Pigskin Preview – BCS Bowl Game Breakdown

The Conference title games are long gone (does anyone even remember what happened?). The BCS gods (computers) configured the final rankings and match-ups. The bowls (all 1340983475 of them) have begun. But the big mammajammas (read: BCS Bowl Games) are still looming.

Lots of people find the bowl breakdown come end-of-season wildly confusing. To quote the BCS on the web, “the BCS is a five-game showcase of college football. It is designed to ensure that the two top-rated teams in the country meet in the national championship game, and to create exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games.”

I’m not putting a dog in the fight about the BCS this year, whether I think it’s a good system, whether there should be a playoff etc. etc. I’m too tired. What I will say, however, is that there are going to be (should be) some damn good football games to bring in 2012.

Bowl Championship Series (in chronological order)

Pretty... kind of.

Rose Bowl – Oregon vs. Wisconsin on Jan. 2, 2012, 5 p.m. (ET obv) in Pasadena, CA

  • #5 Oregon and #10 Wisconsin fire off the BCS start gun for “The Granddaddy of Them All”, better known as the Rose Bowl.  The Ducks lost last year’s title game to Auburn (cough, Cam Newton, cough), and Wisconsin actually lost last year’s Rose Bowl game to TCU. Both are looking for Rose Bowl glory in this now-fairly-standard match-up of Pac-12 & Big Ten champions. Watch these two VERY different, but very high-powered offenses go to work.

 

This bowl sounds like a joke.. but it's not (anymore).

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – Stanford vs. Oklahoma State on Jan. 2, 2012, 8:30 p.m. in Glendale, Ariz.

  • After a shoddy match-up last year (Oklahoma faced four-loss Connecticut, in a low-rated and low-attended game) and a scandal involving wrongful political campaign contributions by Fiesta Bowl employees (including the subsequent booting of then president and CEO John Junker), the Fiesta Bowl has what looks like redemption in the form of a great game. #3 Oklahoma State, who some/many thought should have been in the title game, and #4 Stanford, led by likely first pick in the NFL Draft QB Andrew Luck, will bring their offensively-potent squads onto the Arizona gridiron this year. This very well may be the best match-up of the BCS bunch (remember the offensively riveting LSU v. Alabama game earlier this season?)
If your sugar container looks like this, you're fancy.

 

Allstate Sugar Bowl – Michigan vs. Virginia Tech Jan. 3, 2012, 8:30 p.m. ET in New Orleans, LA.

  • The Sugar Bowl takes the controversy mini spotlight (of sorts) this year because of the teams playing in it. #13 Michigan will face #11 Virginia Tech – do they seem like fairly middle of the road-ranked teams? Yes. That’s because they leap-frogged teams like  #6 Arkansas, #7 Boise State and #8 Kansas State (Arkansas and Kansas State will meet instead in the Cotton Bowl on January 6). People are pissed off, Michigan and VTech are defending their right to play in the Sugar Bowl. It’s not leaving a great taste in a lot of mouths. The Hokies having trouble selling off their share of tickets was not helping matters either. Players to watch (if you watch) – Michigan’s QB Denard Robinson (a multi-purpose offensive threat) and Virginia Tech’s RB and ACC player of the year, David Wilson.
That orange is wearing a crown.

Discover Orange Bowl – Clemson vs. West Virginia Jan. 4, 2012, 8:30 p.m. ET in Miami, FL.

  • In yet another high-octane offensive showdown, #23 West Virginia (they get a bid because they share the Big East title and because the computer said so) and #15 Clemson meet in the Orange Bowl to try to light up one another. Both of these teams averaged over 33 points and 440 yards per game this season. Clemson started the season 8-0, upsetting ranked teams and climbed up the rankings themselves, setting school records for pass yards, total yards and scoring along the way. The Orange Bowl will be the first-ever BCS bowl for Clemson.
The big one.

BCS National Championship – LSU vs. Alabama Jan. 9, 2012, 8:30 p.m. ET in New Orleans, LA.

  • In a VERY high-profile rematch (the first title game rematch in BCS history actually), #1 LSU will face #2 Alabama, this time  with the national title on the line. After all the talk of high-powered offenses in the BCS bowls, it’s (almost) refreshing to talk about two stalwart defenses who helped make a 9-3 final score possible when the teams clashed in November. The Tigers won that battle in OT, but I’m sure the Tide has other plans for the title game (like getting into the endzone). They also have something to prove to those who think/feel this rematch shouldn’t be happening. As mentioned earlier, Oklahoma State almost fought its way into the title game (beating rival Oklahoma 44-10 in the last week of play), but Alabama held the edge – the Tide finished second in both the Harris poll and the coaches’ poll, and by enough to overcome the fact that Oklahoma State had the edge in the computer rankings. If the system hasn’t pissed you off enough by this point (I know I said I’m not going to fight about this.. but I can take jabs), take into consideration that  no matter  what happens in the title game, for six years in a row, a team from the SEC is going to be crowned victorious. The system has ensured it.


 

Pigskin Review – The Mighty are Falling

nnnnnotttttt quite. bummer.

#2 Oklahoma State losing on Friday night (to Iowa State) set the tone for the toppling trend in the BCS top ten (holy alliteration). LSU, Alabama, Arkansas – that’s your new top three. Here’s what went down.

