G’day mates and welcome to the Wednesday morning hive. Hopefully everyone has sobered up from the celebratory/disappointed election night drinking and whether the candidates you supported for won or lost, I think we can all be thankful the election is over and that campaign adds will not spoil our television viewing for a couple more years. Not having to see campaign ads, except when watching college football on internet streams, has probably been the best part of moving to Australia.
In a story that got little attention due to the election, the Big XII and SEC have announced that their new ‘Champions Bowl’ will be the Sugar Bowl, fortunately the amazingly arrogant ‘Champions’ name will be going away. While this is not a shock considering the Sugar Bowl’s long history with the SEC, the fact that the site for that game has been announced means that the rest of the bowls can begin to make moves to deal with the bowl picture that has now been radically changed by the new Big XII-SEC deal and the new four team football playoff. Other details released in this story were that Arlington (Cotton Bowl), Atlanta, Houston, and San Antonio were the other cities that big for the Champions Bowl and that ESPN will pay $80 million a year to televise the Sugar Bowl, the same amount that it pays for the Rose Bowl and more than the $55 million it is expected to pay for the Orange Bowl.
The new four-team college football playoff will feature two semifinal games that will rotate between six existing bowls and a national championship game whose location will be open for bid. The announcement confirmed the long expected belief that three of the bowl games in the semifinal rotation will be the Rose, Sugar, and Orange Bowls. The other three bowl games have not been officially announced but it is expected that they will be the Fiesta, Chick-fil-A, and Cotton bowls.
This announcement will have a major impact on a number of bowls and there are winners and losers among the bowls. While all the bowls that lost their bid to host the Champions Bowl are losers in this, the biggest loser is the Fiesta Bowl who lost their traditional Big XII tie-in and will obvious be in a weaker spot in the new playoff system. The other major loser is the Capitol One Bowl who had long been considered one of the bowls most likely to benefit from any playoff system by moving up to the top tier, instead they got jumped by the Chick-fil-A Bowl is the second biggest winner, after the Sugar Bowl, in all of this.
While this announcement does not directly impact the Big Ten, it does create an opportunity for the conference. With the Fiesta Bowl losing the Big XII champion to the Sugar Bowl, the Fiesta now does not have any conference tie-ins. This leaves the bowl with two options, the first being just to select two teams from any conference each year or try to find new conference tie-ins. While the first option offers more flexibility and in theory gives the Fiesta Bowl the option to go after the best possible match-up each year without worrying about conferences, existing conference bowl tie-ins raise the issue as to how many top teams would be able to go to the Fiesta Bowl instead of their traditional bowl tie-in. If the Fiesta wants to maintain its spot in the semifinal rotation, it needs to remain a top tier bowl and thus it cannot afford to be inviting lesser teams. Thus, the Fiesta really needs to find at least one new bowl tie-in to one of the top five conferences. In theory the Big XII would likely be its first option but there may be some hurt feelings there. The Fiesta Bowl has been a well-run bowl and has a history of taking Big Ten teams, namely Ohio State and Penn State, thus it would make sense for Jim Delany and the Big Ten to pursue a deal with the Fiesta Bowl. Doing so would give the Big Ten another top tier bowl tie-in against a different conference, likely the Big XII or possibly the Mountain West. Cutting such a deal would mean dropping a current bowl but with tie-ins to the Capitol One, Outback, and Gator Bowls, the Big Ten has three bowls in Florida versus the SEC, nobody would miss one of these bowls.
Mixed Weekend for Women’s Volleyball
Fresh off of their big road upset of fourth ranked Nebraska, the 15th ranked Ohio State women’s volleyball team returned home looking to keep the momentum from that win going. The weekend opened with the Buckeyes facing Wisconsin and the team got off to a hot start as they dominated the first two sets, 25-16 and 25-15. The Badgers weren’t going to go away without a fight though and in set three they rallied from an early 15-10 hole to take a 24-18 lead. Faced with set point, OSU scored five straight points but a service error gave Wisconsin the 25-23 set win. Wisconsin jumped out to an early 9-3 lead in set four but Ohio State came back and the two teams went back and forth, going into extra points before OSU came away with a 30-28 victory to win the match 3-1. Senior Mari Hole had her 12th double-double of the season as she tallied 15 kills and 12 digs. Junior Kaitlyn Leary had 14 kills, senior Emily Danks added 12, and freshman Andrea Kacsits added 5 kills to go with a team-best 5 blocks. The win was the 100th at Ohio State for coach Geoff Carlston.
The Buckeyes got to spend Saturday watching the football game and then returned to action on Sunday as they hosted 10th ranked Minnesota. Ohio State looked like they were poised to pull off another upset as they won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-21. Minnesota jumped out to an early lead in set three but OSU battled back before dropping the set 27-25. The Gophers dominated the fourth set, 25-13, to force a fifth set which the Gophers also won 15-12 to give Ohio State a 3-2 loss. Hole posted a career high 26 kills and added 11 digs for her 13th double-double of the year. Senior Amanda Peterson also picked up a double-double, her eighth of the season, with 13 digs and a season-high 48 assists.
Ohio State looked good against Wisconsin, dominating the first two sets and then battling back against growing Badger momentum to win the match. The Buckeyes looked good at the start of the match against Minnesota but then couldn’t finish off the upset. OSU did pretty much what was expected on the weekend but the loss to the Gophers stings because OSU was so close to pulling off the victory. This team does seem to be getting better but how they respond to this disappointing loss will have a major impact on how the rest of their season goes. The pollsters were not too worried about the loss either, leaving Ohio State in 15th place. OSU continues their home stand this week as they host Northwestern on Wednesday night, in a game televised on BTN, and then host Illinois on Saturday. Earlier in the year the Buckeyes beat the Illini 3-2 and the Wildcats 3-0 in games on the road and will be looking to do as well or better at home.
Women’s Soccer Learns Their Seed
As Margie reported on Monday, the Ohio State women’s soccer team won the Big Ten tournament with a 2-1 victory over Illinois. OSU was going to the NCAA tournament either way but winning the conference tournament guaranteed their spot. On Monday the team eagerly awaited the NCAA tournament selection, eager to learn who their next opponent would be. The Buckeyes earned a fourth seed in the tournament and will host Oakland University in the first round. If they win the first round OSU would play either Stephen F. Austin or Texas A&M.
Women’s Hockey Rises in the Rankings
The 10th ranked Ohio State women’s hockey team has gotten off to a great start this season and they took to the road this past weekend looking to continue that start against WCHA opponent St. Cloud State. The Buckeyes got off to a good start on Friday as they scored just 22 seconds into the game and never relinquished that lead on the way to a 3-2 win.
Saturday’s game got off to the opposite start with St. Cloud State scoring early in the first period. Ohio State tied the game up in the second period but the Huskies retook the lead late in the period. The Buckeyes once again tied the game just five minutes into the third period and then took their first lead of the game two minutes later. An empty netter in the closing minute sealed the 4-2 victory for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State is now 9-3 on the season, 7-3 in the conference, and the sweep of the Huskies pushed the Buckeyes up to 9th in the rankings. OSU gets a weekend off before joining Wisconsin hate week the following weekend as they will host the 11th ranked Badgers in a special pair of games in the Schottenstein Center.