Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Big Ten bowl picks rewind
By Brian Bennett
The Allstate Sugar Bowl officially wrapped up the Big Ten season and also settled the season-long picks battle between the two bloggers.
New guy for the win.
I took a slim one-game lead into bowl season but widened the gap with a stellar 9-1 showing in the bowls. Adam went a respectable 7-3, which is still a record the Big Ten wishes it had during the postseason. I'll put my picks trophy next to the one I won in our fantasy challenge earlier this season. My mantel is getting crowded.
Let's review our picks ...
Little Caesars Bowl
- Bennett's pick: Purdue 34, Western Michigan 33
- Rittenberg's pick: Western Michigan 31, Purdue 27
- Actual score: Purdue 37, Western Michigan 32
- 20-20 hindsight: We both predicted a close game with a lot of points, even though we didn't see it being as wild as it turned out. Rittenberg has less confidence in the Purdue defense, which gave up plenty of points and yards but also created seven turnovers. I correctly predicted a big night for the Boilers' running game -- they ran for 265 yards -- though my somewhat tongue-in-cheek pick of a blocked kick at the end didn't happen.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
- Bennett's pick: Oklahoma 27, Iowa 20
- Rittenberg's pick: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 24
- Actual score: Oklahoma 31, Iowa 14
- 20-20 hindsight: Neither of us thought Iowa had enough firepower without Marcus Coker to hang with the Sooners, and the Hawkeyes didn't even score until the fourth quarter. Adam nailed the Sooners' point total, while my prediction of two James Vandenberg interceptions was one too many.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
- Bennett's pick: Texas A&M 35, Northwestern 31
- Rittenberg's pick: Texas A&M 42, Northwestern 31
- Actual score: Texas A&M 33, Northwestern 22
- 20-20 hindsight: Adam can take a bow for correctly pegging the margin of victory. He must have talked the Aggies into kicking that field goal with 30 seconds left. Neither of us liked the chances of Northwestern's defense slowing down A&M, and the Wildcats surrendered 409 yards while falling behind 30-7 before a late rally.
- Bennett's pick: Illinois 17, UCLA 9
- Rittenberg's pick: Illinois 14, UCLA 10
- Actual score: Illinois 20, UCLA 14
- 20-20 hindsight: We both foresaw a low-scoring game, and if not for UCLA's late cosmetic touchdown, I would have almost nailed the total combined points. I predicted that the Illinois defense would dominate and that Whitney Mercilus would record two sacks; he was credited with 1.5. Adam said Nathan Scheelhaase would score a late touchdown. Well, he did throw a 60-yard score to A.J. Jenkins with less than six minutes left.
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
- Bennett's pick: Houston 31, Penn State 24
- Rittenberg's pick: Penn State 28, Houston 24
- Actual score: Houston 30, Penn State 14
- 20-20 hindsight: I predicted that Case Keenum would throw a couple of early touchdown passes and that Penn State would have trouble responding. That looked pretty smart as Keenum threw for two first-quarter scores and the Nittany Lions laid a defensive egg. I almost had Houston's score on the nose and probably wouldn't have given Penn State's offense that much credit had I known for sure that Matt McGloin wouldn't play. Adam's pick of a 200-yard plus day for Silas Redd was a little bit off, as Redd mustered only 53 yards on 14 carries.
- Bennett's pick: Ohio State 24, Florida 23
- Rittenberg's pick: Ohio State 21, Florida 17
- Actual score: Florida 24, Ohio State 17
- 20-20 hindsight: Ah, my only setback. We both gave the Buckeyes a little too much credit and didn't see the big Florida special-teams plays that would swing this outcome. I predicted impressive days for Dan Herron and DeVier Posey; Herron ran for 82 yards and Posey had only 38 yards receiving. We both thought Braxton Miller would star for Ohio State. He threw for two touchdowns, but it wasn't enough.
Capital One Bowl
- Bennett's pick: Michigan State 17, Georgia 14
- Rittenberg's pick: Michigan State 21, Georgia 20
- Actual score: Michigan State 33, Georgia 30 (3 OT)
- 20-20 hindsight: We both saw a low-scoring game and a close Spartans victory, and I nailed the margin of victory. Neither of us predicted a triple-overtime thriller, or that Michigan State would fall behind 16-0 before a huge rally.
Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO
- Bennett's pick: South Carolina 20, Nebraska 17
- Rittenberg's pick: South Carolina 24, Nebraska 21
- Actual score: South Carolina 30, Nebraska 13
- 20-20 hindsight: We both thought the Huskers would keep it close, and they should have. But Nebraska made way too many mental errors, and the Gamecocks turned a game that was 16-13 going into the fourth quarter into a blowout win. I didn't think Nebraska could pass the ball effectively, and Taylor Martinez only threw for 116 yards. Neither of us gave South Carolina's offense enough credit.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
- Bennett's pick: Oregon 35, Wisconsin 30
- Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 38, Oregon 35
- Actual score: Oregon 45, Wisconsin 38
- 20-20 hindsight: Kudos to Adam for correctly predicting Wisconsin's final score, and it was 38-35 going into the fourth quarter. But they play 60 minutes for a reason. We both saw a high-scoring game but not a record-breaking Rose Bowl. Adam was right to say Jared Abbrederis would have a big game, but Wisconsin's defense let him down. I said Montee Ball would have a big day (check) but that the Badgers couldn't contain the Ducks in space. Uh, yeah.
- Bennett's pick: Michigan 24, Virginia Tech 13
- Rittenberg's pick: Michigan 27, Virginia Tech 21
- Actual score: Michigan 23, Virginia Tech 20 (OT)
- 20-20 hindsight: We both came within a point of one team's score, though neither of us predicted overtime. I liked Michigan to win big while Adam forecast a closer game. He was right on that -- but not right enough during bowl season to beat me.
Brian Bennett: 82-26 (.759)
Adam Rittenberg: 79-29 (.732)