2010 or Bust: Al’s last prediction post for 2009

It's about time a bowl game had an appropriate sponsor name!

As I write this, I realize that I will probably not be online again until January 4. So, I’d like to start out this post by wishing everyone a happy and prosperous 2010. May all your celebrations be DWI-free and be sure to eat lots of collards, pork and black-eyed peas tomorrow for money, health (I love how pork signifies health in the South), and luck.

Okay, enough of the niceties. I have a lot of ground to cover because I’m going to predict the winners for all bowl games that have at least one Top 25 team and all Top 25 basketball games from today until Sunday.

Today’s bowl games

Chik-fil-A Bible Study Bowl: No 11 Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee. Yes, I’m still seething about the change of name from the Peach Bowl to a bowl named for a company that is so religious that their restaurants aren’t open on Sunday. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was written in the contract somewhere that this bowl game can’t be played on Sunday. This game is a match up between two teams that rarely live up to their hype. In fact, I was shocked to learn that Virginia Tech actually won their bowl game last year; that’s rare for them. If they win this one, it’ll be the first time in team history that they will have won two consecutive bowls. On paper, it looks like the Hokies should win, but I just don’t feel good about them, so I’m going for the underdog.

Brut Sun Bowl: Oklahoma vs. No. 21 Stanford. With this bowl, we finally have a bowl sponsor that seems appropriate for a football game. Both of these teams surprised their fans this year, but for different reasons. Oklahoma was a complete disappointment, starting out highly ranked and then descending into mediocrity as the season wore on. Stanford, on the other hand, surprised everyone by beating Oregon. (Their win against USC did not surprise me one bit.) Despite injuries to some key players, I think that Oklahoma will prevail, mainly because I think they’re a tougher team than Stanford.

Today’s basketball games

Penn's basketball team is so terrible that the most recent official photographs they offer are from the 2007-2008 season.

Pennsylvania at No. 7 Duke. Quite frankly, Penn is horrible. Only in my fantasies could they beat Duke.

St. John’s at No. 13 Georgetown. This should be another great Big East game. Both teams have an inexplicable loss (Georgetown to ODU and St. John’s to Cornell), but both beat Temple. Despite their Big 10-like 46 points against Temple, Georgetown’s scoring is better than St. John’s. I think the Hoyas will pull this one out.

No. 14 Tennessee at Memphis. I know I’m going against history here, but I think that Memphis’s losses to Tennessee in the last couple of seasons were more due to Calipari’s coaching than Pearl’s dominance over Memphis. Memphis is playing at home with a new coach and Tennessee should not be ranked. So, I’m going with Memphis.

No. 15 Ohio State at Wisconsin. I think Wisconsin’s better than Ohio State. Plus they’re playing at home. Note to Mr. Sensei: If your team proves me wrong, I’m never listening to anything you say about sports ever again–which should be easy, because I rarely do anyway.

Oregon State at No. 16 Washington. Personally, I’ll never understand the Washington hype, but tonight they’re playing at home against an Oregon State team that barely has a winning record.

Oklahoma at No. 22 Gonzaga. Dammit, no matter who I pick, it’ll be wrong because Gonzaga’s playing. Shoot, because Gonzaga’s involved, the first coin I tossed fell and rolled too far under the sofa for me to retrieve it. The second coin told me to pick Oklahoma.

Green Bay at No. 23 Butler. I’ve been really mean to Butler this year, so I’m giving them this game against a Green Bay team that’s better than I expected.

Alabama A&M at No. 25 Florida State. Wow, Alabama A&M has only played 6 games and they’ve lost three of them. Florida State, who does not deserve their ranking (they only got it because they beat an overrated Georgia Tech team) should be able to win this one. Should is the operative word here.

