Bowl Challenges SetTuesday, December 8, 2009 22:26
So the NCAA college football regular season is finally over. Before I’m called out on the veracity of that statement, yes, there is one game remaining, Army-Navy. Often an afterthought, the traditional service academy rivalry game does indeed have bearing on this year’s post-season; if Army wins, the Black Knights will have the chance to play Temple in the Eaglebank Bowl instead of the UCLA Bruins. Regardless of how good the two teams are, Army-Navy is a great rivalry, always fun to watch.
Otherwise, for all intents and purposes, the bowl season table has been set, and the BCS will once again crown a “so-called” winner whose ascendance will one again be questioned by the college football fanbase at large. The need for a playoff once again rears it yearly head, this season thrusting a new argument into the mix–too many undefeated teams!
To be fair, both Alabama and Texas are worthy contenders for the throne. But with five undefeated squads entering the post-season and a guarantee that at least two (if not three) will remain that way after their respective bowls, any such trophy will, deservedly, be questioned.
That having been said, the bowl selection fallout has resulted in some intriguing and unprecedented developments. For the first time ever:
- Two non-BCS teams will play in BCS bowls (TCU and Boise State).
- Two BCS bowls will feature battles of undefeateds–the BCS Championship Game, featuring Alabama and Texas, and the Fiesta Bowl, facing off TCU and Boise State in a rematch of last year’s Poinsettia Bowl. (For those counting, the fifth undefeated, Cincinnati, plays Florida in the Sugar Bowl.)
Undoubtedly, both the Horned Frogs and the Broncos had hoped to play a Big Six team instead of each other. However, there selection to the same bowl is not some big conspiracy to marginalize the two non-BCS teams, as some seem to believe. The method in which the individual bowls select their participants means the Fiesta Bowl deserves to be commended for going out on a limb and taking the second non-BCS team. Well, maybe not commended, since it would have made the Bowl Championship Series an even greater laughing stock than it already is if the Broncos had not been selected, but at least the Fiesta Bowl’s selection committee did the right thing.
In the process, they assembled the best match-up outside the Championship Game itself. The Rose Bowl (Ohio State vs. Oregon) and Orange Bowl (Iowa vs. Georgia Tech) are basically battles of after-rans, the biggest question between the two of them being whether the Buckeyes will finally win a notable non-conference game (my answer: no). The Sugar Bowl is still somewhat intriguing–and may still be a very good game–but it lost some of its luster by the manner in which Alabama manhandled Florida in the SEC Championship Game. After the beat down the Gators received, they simply don’t seem like the same team going into that game (kudos to Nick Saban on how he prepared his team–the Tide came ready to play). Cincinnati received the unlucky draw among the undefeated teams.
But the Fiesta Bowl match-up offers up everything you could ask for. The high-powered Broncos vs. the only team in the top 6 for both total offense and total defense in the entire country, the Horned Frog. A rematch of a bowl from last year, between the top two non-BCS teams, two teams looking for respect on the national stage.
And, most importantly, an undefeated season on the line. And maybe, just maybe–although the odds are incredibly slim–a split national championship if the AP voters could be swayed. On the BCS announcement show, Jimmy Johnson said that TCU could very well be the best team in the country. A blow out in the Fiesta Bowl and a lousy BCS Championship Game and he may not be the only one saying so.
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