It's been a long coupla weeks of unreliable posting for me, so to shake off the rust, I've decided to do something a little wild for New Years Day; I'll be trying to watch all five bowl games and keep a running journal here on Armchair Superstar. The lineup is Big Ten-heavy (isn't it always on Jan. 1?), which certainly doesn't hurt my interest level. Here's how it looks on what should be a great day of college football:
11 AM (ET): Outback Bowl - Northwestern vs. Auburn
If this isn't a reason to shake off those New Years hangovers (not me, I'm sober these days!) and get up early, I don't know what is. The Wildcats were rewarded for their sizzling finish to the season with a trip to the Outback Bowl, their best bid since 1997. Northwestern comes in 8-4, while Auburn is 7-5 after fading down the stretch. However, the Tigers played Alabama tough to finish their season.
All the hype around this game focuses on offense, so I expect a defensive battle.
Northwestern wins, 24-20.
1 PM: Capital One Bowl - #13 Penn State vs. #12 LSU
This is another Big Ten-SEC battle (the conference drew two SEC opponents, two from the ACC, two from the Big 12, and one from the Pac-10) which means we'll be hearing, yet again, about strength vs. speed. Blaaaah.
To me, the most important stat is that the Nittany Lions have scored 50 more points and allowed 50 fewer this season than the Bayou Bengals. That's a 9.3 ppg margin. Plus, Joe Paterno against Les Miles is a coaching matchup that the old man ought to dominate.
Penn State, 27-17
1 PM: Gator Bowl - #16 West Virginia vs. Florida State
Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno will be dueling for viewers, as both play in the one o'clock spot. I'll probably be flipping to the Gator Bowl on Capital One Bowl commercials, unless I go the ESPN360 route and watch 'em both at the same time.
Logic says to go with the Mountaineers, who have been better all year. I also happen to like West Virginia better, in general. So we'll call this a close one.
West Virginia, 36-33 (OT)
4:30 PM: Rose Bowl - #8 Ohio State vs. #7 Oregon
Much as I like to see the Big Ten succeed during bowl season, this looks like a bad matchup for State. Oregon is running with authority, and the Buckeyes offense has sputtered at times. Also, Terrelle Pryor is hurt. I think Oregon's big three (Masoli, James, Blount) wear down The Sweater and pull away in the 3rd quarter.
8:30 PM: Sugar Bowl - #3 Cincinnati vs. #5 Florida
I'll be very happy if I last this long. The Sugar Bowl this year has a ton of storylines - the last game for Tim Tebow, The Departed Brian Kelly, Urban Meyer's injury status... but I think the real story will be QBs Pike and Collaros for 'Nati. One or the other is going to outduel Tebow in prime time. This game is on Fox, and I will cry if Joe Buck is announcing. Please, no Buck.
There you have it! Check in tomorrow to keep up with me and all the college football action.