It’s been almost a week, and the reality has finally set in. There’s no more college football. Sigh.
It doesn’t matter how many times you punch the remote, spin through the dial or rant and rave. You can’t watch a new game. 68 teams in 34 games over three weeks will have to hold you until the fall. For those of you already looking ahead (and who isn’t), take with you these valuable lessons gleaned from this year’s Bowl Season:
1. The SEC rules. The nation’s ultimate football conference produced its third straight national champion. No conference has turned that hat trick since 1980, when Georgia won the SEC’s third straight title. The only other time it occurred was way back when the Big Ten really was, from 1940-1942.
In winning that championship, Florida held the unstoppable, point-a-minute Oklahoma offense to two measly touchdowns.
Ole Miss, no better than fourth best in the SEC, drilled Texas Tech, 47-34, in the Cotton Bowl. That’s Texas Tech, defeater of Texas, undefeated and top-ranked until losing to Oklahoma in late November.
Kentucky and Vanderbilt, the traditional conference lightweights, both won. Georgia’s been to bowls in 12 straight seasons and posted a 10-2 record.
2. Look who dummied up. Is this too good to be true, or what? The only two SEC coaches to lose were former geniuses Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban. Spurrier managed to supply the Big Ten with its only bowl win, a pathetic 31-10 loss to Iowa. Just last week he actually hired an offensive coordinator.
Imagine. Saban noted prior to the Sugar Bowl that his Alabama team was the only one to go 12-0 in a “real BCS conference.” Properly motivated, Utah had Saban’s Tide down, 21-zip, before you could say, “Insult this, big shot.”
3. The Pac-10’s not bad. The overlooked Pac-10, not the Big XII, challenged the SEC for supremacy by posting a perfect 5-0 bowl record. But their strength of schedule left a bit to be desired. Southern Cal got another Rose Bowl bye, beating this year’s Big Ten chump, Penn State, in a single half.
In a thriller unmatched over the past 50 years, Oregon State topped Pittsburgh, 3-nil. Arizona beat Brigham Young (from a non-BCS conference, coach Saban notes), Cal beat five-loss Miami, and Oregon rang up 42 on defenseless Oklahoma State.
4. Football has passed the Big Ten. Archaic passing schemes are all the rage in the Big Ten. A 1-6 bowl record for the conference that fancies itself as the cream of the crop? Please. Some of the losses were downright debacles: see FSU 42, Wisconsin 13. Or Kansas 42, Minnesota 21. Hats off the Ohio State. This time the Bucks managed to stay in their bowl game beyond the first quarter. For the flagship program of the Big Ten, that’s not saying much.
5. The MAC is pitiful. Mid American Conference? More like Sub American Conference. How did these clowns garner five bowl bids? Rust belt pity? It’s not like this is a powerhouse conference. It’s not even the Big Ten, Big East or ACC. They went 0-5, with the average score 32-15.
Ball State, undefeated and nationally ranked until losing to Buffalo in the MAC championship game, lost to Tulsa, 45-13, notching nary a first down or completed pass in the second half.
Conference champ Buffalo held UConn’s Donald Brown to a career-high 261 yards rushing in its 38-20 loss in the International Bowl. Talk about a foreign policy nightmare.
6. The ACC needs to pipe down until basketball season. All we hear from the ACC public relations machine is how the ACC rivals the SEC. Hey, you don’t measure conference strength by NFL draft picks. You measure it by six losses in bowl games. You measure it by LSU 38, Georgia Tech 3, and Vanderbilt 16, Boston College 14.
Virginia Tech beat Cincinnati in the Orange Bowl, but only after putting the eastern half of the nation to sleep. Other wins came over Navy, Nevada and Wisconsin. Other losses came to California, West Virginia, Rutgers and Nebraska.
The six teams that beat ACC bowl teams all had at least four losses.
7. The Big XII was overrated. All year, as pundits compared the Big XII to the SEC, the smart ones among us wondered: are these offenses this good, or does nobody in this conference play defense? Now we know, thanks to Ole Miss, Florida and Oregon.
The Big XII’s bowl wins came at the expense of the Big Ten (three) and ACC (one). The nation’s best conference doesn’t go 4-3 in the bowls with an average score of 28.7-28.4. We can safely say, however, that the Big XII tops the Big Ten.
8. Notre Dame’s back. Whoa. Beating Hawaii is nice, though it really shouldn’t qualify a team for the ensuing season’s No. 1 ranking. But if it makes all the Irish faithful full of themselves again, it’ll make for a fun fall for Charlie Weis.
9. The BCS worked. Well, yeah, if you’re Florida. If you’re Utah, Southern Cal or Texas, not quite so much. But wouldn’t you rather watch, say, Louisiana Tech play Northern Illinois instead of a playoff game?
10. Don’t forget. Be sure to keep all this in mind as you gear up for the new season. Only 232 days until kickoff.