Bowl season is upon us, so let’s pick the favorites

  • John Sleeper / College Football Report
  • Tuesday, December 19, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

We could go on and on about the puzzling Bowl Championship Series poll, but the best evidence that it’s run by the same people who slapped together the Washington state highway system is this:

Notre Dame is playing in a BCS bowl. Virginia Tech is not. Neither is Georgia Tech. Nor Nebraska.

And if you believe the oddsmakers – their consistently unerring spreads suggest you should – Florida State could beat Oklahoma for the national title by sitting its starters.

Granted, the idea behind the BCS is to pick the top two teams in the nation and face them off. Hey, they say, it’s not a playoff, but it’s the next-best thing.

Well, if it’s the next-best thing, what comes in third? A coin flip? Tarot cards? Quick game of Twister between the head coaches?

Please, let’s have a playoff. Pretty please?

I know, I know. A playoff system would cheapen the Bowl Experience for the Kids.

It’s just too much football for young bodies to handle.

It would (giggle!) take away (guffaw!) from a student-athlete’s class time (hahahehehehahahehe!).

But just listen. How much class time do college baseball and softball teams miss? Answer: A freighter’s worth more than any college football player. Last year, Washington’s softball team didn’t have a home date until four months into the season. And nearly all Husky players – UW coach Teresa Wilson saw to this – had GPAs better than 3.4.

So what about this: What if we take the winners of each of the BCS bowl games and put them into a four-team playoff following the traditional bowl season? Semifinals and a final.

Is that too much distraction from school? A maximum of two weekends? How much physical damage could that do to fragile, wispy outside linebackers? Does that cheapen other bowls?

It’s so simple, even a sportswriter can think it up.

Which means the BCS honchos will never get it.

Here’s a look at the season’s bowl games:

  • Mobile Alabama Bowl, TCU (10-1) vs. Southern Mississippi (7-4), 5 p.m. today, ESPN2: Both teams win with their defense. The difference: The Horned Frogs can score, behind superb tailback LaDainian Tomlinson. Pick: TCU, 20-13.

  • Las Vegas Bowl, Arkansas (6-5) vs. UNLV (7-5), 5 p.m. Thursday, ESPN2: Before you dismiss UNLV, remember the Rebels took Mississippi into overtime before losing, 43-40. Then there’s home cookin’. And, not in the Hogs’ favor, the usual distractions the city offers routinely turn otherwise upstanding, All-American boys into drooling pawns of Satan. Pick: UNLV, 31-30.

  • Oahu Bowl, Georgia (7-4) vs. Virginia (6-5), 5:30 p.m. Sunday, ESPN: Hey, for coaches Jim Donnan and George Welsh, there are worse things than a going-away party in Honolulu. Pick: Georgia, 30-27.

  • Aloha Bowl, Boston College (6-5) vs. Arizona State (7-4), 12:30 p.m. Monday (Channel 4): So Hawaii gets three lame-duck coaching staffs, with Bruce Snyder on his way out. Do the Sun Devils rev it up and win one for the Brucer? Nah. Pick: BC, 28-27.

  • Motor City Bowl, Cincinnati (7-4) vs. Marshall (7-5), 1 p.m. Dec. 27, ESPN: The Bearcats won with the sixth-best turnover ratio in the country and the best placekicker in the nation in Jonathan Ruffin. Pick: Cincinnati, 23-20.

  • Bowl, East Carolina (7-4) vs. Texas Tech (7-5), 5 p.m. Dec. 27, ESPN2: The Red Raiders are sixth in the nation against the pass and spread it out on offense. The Pirates are 0-5 against teams that finished better than .500. Pick: Texas Tech, 31-24.

  • Humanitarian Bowl, UTEP (8-3) vs. Boise State (9-2), 10:30 a.m. Dec. 28, ESPN2: Don’t laugh at the Broncos. They average a nation-best 44.9 points a game and are second only to Florida State in total offense. UTEP can score as well. Pick: Boise State on its own blue field, 48-44.

  • Music City Bowl, Mississippi (7-4) vs. West Virginia (6-5), 1 p.m. Dec. 28, ESPN: West Virginia coach Don Nehlen has lost eight straight bowl games. He can blame his defense for giving him his ninth and final one. Pick: Mississippi, 38-31.

  • Bowl, Minnesota (6-5) vs. North Carolina State (7-4), 4 p.m. Dec. 28, TBS: We love Wolfpack freshman quarterback Philip Rivers, who threw for better than 3,000 yards and connected on 25 TD passes. He goes against a formerly stout defense that struggled its last four games. Pick: N.C. State, 34-27.

  • Bowl, Pittsburgh (7-4) vs. Iowa State (8-3), 4:30 p.m. Dec. 28, ESPN: Pitt is vastly improved and can score with anyone. Iowa State’s only chance is ball control, with tailback Ennis Haywood getting 30 carries. Pick: Pitt, 42-31.

