Thursday, December 17, 2009

Happy Bowl Season!

I love this time of year, other than it means college football season is almost over.  I've been getting ready for our annual Christmas trip to Colorado and doing some extra praying that I don't wind up face planting a tree.  I've been reading stories and message boards about how my favorite team was screwed in the bowl selection process.  (again)  And some interesting reading on how the Big 10 is planning on expansion and guess who is one of the prime candidates for said expansion?
All these will make some nice candidates for topics during the cold, dreary days of January.  For now, I wanted to take a quick look at the conference bowl match ups and give myself an opportunity to humiliate myself one last time with a few predictions.  I actually had a pretty good year straight up as I went 88-30.  The rub was against the spread where I wound up 57-57.  So really, if I had bet 50 toothpicks on every game I'd predicted, I'd have the same number I started with.  A lot of work to wind up exactly where you were when you started don't you think?
Anyway, let's start out with my favorite team.  Missouri travels to Houston to face the Naval Academy in the Texas Bowl.  I'm not going into the fact that the Tigers wound up in the 8th bowl to pick.  As I said before, that's a topic to talk about in January or even February.  The Tigers have had problems stopping the pass this season but have been one of the best in the Big XII at stopping the run.  Navy has a very good running attack but very little success throwing the ball.  I think this is a good matchup for the Tigers and the team is young enough that I don't think they'll go into the game flat because they think it's beneath them.  The Tigers open as a 6 point favorite and I happen to think this is a sucker bet.  I'm going to go with Mizzou to win and cover easily, 38-17.  Then we can move on to more interesting things such as what appears to be a top 15 recruiting class or a possible move to another conference.

Moving on to the Rolls Royce of the Big XII bowl package would always be a glorious December trip to sunny Shreveport, Louisiana where Texas A&M takes on the Georgia Bulldogs in the Independence Bowl.  Few places offer what the city of Shreveport does as you get a chance to share a shitty room at the local Super 8 with some of the cities finest cockroaches at only 200 dollars a night.  Missouri made 2 trips to the bowl game and I think that Mike Alden might have been fired had they wound up in this bowl game again.    The 'Dawgs open as a 7 point favorite in this one. I believe this game is a huge letdown for them following multiple trips to the BCS locations over the past few years.   I think that they'll have enough to win, although an upset wouldn't surprise me.  I'll go with Georgia to win, but fail to cover.  Dawgs 24-21.
In San Diego the Holiday Bowl pits 2 of the countries better defenses, as well as 2 head coaches most likely to be charged for attacking a referee as Bo Pelini and corn nation take on Mike Stoops and the Arizona Wildcats.  This game could set college football back 50 years.  The Wildcats open as a 1 point favorite.  I have no intention of watching this but I'll go with Arizona to win and cover, say about 5-3.  A late safety should put them over the top.  zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

In El Paso, Jim Harbaugh brings the Stanford Cardinal (they are still the cardinal aren't they) to play the Oklahoma Sooners and Big Game Bob Stoops.  Bob has had some problems in bowl games the past few years as they've disappointed in BCS appearances following successful regular seasons.    The Sooners finished the year a disappointing 7-5 after opening the season as a top 5 pick.  The Sooners open as an 8 point favorite in this one, but I'm going to go with Stanford in the upset, 31-30, as OU spends much of the game trying to figure out why a giant tree is dancing around the Stanford sideline.
We move on to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Arizona.  This is the bowl game that logically Missouri should have been selected for.  However, they decided that picking a 6-6 Iowa State team that MU defeated by double digits would be a better selection to play a 6-6 Minnesota team.  The NFL network is a perfect place for this game since very little of the country will be watching it anyway.  Minnesota opens as a 2 1/2 point favorite.  I'm going with the Cyclones in an upset 23-17.
In Dallas, the first Cotton Bowl to be played in Jerry World will pit Oklahoma State against Ol' Miss.  Okie Lite finished the season in disappointing fashion when they were bombed by Oklahoma 27-0 in a game that not only offered bragging rights but a possible trip to Phoenix as the conference representative in the Fiesta Bowl.  Ol' Miss opens as a 3 point favorite but I think this won't be that close.  I'm taking the Rebels 31-24.
In San Antonio the Alamo Bowl matchup will be Texas Tech against another mediocre Big 10 team in Michigan State.  Tech hasn't had great luck in bowl games but I think the Spartains are just what they need for what ails them.  The odds makers have made Tech an 8 point favorite in this one but I'm predicting a blow out.  I'll take the Red Raiders 38-14 as Mike Leach makes his first statement about next years team down in Lubbock.

