the top 4 unbeaten teams is to occur, this could be the game! But, we think TCU’s defense (ranked first in the nation) will prove to be too powerful for the Aztec’s offense.  TCU should keep its perfect record heading into next week.

Fourth ranked Boise State (8-0) meets in-state rival Idaho tonight in a game that should be a blow-out.  The Idaho Vandals defense, ranked 103rd in the country, gave up 844 yards last week against Nevada.  Boise State, ranked 2nd in scoring offense in the nation, will simply be too hot to handle.

Week after week, bombshell upsets on the college gridiron shock and amaze us.  It is one of the reasons that college level play is so thrilling!  With the top 4 teams flaunting perfect records as they approach this weekend’s games, will they falter and become part of the “upset alerts” scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen?  Not likely.  The top 4 will preserve their unbeaten statuses this weekend and maintain their current BCS standings as we head into the final stretch of the college season.  As for upsets?  There’s always next week!

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