Tag:Washington
Posted on: January 2, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 2, 2012 12:19 pm
 

Report: Washington hires Justin Wilcox as DC

Posted by Bryan Fischer

After one of the worst defensive performances in college football history - 777 yards and 67 points allowed - in the Alamo Bowl, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian quickly let go of his entire defensive staff, including highly paid coordinator Nick Holt.

Just as quickly as Baylor's offense was able to move down the field, Sark has found a replacement in former Tennessee defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, according to ESPN.com. Volunteers linebackers coach Peter Sirmon is also making the trip to the Northwest.

Wilcox came to Knoxville after coordinating Boise State's defense for four years, including 2009 when he shut down Oregon and TCU en route to a perfect season and top 15 finish in most defensive categories. He has plenty of Pac-12 experience having played four years at Oregon along with coaching linebackers for three seasons at California. He was pursued by Texas last year before turning down Mack Brown to remain at Tennessee but with head coach Derek Dooley on shaky ground at the moment, appears to have jumped at the chance to head out of town after two seasons.

Sirmon, who was Wilcox's roommate at Oregon, is known as a terrific recruiter and will replace fired linebackers coach Mike Cox on the Huskies' staff. A Washington native, he spent seven years playing in the NFL before beginning his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Ducks.

Tennessee finished the year ranked 28th in total defense despite a 5-7 record. The Vols showed significant improvement despite depth issues after winding up 69th in total defense in 2010.

Wilcox, who was making roughly $600,000 at Tennessee, also figures to get a nice raise. Holt was among the highest paid assistants in the country and with the Pac-12 flush with cash thanks to their new media deals, it's likely the Huskies new defensive coordinator should have plenty of cash to buy a nice house in Seattle.


Posted on: December 30, 2011 1:26 am
Edited on: December 30, 2011 1:27 am
 

QUICK HITS: Baylor 67 Washington 56



Posted by Tom Fornelli


BAYLOR WON. Well, Baylor did win the game, but in reality anybody who watched the Alamo Bowl on Thursday night won. Except for defensive coordinators around the country who no doubt found themselves curled up in the fetal position mumbling something about open-field tackling while drooling on themselves by the time this one was over. This is not an easy game to recap because so much happened. It's kind of like the night you went out to celebrate your 21st birthday. You know you had a good time doing it, but you don't remember most of it.

Still, I shall try.

There were 17 touchdowns scored in this game. That's one touchdown for every 3 minutes and 31 seconds of game time. Baylor and Washington combined for 123 points (2.05 points per minute) and 1,397 yards of total offense. Robert Griffin had 350 total yards and 2 touchdowns and he wasn't even the best quarterback in San Antonio as Washington's Keith Price went for 477 total yards and 7 touchdowns. And his team lost! Then there was Baylor's Terrance Ganaway, who rushed for 200 yards and 5 touchdowns (as a team Baylor rushed for 482 yards). Of the 17 touchdown drives in this game, 11 took less than 3 minutes off of the clock.

I'm not sure who the leading tackler was, but if he had more than 3 tackles I'll be shocked because I'm not sure there were 3 tackles in this entire game. It was insane, it was never-ending, and it was one of the greatest things that ever happened.

WHY BAYLOR WON. There's really no one thing that happened in this game that you can pinpoint as the reason that Baylor won, but if you had to give one of the "defenses" credit, I'd guess it would have to be Baylors. Not only did they hold Washington under 60, but the Bears outscored the Huskies 43-21 in the second half.

WHEN BAYLOR WON. The game came to an end when Washington faced a 4th and 8 in the final minutes while down 60-56 and couldn't convert. Though when Ganaway broke loose for a 43-yard touchdown a few plays later to make the score 67-56 with 2:28 left in the game, you legitimately wondered if Baylor had left too much time on the clock.

WHAT BAYLOR WON. Baylor won it's tenth game of the season, which is a huge milestone for the program. It also helped showcase just how insanely good a year Heisman winner Robert Griffin had. I mean, Griffin played on a Baylor team that allowed 35.7 points per game coming into this game, and gave up 56 points on the night, and the Bears still won 10 games. Wrap your head around that one. 

