Dallas Colleges: Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
You know: The conference that can count!
But the Pac-12, which has, yes, 12 teams, and the Big 12, which has 10 teams (though it's often hard to keep up with which ones), play each other in three bowl games this holiday season.
Joy to the world.
So it seemed like a good time for the Pac-12 and Big 12 bloggers -- Ted Miller and David Ubben -- to say howdy and discuss all the coming fun.
Ted Miller: Ah, David, the bowl season. Pure bliss. Unless you’re the Pac-12, which is expected to get a whipping from your conference over the holidays. We have three Pac-12-Big 12 bowl games with the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between Stanford and Oklahoma State, the Valero Alamo with Baylor and Washington, and the Bridgepoint Education Holiday matching California and Texas. And the Big 12 is favored in all three!
Poor ole West Coast teams. What are we to do? It’s almost like the Big 12 is the SEC or something. Speaking of which, how are things with your Cowboys? Are they over not getting a shot at LSU for the national title? Are they excited about getting a shot at Andrew Luck and Stanford? We might as well start with that outstanding matchup in Glendale.
David Ubben: You know, I was actually a little surprised. I stuck around Stillwater for the BCS bowl selection show announcement, and the players took the news pretty well. They found out an hour before, but there wasn't a ton of down-in-the-dumpiness from the Pokes. When you've never been to this point before, it's a bit difficult to develop a sense of entitlement. If Oklahoma had OSU's record and was passed over by Alabama and sent to the Fiesta Bowl for the 17th time in the past six years, you might have had a different reaction.
But Oklahoma State's first trip to the BCS and first Big 12 title aren't being overlooked. These players are looking forward to this game. There's no doubt about that.
I know the Big 12 seems like the SEC, but I have a confession, Ted. I wasn't supposed to tell anybody, but I can't hold it in anymore. When the Big 12 began back in 1996 ... wow, I'm really going to do this ... then-SEC commissioner Roy Kramer graciously allowed the league to keep two of his teams. The league made a similar arrangement with the Big Eight a century ago, and the Southwest Conference around the same time. Missouri and Texas A&M are really wolves in sheep's clothing: SEC teams just pretending to be in other leagues. So, that might explain the Big 12's recent dominance.
These should all be fun games, though. I ranked two of the matchups among the top three in my bowl rankings.
As for the big one, they say you learn more by losing than by winning. Stanford got its first BCS win. How do you think that experience plays into this year's game? I hate to ruin the surprise, but Oklahoma State's a bit better than the Virginia Tech team Stanford beat last season. OSU's loss to Iowa State this season is bad, but it's nothing like the Hokies' loss to James Madison last season.
But that's 2010. The difference this year is the season-ending knee injury to middle linebacker Shayne Skov, who was an All-American candidate, a slight step back on the offensive line and a lack of top-flight receivers. But if Oklahoma State fans are looking for something to worry about it is this: Stanford's running game.
The Pokes are bad against the run, and they haven't faced a team that is as physical and creative in the running game as Stanford. As much as folks talk about Luck's passing, it's his run checks that often ruin a defense's evening.
The Fiesta Bowl matchup looks like a great one, perhaps the best of the bowl season. But I’m excited to see Mr. Excitement Robert Griffin III in the Alamo Bowl against Washington. Of course, I’m not sure that the Huskies, their fans and embattled Huskies defensive coordinator Nick Holt are as thrilled. First, tell us about what Washington should be most worried about with Griffin. Then tell us about Baylor in general. Such as: Can the Bears stop anyone?
David Ubben: Nope. Not really.
Oklahoma State's defense unfairly gets a bad rap. Baylor's bad rap is earned. This is the same team that won five consecutive games late in the season -- but became the first team ever to win four consecutive in a single season while giving up 30 points in each.
The man is a nightmare. Top to bottom, he's the most accurate passer in a quarterback-driven league. Then, you add in his athleticism, which he doesn't even really need to be extremely productive. It sets him apart, though, and forces defenses to account for it, and it buys him time in the pocket. How many guys break a 20-plus yard run before hitting a receiver for a game-winning 39-yard score to beat a team like Oklahoma for the first time?
How do you think Washington will try to slow him down? What has to happen for them to have some success?
Ted Miller: This game matches the 99th (Washington) and 109th (Baylor) scoring defenses. It has a 78-point over-under, the biggest of any bowl game. The offenses are going to score plenty, at least that's the conventional wisdom.
