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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Championship Smack Talk


I got to admit, the wait for the BCS National Championship game has gotten me all hot and bothered. Apparently Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks is a little testy before the big game as well. The Sophomore decided to add a little extra motivation for the Gators when he single handedly insulted Tim Tebow, any Gator wide receiver, and any Gator tight end. Said Franks:

"If you look at the three best quarterbacks in the country, they came from the Big 12. The three best receiver in the country came from the Big 12. The three best tight ends came from the Big 12. So we've faced some great offenses, and a lot of people don't understand that other conferences don't have what we face"

When I read 'a lot of people don't understand that other conferences don't have what we face,' I pictured every rabid SEC fan getting to that point in the article, smoke starting to come out their ears and nose, and contemplating kicking their dog right in the ribs.

"With us being in Florida and playing against Florida, everybody's going to think Tebow should have won the Heisman, but the right person won the Heisman, and we're going to go out there and show everybody the reason why he won it."

Now, Franks might be right about the Heisman going to the right guy, but he should know by now that you don't want to make Tim Tebow mad. Remember when Georgia brought the entire team out to celebrate an early touchdown in the 2007 Cocktail Party? 2008 was a 49-10 drubbing. When that frenchie for LSU, Ricky Jean-Francois, said he and the defensive line would take Tebow out? 51-21 as Tebow and the Gators started their run of dominating play. I like Franks' spirit but when you're the 63rd best defense in the country and part of a secondary that finished 98th in the nation in pass defense you should probably just bite your tongue. Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables agrees with me.

"I don't know, maybe it's just a young guy who doesn't know any better. He doesn't watch enough tape. I really mean that. But I think he's going to bat for a lot of guys who he has a lot of respect for."

I love that Venables stresses that Franks doesn't watch enough film.

Does the Big 12 play defense? It's mixed results. Missouri held Northwestern to 23. Oklahoma State got lit up for 42 against a potent Oregon offense. Kansas held Minnesota to 21. Nebraska held Clemson to 21. Ole Miss torched Texas Tech for 47, and torched may be an understatement. Finally, Texas held Ohio State to 21. Except for Oklahoma State and Texas Tech it's been a fairly respectable showing.

I don't know if the Big 12 plays a lot of defense, but the job of containing Tim Tebow and the Florida offense just got a bit tougher for Oklahoma.
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Monday, January 5, 2009

Live from the Fiesta Bowl

So, I'm posting live from the Fiesta Bowl tonight as well, so if any of the dozens of fans that we have are actually checking out the site tonight, head over to The Sporting Blog for all the updates. I'm sitting in the beautiful pressbox at University of Phoenix Stadium, which is a much more modern and nice than the pressbox at the Rose Bowl. That said, they've got everybody in the corner of the end zone, which is a much crappier vantage point than the view from up top in Pasadena. I suppose they realized that the real estate on the 50 is better used on million dollar luxury booths than non-paying members of the press that eat free food and drinks all game. Can't say that I blame them.

I've got a good corner perch here, but I'm sitting directly in front of the guys from Bucknuts.com, and it's pretty obvious who they are cheering for. They definitely are fanatic types, as they've got the knee-jerk reactions that you'd expect from guys running a message board, and carry on a conversation that you're probably hearing at a sports bar in Columbus tonight. When Terrell Pryor made another incredibly athletic play and stepped out of bounds after making a first down, they immediately quipped, "I'm sure Todd McShay will probably complain that he's not tough enough to take big hits, now." Nothing like overly obsessive fanboys sitting in the press box. (I've got something to strive for...)

First post is up at Sporting Blog, check back for more soon.
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Boston College is Delusional


There's a new leader in the clubhouse for idiotic ultimatums.

Lost in the shuffle of NFL Wild Card weekend was the news that Boston College would potentially fire head coach Jeff Jagodzinski if he were to interview for the vacant head coaching job with the New York Jets. I'm not sure how this one is going to end up, especially since the alleged interview is scheduled for today, but this could be the ultimate backfire.

Say you're Boston College. You're two years removed from losing coach Tom O'Brien to the football powerhouse known as North Carolina State. You pluck an unknown, but established, NFL position coach out of left-field to be your next head coach, all while privately smarting about the poor decision that O'Brien made leaving a "prestigious" institution like BC with a "proud football program" for a place like NC State. NC State? NC State? What?!? At the time, I spoke with more than a few BC grads who were fine with the move. They gave the explanation that they thought that O'Brien plateaued as a coach, and just "didn't get" Boston College. Right...

Now coach Jag, fresh off the success of Matty Ice and a surprisingly good second season starts getting wooed by the pretty girls. BC could go one of two ways:
  1. Understand that's what comes with the territory of having a good coach
  2. Absolutely flip their you-know-what.
They clearly decided to go West Virginia fan.

Bad choice.

If you want to be an elite program, that means you need an elite coach. An elite coach means dealing with headaches. Do you think Florida Athletic Director Jeremy Foley loses his mind every time he hears a rumor about Urban Meyer? He'd be Betty Draper from Mad Men if he worried about every after-hours dalliance that his head coach has.

Instead of worrying about it, he makes sure that he does everything he needs to keep his coach happy. New Facilities? Check. Big time contract? Check. Dealing with the rumors and speculation? Check. It may leave you with some sleepless nights, and a few extra hours a week on the treadmill keeping everything tight and in tip-top condition, but you're just doing what it takes to keep your man happy.

