College Football Nation: Shootout in the Desert and Cinderella Crushed
Bowl season is here and it already has had its fair share of excitement. This is the time for conferences to boast how great they are compared to everyone else . . . ahem . . . SEC! Maybe some of the other conferences will come to play and shut up the “SEC, SEC, SEC” chant at the end of every nonconference victory.
I really enjoy bowl season because it gives us a chance to see matchups that we usually would not see during the regular season. These matchups we are seeing will hopefully become the norm as the playoffs begin next season. Most teams will try to no longer pad their schedules with cupcakes so come season’s end . . . their 12-0 or 11-1 record is better than the team next to them. Scheduling “cupcake” games, however, has not been a guaranteed ‘W’ as of late . . . just ask Florida, Michigan, Kansas State, Iowa State, and the list goes on. If bowl season is not enough for you, then you can get caught up in the basketball frenzy going on with Oregon right now. They are off to their best start since the 2006-2007 season and have been fun to watch.
Let’s get into some of the news, action, and thoughts from this past week of college football.
1) Colorado State 48 Washington State 45 – The New Mexico Bowl did not disappoint for offense and had an amazing finish. It seemed like Mike Leach’s Cougars would end the season on a high note with a bowl win as they marched all over Colorado State and were up 21-7 early in the first half. In the 4th quarter, the Rams found a way to score two late touchdowns and bring the game even at 45-45, with less than 33 seconds to go. Colorado State even used a little trickery to get the 2-point conversion and tie the game. Washington State then fumbled on the kickoff, giving the Rams the ball around the 25-yard line with less than 20 seconds to go. The Rams kicked the field goal and the comeback was complete. Mike Leach is going to need some time to recover from this late game collapse.
2) USC 45 Fresno State 20 – It doesn’t matter who is coaching USC — they just keep on winning. You thought the Trojans would collapse when Kiffin was fired, but in reality they got better and finished the season with 10 wins. USC did not allow Fresno State to be the Cinderella and pull the upset. USC’s offense showed signs of life and gave new USC Head Coach Steve Sarkisian something to look forward to going into the off season.
3) San Diego State 49 Buffalo 24 – This could be the most boring and least exciting bowl game of the group. You’re asking fans from San Diego to travel from the warm weather to freezing-cold Boise to watch their team play, while asking Buffalo fans to travel 3000 miles from freezing cold to — another freezing cold? Well, the stands were empty and the excitement was a 1.1 on a scale of 1-10. San Diego State disposed of Buffalo with great ease and led by more than 21 most of the game.
3) Louisiana Lafayette 24 Tulane 21 – Some might call the New Orleans Bowl just another bowl game. Don’t tell that to the 60,000 fans packed into the dome to watch their team fight for a victory. It was a record crowd for that bowl game. It helps that both teams are just a short drive away. It was 21-0 with Louisiana Lafayette looking for more before Tulane found their footing and made it a ball game. Tulane’s defense stood strong and held Lafayette to just a field goal in the second half, making the score 24-21. Tulane’s defense stood strong and gave their offense one more chance at victory late in the 4th quarter. Tulane drove down for the tying field goal but it went “wide left!” Louisiana-Lafayette’s Coach Mark Hudspeth has been a proven winner wherever he has gone. I expect some bigger schools that are looking for a solid coach will be giving him a call.
If the New Mexico Bowl is how every bowl game goes this season . . . WHOA NELLY . . . We are in for a treat! I hope all the teams playing just pull out every trick play in the book and defense becomes optional. This is the time for the coaches and players to have some fun. We have some big matchups coming up this week and we are less than two weeks away from the national title game.
1. Florida leaving home. . . finally!
2. SEC fined
3. ACC is done with rivals
4. NFL draft can wait
5. Texas coaching search