A Bowl Lot of Fun!

Now that bowl predictions are a thing of the past its time to look at some of the best matchups slated to take place in the coming month, and though it’s too late to win anything by predicting which teams will end up in a bowl, it’s not too late to win tickets for you and three of your friends at the Bowl Game of your choice, but don’t wait too long because the TicketCity Bowl Contest ends December 6, 2012.

Like most college football fans, I am actually quite intrigued by this year’s National Championship matchup. Despite the fact that it should be Georgia in place of the Crimson Tide due to a not so great coaching call, I still think this will be one of the best football games of the year. I was definitely optimistic about the Fighting Irish early on in the season not letting myself believe how good this team was. I continued this trend through the Michigan, Michigan State, and Stanford games thinking they would meet their demise come Halloween weekend against Oklahoma. Well we all know how that ended up and though there might be an argument with who the BCS has slated as #2, I think everyone agrees that they got #1 right.

What was shaping up to be a possible National Championship match up in week 12, now has its sights set on the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Besides the anticipation of seeing what the Duck’s jerseys will look like, I am excited to see the #4 Oregon Ducks and the #5 Kansas State Wildcats take the field together. On paper the game looks to be promising as the Ducks resemble the crafty and explosive spread offense that took the Wildcats down against Baylor while the K-State team shares similarities to the Stanford team that left the Ducks with a loss. All in all my prediction is that the game will come down to the Wildcats Defense. Oregon will be Oregon and the Wildcats will find themselves in a deep hole early if they can’t contain them and produce turnovers.

Two conference rivalries will come back to life this year in the AT&T Cotton Bowl and the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Texas A&M will get a shot at taking on an old Big 12 foe at the Cowboys Stadium against Oklahoma. Though I am sure the Aggies were hoping for revenge against Texas in the Cotton Bowl, they can still seek it against Oklahoma. The Sooners have a staggering 11-2 winning record with Bob Stoops against the Aggies including last year’s 41-25 win before A&M moved to the SEC. Moving east; the New Era Pinstripe Bowl will re-ignite an old Big East rivalry between Syracuse and West Virginia for the Ben Schwartzwalder Trophy. The rivalry game between the two had been played annually from 1955-2011 until West Virginia left the conference and joined the Big 12. If it was not enough to measure the emotions that are present in a bowl game, sprinkle in the bitter taste of a rivalry and expect to get the unexpected.

The last bowl game that stands out as one of the best this year to me will be surrounded by hundreds of cows telling you to eat more chicken. Not really, but the Chick-fil-A Bowl will pit the two best Tigers in college football as #8 LSU and #14 Clemson take to the field in the Georgia Dome. Clemson and LSU had exceptional seasons both only losing two games to ranked opponents and from a statistical stand point the teams are practically identical. On average Clemson produces more points per game but LSU allows less per game and produced more than three times the amount of turnovers as did Clemson. This should be another exciting game and if you had to choose a winner you can’t go wrong picking the Tigers.

If you are sitting back feeling like the football season is coming to an end just as quickly as it began, remember it’s not too late to catch your favorite team in their last game of the season on TicketCity. Enter the contest before December 6 and get the chance to sit front and center at the bowl game of your choice.

‘Tis the Season for a Bowl Game

As the college football regular season slowly dwindles to an end and bowl season approaches one can only stare in awe at how chaotic the 2012 season has been. For starters the team that was projected to win it all in the beginning is nowhere to be found. Starting with a preseason rank of #1 the USC Trojans suffered some devastating upsets that completely banished them from the top 25 come week 14. As the Trojans went from BCS Championship game hopefuls to hoping for a Hunyadi Sun Bowl invitation, teams like Kansas State, Texas A&M, Kent State, and most importantly Notre Dame flipped the script and shook the college football world.

Kent State started the season completely off the radar and has now taken their seat at the AP Poll’s # 18 position. Suffering an early loss to their in-state rival, Kentucky would keep the Golden Flashes from completing a perfect season but not out of the MAC football Championship against another surprise team #19 Northern Illinois . Both teams will enter the Championship undefeated in conference play and a win here for Kent State would surely send them to the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against Middle Tennessee.