How does Washington stop RGIII? His name is Chris Polk. He's a running back. Baylor gives up 199 yards rushing per game. Polk right, left and up the middle is a good way to contain Griffin. The Huskies' best hope is to reduce Griffin's touches with ball control. It also needs to convert touchdowns, not field goals, in the redzone. The Huskies are pretty good at that, scoring 36 TDs in 45 visits to the red zone.
The Huskies also have a pretty good quarterback in Keith Price, who set a school record with 29 touchdown passes this year. He and a solid crew of receivers have prevented teams from ganging up against Polk. But Polk is the guy who burns the clock.
Should be a fun game. As should, by the way, the Holiday Bowl. David, Cal fans are still mad at Texas coach Mack Brown and his politicking the Longhorns into the Rose Bowl in 2004. Every team wants to win its bowl game, but the Old Blues really want to beat Brown.
Of course, neither team is what it was in 2004. Cal has an excuse. It's not a college football superpower. Sure you've been asked this before, but give me the CliffsNotes version of why the Longhorns have fallen so hard since playing for the national title in 2009.
David Ubben: Cal fans are still mad? Really? I'd suggest they get over themselves. What's anybody on that Cal team ever done anyway? It's not like the best player in the NFL missed out on a chance to play in the Rose Bowl. Now, if that were the case, we might have a problem. But honestly, I don't think Tim Tebow cares all that much about the Rose Bowl.
As for Texas' struggles?
The easy answer is quarterback play. Texas relied on Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley more than anyone realized. When they were gone, Texas couldn't run the ball, and quarterback Garrett Gilbert never made it happen. Two seasons later, the Longhorns still don't have a quarterback.
The other big answer last season was turnover margin. Gilbert threw 17 interceptions and the Longhorns were minus-12 in turnovers, which ranked 115th nationally.
They were still only 90th this year, and without solid quarterback play in a Big 12 dominated by passers, they scored five, 13 and 17 points in three of their five losses. Texas keeps people from moving the ball and runs the ball better this year, but without a solid passing game and a defense that changes games, it's tough to rack up wins in the Big 12.
It's been awhile since Cal was in the mix for the BCS, even as USC has fallen. Oregon answered the call and rose, but what has prevented Cal from winning the Pac-10 and Super Pac-10 since the Trojans' swoon?
Ted Miller: You mention quarterback play. Cal fans ... any thoughts? You mention Aaron Rodgers. Cal fans? Oh, well, that's not very nice during this festive time of the year.
Cal has become a solid defensive team, but it's lost its offensive mojo, and that can be traced to a drop in quarterback play since Rodgers departed. The latest Bears quarterback, Zach Maynard, started fairly well, stumbled, but then seemed to catch on late in the season. It's reasonable to believe the team that gets better quarterback play -- mistake-free quarterback play -- is going to win this game.
Nice to cover a conference where quarterback play matters, eh David?
Speaking of quarterback play and winning, let's wind it up. Our specific predictions aren't coming on these games until after Christmas. But we can handicap the Big 12-Pac-12 side of things. We have a three-game series this bowl seasons.
I say the Pac-12, underdogs in all three games, goes 1-2. What say you?
David Ubben: And to think, before the season, all I heard was the Pac-12 had surpassed the Big 12 in quarterback play. Did somebody petition the NCAA for another year of eligibility for Jake Locker and/or clone Matt Barkley? You West Coast folk are geniuses; I figured you'd find a way. We can't all be Stanford alums ...
Clearing out all the tumbleweeds here in middle America, I'll go out on a limb for the Big 12 in this one. Every matchup is a good one, and I don't think Cal has seen a defense like Texas' and Washington hasn't seen an offense like Baylor's. People forget that, yeah, RG3 is outstanding, but the Bears also have the league's leading receiver and leading rusher.
Stanford-OSU is a toss-up, but I'll go with a perfect sweep for the Big 12. The Cowboys haven't played poorly on the big stage yet, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt in this one, and they clean up for the Big 12 against what was almost its new conference this fall.
Oh, what could have been. Ubben and Miller on the same blog? Divided ultimately by a little thing we call the Rockies.
11:30 a.m.: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, FSSW
Noon: New Mexico at TCU, Mtn., ESPN Radio 103.3 FM (KTCU-FM, 88.7)
2:30 p.m.: Missouri at Kansas, ABC
5 p.m.: Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Arlington), FSSW
Other games of national interest:
11 a.m.: Ole Miss at Mississippi State, Ch. 21, ESPN360
11 a.m.: Clemson at South Carolina, ESPN, ESPN360
2:30 p.m.: Florida State at Florida, CBS
6 p.m.: Arkansas at LSU, ESPN, ESPN360
6 p.m.: Tennessee at Kentucky, ESPNU
7 p.m.: Georgia at Georgia Tech, ESPN2, ESPN360
First, a brief look at how all of this works. The bowls that lose their tie-ins get to pick replacements. If the SEC champion is the No. 1 team in the country (very likely), the Sugar Bowl picks first followed by the Fiesta (assuming Texas is the No. 2 team). After that, the Orange selects, followed by the Fiesta and the Sugar. The Rose Bowl gets its traditional Pac-1o-Big Ten matchup.
