"If it doesn't matter who wins or loses, then why do they keep score?" Former legendary Green Bay Packer Coach Vince Lombardi.
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Someone just had to do it, and finally Coach Jimbo Fisher and his Florida State Seminoles did.

Jameis Winston, Florida State’s redshirt freshman quarterback, proved he deserved the Heisman Trophy he won before the National Championship Game with the Auburn Tigers by throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-5 Kelvin Benjamin (who made a great, leaping catch) with 13 seconds left to win the 2013 national title for the Seminoles, 34-31.

The Florida State win, the last game that will ever be played in the 16-year history of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), was epic because it broke the Southeast Conference’s 7-year grip on the title. Florida won in 2006 and 2008, LSU won in 2007, Alabama won in 2009, 2011 and 2012, and Auburn won in 2010.

This year’s game was one of the best as Florida State, down 21-3 in the 1st half, became the first team to ever come from behind after being down at halftime. The Seminoles scored 21 points in the 4th quarter, and the teams combined for 24 points in the last 4 minutes and 42 seconds. This is how it went down:

Florida State’s Chad Abram caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jameis Winston.

Auburn countered with a 22-yard field goal from Cody Parkey.

Florida State’s Levonte Whitfield, clearly the fastest player on the field as a true freshman, returned the kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown.

Auburn’s Tre Mason, who picked up 195 yards rushing on 34 carries (5.7 yards per carry), sprinted 37 yards to score with 1:19 left, and put the Tigers back up, 31-27.

Then it was Jameis Winston to Kelvin Benjamin for a 2-yard touchdown and victory as Winston led his team on a last-minute (79 seconds left) drive, completing 6-of-7 passes for 77 yards on the game-winning 80-yard drive. Winston went 20-for-35 for 237 yards and 2 touchdowns during the game.

By any standard, it was one extremely exciting, nail-biting game for fans on both sides of the field.

Hats off to Jimbo Fisher and his Florida State Seminoles, the came into the game as an 8.5-point favorite and won the game, if not the betting line, to make college football history. Forty years from now, no one but Auburn fans will remember who Florida State played to win the national championship in 2013.

And now, for how and why it happened, let’s look at some indicators:

After covering college football for more than a century, there is no question in my mind about who wins championships: it’s more likely the defense than the offense. And while a 34-31 title game suggests an offensive juggernaut against equally capable opponents, the season long statistics say Florida State would win. Here’s why:

Florida State would rank 1st nationally in offensive scoring, Auburn was ranked 8th.

Florida State would rank 5th nationally in total offense, Auburn was ranked 11th.

Florida State would rank 1st nationally in scoring defense, Auburn was ranked 38th.

Florida State would rank 3rd nationally in total defense, Auburn was ranked 87th.

Are you beginning to get the picture?

Add to that the fact that Florida State also ranked 1st in Passing Efficiency, 1st in Passing Yards Allowed, 1st in Passing Efficiency Defense, 2nd in Turnover Margin, 3rd in 3rd-Down Conversions, 3rd in 3rd Down Conversion Defense, and you have a really great Florida State Seminole team.

All of which is to say, Coach Gus Malzahn’s Auburn Tigers and Tre Mason made a heck of an effort to win. For this season at least, Auburn became the national runner-up, and the second best team in major college football.

Auburn won 9 straight games to get to the national championship game, and finished at 12-2. Florida State went undefeated at 14-0. Both teams had exciting, fantastic seasons.

Here’s the take on the bowl season with the exception of the BCS National Championship Game between #1 Florida State (13-0) and #2 Auburn (12-1):

Michigan State Actually Gets Off the Dime and Goes Over the Top

After years and years of nibbling at greatness, Coach Mark Dantonio and his Michigan State Spartans finally managed to get the fricking job done. #4 Michigan State and #5 Stanford locked horns in the BCS Rose Bowl and the Spartans won, 24-20, following some heavy drama.

The Spartans, with major college’s #1 defense, ended a dominant season with another old-school, smash-mouth performance worthy of the Granddaddy of Them All in the historic 100th edition of the Rose Bowl.

Michigan State’s defense gave up only 159 yards in the final 3 quarters and ended it by stopping the Pac-12 champion Cardinal on a 4th-and-1 near midfield with 1:46 to play, stuffing a run play up the middle when Kyler Elsworth went airborne, soaring over the pile to deliver an electrifying, head-on collision with fullback Ryan Hewitt, and won.

The irony was Elsworth, a non-starter during the year, was the fill-in for suspended Senior Linebacker Max Bullough, an All-Big Ten and All-American player who broke a team rule and never even made the trip to Pasadena because Coach Dantonio sat Bullough down for putting himself before the team and their goal of a Rose Bowl victory.

Dantonio gets high marks for taking the high road. He could have looked the other way, and did not. Dantonio is old school—you screw up and there are consequences, no matter how big or how bad you think you are. The selfish suffer in silence. Hence Kyler Elsworth accomplished what Max Bullough could have, Elsworth was named Defensive MVP for an outstanding game when Michigan State needed it most. There will be no asterisk after Elsworth’s name.

So how did the Spartans put themselves in a position to win on offense? Sophomore QB Connor Cook passed for a career-high 332 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead the way.

The Spartans ended their season at 13-1, winning their last 10 games in Dantonio’s 7th year as Head Coach. The Rose Bowl victory was their first in 26 years, since 1988. Dantonio has made Michigan State a winner after weeding out some thugs, malcontents, quitters and stupid 21-year-olds that do dumb things without thinking. Every coach goes through it, not ever coach goes 13-1 and wins the BCS Rose Bowl.

A tip of the hat to Mark Dantonio and his crack staff, especially Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who outcoached Stanford Head Coach David Shaw, who also calls the offensive plays.

Central Florida Upsets Baylor’s High-Powered Offense

Coach George O’Leary and his Central Florida Knights came into the BCS Fiesta Bowl ranked #15 with an 11-1 record and a 17-point underdog to Coach Art Briles and his Baylor Bears, who were ranked #6 with an 11-1 record and the nation’s high-octane, #1 offensive team.

Central Florida won 52-42 in one of the biggest upsets of the bowl season, and for George O’Leary it was more than a BCS victory and putting Central Florida on the national map of top teams, it was redemption.

O’Leary was fired by Norte Dame 5 days after being hired for lying on his resume (which really does not have squat to do with coaching ability) and moved on to Central Florida, a step down to be sure. But O’Leary (please, spare the jokes about being leery) has brought his reputation back in Orlando, taking a program that went winless on bread and water in 2004 to the inaugural American Athletic Conference title and an automatic BCS berth this year (the AAC was the old Big East Conference before the “good” teams left).

Blake Bortles (you will hear his name again on Sundays) led the way for the Knights, going 20-for-31 with 301 yards and 3 touchdown passes as well as 93 yards on the hoof, including a 15-yard rushing score. Central Florida had 556 yards of offense and Baylor 550 yards in this shootout, the highest scoring game (52-42) in Fiesta Bowl history. Central Florida won the 1st half 28-20, and the 2nd half 24-22. It was reported that no one was bored in the stands, and no one left early.

Ohio State’s Soft Schedule Catches Up to the Buckeyes

Coach Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes were a perfect 12-0 and ranked #2 when they faced Michigan State for the Big Ten Championship and lost, 34-24. The Buckeyes entered the BCS Orange Bowl in Miami ranked #7 against Coach Dabo Swinney (yes, that’s really his name) and his Clemson Tigers, who were ranked #12 with a 10-2 record. Ohio State made it two losses in-a-row thanks to Clemson’s Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.

Boyd threw for 378 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Watkins had a career day with 16 catches for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns on 34 and 30-yard receptions as Clemson rallied to win 40-35 for the school’s first Orange Bowl victory in 32 years.

Dabo Swinney was all over himself after the dramatic victory. Two years ago, Swinney and Clemson got their butt kicked 70-33 to West Virginia in the BCS Orange Bowl. Since then Swinney noted that his team has gone 22-4, and has become the first team from South Carolina to win a BCS game—not too shabby for South Carolina, a state not known for its BCS titles.

Urban Meyer and his Buckeyes now have a mental adjustment to make. Ohio State had won 24 straight over two years since Meyer arrived. Now they are 24-2, and hoping to rebound next September.

Alabama’s Unbeatable Dominance Has Begun to Slip Away

Coach Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide from Alabama had been riding a high wave for a long time. They won 3 national championships in 4 years, the last 2 in-a-row, and were aiming to make it 4 in 5 years and 3 straight, but Auburn won the SEC title game, not Alabama.

And now #11 ranked Oklahoma was all business in handing Alabama its second straight loss, 45-31, after the Crimson Tide had won 24 consecutive games leading up to the SEC championship game, known as the Iron Bowl.

Freshman QB Trevor Knight has Sooner expectations in the stratosphere after setting a BCS Sugar Bowl record 32 passes for 348 yards 4 touchdowns. Alabama’s QB AJ McCarron, who had won 36 straight games for the Crimson Tide before losing these last two, passed for 387 yards and 2 touchdowns, but also coughed up 2 interceptions, both of which led to Oklahoma touchdowns, the difference in the game.

Alabama was favored by 16 points and lost by 14, that was about 30 points too much as it turned out.

McCarron, who was sacked 7 times, manned up on the interceptions, taking responsibility for his errors. Credit him with being in the real world. That said, even though ‘Bama produced 516 yards of offense, Alabama’s defense was a train wreck waiting to happen, and it did. Unless Saban can come up with some better defensive players, Alabama’s string of success may be broken again.

