“This the real world, homie; school finished.”
“Ideals are peaceful; history is violent.”
—Sgt. Don “Wardaddy” Collier
As you know, NCAA Division-I (FBS) football is an education-first, non-profit opportunity for scholar athletes to earn full scholarships for their undergraduate studies. It is not about money.
Riiiight. Never mind that Jim Harbaugh just received a six-year, $48 million contract to coach at Michigan, giving him the highest base salary of any coach—pro or college. Never mind that billions of dollars annually are spent on tickets, TV revenues, licensing fees, et cetera. No, under NCAA regulations, coaches can transfer schools whenever they want, continue making money from the previous school while also being paid by the new school, and can even outrun recruiting violations (those stay with the university program, not the coach). But players? No, they have to sit out an entire season if they transfer schools, typically delaying their graduation—even if their coach leaves.
Ugh. Makes me sick. Thankfully Ed O’Bannon and others are standing up to the ridiculousness, just to allow star student-athletes to get a fraction of the revenue they’re creating for their businesses… I mean, athletic departments.
We the public need to take a stronger stance on this. WE NEED TO BOYCOTT… Oh, who am I kidding? On to the College Football Bowl Preview of the Century!!!
A Quick Recap
Let me catch you up on the 21 of 40 total bowl games that have already generated billions of dollars for fat white middle-aged male sports fans. I mean, that have already been played.
Memphis beat BYU 55-48 in double OT and a post-game brawl broke out between players.
Marshall capped off a near-perfect season (13-1) with a 52-23 win over mid-major powerhouse Northern Illinois. Its senior QB Rakeen Cato finished the season with 146 total touchdowns.
The military academies are 2-0 after Air Force and Navy wins.
The Play of the Year is already locked in. With 0:01 on the clock and 75 yards in front of them, down 49-42, Central Michigan successfully completed a Hail Mary with four laterals. Instead of kicking a PAT to force OT, they went for two… and missed. Oh well. It was still a fun finish!
And, not surprisingly, the great conferences are playing well, and the poor conferences are playing… poor. Here are the standings at the Bowl season midpoint.
Big Ten: 2-2
Big 12: 0-3
For the record, SEC schools have outscored opponents by an avg margin of 33-22; Pac-12 schools have won by a margin of 42-28 (go offense!); and Big 12 schools have lost by an average of 39-17 (ouch!).
Editor’s note: I’m writing as LSU and Notre Dame are playing, so they’re not included in either the review (above) or previews (below).
Louisville (+7) vs. Georgia
Tonight’s big matchup features my local UofL Cardinals against the SEC North runners-up, the UGA ‘Dawgs. The Belk Bowl in Charlotte will be a good one. Louisville won their previous two bowl games by roughly 60 points each, so even without NFL Rookie of the Year hopeful Teddy Bridgewater, you can’t look down on them. Unless you’re the media, which has them as 7-point underdogs. (Forget that Vegas manages lines for every NCAA game; they’re just SCHOLAR-ATHLETES!) The Cards are, however, without first-string QB Will Gardener… and second-string QB Reggie Bonnafon. That leaves us locals with third-string QB Kyle Bolin, a freshman from Lexington who had 381 passing yards, 3 TD’s, and 1 INT in the season finale against the UK Wildcats–for a very impressive QBR of 81.5. With all three QB’s coming back next season, things could get interesting!
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs are without star RB Todd Gurley but will be just fine with backup freshman RB Nick Chubb, who had roughly 1200 yards and 12 TD’s in the last seven games. My prediction? Georgia may be a top ten team, but it’s been a long and disappointing season, and they’re just trending the wrong direction. Louisville, with a new coach and new QB, will make future NFL stud DeVonte Parker’s last game a memorable one.
Stanford 27, Maryland 20
Arizona 42, Boise State 35
Auburn 28, Wisconsin 9
Michigan State 49, Baylor 21
K-State 34, UCLA 28
The Mississippi Renaissance
This year’s surprise overachievers of the SEC are the old rivals of MS. Few Americans knew that Mississippi and Mississippi State were two different schools; I just thought Alabama got to beat them twice a year for fun. But they are two schools.
I asked my Mississippi State friend, Fletcher Lang (nickname: American Langster), for his opnion on the game. He likes MSU beating the spread (-7) and he’s taking the Under (+/- 61). He made the good point that Georgia Tech was effective offensively because teams couldn’t figure out how to defend their bizarre triple-option. But with a month of prep time, look for the Bulldogs to be ready. I’m with the Langster on this one.
Mississippi State 34, Georgia Tech 24
Ole Miss 35, TCU 10
And those familiar with my disdain for the “Big 12” and the state of Texas will not be surprised with my year-end predictions for Baylor and TCU.
