Dec. 23, 2016
Hit-or-Miss: Bowl Season
Arguably the most controversial subject in all of sports, bowl selections never seem to make the general population happy. The opinionated masses will always believe the selection committee is flawed in their ways, regardless of who plays in what bowl. While the consensus usually agrees the committee only makes mistakes, there were some solid choices made. Here’s my hit-or-miss for the 2016-2017 Bowl Season.
Hit: Alabama Crimson Tide
The sole lock for the College Football Playoff, Alabama has been flawless this season. Their closest game this season was a shootout with Ole Miss way back in week three, winning 48-43. Besides this surprisingly close contest, Alabama has been on cruise control. No one can compete with them. Alabama is head and shoulders above everyone in college football this season. Easy pick at number one, easy pick for the Playoff, and an easy win against Washington in the Peach Bowl.
Miss: Washington Huskies
Speaking of Alabama's dominance, they are about to flex their muscles against a severely undermanned Washington team on New Year's Eve in the Peach Bowl. While I appreciate the respect the committee gave Washington for their record and conference championship, I think they made the wrong call. The College Football Playoff is supposed to pit the four best teams in the nation against each other. Dominating the weak Pac-12 hardly constitutes a team as upper echelon. In the end, if Washington were to play any team that failed to make the playoff but were close (Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Oklahoma) and they would surely lose. The Huskies had a good season, but I don't believe they are top-4 material.
Miss: Western Michigan Broncos
If the Washington rule was in effect for Western Michigan, they would be the #2 team in the nation. The Broncos played in a weak conference, ran the table, and won the conference championship. Now, I'm not saying Western Michigan should be in the playoff, not by a long shot. What I am saying is their placement in the Cotton Bowl shows inconsistency from the selection committee. If the credentials that got Washington into the Playoff don't apply to Western Michigan, who had a better record than Washington, then there is a consistency issue. While I say they were a miss for the sake of further proving Washington doesn't deserve a playoff spot, Western Michigan has most definitely earned their berth in a major bowl, and I am excited to watch their match up with Wisconsin.
Miss: Penn State Nittany Lions
Since I have effectively proven Washington is a sketchy choice for the fourth playoff spot, you may now be wondering, "then who deserves they last slot?" Penn State. This choice was abundantly clear, and the committee failed miserably by not putting them in the playoff. Penn State finished the season 11-2. Those two losses were to Pitt and Michigan. Pitt went on to defeat undefeated Clemson, and finished the season ranked. Michigan finished the season 10-2 and was a major contender for the playoff. Penn State's wins include a monumental upset of Ohio State and a conference championship victory against Wisconsin. Penn State had more than enough credentials to earn a spot in the playoff, much better than that of Washington. I personally believe the committee looked solely at record to make their decision. At least Penn State would have a chance of competing with Alabama.
Hit: Citrus Bowl
The LSU-Louisville clash in the Citrus Bowl is a marketing dream. I love this match up, and so will the rest of America. Leonard Fournette is the future of the NFL run game, and can redefine the meaning of running back if he is developed well. Lamar Jackson is the reigning Heisman winner, and is the most electrifying play maker we have seen in a few years. A game with lots of scoring and non-existent defenses will draw crowds. Both teams had high hopes in the preseason, yet fell far short of their expectations. This bowl game is the last chance at redemption for both the Tigers and the Cardinals.
Hit: Las Vegas Bowl
Another exciting match up, this time between Houston and San Diego State. Houston was my preseason dark horse to make a playoff run. Boy, was I mistaken. After tripping up time and time again, Houston effectively eliminated themselves from the playoff conversation after a loss to Southern Methodist. Still, Greg Ward and his Cougars are dangerous, as Oklahoma learned in week one and Louisville learned in week 11. San Diego State is an interesting opponent the average fan doesn't know much about. Donnel Pumphrey has dominated headlines this season with his hard nosed running style. With no major wins and some questionable losses, the Aztecs are a question mark going into the game. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top.