Trust Johnny Football to End His College Career Right

In what could easily be his last game at Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel, better known in social media as Johnny Football, made the most of it, leading this team back from a 38-17 deficit in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to beat Duke, 52-48, in a game of pure excitement with virtually no defense played.

When a bowl game has a combined score of 100 points (52 to 48) and the combined teams gain 1,250+ yards (661 for Duke and 541 for Texas A&M), trust me, there was no defense played worth talking about. The 52-48 game score was the highest in Chick-fil-A Bowl’s history.

Duke came into this game at 10-3 (the Blue Devils first ever 10-win season) and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal Division champions. Texas A&M came in at 8-4.

Duke won the 1st half 38-17 as Texas A&M was reeling. The Blue Devils gained 365 yards with no punts in the 1st half while building a 3-touchdown lead. This happened because A&M ranked last in the SEC in total defense and 105th nationally in total defense. A&M has no defense, it has Johnny Football, arguably the most exciting player in college football during the past 2 years.

Manziel is a third-year sophomore who won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman last season. He is a hot ticket on the way to the NFL to play with the big boys. The probability of him returning for another year is somewhere around zero, there is too many millions involved and if he is injured before he arrives, that sum drops dramatically.

That said, Johnny Football wanted to win against Duke. He flat got in the face of his teammates and then showed them how to come from behind. Duke may have won the 1st half 38-17, but Johnny Football and Texas A&M won the 2nd half, 35-10, and the game, 52-48. All Manziel did was throw 4 touchdown passes and Toney Hurd Jr. returned an interception 55 yards for the go ahead touchdown with 3:33 remaining.

Duke QB Anthony Boone passed for 427 yards and 3 touchdowns, but unfortunately threw not one but two interceptions late in the game that killed Duke’s chances. Boone was a class act in how he handled the disappointment after an outstanding effort in leading Duke.

The elusive Johnny Football opened the 2nd half with runs of 12 and 14 yards before his highlight play of the game. At the Duke 17 Manziel ran places a rabbit wouldn’t go before vaulting a defender and dumping a short pass to Travis Labhart, who scored easily for the 3rd touchdown of the game, and A&M’s comeback was off and running.

Washington Shows Up When It Mattered Most

When Coach Steve Sarkisian showed up at Washington in 2009, he inherited a winless 0-12 team led by Tyrone Willingham, who was canned for ineptitude. When Willingham coached at Notre Dame it was said that they loved him every day of the week but Saturday. Willingham, who was about as hospitable as a rodent with constipation, did not have the people skills to make it work.

Sarkisian went 5-7 his first year and then suffered through three consecutive 7-6 seasons with a couple of signature wins against top-ranked teams. This year his Huskies were 8-4 going into the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco against Brigham Young, an 8-4 opponent, and Washington was desperate for a 9-win season.

Then fate intervened. Southern California needed a coach and Sarkisian never made it to the Fight Hunger Bowl. Sarkisian, who left Southern Cal as its Offensive Coordinator when he became Head Coach at Washington, returned to his glory ground when Pete Carroll, now the Seattle Seahawk Head Coach, was Sarkisian’s boss at USC.

Enter Interim Coach Marques Tuiasosopo (T-e-ah-sa-so-po), the Huskies Quarterback Coach, who was also a legendary QB for Washington, leading them to the Pac-10 title and a 34-24 Rose Bowl victory over Drew Brees and the Purdue Boilermakers in 2000, and was named MVP of the game. Tuiasosopo, who was a pro backup QB for the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets for 8 years, got the Huskies right as they beat Brigham Young, 31-16.

How great it is to suffer disappointment and confusion, face the mess, and come out on top? Junior Bishop Sankey ran for 95 yards and 2 scores, Junior Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a 16-yard TD pass from Senior Keith Price, and Freshman John Ross (the fastest player on the team) returned a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown. Both record-setting Sankey and Seferian-Jenkins declared for the NFL draft.

The Huskies won just their second bowl game since Marques Tuiasosopo in 2000. Washington’s program did not suffer much since Sarkisian bolted, the Huskies won their bowl game without him, and Athletic Director Scott Woodward managed to pry Chris Petersen away from Boise State to be the new Head Coach.

Washington State Fumbles Away a Bowl Victory Opportunity

Coach Mike Leach had brought Washington State back from its darkest days, turning around a losing team into a 6-6 regular season finish and the prospect of a winning, 7-6 season when his Cougars led by 8 points against the Colorado State Rams with less than 2 minutes to play and possession of the ball in the New Mexico Bowl. Then Leach’s worst nightmare happened.

On the first running play to wind down the remaining 111 seconds left, Washington State running back Jeremiah Laufasa was not a bullfrog but a toad, allowing Colorado State’s Shaquill Barrett to strip the ball and recover the fumble.

That lack of ball control set up Ram Kapri Bibbs’ 1-yard run score and Donnell Alexander’s 2-point conversion to tie the score at 45 all with 33 seconds to play. Then Washington State’s Teondray Caldwell managed to fumble the kickoff return at the Cougars’ 24-yard line, setting up Jared Roberts’ 41-yard field goal as time expired to give Colorado State a 48-45 victory.

All of this happened AFTER the Colorado State Rams were behind by 22 points earlier and had committed 3 turnovers. Clearly, Mike Leach, the Pirate himself, has some more training—and discipline—to instill in his deck hands. Leach is known for his fondness of pirates.

Ram center Weston Richburg said this of the gift victory: “It must have been destiny. That’s the most unbelievable game I’ve even been a part of.” Tell me about it, Weston. If you were a Washington State Cougar fan, it was a total, disappointing piece of monkey crap, especially for Mike Leach and his coaching staff.

And especially for Cougar QB Connor Halliday, who threw for 410 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Cougars were minus 10-yards rushing, or minus no running game whatsoever. It’s called back to the drawing board for Leach and Company. We can only be in prayer and supplication that Cougar players learn how to protect the ball in not only crucial situations, but ALL situations.

Cincinnati Hauls Off and Goes Nowhere in the Belk Bowl

Cincinnati strolled into the Belk Bowl with a 9-3 record from the American Athletic Conference, one of the successors from the old Big East Conference, which is struggling to maintain its status a major conference with a bunch of weak sisters in the group (only 4 teams could win 6 games this season). The tough Cincinnati Bearcats got their butt handed to them, 39-17, by an unranked, 6-6 North Carolina Tar Heel team from the major Atlantic Coast Conference.

Louisville’s Cardinals Show They Are For Real

The #18 Louisville Cardinals came into the Russell Athletic Bowl at 11-1 against the unranked Miami Hurricanes at 9-3. The Cardinals did not waste the opportunity, routing Miami 36-9 while racking up 554 total yards of offense. Louisville was runner-up in the American Athletic Conference (AAC).

The Thrill Is Off the Michigan Wolverines

A couple of 7-5 teams squared off in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, one was on the rise and the other was on the slide. Kansas State ended its 5-game bowl losing streak by thumping the proud Michigan Wolverines, 31-14. The K-State Wildcats are on the upswing while the Michigan Wolverines are on the downslide. Michigan has quite the football pedigree; the Wolverines have more victories (910) than any other team in major NCAA history.

Who Else Snapped a 5-Game Losing Streak?

That would be the unranked Texas Tech Red Raiders, who lost their final 5 games of the regular season on the way to the Holiday Bowl at party down San Diego against the Arizona State Sun Devils, who arrived at 10-3 and ranked #16 nationally. The Sun Devils left at 10-4 as Texas Tech won the upset at 37-23 behind freshman QB Davis Webb, who threw for 403 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Texas Tech came to play and Arizona State did not. The Red Raiders scored on 4 of their first 5 drives to build a 27-6 lead that the Sun Devils could not catch.

Why Mid-Major Conference Teams Do Not Get a Lot of Stroke

Have you ever wondered why there are 6 major conferences and the rest are generally wannabes and whiners? Well, here’s why:

#21 Fresno State came into the Las Vegas Bowl with an 11-1 record all full of spit and swagger. The Fresno State Bulldogs (the mid-major Mountain West Conference champions) lost to unranked Southern California (from the major Pac-12 Conference), 45-20. The details are not necessary to make the point.

#24 Northern Illinois came into the Poinsettia Bowl with a 12-1 record as the mid-major, Mid-American Conference champion. The Northern Illinois Huskies left after being upset 21-14 by the unranked, 8-5 Utah State Aggies from the mid-major Mountain West Conference Mountain Division title.

Don’t even ask me why Mountain West Conference leaders would call one of their Divisions the Mountain Division. To show how clever they are, the named their other Division the West Division. So the Mountain West Conference has the Mountain Division and the West Division; talk about a total lack of creativity and identification. No wonder they are a mid-major conference.

Bowling Green came into the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl with a 10-3 record as the mid-major, Mid-American Conference East Division champion. The Bowling Green Falcons left after losing 30-27 to the unranked, 6-6 Pittsburgh Panthers (from the major Atlantic Coast Conference). Pittsburgh had a 3-5 record in ACC play.

Rice became another mid-major team that was like an accident about to happen. The Owls arrived at the Liberty Bowl with a snappy 10-3 record as Conference USA champions, their first outright title in 56 years, since 1957 when Rice upset Bear Bryant’s #1 ranked Texas A&M Aggies who had a 14-game winning streak. Someone forgot to tell the unranked 6-6 Mississippi State Bulldogs from the major Southeast Conference (SEC).

