1-7-09: Bowl Mania - Round 7 Post-Mortem & Final Pick

Hello again everybody...

We've reached the summit of another work week, and it ought to be all downhill from here, right? Boy I sure hope so! Though I'll admit to a certain amount of trepidation, as the end of the week means the end of the college football season. Friday will be my last "all college football"-themed post until sometime in September I'd guess. And yes, that brings a tear to my eye. Well it's either that or the -5 degree windchill. One of the two.

But today, there's still one more pick to make. And before I can make that pick, I've got to break down the two picks from Round 7 of Sports Take Bowl Mania. So let's get to it!

"Think of what would happen to us in America if there were no humorists. Life would be one long Congressional Record."

- Tom Masson (1866 - Wikipedia is relatively sure he's dead, they just don't know when it happened), American editor and author

Scary thought... soooo scary!

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First up, I have to break down Round 7. I set a goal to go 3-0 in the last 3 bowl games. How'd I start? Let's find out...

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Texas -8.5

ST Pick: Texas -8.5
Hammer's Pick: Texas -8.5
Dark Star's Pick: Texas -8.5

Final Score: Texas 24, Ohio State 21

Of course...

You'll recall of the 3 possible outcomes (OSU wins outright, Texas wins and covers, Texas wins and doesn't cover), 2 of them were of benefit to me. If OSU won outright, I'd win my bet with former-newsroom-guy. If Texas won and covered, then I'd be off to the start I need for my 3-0 run.

So naturally, we get the third option (Please don't sue me Vince Flynn, I really enjoyed the book!), Texas won but didn't cover.

I'm trying to comfort myself with the knowledge that Ohio State finally gave a quality performance in a big-time bowl game. And that, even though the Big Ten went 1-6 in bowl games, solid performances by Northwestern and Ohio State mitigate that awful record a little bit.

I'm trying.

Oh well, I had a shot with less than a minute left, and Colt McCoy screwed me. Now I'm glad I voted you second for the Heisman Colt. Damn you!

Sports Take: 12-20
Hammer: 17-15
Dark Star: 11-21

Lastly in Round 7...

GMAC Bowl: Ball State vs. Tulsa -3

ST Pick: Tulsa -3
Hammer's Pick: Tulsa -3
Dark Star's Pick: Ball State +3

Final Score: Tulsa 45, Ball State 13

And the streak is broken! After losing 5 picks in a row, I finally got one. And like most streak-breakers, it wasn't even close.

I was worried about the Cardinals lacking confidence and going fetal if Tulsa got out to any kind of lead and that's pretty much what happened. The Golden Hurricane shut Ball State out in the second half, scoring the last 21 points of the game to put this one to rest.

It was actually fortunate for me that this one was over early, as I was able to focus my attention and energy on the Wild beating the red-hot Boston Bruins 1-0. As a complete aside, Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom was named as a reserve for the NHL All-Star game today. That he'll be the only Wild representative is too bad, but he's had such an incredible season so far, that he fully deserves the honor.

(Can you tell I'm trying to prep for the transition away from college pigskin?)

Oh yeah... the records:

Sports Take: 13-20
Hammer: 18-15
Dark Star: 11-22

Congratulations to Hammer who's now guaranteed himself a winning record. And to me for guaranteeing myself second place. Okay, it's still woefully under .500, but at least I'm not last!

That being said, it's time for the final pick of Sports Take Bowl Mania. That's right, the "penultimates" have all passed us by, and there is only one contest left to be picked. Only one clash remaining to be prognosticated. Only one match-up to be opined upon.

Here it is:

FedEx BCS National Championship Game - Dolphin Stadium, Miami, FL
Thursday 1/8, 7pm CT (FOX)

Florida -4 vs. Oklahoma

The Gators are 12-1 (8-1 in the SEC). The Sooners are 12-1 (8-1 in the Big 12).

I've vacillated on this pick for some time. Both of these teams are excellent and there are cases to be made for either to win the game.

Offensively, I have to give an edge to the Sooners. The stat has been used to death, but I still think it deserves repeating: the Sooners have scored 60+ points in each of their last 5 games, and in the game prior to that streak, they scored 58. That's an unprecedented scoring streak in college football. There have been some who've suggested that less-than-stellar Big 12 defenses have played a role in that streak, but even if you allow for that, it's still an impressive stretch.

And while I supported the election of Sooner QB Sam Bradford as this year's Heisman Trophy winner, that actually may be a detriment to him in this game. Of the last 7 Heisman-winning quarterbacks, only 2 have won their subsequent bowl games. And both of those came from a little school called USC.

Defensively, I like the Gators. They have an amazing amount of speed on their defense, which allows them to cover receivers with fewer defensive backs and close holes quicker than offenses are used to. They've only surrendered more than 30 points once this year, against Mississippi on September 27th, in Florida's only loss of the year.

Then there are the intangibles.

Florida's had more success in BCS bowl games, with a 3-1 record including the '06-'07 National Championship. Oklahoma has more appearances, but has a 2-4 record including losses to Boise State and West Virginia. To be fair, the two wins were both National Championships.

The trash-talk has managed to even itself out. Initially it was Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks who stupidly opened his mouth, criticizing Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, saying that he'd be, at best, the 4th-ranked quarterback in the Big 12. Why would you want to motivate the guy nicknamed "Superman" more than he already is?

But then Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes responded with this gem:

"I really feel like they haven't faced a defense like ours and Big 12 defenses are a joke. It's always like a bunch of basketball scores when I watch SportsCenter."

Brandon... if you think their defense is the weak-link, don't create a reason for them to prove you wrong!

So add all that analysis up, and what conclusion do I reach? Boy this ought to be a helluva game!

Four points is slightly more than I'd like to give, but I think Florida's defense is good enough to slow down Oklahoma's offense enough for the Gators to come out on top. And a touchdown difference wouldn't surprise me a bit.

ST Pick: Florida -4
Hammer's Pick: Oklahoma +4
Dark Star's Pick: Florida -4

Dark picked Florida too? Oof... can I go back and change that?!

That's all for today. Enjoy the game Thursday night and make sure to stop back on Friday for a little diddy I like to call, "Bowl Mania: The Final Analysis". Until then, thanks for reading!


  1. As always, Dan, you're excellent in your ananysis. I often disagree with your picks but your thoroughness is second to none. I'm with Hammer on the BCS and think Oklahoma will easily cover. Besides, I'm a front runner and he clearly had the best record. Looking forward to your college hoops and baseball posts soon.

  2. I have no idea who left this, but I feel flattered and challenged all a the same time!