The Sports Section

261

College Bowl Games: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Let’s face it, there wasn’t much “Good” when it came to this year’s cluster of bowl games. It goes without saying that our challengers for this year’s college football championship were good. As a matter of fact, they were so good, the semi-final round of the college football playoffs were both blowouts. Clemson crushed an over-rated Oklahoma team. As for Michigan State, well I guess they will just have to be happy that they didn’t have to play Ohio State or Michigan again to win the Big Ten Conference. Alabama shutout the Spartans 38-0. You will probably see Ohio State and Stanford move into the 3rd and 4th spots in the final rankings for the season.

#1 Clemson and #2 Alabama will meet on Monday night to show that not only are they good, but the game will determine who is the best. At this point, even though Clemson has yet to lose a game this season, Alabama appears to be the favorite. Personally, I think most fans are just hoping it is a competitive game, unlike a lot of the bowl games this year. As far as “Good” conferences go, the SEC rebounded from a disastrous run of bowl games last season. While they still had a winning record last year at 7-5, it lost high-profile games. Alabama, Ole Miss, Miss St, LSU and Auburn all lost. Only Florida and Texas A&M lost this year.

OK, now for the bad. More bowl games means more fan interest, but it can also mean more bad games; and boy there were some duds. They weren’t just bad because of the games themselves but bad dates and bad start times made them even worse. The “big six” New Year’s bowl games, the Peach, Orange, Cotton, Fiesta, Rose and Sugar Bowls were pretty much flat as a Tom Brady football. The average margin of victory in those bowl games was 24 points. None of those games were decided by fewer than 14 points. That was the first time in the history of those six bowl games that the margin of victory was that high. With a few exceptions, like Michigan, Ohio State, Baylor and maybe TCU, one could pretty much point fingers at the Big Ten and Big 12 for the “Bad”

Unfortunately, a big portion of the bad comes from right here. The Florida schools were just plain bad in this year’s bowl games. South Florida looked as though they were going to show the “Big 3” how to win a bowl game as they were up 14-0 to start the game and had the lead going to halftime of the Miami Beach Bowl, but they gave up 28 points in the 3rd quarter and lost to Western KY, 45-35.

As for the Big 3, Miami was the only one of the three to get within a touchdown of their opponent and if not for a touchdown that was called back followed by a fumble the Hurricanes were on their way to tying things up in a blizzard in the Sun Bowl. Miami hasn’t won a bowl game in nine years and lost their sixth in a row.

In the Peach Bowl, it was a case of “Bad” and “Good.” Florida State never really got things going and found themselves in a 21-3 hole at halftime. Houston was very good, but when it came to holding onto the ball, the Seminoles were very “Bad.” When FSU’s quarterback Sean Maguire was carted off the field with a sprained left ankle, they got worse. The fans began to cheer when Maguire reentered the game, but when he threw four interceptions it went from bad to “Ugly”. On top of the quarterback issues, RB Dalvin Cook was held to 33 yards rushing and although he had a touchdown, he also had a crucial fumble. The five turnovers in one game are half their total of 10 in 12 regular season games. Just Ugly.

Speaking of ugly, in a game that was touted as a clash between defenses, Michigan put on an offensive display against the Gators in the Citrus Bowl. The Wolverines had three touchdown drives of at least 70 yards and finished with 503 yards of offense against a Florida defense that ranked 6th in the nation. The Gators were still in the game going into halftime, but in the second half it was all Michigan as they scored on each of their first two possessions in the third quarter to take a 31-7 and went on for the 41-7 rout.

There is one game that combined “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” all in one bowl game: The Alamo Bowl. In what looked to be yet another blowout bowl game, the unthinkable happened; a record tying comeback. Oregon rolled to a 31-0 halftime lead behind star QB Vernon Adams Jr who was injured right before the half. Things looked ugly for TCU, especially since regular starting quarterback, Trevone Boykin, was suspended two days earlier after being in a bar fight. Maybe it took backup Bram Kohlhausen a half to get warmed up or maybe it was the coach changing his shirt from black to purple for the second half, but TCU went on to score on each of its possessions in the second half and overtime. After the teams exchanged field goals in the second overtime, Kohlhausen ran an option for the go-ahead touchdown and held on for the win.

CFP Championship Game

Alabama vs. Clemson: Monday at 8:30pm

 

NFL Playoffs

Week 17 definitely was entertaining and many of the games mattered to the playoffs. In the AFC East, the Dolphins defeated the Patriots and knocked them out of the number one seed and Buffalo knocked the Jets out of the playoffs completely. With the Bills win, the Pittsburgh Steelers moved into the final wild card spot and will play AFC North Division leader Cincinnati. The (2) New England loss, gave the Denver Broncos the #1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Colts were eliminated from the playoffs in the AFC South and Houston will represent the division by hosting Kansas City in the first game of the playoffs on Saturday.

In the NFC, the big surprise of the year is the Washington Redskins strong finish to go to 9-7 and win the NFC East. The Redskins will host the Green Bay Packers who lost to division rival Minnesota on Sunday night. The matchup between the Vikings and Packers ended up being a battle for the NFC North Division title. The NFC North champs Vikings will host last year’s Super Bowl losers, the Seattle Seahawks who have come on strong to finish out the season. The Carolina Panthers lost only one game this season and are the #1 seed in the NFC and the team that many experts are picking to win it all, the Arizona Cardinals, won the NFC West and have the #2 seed.

Kansas City @ Houston –Saturday at 4:35pm

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati –Saturday at 8:15pm

Seattle @ Minnesota – Sunday at 1:05pm

Green Bay @ Washington –Sunday at 4:40pm

 Congratulations to our 2015 Fort Myers Beach Bowl Fantasy Football Champion, David O. of the team LIGHTS OUT.

Mike Yost