Mississippi State leveled Rice 44-7 in the most one-sided Liberty Bowl victory in the game’s 55-year history. Bulldog sophomore QB Dak Prescott threw 3 touchdown passes and ran for 2 more to lead the way less than 2 months after his mother Peggy died of cancer.

If you thought Mississippi State was a pushover, think about this: Their 6 losses all came against currently ranked AP Top 25 teams, including #2 Auburn, #3 Alabama, #8 South Carolina, #13 Oklahoma State, #14 LSU and #20 Texas A&M. Mississippi came in playing the nation’s 8th toughest strength of schedule (SOS) while Rice’s SOS was 103rd among 122 major college teams.

2011 College Bowl Wrap-Up on All 35 Games

Copyright © 2011 and 2012 Ed Bagley

National Championship Game:

Alabama’s Defense Stifles and Then Snuffs Out LSU 21-Zip as the Crimson Tide Win Their 2nd BCS Title in 3 Years

The first football coach who declared that “defense wins championships” realized that his opponent could not score if his defense kept them off the field. That first coach was not Nick Saban of Alabama, but Saban was listening intently when he first heard it said, and the evidence of that was the 2011 BCS national championship game.

Alabama’s defense held LSU’s offense to 92 total yards and 5 first downs, no touchdowns and no field goals while getting 4 sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery—that’s an average gain of 2.09 yards on 44 attempts by LSU.

Did I mention that #2-ranked Alabama beat #1-ranked LSU 21-0, posting the first shutout in the 14-year history of the BCS playoff system. It was Alabama’s 2nd national championship in 3 years, and Nick Saban became the first coach to win 3 BCS national championships, and became the only active coach with 3 national titles.

Saban led LSU to the title in 2003, and Alabama in 2009. His lifetime record is 146-54 (73%).

LSU had beaten 8 ranked teams on its way to a perfect 13-0 mark on its way to the BCS title game, including Alabama 9-6 in a defensive struggle during the regular season. The Tigers’ offense did not show up for the title game because the Crimson Tide defense did not let them—that’s what a defense can do in a national championship game.

Jeremy Shelley tied a bowl record with 5 field goals, and Trent Richardson finally scored a touchdown with 4:36 remaining in the 4th quarter to really put the game away. Richardson gained 96 yards on 20 carries (4.8 YPC).

The Tide’s AJ McCarron was the offensive MVP, completing 23 of 34 passes (67%) for 234 yards and no interceptions. ‘Bama’s Courtney Upshaw as the defensive MVP; he had 7 tackles, a sack and spent most of his night in the LSU backfield. Upshaw was joined by Dont’a Hightower, both linebackers, in stopping both LSU’s running and passing game.

So, in a game that started with the betting line even, Alabama (12-1) beat LSU (13-1) by 21 points for the national title. Alabama was also No. 1 in both the final BCS Poll and AP Top 25 Poll. 

GoDaddy.com Bowl:

Northern Illinois, Down 13-Zip, Scores 31 Unanswered Points to Wipe Out Arkansas State, 38-20

The Northern Illinois Huskies know how to put together a winning streak, and they know how to come from behind to win. They proved it against Arkansas State by trailing 13-zip and then rattling off 31 unanswered points to win, 38-20, behind a gimpy quarterback and a receiver who had a career game.

Northern Illinois QB Chandler Harnish, playing with a bum ankle, connected 8 times with senior receiver Martel Moore for 224 yards (28.0 YPC), including a 43-yard touchdown pass. The Husky victory was the 9th straight for the Mid-American Conference (MAC) champions, and the loss by Arkansas State, the Sun Belt champions, snapped its 9-game winning streak. The Red Devils got going early, but could not overcome 5 turnovers, including 3 interceptions thrown by Ryan Aplin.

Despite the hurt ankle that took him out of the game at one point, Harnish went 18-of-36 (50%) for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns. He came in as the nation’s top rushing quarterback, averaging 106 yards per game, but was limited to minus 3 yards on the ground.

The victory marked the 3rd time this year that Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren’s team has rallied from a double-digit deficit to win, a sign of a championship team.

Arkansas State was coached by David Gunn, who took over in an interim role after Hugh Freeze headed out of town for Mississippi. Both Freeze and the Red Wovles’ new coach—former Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn—watched the game from a press box, but were powerless to help as Northern Illinois rallied to win.

Compass Bowl:

Southern Methodist Scores 21 First-Quarter Points and Routs a Pathetic Pittsburgh Team, 28-6

The Southern Methodist University Mustangs have not lost this season when they score first or put up at least 21 points, and they put up 21 in the 1st quarter against a snakebitten and disheartened Pittsburgh team to rout the Panthers, 28-6. The Pitt effort in this game was pathetic.

The Mustangs gave coach June Jones his 100th collegiate win, and tied a school record by playing in their 3rd straight bowl game under Jones. Before June Jones left a tremendous record of success at Hawaii to coach at SMU, the Mustangs had not been in a postseason game since beating Notre Dame in the 1984 Aloha Bowl.

Mustang QB J.J. McDermott completed 16 of 26 passes (61%) for 239 yards and a touchdown as well as running another score, Darius Johnson caught 7 passes for 120 yards (17.1 YPC), including a 50-yard score, and Rishaad Wimbley hit paydirt twice for the Mustangs.

The Panthers were coached by defensive coordinator Keith Patterson, who took over after Todd Graham left to coach at Arizona State. It was Patterson’s last game before he starts his new job as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas State. Pittsburgh’s new coach, former Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, watched the game from the press box level.

Pitt never quite reached the top tier when former alum Dave Wannstadt was drop-kicked out of the program, and the Panthers have gone downhill since.

Southern Methodist (8-5), a dog by 4.5, beat Pittsburgh (6-7), by 22 points, proving that Pitt never should have won, must less have even been in a bowl game. When will this madness stop? This was the 33rd of this year’s 35 bowl games, which is at least 16 too many bowl games for a sane person.

Cotton Bowl:

Joe Adams and Tyler Wilson Lead the Arkansas Razorbacks Over Kansas State, 29-16

Arkansas star Joe Adams exploded for a 51-punt return, and All-SEC quarterback Tyler Wilson added 2 touchdown passes as the 7th-ranked Razorbacks rolled over the 11th-ranked Kansas State Wildcats, 29-16. Adams score was the first punt return for a touchdown in the 51-year history of the Cotton Bowl. He matched the SEC single-season record with his 4 punt return TDs this year, and was the only Division 1 (FBS) player this season with multiple punts returns for TDs, along with rushing and receiving scores.

The Razorbacks matched a school record with their 11th victory. Their only losses were to #1 LSU and #2 Alabama, their SEC West rivals who will play for the BCS national championship game. The only other 11-win seasons for the Razorbacks were by the Lou Holtz-coached team in 1977, and coach Frank Broyles’ only undefeated season at Arkansas in 1964.

Interestingly enough, a member of that 1964 team that won the Cotton Bowl over Nebraska was Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner who attended this year’s game in his new $1.2 billion stadium (home of the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, TX) that opened in 2009.

Kansas State won 11 games six times during a 7-year span in coach Bill Snyder’s first tenure before his 3-year retirement, and almost reached that mark in his 3rd season back this year. Wildcat QB Collin Klein tied the Big 12 record with his 27th rushing TD this season in a losing cause, and matched the FBS record for quarterbacks.

Arkansas (11-2), favored by 7.5, beat Kansas State (10-3) by 13—the Razorback betters went home twice as happy.

Orange Bowl:

Geno Smith Throws 6 TDs as West Virginia Eclipses Clemson, 70-33, and Teammate Tavon Austin Grabs 4 TD Passes

The 23rd-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers exploded on the 14th-ranked Clemson Tigers, scoring 5 touchdowns in the 2nd quarter to lead 49-20 at the half before eclipsing Clemson, 70-33, in record-setting style.

Mountaineer Geno Smith tied the record for any bowl game with 6 touchdown passes, and teammate Tavon Austin tied a record for any bowl game with 4 touchdown catches as West Virginia set a bowl-scoring record (70 points) with its high-powered offense.

Things really got rolling when safety Darwin Cook intervened. Clemson was on the verge of crawling back into the game in the 2nd quarter as Andre Ellington was 1 yard from scoring and apparently was stopped but not down when the ball came loose. Cook scooped it up and dashed 99 yards to score with nothing but clear field ahead of him.

Smith would complete 31 of 42 passes (74%) for 401 yards, breaking Tom Brady’s Orange Bowl record. Austin caught 11 passes for 117 yards (10.6 YPC). The win by West Virginia improved its BCS game record to 3-0. Clemson lost playing its first major bowl game in 30 years.

West Virginia (10-3 and ranked 23rd), a 3.5-point dog, beat Clemson (10-4 and ranked 14th) by 37 points. You would have done well to bet on West Virginia in this one—the Clemson Tigers turned out to be pussycats.  

Sugar Bowl:

First-Year Coach Brady Hoke Leads Michigan to an 11-2 Record and 23-20 BCS Sugar Bowl Win Over Virginia Tech in Overtime

If there is anyone who thinks Brady Hoke is not a good first-year coach for Michigan, no one is listening in Ann Arbor, home of the proud Wolverines. In a incredible turnaround, Hoke has lifted Michigan from mediocrity to an 11-2 record and a BCS Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech, 23-20.

Michigan’s star QB Denard Robinson had an unspectacular night, game MVP Junior Hemingway caught 37 and 43-yard touchdown passes from Robinson, and Brenden Gibbons drilled a 37-yard field goal in overtime to lift the 13th-ranked Wolverines over the 17th-ranked Virginia Tech Hokies.

