I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and have enjoyed the last week of the regular college football season. There was either great sorrow or great jubilation for teams playing in conference championships or rivalry games across the country. Case in point, undefeated Houston dropped its last game to Southern Mississippi 28-49, proving just how hard it is to maintain perfection.
The Michigan State vs. Wisconsin matchup was a great game, with the Badgers receiving an early Christmas gift to the Rose Bowl from the Spartans who committed a roughing the kicker penalty negating Keshawn Martin’s punt return to inside the ten yard line. It was a crazy weekend, but that’s December.
The holiday season also earmarks the beginning of the bowl season, starting off with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl, matching Wyoming with Temple on Dec. 17. The NCAA riotously reels off 35 bowl games in 24 days, culminating with No. 1 LSU meeting No. 2 Alabama for the BCS title game in New Orleans on January 9th. Don’t ask me how Alabama, who can’t win its division or its conference, can play for the national title, but in the BCS world anything can happen as long as the power centers pulling the strings want it to.
I think an LSU vs. Oklahoma State matchup would have been more interesting, but the Cowboys squandered that opportunity in double overtime losing to Iowa State 37-31 on Nov. 19. Oklahoma State’s blowout victory over Oklahoma 44-10 gave us some hope that justice might prevail, but Alabama got the nod .9419 to .9333, so the Cowboys are headed to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2 to play Stanford in a great matchup of No. 3 vs. No. 4.
Three local Division I schools are going bowling this winter. Southern Utah didn’t make the Football Championship Series (FCS) payoffs finishing with a 6-5 record. They will play in the Big Sky Conference next season and expectations are high with the return of quarterback Brad Sorensen and a host of other starters and top recruits returning from missions.
Weber State didn’t make the FCS playoffs either with a 5-6 record, but they did win the last two games for retiring head coach Ron McBride. His replacement looks to be John L Smith, a former Wildcat who had coaching stints at Idaho, Utah State, Louisville and Michigan State. They too are in the Big Sky and are looking to improve their standing next fall.
Utah State is going bowling for the first time in 14 years. The Aggies are headed to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Dec. 17 to take on Ohio from the Mid-American Conference. Coach Gary Anderson has turned things around for the Aggies and who knows what could have been had Utah State not collapsed late in each game against Auburn, Colorado State, Louisiana Tech and BYU? Now, Utah State just wants to go to Boise and show the Bobcats how to mash potatoes — Aggie style.
Believe it or not, the University of Utah was one game away from playing in the PAC-12 conference championship game against Oregon last week, but the Utes couldn’t get it done losing to lowly Colorado 14-17 at home no less. Now they have to put that behind them and turn their attention to Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl on Dec. 31. In the last 10 years the Utes bowl game record is 9-1. The Yellow Jackets are third in the nation in rushing yards and will be a good test for Utah’s stingy defense with ranks 18th in scoring.
BYU is headed to the Bell Helicopter Arms Forces Bowl on Dec. 30 to take on Tulsa from Conference USA. BYU will do so without the company of quarterback Jake Heaps who quit the team and has been released for transfer to yet an undisclosed destination. Why he chose to leave BYU is anyone’s guess, but the smart move by Heaps would have been to redshirt next season and come back as the starting QB for two years. Instead, Heaps opted for the unknown and will sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules, unless he goes to the FCS, where he could play immediately. This isn’t about starting, playing time, or winning his teammates or fans’ hearts back. This is about a philosophical disagreement between Heaps, coach Brandon Doman and coach Bronco Mendenhall. James Lark will backup Riley Nelson at QB for the Cougars and will do just fine.
Despite all the hoopla about college football, try to enjoy the smells, sights and sounds of the Holiday Season and don’t forget the real meaning of Christmas; to love more, care about each other and find ways to help. I’ll see you from the sidelines.