Finally in the game for all the marbles, Big XII champion Texas takes on the SEC champ Alabama.  In the title game against Nebraska, the Longhorns showed that they could play defense when their O wouldn't carry the day.  The Crimson Tide may well be better defensively than the huskers and I'm fairly confident their offense is much better.  The Tide opens up as a 5 point favorite.  I think this is a pretty good line.  I'm going to pull this one out my ass and predict the winner and your 2009 national champion will be 'Bama, 27-21.
I'm heading out this weekend for a well deserved rest in Colorado.  I'll see you guys after the first of the year and we'll have some things to talk about including bowl results, possible implications if Missouri would jump to the Big 10 and a possible interview that I'm trying to put together with former kansas coach Mark Mangino.  Have a great holiday folks and drive safely!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A few surprises and some more "almost" surprises

Although I didn't get a chance to watch the team I choose to support, it was still a great Saturday of football.  The conference championship games gave us a taste of everything.  We got to see a lot of offense in the ACC final where Georgia Tech outlasted Clemson 39-34 in a game that featured almost 900 yards of total offense.  Combine that with Cincinnati's 45-44 last second win over Pitt in what wasn't a championship game, (the Big East doesn't have one) but simply fortunate scheduling where the top 2 teams happened to meet at the proper time.

In what should have been the best game of the day, we watched 2 SEC heavyweights taking each other on in the Georgia Dome.  What we witnessed instead was a complete dismantling of Tim Tebow and the Gators, 32-13.  I think Tebow has been a credit to college athletics in general, but I admit I enjoyed watching him wipe tears away as the clock wound down.  I've just seen the lovefest continue for the last 4 years and it's time to move on.  Next year we'll watch Tim T. catching passes in the NFL while playing tight end for someone with his favorite Bible verse written into his eye black.  I'm certainly not blaming the kid because he received a 4 year head job, but enough was enough.  I think the kid will be fine.  Roll Tide.
Of course, in my neck of the woods the main event was Nebraska and Texas in the Big XII title game held at the all new Jerry World in Dallas.  The Longhorns opened as a 14 point favorite and I thought that while the spread didn't seem unrealistic, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this game was tight for at least the first 3 quarters.  Instead, we were treated to either one of the best displays of defense or inept offenses since the teams wore leather helmets.  Ndamukong Suh put on the most dominant performance I've ever seen from a defensive tackle as he controlled the line of scrimmage and was responsible for 4 1/2 sacks of Colt McCoy.  Let me be the first to say that I'm glad he'll be getting paid to make plays for some team I don't give a shit about in the NFL next year.
For all the Husker defense did last night though, the offense was, well offensive as Nebraska churned out 106 yards of total offense, (39 through the air) in their "1.9 yards and a cloud of dust" formation.  Despite the trip to the title game the internet is flush with rumors of corn offensive recruits preparing to jump ship for programs more familiar with the term "forward pass".

After the game, Husker coach Bo Pelini was his usual composed self as he screamed random obscenities to whoever would listen calling for the heads of any and all Big XII conference officials.  The Pelini Brothers go off!    While I understand the passion, I confess that I'm looking forward to the day when this idiot implodes and wraps those hands around some referee's neck.  You just know that it's going to happen.  Bo just can't help himself.  It would be like asking him to suddenly quit being ugly.
I only picked 4 games this week and pretty much kept with my normal statistics as I went 3-1 outright, (missing only the SEC winner) and 2-2 vs the spread.  For the year I'm sitting at 88-30 straight up but only 57-57 against the point spread.  The bowl game selections will come out this afternoon and I'll get an opportunity to bitch, whine and complain about where my Tigers are going.  See you in a couple of days.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Adios big guy. I'm going to miss you.

So when I wake up this morning I read that Mark Mangino "resigned" last night and all details would be kept confidential.  I was really hoping that they'd be able to keep this clusterfuck going on for another couple of weeks.  This didn't last nearly long enough.   I wanted to watch Lew Perkins twist some more. 
By now we've all heard the stories of mental and physical abuse that Mangino heaped on his players.  I have no doubt that he was an asshole to both players and coaches that were under him.  But, in my opinion if the beaks had finished up 7-1 in conference rather than 1-7 none of this would ever have come up. 

So now that the ties between Mangino and the university of kansas have been cut, where do the two parties go from here?  The best thing that the big guy could do would be to take a year off, and try to get his health under control. (if anyone ever needed to visit weight watchers, it's MM)  While I think he was one of the most physically disgusting human beings to ever walk the planet, it's hard not to feel bad for him after the attacks, orchestrated by Perkins were played out in the media over the last 3 weeks.  However, I expect Mangino will be wanting to get back into coaching as quickly as possible, and he has a fairly decent reputation as an offensive coordinator.  He's just a piss poor face of the program. 
Given the problems Oklahoma had putting points on the board this season, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he wound up with his old buddy Bob Stoops as offensive coordinator or at least the offensive line coach.  Another possibility is Arizona where little brother Mike Stoops is the head coach. 
Either way, I'm going to miss Mangino in a way.  He was an endless source of material for anyone that enjoyed poking fun at kansas and it will be hard to imagine they'll hire another coach that offers us the possibilities he did.  Unless.....isn't Phil Fulmer available?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Championship week. Catching my breath.