Tomorrow’s bowl games

The Big Easy: Hosting the latest victim of tBCS Conspiracy and the SEC's biggest drama queen

Allstate Sugar Bowl: No. 3 Cincinnati vs. No. 5 Florida. I can’t help but feel that Cincinnati was set up here. They finally have a chance to prove that teams not in the SEC, Big 12, Pac 10, and Big 10 should be taken seriously and what happens? Their coach is lured away by Notre Dame, conveniently before he can coach in this bowl game. Meanwhile, Urban Meyer, never satisfied unless he’s in the media as regularly as Brett Favre and Tim Tebow, can’t even decide what to do after this game. Sadly, I think the absence of Kelly will hurt Cincinnati more than Meyer’s drama queen antics will hurt Florida.

Rose Bowl: No. 8 Oregon vs. No. 7 Ohio State. Oh, geez, why is it that “the Granddaddy of them all” is exempt from having a sponsor’s name tacked to the front of it? Talk about elitist–this bowl says it all. However, the two teams playing in this one are not elite in the slightest. Ohio State played no one and lost to Purdue but they’re ranked no. 7. Why? Because they’re Ohio State. However, based on Ohio State’s performance in its last three bowl games, this should be an easy victory for the Ducks.

Capital One Bowl: No. 13 Penn State vs. No. 12 LSU. This is a great match-up between an old time powerhouse and a new one. I’m giving the game to LSU based solely on emotion, since they basically have no offense and will have to rely heavily on their defense to win this one. I like the Nittany Lions and Paterno, so if they win, I won’t be all that disappointed.

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl: No. 16 West Virginia vs. Florida State. Florida State was given this bowl because of Bowden’s retirement and no other reason. West Virginia will probably pound them because they’re much better.

Tomorrow’s basketball games

No. 6 West Virginia at No. 4 Purdue: A week or so ago, I would have said that West Virginia should win this one easily. But this week, West Virginia’s had some close calls. If it were just Seton Hall, I’d write it off as Big East parity, but they barely beat Cleveland State. However, I still feel that they’re better than Purdue, so I’m taking a risk and picking them.

Dayton at No. 17 New Mexico. This one’s a tough one to call. Both teams have dominated mediocre competition but they’ve also folded at weird times. I’m picking New Mexico simply because they’re playing at home and, judging by how they played against Texas Tech, the Oral Roberts loss was a wake-up call of sorts.

McNeese State at No. 24 Texas Tech. I know that this is a wacky season and Texas Tech is a wacky team, but surely they can handle McNeese State.

Saturday’s bowl game

AT&T Cotton Bowl: No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi. Oklahoma State was overrated for the early part of the season based on their defeat of even more overrated Georgia. However, they’re a solid team and less flaky than Mississippi.

Saturday’s basketball games

No. 1 Kansas at No. 19 Temple. It’s interesting that this is Kansas’s first real test since the Memphis game back in November. There are many that think there’s an upset brewing in this one, but I think the Jayhawks will pull it out–if they stay focused and don’t sleepwalk through most of the game.

Texas A&M-CC at No. 2 Texas. Where does Texas find these opponents? On the back of matchbook covers or in Facebook ads?

Louisville at No. 3 Kentucky. What’s the deal with Louisville? They’ve lost some clunkers that should have been easy victories for them. Based on the records of both teams, this should be an easy win for Kentucky, but I think it’ll be a battle until the end, when Kentucky wins by a few points only.

Pittsburgh vs. No. 5 Syracuse. WTF, Pittsburgh? You lost to Indiana. Geez.

No. 8 Villanova at Marquette. This should be another great Big East battle and I think it’ll go down to the wire, mainly because Marquette’s playing at home, they’re not as bad as their loss to N.C. State would indicate, and Villanova really hasn’t beaten any heavy hitters yet.

Notre Dame at No. 10. Connecticut. When I look at some of the ranked teams (cough: New Mexico, Tennessee, Washington, Butler, Florida State: cough, cough), I have to wonder why Notre Dame, with only two losses, isn’t ranked. No matter. I think the Huskies will pull this one out.