Yet, Gene DeFilippo, BC's athletic director gets quoted in an article saying, "Jeff is a very good man and an excellent football coach. He did a wonderful job for us while he was here at BC. I wish Jeff would not take this interview and would remain as head coach at BC."

DeFilippo essentially is threatening to dump his coach before he has a chance to get dumped. With all the speculation on who the next Jets coach is going to be, what are the odds that Jagodzinski is even going to get the job? So in one corner we've got Jags risking his current gig for the chance to talk with Jets GM Mike Tennenbaum and owner Woody Johnson, and in the other corner DeFilippo is threatening to give the job to the offensive line coach if Jags sits down and talks.

This feels like an episode of The Hills or Laguna Beach from a few years ago where Steven was playing high stakes poker with the hearts of Kristin and LC. Only instead of hot, stupid girls, replace them with over-weight, middle-aged, white men.

Check back in after Real World: Season 11 to find out what happens next!

I highly recommend DeFilippo to watch an episode of The Hills or perhaps The Bachelor to learn how to play the high
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The End of the Road

Monday is the final stop of the season for the Road to Game Day. After that, I can honestly say I have no idea what will happen with this website. We will obviously provide some type of wonderful sports commentary (and hopefully more videos), and will explore ways to make RTGD 2.0 (2.0... so hot right now) a better place, but in the meantime let's focus on the end of the season.

I'm in Arizona right now awaiting the Fiesta Bowl tomorrow night. Once again I'll be covering the game over at the Sporting Blog, as I did with these entries here, here, here, here, and here. I haven't commented much on the experience of being in the press box as a "working member" of the media, but here are a few observations if you're interested.

Covering a game from the pressbox is about 95% different than watching a game on TV and then writing about it. Hell, it's a lot different than watching a game from the stands and then writing about it. Being a complete newbie and having to worry about photos, video, and everything else, I completely punted on what I brought with me. Most of the writers that were there, all had a notepad. I did not. They all scribbled something down between plays, charting drives, taking notes on tackles and other things like blocks, catches, and time of possession. So I just created an interesting little Word document where I charted plays myself, simple stuff - like down and distance, formations, yardages. It felt a lot like keeping book during a baseball game. It's a very objective and good way to follow along with the game. It you're watching from home one time during a big game, mute the sound for a quarter and follow along, writing each down and distance, play, and yardage for a while, it's a different way to "process" football.

In the pressbox, they have a separate public address announcer that announces stuff just for you. Things that they announce over the regular PA in the stadium, but just much more detailed. They'll correct a mistake if a tackle wasn't credited properly, or passing yardage on a drive, so that's nice and helpful. They also have guys that walk around and take your trash away from you, and give you a new bottle of water if it's empty. (Note: I'm sure this doesn't happen at every game, this WAS the Rose Bowl. If it does, then I'm officially applying for a press credential for a lot of home games with the Dodgers this summer. That could be a lot of fun.)

If you aren't following the game online wirelessly, they had pretty girls dressed very professionally handing out stat sheets at the end of each quarter. At half they even gave game notes, basically a variety of crib sheets for you to form your narrative. When you watch a game on TV, you are influenced more than you'd ever think by what the announcers are saying and the information that they choose to share. There is no audio feed in the pressbox. You look down at the field, watch the game, and then decide how you'll describe it. As much as I think a lot of play-by-play and color guys absolutely suck at their job (I listened to the Chargers-Colts game on the radio, Dan Reeves was absolutely atrocious), it is very difficult to supply real-time analysis without somebody good to volley with. Sitting in the pressbox once didn't necessarily make me like the job Joe Buck does, but it does help you understand how talented the good announcers and writers are. More to the point I'm trying to make, it was really hard to come up with something to write during the game, much less every quarter. Especially when you had USC covering 70 and 80 yards in 3 minutes during the 2nd quarter. We went from a 7-7 snoozer to a 31-7 blowout in about 12 minutes. That was the most impressive quarter of football I've seen this season.

If you think sports writers and journalists aren't homers like the rest of us than you are kidding yourself. They are people just like you and me. Having never stepped foot or worked within the confines of a working press box, I tried to observe and soak in as much as possible while watching the game. I was tucked in between some pretty big heavyweights of the college football media, and for the most part, you can tell the good pros from the guys who aren't all that good. I was sincerely impressed with the way Stewart Mandel watched the game, and how he went about the craft of putting together his story. It was fun to watch guys like Ivan Maisel hold court before hand. There was a calm, detached nature that these guys had when being around a very big game. This, quite literally, felt like another day at the office. More aptly, it felt like that first day you walk into the varsity locker room when you are a freshman. There are guys that you've seen and heard about for a few years, and they are very much doing things that you'd picture them doing. Writing the logline for their story, drinking a steaming cup of coffee while discussing how bad the ACC is this year. Things that would be an establishing shot of a movie, something that puts you into the spirit of the press box, if you only had 10 seconds to describe it to your viewers.

All of this said, when the game starts, everybody is working. People are watching, writing, looking up random stats, asking what a player's number is. Many times, just in case it might come back to make a difference in the 4th quarter. While the story for the Rose Bowl was written by halftime, it'd be interesting to see how a big-time columnist pumps out a column on a deadline. God knows I was stressed enough trying to do it on New Years Day.
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Friday, January 2, 2009

Bowl Picks: The "Is it Over Yet," Edition

Not a great day for the youngster yesterday. I'm guessing that the previous evenings festivities might have had a negative effect on his prognosticating abilities. We're down to seven games left, and the race is still tight. I'm in the process of tallying up the RTGD Bowl Challenge as well, so we'll have some announcements for that coming soon.

