Final Regular Season BCS Standings
1. Ohio St.
3. Virginia Tech
9. West Virginia
Rose Bowl: USC Vs. Illinois
This is USC’s game; it has been historically as they have the most appearances and wins in the game’s history, but I’m not talking historically. Pete Carroll has brought his team to Pasadena three of the past four years and a miracle run by Vince Young was all that kept the Trojans from going three for three in these trips. This year they have Illinois, who I have to hand it to the Rose Bowl committee for picking. This likely was Missouri’s destination as an at-large team any other year, but after the attendance fiasco of January 1, 2003 when Oklahoma and not a Big-10 team was invited. Illinois is a good choice because they have wins over the two teams that Michigan (the next likely candidate) lost to in-conference: Ohio St. and Wisconsin. The Ohio St. game is an exact blueprint for how Illinois needs to play in this game. They have to keep John David Booty and USC’s offense off the field and they have to take the will out of the Trojan’s defense. If not, it could be a long day for Zook and Co.
My Pick: USC
Sugar Bowl: Hawaii Vs. Georgia
It’s Oklahoma/Boise St. round two, but with different teams. For the second year in a row, a non-BCS conference team has crashed the party and will face a traditional power. Colt Brennan has all the stats in the world and the Heisman invite, but Georgia has a six game winning streak and a schedule multiple times tougher than anything the Warriors had to face this year. This one is fairly simple to call as it will either be Brennan having his usual night and pulling the same miracles that Zabransky pulled last year, or he and Hawaii will be overwhelmed by their second test all season. Granted, the last time the Bulldogs were in New Orleans they had to come back by nearly 30 down and still came out on the losing end.
My Pick: Georgia
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma Vs. West Virginia
If Pat White doesn’t play this game, it could be a long night for the Mountaineers. You don’t even have to question the Sooners’ motivation for this one: they are playing in the exact game and will be playing 366 days after they were beaten by Boise St. last year. You know Bob Stoops wants redemption for that game. As for West Virginia, the Pitt loss showed that they are vulnerable without one of their one-two punch as White’s injury helped in the team’s loss. My thinking is that this will be an offensive game as Oklahoma will be able to stop White & Slayton only so well and Oklahoma’s offense will experience success in this one. Either way, it’s going to be close.
My Pick: Oklahoma
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech Vs. Kansas
A bit controversial with Kansas getting the invite, this game does play a lot like The Sugar Bowl with Kansas (like Hawaii) having a schedule ranked in the 100’s in the nation. Virginia Tech on the other hand has played splendid football every game since the LSU beating in September; maybe that game lit a fire under them. Either way, they came back, won their division, avenged the Matt Ryan comeback by deflating him in the ACC title game, and won their conference and a BCS bid because of that. Now that’s what we call a comeback. However, Kansas does know what it’s like to shock naysayer’s as their entire football program has lived in the shadow of its basketball program basically forever and Mark Mangino—THE coach of the year—decided he’d had enough of that. So yes, Kansas was able to put up some great offensive numbers and played well against Missouri, but here are the facts: their schedule was weak and their one loss came against their one tough opponent. Sorry.
My Pick: Virginia Tech
BCS Championship: #1 Ohio St. Vs. #2 LSU
Despite what some may think, I believe the BCS got it right with this one. Both teams won their conferences, LSU won on Championship Week, and they both have played like two of the top teams in the country this season; proof of that is that it took three overtimes in both, not one, of LSU’s losses. In Ohio St.’s case, letting a team hold onto the ball for the final 8 ½ minutes is all that stood between them and perfection. The Buckeyes should look to their defense to lead them on this night with a defense that has Butkus Award winner John Laurinaitis. This is also a defense that lead the nation in yards per game, passing yards per game, and points per game allowed during the regular season. In LSU’s case, they do have the perfect balance with a great offense and great defense; Ohio St.’s offense is good, but still questionable in comparison to LSU’s. However, another big game out of “Beanie” Wells could go a long way towards Ohio St. getting another national title. However, the way I see it is that the SEC is Ohio St. and Jim Tressel’s Moby Dick: they want it, but they just can’t catch it.
My Pick: LSU
It is interesting that this past Saturday, every player who deserved to be at the Heisman ceremony was there, except for one: Kevin Smith. What, you haven’t heard of Kevin Smith? That’s ok, most people haven’t, mainly because he goes to Central Florida University, a team that went 10-3, won Conference USA, and will play in the Liberty Bowl December 29. The reason for my outrage at this low-conference star not getting invited: Smith rushed for 2,448 yards this season second only to Barry Sanders’ 2628 in 1988. Yes, Smith had two more games than Sanders, but he had three less than any NFL running back does and the number of pro 2,000-yard rushers can be counted on one hand. My personal opinion is that 2,000 yards rushing in a BCS conference equals the Heisman Trophy and 2,000 yards in a non-BCS conference means at least inviting them to the ceremony. Of course that way of doing things would’ve meant inviting Matt Forte of Tulane who rushed 2,127 yards this season. While you may not agree with my preference for 2,000-yard rushers, you must at least acknowledge the excellence behind these performances. At least do that.