Updated through Orange Bowl
Record: 12-10, 8-14 ATS
Thursday, January 1, 2009
South Carolina (7-5) at Iowa (8-4) (-4)
How is it that Ricky Stanzi is the best quarterback in this game? That’s got to be the first time all season anyone can say that about Iowa’s quarterback. I’m perplexed. What happened to Steve Spurrier? It can’t be that difficult to recruit at the other USC. He’s got players at other positions. It doesn’t make sense.
The real reason to watch this game is Shonn Greene. He lit the world on fire all season and ended up with over 1,700 rushing yards along with being the Big Ten player of the year. Imagine if he hadn’t been a complete idiot and missed a year because he was academically ineligible. Could have done this last year when Iowa was gawd-awful too. But I’m sure Kirk Ferentz isn’t secretly bitter about that at all.
Greene has no option but to light South Carolina’s defense up because he’s their first and only weapon on offense. If Stanzi has to carry the team, Iowa is in trouble.
The Hawkeyes still have more to offer than South Carolina’s offense. It’s weird to say about a Spurrier team, but they’re really, really bad offensively. Choosing between Stephen Garcia and Chris Smelley is like choosing between Isiah Thomas and Matt Millen to build it, only they have to play too. South Carolina’s quarterbacks are bad, I tells ya! Bad!
Update: Iowa 31 South Carolina 10.
Didn’t watch a down of this game. I had a bit of a late night, but hopefully everyone had a good New Year’s.
Turns out Shonn Greene really did light up the USC defense and there is more depression for the ‘Cocks (tee hee). And I’d like to be the first to encourage Shonn Greene to go pro after this season. Iowa is on IU’s schedule for 2009 and we’re gonna need all the help we can get. There are a hell of a lot of good teams on the docket for next year. So go pro, Shonn! College life is overrated, plus you get paid (more) in the NFL. It’s totally worth it!
Record: 13-10, 9-14 ATS
(15) Georgia (9-3) at (18) Michigan State (9-3) (+7.5)
Since their season is an utter disappointment, Georgia did the only thing they could do: suck bad enough to make a shitty bowl game and look like favorites against an overmatched Big Ten team. Now when they blow Michigan State the hell out, it’s going to look like the season didn’t end so badly.
In truth, Georgia wasn’t that good to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, Knowshon is the truth, but Matt Stafford is not nearly as developed as he should be, the offense is unimaginative at best and restraining the players’ talent at worst, and the defense just plain sucks. Georgia just hadn’t played any good teams that could prove it until October.
I don’t believe Mark Richt should be fired. 9-3 is a good record in the SEC, but he needs to rethink the way his team plays offense and defense and the way he motivates his players. Something isn’t right with the Bulldogs, and I’m sure Richt will do whatever he needs to do to correct it, even if it’s firing himself. Georgia should be even better next year, assuming everyone comes back, so this game sets the tone for next season more than it sums up 2008.
Javon Ringer is great and should gash the Georgia defense for around 175 yards. But the reason Michigan State is going to lose is that Ringer can’t throw the ball and play defense to stop his counterpart, Knowshon Moreno. I love Javon Ringer. I even gave my Halfway Heisman Trophy to him over Shonn Greene. But I just don’t think State’s defense can stop Georgia enough times to stay close the entire game. State will manage to keep the score fairly low, but unless Georgia’s defense truly has totally melted down, this is the Bulldogs’ game to win.
Update: Georgia 24 MSU 12.
Ringer only had 47 yards and Matt Stafford was surprisingly efficient, especially in the second half. I was halfway hoping Michigan State would pull off an upset, but Georgia got it together and won in slightly underwhelming fashion, as is their custom.
It’s like a Georgia game is a whole lot of nothing with three big plays sprinkled in there that make the entire difference in all their games. Seriously, the most non-descript team ever. Even with all that talent.
Record: 14-10, 10-14 ATS
Nebraska (8-4) at Clemson (7-5) (-1.5)
I’m with Todd McShay. Joe Ganz is a very underrated quarterback. The only reason no one knows about him is because he playes for Nebraska in the Big XII, home of Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, Todd Reesing, and Chase Daniel in case you’ve been captured by Somali pirates these last five months. Ganz has completed 70% of his passes as well as having well over 3,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. He’s been great for the Huskers, and a primary reason they’ve managed to make a bowl at all because they don’t run the ball, for whatever reason.
As underrated as Joe Ganz has been, the Clemson offense has failed on a spectacular level. Cullen Harper has had a disastrous senior season and ended up with more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (11). He didn’t even manage to reach 2,500 yards passing. In a spread offense. Yeah.
But the biggest disappointment for Clemson, by a margin as big as Alaska, has been James Davis and CJ Spiller. Combined, they were a good running back, with about 1,300 total rushing yards between them. They were expected to rush for about 1,000 yards each, plus a pretty decent amount of reception yards, but they underachieved all season, and therefore, so did Clemson.