It's not nearly as much fun to make picks when your team isn't involved.  Of course, since I'm not terribly good at it to begin with, I doubt it's going to affect my record.  The biggest thing the weekend has going for it for Tiger Fan is whether or not the university is going to get bent over for the 3rd year in a row in the bowl selection process.  In 2007, we watched as kansas, a team we'd beaten just a week before was selected to play in the Orange Bowl while we fell to the Cotton.  A reward for having to play Oklahoma a 2nd time in the Big XII title game and losing I suppose.  Then last year we watched as Nebraska was invited to the Gator Bowl while we fell to the Alamo.  This after Mizzou had throttled corn nation by 35 points in Lincoln.

A week ago we were hearing that if things fell right, that the Tigers might be heading back to Dallas and a date in the Cotton Bowl.  The thought process was if Oklahoma State defeated the Sooners, they'd have a good chance to pick up a 2nd BCS bid for the conference.  Cotton Bowl officials were concerned that Nebraska fans wouldn't be excited about making a 2nd trip to Big D in a month and Texas Tech had played in the game in 2008.  Of course it all fell apart as the Cowboys were shut out 27-0 in Norman.    So now Okie Light moves to the Cotton, the hicks get a trip to San Diego and the Holiday Bowl, a 7-5 Oklahoma team becomes very attractive to the Sun Bowl and Iowa State suddenly looks like a good choice to the Insight.  Missouri wants nothing to do with the Independence Bowl and Shreveport again so likely the Tigers wind up in Houston at the Texas Bowl.  I can sort of understand some of the other selections but Iowa fucking State to the Insight?  They are my favorite fan base outside of Missouri's but how can this shit happen year after year?  The answer of course lies in the Big XII offices where Dan Beebe, the snakeman really doesn't give a shit what happens as long as Texas, A&M, Oklahoma and Nebraska are happy, along with kansas and his old buddy Lew Perkins.   We should be at the conference offices with torches and pitchforks.

If, and this if a big if, we were able to get an invitation to join the Big 10, we should think it over for about 3 seconds and say yes.  In fact, we should be lobbying for just that to happen.  The problem is that I think they'd like Notre Dame first.  Now that will never happen, but their second choice would likely be either Rutgers or Syracuse so they could get a presence in New York.  But frankly, as long as we're stuck in this piece of shit conference we might as well keep keep loading up on KY jelly because we're going to get fucked every year.       
That's all I have to say on the bowl selection process for now.  We'll know the answers on Sunday and I can rant about it again next week while I'm trying to draw attention away from the results of my picks.  For the year I've gone 85-29 straight up, but a mediocre 55-55 against the spread.  If you used me as a guide to your betting, you'd be exactly where you were back on September 1st, which actually wouldn't be all bad.  I don't gamble so it doesn't matter much to me.
This is championship week and we have 3 good ones to look at.  In Dallas, Texas opens as a 14 point favorite over Bo Pelini and corn nation.  Texas got a scare last weekend in College Station but I believe they were looking ahead.  Nebraska has the defense to keep this one close, but the Longhorns play pretty good defense themselves when they're interested.  I'd be hugely surprised if the hicks managed to pull off the upset here but not at all if the final was closer than the spread.  However, I'm going to go with Texas to pull away late in the 3rd quarter and they'll have their place set in the national championship game against the winner of the SEC title game.  I'm taking Texas to win this one 31-13.

In said SEC title game, the Gators open as a 6 point favorite over Alabama.  There will be some serious athleticism displayed on defense in this game.  However, I don't think anyone, including the conference and the officiating crew is ready to see Tim Tebow miss an opportunity to win another national championship and frankly, I think the Gators have a bit too much firepower here.  I'm going with the Gators to win and cover, 24-24.
In the ACC, or the who gives a shit conference, Georgia Tech opens as a 1 point favorite over the Clemson Tigers.  Clemson has been a team that always gets a ton of love when the season starts, and usually pisses all over themselves after the games begin.  This year really wasn't any different as they began the year ranked and limp into the title game with an 8-4 record.  I really don't understand why Tech is only a 1 point favorite here.  I'm going to go with the Rambling Wreck to pound out a 38-24 win.
The last game isn't a conference championship game.  But here the schedulers in the Big East got it right as 11-0 Cincinnatti travels to Pitt to face the 9-2 Panthers for the right for a BCS bid.  Cincy opens as only a 1 point favorite here and this may be the best game of the weekend.  However, I think they have too much firepower and pull away with a late touchdown.  I'm taking the Bearcats 41-31.
I'm sure we'll all have a lot to talk about next week as some things should shake out over this weekend including the increasingly weird happenings in lawrence, kansas and soon to be ex-coach Mark Mangino.  Looks like another win for slimy Lew Perkins.  Have a great weekend and let me close with this.  "Hook 'em Horns"