The College Football Czar
Bowl Game Picks
Week fourteen in review: Try as they might, the sports media could not
generate any controversy about this year’s CFP semifinal selections, the
correct four teams having obviously been chosen. Especially tiresome were protests from ESPN’s
Jesse Palmer that the committee was supposed to prioritize “resume,” but that
by picking Alabama over Ohio State, they seemed to weigh records far more
heavily than “resume.” Apparently too
angry to bother using articles in his speech, Palmer repeatedly demanded, “What
about ‘resume’?” “What about ‘resume’?”
The Czar will tell you what about
“resume.” A resume is a subjective record
made to put the applicant in the best possible light, which is to say that, by
design, it is missing information that could prove valuable. For instance, if you’ve lost by 31 points to
a middle-echelon conference opponent, you’re probably not going to put that on
your resume. Yet, it happened, and
everyone knows it. So what’s a CFP
committee member to do, disregard those parts of a team’s record that fail to
make its case for inclusion? There’s
little point in going back and reviewing the resume of somebody you’ve already
seen in action for an entire year.
The College Football Czar went 8-1
in conference championships, but the more mundane Sun Belt Conference regular
season games proved far more problematic.
Including Navy’s near miss against Army, the Czar finished the week
10-7. His final regular season record is
176-88, for a .667 winning percentage.
New Orleans Bowl –
New Orleans, obviously – 1:00 (ESPN)
North Texas (9-4)
vs. Troy (10-2)
There are no losing teams invited to bowl games this
season, but the Mean Green pioneered the practice at the first N.O. Bowl in
2001, when they were 5-6, but were allowed to participate as inaugural
champions of the Sun Belt Conference.
They never stood a chance in a 45-20 trouncing by a Colorado State team
that had gone 6-5 against far better competition. Now, they’re a winning team representing
Conference USA, but again facing a tall task against ten-win TSU.
The Trojans took a share of the SBC title with a
32-25 victory at Arkansas State, to finish 7-1 in the conference. They ended the year tied with Appalachian
State, but they played a tougher Sun Belt schedule than the Mountaineers, who
faced neither Troy nor the ASU Red Wolves.
You mean there’s a new Orleans? Gosh! That’s got to be the best news since the
formation of the Dr. Hook Tribute Band.
Troy 34, North
Cure Bowl – Orlando – 2:30 (CBSSN)
Western Kentucky (6-6) vs. Georgia State (6-5)
The Panthers’ only
previous bowl appearance in their program’s brief history was at this same game
two seasons ago, where they turned in a disappointing performance in a 27-16
loss to San Jose State. Like that GSU
team, this one has seemed indifferent at times, like when they opened their new
stadium with a 17-10 defeat against Division I-AA Tennessee State, and then,
having clinched bowl-eligibility, they lethargically lost their last game,
24-10 to visiting Idaho.
WKU had a touch of the
USC disease this season, with expectations heaped on quarterback Mike White,
while much of the talent around him had departed. In this, White’s senior year, he and the
Hilltoppers are averaging 26.2 points per game, down 18.9 from a year ago.
As should be obvious from
its title, this game was founded for the purpose of raising funds for breast
cancer research. So, this ought to be
one football game that will be safe from attack by the forces of political
correctness, right? Perhaps not. When the first Cure Bowl was played, way back
in 2015, the uncured meats craze had not yet started among the foodie
snobs. Wait until they find out there’s
a game called the “Cure” Bowl, as in preserving meats, perhaps through the use
of evil sodium. Why not have the game
sponsored by saturated fats, while they’re at it?
Western Kentucky 22, Georgia State 19
Las Vegas Bowl – nuff said – 3:30 (ABC)
Oregon (7-5) vs.
Boise State (10-3)
In the only two previous meetings between these
neighboring teams, the Broncos took both ends of a home-and-home in 2008-09,
each of them involving a very ugly incident that has undoubtedly stuck with the
fans to this day. In the first game in
Eugene, BSU prevailed 37-32, but only after safety Ellis Powers knocked quacker QB Jeramiah Masoli out
with one of the filthiest helmet-to-facemask launches you’ll ever see. Leading up to the next year’s opener in
Boise, Duck running back LeGarrette Blount boasted that he was going to punt
some posteriors, but it was the Bronco defense that dominated, handing Chip
Kelly a 19-8 defeat in his first game as head coach. Afterwards, BSU defensive lineman Byron Haut
cleverly took his helmet off to taunt Blount, who responded with a sock on the
chin that got the tailback suspended for most of the season.
Coach Willie Taggart has done the hand jive to the U
of O, waving goodbye after only one season at the helm, to take his “dream job”
at Florida State. Unsurprisingly, Todd
Graham was not considered among the Fighting Ducks’ potential successors. Offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, the
former Miami OT and Florida International head coach, has been tabbed as
Taggart’s successor, perhaps in part to prevent the outgoing coach from taking
all of his Floridian imports back with him to FSU.
Meanwhile, rampaging running back Royce Freeman,
whom Taggart had talked into returning for his senior year, has decided there’s
no reason for him to stick around either.
By now, we all know that bowls are “meaningless” games that present an
unnecessary chance for injury, so we’re not supposed to criticize the decision
of a player with NFL aspirations to sit it out.
Nuts. Royce Freeman is an Oregon
Duck. The Oregon Ducks are playing a
football game. Royce Freeman should
play, and he’s a poor sport for not doing so.
Did he not already know he was turning pro three weeks ago, when he had
19 carries and two receptions in a ridiculous 69-10 romp over lowly Oregon
State? Why stop playing now?
The College Football Czar had suspected that ex-Cane
Cristobal was responsible for the Ducks’ ripping off Miami’s “turnover chain”
in their Week 13 win over Arizona, but it turns out he is not to blame. Supposedly, there’s been a fan showing up at Autzen Stadium for years wearing a giant Mr. T necklace
with the Big O on it, and that person tossed the chain down to the players to
celebrate an interception against the Wildcats.
(Is Mr. T cool again? Just
checking.) The UO coaches disavowed the
chain, and it did not return during the following week’s home game against OSU.
The webfoots have understandably been almost universally
trashed over the incident in the media, but mostly by lardheads
who just love the Miami turnover
chain, and were offended by the theft of what would pass for the Hurricanes’
intellectual property. Well, if the
sports media are so judgmental against unoriginal idiocy, then why haven’t they
brought the same, shaming chorus of criticism down on every sports team outside
of Boston that blares that odious ode “Sweet Caroline” at least once every
Oregon 38, Boise
New Mexico Bowl –
Albuquerque – 4:30 (ESPN)
Marshall (7-5) vs. Colorado State (7-5)
Herd have been heard thudding late this season, as they have dropped four of
their last five. Those have all been
close games, however, with the last two being a 9-7 setback to Texas-San
Antonio on a last-second field goal, and a 28-27 shortfall against Southern
Miss, after a failed, last-minute, two-point conversion attempt.
