BCS picks busted (but only half of them)
A couple of weeks ago, I shared my wish list for the BCS bowl games, based on what had happened the previous few weeks in the standings.
Last week, I learned that I batted about .500 in picking the conference championship games earlier this year. This week, I learned my BCS bowl game matcthups were also fairly close to average (hmmm … fairly close to average … hearing that out loud, I think that'd make a pretty good band name).
So let's revisit my BCS wish list, of which only two of the five anticipated matchups came to fruition … but hey, I did get one other team right.
BCS National Championship
One of the two I got right, this one nearly fell apart like the others. If Georgia had any semblance of clock management on its final drive in the SEC title game, the Bulldogs would have knocked off Alabama and squared off against Notre Dame in Miami on Jan. 7.
Instead, the Crimson Tide will take on the Fighting Irish for all the marbles. An intriguing game featuring two stud defenses and two offenses who can make plays when needed to win games. This one should come down to the wire, and I'll give the Tide – who've been here before (in 3 of the last 4 years) – the edge.
I missed this one completely. Instead of UCLA-Nebraska, it will be Stanford – who beat the Bruins for the second straight week in last Friday's Pac-12 title game – against Wisconsin – who shocked everybody by putting up 70 points on the Huskers in the Big Ten title game.
This game feature two very similar styles: run, run, run, then sprinkle in some high-percentage pass plays after lulling the defense to sleep. Plus, both defenses are capable of stopping the run, and can be opportunistic when afforded the chance. I'll take the Badgers, based on what they were able to do to Nebraska last weekend.
I missed this one, too, but only because I (stupidly) assumed the bowl organizers would take Georgia over Florida and choose either Oklahoma or Clemson over Big East champion Louisville.
If I was a Georgia fan, I'd be pretty mad; the Bulldogs seemingly got punished for playing in the SEC title game. Georgia beat the Gators head-to-head, and nearly beat Alabama last weekend, but they're reward was to miss out on one of the Big 5 bowls.
On the other side, I was shocked to see Louisville not fall to the last possible open spot, against Florida State in the Orange Bowl. The Big East was as mediocre as the Big Ten this year, and I figured the Sugar Bowl would want a little bit stronger team to face their SEC replacement pick.
All that being said, look for Florida to prove to all those pundits out there (like me) that they were the right choice over a Georgia team that beat them this year. I think they'll handle Louisville rather easily on both sides of the ball.
I pegged this one perfectly. Kansas State vs. Oregon, in a game that many thought (for about a week after Alabama was upset by Texas A&M) would be for the national championship. It's a clash of styles, but not as much as you think.
I say that because both teams are run-first … they just do it in completely different ways. The Ducks spread you out and go up-tempo with their vast stable of athletes, while the Wildcats line up in power formations and pound it at you with a few hard-nosed ballcarriers.
Neither team is afraid to pass, though, and that includes taking shots downfield. The defenses will have their work cut out for them, K-State's because of how fast Oregon comes at you and the Ducks' because they're not very physical.
Expect a high-scoring game, with both teams having shown the ability throughout the year to put up scores in the 50s and 60s. They both might get there in what should be the most entertaining offensive display in this year's BCS.
I was half-right on this one, but didn't see the other half coming at all. While I figured Florida State would win the ACC championship for the automatic berth, I (wrongly) assumed the opponent would be Louisville, after all the other bowls picked their at-large teams.
Let me be clear: I'm very happy to see NIU get its chance in the limelight. Unlike a lot of other talking heads around the country, I believe the Huskies deserve their shot here not only because they earned it through the current rules in place, but also because they're going to appreciate it more than any other school during the 15-year history of the BCS.
Yes, the Huskies are going to enjoy their time more than the TCUs and Boise States of the world, because it's almost completely unexpected. Even after fulfilling all the requirements, even the NIU players and coaches had to be skeptical that the big boys would let the Huskies play with them.
So kudos all around, to the Huskies and the Orange Bowl, for bringing some new blood – and some controversy – into this year's BCS. For the record, I think NIU will give the Seminoles a much better game than most people think, but FSU is just too talented in the end.
So there you have it. Again, a fairly close to average prognosticating performance; to quote one of my favorite all-time Cheers lines, I'm a break-evener.
And while I've got some time to kill before the BCS games come around, I'll happily celebrate "the most wonderful time of the year," as ESPN touts it, by checking out the "lesser" bowls the next few weeks.
That starts this week, not with a "lesser" bowl, but with a traditional rivalry that many (like myself) find has stood the test of time: Army-Navy. It's good old-fashioned football at its best, where the ball rarely gets put in the air and both sides truly respect one another. It's always a good time.