After weeks of superfluous bowl games played in nearly empty stadiums the New Years’ Day Six bowl games finally got underway and the results were all predictable, assuming you follow the RPG rankings.
On Friday in the Cotton Bowl, Ohio State sleep-walked through an encounter with the embarrassingly inept USC Trojans, a team egregiously over ranked by the CFP committee and the beauty contest polls. The Buckeyes only earned a grade of 79.6 with an overly conservative offense and a defense completely reliant upon its four down linemen. No worries; the Trojans were determined to shoot themselves in the foot with every bullet in the chamber. What we learned was that Sam Darnold has trouble with exactly the sort of pressure he’ll face in the NFL. His two fumbles and an interception gave the Buckeyes 21 points, all they needed to coast to victory.
In the Fiesta Bowl, the two teams the CFP committee somehow forgot played what could easily have been a playoff semi-final. Underrated Washington and Penn State were #5 and #6 in the RPG rankings before the game and they put on an eye pleasing display in a competitive contest. In the end the Huskies couldn’t overcome Penn State’s excellent performance on third down. The Nittany Lions converted 13 of 17 third down chances and that kept five long field scoring drives alive.
On Saturday evening in the Orange Bowl, the cocky Miami Hurricanes were thumped in a home game by the pure vanilla Wisconsin Badgers, proving yet again how wrong the CFP committee can be about a team. Miami had won ugly–and lucky–eleven straight times and their perfect record convinced the committee to rank them #2 in the nation! The Canes are back! the experts declared. Well, they are back, they aren’t elite just yet. Early in the game the Badgers were intimidated by Miami’s team speed but once they adjusted to the speed of the game, they simply did what the Badgers do: convert third downs, dominate the clock and play count, score efficiently, and limit opponent chances to score. To the experts’ eyes the Badgers’ style of play is unimpressive, but that’s because the experts value the wrong criteria. If the experts want to watch amazing gymnastics, they should watch pro basketball instead of college football.
Tomorrow the four semi-finalists square off in the only bowl games that actually matter. Till then, have a safe and Happy New Years’ Eve.