Here are the picks for the final games of the bowl season:

Cotton Bowl
Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech

Phil: Texas Tech was the Cinderella story of the season and Ole Miss was a nice surprise as well. Ole Miss has a better defense than most teams in the Big 12 and if their front seven is getting after Harrell the Rebels have a great shot of winning this game. I think Tech’s O-Line holds up and Harrell connects with Crabtree more than a few times.
The Pick: Texas Tech

Keith: I'm not as certain of Texas Tech winning this game as everyone else, and I feel like they might've just run out of gas down the stretch. Ole Miss does a nice job with Jevan Snead moving and throwing, and I could see this game being a shootout. It'll be interesting to see how Tech responds to the beat down it took in Norman a little over a month ago. I'm still picking Tech, especially if Michael Crabtree is back to 100% healthy.
The Pick: Texas Tech

Liberty Bowl
Kentucky vs. East Carolina

Phil: A good match up of a talented C-USA team versus a bottom feeding SEC team. Kentucky true freshman QB Randall Cobb stepped in as starter after the eight game of the season and provided a spark, but knee surgery in December will force the Wildcats to go back to Mike Hartline. With ECU losing three receivers throughout the year QB Pat Pinkney doesn’t have too many healthy targets to throw to. I expect a low scoring game.
The Pick: East Carolina

Keith: How does these people decide when to play these games? The Liberty Bowl after the 1st of the year? This game should be played on like the 22nd of December on TNT. I have absolutely no rationale behind this pick, but I remember being moderately impressed by Kentucky a few times this year.
The Pick: Kentucky

Sugar Bowl
Utah vs. Alabama

Phil: Utah is a quality team that had a great season. I don’t care what the schedule looks like, winning all your games is a difficult task. Alabama was one win away from doing just that in a much more difficult conference. I don’t think Nick Saban could deal with losing a BCS game to a non-BCS team, so I don’t really expect this game to be that close.
The Pick: Alabama

Keith: I hope this is a good game, and when your best lineman decides to sign with an agent before the biggest game of the year, that's a good way to make it a little better. That said, I don't think Utah can put up points against the Tide defense, and the Alabama running game will be going downhill quickly.
The Pick: Alabama

International Bowl
Buffalo vs. UConn


Phil: I’m a big fan of Buffalo coach Turner Gill but I don’t think they have what it takes to win the International bowl. Buffalo is balanced on offense with a terrific QB in Drew Willy and a solid running back in James Starks. I’m not sure that their defense will be able to slow down the nation’s leading rusher, Donald Brown, though.
The Pick: Connecticut

Keith: I think the Turner Gill story is nice, but I fully expect UConn to win this game easily. This is exactly the kind of game that Randy Edsall has used to make people think UConn is a good football program.
The Pick: UConn

Fiesta Bowl
Ohio State vs. Texas


Phil:I have to go down with the burning Big Ten ship, right? Maybe being hungover and deciding to pick all B10 teams in bowls (except Minnesota, of course) wasn’t the best way to start the New Year.
The Pick: Ohio State

Keith: I wonder if Phil is still going to ride the Big Ten wave, especially after we've seen both the teams in this game twice. I don't expect Ohio State to hang with the explosive Longhorn offense, and won't be surprised if the Big Ten ends up winning only one game this bowl season.
The Pick: Texas

GMAC Bowl
Ball State vs. Tulsa


Phil: Ball State shot up the rankings before entering the MAC championship game undefeated only to fall to Turner Gill’s Buffalo squad. Gus Malzahn has Tulsa’s offense averaging 47 points a game while Ball State is only yielding 18 points a game. They said great defenses beat great offenses, but I don’t think Ball State has a great defense.
The Pick: Tulsa

Keith: Same thought about the timing of the GMAC Bowl. Really? Was there a conflict in getting the stadium in Mobile? Maybe they thought people would be more likely to watch this game being sandwiched between BCS Bowls and the national championship game? Hmm... I like Tulsa, even without Gus Malzahn, the dynamic offensive coordinator. Congrats to Tulsa coach Todd Graham on the 10-year contract extension. Ask Notre Dame how they like that decision...
The Pick: Tulsa

BCS National Championship
Florida vs. Oklahoma


Phil: The most anticipated game of the year and I still have a bit of an empty feeling. These two teams are great, but who is to say that on a neutral field USC or Texas wouldn’t win this game? We already know Texas beat OU on a neutral field. I’m rooting for Oklahoma to win this game, since I’m more than sick of listening to SEC fans pump their own tires. Tim Tebow is going to be very hard to beat and I can picture him willing the Gators to victory.
The Pick: Florida

Keith: Sorry Sooner fans. I just don't believe in this team's defense, especially when they're facing a team that is as well-rounded as the Gators. After watching USC yesterday, I think both of these teams should feel lucky to have the chance to play for the title, especially after you look at one team losing by double digits and the other having lost at home to a 4 loss team. I expect a lot of points, and hopefully the loss of DeMarco Murray won't cripple the Sooners. Consider me interested in the Urban Meyer dynasty, A.T. (A.T. being After Tebow)
The Pick: Florida
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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Rose Bowl Photo Album

Hope everyone enjoys the photos. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to get a shot with Erin Andrews, but it was still a good day.

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Live From the Press Box

5:41 -- Of course they don't score. Game over, 38-24 USC rolls. Head over to the Sporting Blog for more stuff from me. This has been crazy, but fun.

