The New Year’s Adam (Adam before Eve) slate of games was undoubtedly the best football this bowl season. Lots of big plays, close finishes, and high quality action. I didn’t get to watch all of it, but I was highly entertained by what I did watch.
The Georgia/TCU game was great to watch, but a very sloppy game overall. The big plays helped keep my eyes off the weak parts of the game and the goofy coaching decisions. I like to see the Dawgs win, even though I picked against them this time. Their inconsistency made me skeptical and I know TCU has a great offense. They were also inconsistent this year so I just went with my gut. With Eason, Michel, Chubb, and an improving defense, I expect great things from UGA next year. Congrats to the 62% who got this one right.
Despite the absence of Christian McCaffrey, who sat out the bowl game to save himself for the upcoming NFL draft, and losing their quarterback to a knee injury in the first quarter, the Stanford Cardinal was able to weather the storm and come out victorious over the North Carolina Tarheels. Stanford’s defense really showed out and carried the load of the work. They scored late on an INT and then sacked the NC QB to stop a 2-point conversion that would have tied the game and sent it to OT. (I just wanted to use all the abbreviations I could in one sentence.) 76% of us picked correctly.
Next up was another game between inconsistent teams. At times this season, both Nebraska and Tennessee looked as if they had returned to their former glory. Both eventually dropped games to teams they should have beaten and loss games to superior teams. This games was poised to possibly be the best match up of the day, but was more lopsided in the end. Nebraska was shorthanded without their star wideout and starting quarterback, so it should be easy to forgive them. This game kept everything fairly even, with 85% of us having picked Tennessee.
Air Force proved 73% of us right with their convincing win over South Alabama. They started the game really slow, falling behind 21-3 , but scored all of the remaining points to win 45-21. South Alabama’s earlier win over Mississippi State gave their fans hope that they could win this bowl game, but they couldn’t make the adjustments like Air Force did. I love it when the schools representing our military put one in the win column.
Dalvin Cook found a way to give FSU one last win for the season, possibly his last as a Seminole. With 145 rushing yards and 62 receiving, he was the most impressive and most important player of the game. Michigan used a strong defensive effort late in the game to make this one exciting. After finally taking the lead with less than two minutes to play, it appeared that they had turned the corner and had the game in hand. After a long kickoff return, FSU once again turned to Cook, who helped set up the knockout punch. The Noles would score a touchdown to resume the lead, only to have the PAT blocked and returned for a 2-point score for the Wolverines. Being down by one point, Michigan just needed to score a field goal to win the game. They just couldn’t do it with only 36 seconds to make it happen. 27% correctly chose the upset.
The New Year’s Eve games were not as balanced competitively as the ones the day before. In the first game of the day, LSU added fuel to the fire of those who believe a great defense is rather to be had than a great offense. The Tigers were relatively unfruitful on offense most of the season, relying on their stout defense to carry them. They stepped up to the task again and pounded the high flying offense of the Heisman trophy winner and his Louisville teammates. Lamar Jackson had his least productive game of the season, facing constant pressure and going down with 8 sacks. LSU took advantage of the Cardinals’ depleted defense and made the score look they way I assumed it would, only in reverse. Again, the upset pickers won the day (34%).
Kentucky continues to work hard at building a football program. Reaching a bowl game and winning a few games against big name teams along the way is proof of their effort. Unfortunately the Yellow Jackets proved to be too tough for them in this one. Paul Johnson’s unique offense is extremely physical and if you don’t have a top level run defense, they are going to put up a lot of yards. Tech did rely on a great defensive effort to put up some points and hold off the comeback bid from the Wildcats. Sometimes the ACC/SEC rivalry is bigger than the teams actually in the game. 77% of us were on the winning side.
The two playoff games were as lopsided as they could have been, not only in scoring, but in actual performance.
Alabama was the first to punch their ticket to the Championship. As they have done all season, the Tide absolutely punished their opponent with defense. Washington scored early because of busted coverage, but after that they couldn’t find enough time to develop their plays. Alabama’s defensive front was too physical and too fast, continuously harassing QB Jake Browning. Alabama still has concerns on offense, but their two running backs can be steamrollers to teams who are weak against the run. Clemson has better pass protection and run defense, so the Tide may be meeting their toughest match up of the year. It wasn’t hard for 95% of us to pick up one more for the win column.
The final game of the night, and the final one of the season for Ohio State, was the most embarrassing of all the games so far. With Michigan also losing their game to FSU, the “Big 10 is weak” argument will likely resurface with great momentum. Ohio State was shut out for the first time since 1993 and it was the first ever for Coach Urban Meyer. Most of the night they couldn’t even get across the 50. Clemson owned them on defense, constantly tackling in the back field and causing turnovers. They made fools of the Buckeye defense as well. It was extremely apparent the Tigers were hungry for a rematch with the Tide. 65% of us believed they were the better team.
I am no longer in the lead, but most of the games I picked wrong really didn’t hurt my feelings. This year I was as torn as I have ever been on who to pick for the later bowl games. It has been a great one so far, so I am not too disappointed. It is also nice to see Sprinkles TAKE THE LEAD in our office picks. She tends to favor the bottom of the pack most years. Way to go Sprinkles!
In the office:
Sprinkles: 25-12, Rambo: 23-14, Scoot: 20-17, Trip: 18-19, and T-Bone: 16-21
All of you:
1st place: (29-8) Rachel Wiley (holding strong with 5 to go!)
2nd place: (26-11) Mike Hochman (not letting Rachel get too far ahead)
tied with us: (25-12) Terrence McBride, Julia Lancaster, Regina Hutter, Michele Richards, Laura Watkins, and Lisa Adams
Kronk and Leo continue to hold down the bottom of our competition (along with some others!) Trip has slowly moved away from such title, but T-Bone has decided to take her place. One of my favorite Auburn fans, a camper, is really trying his best to keep them company. I hope he gets his wish in their game today, at least.