Tech’s senior receiver Danny Coale, who ranks 2nd all-time for the Hokies in catches and yards received, had 8 receptions for 117 yards in a losing cause, and nearly made a spectacular diving catch for a touchdown in overtime. Coale held on to the ball for what was initially ruled a score, but the play was overturned on video review, which showed the receiver had not maintained control of the ball when he hit the ground on the sideline.

Michigan followed up on its possession by using three conservative runs to set up Gibbons in the middle of the field, and then he drilled the winning kick. Virginia Tech kicker Justin Myer, a 3rd-stringer, had 4 good field goal attempts during the game for 37, 43, 36 and 25 yards, but was unable to connect from 37 yards out in overtime.

This year’s Wolverine team became only the 5th team in Michigan’s storied history to win 11 games in a season. Michigan (11-2 and ranked 13th), favored by 3, won by 3 over Virginia Tech (11-3 and ranked 17th), creating a push on the betting line.

Fiesta Bowl:

Oklahoma State Survives a Missed FG in Regulation to Win in Overtime Against Stanford, 41-38, Behind Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon

Surviving a missed field goal at the end of regulation play and getting a big kick of its own in overtime, 3rd-ranked Oklahoma State opened the door for a chance at a split national championship with a comeback offensive show for a 41-38 victory over 4th-ranked Stanford.

The Okie-State Cowboys kept pace with Stanford’s outstanding QB Andrew Luck, getting huge performances from their two stars, quarterback Brandon Weeden and the nation’s best wide receiver, Justin Blackmon.

Weeden threw for 399 yards and 3 touchdowns to Blackmon for 43, 67 and 17 yards. Blackmon, who announced after the game that he was leaving for the NFL, caught 8 passes for 186 yards (23.2 YPC).

In the end, the game rode on the leg and accuracy of the two place-kickers, Stanford’s Jordan Williamson and Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp. Williamson, a redshirt freshman under extreme pressure, could not come through, costing Stanford the game. Williamson missed a 35-yard field goal as regulation time expired, and then blew another from 43 yards to open the overtime period.

Quinn Sharp delivered. Given a chip shot after Weeden hit Colton Chelf on a 24-yard pass–initially ruled a touchdown but overturned on review–Sharp came though, sending his 22-yard field goal through the uprights and on to glory as the Cowboys swarmed the field in an exuberant display of joy and relief.

Jordan Williamson is not the first redshirt freshman to cost his team a bowl victory in an important game. If he is smart, he will forgive himself for being human, forget it, work on his accuracy and confidence in similar situations, and go on to become a great place-kicker for Stanford, perhaps even setting records. And, if Stanford is worth its salt as a college football team, they will give him the opportunity to do so.

Andrew Luck was Andrew Luck, completing 27 of 31 passes (87%) for 347 yards for 2 touchdowns. Luck, was has as much class as NFL talent, let the world know that if was not just about Williamson, that Stanford had a lot of chances to win prior to Williamson’s ill-fated kick. Good for Luck, he understands that the Stanford defense gave up 412 yards and 41 points to Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma State (12-1), favored by 3.5, won by 3 against Stanford (11-2), and did not cover the betting line.

Rose Bowl:

Oregon Outscores Wisconsin 10-Zip in the Last Quarter to Win Its First Rose Bowl in 95 Years, 45-38

In the end, Oregon’s frenzied, hurry-up, no-huddle spread offense wore down Wisconsin’s big, lumbering defensive linemen as the Ducks outlasted the Badgers, 45-38, in the highest-scoring Rose Bowl game in history.

Junior Darron Thomas passed for 3 touchdowns, true freshman De’Anthony Thomas (no relation) scored on runs of 91 and 64 yards, and the 6th-ranked Ducks earned their first bowl victory under coach Chip Kelly. The win was Oregon’s first Rose Bowl victory in 95 years, the last coming in 1917 when the Ducks shut out Penn State 14-zip.

The Ducks just pounded the Badgers with 621 yards of offense–345 yards rushing (8.63 YPC) and 276 passing.

LaMichael James rushed for 159 yards on 25 carries (6.36 YPC) and scored a touchdown. De’Anthony Thomas rushed for 155 yards on just 2 carries (77.5 YPC) and scored 2 touchdowns. James has blinding speed and Thomas may be even faster in the open field (Thomas is a world-class 200-meter athlete). Thomas may have cheetah speed–you can call him De’Anthony “Cheetah” Thomas (like, I cheeta you by 3 strides from midfield to the end zone, and that’s with a FAST defensive cornerback).

So how good was Oregon’s defense when it counted? Well, Wisconsin’s Montee Bell rushed for 122 of this 164 yards in the first half, but was held to zero yards on 3 carries in the 4th quarter.

Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson was able to move the Badgers to the Oregon 25-yard line but with 2 seconds left and no timeouts, he spiked the ball after time expired. It was a dumb play by a veteran quarterback under pressure. Wilson should have known that it takes about 3 seconds to spike the ball rather than throw a pass after the official starts the clock. Wilson will have to learn that lesson in the pros as his career at Wisconsin is over.

Both teams won their respective conferences’ first-ever league title games to earn the right to play in the BCS Rose Bowl. Oregon defeated a crummy UCLA team for the Pacific 12 Conference championship because Southern California could not play a bowl game this year due to NCAA sanctions. Wisconsin beat Michigan State for the Big Ten Conference title.

Oregon (12-2), favored by 6, won by 7 over Wisconsin (11-3), to cover the betting line.

Capital One Bowl:

Steve Spurrier and His Gamecocks Dump Bo (I Like to Whine) Pelini and His Nebraska Cornhuskers on Their Butt, 30-13

Steve Spurrier is building a winner at South Carolina. Despite kicking his star quarterback (Stephen Garcia) off the team, losing his star running back (Marcus Lattimore) to a season-ending injury, and undergoing an NCAA investigation for improper benefits, Spurrier and his Gamecocks kicked the snot out Nebraska, 30-13, when it counted.

They did it with Alshon Jeffery catching 4 passes for 148 yards and touchdown before getting ejected for fighting Nebraska cornerback Alfonso Dennard late in the 3rd quarter. Jeffery was called for a personal foul penalty, and then let Dennard know that he was damn serious by trading punches with him. It was only a few weeks ago that Jeffrey had surgery on his hand for an injury he received in the regular season’s final game.

Connor Shaw, who took over for Garcia after Spurrier had had enough and drop-kicked Garcia off the team, came up big when it counted, passing for 2 scores and rushing to another. He was 11-for-17 (65%) for 230 yards.

Nebraska coach Bo Pelini was running his mouth after the game about how his team was better than South Carolina–this is why a lot of people think Pelini is a jerk. We are not sure what game Pelini was watching since South Carolina had more offensive yards, was better on 3rd down, better on 4th down, did not turn the ball over, had fewer penalties for less yards, and won the frickin’ game by a 17-point margin.

Word on the street was that Bo Pelini returned to Nebraska as the same classless jerk as when he arrived at the Capital One Bowl.

How sweet was the victory for Spurrier and his Gamecocks? I’m glad you asked. It was this sweet: the 2011 South Carolina team was the first in Gamecock history to win 11 games in a season.

South Carolina (11-2 and ranked 10th), favored by 3, won by 17 over Nebraska (9-4 and ranked 21st), covering the betting line.

Outback Bowl:

In the 3rd Overtime, Georgia’s Blair Walsh Misses Critical Field Goal, and Michigan State’s Dan Conroy Does Not, and the Spartans Upset the Bulldogs, 33-30, to Win Their 11th Game for the Second Straight Season

Every team with double-digit victories needs a good place-kicker to show up when the crucial kick in an important bowl game needs to happen to win. Michigan State had one in the Outback Bowl and Georgia did not, so the Spartans ended up beating the Bulldogs, 33-30, during the 3rd overtime period.

Down a touchdown with less than 2 minutes left to play and 85 yards to go in regulation time, senior Kirk Cousins led his best drive of the day, and 10 plays later Michigan State’s power back Le’Veon Bell scored his 2nd touchdown of the day on a 1-yard run to tie it up at 27-all with 14 seconds left, sending the game into overtime.

Neither team scored in the 1st overtime that set the stage for a huge misfire by Georgia’s Blair Walsh, who missed a 42-yard field goal attempt that could have won the game for the Bulldogs. Walsh became the Southeastern Conference’s career scoring leader (412 points) with a 47-yard field goal in the 2nd overtime, matching a 35-yarder by Dan Conroy of the Spartans.

Conroy made a 28-yard field goal as Michigan State took the lead in the 3rd overtime. Blair was not so fortunate, his 47-yard attempt was blocked by Spartan defensive tackle Anthony Rashad White on the final play of the game.

Kirk Cousins was not at his best, completing 27 of 50 passes (a very subpar 54%) for 300 yards while throwing 3 interceptions. Cousins did leave Michigan State as the winningest quarterback in school history with 27 victories as a starter, and the 37 wins for the outgoing senior class was a school record as well.

Spartan receiver Brian Linthicum did much better, catching 7 passes for 115 yards (16.4 YPC) and a critical 2-point conversion.

Michigan State was terrible in the first half as the Bulldogs held them to only 2 first downs and just 72 yards of total offense while taking a 16-0 lead. The Spartans were really stinking up the field, and boosters were wondering if they were going to see a repeat of last year, when Michigan State was beat 49-7 by Alabama in the Capital One Bowl.