5:38 -- This could be the ultimate backdoor cover of backdoor covers. Penn State has the ball in the red zone with a chance to get the game within seven and under 10 seconds left. You gotta think Pete Carroll somehow knows this.

4:57 -- Scratch that. Ronald Johnson scores on another bomb from Sanchez. This game is over.

4:53 -- Penn State shows a pulse, with a TD drive that puts the score within 17 points. The Damian Williams show continues, as he makes his 10th catch for about 165 yards.

4:18 -- That was fun while it lasted. I'm sitting here trying to write down what is happening, and then Mark Sanchez starts running for Mayor of Los Angeles. 18 of 23 in te first half, with a few drops sprinkled in, and all of a sudden Pete Carroll is doing one-armed pushups on the sideline and getting his senior walk-ons stretched out. If Penn State didn't know who Damian Williams was, they do after the first half. He's had 7 catches for 127 and a TD in the first half. This dude is one bad mutha. (If that's how you spell the mother that means really good and not a maternal figure who provides care and affection.)

2:11 - Opening kickoff. Also -- you want to know who flipped the commemorative Rose Bowl coin? Ms. Cloris Leachman. That's Pasadena star power...


2:07 -- Great Stealth bomber flyover. Even if the military won't be using the plane anymore, do you think we could just keep some around for big game fly-bys?

Another thought: If the Rose Bowl Game is presented by Citi, and the US Government gave Citi over $25 billion in TARP money, does that mean that we all are presenting sponsors in the Rose Bowl game?

1:45 -- So this whole accredited media thing has it's perks. Parking was a breeze, and I'm sitting between multiple people who I read on a daily basis. Kind of weird. There are a ton of Penn State fans here, getting hammered and acting like true Big Ten fans. They certainly are having a good time. While a majority of the Rose Bowl fans are wearing USC colors, there is a Laissez-faire attitude among them, almost as if they're tired of being here at the Rose Bowl. Add to that the normally smug behavior of Trojan fans, and it almost makes me want to cheer for Penn State.

I'll be sitting in a press box for the entire game, without a headset, so basically I'll have the same amount of input on the game as Joe Paterno. (I kid, I kid...)
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New Years Day Picks: Advil Edition

So we got this up a little late -- it's not even 10:00 am here on the West Coast, and I completely forgot that the Outback Bowl gets started at something like 4am out here. Anyway, I'm off to Pasadena in about 45 minutes, so if you're bored and cruising the net today check out the site, and also The Sporting Blog, where I'll be trying to blend in and not make a fool out of myself in the pressbox. If you're a "working" member of the press, they give you all sorts of stuff to make your job easier, and I've got media guides for both teams, Rose Bowl media guides for both teams, and media guides about media guides it seems like.

Hopefully, everybody is watching the Rose Parade, which has to be the most ridiculous thing on TV. I'm not sure what the allure of getting up early on New Years Day to watch a bunch of flowers wasted on glue and floats, but people sure get a kick out of it. I can't believe that wasn't today's entry on Stuff White People Like.

Here are the Picks, in a rapid fire, condensed version.

Outback Bowl
South Carolina vs. Iowa

Keith: I think this is the best chance for the Big Ten to win a game, so I'm going with the Hawkeyes.
The Pick: Iowa

Phil: My head hurts and I'm a homer so I'm picking every Big Ten team from here on out.
The Pick: Iowa

Capital One Bowl
#15 Georgia vs. #18 Michigan State

Keith: This has to be a disappointing finish for a Georgia team that had high hopes this year. I think they end the season shutting down the Spartans running game, and celebrating the New Year with a big win in Orlando.
The Pick: Georgia

Phil: Again, I will repeat, I have a headache and want to use my brain as little as possible. There is a more than likely chance Georgia will blow out a possibly overrated Michigan State team.
The Pick: Michigan State

Gator Bowl
Nebraska vs. Clemson

Keith: I'm not sure how Nebraska got here, but I have to imagine it has to do with the great traveling fans of Nebraska, and the need for the Gator Bowl to make some money. Recently hired coach Dabo Sweeney probably has a few tricks up his sleeve for Clemson, who I expect to win comfortably.
The Pick: Clemson

Phil: I'm pretty sure Nebraska still stinks. I don't really like Bo Pelini and I kind of like Dabo Sweeney.
The Pick: Clemson

Rose Bowl
#8 Penn State vs. #5 USC

Keith: I'd like to think that this is going to be a close one, but this follows a little bit too closely to the USC Rose Bowl script. Scene One: An indestructible USC team somehow stumbles to a lesser opponent. Scene Two: Big Ten team steeped with tradition plays a soft schedule before losing late to "settle" for the Rose Bowl. Scene Three: Teams meet, with USC absolutely crushing Big Ten opponent.
The Pick: USC

Phil: I love that people rip Big Ten teams for losing to USC in the post season. USC is 12-3 against Top 10 teams since Pete Carroll took over with an average margin of victory of 21 points. If you're not named Vince Young you're not beating SC. Except tonight because I'm picking all Big Ten baby.
The Pick: Penn State

Orange Bowl
#12 Cincinnati vs. #19 Virginia Tech

Keith: This might be the worst bowl game in the history of the BCS. I think the distraction of P. Diddy's New Year's party will be too much to overcome for the Bearcats.
The Pick: Virginia Tech

Phil: I like Cincinnati more than most people do, but am not sure they are a great team. Tech is well coached and very consistent through the years, but I'm going with the Bearcats.
The Pick: Cincinnati
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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

RTGD Storms Pasadena

So I probably should've mentioned this earlier, but holidays, travel, and life got in the way. I will officially be covering the Rose Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl, both here and at SportingNews.com. You can find multiple posts tomorrow from me at The Sporting Blog, as I'll be doing a live-blog of sorts from the press-box, posting as many times as those Nazi's from the NCAA will allow.