CSU has seen
better times, also. Their late-season
three-game skid was stopped thanks only to the presence of San Jose State at
the end of their schedule. Prior to the
losing streak, they had beaten New Mexico by just three points, and Nevada by
only two. Even when they were winning
more easily, the closest thing to a quality opponent they’ve beaten has been a
.500 Utah State team. Still, .500 in the
Mountain West translates to well above average in Conference USA, so the Czar
gives the Rams the edge on strength of schedule.
The New Mexico
Bowl continues to be sponsored by Gildan, which has
been with it since its inaugural game in 2011.
Gildan is the Czar’s favorite bowl sponsor,
because it makes XL tee-shirts that are truly extra-large. Seriously, what do other clothing
manufacturers mean when they use the term “extra-large”? Is it extra-large Indonesians they have in
Colorado State 48, Marshall 41
Camellia Bowl –
Montgomery – 8:00 (ESPN)
(6-6) vs. Arkansas State (7-4)
With the number of bowl-eligible Conference USA
teams exceeding that league’s number of reserved berths, it was inevitable that
somebody would be left out, so the MT-heads are a little lucky to get this bid
over 6-5 Texas San-Antonio. MTSU has a
better conference record, and is also being rewarded for a good nonconference
schedule, consisting of wins over Syracuse and Bowling Green, and losses to
Vanderbilt and Minnesota.
The Red Wolves, nee, Indians, have been unusually
competitive in the postseason as Sun Belt Conference teams go. Last season, they improved their bowl record
to 3-4 by salting away a 31-13 victory over Central Florida in the Cure Bowl.
Last year’s leading Blue Raider running back was I’Tavius Mathers, and it turned out he mathered
a whole lot. Whereas Mather rushed for
more than 1,500 yards in 2016, nobody on this year’s roster has yet gained a
third as much.
Some fans might think this game is called the
Chameleon Bowl, and it’s too bad it’s not.
What a great idea for a trophy, a bowl that changes colors to blend in
with whatever it contains. Just don’t
fill it with water, or you might never find it again.
Arkansas State 27,
Middle Tennessee 24
Dec. 19 (Tuesday)
Boca Raton Bowl –
Rat Mouth – 7:00 (ESPN)
Akron (7-6) vs.
Florida Atlantic (10-3)
The Zips’ chances amount to zilch for a second
postseason game in a row. In this year’s
MAC championship, Toledo toasted them 38-7 through three quarters, before a
late rally made the final score respectable at 45-28. FAU did the exact opposite to win the
Conference USA title, as they took control early in a 41-17 victory over North
All of a sudden, Owl coach Lane Kiffin
has turned over a new leaf. Rather than
alienate everyone around him as usual, Kiffin is
engaging in profuse suckuppery toward his former boss
Nick Saban, his predecessor at FAU, Charlie
Partridge, and practically everybody else he ever mentions. It couldn’t be more transparent that the
reformed coach is supposed to make for a more attractive hiring prospect, which
means he hopes this is his last-ever home game in Boca Raton. Perhaps now we’ll see if “resume” can supersede
a more comprehensive record that all of college football has already seen.
This is the fourth Boca Raton Bowl, but the first Cheribundi Boca
Raton Bowl. The Czar’s first thought
upon seeing that was, why is the nation formerly known as Upper Volta
sponsoring an American sporting event?
In fact, Cheribundi is a tart cherry beverage
that is supposed to help muscles rejuvenate after exercise, cure insomnia, and
get rid of ring around the collar. And
if you believe that one, the Czar has got a cherry tree in Upper Volta to sell
55, Akron 31
Dec. 20 (Wednesday)
Frisco Bowl –
Frisco, TX (not San Francisco) – 8:00 (ESPN)
(6-6) vs. SMU (7-5)
LTU was one of those Conference USA teams sweating
it out even though they were bowl-eligible, but their Week 13 win over
Texas-San Antonio was evidently a decisive factor in their favor. The Bulldogs’ losses this year have been to
the league’s four best teams, along with SEC foes Mississippi State and South
Southern Methodist coach Chad Morris went 14-24 in
three seasons, and got hired away to become head coach of an SEC team. Then again, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
has just gotten a raise. Evidently,
football is no longer a meritocracy. But
seriously, even though Morris has made significant strides since taking the
reins of the Mustangs, are this year’s biggest wins over North Texas and
Arkansas State enough to qualify him for the top spot at Arkansas?
Morris’ replacement, who will assume coaching duties
for this game, is the once widely sought-after Sonny Dykes, formerly of
California and, as coincidence would have it, Louisiana Tech. Sonny is known as a wily offensive
strategist, which stands to reason, because his father was longtime Texas Tech
coach Spike Dykes. Not only was Spike a
famed schemer as well, but he nicknamed his boy Sonny, which is mighty
clever. After all, not just anyone can
be named Sonny, just any boy who has at least one parent. It’s a little-known fact that Sonny has an
also cleverly-named little brother, called Small Person We Have To Feed.
SMU 44, Louisiana
Dec. 21 (Thursday)
Gasparilla – St.
Petersburg – 8:00 (ESPN)
Temple (6-6) vs.
Florida International (8-4)
The Owls would just as soon glide into this game under
the radar, because being a big favorite hasn’t worked out very well for them
the last couple years. At the end of
consecutive ten-win seasons, they were totaled by Toledo in the Boca Raton
Bowl, and ambushed in the Military Bowl by a 6-6 Wake Forest team.
There’s not much new with Alex McGough. The Golden Panther QB has been steady if
unspectacular as a four-year starter, as he looks to eclipse the 3,000-yard
mark for the first time. To do it, he
needs to throw for 209 yards, which he has done in seven of his past eight
When the College Football Czar heard that this game
was being renamed the Gasparilla Bowl, he assumed it was being sponsored by
that “fizzy lifting drink” from Willy Wonka’s factory. Actually, it’s named for the Gasparilla Pirate
Festival that is held in Tampa later on in the winter, and is named after a
probably nonexistent Spanish Pirate named Jose Gaspar. According to legend, Gaspar was a murderer, a
rapist, a kidnapper and a thief, who died a coward’s death by drowning himself
seconds before the U.S. Navy could apprehend him. So why are the Floridians celebrating
him? Because everybody is feeling
wistfully nostalgic about the Miami Hurricanes of the 80s, of course. Hooray, sociopaths!
By the way, if you’re actually participating in
pirate festivals, you’re probably not the kind of person who enjoys college
football anyway. Not that there’s
anything wrong with that, even though we all know there is.
