- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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I won the regular season picks contest by a mere one game. Adam Rittenberg tied up the overall race by correctly picking Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.
That meant we were all tied up at 80-17 heading into the bowls. The postseason is where heroes are made. And I am the greatest hero in American history.
Or something like that, as I simply crushed Rittenberg in the bowls. I went 4-3, which is not exactly glittering. But Adam somehow managed to finish even worse than the Big Ten's actual record, going a dismal 1-6. Let's see how we got there with this picks rewind:
Texas Bowl: Minnesota vs. Syracuse
Bennett's pick: Minnesota 24, Syracuse 20
Rittenberg's pick: Minnesota 27, Syracuse 17
Actual score: Syracuse 21, Minnesota 17
20/20 hindsight: We weren't far off from the score, but we both expected more from the Gophers. (If Drew Wolitarsky hauls in that very catchable Hail Mary, by the way, I would have almost nailed the outcome. Alas). We both wrongly pegged David Cobb for 100 yards, vastly underestimating a Syracuse run D that didn't allow a 100-yard rusher all year. And Adam's vision of major strides made by the Minnesota passing game was a wee bit off the mark.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan vs. Kansas State
Rittenberg's pick: Kansas State 24, Michigan 20
Bennett's pick: Kansas State 21, Michigan 17
Actual score: Kansas State 31, Michigan 14
20/20 hindsight: We both liked the Wildcats after learning that Devin Gardner wouldn't play, but neither of us saw this being as lopsided as it was in favor of K-State. Adam forecast two touchdowns for Tyler Lockett, who wound up exceeding that with three. My claim that the Michigan defense would play better than it did against Ohio State was technically true, I guess, but it still wasn't very pretty at all for the Wolverines.
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia
Bennett's pick: Georgia 31, Nebraska 23
Rittenberg's pick: Georgia 34, Nebraska 27
Actual score: Nebraska 24, Georgia 19
20/20 hindsight: We came close on Nebraska's final score but didn't give the Huskers nearly enough credit. My prediction of 130 yards for Ameer Abdullah nearly came to pass as he finished with 122. But both of us thought Todd Gurley would gash the Huskers, and he was held to just 86 rushing yards.
Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. LSU
Rittenberg's pick: Iowa 20, LSU 17
Bennett's pick: LSU 24, Iowa 20
Actual score: LSU 21, Iowa 14
20/20 hindsight: Again, we were in range of the right scores, but Iowa was able to muster only two touchdowns, one of them coming late. Adam thought Jake Rudock would throw the game-winning score, but he left early with an injury. I predicted a game-winner from Jeremy Hill, who did score two TDs and salted it away with a touchdown with 2:02 left.
Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina
Bennett's pick: Wisconsin 20, South Carolina 17
Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 24, South Carolina 21
Actual score: South Carolina 34, Wisconsin 24
20/20 hindsight: Adam got the Badgers' score right, but otherwise it was a big swing and a miss for both of us. We thought Wisconsin's defense would have a much better time than it did, but Connor Shaw had different ideas. Melvin Gordon and James White did have strong outings, as we predicted, by each rushing for more than 100 yards. But we thought Wisconsin could win the turnover battle, and it lost 4-2 in that key area.
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO: Michigan State vs. Stanford
Rittenberg's pick: Stanford 21, Michigan State 17
Bennett's pick: Michigan State 17, Stanford 16
Actual score: Michigan State 24, Stanford 20
20/20 hindsight: The BCS games were where my picks really shined. I said Connor Cook would play very well and throw two touchdowns, which he did en route to MVP honors. (Though Cook exceeded my expectations by throwing for a career-high 332 yards). Adam saw two interceptions for Cook, who threw one and was probably lucky not to have had another one (or two). I called the Spartans a team of destiny, and they certainly looked like one.
Discover Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson
Bennett's pick: Clemson 38, Ohio State 35
Rittenberg's pick: Ohio State 41, Clemson 38
Actual score: Clemson 40, Ohio State 35
20/20 hindsight: The final pick of the year turned out to be one of my best ones of the year. Both of us figured it would be a shootout, which didn't take a genius to see. I said Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins would be too much to handle, and they sure were. Adam's prediction of a big fourth quarter for Carlos Hyde didn't really take shape, though Hyde did catch a touchdown pass early in the final period. I will crow about this one for a while.