-#1 LSU continued to roll, throttling Ole Miss 52-3. #3 Alabama made their BCS title game case with a big win over Georgia South, 45-21. #6 Arkansas didn’t have much trouble with Mississippi State, winning 44-17. LSU holds onto the top spot, Alabama moves up to #2, and Arkansas jumps three spots to #3.
-#4 Oregon couldn’t get past visiting USC, losing 38-35. The Ducks booted a 37-yard field goal wide left with little time left in the game, giving the Trojans the win and quashing Oregon’s hopes of moving up the NCAA ranks and entering a second consecutive BCS championship game. Oregon drops to #10.
-#5 Oklahoma now has two losses this season (and crushed national title hopes) after being upset by #22 Baylor, 45-38. Historically, Baylor had been 0-20 against the Sooners, but Bears QB Robert Griffin III found a receiver in the back of the endzone with 8 seconds left to lift Baylor to the school’s first versus-Oklahoma win. Baylor creeps up to #18, Oklahoma drops to #9, and the Sooners find themselves with new end-of-season goals – vying for another Big 12 championship, and getting into (and winning) a bowl game.
-North Carolina State turned it ON against #7 Clemson, beating the favored Tigers 37-13. Four Clemson turnovers did not help matters, and they drop to #17 overall.
-#13 Kansas State eeks one out against #23 Texas, 17-13. Kansas State edges up to #11, and Texas moves to #25.
-#21 Penn State held on against Ohio State in Buckeyes territory, winning 20-14. A surprising amount of offense for both teams early, but the defenses hunkered down in the second half to allow no scoring on either side of the field. Penn State goes into a game against Wisconsin next weekend with the Big Ten Leaders Division on the line.
-#17 Wisconsin held on to beat Illinois this weekend, which booted Ohio State from a shot at the Leaders division because the Buckeyes had already fallen three times in conference play (prior to the loss against PSU). On the Legends side of things, though #18 Michigan beat up on #16 Nebraska 45-17, #15 Michigan State was able to clinch the division with a 55-3 victory over Indiana. The inaugural Big Ten Conference Championship game will pit newly-numbered #14 Michigan State against either #19 Penn State or #16 Wisconsin.

Pigskin Preview – Saturday Style Football with Friday Crazy.

College football provides a Thursday night match-up (or two), as well as a Friday game at this point in the season, but I generally wait until Saturday morning to talk about the day’s game slate. I should’ve updated yesterday.

upset city.

Last night, #2 Oklahoma State fell to unranked Iowa State. The National Championship and Heisman races just got all scrambly. Again. I watched Oklahoma State struggle to find its rhythm early, but soon the score was 24-7 (in their favor), early in the third. I switched over to a sweet PBS doc on Women Who Rock. When I checked back in later – two OT’s had brought the Iowa State Cyclones a giant upset victory.

With the first loss of the season last night, Oklahoma State’s hopes of playing in a National Championship game have been dashed and the Heisman trophy has (most likely) slipped out of sight for 28-year-old QB Brandon Weeden, who threw 3 INT. LSU remains the only unbeaten top-10 team (#11 Houston is also undefeated this season) and can hold onto the top spot with a win over Ole Miss tonight at 7 PM. Stanford QB Andrew Luck and Alabama RB Trent Richardson are now in tight competition for the Heisman trophy at season’s end.

On a very sad note – it has a been an incredibly tough week for the Oklahoma State community, as they lost Kurt Budke and Miranda Serna (women’s basketball coach and assistant coach, respectively) Thursday night in a plane crash in Arkansas. This tragedy comes a decade after two Cowboy men’s players, along with eight others, were lost in a plane crash near Denver.

NOTABLE SATURDAY MATCH-UPS
-The #21 Penn State Nittany Lions visit the Ohio State Buckeyes for a 3:30 PM kick-off. Both programs have experienced and are still weathering off-field messes and tragedy (the scale isn’t the same, but both programs have been deeply affected. Think – last year Jim Tressel was squaring up against Joe Paterno). With a win (and a Wisconsin loss), Penn State can secure the Big Ten Leaders Division title, but the Nittany Lions historically struggle mightily in Columbus – they have won only once at Ohio State since joining the Big Ten. If anyone is looking for offensive excitement, don’t bother tuning in. Penn State and Ohio State are statistically at the bottom of the Big Ten in terms of passing and scoring.
-USC heads north to take on #4 Oregon in an 8 PM Pac-12 match-up. Oregon is slowly making its way to (and argument for playing in) the National Championship game, while USC is still under a post-season ban. Without any pressure, the Trojans could have dream killing in their game plan.
-#16 Nebraska visits #18 Michigan for a 12 PM game (IN PROGRESS). Nebraska is coming off a win at Penn State, and Michigan logged their own W last week against Illinois. Both of these programs started hot then faltered, sharing 8-2 records overall and 4-2 records in the Big Ten, but today’s game has Big Ten Legends Division implications. Nebraska and Michigan sit one game behind #15 Michigan State (facing struggling Indiana today), and if the Spartans win, Michigan is out no matter what. For Nebraska, today’s game is a must-win while still hoping for a Spartan loss (which would tie things up and give Nebraska the tiebreaker edge over the Spartans). JUICY.
-#5 Oklahoma takes on #22 Baylor on Baylor turf. Kick-off at 8 PM.
-#13 Kansas State goes after #23 Texas at Texas. Kick-off at 8 PM.