WHAT WASHINGTON LOST. Well, each player on Washington probably lost about 15 pounds in this game from running up and down the field for 60 minutes. Other than that, I'm not sure you can say the Huskies lost all that much. We saw the same Huskies tonight that we've seen all season: a team that is very capable of putting 50 points on the board but just as capable of allowing 60. Much like the team they played. Yes, this is a loss that stings as all losses do, but it won't be long before everyone on this Washington team looks back on this game and can do nothing but laugh at the insanity of it all.

THAT WAS CRAZY: Have you read this recap? This entire game was crazy.

FINAL GRADE: A++++++++. I'd give it more pluses but you probably get the point. No, this game was not the type of game that defensive-minded football fans would enjoy, but it was 60 minutes of pure entertainment. There is not a single doubt in my mind that anybody who watched will forever remember this Alamo Bowl.
Posted on: December 23, 2011 2:18 pm
 

Alamo Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could decide the Alamo Bowl

Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor vs. Washington pass defense

Though some of you may have not been familiar with him before the season started, every college football fan in the world knows who Robert Griffin is now. Winning the Heisman tends to increase your visibility. Of course, knowing who Robert Griffin is is a lot easier than having to stop him, and that's what Washington will be dealing with down in San Antonio during the Alamo Bowl.

It sounds incredibly simple because it is: Washington is not going to win this game if it can't corral Griffin. Easy to know, hard to do.

Even harder when you realize that the Washington pass defense hasn't exactly been good in 2011, allowing 283.8 yards per game with a defensive pass efficiency of 136.05. Both of those numbers put Washington's pass defense in the bottom third of the country. The Huskies also only managed 10 interceptions on the season, while allowing 21 passing touchdowns, so the idea that they'll be able to get Griffin (he of the 6 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio) seems to be a silly one.

Still, in order for Washington to have a good chance of winning this game, the Huskies will have to figure something out. Whether that means playing their safeties incredibly deep and forcing Baylor to dink and dunk down the field or some other strategy, they have to do something.

If not, well, then Griffin's final game as a college quarterback should be one to remember. 
Posted on: December 23, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2011 1:35 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Alamo Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: This may be a perfect matchup for Baylor. Not only is the game being played only a few hours away from the school's campus, but the Bears will also be facing a defense that hasn't shown much ability to stop anybody this season. Against the top three scoring offenses in the Pac-12 (Stanford, Oregon and USC) the Huskies allowed an average of 46.33 points a game. Which is music to the ears of a Baylor offense that finished the season averaging 43.5 points per game and has the Heisman Trophy winner handling the ball on every snap. This could be Robert Griffin's final game in a Baylor uniform, and he's going to want to end his college career with a bang. Washington will present him with a great chance to do so. Of course, as is usually the case in Baylor games, if the Bears want to win then the defense is going to have to make some stops.

We know the Bears will score points, but while Washington's offense isn't on the same level as Baylor, it can put points on the board too. So a Baylor defense that has given up 35.7 points per game this season is going to have to play a bit better than that if the Bears want to finish the season with 10 wins.

WASHINGTON WILL WIN IF: The Huskies are going to need to have their best defensive effort of the season to pull this one off, or at the very least, force enough turnovers to keep themselves in the game. Facing a passing attack like Baylor's is not good news for a Washington pass defense that has allowed opponents to complete 62% of their passes at 7.5 yards per attempt. Which means that the best way for Washington to slow RG3 will probably be to get pressure on him, which won't be easy given Griffin's mobility and the fact that the Huskies haven't had a great pass rush this season. Further complicating things is the fact that the Huskies defense has allowed over 4.5 yards per carry to opposing running backs this season as well, so even if Washington can keep Griffin in check, it'll still have to deal with a Terrence Ganaway and a Baylor offense that averages 215 rushing yards a game.

So the best bet for Washington in this one may be to get into a shootout and hope it has the ball last. Scoring points is something that Washington has shown it's capable of this season, with both Keith Price and Chris Polk proving to be hard to stop. The problem is that while the Huskies averaged 35.6 points per game in their first 8 contests, they averaged only 23.25 points a game over their last 4, so it's no surprise that Washington lost 3 of those games. The good news for Washington is that Baylor's defense has a unique ability to make your offense look a lot better than it is.

