God DAMN were there ever some epic bowl games. Through the first two bowl recaps I wondered if we were headed for a mediocre bowl season which would have, frankly, sucked. Especially after it was quite a good regular season, one of the best this decade. Business started picking up and ended (kind of) with a crescendo of epic proportions. So let’s get right to the recap before I start getting teary-eyed over the end of another college football season.
Belk Bowl – Wake Forest 55 Texas A&M 52 (My pick: Texas A&M 35-28)
What a great start to these final set of bowl games. 107 points. And Wake Forest (WAKE FOREST!) scored 55 of them. I don’t know if I should be a bit worried for Jimbo Fisher, a bit worried for the rest of the ACC, or a bit of both. I’ll go with both.
Sun Bowl – NC State 52 Arizona State 31 (My pick: NC State 43-27)
I was not surprised in the least by this bowl result. And it was even worse than the final score implied. This game was over early. I do feel a bit bad for Brad Nessler on his first full season back at CBS (as much as I can feel bad for a top announcer who is very popular and makes a lot of money). He had very few good games to call this season. The SEC on CBS was not appointment viewing for the first time in a long time. Let’s hope that changes next season.
Music City Bowl – Northwestern 24 Kentucky 23 (My pick: Northwestern 33-10)
OK the officiating during bowl season has been, well, terrible. Like seriously bad in some cases. Take the Music City Bowl. Benny Snell was ejected for supposedly coming in contact with an official. The replay shows the official putting out a hand to help Snell up. Snell pushes the hand away and the ref throws the flag immediately and ejects him. Chris Coyte, the referee said the player got up, grabbed his arms and pushed him away. This didn’t happen. At all. So we have an official being a fucking dick and getting away with it and we wonder why people get on their cases all the time. This guy should be reprimanded. Period. It was uncalled for and gives most officials a bad name. Period. Oh yeah, it was a damn good game but that and most of the officiating from that crew was so bad it overshadowed it. Too bad.
Arizona Bowl – New Mexico State 26 Utah State 20 (OT) (My pick: New Mexico State 30-27)
The good games continue with this one. It was a lot of fun to watch. And the Aggies winning it in overtime when, arguably, their best player possibly ever, Larry Rose, runs it in in overtime to cap off NMSU’s first bowl game in almost six decades. Surreal. The scene afterward of the fans storming the field was great to watch too. This helps the “There are never too many bowl games” crowd for sure. And what is New Mexico State’s reward? They get kicked out of the Sun Belt. Ugh.
Cotton Bowl – Ohio State 24 USC 7 (My pick: USC 44-39)
Wow I was nowhere close with my pick here. Ohio State completely shut down Sam Darnold and the Trojan offense. Now who will the Browns pick number one? Doesn’t matter really: we know whoever they choose will not have a fun time in the pros, at least to begin with. This was not a great start to the New Year’s Six and had some people (including myself) a bit antsy.
TaxSlayer Bowl – Mississippi State 31 Louisville 27 (My pick: Louisville 40-24)
Did anyone pick the Bulldogs to win this one? I highly doubt it. Unless it was more of a protest pick than anything. Someone going “Duh, Lamar Jackson ain’t as good as everyone thinks he is” or something dumb like that. Jackson played pretty well. But MSU was on top of its game which is something since they lost their coach and MVP in a very short time. Good on them for toughing out this victory.
Liberty Bowl – Iowa State 21 Memphis 20 (My pick: Memphis 45-35)
God damn this was another fun game. And the Liberty Bowl was PACKED! That’s a good sign considering most of the smaller non-NY6 bowl games struggled with attendance. And this was a great game. Also, whichever NFL team picks Joel Lanning in the draft is getting a gem. I’m callin’ it now!
Fiesta Bowl – Penn State 35 Washington 28 (My pick: Penn State 37-17)
OK a lot closer than I thought but it never really felt like Washington was in this one, even when they made it close. And that last play: so many emotions in one play. The start of the hook and ladder was executed perfectly. Chris Petersen at his best. Then for Gaskin to try and throw the ball back to a teammate with a couple seconds left and him near the out-of-bounds line was soul crushing to Washington fans and alumni. If he had kept it, the Huskies would have had one final heave to tie it up. College football giveth and college football taketh away.
