First Salvo of Bowl Games – Jon and I Fall Flat
Bowl games are so hard to predict. It amazes me when I see those ESPN bowl pick challenges where people are perfect because they have to pick against all odds, facts and logic on some of those games. That said, Jon and I fell flat on our picks of the first three games. On the young bowl season, Jon is 0-3 and I am 1-2.
Bowl season opened with Fresno State taking on Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl. Did you know that New Mexico is a mecca of food and culture? Well, it is, and I now know that because of watching the three hour infomercial with bits of college football played in between announcements. In all seriousness, though, this game really was a thriller.
The Bulldogs (whose coach, Pat Hill, looks appropriately bulldoggish himself) appeared to have the game wrapped up with a 28-17 lead in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for them, they started playing like they had the game locked up and allowed the Cowboys to rally back and force overtime.
The Cowboys continued to hold Fresno State back in overtime with a goal line stand. Showing why they’re still in the WAC and not a more prestigious conference, the Bulldogs took four shots from the one yard line and could not force it in. By the way, Pat Hill, in overtime you take any points you can get and then leave it up to your defense to hold. Because they would have. If Fresno State had just gone for the field goal (assuming they get it) they would have won. Because Wyoming countered their bad coaching with even worse coaching. They went ultraconservative in their overtime possession, going for three consecutive running plays in a row before throwing their walk-on kicker out there for a 40-yard field goal. This might stun you, but he missed.
Would have been game over and a victory for Fresno State if they’d gone for the field goal. But, they didn’t. So, Wyoming gets the ball back, and on third and 10, gets some help from a really dumb pass interference by Fresno State. One running play and a holding call later, Fresno State had Wyoming right where they wanted them at 2nd and goal from the 18. But did they hold? Nooooooo. Five yard pass. Third and goal from the 13. You guessed it. Pass complete for the lead. Not much to say for Fresno State’s answer. Rush, no gain. Pass complete for five yards. Pass incomplete. Then, on fourth and five with the game on the line, Fresno State QB Bryce Harris held the ball and held the ball and held the ball before finally trying to run, kind of, having it stripped and ending the game. Congratulations to Wyoming, but seriously, that was a very bad showing by Fresno State in their second straight bowl loss.
The action continued Saturday night with Rutgers taking on Central Florida in what was basically a home game for UCF at the St. Petersburg Bowl Presented by Beef O’Brady’s. Worst bowl name ever, by the way. Rutgers had a 28-17 halftime lead and they jumped out to a 38-17 lead in the third quarter. Unlike Fresno State, however, Rutgers did not play like a team that already had it won. Their defense and offense were both relentless. And a little classless, I might add.
With under two and a half minutes to play, UCF scored a TD to close the lead to 38-24. Still close to insurmountable with that amount of time. But, they’re fighters, so they go for the onside kick. It takes a flukey bounce and goes right into the hands of Rutgers’s Damaso Munoz, who finds himself behind every defender. It’s clear green all the way to the end zone, and he punctuates his TD return with a flip into the end zone from the one yard line.
Seriously, you Reggie Bush wannabe? You are crushing your opponent in their home state. The commentators called that letting your emotions get the best of you. I don’t buy that. Quan Cosby dove into the end zone when he had the game winning TD against Ohio State last year. The winning play of the game…then I understand letting your emotions get the best of you. Rutgers had ample time to let the feeling of victory sink in. And, of course, these things build on themselves, so when Scott Vallone sacked Rob Calabrese on UCF’s following possession, he jumped up and started spinning his like he’d just lassoed him a sack. Or something. Let it be always said of the boys from New Jersey that they are classy in victory.
I’ll admit I didn’t catch much of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Sunday night. I forgot there was a bowl game that night. So, I’ll just say briefly that Southern Miss had a 14-0 lead and looked like they were ready to run away with it, but let Middle Tennessee work their way back in and the Blue Raiders ended up winning handily. They had a 16-point lead with just over a minute to play before Southern Miss scored a touchdown in the last half minute. Their inability to convert the two-pointer iced the game for MTU, which earned its first bowl victory in…well, let’s just say quite some time.
The bowl games continue tonight with…let’s be honest…the first matchup of the season that really interests me. No. 14 BYU plays No. 18 Oregon State at 7:00 PM CST in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. I’ll have to record it, as I’ll be at the Texas-Michigan State basketball game tonight. Hook ’em, Horns!