The Best of the non-BCS Bowl Games

Although college football desperately needs a playoff, the bowl system still provides a unique series of games that I find pretty entertaining. Inter-conference games are much more interesting in college football as opposed to college basketball because you only get a few big time (non rivalry) games a season. The Bowl season solves this problem, forcing teams like Florida and Penn State to actually play a half respectable team outside of their respective conferences and states.

Obviously the biggest games are those of the BCS, but I think there are some great games going down in the “lesser bowls.” I’ll be ranking the top 5 most enticing non-BCS contests.

ON_CAMPUS_Pitt_Preview_Dion_Lewis5) Pittsburgh/UNC, Meineke Car Care Bowl: Both teams are looking to rebound after huge disappointments to end the regular season. Pittsburgh found itself within a hair of winning the Big East’s automatic BCS bid, while North Carolina took yet an other one on the chin from Tom O’Brien as Butch Davis dropped to 0-3 against the Wolf Pack. Pitt Freshman Dion Lewis put up some extremely impressive numbers, but his number of carries (297) stands out the most. Does he have enough left in the tank to produce against one of the stoutest run defenses in the country? Carolina has really been a tale of two halves this season. With an 0-3 start to their ACC season, the Heels looked like they were stumbling their way to a disappointing season in which they started just inside the AP top 25. However, Carolina bounced back and won their next 4 conference games, including @ Virginia Tech and vs. Miami. Veteran QB T.J. Yates regressed from last season, although much of that could be blamed on the loss of now NFLers Hakeem Nicks and Brandon Tate. With a running game lacking a true horse, the Heels relied on their stout defense to come up with big stops and timely turnovers. It will have to do its best to bottle up Pitt’s dynamic offense (23 passing TD’s, 24 rushing TD’s) to give UNC a chance to win.

Eric Berry anchors a defense headed by guru Monte Kiffin

Eric Berry anchors a defense headed by guru Monte Kiffin

4) Virginia Tech/Tennessee, Chick-fil-A Bowl: Lane Kiffin doing anything is entertaining to me. Bottom line is he’s turning things around at Tennessee. The Vols took advantage of a weak SEC East this season going 4-0 vs. teams not named Florida. While much Kiffin’s talent is extremely young, Safety Eric Berry may be the best player in the country. I’m also interested to see what happens when Monte Kiffin gets a month to scheme for a single offense. On the other hand, the Hokies are probably disappointed to not be in a BCS game this year. VT running back Ryan Williams put up one of the best freshman seasons in recent memory with 20 total touchdowns and over 1500 rushing yards. Tyrod Taylor is as dynamic a player as you will see and has really come into his own this season. Throw in the possibility of Beamer Ball producing some highlight reel special teams plays, and this game a must see. Continue reading

Luke Warm Linkage

The way things are going, we may see a whole album from Tiger by New Year’s.

Sports

  • Love em‘ or hate em’ the College Football bowl games are now set. Prominently featured: Alabama vs. Texas for the “BCS Title” and TCU vs. Boise St. for the “This Proves Nothing Title”.
  • Speaking of which, Sports Pickle reports that the participants are set for the F–kYou.com Bowl.
  • Deadspin has a rundown on the buffet of booty that Tiger has supposedly sampled.
  • Urban Meyer was treated for dehydration following the Gators loss to Alabama. The coach was reportedly given an IV drip of Tebow Tears and can now circumcise little boys blind-folded.

POP

Politics

BS Series Title Game Is Set.

bcsLogoLooking about as unimpressive as is possible without losing, Texas secured a bid to the BCS title game by defeating an offensively challenged Nebraska team in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Long Horns will now face Alabama, who throttled #1 Florida in the SEC Title Game.

The reality of the situation is that there’s no way on God’s Green Earth that anyone other than Texas will be playing Alabama for the title. However, we at the EJSIC aren’t always the biggest fans of reality. It’s boring.

To that point, taking out all financial and political considerations, who do you think deserves to challenge Alabama for the BCS title in Pasadena?

Let us know what you think in the poll below.

