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Fiesta Bowl 2012 Preview: Cowboys and Cardinal climax of the non-rematches

Remember that all the college football bowl games are de facto exhibition games – that should not dampen your enthusiasm, in fact it is not every year that you get a matchup like the 2012 Fiesta Bowl.

Justin Blackmon

Elite WR Justin Blackmon leads the high-scoring Oklahoma State attack (Icon SMI)

Glendale AZ hosts the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Stanford Cardinal on Monday January 2 at 8pm ET, and in any other year this would be a fantastic BCSMNC (BCS Mythical National Championship).

Heck, one could well argue that the Cowboys deserved to be in the title game but that nasty loss at Iowa State “left it to the judges”.

Nonetheless, a great consolation prize and a true 3-4 matchup for bragging rights. Two respected coaches leading their alma mater to heights previously not known for the programs. Two of the best quarterbacks in the sport. And fans can enjoy the football for football sake.

Breakdown and predictions after the yump.

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2012 Gator Bowl

Gator Bowl Preview:  Ohio State vs Florida

Forget the game, everyone wants to talk about the coach.  Urban Meyer, the former Florida Gator coach and future Ohio State coach, will be the most talked about aspect of this game.  What a twist of irony that his former team and his future team are both appearing in this bowl game with 6-6 records after disappointing seasons for both teams.  Forget the early season suspensions.  The Big Ten has been buzzing about Meyer getting an exemption to be at the game for recruiting.  And we haven’t even begun to talk about the lovely things Florida fans are saying about their former coach.  Let’s just say Congress and Communism have a higher approval rating right now than Urban Meyer does in Gainesville.   Continue Reading »

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2012 Capital One Bowl

Capital One Bowl Preview:  #21 Nebraska vs #10 South Carolina

This is one of the most even matched games of the bowl season.  Nebraska finished the season 9-3 with a 5-3 conference record and was third in the Big Ten Legends division.  South Carolina went 10-2 this year with a 6-2 conference record and was second in the SEC East.  South Carolina has one of the toughest defenses in the nation.  Nebraska has one more thing on their side.  South Carolina has never beaten them.  Neither has Steve Spurrier.  And that is the kind of omen that gets in a fella’s head. The kind of thing that will make a guy throw his visor down in disgust and bite his bottom lip as he struggles to find the right play call.  I can picture Spurrier now pacing the sideline as he tries to beat Nebraska in this one.  But this time, he has a team that matches up well against the Cornhuskers.   Continue Reading »

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2012 TicketCity Bowl

TicketCity Bowl Preview:  Penn State vs Houston

The TicketCity Bowl organizers did what no one else was willing to do.  Invite Penn State to play in their bowl game.  Kudos to the organizers for having the courage to take the gamble.  The off the field stuff does not involve these players and they should not be penalized for it.  As for their opponent, well the organizers stumbled into that one.  Houston appeared to be on the verge of a BCS game until their conference championship collapse.  Now they are thrust into a lesser bowl but against a historic program that is sure to test their passing game.   Continue Reading »

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2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

AKA: We need a new Coach Bowl

Both Illinois and UCLA come in to this came with records near the 500 mark.  That explains why both teams will have new coaches come next season and the men that coached them through 2011 won’t be on the sidelines for this game.  Illinois finished the year at 6-6 but suffered through a brutal 2-6 Big Ten Conference record.  UCLA brings a 6-7 record into this Bowl game and finished the year with a 5-4 record in the Pac-12.  Neither team particularly stands out for this one so this may just be one of those bowl games that turns into a nice surprise with a great game.  Then again it could be just what it looks like.  Two middle of the pack teams getting a bowl invite so their alums could spend money on a trip and the universities could do a little recruiting.  I suspect the latter and have already reserved my tee time.   Continue Reading »

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Meineke Car Care Bowl 2011 Preview: good QBs versus bad defenses, look for Aggie win

Meineke Car Care Bowl, 1200 on Saturday December 31, Reliant Stadium

It’s noon on the last day of 2011! What are you doing? Watching a pair of 6-6 teams square off in preparation for a 3:30 game involving a pair of 6-7 teams. Woo!

Texas A&M’s final game in the Big 12 will be recorded as a loss to Colt McCoy’s younger brother on a slow-weaving QB scramble from midfield into field goal range in the game’s closing seconds. In the process of reaching bowl eligibility, the Aggies blew double digit halftime leads against Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and Missouri and blew a 10 point lead against Kansas State with just over 6 minutes left in the game. It’s been a kind of dream season for the Aggies, from Austin’s perspective.

Northwestern, the closest team geographically to Madison in the Big Ten Where’s Wisconsin division, somehow lost consecutive games to Army and Illinois, but don’t worry folks – Jim Delany made damn sure that 10 of the 12 Big Ten teams would be playing somewhere this Bowl Season. Yay!

The Wildcats run a pretty high-powered offense, with QB Dan Persa completing an impressive 74% of his passes in a system that calls plays quickly and focuses on short, high percentage throws. Receiver Kain Colter is an x-factor QB/WR here, averaging 49 ypg rushing and 38 ypg receiving. Jeremy Ebert has been the main target through the air though, at 71 total receptions for 93 ypg.

Texas A&M has also been explosive offensively. QB Ryan Tannehill is averaging just shy of 300 ypg, and two RBs are gaining over 95 ypg. Unfortunately, of those two backs, Christine Michael has been lost for the season and Cyrus Gray is questionable. So the offense will probably be a bit less balanced than usual, and you can expect Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller to see a lot of balls thrown their way.

Overall, we’ve got two pretty good quarterbacks going up against two mediocre-to-bad defenses. My gut trusts the Aggie defense a little more than their NU counterparts, so I’ll go with A&M to win a high-scoring game.

Prediction: Texas A&M 38, Northwestern 27

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Insight Bowl 2011 Preview: Boomer Sooner wins this Iowa primary battle

Insight Bowl, 2200 Friday December 30 2011 , Sun Devil Stadium

Iowa may not have Mr America QB Ricky Stanzi anymore, but do have the nation’s first presidential caucuses in a few weeks and they were the subject of some pretty awesome “Rick PArry” ads run by the Colbert Super-PAC. They also have a legitimately impressive RB (Marcus Coker, 115 ypg) and receiver (Marvin McNutt, 106 ypg) so there is some balanced firepower on this squad. Sure, they may have gotten slightly out-gained in the season aggregates, and sure, they
finished in the bottom half of the Big 10’s Where’s Wisconsin division. But, other than Minnesota and Iowa State, this team didn’t have any bad
losses, and they made up for those with some impressive wins like, umm…

On to Oklahoma!

It’s weird for a Texas fan to say this, but OU caught some really bad breaks this season and if life was fair they’d be in a better bowl. Not based on their 9-3 record, but I mean if they hadn’t lost one of the best two WR in the country (Ryan Broyles) and their starting HB Dominique Whaley, they might have finished with another win or two and a top 10 ranking. Nevertheless, this is a very good team. Landry Jones throws for 358 ypg, even with Broyles out for 3 games, and Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have both been very effective receivers. In three losses, the defense has given up 40+ points, but that’s only indicative of a really
poor effort against Texas Tech. Against Baylor and Oklahoma State, you kinda expect that unless the defense is really elite.

The bottom line is that Iowa is too outmatched at QB, WR depth, and probably on the lines to make this a competitive game.

Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Iowa 17