No. 11 Michigan State at Northwestern. I still can’t believe that Northwestern lost to Illinois. It seems surreal to me.

Oregon at No. 16 Washington. I feel a Washington sweep of the entire state of Oregon is highly possible this week, despite my lack of faith in Washington’s true abilities.

No. 20 Georgia Tech at Charlotte. As usual, Georgia Tech is ranked too high. Meanwhile, Charlotte beat Louisville. This should be a close game and my gut says an upset is brewing.

No. 22 Gonzaga at Illinois.  Not Gonzaga again!!! I wish they’d fall out of the Top 25 so that I’m not stuck with their busting up my predictions like they do my NCAA brackets each year. I’d also like my lost coin back.

Milwaukee at No. 23 Butler. I’m sick of Butler, too.

Sunday bowl games

None.

Sunday’s basketball games

No. 18 Clemson at No. 7 Duke. Clemson doesn’t stand a chance against Duke, especially at Cameron. Actually, no one stands a chance against Duke at home until February.

South Dakota at No. 12 Kansas State. While I’m still on the fence about Kansas State’s ranking, I don’t see an upset here.

No. 13 Georgetown at DePaul. I’m old enough to remember when this might have been a good game. Alas, the 2009-2010 Blue Demons are nothing like their predecessors and are now considered among the Big East’s worst. If Georgetown can’t beat them (even in enemy territory), then they’re seriously bad.

No. 15 Ohio State at Michigan. While I don’t think Ohio State’s that good, I do think they can beat Michigan.

UTEP at No. 24 Texas Tech. This should be a great game. Both teams have only lost two games. I still can’t quite get a handle on Texas Tech long enough to decide how good they are and I don’t think this game will help. UTEP with the upset.

Happy New Year, one and all!

Meyer Chooses Health, Family Over Football

Geez… You spend one day away shopping for bedroom furniture and all Hell breaks loose.

The most successful college football coach in the country, in recent years at least, has decided to call it quits.

Citing concerns for his health and family, University of Florida Head Football Coach Urban Meyer has resigned. The Gators’ Sugar Bowl match-up with Cincinnati will be Meyers last game at the helm. Wow.

After reading statements from both Meyer and those around him, it seems there’s not a hint of ulterior motives in his reasoning. Assuming he is prioritizing his health and family above personal success and career fulfillment, you can’t help but admire the coach’s decision to part ways with the Gators at the peak of his reign over college football.

At 45, Meyer’s .841 winning percentage leads all  active coaches with at least 5 years experience. A head coach leaving the game at his age and with his credentials has to be unprecedented in big time athletics.

TCU Coach Gary Patterson was equal parts stunned and proud in his interview with The Quad.

“You’ve got to give the guy a lot of credit, I think, for making this kind of decision because for us as football coaches, it’s always been about the game,” Patterson said. “For him to make a decision to decide at this point in time to hang it up and do it for his health and his family, I think shows the strength of him as a man.

“He’s 45 years old and wants to get a chance to see his family grow up and do things. Some of us haven’t made those decisions in our lives. He’s as strong as he is because he put family and health in front of something that he truly loves to do.”

Even as an admitted “Gator-Hater”, I can’t help but echo Patterson’s sentiments. For a man in Meyer’s position to make this decision at this point in his career, you have to believe that he truly has his life perspective in order.

In a coaching landscape where “succession plans” and “forced retirements” have become common place, it’s refreshing to see a coach decide he’s had enough long before everyone else decides he’s had enough.

As far as a possible replacement for Meyer goes, names like Stoops, Petrino, Peterson, Shanahan, Mullen and Strong have all been thrown around.

Regardless of who succeeds Meyer at Florida, it’s hard to imagine anyone leading the Gators to more success than he has over the past 5 seasons.

It’s even harder to imagine any of those coaches stepping away from it all afterwards.