Al’s Predictions for Week 14 in College Football and Some Lessons Learned

Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I learned a lot over the Thanksgiving weekend. Here are just a few of the things I learned:

  1. Making turkey gravy from scratch is a lot easier than it appears.
  2. Using a hand-mixer to make mashed potatoes is not a good idea.
  3. Never predict that the winner of an ACC vs. SEC game is going to be an ACC team—unless they’re playing Vanderbilt and even then, it’s not a lock.
  4. Butch Davis apparently visits Tom O’Brien before the UNC State game each year and gives him the Tar Heel play book (not that anyone one outside of Tobacco Road cares but that just burns me up—just like the loss to Virginia did).
  5. Lou Holtz is weird. After what Notre Dame did to him, he should be crowing over how bad they are instead of joining the rest of the media in their mellow mushroom foray to discuss the Irish as if they’re still relevant.

So, here we are at week 14 and I’m kind of sad. This will be my last regular season college football game prediction post for 2009. But fear not, I will be predicting the outcomes of as many bowl games as I can and then I’ll be ready to take on the college basketball season (which I might start doing before bowl season). Also, if I can keep away from Big 10 fans that make cement shoes, I’ll be back next season.

Coach Jim Leavitt's South Florida team is playing in Al's game of the season.

Coach Jim Leavitt's South Florida team is playing in Al's game of the season.

This is one of the most exciting final regular season weeks I can remember. We have several conference championship games and the one game that everyone feels is the real national championship game: South Florida vs. Connecticut. Okay, just kidding. Anyway, you know the rules. Winners are in bold and the rankings are based on the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll—mainly because that’s the easiest way for me to do this. I would like to apologize to the EJSIC for not using their polls, but using mass media polls allows me to be snarkier (and whinier).

Thursday’s game

No. 16 Oregon State at No. 7 Oregon. I really think that Thursday is the new Saturday for football. There have been some superb matchups this season and another exciting one’s on tap for tonight. Interestingly, I never thought, in all my years as a sports fan, that I’d ever write that I was excited about Oregon State versus Oregon. In fact, if you had interviewed me at the beginning of this season and told me that I’d be looking forward to a PAC 10 game that didn’t involve the possibility of USC’s being upset, I would have laughed you out of my office. But here it is—the Beavers and the Ducks battling it out for a chance to annihilate play Ohio State in the Rose Bowl and I can’t wait. The Ducks are playing at home, so I think they’ll win this one, but it might not be pretty and it certainly won’t be a blowout. Continue reading

I hate college football bowl games

The NCAA is so greedy they've lost touch with what collegiate athletics are.

The NCAA is so greedy they've lost touch with what collegiate athletics are.

So, every year I gripe about this, write about it for anyone who will listen, and then use too much profanity and my writings are deleted. Now, though, I think I can control my emotions enough to get my thoughts down and still keep it family friendly. My problem is that the season ends with a bunch of “winners.” The irony is of all sports to ultimately go PC with the “everyone’s a winner” attitude, I would have thought football would be the last one to suck. How long until they quit keeping score? I like basketball, with their “one winner” mentality – the rest of the 300+ teams end the year as losers.

Clearly, the only reasonable ending to college basketball is a mini-tournament. Later, I’ll advocate my solution to this problem. With your help to fill any holes I miss, I will then craft it into a letter I intend to send to Congress, who have proven to only be concerned with doing anything beneficial for Americans in the sports arena. I’ve all but given up on US politics otherwise.

Strength of Schedule
My biggest complaint about the bowl selection process is there is no good measure of strength of schedule. The BCS poll only standardizes the fraction of votes from a number of polls. The problem is the polls rarely if ever take into consideration the strength of schedule. Consider Penn State. They played two decent teams this year – Iowa and Ohio State, losing both of those games. Their out of conference games were against Akron (3-9), Syracuse (4-7), Temple (9-3 with their best win over Navy and a loss to a D2 school), and Eastern Illinois (8-3 with their best win over Jacksonville State). Wisconsin wasn’t on their schedule. Their best win was Northwestern. And this is a team in contention for a BCS game, possibly at the exclusion of an undefeated Boise State team.