Temple 35, Florida
Dec. 22 (Friday)
Bahamas Bowl – Nassau
– 12:30 (ESPN)
Ohio (8-4) vs. UAB
Not that anyone wouldn’t enjoy a trip to the
Bahamas, but why were the Blazers so quick to jump at the chance, before the
rest of the invitations went out?
Considering all the excitement over their return to the gridiron, you’d
have thought they’d be angling for the Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, so that
their fans could easily make the trip.
The Bobcats hadn’t beaten a non-losing team all
season, until a 38-10 rout of eventual MAC champion Toledo in Week 11. At the time, the victory put OU in the East
division lead, but that’s where their four-game winning streak ended, with
consecutive, season-ending losses to Akron and Buffalo.
This game is without a major sponsor, now that
Popeye’s chicken has ended its affiliation.
The College Football Czar would like to see it reach a deal with Yamaha,
because every time the announcer welcomed us back to the Yamaha Bahamas Bowl,
he would sound just like Ralph Kramden, in search of
UAB 29, Ohio 20
Famous Idaho Potato
Bowl – Boise – 4:00 (ESPN)
(8-4) vs. Wyoming (7-5)
Cowboy quarterback Josh Allen says he can play in
this game, but that report has yet to be corroborated by head coach Craig Bohl. In their last
regular season game without the injured Allen, the Pokes were unable to
penetrate the flimsy defense of San Jose State in a 20-17 loss. The Czar believes he will play.
The Chippewas have won
their last five games, culminating in a comeback from 17-0 down to beat
perennial MAC power Northern Illinois, 31-24.
CMU has lost its last three bowl games, however, including last year’s
55-10 laugher in what was just as hilariously called the Miami Beach Bowl, in
Marlins Park, of all places. The truth
be known, they’ll get more sun at this year’s game in Idaho. But of course, Idaho is in the Sun Belt Conference, for now.
Just as Tinseltown stars
are often seen at USC games, this bowl game in Boise is usually populated by a
Who’s Who of famous Idaho potatoes.
Suddenly, many of the celebrity spuds have made themselves scarce, due
to scandal. After years of telling each
other what a famous potato can get away with, it turns out not to be so. Seriously, they all should have known
better. If there’s anything that can’t
be tolerated in the Tater State, it’s a masher.
Wyoming 14, Central
Dec. 23 (Saturday)
Birmingham Bowl –
um … Birmingham – Noon (ESPN)
Texas Tech (6-6)
vs. South Florida (9-2)
USF returns to the same game it won a year ago,
46-39 in overtime against another .500 major conference team, South
Carolina. They were forced to an extra
frame after blowing an 18-point second-half lead, however, which is something
to keep in mind if they get the early jump against this quick-striking team
At the end of the regular season, the Red Raiders
took the heat off head coach Kliff Kingsbury by
announcing that he would return to Lubbock next season. Were they premature? Looking at some of the unconventional
coaching moves that have been made already, it’s not inconceivable that
Kingsbury may be hired away.
The Bulls actually gained 120 more yards than
unbeaten Central Florida did when they met in Week 13, but 95 of those were
nullified by the kickoff return with 1:28 to play that decided the game in
UCF’s favor, 49-42. Much of that long
afternoon turned into the Quinton Flowers hours, as the Bulls’ senior scrambler
passed for 503 yards, and ran for 102 more.
Benched Raider QB Nic Shimonek re-entered the lineup in the fourth quarter to
help his team become bowl-eligible, by tossing two TDs to lead them past Texas,
27-23. To Shimonek,
the worst part about not being in the game is having to just sit there, while
passers-by couldn’t resist singing that dopey Knack song at him.
South Florida 51,
Texas Tech 41
Armed Forces Bowl –
Fort Worth – 3:30 (ESPN)
Army (9-3) vs. San
Diego State (10-2)
Aztec running back Rashaad Penny was not a Heisman finalist
despite leading the nation with 2,027 yards, but that only means he’s had no
disruptions while preparing for this collision between two of the nation’s most
powerful ground attacks. Whereas Penny
is the leading individual rusher, it is the Black Knights who are #1 in rushing
as a team.
The Cadet defense has proven that it can stop other
triple-option teams, as it has done against its academy rivals, blanking Air
Force 21-0, and staving off Navy 14-13.
Overall, their run defense is in the middle of the pack, nationally, as
more conventional rushing attacks, from the likes of Tulane, UTEP and Temple,
have proven far more troublesome.
You could say that SDSU has “run Rashaad” over the
opposition this year. Then, everybody
else could groan at you. It goes with
San Diego State 40,
Dollar General Bowl
– Mobile – 7:00 (ESPN)
Toledo (11-2) vs.
Appalachian State (8-4)
App State edged the Rockets 31-28 in last year’s
Camellia Bowl, just a bit upstate in Montgomery. Far from being led to the slaughter,
quarterback Taylor Lamb had a feast, rushing for a career-high 126 yards,
including a ten-yard scramble to set up the game-winning field goal.
Rocket QB Logan Woodside has taken the lumber to the
hides of most opponents this year. He won’t
come anywhere near matching last season’s total of 45 touchdown passes, but he
could surpass his 2016 yardage total, if he can amass 371 against the
Mountaineers. That would take a dramatic
improvement over last bowl game’s total of 247, but last year’s Eers were a more formidable opponent, losing only to
Tennessee, Miami and Troy. This year,
ASU has been beaten by such lesser foes as Umass and
You just can’t buy a good general for a dollar these
days. Maybe a buck could get you the
Surgeon General, but since he’s not really a general, nor even a surgeon,
that’s kind of a rip-off.
Appalachian State 29
Dec. 24 (Sunday)
Hawaii Bowl –
Honolulu – 8:30 (ESPN)
Houston (7-4) vs.
Fresno State (9-4)
Lots of teams have had a tough time staying focused
during road trips to Hawaii, but that is no big deal to the Bulldogs, who are
rivals with the UH Rainbow Warriors in the West division of the MWC. In fact, their last game at Aloha Stadium was
a 31-21 victory in Week 11 of this season.
The College Football Czar can’t believe he’s making
this dorky a reference, but in Superman
II, General Zod somewhat famously remarked, “So
this is planet Hooston.” He couldn’t say that in 2017, because UH has
got such an identity problem that he’d never recognize them. The same Cougar team that has beaten South
Florida and Navy has also been defeated by Tulane, and embarrassed in a four-TD
loss to Tulsa.
The Bulldogs were expected to get buried like a bone
in the Mountain West this year, but their defense has dug in under first-year
coach Jeff Tedford, yielding modest averages of 319
yards and 17.2 points per game. They
would have probably become conference champions, if not for a system that gave
home field advantage in the title game to the wrong team.
General Zod would probably
be worth about a dollar. In today’s
value, that is, not when he appeared in that movie in 1980.