In other news, if you're watching the Sun Bowl right now, you're watching offensive football at its most offensive. With under 10 minutes to go, Oregon State, without the Rodgers brothers, is clinging to a 3-0 lead over the absolutely inept Pitt Panthers. Quarterback Bill Stull is playing some of the worst football I've ever seen, and offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh is doing him no favors by calling nothing but deep balls and runs right into the back of the over-matched offensive line of the Panthers. Oregon State is doing no better, with an offensive stuck permanently in neutral without Jacquizz and James Rodgers. Since starting this paragraph I've seen four punts and an interception.

In other news, this press pass stuff brings some serious perks. They gave me a nifty Rose Bowl polo shirt, and I'm heading to some free party at the new ESPNZone in downtown LA where they're serving free drinks and food until 9 pm. I wouldn't normal venture outside the South Bay on a night like this, but Erin Andrews is working the game, and logic dictates that maybe she'll be in attendance at this little get-together. Rest assured friends of RTGD, I will be ready and willing to make a complete fool of myself if she's in attendance and will walk away with some photographic evidence if at all possible.

Plenty of football left tonight, before the big day gets started tomorrow. Happy New Years to everyone, and don't get caught up in the amateur hour that is New Year's Eve.
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Conference Bowl Season Report Card

A lot has been made on this blog and sports blogs all over the country about the strengths of the different BCS conferences. Early in the season, September 13th to be exact, the Mountain West conference went 4-0 against the Pac-10, bringing their season record to 5-0.

• Texas Christian 31, Stanford 14.
• New Mexico 36, Arizona 28.
• Brigham Young 59, UCLA 0.
• UNLV 23, Arizona State 20, OT—IN TEMPE.

None of these Pac-10 teams turned out to be the cream of the crop in their conference, but Arizona State was expected to be a top 15 team and Arizona finished with 8 wins after beating BYU (a Mountain West team) in the Las Vegas Bowl.

The ACC had a tough start to the season as well. NC State got thumped by South Carolina in Week 1. Virginia was dominated by USC. Predicted conference champ Clemson got buried by Alabama. Maryland and North Carolina pulled out squeakers versus Delaware and McNeese State, respectively. The cherry on top of this mess was a Virginia Tech loss to Skip Holtz and East Carolina. The perception of the ACC was that it had fallen on hard times, and it was hard to argue with anyone.

Conference power rankings were a hot topic this season, and it almost always takes the bowl season to settle some conference supremacy questions. With 17 bowl games played and 17 more to be played before January 8th’s National Championship game, lets take a look at how the different conferences are fairing in college football’s postseason.

Big East (3-0)
• USF 41, Memphis 14
• West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30
• Rutgers 29, NC State 23

The BCS conference that takes the most heat has gotten off to the best start. South Florida destroyed Memphis from kickoff to final whistle in South Florida. West Virginia won one of the more exciting bowl games of the season behind the arm of Pat White. I’ll remember that game for the incredible performance of UNC wide receiver Hakeem Nicks, but surprisingly Bill Stewart didn’t get out coached and White kept them around before stealing the win. Rutgers held true to their regular season form with a comeback win over NC State. 3-0 is nice, but this is the magicJack St. Petersburg bowl, the Meinecke Car Care bowl, and the PapaJohns.com bowl.

BOWL GAMES REMAINING:
• Brut Sun Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
• FedEx Orange Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
• International Buffalo vs. Connecticut

Pac-10 (3-0)
• Arizona 31, BYU 21
• California 24, Miami 17
• Oregon 42, Oklahoma State 31

As I mentioned earlier, the Pac-10 took a big hit early in the year when they opened the season 0-5 against the Mountain West conference. As the season played out, USC looked dominant and the middle of the conference stepped up to bring back some respectability. Now the Pac-10 is off to a great start in the bowl season. Arizona’s win over BYU was big for Mike Stoops and the Wildcat program- their first bowl appearance since 1998. Cal beat what turns out to be a 7-6 Miami team, but the roster is loaded with young talent for the Hurricanes. Pac-10 No. 2 Oregon had the biggest win for the conference, an exciting offensive display where the Duck defense stepped up and held Oklahoma State to only 470 yards and 31 points.

BOWL GAMES REMAINING:
• Brut Sun Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh
• Rose Penn State vs. USC

ACC (3-3)
• Wake Forest 29, Navy 19
• West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30
• Florida State 42, Wisconsin 13
• California 24, Miami 17
• Rutgers 29, NC State 23
• Maryland 42, Nevada 35

Florida State looked good in the Champs Sports bowl, but that was because they were playing a pathetic Wisconsin team. North Carolina, Miami, and NC State all leave the bowl season thinking they let winnable games get away. Wake Forest got a nice revenge win, but that was against Navy, and Maryland got a win over a solid club, but that solid club was a 7-6 Nevada team.