X-FACTOR: Chris Polk. We've already gone over Washington's run defense, but the truth is Baylor's is probably worse. The Bears allowed nearly 200 yards a game on the ground this season, and gave up 5.18 yards per carry. This is good news for Chris Polk, who rushed for 1,341 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The best thing Washington can probably do for its defense to slow down Baylor would be to keep Robert Griffin and company off the field as much as possible. The best way to do this will be to utilize Polk and sustain long drives.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:10 pm
 

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Posted by Eye On College Football 


Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What changes, if any, would you make to the current bowl schedule and/or bowl eligibility requirements?


Bryan Fischer: Any time you have a team like UCLA playing in a game at 6-7, I think it underscores that there needs to be a new rule that you not only be 6-6, but 7-5 at the very minimum. I get that the bowl games are a treat for the players but shouldn't we be rewarding winners and not the mediocre? The entire bowl system seems to have turned into the college football equivalent of a participation trophy. This, of course, ties-in with the line of reasoning that there are too many bowl games. At some point we'll get to the point where there's a good number of games for good teams but right now the excess causes mediocrity. For every crazy New Orleans Bowl finish we get, there's just as many Beef O'Brady Bowl duds it seems.

Tom Fornelli: I tend to agree with Bryan in that I'm not a big fan of 6-6 teams being rewarded for mediocrity, and I usually fall in line with the "there are too many bowl games" crowd, but then a funny thing happens every year. The games start, and they feature a couple of 6-6 teams, and I love them.

Yeah, there are some duds, but there are plenty of duds every Saturday during the regular season. So I think my personal criticisms from the current bowl system come from the fact that I'd like to see some type of playoff. A plus-one being the minimum of what I'd like to see.  So while I get extremely annoyed when I see that 6-6 Florida is playing 6-6 Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, I'm sorry, the TAXSLAYER.COM (bangs head, SIGN OF THE BEAST!!!) Gator Bowl, I'll probably still watch the game. I'm just a college football junkie, there's no way around it.

Jerry Hinnen: There's an easier fix for getting the UCLA-like riffraff out of the postseason than scuttling existing bowls: re-institute the discarded NCAA mandate that bowls must take teams with winning records ahead of teams with .500 (or sub-.500, in the Bruins' case) marks. "Too many bowls" is going to be a hard sell for the folks at places like Temple -- who unfairly sat at home after going 8-4 in Al Golden's final season last year -- or Western Kentucky, who should have gotten their first-ever FBS bowl bid after 2011's second-place Sun Belt finish and 7-5 record.

Cases like Temple's and WKU's are why, personally speaking, I'm fine-n'-dandy with the Participation Trophy Bowl circuit; not every game is going to be riveting theater (and matchups like UCLA-Illinois or Louisville-N.C. State promise to be quite the opposite), but it's not like anyone's required to watch. Should the seniors on that UL-Lafayette team we saw celebrating like they'd collectively won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes Saturday night have been denied that once-in-not-even-most-people's-lifetimes experience just because a few college football diehards don't want to risk being bored?

Is the long-since-antiquated notion that bowl berths are for no one but mid-major champions and the top handful of major-conference programs worth brilliant Hilltoppers' running back Bobby Rainey ending his career without a bowl appearance? Not if you ask me--if the players want to play them, the the local organizers want to host them, it's not my place (or any fan's) to say they shouldn't. The number of bowls is fine; the way the teams are selected could just use a little pro-winning-record tweaking. Besides, give it another month and there won't be any college football at all. I'll take whatever I can get at this stage, Belk Bowl included.

(That said, it would be outstanding if the NCAA also prohibited the exorbitant ticket guarantees that have turned bowl trips into a financial sinkhole for so many smaller schools, but that's a separate issue from the scheduling/eligibility question.)

Chip Patterson: I too would like to see limping 6-6 BCS conference team taken out of the bowl equation, particularly when there are dangerous Non-BCS teams that have been left out of postseason play in recent years. One way could be to change the requirements to 7-5, but this season I thought of another wrinkle.

Instead of changing the bowl eligibility record/win total, add a stipulation that requires a team to finish .500 or better in league play. Many times, the 6-6 team that fails to show up for a bowl game has struggled down the stretch and enters the postseason with little-to-no momentum. If schools are going to benefit from conference tie-ins, make them perform in conference play to earn that right. A 6-6 team with a 3-5 conference record likely is not playing their best football at the end of the season, and might be a part of one of the dud bowl games we have seen recently.

