I don’t know what it means when my record against the spread is exactly the same as my overall record. Does that mean my picks were just that dead wrong for the first set of bowl games? Don’t answer that.
Bowl Record: 2-3, 2-3 ATS
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
(9) Boise State (12-0) at (11) TCU (10-2) (-3)
I love a bowl sponsored by a credit union no one outside of San Diego can join and named for a very poisonous but decorative flower. Then again, college football and ludicrous corporate sponsorship kinda go hand in hand, don’t they?
Alas, I will not be able to watch this game, though I will be in San Diego at the time. Actually, I’ll be with Booter at the UCLA/Wyoming basketball game that night. Such a tough life I live.
This is by far my favorite bowl game, and that’s including the B(C)S games specifically designed to create as much hype and as little interest as possible. I wish Boise and Ball State could have played, but having the game on Boise’s home field would have been a bit much. Plus, now that Brady Hoke has gone to sunnier climes, the game wouldn’t be quite as interesting.
But this one is about as good a second prize as anyone could have asked for. An undefeated, snubbed Boise State team is taking on a very, very good TCU team with a ginger quarterback. Love it. These two teams should be playing major-conference opponents and kicking THEIR asses up and down the field instead of beating up on each other, but that’s college football for you. The big boys are afraid and the press is in the pocket of corporate sponsers, so we only get a few interesting games.
I hate to admit it, but this is a little bit Boise State’s fault. Their schedule just wasn’t very difficult for a team of that caliber, and they only played one ranked team (Oregon on the road) all season. That’s not going to help out their strength of schedule coming out of the WAC. Utah had to play several ranked teams and beat both BYU and TCU. But Boise didn’t really play anyone, and Fresno State didn’t put up much of a fight, so here we are. Ohio State still has no business in a BCS game, but you had to know the bowl officials and corporate sponsors would rather have the Whiskey-Tango Ohio State fans running around their bowl game than a few Boise State fans.
Now watch me parrot all the other experts breaking this game down: this game is going to come down to Boise’s offense vs. TCU’s defense. I don’t mean that in the same way the other guys do though. I think those two units are going to essentially cancel each other out. Boise’s O is going to score a few points, but TCU’s second-ranked defense is going to make some plays and limit the Bronco offense too.
Therefore, this game really comes down to Boise State’s defense and TCU’s offense. If Boise can stop TCU at least as often as TCU will stop Boise, then we have ourselves a barn dance. TCU’s offense is good, but I’m not entirely certain what it is they do. They spread it out, but they aren’t really a passing team or a West Virginia-style option team. They’re kind of a hybrid, which either means they’re going to break some big plays out or get totally stifled because they were never that good in the first place. I hate matchups like this for that exact reason.
Boise is going to have to make TCU and Andy Dalton throw the ball. He’s been able to play it safe most of the season because the Horned Frogs are pretty good running the ball. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but the faster Boise can put the game into Dalton’s hands instead of their running backs’ hands, the better off Boise State is.
Finally, does anyone else think it’s crazy Ian Johnson is not only still in college, but is also already losing a step, according to scouts? Never heard that before. Two years ago, Johnson was taking the Statue of Liberty handoff against Oklahoma and winning a BCS game. Now here he is, a very experienced senior, and he’s sharing running duties and isn’t nearly as good as he was. Did Chris Peterson run the juice right out of him already? Amazing.
Update: TCU 17 Boise State 16.
TCU’s offense did their best to make me very nervous, but their D did what they do and held the Broncos’ offense to just 16 points. Very good game in an absolutely meaningless bowl game. It amazes me how short-sighted the bowls can be. They’re willing to align themselves with the various conferences to guarantee bowl bids, but that just ends up costing them fantastic games like this one. I know the point of all that is to guarantee teams who are successful a bowl appearance, but those alignments created this coup for the Poinsettia Bowl.
Record: 3-3, 2-4 ATS
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Hawai’i (7-6) at Notre Dame (6-6) (-1.5)
I hate Notre Dame and everything, but that’s not why I want them to suck against Hawai’i on Wednesday. It’s fun to watch them suffer, but as a blogger, I just want the Charlie-Weis-under-fire story to last through the offseason instead of being weakened by a win in a meaningless bowl game. Plus, the Irish losing streak in bowl games can remain intact with a Hawai’i win. They haven’t won a bowl game since the 1993 Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M, not that history will sway Lou Holtz from taking the Irish in a blowout in this game.
I watched the Hawai’i game against Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago, and, though I knew Cincy would have trouble, my faith in Hawai’i has definitely been shaken. When they lost Colt Brennan and most of their receiving corps, they really did lose pretty much all the cohesiveness their offensive unit had in the first place. Now they look like every other spread offense team with a mediocre quarterback. Doesn’t help that June Jones left for SMU either, you know, since he’s the guru of the run and shoot and everything.
All that said, Notre Dame is absolutely one of the worst teams in Division I this year. They have gotten worse with each game and the players seem to recognize there isn’t much point in their playing hard since everyone is just going to blame their coach instead of them for their lousy play. It’s not really Charlie Weis’s fault his offensive lineman can’t block for shit. Nor is it Weis’s fault the running backs on the team are softer than Cottonelle toilet paper. It’s his fault for recruiting them, but there isn’t anything he can do about them on the field anymore. If they aren’t having the offense or defense properly explained to them, that’s one thing. But lack of skill just can’t be helped.
Notre Dame is going to lose this game because the players are mentally weak and comfortable with mediocrity. Jimmy Clausen seems to be the only guy not okay with sucking, but he’s still terrible, and he’s realized there isn’t anything he can do about it.
This is essentially a home game for Hawai’i, and their fans are going to be crazy. A win over Notre Dame really helps that struggling program maintain some level of respectability. Plus I want the Weis story to stick around for a little while longer.
Update: Notre Dame 49 Hawai’i 21.
Not a whole lot to say about this one. Hawai’i came out in a home game and got fucked up by a previously hapless Notre Dame team. This happens in bowl games sometimes: teams come out in a game they really think they can win and make a bunch of silly mistakes like fumbles or missed tackles. Those type of mistakes come from a longer layoff, which is the only way Notre Dame’s screen passes and crappy running game are going to work.
Record: 3-4, 2-5 ATS