The Fiesta Bowl will really determine how all of these teams fall because the Sugar Bowl will certainly take the SEC runner-up with the first pick. That leaves the Fiesta to choose from the remaining pool of teams. The decision they have to make is whether to take a No. 4 TCU or go with a more traditional team that is likely to bring a bunch of folks, like Penn State or Iowa, for instance. If they take one of those teams, than the Orange Bowl could take TCU. It's also possible that if the Orange Bowl takes another BCS school, the Fiesta could get TCU with its second pick. One thing does seem clear: It's a longshot for TCU to end up in the Sugar Bowl, assuming the Sugar takes the SEC runner-up with that first pick. It would mean that Orange Bowl passed up on TCU once and the Fiesta Bowl twice.
A few possibilities (Warning: This is me speculating a bit here):
* If Oklahoma State runs the table, which would include a tough Bedlam win in Norman on Nov. 28, that gives the BCS bowls two options for big BCS teams that should travel well. In that case, the Fiesta could take TCU and then take either OSU or Penn State/Iowa, whichever one the Orange Bowl didn't select. Or they could take Penn State/Iowa and then select either TCU or OSU, whichever one the Orange Bowl didn't choose. Remember that one conference can't have more than two teams in BCS bowls.
* Would the Orange Bowl take TCU if Clemson wins the ACC? I can't think they would. That would cause a rematch of an earlier game, won by the Frogs in the rain in Clemson. If OSU does not beat OU, that could mean that Cincinnati or Pittsburgh goes to the Orange instead of TCU if Clemson wins the ACC.
* If Georgia Tech wins the ACC and the Fiesta Bowl decides to go with Penn State or a team like that, the Orange Bowl would probably take TCU and avoid having a Big East team in the game again (they had Cincinnati last year). Many folks have a Georgia Tech-TCU matchup on the assumption that the Fiesta Bowl takes one of those Big Ten at-large teams with its first choice.
* Is there a scenario that sends TCU to the Sugar Bowl? Sure. You never know how these bowls might select. But it's a longshot. To me, that would have to be if Oklahoma State wins out, Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati and Clemson wins the ACC. In that case, I could see the Fiesta taking Penn State (or Iowa), the Orange selecting Pittsburgh and the Fiesta taking Oklahoma State to play one of those Big Ten teams. That leaves the Sugar Bowl to take TCU (and Boise is left out).
* Could TCU and Boise State play each other again? It's possible. And the Fiesta Bowl would be the location. If Oklahoma State loses, there's no good Big 12 at-large option. The Fiesta Bowl could choose TCU with its first pick and, assuming the Orange takes a Big Ten at-large, the Fiesta would have to choose between the Big East champ and Boise. I just don't know if a bowl wants to put two non-AQs together based on how many fans might travel and the fact that Boise State and TCU played each other in a bowl last year.
Have I completely confused you? The bottom line: TCU's chances of going to the Sugar are remote. With two picks so high up, TCU could certainly end up playing someone in the Fiesta Bowl. But if Georgia Tech wins the ACC, it wouldn't surprise me to see TCU play them in the Orange Bowl.
Of course, none of this matters if TCU doesn't win its remaining two games. And I think a BCS bowl will be pleasantly surprised by how many fans from TCU attend. The school has never been to a BCS bowl, which should get fans excited. We should know a lot more after Nov. 28. The bowls select on Dec. 6.
TCU fans: Which BCS bowl would you prefer? What do you think of these scenarios?
From ESPN.com's Graham Hays:
No. 16 Texas A&M beats No. 6 Duke. No. 9 Tennessee beats No. 4 Baylor. Georgia beats No. 8 Oklahoma. Oklahoma State beats No. 19 Georgia Tech. Upsets all (and that was just Sunday afternoon) by the definition of the word. But only upsets because it looks a little unseemly if there's a 300-way tie for No. 3 in the preseason polls.
One game doesn't prove anything, but Texas A&M's 95-77 victory is a reminder that we weren't working with proven facts to begin with and we need to at least be open to continually revising our hypotheses.
For more, go here.
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