I would also prefer to move the "gutter" bowl games back before the BCS and traditional New Years Day games. That stretch of bowls leading up to the National Championship Game is one of the places where we find unattractive matchups and lose college football excitement after the blitz of New Years Day. If those games were moved back before the New Year and the title game was pushed back to Jan 4-5, it would arguably be a better spot for college football to capitalize on the nation's interest. Not only does the average fan have to wait, but they have to be teased with games that would be better consumed in pieces during a Dec. 28 doubleheader.

Adam Jacobi: It's important to keep in mind that most of these lowest-tier bowls are media-owned entities, which were created and staged every year because from a media perspective, live televised FBS college football is more lucrative than anything else that could be aired in the middle of a December week. As such, if you want to get rid of these bowls, you had better come up with something that produces higher ratings for that network instead, otherwise, no amount of hand-wringing about the quality of the teams playing in bowls is going to result in any meaningful change. This is not a scandal or anything that should not be, mind you, because it does not negatively affect fairness of play or anything else of vital importance. It's merely the entity that stands to gain most from lowest-tier bowls being played, making sure that the lowest-tier bowls get played by owning and organizing them. That's just good business.

Moreover, if by some chance these lowest-tier bowls happen to disappear, as much as we're tired of seeing a 6-6 (3-5) BCS-conference team get into the postseason, let's not pretend that that team's going to be the first against the wall. It's going to be the also-rans of the MAC, WAC, C-USA, and every other non-AQ conference, because 90% of the time, those non-AQ schools draw lower ratings than their BCS-level counterparts. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl between UCLA and Illinois is going to suck, but if we're being honest about what bowl organizers really want out of a team that they invite, UCLA and Illinois are going to keep getting bowl invitations over even 8-win teams like Tulsa, Toledo, or Louisiana Tech.

So if you're asking me what I would change about the bowl system, I wouldn't possibly know where or how to begin. The bowl system is a product of media desires and inequality in FBS football, so if you want the bowl system to be any different, you'd better figure out a way to fix either the media landscape or the college football landscape first, and well... good luck with that.

Tom Fornelli: What if we replace the mid-week December games with gladiator like competitions? In which players from each school battle each other to the death. The loser, obviously, dies and frees up a scholarship for the school. The winner gets extra credit in any class of his choosing!

WHO WOULDN'T WATCH?

Adam Jacobi: Well, that would certainly be heartbreaking for everyone involved.

I wouldn't mind it if the sponsors (or bowl organizers or the stadium) had a little bit of leeway in ground rules for these games. These are silly games anyway (unless I'm supposed to take something called the Beef O'Brady's Bowl completely seriously all of a sudden), so why shouldn't the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl be played with literally a giant potato for a football? Field goals in the Holiday Bowl worth 4 points if they're from more than 45 yards out? Fine by me! Special uniforms in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl designed to look like boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? OF COURSE we should be doing that.

So yeah, as long as we're going to have ultimately trivial exhibitions end the seasons of so many teams, we might as well make said trivial exhibitions unique in ways that go beyond mere branding.

Tom Fornelli: These ideas have my full support.  Can you imagine how much better the Orange Bowl would be if they were using an orange instead of a football?

Chip Patterson: Did they change tires on car at half time of the Meineke Car Care Bowl? If not they should.  Same goes for the Belk Bowl. I think instead of a coin toss there should be a Dockers shopping spree to determine who gets the ball first.

Adam Jacobi: And if Hooters got involved, there would be... lots of wings available for attending fans to eat. And that is all.

To chime in on the bowl schedule debate, or offer your own changes; "Like" us on Facebook and let us know what you think.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:49 am
Edited on: December 21, 2011 11:50 am
 

VIDEO: Demolition of Husky Stadium begins



Posted by Tom Fornelli


As you can see in the video above, the demolition of Washington's Husky Stadium has begun. On Tuesday it started with the destruction of the overhang above the stands on the south side of the stadium. The same overhand that helped keep the noise of the crowd inside Husky Stadium and caused the place to literally shake when it became loud enough.

It's the first phase of a $250 million makeover for the stadium, and the demolition phase of the building will carry on in parts all winter long. Contruction of the new stadium will begin in May, and the plan is for the new stadium to be ready in time for the 2013 season.