Continue reading

College Football Top 25 11/15/09

The EJSIC Top 25: NCAA FOOTBALL
Previous EJSIC college football polls:
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11

Here we are following week 11 of the college football season. Here are the AP and USA Today week 12 polls but we here at EJSIC are pretty sure we can do better because, to us, all that matters are the teams, who they’ve played, and who they’ve beaten.

So, here it is. All the information you need to make your own minds up. As always, we’re interested in your thoughts, what you would do differently and maybe a quick justification for why. Presented below are the rankings, team, record, (votes – first place votes). Also included are next week’s opponent, wins against teams currently in the top 25, and notable losses to unranked teams.

1. Alabama 10-0 (144 – 2) Next week: Chattanooga (6-4)
Top 25 Wins: vs. #19 VA Tech (7-3), #8 LSU (8-2)
Notable Losses: None
2. Florida 10-0 (143 – 2) Next week: Florida International (3-7)
Wins: @ #8 LSU (8-2)
Notable Losses: None
3. TCU 10-0 (140 – 2) Next week: @ Wyoming (5-5)
Top 25 Wins: @ #22 BYU (8-2), #16 Utah (8-2)
Notable Losses: None
4. Texas 10-0 (137) Next week: Kansas (5-5)
Top 25 Wins: @ #16 Oklahoma State (8-2)
Notable Losses: None
5. Cincinnati 10-0 (123) Next week: BYE
Top 25 Wins: @ #20 Oregon State (7-3)
Notable Losses: None

Continue reading

Al’s Predictions for Week 10 in College Football

Sorry, Austin, no BCS championship game for you.

Sorry, Austin, no BCS championship game for you.

Okay, baseball season’s over. College basketball is still in the exhibition stage. So, let’s get back to the sport that’s really exciting in early November for everyone—college football (no, State fans, we’re not talking about men’s soccer). Fresh off my successful prediction of the USC upset and even though my other upset predictions didn’t happen, I’m ready to predict the outcome of this week’s Top 25 games. This time, I’m including the Thursday night game. The same rules and stipulations from last week apply this week.

Thursday’s game

No. 23 Virginia Tech at East Carolina: What is it with ACC teams and Thursday night games? First Georgia Tech played two Thursday night games in a row, then UNC did it and now it’s Virginia Tech’s turn. Is it because the ACC is so mediocre that they honor them with a game on a mediocre night? Or is it done to highlight how truly splendiferous the ACC is at playing lackluster football? Anyway, now that Virginia Tech has gotten its loss to a ranked team and its loss to a lame team under its belt, it’s time for them to start taking opponents apart in their quest to lose yet another embarrassing game in the ACC BCS bowl. East Carolina is not as bad as they look, but you can’t argue with history. Virginia Tech wins this one.

Friday’s game

No. 7 Boise State at Louisiana Tech. I’m sure the BCS would love to see an upset here because then they won’t have to listen to people who really know something about football complain how Boise State should have been in National Championship BCS game, mainly because a loss would catapult them out of the Top 25. However, complain they will, because I see no upset here. Louisiana State couldn’t even beat Idaho. By the way, let me be one of the first ones to say it. As long as Florida, Ohio State, Texas, Alabama and USC all have football teams, Boise State will never have the chance to taste the national championship. I’m sorry for it, but it’s a fact of football life. Ca-ching.

Saturday’s games

Vanderbilt at No. 1 Florida. Considering that Georgia Tech basically danced past Vanderbilt last week—and we all know what conference the Yellow Jackets are in—this is a no brainer. Florida fans can’t relax, though, because if they don’t beat Vanderbilt by 35 points or more and Alabama beats LSU, they may be kicked out of the top spot. We now know that the pollsters have “Joe Wilson/Kanye West disruption” aspirations and jumble up the Top 3 for no other reason than to get noticed and talked about.

UCF at No. 2 Texas. University of Central Florida? Seriously, Texas? Are

The quarterback of the team most afraid of OOC play.

The quarterback of the team most afraid of OOC play.

you really so afraid of OOC play that a C-USA team is the best you can come up with?