Fresno State 26,
Dec. 26 (Tuesday)
Heart of Dallas
Bowl – Dallas, strangely enough – 1:30 (ESPN)
West Virginia (7-5)
vs. Utah (6-6)
For the last game of the regular season against
Colorado, the Utes wore what might be the dopiest helmets yet, featuring a
multicolored hand extending its thumb and index finger. It was supposed to resemble the gloved hands
of a UU player, so that when viewed from the back, the two hands formed a
letter “U.” Either that, or they were
making paper football goal posts.
If they wore them again this game, it would be at
least in part to taunt WVU, which lost starting quarterback Will Grier to a
broken finger in Week 13 against Texas.
There is a chance that Grier may return, but that would not necessarily
be good news. For a passer already with
a propensity for throwing picks (12 in the regular season) the additional
difficulties caused by an injured middle finger on his throwing hand could
create a field day for an opportunistic Ute defense.
Union general Philip Henry Sheridan may have been
worth a lot more than a buck, but the Czar wouldn’t give a penny for his
thoughts, because it was he who said that if he owned both Texas and Hell, he
would live in Hell and rent out Texas.
Well, the Heart of Dallas Bowl is played in Texas, in the venerable
stadium that is named the Cotton Bowl.
The game that is called the Cotton Bowl is now played in Hell, and
Sheridan can have it.
Utah 20, West
Quick Lane Bowl –
Detroit – 5:15 (ESPN)
Duke (6-6) vs.
Northern Illinois (8-4)
The Blue Devils had to give the boot to starting
punter and place kicker Austin Parker, who has been dismissed for violating the
school’s academic policies. Considering
the team’s kicking woes prior to Parker’s arrival, coach David Cutcliffe will probably consider anything outside the 20 to
be four-down territory. The same may be
true of NIU, whose kicker, Christian Hagan, is 6-for-6 inside 30 yards, but
only 3-for-10 from beyond that distance.
Huskie defensive end Sutton Smith should start
pronouncing his name “Sudden,” as unexpectedly as he comes darting into the
opposing backfield. The lean, 225 pound sophomore
leads the nation in sacks, with 14.
Perhaps you’ve heard that the reason this is called
the Quick Lane Bowl is because the locals have to drive in the quick lane to
attend the game immediately after work.
You’ve probably already spotted the flaw in that theory, in that it
could only be true if the people in Detroit were, for the most part,
employed. Playing the game at 5:15 just
means they have time to watch Judge Judy and still make it in time for kickoff.
27, Duke 21
Cactus Bowl –
Phoenix – 10:00 (ESPN)
Kansas State (7-5)
vs. UCLA (6-6)
The Wildcats went 4-1 down the stretch behind
third-string freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson, who led a late comeback last
time out to defeat Iowa State, 20-19.
The biggest offensive problem for K-State is that the three quarterbacks
they’ve used this year have also been three of their four leading rushers.
Bowls being neutral-site games, there are two ways a
Bruin can look at this. On one hand,
they’re 0-6 away from Pasadena, but on the other, they’re 6-0 when they are not
the visiting team. The answer can’t be
in the uniforms, though, because they wore their home blues in their road loss
For now, this is yet another indoor bowl game, being
played at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ home at Chase Field, but it will be moved
back to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe once that building is renovated. The covered ballpark is not without its
charms, though. For instance, there’s
that strip of dirt that runs between home plate and the pitcher’s mound, which
is so narrow that it would make a great drunk test. Come to think of it, it’s a good thing Mike LaValliere never had to play there.
UCLA 33, Kansas
Dec. 27 (Wednesday)
Independence Bowl –
Shreveport – 1:30 (ESPN)
Florida State (6-6)
vs. Southern Miss (8-4)
Seminole interim coach Odell Haggins
looks to end his head coaching career undefeated at 2-0, having already beaten
Louisiana-Monroe 42-10 in a rescheduled game, in order to qualify for this bowl
battle with USM. The Noles
haven’t been themselves in big games this year, but they still know how to
handle lesser competition as they’ve shown during their past three games, one
of those a 38-22 stroll past weakened rival Florida.
Junior Korey Robertson leads Conference USA in
receiving, with 1,070 yards. It’s a good
thing the Golden Eagles have Robertson around, because without him, their
leading WR would be Allenzae Staggers, and that’s
hardly the most effective way of reaching the end zone.
How ironic that the Independence Bowl should feature
two teams that used to be Independents, but no longer are. Turncoats!
Why don’t they become the next Americans to marry into the Royal Family,
while they’re at it? Before much longer,
they’ll have us all speaking English!
Florida State 39,
Southern Miss 22
Pinstripe Bowl –
New York – 5:15 (ESPN)
Iowa (7-5) vs.
Boston College (7-5)
The Eagles have tallied 35 points or more in five of
their last six games, the only exception being a 17-14 loss to Nc State. The last
time they scored more than 40 points in three different games in the same
season was 2002, when they were led by quarterback Brian St. Pierre.
Things got a little Akrum-onious
in the Hawkeyes’ regular season finale against Nebraska, when RB Akrum Wadley finally broke out for 159 yards and three TDs
on 19 carries. Wadley’s production has
been way down this year, so he’ll be looking to make another big impression in
his final game as a senior.
The venue for this game, for anyone oblivious enough
not to know, is Yankee Stadium, which is also known as “The House That Ruth
Built.” You can tell that it really is,
from the simple fact that there’s a refrigerator in every room, and … well, …
the sofa flushes.
Boston College 28,
Foster Farms Bowl –
Santa Clara – 8:30 (FOX)
Purdue (6-6) vs.
The Boilermakers qualified for
this game by beating ancient rival Indiana for the Old Oaken Bucket – which is
really a lidless barrel, but don’t tell it
that. Running back Markell Jones made
his mark in that game with a career-high 217 rushing yards, in his first big
breakout since coming back from knee surgery midway through the season.
The Cats’ games have been nothing
if not wild this year, with their average outcome being a 42-34 victory. Quarterback Khalil Tate led the nation in
rushing until sustaining assorted injuries in a Week 12 setback against
Oregon. In that game, and the bitter
Territorial Cup loss to Arizona State that followed, he ran for a combined
total of just 60 yards, and has dropped all the way to #15 in rushing yardage,
which is good for only third among quarterbacks. We’ll see how much good a month’s rest has
When Foster Farms began sponsoring this game, the
Czar thought the title was a verb. He
should have known that was incorrect, because you can’t foster farms by playing
a football game. The way to foster farms
is to put on an annual concert with a bunch of septuagenarian, socialist
musicians, so that they can spout a bunch of anti-capitalist eco-twaddle about
how GMOs are to blame for your dog having worms. So next time you sit down at the dinner table
and say Grace, save some thanks for Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp. Wherever
would American agriculture be without them?
Arizona 45, Purdue
Texas Bowl –
Houston – 9:00 (ESPN)
Missouri (7-5) vs.
