I’m not one for letting my fandom show excessively; but there is a time and a place for everything, and it’s called college football.
Before I get into that, I just wanted to note that I will have a lot to cover as far as my post-regular season, pre-bowl thoughts; but we have a couple weeks until there are any big games again, so I’ll spread them out over a few blog posts. At the least I’ll do some kind of review of the major BCS results and another look at the conferences. I might also do something about LSU’s history against the Big Ten, something like what I did with the Pac-12.
Anyway, onto being a fan, I have to say that once again I’m disappointed with LSU’s bowl selection. I guess the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC means that for Cotton Bowl purposes, there are 8 teams in the SEC West. Maybe Auburn will be the exception in the other direction one year, but I don’t remember that happening before.
My bowl projections didn’t turn out too well because a couple of bowls didn’t pick the way I thought they should have, so there was a domino effect all the way down the list. I guess having “insider” knowledge helps after all.
The top non-BCS SEC team is supposed to go to the CapitalOne Bowl, which also pays the most. Then the next-best West team normally goes to the Cotton and the next-best East team normally goes to the Outback. Missouri won the SEC East and finished ahead of South Carolina in the BCS, so they would have been the “normal” CapitalOne pick. Last season, the SEC made sure that Georgia got to go to the CapitalOne Bowl (multiple reports said that the CapOne preferred A&M, who ended up in the Cotton Bowl ahead of LSU, a team that beat the Aggies and tied them in the standings for the year).
I think the difference this season was that Missouri wanted to go to the Cotton Bowl anyway, so they didn’t care about the CapitalOne picking South Carolina instead. Anyway, the result was that LSU couldn’t go to the Cotton Bowl, which is where the top available team in the SEC West is supposed to go after the CapitalOne Bowl makes its selection. So I’m not exactly expecting an inspired performance from the Fighting Tigers, but Iowa isn’t as good as Clemson was last year, so maybe the game will turn out better. LSU still should have won last year. I’m still annoyed with that even though I didn’t even care that much about the game at first.
Speaking of things that still annoy me, this was the last play from scrimmage of Nick Saban’s tenure, also the last play between LSU and Iowa:
You would have thought a great defensive coach like Saban could have told a couple guys to run back toward the goal line ahead of the Iowa receivers, but I guess he was busy daydreaming about going to Miami.
To put a positive spin on this year’s bowl game, having a replacement quarterback might actually be something that generates excitement, with no disrespect to Zach Mettenberger intended. It could be something along the lines of Matt Flynn’s performance in the Peach Bowl in 2005 (a 40-3 win over Miami) or at least Matt Mauck’s or Ryan Perrilloux’s wins in the SEC Championships in 2001 and 2007, respectively. In all three games, the quarterback of the future was suddenly made the starter, and LSU won the game. Mauck and Flynn would have championships in other seasons, so it was a preview of things to come (two years later in both cases: Mauck was hurt in 2002, and Flynn had a whole season of backup duty to JaMarcus Russell left); but that win was Perrilloux’s one big moment in the sun at LSU. Of course, I’m hoping Anthony Jennings is more like Mauck or Flynn but without having to wait on the sidelines next season.
Anyway, my incorrect guess as to what the CapitalOne would do caused me to be wrong about both the SEC Cotton and the SEC Outback picks.
My incorrect guess that the Orange would take Oklahoma caused me to be wrong several other slots. The first was the Sugar Bowl: had I known Oklahoma would still be available, I would have picked them for the Sugar Bowl. Then, since I thought the Sugar would take Oregon, this caused me to be wrong about all the Pac-12 bowls I picked. Everyone got knocked down a peg when only one team from the conference made a BCS bowl. Also the ACC teams moved one slot higher than I thought they would be. Had Clemson not made it, they probably would have returned to the Chik-fil-A (Peach) Bowl. Duke was my next choice had I known Clemson was going to the Orange.
Aside from the remaining obvious BCS picks, I was right about a few things: Wisconsin is in the CapitalOne Bowl, Texas is in the Alamo Bowl, Texas Tech is in the Holiday Bowl, Georgia is in the Gator Bowl, and Texas A&M is in the Peach Bowl. I’m not sure why the Outback didn’t prefer Nebraska to Iowa. If they had, I would have been right about both teams in that one.
I also think the bowls I had would have been better games. Alabama-Oregon, Ohio St.-Oklahoma, and Clemson-Texas A&M sounds much better to me than Alabama—Oklahoma, Ohio St.—Clemson, and Duke—Texas A&M. Georgia—Iowa and LSU—Nebraska (with our old friend Bo Pelini) also seems much better than the games we got. I was right about Nebraska going to Florida instead of to Arizona, where a lot of people had them. I just thought it would be Outback instead of Gator. That was really the only secondary pick I got wrong that wasn’t influenced by the two big ones.
Not much to say about the rankings. I think this might be the first time every top 25 team was either in the AP top 25 or the BCS top 25. I guess it will be the last time too, since this is the last BCS top 25 ever. I’m wondering if they’ll give us some kind of standings to look at next season.
There was one team in both the AP and BCS top 25s that I don’t have, and that team is Texas A&M. The Aggies have one too many losses at this point without the corresponding quality wins necessary. It also doesn’t help that their only meaningful win since late October was over Mississippi St. I still think they’re one of the top 25 best, but the system is designed so that one-loss teams like Northern Illinois and Fresno St. don’t go too low, since if there is a Boise St. or Utah (like the ones who won major bowl games in recent years) with one or two strong wins they can be up into the top 10 somewhere. Not everyone deserves a shot at the top 2 either though.
The only other thing I thought was interesting was the switch at #25. USC and U. Miami were both idle, but it’s interesting that USC played 9 conference games as well as playing Notre Dame, which happened to have played both Stanford and Arizona St. Since the Cardinal and the Sun Devils strengthened their own schedules by playing one another, they also strengthened the rest of the Pac-12 and Notre Dame. Also, it helped that Notre Dame beat Michigan St., which of course added its most impressive victory of the season by beating Ohio St.
rank / team / prior
1 Auburn 2
2 Florida St. 1
3 Stanford 7
4 Mich. St. 9
5 Ohio St. 3
6 Baylor 10
7 Missouri 4
8 Alabama 6
9 Arizona St. 5
10 UCF 13
11 S Carolina 11
12 Oklahoma 16
13 N. Illinois 8
14 Fresno St. 19
15 Okie St. 12
16 Oregon 14
17 Clemson 15
18 Louisville 20
19 UCLA 18
20 LSU 21
21 Duke 17
22 Wisconsin 22
23 Georgia 23
24 Notre Dame 24
25 USC —
Out of rankings: (25) U. Miami