First off, I would just like to wish everyone here a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, whichever you like better. Secondly, I'd like to show my gratitude for having one of the greatest coaches of all time, Joe Gibbs, as the head honcho for my team. That win over the Vikings last night was mighty impressive.
Heading into last night's game, all the talk was about the Vikes' 5-game winning streak and how they control both sides of the line of scrimmage, which would negate just how atrocious Tarvaris Jackson was at quarterback. Well, 12 hours later, it's the Redskins who have a 3-game winning streak and it was the Skins who controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage. Now, the Skins control their own destiny for that wild card spot, and it's my favorite week of the year to be in DC: Dallas Week. Obviously, Gibbs and his crew can't overlook a 13-2 team, but the 'Boys essentially have nothing to play for. T.O. -- who burned us for 4 TDs in the game at Texas Stadium -- has already been ruled out and I wouldn't be surprised if Romo plays very little or not at all. Things are looking up...
That challenge of 12 men on the field, right when the momentum seemed to be going the Vikes' way, was a thing of beauty.
All that being said, if there's one thing I've learned as a Redskins fan over the years it's don't count those eggs before they hatch. The Cowboys game is always close and Romo's replacement, Brad Johnson, is a former Skin who probably hates Dan Snyder...and oh yeah he won a Super Bowl. I'm trying my darndest to score tickets to this game at Fedex.
Oh and if you haven't noticed...I'm 4-2 in bowl picks, a good start considering the little information I had on the teams that have played so far. I'm one East Carolina field goal away from being 5-1, too. Here's some more picks...
Meineke Car Care Bowl: UCONN vs. Wake Forest, Dec. 29 1 pm, ESPN
You have to admire the job Randy Edsall has done at UCONN, building a program that wasn't even in Division-1 in the '90s into a Big East contender. Jim Grobe has led a rebirth in football at Wake Forest, too. Neither of these teams has much offense, and both rely on their defense, so don't expect any sort of offensive explosion. Atleast that's what all the experts say. Obviously, I'm no college football czar, but something tells me this won't be as low scoring as others predict. I think this one comes down to the coaches and I like Randy Edsall a lot. He doesn't get recognized nearly enough.
UCONN 27, Wake Forest 20
Liberty Bowl: Central Florida vs. Mississippi State, Dec. 29 430 pm, ESPN
The bottom line is if Sylvester Croom doesn't make it to a bowl this season, his ass would be canned by now. But luckily for one of college football's few black head coaches, his team overachieved and made it to the postseason. Central Florida has the leading rusher in the nation, Kevin Smith, who will be looking to break the single-season record in this game. Don't take too much notice of the whole "Miss. St. is in the SEC so they'll have better athletes than UCF" thing because it simply isn't true. Mississipi State had a couple of nice upsets against some division opponents, but otherwise collected wins courtesy of its soft non conference schedule. I'm thinking UCF wants to make a statement in this one.
UCF 34, Mississippi State 14
Alamo Bowl: Penn State vs. Texas A&M, Dec. 29 8 pm, ESPN
Ah, the final chapter in the painfully mediocre and depressing Anthony Morelli era. Remember when he came to State College? Remember when the Nittany Lions thought they had Chad Henne all locked up only to see him escape to the superior college of Michigan? Remember how Morelli has the most underutilized weapons in all the land? Seriously, when Penn State fans look back on this season, they've got to think that their roster had all the makings of a Big Ten Champion, except at the quarterback position. But let's also remember what Morelli can do. Penn State always seems to beat those teams it is supposed to beat, and the Aggies are one of those squads. Without Dennis Franchione, who is a great bowl coach, Texas A&M should have a lot of trouble, especially if it can't run the ball. And if you've watched the Aggies at all, you'd know quarterback Stephen McGee is basically like a worse version of Morelli.
This is how I will always remember big Tony.
Penn State 27, Texas A&M 17
Independence Bowl: Alabama vs. Colorado, Dec. 30 8 pm, ESPN
Two coaches brought in to resurrect struggling powerhouses and all they got was the stinkin' Independence Bowl. But I would assume Dan Hawkins of Colorado is more than happy to be bowl bound given the destitute state the Buffs were in after the whole Gary Barnett ordeal. Nick Saban, while playing in a tougher conference, probably expected a lot more out of his Crimson Tide this season. They essentially threw the towel in after losing close to LSU, and then Saban did that whole September 11th thing. I do like Alabama's offense, though, and I definitely see them putting up a lot of points led by the older brother of the quarterback from Two-a-Days (that's QB John Parker Wilson, if you didn't know). But the word around the street is Saban, and therefore his players, aren't really taking this bowl all that seriously. The staff and Crimson Tide fans seem a lot more concerned with the stacked recruiting class coming in next fall. I think interested or not, the Crimson Tide — who also have stud WR D.J. Hall — have too much talent and speed for Colorado.
