Wow, what an absolutely crazy set of bowl games. And when all is said and done, we have to say that the inaugural College Football Playoff has been a rousing success…so far. We have to see if the championship game will be a blowout or not but we were all fooled by at least one of the games.
Let’s start the recaps with the two Semi-finals-El-Fantasico:
Rose Bowl: Oregon 59 Florida State 20 – This was the one I figured would be close. And at halftime it still was. Then the third quarter hit and Super Mariota treated the FSU defenders like those shitty mushrooms in Super Mario Bros. (you know the ones I’m talking about? Yeah you do I know you do). Anyway, it was almost difficult to watch as another Seminole dream season came crashing to Earth in a dumpster fire of epic proportions. And of course, at the end of the game we get some actions from some very good citizens. First, a good portion of the Noles players simply left and refused to even shake hands. Then, some Ducks players put an interesting spin on the tomahawk chop chant in regards to Jameis Winston. So after that, every viewer was hoping for something better from the other semi.
Sugar Bowl: Ohio State 42 Alabama 35 – Hey if you picked tOSU to win this one (and didn’t go to school there) raise your hand. Dirty liars. I can guarantee hardly anyone picked the Buckeyes to win. Many said it might be close. I, for one, thought Bama would run roughshod over them. Early on it looked like that was going to be the case. But the Buckeyes dug deep. Cardale Jones looked like a bona fide Power Five starting quarterback, Ezekiel Elliott ran for 230, and Urban Meyer got to cancel that pizza order. And I hate to say this because I am not taking sides but it would be fitting, after the most insane college football season ever, for a Big Ten team to win the title. That happens and then Meyer-Harbaugh I becomes a MASSIVE prize fight late next season.
OK and now on to the rest of the bowl recaps:
Outback Bowl: Wisconsin 34 Auburn 31 (OT) – A great bowl game to begin New Year’s Day. It’s nice to have NYE/NYD be special again in college football. Melvin Gordon chasing Barry Sanders’ all-time single-season rushing record was something to behold (he didn’t quite make it but is now 2nd all-time). Joel Stave didn’t look too bad, especially when compared to Nick Marshall who looked positively average in this one. And of course the excitement came down to Wisconsin’s kicker Rafael Gaglianone kicking the game-tying and game-winning field goals and looking like the was going to sprint out of the stadium to the nearest Outback Steakhouse for all-you-can-eat coconut shrimp! Also, the Gatorade bath for Barry Alvarez at the end was a nice ending before the guy they wanted to hire two years ago and finally accepted the job recently starts actually coaching himself.
Citrus Bowl: Missouri 33 Minnesota 17 – This seemed forgotten among the New Year’s Day bowl schedule. And rightfully so. Not a very good game to be honest and seemed like a bit of an errorfest early on. With the other two bowls on at the same time, I am assuming this one didn’t have a lot of eyeballs viewing it.
Cotton Bowl: Michigan State 42 Baylor 41 – Good god what an amazing game. It didn’t look that way for about 48 minutes. Then the last 12 minutes happened and college football viewers, especially Baylor fans, were stunned. A 20-point comeback by Sparty in the last 12 minutes of the game, highlighted by a blocked field goal attempt that would have put the game away for the Bears. Actually the true highlight was the kicker getting SMOKED after the block. Amazing the kicker even got up from that. A great end to the New Year’s Six non-semifinal portion of the festivities.
Armed Forces Bowl: Houston 35 Pittsburgh 34 – That’s the best you could do Michigan State? How about what the Cougs did here. A 29-point fourth quarter and a 25-point comeback, best in bowl game history. This was beyond absurd and made the Cotton Bowl look pedestrian by comparison. Two onside kicks that squibbed through the legs of Pitt defenders followed by the UH offense all of a sudden becoming precision like and hitting every pass. Incredible game to watch in shitty weather in Fort Worth.
Taxslayer Bowl: Tennessee 45 Iowa 28 – Remember, Iowa scored 21 of those 28 points in the fourth quarter. So yeah, to say this one wasn’t close is a vast understatement. All I have got to say here is watch out for the Vols next season as they could be a beast in the usually-moribund SEC East.
Alamo Bowl: UCLA 40 Kansas State 35 – Almost another comeback in this one. This seemed to be the non-CFP, non-NYS bowl that most were looking forward to. And for about three quarters it didn’t really deliver. UCLA was dominating on all facets in this game. Then the Fighting Papa Snyders turned it on and came within one onside kick of getting a chance to win it. Again, another pretty crazy finish in a bowl season that had been chock full of them.
Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma State 30 Washington 22 – If any team limped into the bowls more than OSU, I would like to see it. This team STRUGGLED all season and had to upset the Sooners in Bedlam just to get to Tempe. But once they got here, they played solid, nothing spectacular, and showed that they may just move up the standings next year in the Big XII, however it looks. It does help that the Huskies looked pretty blah and lifeless for pretty much the whole game. Maybe Chris Petersen was jealous of what Boise State was doing.
Birmingham Bowl: Florida 28 East Carolina 20 – Another game in shitty weather. This one had the added touch of being in an absolute shithole of a stadium in Legion Field. What a dump. No upkeep for years and this is what you get. I have a feeling that this bowl will just fold as there is almost no way to convince two teams to come here next season, regardless of the history of the stadium. Oh yeah and another SEC East team won their bowl. How interesting…
GoDaddy Bowl: Toledo 63 Arkansas State 44 – I will be honest. By this point I am pretty bowl gamed out. Having bowl games after the CFP semi-finals kind of sucks unless there are multiple bowl games on that day. Jan. 2 wasn’t too bad. This one and the Birmingham Bowl, not so much. I even skipped the first quarter to finish watching Draft Day which wasn’t a bad movie I guess but it was a football movie so I felt obligated to watch it. Not like I missed much since I still got in more than a full game’s worth of offense in just three quarters. Why can’t Toledo be like this when playing inside the MAC?
OK so we have one game left. The big one. At JerryWorld. Oregon hoping to FINALLY win that National Championship they have been oh-so-close to before. Ohio State harkening back to the good days of Jim Tressel (not the bad Tattoogate parts) and hoping to redeem their season and an entire conference’s season in one fell swoop. Should be a good one. Next Monday at 8:30 on TSN1. Coverage starts at 8:00. Unlike the Super Bowl, we aren’t privy to the five-hour countdown show that will no doubt be crammed on all the ESPN networks.
And finally, a sad day in the sports world yesterday as Stuart Scott succumbed to cancer at the age of 49. Really, no one should have to die before their 50th birthday. It feels way too young for them to go. Love him or hate him, Scott brought an edge to broadcasting rarely seen before. Since we don’t get ESPN (still), my first true exposure to him was as host of Stump the Schwab. Remember that show? It was great. I’d say they should bring it back but The Schwab isn’t with The ESPN anymore so that isn’t happening. Anyway, Scott was different than most broadcasters when he arrived on the scene and was usually a joy to watch and listen to. Condolences to family and friends as the ESPN family has lost a good one. Rest in Peace Stuart.