Such interesting possibilities. Stoopes and the Land Thieves are 3-0 against ‘Bama, and Austin native Baker Mayfield is lighting it up at QB for the Sooners. However, Brent Venables, who for a decade under Stoopes was the defensive guru of the Big 12, is now at Clemson. Stoopes dumped Venables so that he could hire his brother, Mike Stoopes, who had been fired from his HC job. Mike is a downgrade from Venables.
Michigan State was consistently the best coached defense in the nation under Dantonio and Narduzzi, but Narduzzi is now deservedly a HC on his own. Nevertheless, MSU has not forgotten how to defend. Twist for the ‘Bama – MSU game is that Saban used to coach at MSU.
Could ‘Bama grind out a victory against any of the other three? All of the other three are better than every team that ‘Bama faced, but there are many truly NFL capable studs in the Tide’s lineup. Crucially, I would rate all three of the other starting QBs in the playoffs well ahead of ‘Bama’s Jake Coker.
Could MSU score enough to beat OU or Clemson? Could either Clemson or OU score four TDs against the MSU or ‘Bama defenses?
The Playoff Schedule:
No. 1 Clemson faces No. 4 Oklahoma on Dec. 31 in the Orange Bowl.
No. 2 Alabama will face No. 3 Michigan State on Dec. 31 in Jerry World, the Cowboys’ stadium, mislabeled the something Cotton Bowl.
For OU, Arlington TX would have been a home game, so it was a sure thing that OU would be ranked #4, although that ranking is certainly “reasonable”, regardless.
While I would not predict the results of a game between 19 YOs without inside information on injuries, grades, drinking habits, and girl friends, I will guess that styles will produce more TDs in the Arlington game, and that the final will provide a true contrast. Here is a statistical model, taken without benefit of the “model information” I consider crucial:
In the other Bowl games of note, the truly outstanding teams that fell short of the Playoffs will be butting heads. TCU and ND had so many injuries that they were not the same teams by midseason as they were in early September. They remained very tough squads, and if they heal before their bowl games, they will be as good to watch as the playoff teams.
Stanford, Ohio State, Iowa, Florida State, UNC, Okie Lite, and Baylor (if it has its first or second string QB back), are all highly competitive teams. In fact, there was no single dominant team this year, and I am not inclined to believe that Clemson’s record set it apart. I find ACC competition suspect, below the top three teams. By contrast, the very competitive PAC has some good multi-loss teams, as does the western half of the SEC.
Only one non-power conference team is worth a mention: Houston. Not having played even a fruit blender schedule there is no comparable way to measure them. They do have talent and are very well coached by Herman, however, who was previously OC at tOSU.
So these are the best of the remaining bowl games, but remember when there is nothing on the line, either team may show up or not, depending in part on how much they want to party over Winter Break:
Citrus Bowl NKA as something else
UNC v. Baylor (but one of BU’s two best QBs must return for this or it will not be worth watching)
FSU vs UH (classic who wants to be there game)
Jan. 1 –
Notre Dame vs. Ohio State (injuries for ND and no incentive for tOSU?)
Rose Bowl Game
Stanford v. Iowa (Stanford has a great RB who will set many records)
Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
Jan 2 –
Oregon vs. TCU (another injury bowl – but these are exciting teams)
Jan 11 – National Title Game from Glendale, AZ
FWIW, do not bet on these games. 19 YOs, girlfriends, drinking, injuries, passing finals, arrests in New Orleans…you cannot know the outcome. That is why we watch.
And – GOOD LUCK to Michigan State!