Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bowl Roundup: Looks like Meat Loaf for me

I didn't pull off the sweep like I had hoped but as that great singer/thespian Meat Loaf so eloquently put it, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Unless the one loss was so lopsided that it made you want to turn off the TV and go outside in the yard and scream "HOW CAN I BE SO F-ING STUPID?!" at the top of my lungs.

Good thing I didn't have any money on it.

Let's review:

Bowl #11
Independence Bowl
Oklahoma St. 34, Bama 31
: Ok St -2 1/2
MY PICK: Ok St. 27-21 (winner)
MY REC: 4-6

The game was much closer than it should have been, as the Cowboys dominated the Tide (total yards: 419-276) and took a commanding 14-point lead early in the 4th quarter but then had to scrape by on a last-second field goal.

The turnaround was not due to Bama's underwhelming offense but a couple of big plays that went the Tide's way.

OSU had jumped out to a 31-17 lead early in the 4th quarter on the strength of a balanced attack (212 yds passing, 208 yds rushing) and the power running of Dantrell Savage (19 carries, 112 yards, TD.) While the Cowboys were scoring at will the Tide was doing its usual thing on offense- practically nothing. But the game became a nail-biting classic with one big play on special teams.

After the 10-yard TD from Bobby Reid to Adarius Bowman made the score 31-17 with a minute gone in the 4th, Bama's Javier Arenas fielded a punt after OSU's next drive stalled and raced 86 yards for the score to make it 31-24. Needless to say it was a big momentum play for the Tide.

But when Ok St's Grant Jones fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Bama recovered at the 26, six plays later John Parker Wilson found Andrae Smith on a lateral for the game-tying score, and what looked like a laugher turned out to be a bettor's nightmare.

Ah the old late field goal cover on a 2 1/2 point spread. Love it when that happens.

Bowl #12
Texas Bowl
Rutgers 37, Kansas St 10
: RU -8 1/2
MY PICK: Rutgers 35-23 (winner)
MY REC: 5-7

They may not be the national champs.

They may not be the champs of the Big east.

But the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are champions of the Texas Bowl and that's good enough for them.

Rutgers capped a magical season by pummelling Kansas State and in doing so became the first team in the school's 137 year history to win a bowl game. Congrats to the Scarlet Knights and all of its loyal and long-suffering fans, including my good buddies Ira & Butchie.

Of course for Rutgers to beat someone like that so convincingly one man had to be behind the offensive success: Ray Rice. The superb soph gained 170 yards on 24 carries and it was his 46-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that made it 31-10 and sent the Wildcats fans scrambling for the keggers in the parking lot.

Seldom used senior Tim Brown (no, not the one who ended his career by disgracing himself with the Yucs) chipped in two TDs, Jeremy Ito kicked 3 field goals and the RU defense did the rest. The Scarlet Knights held the Wildcats to just 162 yards (31 yards rushing) & 6 first downs and also forced 3 turnovers in what was a dominating effort from an underrated unit.

By contrast RU rolled up 479 yards of offense, 211 on the ground, 21 first downs and looked like the team that ran out to a 9-0 record and finally got national attention from the fans & media after decades of futility. Remember, this team went 1-11 four years ago.

So kudos to the Knights for a terrific season. Let's hope for 2 things for RU in 2007:
1.) Ray Rice comes back
2.) They get to play in a bowl game the whole country can watch!

Bowl #12
PacLife Holiday Bowl
Cal 45, Texas A&M 10
: Cal -3
MY PICK: Cal 30-28 (loser)
MY REC: 5-7

This is where things started to get a little squirrelly. In my defense the score definitely shouldn't have been as high as the final. How do I know? Because Cal coach Jeff Tedford admitted that the late TD by Bryan Schutte should have been a kneel down as Tedford didn't want to run up the score on Dennis Franchione & the Aggies.

So it really should have been 37-10.

Marshawn Lynch (111 yards, 2TDs) and Justin Forsett (124 yards, TD) keyed a punishing ground attack for Cal, QB Nate Longshore threw for 235 yards and a score and the Bears held the Aggies & power running back Jorvorskie Love his Name Lane (36 yards) in check. By the way, does Lane remind anyone else of a young Jerome Bettis or is it just me?

But this game irked me because I made yet another fatal gambler error: I went away from my first instinct that the loaded Bears would slaughter the punch less Aggies. I remembered back to the way A&M pounded Texas in the season finale, and the way Cal nearly choked to lowly Stanford in its finale, and I logicized (hey if Stu Scott can make up words like 'ridicufied' then I can too) myself into thinking the Aggies would keep it close.

Boy when I'm wrong I'm really wrong. Except I would have been right on the money had I gone with my initial instinct. Which is my third cardinal rule of gambling.

1.) Never bet with your heart

2.) Don't use clouded logic

3.) Go with your first instinct

Okay #2 and #3 kind of tie in together but you get my drift. Beginning with tomorrow's slate I am going to obey all my rules and rattle off a winning streak that will make Matthew McConaughey's character in Two For the Money look like, well, the old me!

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