BOWL GAMES REMAINING:
• Music City Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
• Chick-fil-A LSU vs. Georgia Tech
• Gator Nebraska vs. Clemson
• Orange Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

BIG 12 (1-1)
• Missouri 30, Northwestern 23
• Oregon 42, Oklahoma State 31

As the season progressed and the Big 12 South turned out to be stacked, the Big 12 was a fashionable pick for toughest conference in the country. With Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech all sharing time around the No. 1 spot in the top 25, and Oklahoma State and Missouri making noise in the conference as well, it is hard to dispute the quality of this conference. Most of the conference’s big games are still to be played, but it got off to an iffy start. Missouri hung on and beat Northwestern, the biggest bowl underdog of the season, in overtime in a game most people thought would be a cake walk. Oklahoma State’s defensive performance gave the Big 12 haters some ammo about the defensive quality of the conference. The strength of this conference will be decided

BOWL GAMES REMAINING:
• Insight Kansas vs. Minnesota
• Gator Nebraska vs. Clemson
• Cotton Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
• Fiesta Ohio State vs. Texas
• National Title Florida vs. Oklahoma

SEC (0-0)

College football’s self-appointed most dominant conference has yet to play a bowl game this season so it’s impossible to judge just how truly strong the SEC is. There is no question it is an elite conference, one of the 2 or 3 toughest each year, but they could be down a bit this year. Florida and ‘Bama were great this year, but after those two teams I don’t think anyone in the conference is unbeatable.

BOWL GAMES REMAINING:
• Music City Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
• Chick-fil-A LSU vs. Georgia Tech
• Outback South Carolina vs. Iowa
• Capital One Georgia vs. Michigan State
• Cotton Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech
• Liberty Kentucky vs. East Carolina
• Sugar Utah vs. Alabama

BIG TEN (0-2)
• Florida State 42, Wisconsin 13
• Missouri 30, Northwestern 23

Bret Bielema has proven to be nowhere close to as good of a bowl season coach as his predecessor Barry Alvarez. BA went something like 8-3 in bowl games and has 3 Rose Bowls to his name. Bielema had the Badgers playing close with Florida State for a half before the onslaught began. Northwestern was a pleasant surprise this season and had a good showing in the Alamo bowl, despite losing to Missouri in OT. The reputation of the Big 10 has taken a beating because of Ohio State’s gaffes in the BCS title game the last two years and isn’t off to the best start of this bowl season. There are plenty of opportunities to steal a couple of victories, but the 2008-2009 post season doesn’t look to be a great one for the Big 10.

BOWL GAMES REMAINING:
• Insight Kansas vs. Minnesota
• Outback South Carolina vs. Iowa
• Capital One Georgia vs. Michigan State
• Rose Penn State vs. USC
• Fiesta Ohio State vs. Texas
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Picks Continue... Baby Mangino Approved


Can we talk about Baby Mangino for a second? You gotta love parents who love college football, Halloween, and their chubby baby. It's great Americans like this who decide to draw a fake mustache on their kid, throw him in a KU outfit, and absolutely dominate all Halloween costume contests. Way more memorable than being Harry Potter or one of those geeks from Twilight. The picture might be almost two months old, but when you're doing bowl game research, it's amazing what google will pull up.

This bowl season certainly hasn't disappointed. Yesterday gave us two great games as well, with Rutgers completing a strong finish with the assistance of terrible quarterbacking by NC State. I've got a theory that I have a better arm than 6-7% of all D-1 QBs, and I found another player that I can throw it better than: NC State 3rd stringer Daniel Evans. The rainbow he threw up for grabs to end the game was the closest thing to watching Lamar Latrell (or Sensei John Kreese) throw, complete with the limp-wristed throwing style. He made Alan Evridge look like a gunslinger.

Anyway, here are our picks for the games up until New Year's Day.

Roady's Humanitarian Bowl
Maryland vs. Nevada


Phil: This is a tough game to pick because Maryland has been so bipolar this year. At home they are Top 25 killers and on the road they look like garbage. Nevada’s offense will be too much for the Terrapins and the Wolf Pack should get to Maryland QB Chris Turner throughout the game.
The Pick: Nevada

Keith: I was watching Herbie this morning on SportsCenter, and he's convinced that Nevada is going to be able to run the ball down Maryland's throat. I just don't see it. Plus, I'm reading a great book right now called Every Week a Season, and I'm on the chapter about Ralph Friedgen. There's no way the Fridge doesn't get his boys up to play. That, and the weather shouldn't be a factor, because these dudes get free Under-Armor. Even though they're inconsistent, Maryland pulls it together one last time.
The Pick: Maryland

Texas Bowl

Western Michigan vs. Rice


Phil: I couldn’t name a single player on either of these teams so a little research was needed. Rice gets by behind their high powered offense while Western Michigan has a more stingy defense. A lot of points will be scored by both teams but the Owls will have the advantage behind receivers James Casey and Jarrett Dillard, the only duo in the nation to both average over 100 yards a game.
The Pick: Rice

Keith: This is the part where someone mentions that it's basically a home game for Rice. That's not the angle I'm going with, I'm going with a WR that most people haven't heard of who already has 19 TDs on the season, and is going for #60 in his career tonight. Ladies and Gentlemen... Jarett Dillard! (Check out his vertical leap in this video. He jumps first.)
The Pick: Rice

Holiday Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Oregon

Phil: One of the more anticipated games of the non-BCS season. Both of these teams can light up the scoreboard, which seems like an annual tradition in the Holiday Bowl. The team with the defense that makes a few more stops will be the team that wins this game.
The Pick: Oregon

Keith: This is a tough pick, because after watching both of these teams play, Oklahoma State was much more impressive. But, I've got to think that losing their D-Coordinator and their end of the season slide will hurt the Cowboys. This really is a battle between billionaires: T. Boone Pickens, the oil-baron, corporate raider, and author of "The Pickens Plan," vs. Phil Knight, Mr. Nike. I'm going with the guy who makes the shoes.
The Pick: Oregon