Missouri (-4.5) vs Minnesota
Mizzou plays well in bowl games. That’s just a fact. We play well on the raod—much better, in fact, than we do at home. My buddy Dustin Shryock (nickname: Steve Kerr) made this point the other day. How is it not a bigger deal that Mizzou has gone 8-0 on the road in the SEC over the last two years? EIGHT AND OH!!! (Emphasis mine.) That’s phenomenal. The next best SEC road team since 2012? Alabama at 6-2.
So this isn’t a true road game for Mizzou, and they’ll likely have more fans in Orlando than the Gophers, but the pass rush in the country—Shane Ray is projected to be drafted between #4-10, and Marcus Golden between #20-32—will take care of business.
Oregon (-9) vs Florida State
This is a delicious matchup between the college game’s two best quarterbacks. In fact, I think there are probably only 15 NFL quarterbacks that executives would choose over Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston at this point. These guys are good. Just how good?
Winston hasn’t lost in two full seasons in Tallahassee, even though I’m pretty sure the Noles have trailed by 28 in the fourth quarter of all of those games. His stats are great, he has a Heisman already, and will likely be the #2 pick in the draft (going to the Titans). IMHO, Famous is a top five Greatest of All Time college quarterback (GOAT—College QB). The exact list? I’m glad you asked.
#5 Andrew Luck, 2009-2011, Stanford
10,400 yards, 89 TD, 22 INT, 31-8 record
267 yards/game (ypg), 4.0 TD/INT ratio
#4 Johnny Manziel, 2012-2013, Texas A&M
9,000 yards, 93 TD, 22 INT, 20-6 record
346 ypg, 4.2 TD/INT ratio
#3 Jameis Winston, 2013-2014, Florida State
7,200 yards, 65 TD, 22 INT, 24-0 record
327 ypg, 3.0 TD/INT ratio
#2 Sam Bradford, 2007-2009, Oklahoma
9,300 yards, 93 TD, 16 INT, 24-6 record
310 ypg, 5.8 TD/INT ratio
#1 Marcus Mariota, 2012-2014, Oregon
11,100 total yards, 116 total TD’s, 12 INT, 33-3 record
308 ypg, 9.7 TD/INT ratio
That’s right, two of the three best college QB’s are going head-to-head on New Year’s Eve. I can’t wait!!!
My friend Stuart Owens (nickname: Disco Stu) is the biggest and only FSU fan I’ve ever met, so I asked for his opinion on this one. He thinks Famous Jameis stays not suspended long enough to play, that the Seminoles will cover the spread, and that the Ducks will win on the Under (+/- 71). His pick: Oregon 35-31. As for me, I’ve got a lot less faith in that FSU defense.
Alabama (-9) vs Ohio State
Ohio State’s defense is very good, and hats off to the Buckeyes for making the CFB playoff with three different quarterbacks. They hung a 59-0 win on Wisconsin in their conference championship with their third-string QB. (So clearly, the conference isn’t that good.)
Bama, on the other hand, has looked flat-out unbeatable since dropping one to Ole Miss earlier this season (remember: not everyone can go undefeated on the road in SEC play year-after-year). Jared Kennedy (nickname: JK-47), the biggest and only Alabama fan I know, is picking the Tide 42-10 in this game. Similarly, my buddy Trey Kullman (nickname: the Triple Threat) is calling for a 20+ point win for ‘Bama. No arguments here:
Ohio State 6
NFL Mock Draft 2.0
#1 Tampa Bay: Marcus Mariota (QB, Oregon)
#2 Tennessee: Jameis Winston (QB, FSU)
#3 Jacksonville: Shane Ray (DE, Mizzou)
#4 Oakland: Leonard Williams (DE, USC)
#5 Washington: Randy Gregory (DE, Nebraska)
#6 NY Jets: DeVonte Parker (WR, Louisville)
#12 St Louis: Bryce Petty (QB, Baylor)
#17 KC Chiefs: Devin Funchess (WR, Michigan)
#19 Cleveland: Brett Hundley (QB, UCLA)
#22 Pittsburgh: Marcus Golden (LB, Mizzou)
The Chiefs finally draft a WR, and the Browns draft their QB of the future!!! (Again.)
National Championship Game
These are easily the two best teams in the nation, so the first year we don’t have a simple 2-team BCS game, we get two extra games just for fun. And money. Don’t ever forget about the obscene amount of money in college football. Have I made my point yet? Just give the men’s basketball and football players a living stipend on par with PhD students (about $24,000/year) and a reasonable cut of any merchandise sales using their images or numbers. PAY THE KIDS! PAY THE KIDS!
Six months ago, I picked Oregon to win their first national championship, and I’m sticking with it. Rule number two of picking CFB champions is to not go against a hot Alabama team. But rule number one is never go against the greatest college QB of all time! So here we go…
See you next year, folks.