Orange Bowl – Wisconsin 34 Miami 24 (My pick: Miami 36-30)
In what was essentially a home game for The U, they could not pull it off against the hottest conference’s second-best team. The Big Ten continued their bowl perfection and Alex Hornibrook actually looked like a good QB for once. Usually the Badgers seemed to win in spite of him but he was a big part to them ending their season in a successful way, in front of tens of thousands of rabid, turnover chain toting Canes fans.
Outback Bowl – South Carolina 26 Michigan 19 (My pick: South Carolina 27-25)
Remember what I said about the B1G being perfect during bowl season. If the Wolverines could pull off this win, they would complete the best conference bowl season of all-time. And for a while, they had it. Up 19-3 it looked like a foregone conclusion. Then they gacked it away and now Jimmy Harbaugh will find himself squarely on the hot seat for the first time as the head man in Ann Arbor. Not good times for Michigan. I’m sure Ohio State fans loved it though.
Peach Bowl – UCF 34 Auburn 27 (My pick: UCF 43-42)
So let me get this straight: UCF beats Auburn and finishes their season undefeated. Auburn beat both Georgia and Alabama when both teams were #1. Georgia and Bama are playing for the national championship. Do I need to do the college football transitive property here? This is one reason why the College Football Playoff will definitely expand to at least five teams if not six or eight in the next five years, before the contract is over. The pressure (and potential cash windfall) will be too much to ignore. And congrats to Scott Frost. He went out the right way. I wish more coaches did that.
Citrus Bowl – Notre Dame 21 LSU 17 (My pick: Notre Dame 23-20)
This game started slowly. VERY slowly. The weather and footing didn’t help. Tons of rain after an NFL game that had ended just 18 hours prior did not make for great conditions. But boy did things pick up in the fourth quarter. And that one catch by Miles Boykin for the winning touchdown is an early candidate for catch of the year. It was just incredible. Now we know what happens right? Brian Kelly will be signed to like a ten-year extension.
Rose Bowl – Georgia 54 Oklahoma 48 (2OT) (My pick: Oklahoma 33-23)
Possibly the best Rose Bowl of all-time? It’s up there. The best bowl game this season? Absolutely. One of the best college football games this decade? Also, right up there. This game was un-freaking-believable. I was exhausted after watching it and I had no stake in the game. I can’t imagine with Georgia and Oklahoma fans what they went through. Worst part was there was another game after this one and it was moved to another channel because this game went so long. I am not complaining though. This is the kind of game that makes me a college football fan. One of very few Canadian college football fans.
Sugar Bowl – Alabama 24 Clemson 6 (My pick: Alabama 35-28)
My thought process here was that 2017 Clemson was not 2016 Clemson and not even 2015 Clemson. I was right. Bama looked pretty dominant most of the way. And many people’s worst nightmares came to fruition.
Yes we now have an all-SEC National Championship. Remember what happened the last time we had an all-SEC National Championship. Well, Alabama blew LSU out of the water and it marked the death of the BCS and the birth of the College Football Playoff (eventually). I see this being one of the things that moves us to at least five teams in the CFP, if not six or even eight. But I am hoping they don’t ever go beyond that. The 24-team tournament at the FCS level is absurd. And the attendance at most of those games is not very high. And it’s a battle of attrition more than seeing who the best team is. I think four is a fantastic number of teams but I knew it wouldn’t last.
Alright so the natty is Monday. On the Saturday before that there is the FCS Championship which may or may not end up on the specialty pack. Who the hell knows anymore.
Finally, the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs! It has been a long time coming for this Bills fan. What a fantastic last day of the NFL season. I will get into it more when I do the NFL schedule later this week. Enjoy the first week of the new year and hopefully 2018 is better than 2017. I sure hope it will be.