Armed Forces Bowl
Houston vs. Air Force


Phil: It’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season, but this is the Armed Forces Bowl, and I’ll be damned if I pick against an Armed Force. The triple-option will continue to confuse Houston, who looks to revenge an early September loss to Air Force.
The Pick: Air Force

Keith: This one is going to be a track meet, with Air Force running the ball and Houston throwing it. I haven't watched a second of either team here, but I'm going to go with the logic that it's tough to beat the same team twice. That's bad news for Air Force, who won a close one between the two teams in September.
The Pick: Houston

Sun Bowl
Oregon State vs. Pitt


Phil: Oregon State was one win away from winning the Pac-10 and spending New Year’s in Pasadena. Instead they are stuck in El Paso. The letdown factor is hugely in play here, but I think Jacquizz Rodgers outperforms LeSean McCoy and Oregon State salvages their season after the devastating loss to Oregon in the final week of the year.
The Pick: Oregon State

Keith: This is a coaching mismatch. Mike Riley, a guy who can get it done versus Dave Wannstedt, a guy with a great mustache. Even if Jacquizz Rodgers is still banged up, I can't fathom how a coaching staff with this many mustaches can outsmart an opposing team. Here's a tip though: Run LeSean McCoy a lot.
The Pick: Oregon State

Music City Bowl
Boston College vs. Vanderbilt


Phil: Vandy was a nice story early in the year but did a nose dive, finishing the year 1-6 heading into the bowl season. The Commodores made their first bowl game in 26 years but won’t get their first bowl victory since 1955. Boston College is a much more complete team and Vandy will have trouble moving the ball on the Eagle defense.
The Pick: Boston College


Keith: Talking about mustaches, is there a better one than the stache that BC Defensive Coordinator Frank Spaziani rocks?
This dude looks like the football coaching version of Tom Selleck. Even though I'm not a big BC guy, but I think Vandy is running on empty, having lost six of its last seven. It's a far cry from the team that was hosting College GameDay earlier this season.
The Pick: BC

Insight Bowl
Kansas vs. Minnesota


Phil: Minnesota was another nice story early in the year, but their performance severely dropped off when the strength of their schedule increased. With Illinois turning out to be a bad football team the Gopher’s best win was against Florida Atlantic. Four straight losses to end the regular season with their defense going from a strength to a weakness doesn’t bode well against a talented Kansas offense. Minnesota could keep it close early but I expected Kansas to run away with this one in the battle of former Glen Mason teams.
The Pick: Kansas

Keith: The Gophers are leaking oil, firing coaches, and switching offenses. That's not good. And now that Eric Mangini got canned from the NY Jets because his General Manager sucks, there is only one "Mangenius" left in football. That might friends, is this giant of a man. Who is actually good at racquetball. Here's a quote from an article from last year written by the always excellent Thayer Evans.
"Mangino fit in well, from quickly becoming Snyder's most trusted aide to dominating lunch-time racquetball matches with Bob Stoops, then a Kansas State assistant. "He'd smoke him," said Brent Venables, Oklahoma's co-defensive coordinator, who was also on that Kansas State staff. "He was quick on his feet for a big fellow."
Friend of RTGD Bruce Feldman called this excerpt quite perhaps the greatest two paragraphs in the storied history of the whole newspaper.
I couldn't agree more. Just knowing that Mark Mangino can beat Bob Stoops in racquetball makes me want to pick Florida in the BCS Championship.
The Pick: Kansas

Chick-Fil-A Bowl
LSU vs. Georgia Tech

Phil: Again, just reading the words Chick-fil-A make me want an original No. 1 with some Chick-fil-A sauce. As for the game, it turns out that LSU isn’t a great team and Georgia Tech is a very good team. Tech could have some problems running against the LSU defensive front but should break a few big plays. I’m back on the Yellow Jacket bandwagon after their incredible win over instate rival Georgia.
The Pick: Georgia Tech

Keith: I think LSU was all smoke and mirrors this season, and even with a month to prepare, won't be able to stop the vaunted option attack of Georgia Tech behind mastermind Paul Johnson. There might literally be less than 150 yards of passing in this game.
The Pick: Georgia Tech
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Not a lot of Political Science majors at USC


I'm not a big fan of TMZ, and I really don't like that I can't just embed the video into this post, but this is pretty funny. It makes me like Mark Sanchez a little bit more, and also confirms a lot of the suspicions I have for the "academic excellence" at USC.

Click here for some random paparazzi asking USC football players, "Who is Joe Biden"

www.tmz.com/videos?autoplay=tr...50-7737d18d5ad2
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Bowl Season Pick Recap

Bowl Season is 13 games old and RTGD's pick success hasn't improved from thoroughly mediocre. I started the post-season 3.5 games back of the older brother with hopes of making up some ground and pulling out the season victory at the end. So far my plan is not working out, but theres plenty of games to be picked. Lets take a look at how the games have played out so far.

Eagle Bank Bowl
Wake Forest 29 Navy 19

Phil: Wake Forest
Keith: Wake Forest

Navy got out to an early 13-0 lead in the second quarter and looked like they had a chance to beat Wake Forest for the second time this season. Kevin Harris and the Wake Forest run game woke up and QB Riley Skinner was a perfect 11-11 with a touchdown pass to lead the Demon Deacons to the victory. The win sends the Wake seniors off as the winningest class in school history with 32 victories.