No. 9 LSU at No. 3 Alabama. This is actually anybody’s game because it’s being played in Tuscaloosa. If it were in Baton Rouge, it would be no contest. However, I’m predicting an upset simply because I think that LSU is playing with more heart than Alabama right now. I’ve watched both teams play three times this season and I’m still not convinced that Alabama is the No. 3 team in the nation. I won’t be surprised if I’m wrong about this, though.

Northwestern at No. 4 Iowa. Dammit, I want Northwestern to upset someone, but I don’t think it’s going to be Iowa. Despite the fact that Iowa has absolutely no business being ranked No. 4 and I would jump for joy if they lost, Northwestern will have been too worn out after giving Penn State half a game last week to pull off the upset.

Connecticut at No. 5 Cincinnati. Connecticut is not as bad as their record makes them look, but Cincinnati’s way better. By the way, Cincinnati fans, see my comments about Boise State above. Continue reading

Do you Fantasize about Sports?

As I sit here writing, I am 1-3 in my Fantasy League with arguably the greatest roster ever assembled…  Okay, I lied.  I’m 2-2*, but I’m pretty sure nobody else in my league is even adjusting their roster anymore, which means I might as well be winless.

I’m starting to think my participation in this league is just to prove that no matter how perfect sports appear on the surface, they’ll still inevitably punch you in the face and kiss your kid sister.  How else can you explain drafting the top player at three positions (Peyton, Peterson, 49ers) and having 3 of the top 5 players (Andre Johnson, Vincent Jackson, DeSean Jackson) at another position, and still be losing in your league? In the words of my favorite French poet, Connerie, “Ef Emme Elle.”

When it comes to sports, I feel like Martin Starr in a Judd Apatow feature.  I’m pretty much always there but at the expense of myself.  I wanna be Paul Rudd, or better yet Ken Jeong…  Is that too much to ask?

not that kind of fantasy...

not that kind of sports fantasy...

I was a die-hard Marlins and Buccaneers fan, only to move away from South-Central Florida and watch one win two World Series and the other a Superbowl in the span of 6 years… from 1,000 miles away.  I entered college three years after my beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats concluded their greatest 10 year stretch in history…  Only to watch their worst 5 year stretch in history from the comfort of my $5 fourth-row seats.  Repeat after me, friends, “Ef Emme Elle.”

Why are you laughing?  You’re not laughing?  Oh…

We’re all part of a sports punch-line.  If you live and die by a college football team, guess what?  The (BCS) joke’s on you.  You’re an MLB fan?  Good luck with all of those asterisks.  And if you’re into the NFL, you’re a proxy for gambling, fantasy follies and worst of all, performance-enhanced marketing mayhem. Seriously, I’m still amazed that America can be convinced that a GMC is worth purchasing or that Coors is a palatable beer.

What?  You prefer hockey?  I can’t even respond to that.  Honestly…  That’s like trying to ask Audrina Patridge to talk about TNC’s in China.  We’re both likely to respond that venereal diseases can be prevented through proper precautions…

Back to my point (what point?).  You might say, “Dude, you’ve seen 5 championships between your three favorite teams over the past 15 years.”  I’d tell you a) I deserve better than you and b) it’s human nature to always want more…  I spent 3 days of alone time with your WAG the last two weekends but I still want her to “show me her record collection” at least one more time before I die.  (I’ll be here all week, folks.)

We want perfection.  Or maybe we don’t.  Maybe we just want to be there when the proverbial poopoo meets the fan blade.  This is the world that we live in.  We can tweet our favorite athlete (try saying that five years ago and not get banished from your local Sports Bar) and shower with them after every victory (not yet, but if Jerry Jones had his way… watch out) but we’re still just the guy driving to the store in his Silverado to put a case of Coors on our Visa.

So sit back, relax and enjoy the triviality of our collective existence.  And please don’t tell me you’d rather find some deeper meaning in life (or sports)…

* I’m really 3-1, but I’ve never known a good story without someone altering the facts a little bit to protect the innocent.