There’s only one week left until the National Championship Game. Will the SEC’s streak continue or will Florida State end their reign in the final game of the BCS era? Until that game we still have the bowl games to entertain us. Some interesting matchups but no real compelling games. This coming week, the matchups will get better and the BCS games will begin. Who will be the break out performers during bowl season? Which coaches will set themselves up for bigger and better jobs? We still have the Texas job opening and a possible opening at Penn State. Should make for an interesting off-season.
For now, let’s get into a recap of the first bowl games of the season and some thoughts from this weeks action:
1) East Carolina 37 Ohio 20 – BEEF ‘O’ BRADYS BOWL – East Carolina used a 20-point scoring spree to blow this game open in the 4th quarter and end their season on a high note before moving to the American Conference next season. East Carolina Coach Ruffin McNeill has built a consistent winner with the Pirates and could be in the running for some BCS school openings.
2) Pitt 30 Bowling Green 27 – LITTLE CAESARS BOWL – This was back and forth scoring all night and ended with Bowling Green failing to convert a 4th-and-40. Pitt’s defense was the story of the game all night. This game even provided the fans with some extra fireworks as a few players showed off their “boxing” skills throughout the game.
3) Utah State 21 Northern Illinois 14 – POINSETTIA BOWL – I expected some high scoring from this game and instead got a defensive stalemate. Heisman hopeful Jordan Lynch of NIU couldn’t get the Husky offense going, as the Aggies chased him all night. Great win for Utah State, as they are proving to be a force in the MWC. I really like what the Aggies have established and hope the best for them.
4) Marshall 31 Maryland 20 – MILITARY BOWL – The battle of the “M” schools was back and forth all day. Marshall was able to use this time to showcase their version of the hurry-up offense, as they ran well over 80 plays during the game. Marshall came away with the victory to finish the season at 10-4. The Herd even had the opportunity to win their conference this season but came up short against Rice in the conference title game. Marshall’s Coach Doc Holliday was able to right the ship this season and finish with his second winning record, along with his second bowl victory, in his fourth year at the school.
5) Syracuse 21 Minnesota 17 – TEXAS BOWL – Syracuse was looking to pull away in the second half as they scored to go up 14-3, but Gopher head man Jerry Kill and his squad decided to make it a game, on their second trip to the Texas Bowl. Minnesota came alive in the 4th quarter and took the lead, 17-14, before the Orangemen scored with less than two minutes left, making it a 21-17 ball game. Minnesota drove for the win but a dropped pass for a sure-fire touchdown snuffed what would have been Coach Kill’s first bowl win at Minnesota. The Gophers were a force to recon with in the B1G this year and look to continue its success in 2014.
6) Oregon State 38 Boise State 23 – HAWAII BOWL – The magic is officially over in Boise. With Coach Chris Peterson gone, Boise State did not put up much of a fight vs the Beavers. Oregon State came right out and scored and never let up. The defense even got in on the action and scored twice. The Beavers, who started the season 6-1 but finished 6-6, came out playing inspired ball in the first quarter — you might have thought they should have been in a BCS game. After this season, you wonder if Oregon State Coach Mike Riley might be on a few people’s list while searching for a head man. He has proven he can get the job done at Oregon State with limited resources.
7) Washington 31 BYU 16 – FIGHT HUNGER BOWL – Washington did not let the loss of their coach affect their game plan as they ran all over BYU. There were moments when the BYU defense was giving Washington fits, but in the end, they could not get the job done. Interim Coach Marques Tuiasosopo led his alma mater to the victory, and it is still undecided if the new Washington coach will ask him to remain on staff or if he will be heading to USC with Coach Steve Sarkisian. Look for Washington to be a little more consistent under Coach Peterson in the years to come.
8) Notre Dame 29 Rutgers 16 – PINSTRIPE BOWL – The teams traded scores back and forth throughout the first half. It looked like it would be a close finish but in the fourth quarter, the Irish defense stepped up and secured the 29-16 victory. Notre Dame was looking for a BCS bid this season — and possibly another championship appearance — but that was all derailed when their star QB Everett Golson was kicked out of the school for cheating. They have allowed him to come back for next season and look to carry their bowl victory’s momentum into next season.
9) North Carolina 39 Cincinnati 17 – BELK BOWL – This one was not close. North Carolina came right out and smacked Cincinnati in the mouth on both sides of the ball. The Tar Heels started the season 1-5 but finished the season 5-1, to go 6-6 and making a bowl game. I expect big things out of UNC next season. Their coach, Larry Fedora, is an offensive genius and will keep the ball rolling in Chapel Hill.
10) Louisville 36 Miami 9 – RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL – Miami started the game off right by recording a safety, making the game 2-0. After that it was ALL Louisville. Cardinals’ Coach Charlie Strong was able to have his team shake off the slow start to rattle off 36 straight points before the ‘Canes found the end zone. Strong says he is committed to Louisville, but if Texas or another big program comes calling, will he answer? It might be a good move to make since he might be losing his star QB Teddy Bridgewater to the NFL after season’s end.
We had some good bowl games this week but most of them were one-sided. I hope the coming weeks bring us more scoring and exciting finishes. We also have the BCS bowls coming up and will get to see a fun 3-0 final score in the Rose Bowl with Stanford and Michigan State looking to run right up the middle against each other all day. We’ll probably have Baylor score 70 points and make UCF fans wonder why they even went to the Fiesta Bowl.
Alabama should beat Oklahoma soundly, unless they treat it as a “nothing” game since they were unable to play for it all after the Auburn game. The Orange Bowl could give us some high scoring with Clemson’s and Ohio State’s offenses going at it. I am still bummed that there is no Oregon vs Alabama bowl game, but I’m still excited to see how the rest turn out.
1. Penn State losing coach?
2. Texas owes Mack Brown
3. Wyoming lost their QB
4. Art Briles new Texas Coach?
5. Exciting finishes from 2013