Another team that possibly holds the most impressive feat this year is Texas A&M. The Aggies made the transition to the SEC this year and clearly were not expected to do much as their preseason ranking was lost between South Florida and Houston. Low and behold the Aggies failed to be stopped by all the hype behind what many consider to be the toughest conference in college football. Not only did they break their way into the top ten with predictions hoisting them towards the Capital One Bowl, they could potentially hold this year’s Heisman trophy winner.

Though Kansas State saw glimmers of a championship run their season fell short of mid-season expectations with an upset from Baylor. A Kansas State-Oregon National Championship that spectators were expecting to see during week 12 will most likely head to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl leaving the Title game to the most impressive Notre Dame team the BCS has ever seen. With heavy predictions leaning towards Alabama coming out on top in the SEC Championship game against Georgia the Crimson Tide will have their shot at becoming repeat champions.

The 2012 season could not have been written any better. There was a Cinderella Story in Notre Dame, Goliath fell in Southern California, and just as quickly as Bama was out they were back in. All in all the season has only reinforced my love for college football and left me hanging on a quote from Forest Gump — “College Football is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

BCS Chaos

Fans and players all over the nation expected to wake up Sunday to find that it was really Saturday and they were just a part of a massive nightmare that swept the country and turned the BCS standings upside down. Over the past three weeks the BCS has seen a different team at the number one spot, the most change the standings have seen in five years. In a huge Big 12 upset the #1 Kansas State Wildcats fell to the Baylor Bears in a game that no one could have seen coming. On the west coast the Cardinals held one of the most productive offenses to 14 points in their win over the Oregon Ducks. However, even with all the chaos in the BCS two teams did manage to benefit from last weekend’s standings scramble.

After suffering a devastating blow from the Aggies the Crimson Tide find their spot back at the top (#2) and in National Championship contention. As long as the Tide can roll through the Auburn Tigers this weekend they will get their shot at an SEC championship and possibly another BCS title. Though the Tigers are 0-7 in conference play a win for ‘Bama in the Iron Bowl will be easier said than done. Like many rivalry games across the country rankings seem to carry no significant benefit, especially when it comes to the most aggressive and tenacious of them all.

The second team that went to bed in celebration Saturday night is a team that has not seen the likes of a number one BCS rank in the school’s history. Notre Dame is set to make history as they are the only undefeated team that is eligible for a shot at the national title. Their shot at the title looks promising as 12 out of the 14 year reign of the BCS the team ranked #1 in the final two weeks of the season has gone to the National Championship game. That being said, there is one more feat that stands between the Fighting Irish and their first National Title since 1988. A rivalry that is considered to be the most important in college football producing more national titles, Heisman trophies, and All-Americans than any other: the USC-Notre Dame game. Going into the 83rd meeting of the two teams Notre Dame leads the series at 43-34-5 but have only beaten the Trojans once in the last ten years. Despite a banged up roster that will be starting a true freshman QB against the Irish, the Trojans started the season a number one and have the talent to give ND a run for their money come Saturday.

All in all, speculations point towards a National Championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama but as we have learned this past weekend, anything can happen. With only two weeks left in the season College Football has never been more exciting.

Honoring A Legend

There were many events that changed NCAA football this past week.

The team that had not lost a game since last November saw their demise in the BCS rankings after Texas A&M pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year. After all the talk that a Big 12 spread offense would not be able to compete in the “Great” SEC I think A&M has proved otherwise. Sadly had A&M remained in the Big 12 they may have seen a potential BCS Championship run this year, but that’s neither here nor there because the Big 12 suffered a loss far more devastating than the #8 team in the country — on November 8, 2012, football lost one of its most legendary pioneers as Darrell K Royal passed at age 88. DKR was not just a player/coach of America’s most beloved sport; he was a creator who changed the way the game would be played forever.