Washington will play its home games at CenturyLink Field -- home of the Seattle Seahawks -- during the 2012 season.

Hat tip: Dr. Saturday 
Posted on: December 14, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 12:27 pm
 

VIDEO: Neuheisel on the Coaches Poll



Posted by Tom Fornelli


If you've ever read our poll reactions posts here on the blog, then you know our general feelings towards the Coaches Poll. In a nutshell, we're not huge fans. So it's nice to see that former UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel feels the same way about the poll that he was a part of himself. He confirms what one of my biggest problems with the coaches poll is.

Coaches know their teams, and the teams they play. That's it. A coach at Virginia Tech is not watching Washington unless Washington is on the schedule, so to give coaches so much power in deciding who plays for a BCS title just doesn't seem right.

As for Neuheisel's idea of having the coaches vote, but only on their conferences, it makes more sense than what is currently in place, though I'm not entirely sure how it would work.

Neuheisel also talked about Jim Mora replacing him at UCLA, which you can see here.
Posted on: December 13, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Roundtable: Highlights, lowlights of bowl season

Posted by Eye on College Football



Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What game are you most excited to watch this bowl season? Which game would you rather repair a leaky faucet than be forced to watch? And what under-the-radar bowl do you think will prove surprisingly enjoyable?

Tom Fornelli: There's three games that stand out to me as must-watches. The Fiesta and Rose Bowls present a couple of interesting matchups--a battle between Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden should be a good time, and in the Rose we have two drastically different approaches to the run game. It's a classic Speed vs Strength showdown we see a lot when the Big Ten is involved.

Then there's the Alamo Bowl and what could be our last chance to see RG3 play in a Baylor uniform. Plus a game between Baylor and Washingtonshould give us plenty of points.
When it comes to games I'd like to avoid like the plague, I have to go with the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. Two 6-win teams playing under interim head coaches? HOO BOY. Gotta get some of that! As for the game most people probably don't care about, but could make for a very entertaining four hours, I have to go with the next-to-last game of the season: The GoDaddy.com Bowl between Arkansas State and Northern Illinois. Not exactly a glamourous matchup, but a matchup that could feature so many points and big plays, and it's likely going to come down to who has the ball last. It'll be a great way to get my last offensive fix of the season before tuning in to see LSU and Alabama trade punts.

Bryan FischerEven though it's not on New Year's Day this year, no game gets me excited like the Rose Bowl does. The pageantry, the setting, and -- of course -- the game itself are just fantastic. This year in particular is a very interesting matchup, the speed and quickness of Oregon against the smash-mouth sytle of Wisconsin. Both have something to prove: the Ducks need to win a BCS game under Chip Kelly and the Badgers are looking to forget last year's loss. It should be another great BCS game out in Pasadena.

At the complete opposite end of the scale is the Little Caesars Bowl. Detroit in the middle of winter with a 6-6 Purdue team and 7-5 Western Michigan team is not exactly glamorous. If you want an example of why we have too many bowls, this is it. The blandness of the game would be too much for anybody to sit through if there weren't a MAC team involved. The Interim Head Coach Bo... excuse me, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl isn't must-watch either.

I feel like a lot of people are overlooking the Outback Bowl this year. Michigan State was thisclose to getting to the Rose Bowl and winning the Big Ten title, but now head out to Florida with so much attention on rival Michigan and newcomer Urban Meyer that everybody has forgotten the Spartans won 10 games this year. Likewise, Georgia ran off 10 straight during the season and are looking to end on a high note after last year's ugly bowl loss. Of the BCS games, I can't wait to see Andrew Luck go against the opportunistic Oklahoma State defense.

Adam JacobiCo-signed on the MSU-Georgia game; I think that's going to be outstanding. One game that completely underwhelms me is Texas-Cal in the Holiday Bowl. I preferred the days of yore, when the Holiday matched up a defense-optional WAC team (usually BYU) against a Big Ten or Big 8/12 team and let the sparks fly. I don't see sparks with Texas or Cal, I see an interminable slog. In fact, the closest thing we've got to an old-fashioned Holiday Bowl is the TicketCity Bowl, which pits pass-crazed Houston and Case Keenum against Penn State's ferocious defense. All year long, fans have groused that Houston wouldn't be able to replicate its aerial assault against a "real" defense, and Ds don't get much realer than Penn State, which has talent up and down the lineup and depth. Of course, with PSU's spotty offense, 20 points might be all the Cougars need to score to secure a win, but even that's not a guarantee. Should be interesting to watch. In terms of fan experiences, Iowa State's Pinstripe Bowl visit to Yankee Stadium to take on Rutgers -- the closest thing to a "home team" possible in NYC -- should be beyond cool. In terms of actual football, it's probably going to be a horror show. Pass.

