Friday, January 04, 2008

All hail Mangenius! Jayhawks upset Hokies in Orange Bowl

Yesterday's Bowl result:
Fed Ex Orange Bowl (VT -3)
Kansas 24, Virginia Tech 21
My Pick: Kansas 27-24

My Bowl record: 14-15

Of course I'm referring to myself in the title as well as the coach of the Jayhawks, as not only did Mark Mangino's pesky Kansas squad knock off the mighty Hokies, but I picked the margin within three points of each team.

I know, my arm's starting to hurt again from patting myself on the back. I'm gonna get a sling soon.

But let's just say I needed to pull an upset like that to get me near .500 for this Bowl Season, and all it took was using the age-old philosophy of going against the team everyone was picking, and voila, one upset special, coming right up.

The irony of the game, aside from the fact that everyone outside of the heartland was picking Kansas to get crushed in the game, is that the Jayhawks didn't win by outscoring Va Tech with their high-powered offense, but by burning the Hokies with a taste of their own medicine--with special teams and defense.

Kansas played spectacularly on special teams (aside from allowing an 84-yard kick return for a touchdown), using a blocked field goal, a successful fake punt, and returning a missed field goal to mid-field to stun the Hokies at their own game sprinkled in with booming punts that created poor field position for Tech all night long.

When the special teamers weren't on the field, the unheralded Kansas defense was stifling the two-headed quarterback tandem of Tyrod Taylor and Sean Glennon, holding the two Hokie passers to just 171 yards in the air and forcing three interceptions between the pair. the Jayhawks sacked the Hokies hurlers four times in the first quarter alone, setting the tone for what would be a shaky night on offense for VT.

Not that Kansas was much better. Coming in averaging 44 PPG, the Jayhawk offense produced just 17 points, with the other seven coming on a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown by all-name team member Aqib Talib late in the first quarter.

Although RB Brandon ore led the Hokies downfield for a touchdown just minutes before the first half ended, for some reason Frank Beamer went away from the power running game in the second half and left his QBs to drive the offense, and the plan backfired badly as Taylor and Glennon appeared badly overmatched almost on every play.

So the BCS finally got a competitive game, and for fans of the underdog, something to enjoy other than another whitewashing by a heavy favorite. Actually with West Virginia's mountaineering of the Sooners, the BCS has now had two upsets and two blowouts, with the big game set for Monday night in bayou country.

Until then we've got a couple of turd bowls to pad the schedule with as we sink out teeth into NFL Playoff football this weekend. Whose fucking idea was it to schedule a bowl game in Toronto on the first day of the postseason, anyway? That certainly wasn't a stroke of (man)genius.

What am I complaining about, if I pick those two turds right, I'll be one game over .500 going into the title game, leaving it to the title game to make or break my season.

In that case, bring on the...

International Bowl
(7-5) vs. Ball State (7-5)
Sat, Toronto Noon ESPN2
Line: Rutgers -10 1/2

The game has been hyped more for the two schools most famous alums--RU's James Gandolfini and BSU's David Letterman--than for the two teams involved. But what do you expect with a filler game north of the border on the first Saturday of NFL playoff action?

What you should expect is a lot of yards from Rutger's dynamic tailback Ray Rice(1732 yds, 20TDs), who averages 144 YPG and will be facing a defense that allows 200 yards on the ground per game. Can you say "NFL showcase game" for the sure-to-jump junior?

Ball State likes to pass behind QB Nate Davis (3376 yds, 27TDs), but Rutgers is second in the nation in pass defense, so they might be able to contain Davis and the Cardinals attack.

Still, I find it hard to give the Scarlet Knights a 10+ advantage over anyone after their disappointing season, and I'm not inclined to do so here. I like Letterman's boys to hold it close against Soprano & Schiano's goons and make a game of it up north.

The question is, will anybody friggin' see it?

MY PICK: Rutgers 39, Ball State 31

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