Shortly after playing for the Sooners from 1946-49, Royal’s coaching career began as an assistant coach for North Carolina State in 1950. From NC State, Royal moved around from school to school until finally landing his fourth head coaching job for the University of Texas in 1956. Coming off the Longhorns worst record ever the city of Austin had high hopes for their new head coach and he did not disappoint. 1957 would be Royal’s first season with the Longhorns and their last losing season for the next 20 years.

After leading Texas to its first national title in 1963, Royal would develop an offensive system that would not only change the game of football forever but would bring home two more national titles. There are not many people in the sport’s history that can truly say they changed the way the game was played, but Darrell K. Royal is one of them. The wishbone became a feature of Royal’s offense that would prove to be unstoppable. After a tie and a loss in the first two games of running the wishbone, the Longhorns would go on to win the next 30 games using this new style of offense. For years to follow, different variations of the offense would be implemented into teams like Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Alabama, and UT’s arch-rival Oklahoma. Ironically, the Sooners would not only run the wishbone but would become the longest running wishbone offense in college football.

Royal would finish his coaching career with the Longhorns in 1976 as the university’s most winning coach. He led the Horns to three national titles (1963, 1969, and 1790) and 11 Southwest Conference titles. In his 23 years as a head coach, Royal would not record a single losing season with a career record of 184-60-5, a statistic that surely played in his induction to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983. His passing has proven to be an emotionally charged tidal wave that swept across college football that stopped deep in the heart of Texas Saturday morning as the Texas Longhorns took the field against the Iowa State Cyclones.

From the initials of the legendary coach stitched into the field and helmets of the burnt orange football squad to the fly-by before the game, one thing was for certain — Iowa State had no chance. There had been a lot of media talk about how the Horns would honor their fallen coach but it all started with the flip of a coin. In Royal fashion the Longhorns would defer to the Cyclones and start the game on defense. After a gut-wrenching drive from Iowa State that ended with a punt there was not a single person sitting as the Longhorns took to the field on their own six yard line. As expected the Longhorns took to the wishbone formation and the crowd went ecstatic as the fake run pass went for 47 yards to Greg Daniels in honor of one of the greatest head coaches in all of college football.

A Leach Esque Finish

Saturdays match-up between Texas Tech and TCU was full of highlight reel plays that left fans on the edge of their seats for three overtimes. Going into the game, TCU was sitting at #23 as a well-established team for their first year in the Big 12. Texas Tech found itself climbing the poll after smashing Heisman candidate Geno Smith and the Mountaineers and went into the TCU game at #17. Being a Tech fan for the majority of my life, it was quite refreshing to see the Red Raiders with a decent defense this year. After watching the OU and TCU game it appears that the Tech defense is a top-rated D… occasionally.

With TCU’s starting QB out for personal reasons most Tech fans expected a slow start for TCU’s offense. My guess is that they had no idea about Trevone Boykin, the redshirt freshman who threw for 332 yards and landed 4 touchdowns against this “so called” top-rated defense. Though Boykin proved he can step into the QB role at TCU and do great things it was Tech’s Seth Doege who landed most of the highlights. Doege launched a career-high seven touchdown passes to a slew of receivers and kept the ball out of the hands of the TCU defense. If you look at this game on paper all fingers point to the Horned Frogs to win as they lead TTU in first downs, total yards, and time of possession. The game changer comes from TCU’s three turnovers to Tech’s none.

There is really no one play that stands out from either team as being the play of the week. Both teams played like ranked teams on offense and had some remarkable completions. Boykin’s 60-yard touchdown pass to LaDarius Brown to keep the Frogs in contention, and Doeges final drive hitting Torres on consecutive plays and finally getting in the end zone to take the lead. The list just goes on and on. But of course the one play I do decide to delegate as the TicketCity Play of the Week is not on the highlight reel. So the entire game gets the throne this week with an emphasis on the Mike Leach-esque play at the beginning of the second over time. In true Leach fashion the Raiders start the second overtime with an unconventional wildcat reverse pass where Doege finds Jakeem Grant down the sideline for a touchdown.

Next week the #15 Red Raiders will put their ranking to the test as they head to Kansas to take on the #4 Wildcats in whats sure to be another action packed game. Well at least I am hoping so… Guns Up!