Why did they suck at all levels, you ask? Easy. This is the real reason I’ve hated Clemson all season. It wasn’t anything personal against Tommy Bowden or anyone else. It’s their offense. Clemson runs a spread system that emphasizes neither the run nor the pass. It is an entirely finesse offense with no real goal in mind. It doesn’t maximize their talent or give their best players a ton of touches. Neither Davis nor Spiller was given 175 rushing attempts this year, and when they did run the ball, much of it was out of the shotgun, which is perfect for a grinder like Davis. Not. Worse, Harper was never a good enough game manager to be able to throw 30 times in a game and still win. Yet they decided to put most of their games in his hands. Add in the amount of screens and swing passes to receivers and others the Tigers tried to run, plus the crappy offense routinely putting the defense in bad situations, and you have a recipe for spread offense disaster.
Update: Nebraska 26 Clemson 21.
Welp, CJ Spiller and James Davis forgot to show up wherever the hell they play this bowl and Clemson still won. Remember, Clemson was winning for most of this game heading into the fourth quarter. And with the game ready to get put away and a couple of stud running backs in the stable, you’d think Clemson would turn into Ohio State circa 1975, but no. Cullen Harper ended up throwing 37 times in this game, Davis and Spiller got a total of 19 carries between them, and Clemson lost. Because they suck.
Seriously, Clemson, you guys are fucking stupid and have been all year. Unless you secretly know Davis and Spiller are way, way worse than everyone seems to think they are, maybe Dabo Swinney can still join Tommy Bowden on the unemployment line. A whole program full of idiots of the highest order and first magnitude. Isiah Thomas LOVES the way Clemson calls its plays and runs its offense. He thinks its perfect. GOD I HATE CLEMSON! Such a waste of a really talented team because the coaches are idiots. Stupidity like this doesn’t happen all that often. Usually, there’s some sort of on-field reason for crap like this. Not this time. It’s all the coaching staff.
Record: 15-10, 11-14 ATS
(8) Penn State (11-1) at (5) Southern California (11-1) (-8.5)
USC fans can rest easy for this game. Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin are finally gone and their long offensive nightmare is (hopefully) over. A couple of years ago, when the Trojans replaced Norm Chow with Sark and Kiffin, they couldn’t have known the hackery that would ensue. That the two of them, and then Sarkisian by himself, would take a very talented unit and a great system and totally suck the energy and creativity, and ultimately the scoring, right out of the offense.So there you go, Tennessee and Washington.
Now John Morton is the new OC at USC with Carl Smith taking over at quarterbacks coach. Hopefully, the two of these guys can get the Trojans back to the things that made them such an offensive juggernaut a few years ago. And no, Sark, those things were not throwing nothing but bootleg passes and seven step drops with only two or three options for Mark Sanchez to throw to. You killed a good thing, Sark.
But the real story for USC is their possession of the greatest defense in college football history. That’s right, the greatest in history. They’re big, fast, mean, and it’s virtually impossible to score on them. Penn State had issues with Ohio State’s defense, and that unit isn’t nearly as good as USC’s. There isn’t one thing USC does particularly well. They’re not going to light the world on fire with huge hits or returns for touchdowns. You’ll just start to notice your team hasn’t gotten a first down in a while, and then you’ll notice it’s been three quarters since your team got a first down and now the game’s over. Their defense is just good at everything. It’s infinitely more intimidating than any other D I’ve seen. And no, OU fan, you wouldn’t be able to drop 60 on them.
I guess I should take a sentence or two and give some respect to Penn State. They’re a solid offensive and defensive team and they have some legitimate playmakers on both units. It’s also Derrick Williams’ last game, which means he’ll be extra fast. Finally, respect to the Blue Royster Cult, the best player-based fan group name in college football. That’s about all I’ve got because PSU is losing 28-7.
Update: USC 38 Penn State 24.
One more time, USC destroyed their Rose Bowl opponent in a game that appears closer than it really was. They beat the crap out of Penn State and shut their O down in the second half, which is the only reason Penn State was close at the end. I know Pete Carroll doesn’t like running up the score, but that’s why Penn State got close. JoePa knew they wouldn’t win much earlier in the game, but the Trojans took their foot off the gas in the second half. Maybe they got word from the advertisers not to score 50 so people would stop watching.
Record: 16-10, 12-14 ATS
(12) Cincinnati (11-2) at (19) Virginia Tech (9-4) (+2.5)
I’m not going to research this game or wax philosophic on anything related to it. This game is a terrible matchup and will be unwatchable. Avoid it if you can. Ugh.
Pick: Virginia Tech
Update: Virginia Tech 20 Cincinnati 7.
Since Virginia Tech beat Cincy, it’s been determined once and for all that the Big East is the worst BCS conference of 2008. Congratulations to Cincinnati and the Big East. I’m sure they’re all very proud.
Now let’s pretend like this game never happened.
Record: 17-10, 13-14 ATS