New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State 40 Fresno State 35
Phil: Fresno State
Keith: Fresno State

Fresno State gave up 20 fourth quarter points and watched the game slip away to finish off a disappointing season for Pat Hill's Bulldogs. The Bulldog run game was clicking as Anthony Harding ran for 120 yards and Lonyae Miller added 113 but quarterback Tom Brandstater was inconsistent. The difference in the game was Colorado State running back Gartrell Johnson who ran for a career high 285 yards and 2 touchdowns.

MagicJack St. Petersburg Bowl
South Florida 41 Memphis 14

Phil: South Florida
Keith: South Florida

The dominating bowl win in an extra home game for South Florida was the final swing in an up and down year for the Bulls. USF started the season 5-0 against non-conference foes but went a disappointing 2-5 in the Big East conference. The Bulls doubled up Memphis in total yards and had the game in hand from the opening kick off. Memphis got off to an 0-3 start but rallied to win six games and make their second straight bowl game.

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona 31 BYU 21

Phil: Arizona
Keith: BYU

Before this win the last time Arizona won a bowl game was in 1998 when the Wildcats went 12-1 and beat Nebraska in the Holiday bowl. It took a decade but Arizona finally has another bowl win and their winningest season since that Holiday bowl season. QB Willie Tuitama set every major passing record in his four seasons in Tucson and passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns in his fair well game as a Wildcat.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Southern Miss 30 Troy 27 (OT)

Phil: Troy
Keith: Troy

Southern Miss blocked Troy's game-tying field goal attempt in overtime to give the Golden Eagles their fourth bowl victory in their last 5 appearances. The win gave Southern Miss a 7-6 record, the 15th straight season the Eagles have finished with a winning record, the fourth-longest active streak in the FBS. All things we should have known before we both picked Troy.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
TCU 17 Boise State 16

Phil: TCU
Keith: TCU

What was being billed as the best non-BCS bowl game of the season lived up to its billing. After falling behind 13-0 in the first half the Horned Frogs ripped off 17 straight points and held on for their fourth straight bowl win. The run game was the key to the victory as TCU piled up 278 yards versus 28 for Boise State. The loss ended Boise's run at three undefeated seasons in the last five seasons.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Notre Dame 49 Hawaii 21

Phil: Hawaii
Keith: Notre Dame

Notre Dame snapped the most talked about bowl streak in college football history. You couldn't watch ESPN college football coverage without hearing about the 9 straight bowl games that Notre Dame lost. A lot of that was the product of being overexposed and over-ranked, thus being placed in bowl games that they were over matched in. Hawaii proved to be no match for the Irish, as Jimmy Clauses threw for 400 yards and 5 touchdown passes. The return of Michael Floyd was uneventful, but the passing game was still in tune for ND.

Motor City Bowl
Florida Atlantic 24 Central Michigan 21

Phil: Central Michigan
Keith: Central Michigan

The only thing interesting about this game is that the victory improves Howard Schnellenberger's bowl record to 6-0, the most bowl wins by a coach without a loss in FBS history. Lets carry on.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
West Virginia 31 North Carolina 30

Phil: North Carolina
Keith: West Virginia

Butch Davis has the Tar Heels back on track for success, finishing 8-5 with the bowl loss, a big improvement from the 4-8 record in his first season as head coach. UNC wide receiver Hakeem Nicks was the star of the game, making highlight reel catch after highlight reel catch (watch the slow-mo replay, it's insane) for 217 yards and three touchdowns, but it wasn't enough. Pat White, West Virginia's record breaking quarterback, proved to be too much for North Carolina and guided the Mountaineers to victory with his arm, throwing for 332 and three touchdowns.

Chumps Sports Bowl
Florida State 42 Wisconsin 13

Phil: Wisconsin
Keith: Wisconsin

There's really nothing more to say about this Badger team. I'm not even too depressed about this bowl loss since the 19-point collapse at Michigan and the last-second loss to Ohio State in back to back weeks effectively broke my heart as a Badger fan. Funny thing is we looked alright in the first half and got a good push on the line, until the ass-whooping snowballed and we got run out of the gym. Oh well, there's always next year. And Barry Alvarez, can you come back and coach?

Emerald Bowl
California 24 Miami 17

Phil: California
Keith: California

This game matched up two teams who have been pretty successful in bowl games in recent history. Cal eeked out the victory with a 2 yard passing touchdown from Nate Longshore to Anthony Miller with 2:41 left. The victory was the fourth straight bowl win for Cal, while the loss was just the third loss in the Hurricanes last 11 bowl games.

Independence Bowl
Louisiana Tech 17 Northern Illinois 10

Phil: Northern Illinois
Keith: Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech won their first bowl game since 1977 and even that is more than most of you cared to know about this game.

Papajohns.com Bowl
Rutgers 29 NC State 23

Phil: Rutgers
Keith: NC State

As much as the ESPN lovefest of Rutgers and coach Mike Schiano bothered me two years ago in the middle of their 11-2 season, what they did this year was pretty impressive. In a tailspin after starting the year 1-5, Schiano kept the Scarlet Knights together and rallied the team for seven straight victories to end the year. QB Mike Teel threw 6 TDs on the road against Pitt and 7 TDs against Louisville during their torrid stretch. In a fitting way to end the season, Rutgers fell behind NC State early but rallied from an 11 point deficit for the win.

Bowl Season:
Phil: 6-7
Keith: 7-6

Season Totals:
Phil: 41-55-1
Keith: 46-51



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