Tiger quarterback Drew Lock has been as smooth as
cream cheese, and twice as nasty. The
6-4, 225 pound junior has fired 43 touchdown passes, and is 305 yards away from
reaching the 4,000-mark for the season.
It’s hard to imagine the Longhorns beating any
opponent that’s playing well at the time.
Their most impressive victory by far has been a home overtime win
against Kansas State. Aside from that,
they got to Iowa State before the Cyclones made a change at quarterback, they’ve
been lucky enough for West Virginia QB Will Grier to break a finger just as he
was about to score a touchdown against them, and they’ve defeated Kansas,
Baylor and San Jose State. Suffice it to
say that if the Horns had been left home at 6-6, nobody would be shouting,
“What about ‘resume’?”
Still, there’s something basically unfair about
having to play Texas in the Texas Bowl.
That’s like facing Amos Alonzo Stagg in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl. On second thought, Coach Stagg has been dead
for more than half a century, so you’re chances in that one would be pretty
good, really. Sorry, that’s not a very
good example. Maybe it’s more like
having to compete in the Dinah Shore classic against … aw, skip it.
Missouri 42, Texas
Dec. 28 (Thursday)
Military Bowl –
Annapolis – 1:30 (ESPN)
Virginia (6-6) vs.
A rare disciplinary breakdown cost the Midshipmen in
a 14-13 loss to Army, when their last-second field goal attempt was moved back
ten yards by a pair of false start penalties.
Bennett Moehring’s 48-yard boot through the
snow, which sailed just slightly to the left, would surely have been good from
five yards closer.
The Cavaliers have only won one game in their last
six, but that was against Georgia Tech, a wishbone team just like the Naval Academy,
and in fact one led by a former Navy head coach. By keeping the Tech ground game in check,
they forced an option QB to throw more often than he was comfortable
doing. Expect more of the same against
the Middies, whose new starting quarterback Malcolm Perry threw the ball only
twice against Army, completing one.
Thomas Jefferson founded the University of
Virginia. He was also largely
responsible for building the U.S. Navy.
Yet somehow, it never occurred to him to organize a football game
between the two. Some visionary.
Virginia 19, Navy
Camping World Bowl
– Orlando – 5:15 (ESPN)
(9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (9-3)
The College Football Czar often opines about the
total disconnect between sports journalists and the normal people who make up
the vast majority of the fan base.
Exhibit A demonstrating this is that they’ve treated Miami’s turnover
chain as if it were the greatest thing to happen to college football in years. Exhibit B is that before that, it was OSU
coach Mike Gundy’s mullet. They also
tend to think that taunting and showboating are good for the game, and the guys
on ESPN even thought that Eminem sampling Billy Squier
was cool. Why don’t these people go try
to revive the XFL, and leave real football alone?
The Gobblers have never really recovered from their
Miami meltdown. Since then, they were
upset by Georgia Tech, they tried to give a game to a Pitt team that refused
delivery, and they trudged past Virginia, 10-0.
The Cowboys’ season may not be going quite how they had hoped, either,
but QB Mason Rudolph still leads the nation in passing with 4,553 yards. His Pokes are second only to rival Oklahoma
in total offense, with 576 yards per game.
Is the Czar the only one who finds it creepy that
the Camping World Bowl would be held in Orlando, that modern day Disney and
Gomorrah? Camping? Is that what they’re calling it these
days? Just imagine someone being
irresponsible enough to let his child go off to live in the woods with Goofy
for a few days. Hasn’t college football
had enough of that sort of thing?
Oklahoma State 35,
Virginia Tech 24
Alamo Bowl – San
Antonio – 9:00 (ESPN)
Stanford (9-4) vs.
As of this writing, Cardinal tailback Bryce Love is
expected to play in this game, perhaps not realizing how meaningless it is
compared to that season opener against Rice in Australia. Last year, with Christian McCaffrey sitting
out the Sun Bowl, Love ran for 119 yards, and also made a 49-yard touchdown
catch, in a 25-23 win over North Carolina.
Looks can be deceiving, but when McCaffrey’s team thwarted a late UNC
two-point conversion attempt, and then recovered the onside kick to win the
game, the guys who showed up to play behaved as if it mattered.
The Horned Frogs, however, have the fourth-stingiest
run defense in the nation, yielding just 99.8 yards on the ground per
game. Of their three losses, two are to
Oklahoma, and as much as freshman Cardinal QB K.J. Costello has improved since
making his first start, nobody would mistake him for a Heisman-winning passer.
There’s no NFL team in San Antonio, so you might
wonder what was the impetus for the construction of the Alamodome. It all started one day, when the Mexicans
didn’t feel like attacking because there was a chance of rain.
TCU 24, Stanford 17
Holiday Bowl – San
Diego – 9:00 (FOX)
(9-3) vs. Washington State (9-3)
The Cougars enter this game without their top two
wide receivers – Tavares Martin, who has been dismissed for violating team
rules, and Isaiah Johnson-Mack, who is looking to transfer. Mike Leach would tell you he’s got plenty
more where they came from, and he’d be right.
Wazzu has still got nine other players
(including three RBs) who have double digits in pass receptions, six of whom
have made multiple touchdown catches this season.
MSU’s defense is seventh-best in the nation, but
when it comes to defending against the pass, they drop to #31. Even that rating may be a bit flattering,
considering the lack of offensive firepower they’ve faced this season. Rarely did the Spartans take on a prolific
quarterback, and on one occasion that they did, the weather helped them bog
down the passing game of Penn State.
Perhaps somebody from the Holiday Bowl committee can
answer some questions about the holiday season that have been gnawing at the
College Football Czar for quite some time.
For instance, if you wash down figgy pudding
with eggnog, will that cement your throat shut and kill you, or is that just an
urban legend like the coke and pop rocks thing?
Furthermore, did the dreidel receive its name because children dread
receiving it? And did Santa name the one
reindeer Donner because he ate some other reindeer while trapped in a
blizzard? Enquiring czars want to know.
37, Michigan State 29
Dec. 29 (Friday)
Belk Bowl –
Charlotte – 1:00 (ESPN)
Texas A&M (7-5)
vs. Wake Forest (7-5)
Fired A&M coach Kevin Sumlin
went 51-26 during his tenure at College Station, but now must step aside to
make room for Jimbo Fisher. The only coach at that school with a better
record was R.C. Slocum, who was just as unceremoniously dumped because the
Aggies couldn’t resist the opportunity to hire Dennis Franchione,
who proceeded to go 32-28 in five seasons, with a losing record in Big XII
The Conjunction Boys’ interim coach, Jeff Banks,
looks as if he’s still in the interim between his freshman and sophomore years,
but the former Washington State punter has got 20 years’ coaching experience,
beginning as a graduate assistant at Wazzu in 1998.
