I’m assuming you’re Iron Bowled-out. Although, Alabama losing because it successfully got one second put back on the game clock, and then missed a 57-yard field goal, and then gave up a 100-yard return of that field goal, is kind of worth reliving a thousand more times. But we won’t. Not here, anyway. Not until the end of this post.
1. Back to the Outback?: To hear everyone tell it, Michigan State is headed to the Rose Bowl no matter what it does against Ohio State Saturday in the Big Ten championship game. Unless the Spartans lose by four touchdowns or more and plummet out of the top 14 of the BCS standings. In that case, they couldn’t go to a BCS bowl.
So let’s say Ohio State in the BCS title game and MSU in the Rose. Or MSU in the Rose after beating the Buckeyes, and Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Wisconsin is a lock for the Capital One Bowl. Then comes the Outback Bowl.
Is Iowa a shoo-in at 8-4, over 8-4 Nebraska and 7-5 Michigan. It did beat both. But these are bowl games. Iowa has superseded teams with better credentials in the past, and teams with lesser credentials have superseded Iowa. But get ready to go to Tampa all the same, Iowa fans. Michigan played there last year. And Nebraska was in the Capital One Bowl the last two years, and may have Florida fatigue.
But as you’ve been warned year after year, you don’t know what these bowl people will do.
The real guessing game is which SEC team would get sent to the Outback. Bowl-projectionists lean toward South Carolina, even though the Gamecocks played there last year. The Hlist thinks that’s far from a certainty.
For one thing, the loser of the SEC title game between Auburn and Missouri would be 11-2. What would make either a clearly better pick for the Capital One Bowl than 10-2 South Carolina, with defensive end Javedeon Clowney? Auburn is a big story this year, for sure. It’s magic on top of pixie dust on top of more pixie dust. But if it loses to Mizzou, it will be a cooled-off story. Ditto Missouri if it falls to Auburn. Clowney and coach Steve Spurrier, on the other hand, have more than regional drawing power.
If Missouri loses to Auburn, does the Cap One really want a Wisconsin-Missouri game? It’s a little one-regional, two states separated by Iowa. Or Illinois. Both, actually.
Missouri won’t bring as many fans as South Carolina, which has oodles of fans drive down to Tampa. They don’t arrive until the night before the game, or that very morning, and the Outback Bowl people do notice that.
But Missouri doesn’t have national pull or a national name coach or player. So why wouldn’t the Cap One grab South Carolina and leave Missouri for the Outback? How would Iowa-Missouri in a bowl for the second time in four years grab you? How would it grab Tampa? Is Missouri really in the SEC? How many Mizzou fans will go to both Atlanta for the SEC title game and its bowl-destination?
Why is Missouri in the SEC? Why, for that matter, is West Virginia in the Big 12?
That’s a lot of gobble-wobble. Short version: If Iowa goes to the Outback it will be playing a very good opponent. In fact, it could be Iowa’s best bowl foe since it played USC in the Orange Bowl 11 seasons ago.
Of course, Iowa doesn’t have an Outback Bowl invitation yet. Or so we assume.
2. Speaking of Spurrier: He said this after his team’s 31-17 win over state-rival Clemson Saturday, the Gamecocks’ fifth-straight win over the Tigers:
“They’re a good team but continue to not play very well when they play us for some reason.”
He also said this: “We know we’re sort of blessed. We’re not that great of a team, but the guys hang in there and just keep on playing.”
3. The BCS: It will have Central Florida and perhaps Northern Illinois. It will not have the Auburn-Missouri loser, or the Stanford-Arizona State loser, and probably won’t have 11-1 Baylor if Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma and Northern Illinois downs Bowling Green. And if Baylor beats Texas to actually get to 11-1.
Northern Illinois is one win from two straight BCS bowls. Which, in the minds of many, is probably reason enough to blow up the BCS.
4. Going Out in Style: Iowa State was a 2-9 team that trailed West Virginia by 17 points entering the fourth quarter. That’s quitting time for most people.
The Cyclones won in three overtimes, 52-44. And enjoyed it afterwards.
On Sunday, Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads fired offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham and running backs coach Kenith Pope. Winning Saturday was fun, but going 3-9 means someone’s going to pay.
5. Growing Rut: Oh, how glorious it will be for the Big Ten to add Rutgers football. Just kidding.
Saturday, the Scarlet Knights lost at Connecticut, 28-17. That gave UConn a grand total of two wins this season. It dropped Rutgers to 5-6. Dan Duggan of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote this:
Rutgers was facing a 1-9 UConn team with nothing on the line. The Huskies were starting their third quarterback of the season, redshirt freshman Casey Cochran, and they entered the game ranked among the worst in the nation both offensively and defensively.
Somehow, that’s the team that out-played a Rutgers squad that needed a win to become bowl eligible. Just last month there were dreams of a BCS bowl. Now the sights are significantly lower — the BBVA Compass Bowl and Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl among the most likely options.
6. Do the Lakers and Dodgers Know This?: “UCLA runs L.A.,” said UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley after the Bruins’ 35-14 win over USC.
“Last year after the win over SC nobody gave us credit for it, and this win really validated what we did last year and what we’re doing this year,” Hundley said. “The one thing that’s funny to me is I never thought of this as a battle. I thought of this more as a takeover. UCLA runs L.A. and let’s have some fun saying it because we have another year to say it.”
Before you think this Hundley is cocky, read this column about his sister and him by T.J. Simers of the Orange County Register. A pair of winners, those two.
7. Ten Down, Two to Go: Duke is 10-2, its best record ever.
Now it can beat Florida State in the SEC title game, knock off Alabama in the Orange Bowl, and produce the greatest sports story in Duke history. It will make the Christian Laettner shot that beat Kentucky in the NCAA tourney look like a lay-up against Vermont.
Ridiculous, is it? What if the Hlist had boldly predicted in August that Auburn would face Missouri in the SEC title game after the two combined to go 2-14 in the league last season?
What if the Hlist had said in August that Baylor would be 10-1 on Dec. 2, while Florida would be 4-8?
What if the Hlist had said last Friday night that Alabama would lose out on the SEC West title because its opponent returned a 57-yard field goal try 109 yards for a touchdown with no time remaining?
Yep, Duke beats the Seminoles and the Crimson Tide. It probably won’t even be close.
8. Over/Under: Here were some over/under regular-season win-total numbers posted at one offshore sports book this summer:
Iowa State 5.5
Michigan State 8.5
Ohio State 11.5
What, did you think the Hlist really was going to dismiss the best college football finish since, maybe, ever?
The guy in the video is Rowdy Gaines, three-time Olympic gold-medalist swimmer. Guess where he went to college.
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