Alabama 34, Colorado 30
Armed Forces Bowl: Caifornia vs. Air Force, Dec. 31 1230 pm, ESPN
This is your classic underachieving big timer against more motivated, triple option running, less talented military academy. Seriously, it seems like yesterday Cal was No. 2 in all the land and on a beeline for a BCS Bowl (It was actually the beginning of October). Now, after starting 5-0, the Golden bears have lost six of their last seven. Air Force is going to a tough matchup for Cal because no Pac-10 teams run the triple option or anything remotely close to it. On the other hand, the triple option tends not to work when confronted by big time athletes, which Cal has plenty of...even if they underachieved big time. Another factor to take into consideration is Cal QB Nate Longshore having played the whole season with bone chips in his ankle. He's had a month off and now might actually be able to capitalize on the considerable talents of De'Sean Jackson. A lot of people see the Bears coming out like they have since October — a lackluster squad on the downfall. For some reason I see a rejuvenated team hitting the field on New Year's Eve.
Cal 31, Air Force 20
Humanitarian Bowl: Fresno St. vs Georgia Tech, Dec. 31 2 pm, ESPN2
Paul Johnson, formally of Navy, is the new coach of the Yellow Jackets, but it's defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta leading the way for Georgia Tech in this one. If you remember when Kirk Herbstreit wrongly stated Les Miles would coach at Michigan, it was Tenuta who Herby "announced" would be the new defensive coordinator. Overlooked among all this news was the fact that Tenuta is one helluva coordinator. Pat Hill is a great bowl coach, though, and Fresno State is not new to playing BCS conference foes. In fact, they relish facing them. But the Bulldogs are missing their leading rusher due to injury and the Yellow Jackets still have Tashard Choice at tailback.
Georgia Tech 24, Fresno State 14
Sun Bowl: South Florida vs. Oregon, Dec. 31 2 pm, CBS
This is your ultimate how the mighty have fallen bowl game. Without Dennis Dixon Oregon is a shell of the team that destroyed Michigan in the Big House. South Florida kind of fell of the map after that Rutgers loss after it reached No. 2 in the national rankings. Both were former No. 2's, actually, but unlike Oregon, the Bulls rebounded and won their final three ballgames. South Florida has a good run defense so Ducks' running back Jonathon Stewart won't be able to win this game single handedly.
South Florida 24, Oregon 20
Music City Bowl: Kentucky vs. Florida State, Dec. 31 4 pm, ESPN
Alright, well I was already going to pick QB Andre Woodson, WR Steve Johnson, and Kentucky in this one and then the Seminoles got those academic suspensions, making this an easy selection. I'm actually kind of curious what sort of cheating the Florida State players did. Apparently, tutors and other school officials were helping athletes cheat for an internet-based course. But seriously, what did they expect? Shady Florida State guys were taking an internet course. If you're Bobby Bowden, what do you really say? "I guided you into an easy internet course and instead of making the most of your educational opportunities, you decided to cheat?" But who do you think made the tutors feel like it was okay to cheat? My money is on Dag gum Bobby Bowden.
Bobby Bowden...a true pioneer when it comes to upholding the academic standards of the NCAA.
Kentucky 42 Florida State 24
Insight Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Indiana, Dec. 31 6 pm, NFL Network
This is a man's bowl. A 40-year-old man's bowl. It's too bad Indiana wants to win this really badly for its fallen coach Terry Hoeppner. Remember his motto of "play 13"? Well, the Hoosiers accomplished that mission and I'd look for their emotions to be running high in this one. This one should have some offensive fireworks and hopefully Mike Gundy will go off on the bush league sideline reporter that the NFL Network has there.
Indiana 42, Oklahoma State 31
Chick Fil-A Bowl: Clemson vs. Auburn, Dec. 31 730 pm, ESPN
This is going to be a really, really good game. Both teams have speed, great defenses and coaches with the first name of Tommy. I think the difference is Auburn, for some reason, switched offensive coordinators during these bowl practices leading up to the game. Al Borges has been replaced with Troy's Tony Franklin -- who will be implementing the spread offense immediately. To me, this sounds like the Tigers (of Auburn) are sacrificing the short term goal of winning this game for the long term goal of improving the offense. Chances are the game winning play is made on offense by Clemson's C.J. Spiller.
Clemson 21, Auburn 17
Alright, that's all I got for now. The New Year's Day predictions will come in the days that follow.
Merry Christmas everyone.