The Demon Deacons persevered to clinch a winning
season, even after losing freshman WR Greg Dortch to an abdominal injury with
four games remaining. Dortch had just
lit the way past Louisville, with ten catches for 167 yards and four TDs when
he was forced from the lineup.
Aggies’ starting DT Zycoven
Henderson won’t be available for this game, because he’s been arrested for
aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of marijuana, and tampering
with evidence. Welcome home, Jimbo!
Texas A&M 21,
Wake Forest 20
Sun Bowl – El Paso
– 2:00 (CBS)
Nc State (8-4) vs. Arizona
The Wolfpack defense is basically still living off
the reputation it earned last season.
This year, it is not far above average, at #52 in the nation. Their defensive highlight of the year has
probably been DE Bradley Chubb swiping hand towels from opposing
quarterbacks. The key to their season
instead has been a quietly productive offense, led by QB Ryan Finley and his
3,200 passing yards, 1,040-yard rusher Nyheim Hines,
and 993-yard receiver Kelvin Harmon.
ASU wide receiver N’Keal
Henry has kept things on an ev-N’Keal this season,
making at least three catches in every game, while compiling a total of an even
1,000 yards to this point. Surprisingly,
he did not have a multiple-touchdown game until the season-ending battle for
the Territorial Cup, in which he scored twice in a 42-30 victory over rival
The Sun Devils have fired sixth-year coach Todd
Graham, even after his team exceeded expectations in 2017. Just goes to show how things can turn out
when your “dream job” involves pitchfork-wielding embodiments of evil running
all over the place. Graham will stick
around to coach this bowl game, though.
Strange, he’s been far more eager to leave every school that’s actually
Nc State 30, Arizona State 27
Music City Bowl –
Nashville – 4:30 (ESPN)
vs. Kentucky (7-5)
These two Wildcatses are
traditionally perceived as underdogs when it comes to football, even though
those infamous losers from Evanston have had seven non-losing seasons in the
last ten years. It’s been the UK Cats
who have had a tougher time recently, stopping a six-year losing streak in 2016
with a 7-6 season that ended with a loss to Georgia Tech in the Gator Bowl.
Kentucky tailback Benny Snell has had a nose for the
goal line this season. Of his 18 rushing
touchdowns, 12 have come in the past five games. Snell’s success doesn’t always spread to the
rest of his team, however. Last game
against Louisville, he rushed for a career-high 211 yards with two TDs, but in
a 44-17 loss.
Northwestern running back Justin Jackson has had a
strong second half of the season, also.
His 1,154 yards is still not very good by his standards, but believe it
or not, it’s 20 more rushing yards than Penn State’s Saquon
Where do they get off calling Nashville the Music
City, anyway? Is Billy Idol from
Nashville? Well, then.
Arizona Bowl –
Tucson – 5:30 (CBSSN)
Utah State (6-6)
vs. New Mexico State (6-6)
The nation’s longest bowl drought has finally ended,
as NMSU plays its first postseason game since the 1960 Sun Bowl, where they won
a previous battle of the Aggieses by defeating USU
20-13. That victory capped an 11-0
season for the team from Las Cruces, then representing the Border Conference,
while the Skyline Conference champs finished 9-2.
To get an idea of how long ago that really was, 1960
was the year of Bill Mazeroski’s series-winning homer
at Forbes Field, the Kennedy-Nixon election, the USA’s first hockey gold medal
at the Squaw Valley Olympics, and the very first Peanuts comic strip, in which the kids’ heads were oval, instead of
round. The Czar can’t help but regret
seeing a tradition that goes back that far end on account of something as lame
as a 6-6 season out of the Sun Belt Conference.
You know you’ve got a weak football matchup when
it’s between two teams called the Aggies.
Is there supposed to be something intimidating about that? “Eek! Big marbles!”
Utah State 30, New
Mexico State 16
Cotton Bowl –
Arlington – 8:30 (ABC)
Ohio State (11-2)
vs. USC (11-2)
If any of the Buckeyes seriously think their team
should be in the CFP semifinals, they need to stop thinking about it and pay
attention to this Trojan team standing in front of them. A year ago, it was Penn State that felt
jilted by the CFP, only to have their argument undercut when they lost the Rose
Bowl to this same Southern Cal club in a 52-49 firefight.
Like everyone else in the Big Ten, OSU hardly
remembers what it’s like to face a formidable air attack. When they did, way back in Week 2, Oklahoma’s
Baker Mayfield bombarded them for 386 yards and three scores, while completing
27 of 35. They haven’t necessarily
recovered from that, just because they’ve been able to shut down Army, Rutgers,
Maryland and Illinois.
Even with a poor start and an inexperienced
supporting cast, Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold is
well within reach of the 4,000-yard mark.
To get there, he needs 213 more yards, a total he’s surpassed in every
game except for a Week 5 loss at Washington State.
As if all the “resume” stuff weren’t bad enough,
Jesse Palmer was excited about the atmosphere for this game, being played in
“Jerry’s World.” See what the Czar means
about the disconnect between the sports media and normal people? Is “Jerry’s World” anyone else’s idea of
fun? Like all domed stadiums, it’s got
less atmosphere than the moon. The
Czar’s nickname for that cavernous building with its famously gargantuan video
screen is Jerry Jones’ House of Inadequacy, and it is wholly inadequate to host
an otherwise great, traditional game like the Cotton Bowl.
USC 37, Ohio State
Dec. 30 (Saturday)
Gator Bowl –
Jacksonville – Noon (ESPN)
vs. Mississippi State (8-4)
Lamar Jackson isn’t the Heisman winner this year,
not even close. Still, the Cardinal are
very happy to still have the prototypical dual-threat QB and his 42
touchdowns. MSU, however, is without
Nick Fitzgerald, who suffered a gruesome leg injury in a Thanksgiving night
upset loss to hated rival Ole Miss.
The Bulldogs are without not only their quarterback,
but their head coach as well, with Dan Mullen being hired away by conference
foe Florida. The mud puppies have in
turn tabbed Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead to be their new
skipper, but not until after running backs and special teams coach Greg Knox
has guided them through this bowl game.
The College Football Czar persists in calling this
game the Gator Bowl, knowing that it will eventually revert to its traditional
name, just like the Sun Bowl and Peach Bowl before it. In the meantime, its official name is the
TaxSlayer Bowl, which makes it sound about as enjoyable as doing your taxes and
watching a Slayer concert simultaneously.
Please try to contain your excitement.
Mississippi State 24
Liberty Bowl –
Memphis – 12:30 (ABC)
Iowa State (7-5)
vs. Memphis (10-2)
For the first time ever, the Tigers participate in
the bowl game that’s played in their home stadium, where they are 7-0 this
season. That means ISU must contend not
only with the nation’s sixth-most potent offense, but also with being heckled
by a whole herd of Elvises (or is that Elvi?).
