Thursday, January 7, 2010
Behind The Scoreboard
The bowl series administrators began dishing out post-season crowns on December 19 (2009) in the New Mexico Bowl. And it really took off after that with some oddities and interesting sidelights.
I am not trying to denigrate any participant which made it to these post-season delights, but yours truly still has a few problems with teams coming in with low .500 seasons, id est, 6-6.
Anyway we are going to pick this up on New Year’s Day with Northwestern and Auburn. This had to be the most entertaining of them all. It was hard not to pull for the Wildcats since they had not won a bowl game in 61 years. But hey, they were playing an SEC team. At times both of these teams were on the ropes and there were some exciting exchanges before the final gun. Auburn blocked an extra-point attempt to keep Northwestern in the ditch and the Wildcats returned the favor with a flea-flicker to a former quarterback which tied it at 35-all. The Tigers lost the ball twice on fumbles, thanks to unfavorable football gods, which sent the game into a “Wild West” overtime finish. The Wildcats activated a new kicker after blowing a first and goal at the 9. Instead of the field-goal try they opted for a fake, but this time Auburn didn’t bite. The SEC escaped with the 38-35 win. Whew!
This was just one of the 10 games in which SEC teams will participate. The first SEC team to fall was Kentucky; they bowed to Clemson. More would follow – Tennessee to Virginia Tech, South Carolina to Connecticut.
LSU tried valiantly to prevent Papa Joe (Paterno) and his Nittany Lions from giving the storied coach his 24th bowl victory, but the octogenarian had other plans. He only missed the spread by a half point. I must admit that I did not see that one coming. I did not think the Lions had any chance against the Tigers.
South Carolina was the only SEC team, thus far, which the oddsmakers got wrong. They had installed the “ole coach” and the Gamecocks as four-point favorites over the Huskies.
If the Florida Gators were collectively thinking about their future coaching situation, it had no obvious impact. The Gators backed their star quarterback to the hilt as he ran roughshod over the Cincy Bearcats. If Coach Meyer was even thinking about the controversy surrounding his career, it did not show in his sideline demeanor. He was completely poised and unflappable as his team crushed Cincy 51-24 in the Sugar Bowl.
The Ole Miss Rebels probably had the most enviable task of any bowl team not playing for the national title. The Rebels got a chance to perform before football royalty while christening the Cotton Bowl’s new venue. They played before Jerry Jones, himself. Jones had built the brand new Cowboy Stadium at the cost of $1.2 billion. And Jones got to sit in his luxury box two days in a row and watch two different sets of Cowboys – on Saturday for Ole Miss and that other set of Cowboys (Oklahoma State), and on Sunday, his own Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles.
To be clear, for much of the game there were many of us who could not figure Ole Miss’ game plan-or if there was one. The cotton got taller in the third quarter when the score was still tied 7-7. QB Jevan Snead was clearly having a bad day and frustration had already set in. But, as that old Coasters’ song goes, “Along Came Jones,” well in the shape of Dexter McCluster, that is. The speedy back took over and reminded his team just why they were there. When it was all over, McCluster had been tabbed as the offensive MVP of the game and set a new collegiate record by becoming the only player to gain over 1,000 yards rushing and over 500 receiving in a single season. The Cowboys never advanced past seven.
As mentioned earlier, this bowl series had some interesting asides – the first woman to ever officiate a bowl game (Sarah Thomas in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl), a coach who was suspended and then fired two days later just days before he was to coach his team in the Alamo Bowl (Mike Leach of Texas Tech. Accused of mistreating a player).
And now there are just four more crowns to be given out. And yes, the last one will be handed to the Crimson Tide.
News: (662) 252-4261 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions, comments, corrections: email@example.com
©2004, The South Reporter, All Rights Reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced in any way without permission.
The South Reporter is a member of the Mississippi Press Association.
Site managed and maintained by
South Reporter webmasters Linda Jones, Kristian Jones
Web Site Design - The South Reporter
Back | Top of Page