Chip PattersonThe first attempt at football in new Yankee Stadium was both a dream and nightmare at the same time.  The awkwardly aligned field and another in-state Big East team should make for a unique environment, but the inaugural Pinstripe Bowl will be remembered for the infamous excessive celebration penalty on the final touchdown that likely cost Kansas State a shot at overtime.  Throw two wildly unpredictable teams like Rutgers and Iowa State on the diamond, and who knows what will happen; it might not be that bad.

So in addition to the Kraft Hunger Bowl, I'll pile on with the Independence Bowl as lacking some flavor, because both teams are looking towards the future.  Missouri finished the season with three straight wins to become bowl eligible, but are on their way to the SEC and will be without star running back Henry Josey thanks to a freak knee injury.  Everett Withers will be coaching North Carolina for this one game, but with Larry Fedora already hired as the next head coach there leaves very little inspiration for the Tar Heels' staff to make this a game to build on for the future.  I could be wrong, but the Tar Heels did not show a ton of fight down the stretch, losing four of their final six games.

On the positive side, I'm looking forward to seeing Dabo Swinney and Dana Holgorsen making their first BCS bowl appearances as head coaches, and the showdown of high-octane styles should make for some fireworks in South Beach. The Rose and Cotton Bowls both seem like very intriguing on-field matchups, and I'm setting two DVR's to catch Luck and Weeden dueling in the desert. But I would rather watch the entire Big East regular season on loop for 2 days straight than watch Pittsburgh and SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl.  Pitt blatantly tried to get out of the bowl and June Jones is fresh off an embarrassing flirtation with Arizona State. No thank you, BBVA Compass. I'll put my money elsewhere. 

Jerry HinnenIt's not surprising that precious few college football fans outside of Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge seem all that pumped for a rematch of a touchdown-free 9-6 slugfest that (save for the Bryant-Denny atmosphere) played more like a lower-rung NFL game -- in its inferior second half, anyway -- than a battle between two of the best SEC teams of the past decade. If I'd had a vote, I'd have cast it for Oklahoma State, too. 

But I'm still more excited for Tide-Tigers II than any other game on the bowl slate, because this LSU team is maybe the most compelling, fascinating college football team I can remember watching. They produce fewer yards per-game than 74 other teams in the FBS (including such non-must-see attacks as UCLA's and Virginia's), but they still make for riveting viewing because of the anything-can-happen-at-anytime nature of their games. There's Tyrann Mathieu's game-swinging plays, the terror of Mingo and Montgomery off the edge, Jordan Jefferson's capacity to win or lose any game near-singlehandedly, the phenomenon that is Brad Wing and -- oh yeah -- the mad in-game tactics of Les Freaking Miles. And now this bizarre bayou witch's brew of a team takes on its deadliest rival, again, with the opportunity to become not just national champions but -- given their domination of the SEC, nonconference gauntlet, and potential twin victories over Nick Saban's best Alabama team -- one of the game's greatest champions of the past 25 years. Whether it's the "right" title game matchup or not won't make it any less historic, or thrilling.

As for which game I'm least enthused about, at least Bruins-Illini has Nelson Rosario and Whitney Mercilus going for it. Louisville-N.C. State in the Belk Bowl seems like the most average possible matchup between the most average possible teams in the most average possible BCS leagues; I figure I'll need to average a cup of coffee per quarter to make it to the end. (At least, if Victor Anderson doesn't save me). As for an under-the-radar special, Vanderbilt and Cincinnati both come into the Liberty Bowl with plenty to prove, exciting (and balanced) offenses, and one of the hotter young coaches in the game. Show me two evenly-matched up-and-coming teams at programs where bowl wins are still worth their metaphorical weight in gold, and I'll show you what should be an outstanding contest.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com