Hey everyone, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/Kick Ass Kwanzaa/Festive Festivus. Or as I like to call it--Ridiculously Cool Chrishanzafest.
We're 8 games deep into the bowl season (I'm 5-3 in my office money pool, thanks for asking) and I really haven't been paying a whole lot of attention, truth be told. I did see the wildly entertaining New Orleans Bowl, but that was more by fluke than anything else.
The reason I haven't been paying attention is because, well, there haven't been any B1G teams involved. But starting tonight, the Conference Of Sherman wades into bowl season, with Purdue taking on Western Michigan. So let's take a quick preview around the conference, and see how we stack up, shall we?
Little Caesar's Bowl, Western Michigan v. Purdue: If you would've told me in October that Purdue was even going to a bowl game, you would've been rightly mocked and ridiculed. But here they are, thanks in part to a big upset of Ohio State that helped get them to Detroit at 6-6. That was good enough to give Danny Hope a two year extension, but you just get the feeling that the Hope era won't end well. Purdue has the offense to smoke WMU...but WMU has the offense to match score for score. Please, Bolilermaker, don't lose to the MAC. I love the MAC, just not when they beat the B1G in bowl games.
Ted says: Purdue wins, but the fear of God will be put into them.
Insight Bowl: Iowa v. Oklahoma: On paper, Iowa has no shot. Yes, Oklahoma's top running back and receiver will be out, but ever the statesman, Kirk Ferentz graciously agreed to sit out Iowa's top running back Marcus Coker. Team rules blah blah blah, or something like that. This game comes down to want--does Oklahoma want to be there, or does Oklahoma want to make a statement? That said, Iowa goes into almost every bowl game they play being totally outclassed on paper, and they usually are the only B1G team that doesn't completely embarrass themselves. This is Norm Parker's last game as the defensive coordinator, and I think the Hawks come up big for Norm.
Ted says: It'll be a low scoring, close game, and the Hawkeye defense puts in an inspired performance for their beloved defensive coordinator, but Oklahoma wins it late.
Meineke Car Care: Northwestern v. Texas A and M: Texas A and M was supposed to be one of the better teams in the country this year, but sometime in October they remembered that they were Texas A and M and once again fell short of unrealistic expectations. Northwestern looked dead in October, but has been playing as well as anyone in the conference. Aggie has the defacto home field advantage; Northwestern has a solid coaching staff that isn't about to undergo a huge transition.
Ted says: Northwestern finally---FINALLY--gets a bowl win, and sends off Texas A and M to the SEC with something they'll get very accustomed to--losing.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: UCLA v. Illinois: Oh, Rick Neuheisel and Ron Zook, why did you have to go and get fired? The only coach more quotable and entertaining this side of the Zooker was Neuheisel, yet you both had to go and get canned. Jim Mora and Tim Beckman are so boring, and so football oriented that they take all the fun out of this game, even though they won't be, you know, actually coaching in it. Illinois has the better talent, and if they can play like they did during their 6-0 start, they should win. But can they?
Ted says: I'm picking Illinois, although I'll probably regret it. Much like Illinois regretted hiring Ron Zook.
Ticket City Bowl: Penn State v. Houston: I live in Illinois, about 20 miles or so east of St. Louis (no, NOT East St. Louis...east OF St. Louis, huge difference), and I work with people from all over the country. Most folks are picking Houston in this game, but for no other reason, it seems, than THAT reason. You know. The Reason That Shall Not Be Named. But from a football perspective, I think Houston is one of those gimmicky CUSA/WAC/MWC/Sun Belt teams that can roll up 800 yards and 60 points on crappy CUSA/WAC/MWC/Sun Belt teams...and Penn State ain't one of those teams. I think PSU is mad that they got passed over by several bowls because of their toxicity and want to take it out on someone, and show that this team isn't that scandal. Houston is that someone, and THIS team most definitely ISN'T THAT scandal.
Ted says: Kick their ass, Penn State. Kick their ass up and down the field for four quarters.
Capital One Bowl: Nebraska v. South Carolina: I don't know what to make of Nebraska. They have a great running game, but a terrible passing game. South Carolina has a great passing defense, but just an average run defense, so that plays right into the strength of the Cornhuskers. If I'm Steve Spurrier, I drop 8 guys in the box and make Taylor Matinez beat me with his arm. I'm not sure that he can.
Ted says: South Carolina wins, but once the $40,000+ in improper hotel room lodging is adjudicated by the NCAA, they will have to vacate it. Then Nebraska fans can rightly taunt South Carolina fans.
Gator Bowl: Urban's ex-girlfriend v. Urban's new girlfriend: Let's face it, Florida and OSU really don't have any business playing in a
New Year's Day bowl, and they wouldn't if it wasn't for the Urban Meyer storyline. They're both 6-6, very mediocre teams, and most OSU fans think if Gene Smith had self-imposed a bowl ban this year, they wouldn't be banned next year. I don't think so, but that's just me. This game unfolds a lot like the 2008 Capital One Bowl. OSU is playing one last game for the Tressel era coaching staff, much like Michigan was playing one last game for Lloyd Carr, and they let it all hang out. UM would've crushed Florida if they hadn't turned the ball over on the goal line twice, and I think the Buckeyes will do the same thing--if Jim Bollman opens up the playbook like he did against Michigan. But will he?
Ted Says: OSU wins. I hope. 6-7 would suck.
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin v. Oregon: This is the ultimate game of speed versus power. Chip Kelly hasn't been able to win a BCS game yet, so the pressure's on him to get that monkey off his back. Bret Bielema had a team that should've won the Rose Bowl last year, and should've been undefeated this year, so he needs to get that monkey off his back. Wisky's defense isn't as good as it was this time last year, and they're facing a better offense than TCU was in Pasadena last year. Wisconsin should be able to run the ball almost at will, and now that Paul Chryst doesn't have to audtion for a job, will he stick to what works?
Ted says: I want to pick Wisconsin, but I don't think they'll be able to outscore Oregon.
Outback Bowl: Michigan State v. Georgia. This is going to be a really good game. These are two teams that are evenly matched, they both have a fair amount to prove, and they both have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. There have been a lot of Mark Richt on the move rumors along with an extension that is supposedly being worked by Georgia, so whether or not that is a distraction remains to be seen. Honstly, this game could go either way, but Michigan State has more to prove...but do they come out motivated because they're not in a BCS game and want to prove to everyone they should be, or flat...because they're not in a BCS game and think they should be?
Ted says: Call it MSU by a skoshe, with no reasoning other than a hunch. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Georgia win.
Sugar Bowl: Va Tech v. Michigan: Okay Michigan haters, quit squawking about Michigan having 8 home games this and not playing anybody that. They've had a fairly remarkable turnaround, and the most impressive one year defensive improvement in the Big Ten in quite a few years. Virginia Tech hasn't impressed me much this year, and they've been average on the road. I can't see any good reason I should pick Virginia Tech.
Ted says: Michigan should win this game. I'm not going to say convincingly, but they should win this game.
Enjoy the bowl games, everyone.