We’re smack dab in the middle of the forty-some Bowl games of this holiday season. Time to take stock of the “Best of what’s left”. First though, I would like to make note of the national playoff system that is going on in the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision. You know, those are the schools that provide the early-season non-conference games for our “Big Boys”.
The NCAA has devised a 16-team playoff for those schools. First round action began on Saturday, Nov. 28. The championship game will be held on Saturday, Jan. 9, and will pit North Dakota State against Jacksonville State. That’s nearly a month-and-a-half of playoff football. Yet, the NCAA tells us that we cannot have a playoff of that magnitude at the top level of football schools, the College Football Championships, because it would put “undue time restraints on our student/athletes.”
I’ve never been able to comprehend how a student athlete at Jacksonville State can handle it and a student athlete at Alabama cannot. Are the athletes at North Dakota State just more intelligent than the ones at Michigan State? Do the athletes at Northern Iowa “get it” in class better than those at Oklahoma? It must be so. It is the ONLY reason I can come up with for the reason that one level of college athletes has a 16-team national championship and the other level has a 4-team playoff that regularly leaves out one of the major conferences and a couple of major independents.
Just as Shakespeare stated in Hamlet, “Thou doth protest too much, me thinks.” Oh well. I can hope.
BEST OF THE REST
PEACH BOWL — Houston vs. Florida State. Seminoles just one win out of a national playoff spot. They topple the Cougars 33-13.
OUTBACK BOWL — 10-2 Northwestern vs. 8-4 Tennessee. I don’t know why but the Volunteers usually show up big in bowl games. Tennessee 35, Northwestern 31.
CITRUS BOWL — Michigan (9-3) vs. Florida (10-3). This is the Michigan team that couldn’t get off a punt at the end of the game and propelled Michigan State into the national playoff picture. They will be doing a lot of punting against a stout Gator defense so they better get it right. They will. Coach Harbaugh and his rejuvenated Wolverines win it 24-21.
FIESTA BOWL — This one will draw a lot of national attention as 11-1 Ohio State takes on the darlings of the media world, 10-2 Notre Dame. Hard to root for the Buckeyes but we will. 36-28.
ROSE BOWL — 12-1 Iowa vs. 11-2 Stanford. A severe test for a strong Hawkeye defense. A hangover from the Michigan State loss will linger. Stanford 42, Iowa 24.
SUGAR BOWL — Big 12 prestige on the line as Oklahoma State 10-2 mixes it up with Mississippi (9-3) Cowboys can score but can they stop the Rebels. Just enough. 45-41.
ALAMO BOWL — Gary Patterson’s TCU , 10-2, takes on high scoring Oregon , 9-3. This one could light up the scoreboard. The Horned Frog’s Trevon Boykin is one of the best quarterbacks in the country and he will be the difference. TCU 54, Oregon 38.
LIBERTY BOWL — Kansas State (6-6) vs. Arkansas (7-5). Both teams on late-season surges. The difference is at quarterback. The Razorbacks have a good one and the Cats don’t. Arkansas 28, Kansas State 24.
FOUR-TEAM NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP — Oklahoma too much for Clemson in the first round and ditto for Alabama over Michigan State. The last time Oklahoma and Alabama played in a bowl game the Sooners humbled the Crimson Tide. Baker Mayfield can become a Sooner legend with a win in this one. Oklahoma 31, Alabama 27.
Charles Tabler is a contributing writers from Larned.