Bowl Season Recap: What We Learned
Well, there you have it. Bowl season 06-07, like Michigan's claim of a deserved OSU rematch, can finally be put to rest. A bowl season that began with Southwestern school (TCU) whooping up on a northern school (Northern Illinois) ended with a Southeastern school whooping up on a northern school in this year's version of the game of the ages. What happened in-between was the annual smorgasbord of snoozers and classics, of teams showing up and teams mailing it in, of quarterbacks named JaMarcus improving their draft stock, and quarterbacks named Troy seeing their stock plummet. In short, it was about 2 1/2 weeks of football heaven in which even if your favorite school wasn't playing for all the marbles, it still beat the hell out of talking to most family members at gatherings.
In a very short time we at cffinsider.com will begin placing all our attention on the 2007 college football season. We've already been perusing the schedules and will be previewing our must-attend games for the upcoming season in the very near future. Before this look ahead, it's time to look back and recall just a few things we can take from this bowl season.
1. No lead is safe
This was the bowl season of the comeback, the blown lead, and the nearly blown lead. Taking a cue from Michigan State's regular season performance at Northwestern, Texas Tech was victorious in the greatest bowl comeback of all time, and in doing sent Glen Mason packing. Yet this wasn't the only game that saw teams blow/overcome big leads. Western Michigan nearly came all the way back against Cincy, Oregon State fought back to take out the Fighting Chase Daniels, Georgia said not so fast to Va. Tech, and of course, there was the epic Oklahoma...no wait Boise State comeback.
Only in college basketball does momentum play a greater role than in college football, and this makes sense. When 18-22 year olds get up, there is a natural tendency to let down and relax. Often all it takes is a break to go against the team on cruise control and things begin to change. Then the pattern becomes all too predictable: players get tight, coaches get overly cautious, the opponent throws caution to the wind, and the next thing you know, the Glen Masons of the world are walking back to Minnesota. One coach, however, is an exception to the rule.
2. Pete Carroll has the Trojans, and the guts to use them
Henne had just hit Arrington to make the Rose Bowl a one possession game. Then USC took possession, and marched right down the field, with the drive culminating in a bomb to Jarrett. However, this wasn't the most impressive aspect. After Michigan got the ball back and turned it over on downs, USC took over with a chance to run out the clock. Here's how Carroll decided to kill some time (compliments of CNNSI.com):
8:02 4th USC 1-10 at USC15 Booty pass completion to the left to Smith for 26 yards to the USC41.
7:37 4th USC 1-10 at USC41 Booty pass completion to the right to Jarrett for 29 yards to the Mich30.
7:10 4th USC 1-10 at Mich30 Booty pass completion to the left to Davis for 23 yards to the Mich7.
6:57 4th USC 1-7 at Mich7 Booty pass completion to the middle to Smith for 7 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.
Instead of shortening the game, Pete ended the game. This is what is known as coaching capital, and Carroll has plenty sitting in his bank. He can make this calls and not give a damn about any second-guessing. He's a coach desired by every team save for Manchester United, and he's ready, willing, able to take shots where other coaches are happy with 3 yards and a cloud of dust.
3. Three real workhorses may be moving on
They're not the flashiest, but Tony Hunt (senior), Adrian Peterson (?) and Marshawn Lynch (declared) are all great (throw)backs. These three backs concluded their seasons (and likely careers) with a combined 348 yards and 4 scores. Granted, these are great, but not mind-blowing numbers. What is most impressive about these three backs is their ability and willingness to take a pounding. Running backs only have so many carries in them, and these guys, among others, have given a great deal of their career runs to their university. Here's hoping each has a great deal of success and makes a bunch of money in that other league, because they sure have given fans and teammates a great deal on Saturdays.
4. Kevin Kolb may end up being as good as anyone in this class
I'm not going to get into NFL projections, because that's for guys who pay attention on Sunday to do. However, as other more known names are tossed about from now until April, this 6'3" 225 lb. Cougar will go mostly unnoticed. However, Mr. Kolb accounted for 34 touchdowns against 4 picks this season, and he played a whale of a bowl game against South Carolina. This kid can flat out play.
5. Boise State coach Chris Peterson is actually Hickory coach Norman Dale
In the closing scene of the basketball classic Hoosiers, the player known as Merle says, "Let's win this one for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here" and then the team goes out and rolls the favored South Bend Central to win the Indiana state title. For some reason, I can see just see Jared Zabransky pulling one of those speeches out pre-game. Hell, Hickory had the famed "picket fence" win an earlier game and Boise had unbelievable Tony Nathan-esque Hook and Lateral to help win the big game. All Boise needs was a drunken coach/fan to embarrass his team (maybe that pooping fan from West Virginia can play the role) and the Hoosiers to Boise State story would be complete.
Regardless, this was a win for the ages, and one that does indeed rank up there with the George Mason run of last fall. It was this game the epitomized the best that college gridiron action has to offer.
Bowl Season Champagne toasts to:
Urban Meyer: I didn't think the marriage to Chris Leak would work. And I certainly didn't think young Mr. Tebow was going to help chemistry. However, Meyer took a team through the SEC gauntlet, and had a near-perfect game plan in the biggest football game since Danny and the Visor won the whole thing.
Andre Woodson and the Kentucky Wildcats: My team of the year. A terrific story of overcoming a coach on the hot seat, Spring ball injuries, and low expectations. Woodson is the most under appreciated college QB in the country.
Wisconsin Badgers: The formula is simple: big lineman, limited QB mistakes, a tough, grind it out back, a stingy, hard-hitting defense, and smart play. The formula is simple. The execution is not. This is a football program.
Bowl Season sips of Boone's Farm to:
Fox Broadcasting teams: I like Terry and Howie, and each can stand in a booth and break down the action drunk better than I can. However, there is something insulting about a couple pro guys who likely haven't seen a college game live all year calling a big bowl game. However, with that being said, props must be given to Barry Alvarez and Charles Davis, who certainly exceeded expectations in their assignments.
Chris Hetland: It's hard to look past the regular season performance, but he came up huge in the biggest game he'll ever play.
New Mexico, Alabama, Minnesota and Iowa: You made a bowl...and you end your season with a losing record. Something is very wrong here.
Bowl Season hangovers to:
Dwayne Jarrett: He's a great player. Why then did he have to taunt after every touchdown?
The Schedule: Why play a national title game a week after January 1, and after a weekend that saw four NFL games take the attention away from what should be college football's biggest evening? Makes no sense.
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