  • Liberty Bowl, Louisville (9-2) vs. Colorado State (9-2), 10:30 a.m. Dec. 29, ESPN: Shootout alert. Most intriguing matchup is CS quarterback Matt Newton (2,405 passing yards, 19 TDs) against a Cardinal defense that came up with a nation-high 27 (yes, 27) interceptions. Pick: Louisville, 41-38.

  • Sun Bowl, Wisconsin (8-4) vs. UCLA (6-5), 11 a.m. Dec. 29, Channel 7: Hard to figure the Bruins. So much talent, so many injuries, another loss to USC. Michael Bennett may run for 1,000 yards. Pick: Wisconsin, 30-23.

  • Peach Bowl, LSU (7-4) vs. Georgia Tech (9-2), 2 p.m. Dec. 29, ESPN: Toss in Yellow Jackets quarterback George Goodsey’s name into the 2001 Heisman balloting. All he did was complete 63 percent of his passes, throw 23 TD passes and just six interceptions. Georgia Tech deserves a better bowl than this one. Pick: Georgia Tech, 48-17.

  • Holiday Bowl, Texas (9-2) vs. Oregon (9-2), 5:30 p.m. Dec. 29, ESPN: If the Ducks are still whining about blowing a BCS bowl chance, Longhorns quarterbacks Chris Simms and Major Applewhite will lay a whipping on them. This isn’t Autzen Stadium, which automatically knocks Oregon down a notch or two. Pick: Texas, 35-30.

  • Alamo Bowl, Nebraska (9-2) vs. Northwestern (8-3), 5 p.m. Dec. 30, ESPN: The experts are crowing about this matchup as the best in the bowl season. I’d rather watch bowling, but that’s just me. If you like shootouts, this may be the one to watch. Both offenses are superb, although the Cornhuskers have trouble holding onto the ball. Neither defense reminds anyone of the 1983 Chicago Bears. Pick: Nebraska, 38-37.

  • Silicon Valley Classic, Fresno State (8-3) vs. Air Force (7-4), 4 p.m. Dec. 31, FSN: A testimonial that there are too many bowl games. Pick: Who cares?

  • Independence Bowl, Mississippi State (7-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-4), 5 p.m. Dec. 31, ESPN: Two intriguing aspects here. 1) The Bulldogs’ defense is wonderfully savage. 2) Jackie Sherrill’s first meeting with the Aggies since his ugly divorce from the school. Pick: MSU, 28-17.

  • Cotton Bowl, Tennessee (8-3) vs. Kansas State (10-3), 8 a.m. Jan. 1, Channel 13: Kansas State? Against a good team? Ha! Pick: Tennessee, 28-24.

  • Outback Bowl, South Carolina (7-4) vs. Ohio State (8-3), 8 a.m. Jan. 1, ESPN: Isn’t it delicious that this USC can whip the tar out of the other USC? Pick: USC, 28-27.

  • Gator Bowl, Clemson (9-2) vs. Virginia Tech (10-1), 9:30 a.m. Jan. 1, Channel 5: Two things in VTU’s favor: 1) Michael Vick is healthy. 2) The Gobblers are ticked at a BCS snub. Pick: Virginia Tech, 35-27.

  • Citrus Bowl, Auburn (8-3) vs. Michigan (8-3), 10 a.m. Jan. 1, Channel 4: Great matchups of tailbacks between Auburn’s Rudi Johnson and Michigan’s Anthony Thomas. We like the versatility that Wolverines wideout David Terrell provides. Pick: Michigan, 30-20.

  • Rose Bowl, Purdue (8-3) vs. Washington (10-1), 1:30 p.m. Jan. 1, Channel 4: Best bowl game of the year, period. What’s not to like? Brees and Tuiasosopo. Two teams that win close games. Defenses that take hits as often as they shell them out. Grandaddy’s got it all over everyone else this time around. Sit back and enjoy the ride. Pick: Washington, 34-33.

  • Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame (9-2) vs. Oregon State (10-1), 5 p.m. Jan. 1, Channel 4: Sure, Notre Dame belongs here as much as Cal does, but what better contrast of programs? OSU was the best Pacific-10 Conference team down the stretch. In a tough, tough conference, that’s saying something. Ken Simonton gets his first good look for a 2001 Heisman campaign. Pick: Oregon State, 42-20.

  • Sugar Bowl, Miami (10-1) vs. Florida (10-2), 5 p.m. Jan. 2, Channel 4: Every time Butch Davis grouses about not getting into the BCS title game, will someone remind him of the paddling the Hurricanes got in Seattle? And while you’re at it, tell Steve Spurrier to quit picking his nose on national TV. Pick: Miami by a nose.

  • Orange Bowl, Oklahoma (12-0) vs. Florida State (11-1), 5 p.m. Jan. 3, Channel 4: How long has it been since the No. 1 team in the nation was a 12-point dog? Somebody knows something. Pick: Florida State, 35-20.

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