Cyclone QB Jacob Park, who started for the first
third of the season, has announced that he is leaving the program. To anyone who saw him barking at coach Matt
Campbell during a dismal performance against Texas in Week 5, it seems
incredibly generous of the coach to let him go voluntarily. He won’t be missed, what with Kyle Kempt
having given the team from Ames some direction, while leading them to victories
over conference finalists Oklahoma and TCU.
The Clones ended the regular season with a tough
20-19 defeat against Kansas State, in the rivalry known as “Farmageddon.” Had it simply been called “Armageddon,” they
might have thought to arm themselves, but instead, they prepared for the game
by farming. Sure, it sounds like a dumb
idea in hindsight, but who knew it back then?
Memphis 49, Iowa
Fiesta Bowl –
Glendale – 4:00 (ABC)
Penn State (10-2)
vs. Washington (10-2)
If the Nittany Lions win,
the fans over there at Jonestown, East of Johnstown will take it as proof that
they deserved a shot at the CFP championship last season, even though they went
on to lose the Rose Bowl to USC. The
Huskies got the #4 seed ahead of PSU in 2016, which was considered
controversial in spite of the Lions’ two bad losses, because that one-loss UW
team had faced a nonconference schedule consisting of Rutgers, Idaho, I-AA
Portland State, and a school of mackerel.
Here’s why the Lions don’t play for national
Barkley has 199 rushes this season, for an average of 5.7 per carry. Quarterback Trace McSorley
has run the ball 132 times, for an average of 3.3 per carry. Basically, they’re letting opposing defensive
coordinators tell them not to give Barkley the ball so much. When they run the read-option, the defense
almost always blankets Barkley, which means if McSorley
reads the play properly, he keeps the ball.
Offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead has never understood this, yet he’s
been hired away to be the next head coach at Mississippi State.
The defense that powered the Huskies into the final
four a year ago has only improved since, in spite of the departure of several
leaders from that unit. The Dogs are
holding opponents to 14.5 points per game, as opposed to 17.7 in 2016.
When last he heard from PSU coach James Franklin, he
was tweeting the word “Maryland” twelve times in a row to demonstrate how
focused he was on his last regular season opponent. This low-risk tactic appeared to pay off when
his team dominated the Terrapins 66-3.
What the Czar would like to know is why every other team on Franklin’s
schedule is Akron, except for Maryland.
Why did the opponent never matter, until he decided he must focus like a
laser on the 4-8 Terps? And if every week against Akron was the Super
Bowl, and Maryland is not Akron, does that mean the Nittany
Lions didn’t make it to the Super Bowl last time out, and therefore they’re on
the decline heading into their bowl game?
Somehow, Franklin never gets asked these kinds of
questions, perhaps because it would only lead to him saying things.
Washington 29, Penn
Orange Bowl – Miami
– 8:00 (ESPN)
Wisconsin (12-1) vs.
The Hurricanes halted a six-game bowl losing streak
last season, when they roughed up West Virginia in the Russell Athletic Bowl,
31-14. One of those six defeats was in
their only previous postseason matchup with the Badgers, a frustrating 20-14
loss in the 2009 Champs Sports Bowl.
Both teams defied the laws of gravity by staying
undefeated for almost the entire season, even though everybody really knew that
neither of them was good enough to play for the national title. Finally, they fell to earth, like Wile E.
Coyote when he realizes that he’d run off the edge of the cliff three seconds
ago. That’s not surprising in UW’s case,
but who knew that anybody at The U had ever studied law?
One of the surprising things about the Big Bad Gers
is that they weren’t known to have any superstars on this year’s team, but
maybe that’s just because of the lack of media attention they’ve received in
general. If football fans were asked who
leads the Big Ten in rushing, how many people would come up with Jonathan
Taylor? Yet the freshman ranks third in
the nation with 1,847 rushing yards, while chomping off 6.8 per carry. Nobody else in the conference is within 400
yards of him.
Can you believe that the creator of Miami’s turnover
chain is actually a professional jeweler?
A word of advice: When it comes time to go shopping for an engagement
ring, don’t pay that guy a visit, unless you happen to be the next classy gent
who’s marrying Carla Tortelli.
Wisconsin 31, Miami
Jan. 1 (Monday)
Outback Bowl – Tampa
– Noon (ESPN2)
Michigan (8-4) vs.
South Carolina (8-4)
Sophomore slinger Brandon Peters returns to the
Wolverine lineup, after leaving a Week 12 loss to Wisconsin with a
concussion. In the three games he’s
played from start to finish, Peters has led the maize and blue to three
lopsided victories, while throwing four touchdown passes and no interceptions.
The Gamecocks’ last three wins against Division I-A
competition have been by six points over Tennessee, seven over Vanderbilt, and
eight over Florida. Some years, that’s a
great record, but not in 2017, when those are the bottom three teams in the
continually underperforming SEC East.
At a recent fundraiser, the University of Michigan
failed to sell an autographed pair of head coach Jim Harbaugh’s khakis. The reason nobody bid on them was most likely
the fact that the opening price was $900.
Used coach pants just don’t command that level of interest, unless
they’re being auctioned off at “Thon,” on the Penn State campus, of course.
Michigan 26, South
Peach Bowl –
Atlanta – 3:00 (ESPN)
Auburn (10-3) vs.
Central Florida (12-0)
Head coach Scott Frost has been hired away by
Nebraska, but he will continue to coach UCF through this bowl game. Should that even be legal? Once a coach has accepted an offer from
another school, staying with his current team creates a built-in conflict of
interest. At the very least, in provides
him with continued access to players he might yet coax into following him to
his new gig. Consider, also, if Frost’s
team were playing, say, Wisconsin, instead of Auburn. Wouldn’t it financially benefit his new
conference, and therefore his new school, if he didn’t coach a very good
game? This is not to suggest that Frost
himself is inclined to do such things, but the simple fact that the
opportunities are created poses a problem.
Knights running back Adrian Killins
threw down the gauntlet when he said of the Tigers, “They’re in for a rude
awakening because UCF football, we’re UCF fast and UCF fierce.” Just prior to this remark, he made the
curious claim, “SEC football, they don’t have a lot of speed.” Thanks to Killins,
his opponents have already had their rude awakening. He can forget any chance that he and his
mates might have of catching them cat-napping.
The 28 points that AU allowed in the SEC
championship against Georgia were the most they’ve given up in a single game
all season. Their 17.3 point per game
average is good for tenth in the nation, but it’s really better than that, when
you consider that they’ve taken on UGA twice, Clemson and Alabama.
UCF’s offense may be fast and fierce, but on
defense, they’re ranked #111 against the pass.
That should mitigate the impact of the injuries in the Tiger backfield,
by letting QB Jarrett Stidham open the game up the
way he did when he was a freshman at Baylor.