The win ended a 5-game losing streak for Michigan State and 4-game losing streak for coach Mark Dantonio. Maybe Dantonio got excited enough to smack some players up side the head with a 2X4. In any event, the Spartans outscored Georgia 27-11 to tie it up and win in overtime.

Dantonio put his spin on the game, saying it was a “big win against a great football team, against an SEC team, against a team that won their division and that was 10-2 in the regular season . . . There’s not a football team that we cannot play with and not win against. We’ve done that.”

Then Dantonio added this: “Two 11-win seasons. There’s not too many football teams in the country that are saying that right now. I would think that this, hopefully, helps solidify a top 10 ranking in this year’s final polls.” Give Dantonio some props–he got ripped a new one against Alabama last year, and ended up on top this year.

Georgia’s Mr. Everything–Brandon Boykin–was everywhere making great plays in the Bulldogs losing effort. Boykin was there when Michigan State started the game in fit of ineptitude. Boykin tackled Keshawn Martin in the end zone for a safety on Michigan State’s first offensive play, converging on the receiver at almost the same time as Cousins’ side screen.

This made Martin look bad when it was one of the most awful calls–considering the Spartans were all but on their goal line to start the game–ever made by an offensive coordinator that I have seen in more than 50 years of watching college football. The Spartans had a power back–Le’Veon Bell–and were damn lucky to get smart enough to use him to tie the game up in regulation time.

Why Bell was not used more in the game was beyond me. Cousins was so bad throwing that he could have easily lost the game for Michigan State.

Back to Boykin. After getting the safety for Georgia, he returned a punt 92 yards for a lights-out touchdown, and caught a 13-yard touchdown pass that helped the Bulldogs take a late lead that one of the nation’s stingiest defenses could not protect down the stretch, but only because their field goal kicker missed when he could have converted in overtime.

Both teams entered the game coming off losses in their conference championship games. Michigan State won the Legends Division title and then lost the Big Ten title to Wisconsin, 42-39. Wisconsin went on to lose 45-38 to Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Georgia won the East Division title and then lost the Southeastern Conference title to Louisiana State, 42-10.

Michigan State (11-3 and ranked 12th), a 3.5-point dog, beat Georgia (10-4 and ranked 18th), by 3, and you have to believe Michigan State fans and boosters who laid money on the Spartans were happy, as well they should be.

Gator Bowl:

Florida’s Gators Use Their Speed, Defense and Special Teams Play to Dump Ohio State, 24-17

First-year coach Will Muschamp and his Florida Gators used their defense and special teams play to beat Ohio State, 24-17. Six sacks, a 99-yard kickoff return for a score by Andre Debose, and a blocked punt by Chris Rainey that was returned for another score did the trick. Florida simply had much more speed than the Buckeyes.

Some Florida players took out their frustration at Urban Meyer in the game. Meyer left Florida and now is the new head coach who will start at Ohio State in the fall. Muschamp was the former defensive coordinator at Texas before replacing Meyer.

The win helped the Gators (7-6) avoid their first losing season since 1979, and Ohio State (6-7) finished below .500 for the first time since 1988. Both of these big time football programs were a shadow this year of what they have been in recent years.

Florida, favored by 2, won by 7 over Ohio State, to cover the betting line.

TicketCity Bowl:

Case Keenum Passes for 532 Yards and 3 Touchdowns as Houston Rolls Past Penn State, 30-14

Case Keenum and his Cougars earned Houston’s first ever 13-win season by showing Penn State’s best nothing but taillights in the TicketCity Bowl, rolling up 532 yards passing and 3 touchdowns by Keenum to beat the Nittany Lions, 30-14. Keenum’s quick release and Houston’s no-huddle attack left the Nittany Lions in the dust.

Penn State had no chance in this one. The 24th-ranked Nittany Lions, who were giving up 162 passing yards per game, were torched by Cougar QB Keenum, who threw for more than double that by halftime. Keenum finished the day by completing 45 of 69 passes (65%), 2 fewer attempts than the number of offensive plays run by Penn State.

Houston was ranked 20th coming into game, and would have been ranked higher but was upset 49-28 by Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA title game.

Longtime Penn State coach Joe Paterno was axed during the season amid mounting criticism that school leaders should have done more to prevent the shocking abuse allegations against retired assistant Jerry Sandusky.

Houston (13-1), favored by 6, won by 16 over Penn State (9-4) to cover the betting line.

Chick-fil-A Bowl:

Despite Losing Newton and Dyer, and Its Defensive Coordinator, Auburn Tops Virginia Behind the Running of Onterio McCalebb, 43-24

When Auburn went undefeated at 14-0 last year and won the national championship, but lost its star quarterback, leader and Heisman Trophy-winner Cam Newton to the NFL, people wondered how Auburn would do this season.

When Auburn went 7-5 in the regular season, absorbing tough losses to LSU, Georgia and Alabama, and then losing star running back Mike Dyer, who was suspended for an undisclosed rules violation, people wondered how Auburn would do in its bowl game against Virginia. After the Alabama loss, defensive coordinator Ted Roof also left for the same position at Central Florida.

The solution for Auburn turned out to be Onterio McCalebb, who decided to make a difference when he replaced Mike Dyer. McCalebb rushed for 109 yards on 10 carries (10.9 YPC) and scored a touchdown to lead Auburn over Virginia, 43-24. The Tiger defense blocked 2 punts and recovered an onside kick.

Auburn piled up 273 yards against Virginia, and needed to when starting QB Clint Moseley limped off the field with an injured right ankle after Auburn’s second possession. He did not return, and was replaced by Barrett Trotter, who passed for 175 yards and a touchdown while sharing time with Kiehl Frazier, who added 2 rushing touchdowns.

The 43-point output was Auburn’s highest of the year for offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who will take over as head coach at Arkansas State next season. As offensive coordinator when Auburn won the national title last year, Malzahn won the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in college football.

Auburn (8-5), favored by 1.5, won by 19 over Virginia (also 8-5).

Liberty Bowl:

Isaiah Pead Gains 149 Yards to Lead Underdog Cincinnati’s 31-24 Upset Victory Over Vanderbilt

Isaiah Pead ran for 149 yards and a touchdown, and Ralph David Abernathy IV (that’s his name, folks) returned a kickoff 90 yards to score early in the 4th quarter to put Cincinnati ahead to stay as the Bearcats edged Vanderbilt, 31-24. Pead became the game’s MVP.

The Vandy Commodores led 21-17 when Abernathy became the first Cincinnati player to return a kickoff for a TD in the program’s 13 bowl appearances. In an example of making the most of your opportunity, Cincy’s George Winn scored on a 69-yard run when he replaced Pead, while the Big East Offensive Player of the Year fixed a broken chin strap.

Cincinnati (10-3), a 3-point dog coming in, won by 7 over Vanderbilt (6-7)—the oddsmakers really blew this call. Cincinnati was the co-Big East Conference champions, and Vanderbilt finished in a tie for 4th in the SEC’s East Division.

Fight Hunger Bowl:

In a Battle of Two Mediocre 6-6 Teams, Illinois Gets By UCLA, 20-14, After Both Coaches Are Fired Before the Bowl Game Begins

Wow, what a mess the Fight Hunger Bowl was—two stinking, mediocre teams, so bad that both coaches were fired before the season ended. In this setting, Illinois topped UCLA 20-14 with no highlights worth mentioning. In essence, Illinois was a fraud and UCLA was just plain, stinking bad.

Illinois started its season with 6 straight wins against inferior competition, then promptly lost to Ohio State, Purdue, Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and then fired coach Ron Zook. Interim coach Vic Koenning won for Illinois. New coach Tim Beckman starts next season.

UCLA was bipolar, going through stretches of lose-win, lose-win, lose-win, lose-win and lose-win. No wonder coach Rick Neuheisel’s head was spinning faster than Daiwa fishing reel. Then his UCLA Bruins got to the Pacific 12 championship game with a mediocre 6-6 record because Southern California was ineligible due to NCAA sanctions for wrong-doing. Oregon promptly hammered them, 49-31, despite a Bruin effort to show better. Neuheisel, in his dream job as a UCLA grad and former Rose Bowl-winning Bruin quarterback, was let go.

Interim coach Mike Johnson lost for UCLA against Illinois. New coach Tim Beckman starts next season. Illinois (7-6), favored by 3 over UCLA (6-8), won by 6. At least the Illini fans and boosters who bet on the game got paid.

Sun Bowl:

Utah Ties Game on a Last Ditch, 4th-and-14 Play, and Then Beats Georgia Tech in Overtime, 30-27, on John White’s 8-Yard Power Run

Utah was down 24-10 at one point, but a 28-yard scoring pass from Jon Hays to DeVonte Christopher on a 4th-and-14 play with 1:32 left tied the game with Georgia Tech at 24-all. Georgia Tech would get a field goal lead in overtime, but John White’s 8-yard power run sealed the victory for Utah as the Utes downed the Yellow Jackets, 30-27.

Georgia Tech drove to the Utah 31 with 2 seconds left in regulation time, but missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt as time expired, sending the Sun Bowl into overtime for the first time in its 77-year history.

John While would finish with 115 yards on 26 carries (4.4 YPC) and the winning touchdown in OT. QB Jon Hayes went 15-for-31 (48%) for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns. Preston Lyons had 138 yards rushing on 18 carries (7.7 YPC) and one score for Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech lost its 7th straight bowl appearance (ouch), and Utah improved to 7-1 in bowl games under coach Kyle Whittingham. Georgia Tech (8-5) was favored by 3.5 and lost by 3 to Utah (also 8-5).

