It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year!
Okay, so Ohio State isn’t bowling, which can be expressed in a few ways. One, Ohio State is serving a postseason ban for the fallout of the Tatgate scandal, as well as the involvement with Bobby DiGeronimo. Second, Ohio State isn’t playing for a national championship against Notre Dame as a result of the aforementioned condition, because Alabama has to have a birthright into the national championship game one way or the other. Third, Ohio State isn’t playing in a bowl game this year because it has already won the “real” national championship. However, you choose to express it, Ohio State football is done for the year, and the student-athletes are even at home for the entirety of the break, as if they were normal students. Still, there’s doin’s-a-transpirin’ on Saturday, and here is what you should know about those doins’.
- Nevada v. Arizona [New Mexico Bowl] (ESPN, 1:00pm ET). Rich Rodriguez’ first year in Tucson went much better than his first year in Ann Arbor (or his first year in Morgantown, for that matter). The Wildcats are 7-5, a three win improvement from a 4-8 season that saw Mike Stoops fired after the first six games. Unfortunately for Rich Rodriguez, the Pac-12 bowl tie-ins suck much harder than the B1G TEN bowl tie-ins. A 7-5 record, at about the 8th best team in the conference, gets you first on the list in the New Mexico Bowl, which is conveniently next door for the program’s equipment managers. A 7-5 record at about the 8th best team in the B1G TEN gets you… umm, the Little Caesar’s Bowl in Detroit. Okay, so maybe I was wrong about that. Rodriguez could put a feather in his cap by getting a bowl win against Nevada, the 5th team from a quality Mountain West Conference. Hard to really forecast the winner of this game. Arizona has won four of its last six games, including the upset at home of preseason #1 Southern California. However, two of those four wins are the Utah-Colorado combo, and one of those losses include a 66-10 obliteration at the hands of UCLA. Meanwhile, Nevada has lost four of its last five, though competitive in almost all those games. So what gives? Probably each side’s respective run defenses. Arizona is 15th nationally in rushing yards per game. Nevada: 7th.
- Toledo v. Utah State [Famous Idaho Potato Bowl] (ESPN, 4:30pm ET). Finally, a corporate sponsorship that I feel fit to mention. The former Humanitarian Bowl, as if there’s anything humanitarian about playing in Boise, Idaho at this time of the year, is our first run-in of #MACtion this bowl season. Toledo, unlike Illinois, did not skip a beat from Tim Beckman’s departure for Cham-bana, Illinois. The Rockets are 9-3 in 32 year old Matt Campbell’s first season as head coach, including a near miss in Week 1 against Rich Rodriguez’ Arizona Wildcats. It took overtime for Rich Rodriguez to get some level of closure against the Toledo Rockets. The Rockets’ two other losses were to Ball State and Northern Illinois, which both finished at 9-3 or better. In fact, 12-1 Northern Illinois is playing in the Orange Bowl, as you recall. All told, all three of Toledo’s losses were by seven points. Utah State is the #22 team in the BCS and is having another season to underscore the question of just how long Gary Andersen will stay in Logan. The 10-2 WAC (R.I.P.) Champion Aggies have just losses to B1G TEN Champion* Wisconsin and at 7-5 Brigham Young to their name. Further, Utah State beats Wisconsin if not for the college kicker syndrome, and the loss at Brigham Young, as curious as it was, was a 6-3 affair. This could really be a quality bowl game, one I’m expecting Utah State to pull out in tribute to the WAC. The WAC is ceasing football operations after this year.