This is the Peach Bowl’s first year in the new
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but long ago it was played at Fulton County Stadium,
which was primarily a baseball park.
That’s only fitting, because baseball legend Ty Cobb was known as the
Georgia Peach. Actually, he was known as
the Georgia Son-of-a-Peach, but newspapers had editors back then.
Auburn 31, Central
Citrus Bowl –
Orlando – 1:00 (ABC)
Notre Dame (9-3)
vs. LSU (9-3)
This has a reputation for being a traditional
rivalry, but the teams have only met eleven times before, and not once prior to
1970. The Tigers, who lead the series
6-5, have won two of their three previous bowl games, but it was the Fighting
Irish who prevailed in their most recent meeting, in the 2014 Music City Bowl.
The way that Tiger quarterback Danny Etling has played in his senior year has got to make fans
of his former school, Purdue, mad enough to kick the bucket. Etling has tossed
14 TDs with only two picks, and completed over 60 percent of his passes for
reasonably good distance. His 347 yards
out last time out against Texas A&M came on just 19 completions, three of
them for scores.
The Fighting Irish spent most of the season not only
in the playoff race, but near the top of the ratings in turnover margin. They still finished at plus-5, but only after
going minus-7 in their last three games.
Miami broke out the dreaded turnover chain four times against them, and
Stanford played takeaway three times in ND’s last game of the regular
season. There was no trinket given to
the Cardinal defenders for their efforts, though. Their reward for forcing turnovers was that
their team got to keep possession of the football. Imagine that.
LSU 30, Notre Dame
Rose Bowl –
Pasadena – 5:00 (ESPN)
Georgia (12-1) vs.
In the Bulldogs’ only defeat of the season, they
scraped up just 46 rushing yards in a 40-17 embarrassment against Auburn. When they beat that same Tiger team for the SEC
championship, they ground up 238 yards, more than five times as much as before.
The four CFP teams appear evenly matched, but with
one glaring difference among them. The
Sooners have Heisman-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield, whereas they face a
formidable but somewhat raw freshman in The Man From M, and then, potentially,
one scrambling QB in Jalen Hurts who doesn’t throw that often, or another in
Kelly Bryant who doesn’t look very far downfield. It’s not hard to see how Mayfield’s 4,340
yards and 71 percent completion rate give OU an edge.
Stop the presses!
We have a late entry for the Lardhead of the Year award, in UGA freshman
defensive back Latavious Brini,
who has been arrested for passing a counterfeit $100 bill. Brini broke the
bill while buying eight dollars’ worth of merchandise at a pet supplies store,
so that he could pocket the $92 in change and go on his way. His plan hit a snag when he agreed to let the
cashier sign him up for a “rewards card.”
He actually wasn’t stupid enough to use his own name and address, but
apparently only went through the process so as not to arouse suspicion. Because of their extended conversation,
however, the cashier was able to recognize him a week later, when he returned
to the same store and used his own debit card, at which time she had the
manager call the police.
So Brini gets busted, and
the “rewards” go to some fictitious person he invented named Trevon
Shorter. Whoever said life was
fair? In this case, that would be the
College Football Czar.
Sugar Bowl – New
Orleans – 8:45 (ESPN)
Clemson (12-1) vs.
As usual, the SEC champions land in New Orleans,
Louisiana, a city that goes by the abbreviation NOLA. The Czar doesn’t know why they make such a
big deal out of there being NO LA, but at least SO must be relieved not to have
that nosy LA skulking around behind it all the time. (By the way, if you haven’t bothered to look
it up yet, the country that used to be Upper Volta is Burkina Faso, whose
national soccer team is not named the Latido, but why
not? There are plenty of worse soccer
team names out there.)
Everyone knows that these two teams have met in each
of the past two national championships, and that both of those games have been
classics. Nevertheless, this is not the
“Game of the Century.” No, that title is
reserved for the Bama-LSU game, which is never, ever interesting, and which
usually results in both teams combining for something in the neighborhood of 20
If “resume,” whatever in tarnation that means, had
carried the day, this game would have pitted Ohio State against Clemson with a
berth in the CFP championship at stake.
Would anybody have expected that to work out much better than it did
On the other hand, the Superdome has been a house of
horrors for the Crimson Tide in recent years, save for their eye-glazing 21-0
win over LSU in the 2011 BCS championship.
In Sugar Bowls, they fell to Utah in 2008, Oklahoma in 2013, and Ohio
State in 2014.
The pachyderms aren’t about to pack it in, but
they’ve looked a bit languid down the stretch, not only in their Iron Bowl loss
to Auburn, but also in their usual boring win over LSU, and the following
seven-point scare against Mississippi State, in which a more mature opponent
would have put them away.
Tiger coach Dabo Swinney
used to get angered by the use of the term “Clemsoning,”
to describe the act of underachieving, or blowing a big game, but at least the
word meant something then. By beating
Bama in last year’s CFP title game, he’s Munsoned it
Clemson 25, Alabama
Jan. 9 (Monday)
Game – Atlanta – 8:30 (ESPN)
Predicted matchup – Oklahoma vs. Clemson
If these teams meet for the championship as the Czar
is predicting, a lot of Sooner fans might not be too happy about it, because
their team went kerplooey against Clemson in the 2014
Russell Athletic Bowl, 40-6, and again in the following year’s Orange Bowl,
37-17. In their all-time series, OU once
led 2-0, but the Tigers have now taken a 3-2 lead, all in bowl games, including
a 13-6 victory in the Citrus Bowl to finish the 1988 season.
Baker Mayfield played in that Orange Bowl loss, in
which he passed for 311 yards but was picked off twice. He’s bound to be better this time around,
whereas the Tigers don’t have nearly the running game they did that day, when
RB Wayne Gallman and QB Deshaun Watson combined for
295 rushing yards and three TDs.
When Sooner coach Bob Stoops stepped down abruptly
before the season, the last thing the College Football Czar expected was that
he’d be picking first year coach Lincoln Riley to lead Stoops’ ex-team to a
national championship. Then again, Big
Game Bob is gone, so there’s nobody there to Munson it up. It stands to reason.
Fairly or not, Mayfield has been repeatedly likened
to the eminently dislikeable Johnny Manziel, a
comparison from which he’ll never extricate himself if, like Manziel, he is drafted by the Cleveland Browns. If this year’s Heisman winner has as much
“Johnny Football” in him as many people think he does, he’ll assume that the
0-16 parade that the city of Cleveland is planning is really meant as a
celebration of their opportunity to select him with the #1 pick.
The Browns are determined never to embrace the old
Chicago Cubs’ “loveable losers” image.
They’d much rather be the irascible, vulgar, surly losers with whom
nobody wants to associate. Well, what do
you know? They’ve finally found
something they’re good at!
a sports publication from The