Meineke Car Care Bowl:

Texas A&M Gets Its Game On to Hammer Northwestern, 33-22, and Honor Fired Coach Mike Sherman and Joey Villavisencio, Who Was Killed in a Car Accident

Let there by no doubt. Despite losing its last 5 bowl games, the Texas A&M Aggies got their game on to blast past Northwestern, 33-22, and honor fired coach Mike Sherman and Joey Villavisencio, who was killed in a tragic car accident a week before the game.

When Sherman got the axe, interim coach Tim DeRuyter wondered how the Aggies would respond to the adversity and a disappointing 6-6 regular season performance. He is no longer wondering, and now is on his way to become head coach at Fresno State. The Aggies hired former Houston coach Kevin Smith to take over for Sherman, but he wasn’t involved in the bowl game preparations.

Texas A&M got its winning boost from Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 329 yards and a touchdown, and Ben Malena, who ran for 2 more scores. After falling behind 7-3, the Aggies reeled off 27 straight points to take control of game.

Texas A&M (7-6), favored by 10, beat Northwestern (6-7) by 11 and made its loyal fans and boosters happy.

Insight Bowl:

Oklahoma Closes Out Its Disappointing Year With a Crappy 31-14 Win Over Iowa

Oklahoma, ranked #1 in the preseason, did not look good while beating Iowa, 31-14, in the Insight Bowl to end its season ranked 19th with a 10-3 record and poor performances from QB Landry Jones its rushing offense.

Iowa fell behind 21-zip after the 3rd quarter, but rallied for two touchdowns in the last quarter as the Sooners let up. Coach Bob Stoops thought his team played an “excellent” game—no one was sure what game Stoops was watching after making that comment.

Oklahoma’s chances of a national title run took a major hit with the injury of All-American receiver Ryan Broyles (a torn ACL) and two critical losses in its final 3 games, including a 44-10 rout by rival Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship game. At Oklahoma, that’s called unacceptable. Every team has injuries to key players, but the loss of Broyles shows the lack of Sooner depth to make up the loss.

Oklahoma (10-3), favored by 14 in this mismatch (the biggest line of the bowl season), won by 17 over Iowa (7-6).

As a sign of Iowa’s season, an overhead camera crashed to the field during the closing minutes, just missing receiver Marvin McNutt, tangling him in the wire but not injuring him. The game was delayed 5 minutes for clean-up. It was as if Oklahoma’s enthusiasm was stifled once again in a disappointing season for the Sooners as well.

Music City Bowl:

Running Back Vick Ballard and the Mississippi State Defense Lead the Bulldogs Over Wake Forest, 23-17

The formula is as old as football—run the ball, play defense and win. Mississippi State did it to perfection as Vick Ballard picked up 180 yards on 14 carries (12.9 YPC) and scored twice, and the Bulldog defense racked up 6 sacks and successfully defended at the crucial moment to defeat Wake Forest, 23-17.

Ballard scored his touchdowns on 60-yard and 72-yard runs. The win was Mississippi State’s 5th straight in bowl-game action, and 2nd straight for coach Dan Mullen. You remember Dan Mullen, he’s the guy who has tutored several notable players, including quarterbacks Alex Smith at Utah, Josh Harris at Bowling Green, Chris Lead at Florida and Heisman Trophy-winner Tim Tebow at Florida, before becoming a head coach for the first time at Mississippi State.
Mississippi State (7-6), favored by 7, won by 6 and did not cover over Wake Forest (6-7).

Pinstripe Bowl:

Two Redshirt Freshmen Lead Rutgers Past Iowa State, 27-13, as Eric LeGrand Watches His Teammates Win One for Him

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights won one for Eric LeGrand, beating Iowa State 27-13 behind a couple of redshirt freshmen—Brandon Coleman (who hauled in an 86-yard touchdown pass in the 4th quarter), and Jawan Jamison (who ran for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns).

Eric LeGrand was watching the game from the press box, in a wheelchair after being paralyzed making a tackle for Rutgers more than a year ago. He is still very much part of the Rutgers football program, and is a positive presence and motivator in the Scarlet Knight locker room.

Armed Forces Bowl:

Fake Spike and Scoring Throw With 11 Seconds Left Gives Brigham Young a 24-21 Victory Over Tulsa

The call from coach Bronco Mendenhall was spike the ball to stop the clock, but Brigham Young quarterback had a better idea—he faked the spike and then threw his 3rd touchdown pass to Cody Hoffman with 11 seconds left to give the Cougars a 24-21 victory over Tulsa. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane players were totally surprised, and not ready to defend; it cost them the game.

Hoffman ended the game with 8 catches for 122 yards (15.2 YPC) and 3 touchdowns. To add insult to the wound of his game-winning catch, the Cougars had not practiced the “fake spike and throw” play for 2 months.

The win by Brigham Young gave the Cougars their 5th 10-win year in the last 7 seasons during coach Mendenhall’s tenure. During the recent game of musical chairs being played by teams changing conferences, Brigham Young opted to become a football independent this season after its departure from the Mountain West Conference.

Brigham Young (10-3), favored by 3, won by 3 over Tulsa (8-5) to create a push on the betting line.

Alamo Bowl:

In a Game for the History Books, Baylor Beats Washington, 67-56, as Both Teams Combine for 1,397 Yards of Offense, and Exactly Zero Defense

In the end, it looked like more points were scored at this year’s Alamo Bowl than shots fired in defense of the Alamo, but unlike the tragedy at the Alamo, this year’s event was far more exciting in a positive way despite the total lack of defense by both teams involved.

For the record, 15th-ranked Baylor (10-3) beat Washington (7-6), 67-56.

The 123 points scored was the highest-scoring regulation bowl game in history, breaking the record of 102 scored by Marshall and East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.

The 1,397 yards of offense by Baylor (777) and Washington (620) also set the bowl game record.

Among the highlights:

Baylor scored 21 points in the 1st quarter, Washington scored 28 in the 2nd, and Baylor scored 29 in the 3rd quarter. Five plays covered 50 or more yards, and 3 were scores—an 80-yard pass from Keith Price to Jermaine Kearse for Washington, an 89-yard run by Terrance Ganaway for Baylor, and a 56-yard run by Chris Polk for Washington.

Baylor would have three 100-yard rushers—Terrance Ganaway got 200 yards on 21 carries (9.52 YPC) and scored 5 touchdowns, Jarred Salubi got 101 yards on 5 carries (20.2 YPC), and Tevin Reese picked up 101 yards on 2 carries (55.5 YPC). Washington’s Chris Polk gained 147 yards on 30 carries (4.9 YPC).

Washington’s sophomore quarterback—Keith Price—actually outplayed Robert Griffin III, Baylor’s all-world quarterback and this year’s Heisman Trophy winner as the Most Outstanding College Player.

RG 3 (not R2-D2), as the Baylor nation calls its Heisman winner, went 24-of-33 (72%) for 295 yards with 1 passing TD and 1 rushing TD.

Price was 23-of-37 (62%) for 438 yards with 4 passing touchdowns (including an 80-yarder), and 3 rushing touchdowns of 5, 8 and 15 yards. Price had a hand in 7 scoring touchdowns for Washington, which put 56 points on Baylor and still lost the game—an indictment of the Huskies pathetic defense, which was ranked 94th among 120 teams coming into the Holiday Bowl.

You can say that Baylor averaged 571 yards a game in the regular season, and NO ONE could stop the Bears offensive machine. And that’s true, as Baylor ranked 2nd in the nation in total offense.

How could Washington score 56 points and lose? Well, that’s an easy answer. What is overlooked about Baylor is its absolutely pathetic defense. Washington was ranked 94th, the Bears were ranked 114th among 120 teams. In other words, both teams had defenses that weren’t worth horseshit in a barnyard.

Knowing this does take some of the luster off of the exciting Holiday Bowl action, which at times looked like a gym-rat, run-and-dunk basketball game.

I gotta be honest. When Baylor went up 21-7 I figured the game was over for Washington. I switched the tube to another channel. When I came back to the game, Washington led 35-21 and I couldn’t believe my eyes. But, true to form, the better team did win in the end, 67-56, in a great offensive show with absolutely no defense worth mentioning.

So Baylor (10-3) was favored by 9 and won by 11 over Washington (7-6). I will say this: Baylor did not look like the 15th best team in the country in the Holiday Bowl, and Washington did not look like the 40th best team in the country.

Washington did play 4 ranked teams during the season and lost big time to each of them—Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon and Southern California. The Huskies held their own against Baylor, despite their 10-3 record.

I leave you with this obscure fact: How many teams with 8 wins or more in the regular season played a tougher schedule than the 24th-ranked Washington Huskies? Would you believe ONLY 7? They were LSU (17th), Alabama (22nd), Oklahoma State (6th), Oklahoma (5th), Baylor (7th), Southern California (20th) and Kansas State (10th).

Is Washington a team to watch next year? You figure it out, you’re bright enough.

Champs Sports Bowl:

Notre Dame Scores the First 14, Florida State Scores the Next 18 and Beats the Irish, 18-14

Notre Dame blew a 14-point lead, allowing Florida State to score the next 18 points in the game as the Seminoles put the Irish in their place, 18-14, to win the Champs Sports Bowl.

Timeout: About the Champs Sports Bowl name—seriously, a 4th grade sports fan could come up with a better name. They should have a contest to rename this bowl next year. The only worse name for a bowl game this year was the Belk Bowl—even if the name of that one was the Macy’s Bowl or Nordstrom Bowl, it still wouldn’t fit. This is a sports event, not a fashion show.

The Seminoles used a pair of touchdown passes from E. J. Manuel and two field goals from Dustin Hopkins to earn their 4th straight bowl win. Notre Dame held Florida State to 18 yards of total offense in the 1st half, and injuries forced the Seminoles to play 4 freshmen on their defensive line, which gave up 5 sacks. That said, Florida State’s defense got 3 picks and 4 sacks.

Brian Kelly, flush from success at Cincinnati when he arrived as head coach at Notre Dame, just cannot seem to get the Irish back to a national rep quickly. Kelly went 8-5 his first year and is stuck there again this year. Florida State (9-4) was favored by 3 and won by 4. The Seminoles were ranked 25th coming into the game.

Holiday Bowl:

Ho Hum Game Finds Texas Besting California, 21-10, With the Longhorn Defense Showing Best

The Bear may be Golden, but he appears to be no match against a Longhorn. The Texas Longhorns had 5 takeaways and 6 sacks against the California Golden Bears to win, 21-10. California is winless in 5 games against Texas dating to 1959, a 52-year drought.

The game itself may have been the most dull of the bowl season, deserving no offensive highlights. Texas (8-5) was favored by 3 and beat California (7-6) by 11. Texas was modest at best, with apparently much to be modest about. California was, California—the Bears get beat almost every year late in the season and, without much encouragement, have raised losing to an art form.

Military Bowl:

Air Force Ties the Game With 52 Seconds Left, and Then Botches a 2-Point Conversion as Toledo Wins By One, 42-41

In a game that matched 2 of the Top 25 scoring teams in the country, Toledo beat Air Force 42-41 when the Falcons were able to draw within a point of tie with 52 seconds left to play and then botched a 2-point conversion and lost.

Air Force had already scored 3 fourth-down touchdowns this year, and Matt Campbell, Toledo’s 32-year-old coach, and his staff had their team ready to make the stop when holder David Baska got bottled up trying to run the option. The ball squirted toward kicker Parker Herrington, who chased it until it went out of bounds in the end zone, giving Toledo its first bowl win since 2005.

Bernard Reedy’s 3rd touchdown of the game—a 37-yard catch, spin and run on a pass from Terrance Owens—gave the Rockets a 42-35 lead with 5:01 remaining. Reedy had 4 receptions for 126 yards (31.5 YPC) and 3 touchdowns. Owens, filling in for Austin Dantin who was out with a concussion, completed 19-of-24 passes (79%) for 210 yards and 3 TDs.

In the end, Air Force (7-6) was game, but Toledo took the hardware home. The Rockets (9-4) were favored by 3 and won a point, and in football, that’s all it takes—the rest is window dressing. 

Belk Bowl:

North Carolina State’s Tom O’Brien Believed in Mike Glennon, Who Led the Wolfpack Past Louisville, 31-24

North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien took a lot of flak when he let star quarterback Russell Wilson loose and decided to go with unproven junior Mike Glennon. Wilson transferred to Wisconsin, giving the Badgers the star QB they needed to make a run at the national title.

Wilson did not disappoint. Wisconsin did not make it to the national championship game, but the Badgers will meet Oregon in the Rose Bowl. Now we know what O’Brien saw that Wolfpack fans and boosters did not.

Untested Mike Glennon went 21-of-33 (63%) for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead North Carolina State to a 31-24 victory over Louisville in the Belk Bowl, earning MVP honors in the process. O’Brien, nobody’s fool, ran his record to 8-2 in bowl games.

Don’t even ask me what a Belk is. OK, already, all right now—I Googled it. Apparently a Belk is a “leading retail department store”—it just is not a nationwide chain at the moment so a lot of folks (like me) would not have a clue. Maybe that’s why they sponsor a bowl game, to get better known. I will become more of a believer when they expand to the Pacific Northwest.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl:

Purdue Coach Danny Hope Opts for 2 Surprise Onside Kicks That Help Lift the Boilermakers Over Western Michigan, 37-32

Purdue coach Danny Hope threw caution to the wind by deciding to go for 2 surprise onside kicks in the first half and both gambles paid off for the Boilermakers in a 37-32 win against Western Michigan in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. Purdue kicker Carson Wiggs ran at full speed on both onside kick tries, but tapped the ball toward the sideline, recovering one of his kicks.

Raheem Mostert ran a kickoff back 99 yards to score, 3rd-string running back Reggie Pegram scored the first 2 touchdowns of his career, and Carson Wiggs made 2 field goals to give the Boilermakers a 27-15 halftime lead that they held. 

Western Michigan had a chance to go ahead, but Bronco QB Alex Carder fumbled for his 5th turnover of the game with just under 2 minutes left. The loss was Western Michigan’s 5th in postseason play without a win.

Purdue (7-6) was favored by 2 and won by 7 against Western Michigan (also 7-6), which had to make the Boilermaker boosters happy and richer.

Independence Bowl:

James Franklin Leads Missouri Past North Carolina, 41-24, in the Tigers Last Game in the Big 12 Conference

The Missouri Tigers made the most of their last game as a Big 12 Conference school, crushing the North Carolina Tar Heels, 41-24, in the Independence Bowl behind the rushing and passing of James Franklin.

Franklin, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound sophomore, ran for 142 yards in 18 carries (7.89 YPC) and scored twice on short runs, and went 15-of-23 (65%) through the air for 132 yards and a scoring pass.

Missouri (8-5), which led 31-10 at the half, was favored by 5 and won by 17 in a breeze. North Carolina’s Tar Heels (7-6) started its season at 5-1 and then lost 5 of their last 7 under interim coach Everett Withers, who leaves to become the defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer next year.

Missouri has now kissed the Big 12 goodbye and will play as a newcomer in the Southeastern Conference with the big boys next season. Let’s hope the Tigers are ready, because it they thought the Big 12 was tough, they have no idea what it is going to be like in the SEC.     

Hawaii Bowl:

Southern Mississippi Joins an Elite Group of Teams With 12 Wins by Stopping Nevada’s  Potent Pistol Attack, 24-17

If you had anything to do with the 22nd-ranked Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles at the Hawaii Bowl, you should have gone home happy for 7 reasons.

First, the SM signal-caller Austin Davis was anything but outstanding during the game, but got it together with the score tied at 17 on the game-winning drive, finding Kelvin Bolden in the end zone for a 4-yard score that gave the Golden Eagles a 24-17 victory over Nevada.

Second, the win followed an upset victory over then unbeaten Houston 49-28 to capture the Conference USA championship.

Third, the Hawaii Bowl win pushed the Golden Eagles record to 12-2 on the season, marking their first 12-win season ever, and their first 10-win season in 23 years (1988).

Fourth, coach Larry Fedora goes out a winner in his final game. He leaves SM after 4 years, taking a step up to become the new head coach at North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Fifth, the Golden Eagle defense got it together in the 2nd half as well. Nevada’s Lampford Mark, the key to the Wolf Pack’s potent pistol attack, gained 183 yards rushing on 29 carries (6.31 YPC) and scored 2 touchdowns, BUT was held to just 21 yards and no scores in the 2nd half.

Sixth, when Tray Becton-Martin recovered a fumble in the end zone following a blocked punt by Tim Green, he became the 25th different player to score for the Golden Eagles this season, an NCAA leading-statistic for a score by the most players on a team.

Seventh, boosters went home happy. Southern Mississippi (12-2), was favored by 6.5 and won by 7 over Nevada (7-6).

Maaco Las Vegas Bowl:

Boise State Destroys Arizona State, 56-24, as Kellen Moore Sets the NCAA Record for Wins by a Quarterback

It was seniors day for the Boise State Broncos at the Maaco Las Vegas Bowl against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Broncos (12-1) led 28-3 at the half and won 56-24. They were favored by 14 and won by 32 as the Sun Devils (6-7) looked as bad as they are.

Running back Doug Martin returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and then rushed for 151 yards on 31 carries (4.9 yards per carry) and scored another touchdown. Quarterback Kellen Moore went 26-of-34 (76%) for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The win—his 50th—gave Kellen Moore the NCAA record for wins by a quarterback. If you are wondering, Colt McCoy of Texas had 45, and both David Greene of Georgia and Andy Dalton of TCU had 42.

Boise State finished 7th in the BCS standings, but wasn’t invited to one of its big-money bowl games. Entering the bowl game, Moore was completing 74% of his passes, racking up 3,507 yards and 41 touchdowns with just 7 interceptions. 

Poinsettia Bowl:

Two 4th Quarter Touchdowns Lift Texas Christian Over Lousisiana Tech, 31-24, as Casey Pachall Sets Records

Things did not look good for TCU when Louisiana Tech converted 2 Horned Frog turnovers into touchdowns to take a 24-17 lead after 3 quarters in the Poinsettia Bowl. So the Horned Frogs went to work and showed why they were a 10.5-point favorite and ranked #16 in the AP Top 25 Poll.

They held Louisiana Tech scoreless in the 4th quarter while scoring twice to win, 31-24. Casey Pachall found Skye Dawson on a 42-yard TD with 4:26 remaining to seal the victory. TCU (11-2), favored by 10.5, won by 7 over Louisiana Tech (8-5).

It was a big night for Pachall. He picked up a bowl game victory, and set school single-season records for completions (228), yards (2,921) and completion percentage (66.5), breaking marks previously held by Andy Dalton. You remember Andy Dalton, he’s now playing for the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL.

The win was the 8th straight for Mountain West Champion TCU Horned Frogs, who will move to the Big 12 next year. The Poinsettia Bowl victory marked the 3rd time this season that TCU has come from behind in the last quarter to win, including a 36-35 victory at Boise State, the Broncos’ only regular season loss.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl:

Freshman QB Leads Marshall’s Thundering Herd to a 20-10 Upset Win Over Florida International

A freshman quarterback and a blocked punt was all it took for Marshall to upset Florida International 20-10 in the Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl.

A 10-10 halftime tie was snapped with 5:16 left in the game when Tyler Warner’s 39-yard field goal followed a blocked punt by Zach Dunston that put the Thundering Herd up 13-10.

Freshman QB Rakeem Cato would later find Aaron Dobson on a 35-yard scoring pass to seal the victory, bringing Marshall’s 1-A bowl record to 7-2. Cato was 27-of-39 (69%) for 226 yards and another 31-yard scoring toss to Dobson.

Florida International (8-5), favored by 4, lost by 10. Marshall ‘s Thundering Herd (7-6) overcame a slow start to win 5 of their last 7 games and avoid a losing season in their second season under coach Doc Holliday.

New Orleans Bowl:

Last Second 50-Yard Field Goal Lifts Louisiana-Lafayette Over Favored San Diego State, 32-30

Let’s talk redemption—Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer, who missed 2 extra point attempts during the game, nailed a 50-yard field goal as time ran out, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a dramatic 32-30 win over San Diego State in the New Orleans Bowl.

San Diego State had taken a 30-29 lead by scoring with 35 seconds left, and Brett Baer’s last ditch, 55-yard first attempt in the next series was no good when the Aztecs got caught on a pre-snap penalty trying to bait the Cajuns into a false start. The penalty moved Bear 5 yards closer, and he did not miss on his second attempt to win the game.

The kick became important because Cajun quarterback Blaine Gautier had a record-setting day, going 24-for-40 (60%) for 470 yards and 3 touchdowns, and receiver Javone Lawson caught 9 passes for 193 yards (21+ YPC) and 2 touchdowns. Gautier finished the season with 2,958 yards passing and 23 TDs, breaking Jake Delhomme’s single-season school records.

First-year coach Mark Hudspeth was ecstatic with the victory as the Cajuns were playing their first bowl game with the big boys as a Division 1 FBS team. Their last bowl game was 41 years ago. LA-Lafayette fans came out in droves, setting a New Orleans Bowl attendance record of 42,800+.

San Diego State (8-4), a 4.5 point favorite, lost by 2. LA-Lafayette finished at 9-4.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:

Ohio’s Bobcats Nip Utah State 24-23 in the Last 13 Seconds to Win Their First Ever Bowl Victory

What a difference a second makes. With 14 seconds left, the Utah State Aggies led 23-17 in the Potato Bowl. With 13 seconds left, their game against Ohio was tied at 23. When Bobcat Matt Weller’s extra point cleared the uprights, Ohio won its first ever bowl victory, and notched its first 10-win season in 43 years (1968).

Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton led the Bobcats final drive, and scored on a 1-yard run. Tettleton went 19-for-26 (73%) for 220 yards and 2 touchdowns. Utah State had more offense (441 to 345 yards) and a whopping 345 yards rushing to match Ohio’s total output, but Ohio showed why the Bobcats are 10-4 on the season and Utah State is 7-6. Utah State, favored by 2, lost by 1.

New Mexico Bowl:

Temple Uses Rushing Offense and Meddling Defense to Rout Wyoming, 37-15

The Temple Owls, who apparently sleep at night with one eye open, picked off Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith 3 times. And the Wyoming Cowboy defense could not stop Temple’s rushing attack as the Owls piled up 255 yards to beat Wyoming, 37-15, in the New Mexico Bowl, the year’s first bowl game.

The Owl defense held the Cowboy offense to 267 total yards. Temple (9-4), favored by 7, beat Wyoming (8-5) by 22, so you have to believe that Temple boosters were happy with the victory, and the payday.


2011 Bowl Game Schedule

Copyright © 2011 Ed Bagley

You are bright enough. You figure it out. There are 120 major college football teams, and 35 bowl games this year. That means 70 teams will play in bowl games, 13 of which DO NOT even have winning records.

That’s right. Marshall, Arizona State, Purdue, Iowa State, Wake Forest, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Illinois, Ohio State, Florida and Pittsburgh all have 6-6 regular season marks. Not to mention the UCLA Bruins, who have a losing 6-7 record.

It used to be that you could not go to a bowl game if you did not have a winning record (at least 7 wins in 12 games). But greed spawned so many bowl games that there were not enough teams with winning records, so the NCAA standard was lowered to just 6 wins.

The result has been far too many bowl games, and too many mediocre bowl games.

I will be watching exactly 5 bowl games from start to finish—Washington and Baylor, Michigan State and Georgia, Oregon and Wisconsin, Oklahoma State and Stanford, and LSU and Alabama.

If Michigan State is out of it after the first half against Georgia, I will turn off the game.

That said, here is the 2011 Bowl Game Schedule:

Saturday, December 17:

Wyoming (8-4) and Temple (8-4) in the New Mexico Bowl with Temple favored by 7.

Utah State (7-5) and Ohio (9-4) in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl with Utah State favored by 2.

Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) and San Diego State (8-4) in the New Orleans Bowl with San Diego State favored by 4.5.

Tuesday, December 20:

Marshall (6-6) and Florida International (8-4) in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl with Florida International favored by 4.

Wednesday, December 21:

Texas Christian (10-2) and Louisiana Tech (8-4) in the Poinsettia Bowl with TCU favored by 10.5.

Thursday, December 22:

Boise State (11-1) and Arizona State (6-6) in the Maaco Bowl with Boise State favored by 14.

Saturday, December 24, Christmas Eve:

Southern Mississippi (11-2) and Nevada (7-5) in the Hawaii Bowl with Southern Mississippi favored by 6.5.

Monday, December 26:

North Carolina (7-5) and Missouri (7-5) in the Independence Bowl with Missouri favored by 5.

Tuesday, December 27:

Western Michigan (7-5) and Purdue (6-6) in the Little Caesars Bowl with Purdue favored by 2.

North Carolina State (7-5) and Louisville (7-5) in the Belk Bowl with North Carolina State favored by 3.

Wednesday, December 28:

Air Force (7-5) and Toledo (8-4) in the Military Bowl with Air Force favored by 3.

California (7-5) and Texas (7-5) in the Holiday Bowl with Texas favored by 3.

Thursday, December 29:

Florida State (8-4) and Notre Dame (8-4) in the Champs Sports Bowl with Florida State favored by 3.

Washington (7-5) and Baylor (9-3) in the Alamo Bowl with Baylor favored by 9.

Friday, December 30:

Brigham Young (9-3) and Tulsa (8-4) in the Armed Forces Bowl with Brigham Young favored by 3.

Rutgers (8-4) and Iowa State (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl with Rutgers favored by 2.

Wake Forest (6-6) and Mississippi State (6-6) in the Music City Bowl with Mississippi State favored by 7.

Oklahoma (9-3) and Iowa (7-5) in the Insight Bowl with Oklahoma favored by 14.

Saturday, December 31, New Year’s Eve:

Texas A&M (6-6) and Northwestern (6-6) in the Meineke Car Care Bowl with Texas A&M favored by 10.

Utah (7-5) and Georgia Tech (8-4) in the Sun Bowl with Georgia Tech favored by 3.5

Cincinnati (9-3) and Vanderbilt (6-6) in the Liberty Bowl with Vanderbilt favored by 3.

UCLA (6-7) and Illinois (6-6) in the Fight Hunger Bowl with Illinois favored by 3.

Virginia (8-4) and Auburn (7-5) in the Chick-fil-A Bowl with Auburn favored by 1.5.

Monday, January 2:

Houston (12-1) and Penn State (9-3) in the TicketCity Bowl with Houston favored by 6.

Michigan State (10-3) and Georgia (10-3) in the Outback Bowl with Georgia favored by 3.

Nebraska (9-3) and South Carolina (10-2) in the Capital One Bowl with South Carolina favored by 3.

Ohio State (6-6) and Florida (6-6) in the Gator Bowl with Florida favored by 2.

Oregon (11-2) and Wisconsin (11-2) in the Rose Bowl with Oregon favored by 6.

Oklahoma State (11-1) and Stanford (11-1) in the Fiesta Bowl with Oklahoma State favored by 3.5.

Tuesday, January 3:

Michigan (10-2) and Virginia Tech (11-2) in the Sugar Bowl with Michigan favored by 3.

Wednesday, January 4:

Clemson (10-3) and West Virginia (9-3) in the Orange Bowl with Clemson favored by 3.5.

Friday, January 6:

Arkansas (10-2) and Kansas State (10-2) in the Cotton Bowl with Arkansas favored by 7.5.

Saturday, January 7:

Southern Methodist (7-5) and Pittsburgh (6-6) in the BBVA Compass Bowl with Pittsburgh favored by 4.5.

Sunday, January 8:

Arkansas State (10-2) and Northern Illinois (10-3) in the GoDaddy.com Bowl with Arkansas State favored by 1.5.

Monday, January 9, the National Championship Game:

Louisiana State (13-0) and Alabama (11-1) with the betting line even, the only 1 of 35 bowl games with the betting line even.

I will be covering all 35 bowl games, but I will only be watching 5 of them start to finish, and I will not watch the Michigan State game after halftime IF the Spartans are out of it at that point in time.


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