Underdogs get little love in college football
It seems the only folks happy about No. 16 Northern Illinois playing in the Orange Bowl against No. 13 Florida State are the Huskies and their fans.
When Louisiana Tech got left out of the postseason all together, much criticism was directed at an athletic director who had the nerve to want more than scraps for his program and little at a bowl system that saves room for .500 teams - or worse - but not for the 9-3 Bulldogs.
College football definitely does not embrace the underdog.
Worse, the bowl system gives few opportunities for David to even get a chance to slay Goliath. And when it does, it seems forced. So instead of the Huskies being celebrated, they are scorned by many for doing nothing more than having a really good season and taking advantage of a flawed system.
Hey, I'm sure NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch and his teammates would have liked to have seen Oklahoma play Florida, too.
As for Louisiana Tech, athletic director Bruce Van De Velde has taken quite a bit of heat for not jumping on an invite to the Independence Bowl to play Louisiana-Monroe. Instead, he calculated that the high-scoring Bulldogs could grab a slightly more appealing bowl trip than the hour drive from Ruston to Shreveport. He calculated wrong.
Seems the more troubling part of the Bulldogs' plight is a system in which Iowa State and Purdue, at 6-6, get the bids that could have gone to Louisiana Tech. Or that the NCAA felt compelled to let Georgia Tech, at 6-7, in the postseason.
Louisiana Tech, which averages 52 points a game and played toe-to-toe with Texas A&M, against Southern California in the Sun Bowl sounds a whole lot better than Georgia Tech vs. USC.
But that's not the way it works in college football, where the underdog might as well take a walk.
New Mexico Bowl
Nevada (plus 9 1/2) vs. Arizona
Good offenses, bad defenses. The bowl season kicks off with a wild one ... ARIZONA 55-38.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Toledo (plus 10 1/2) vs. Utah State
MAC vs. WAC. Score one for WACtion ... UTAH STATE 28-17.
San Diego State (plus 2 1/2) vs. BYU
Cougars have won four of last five bowl appearances ... BYU 20-14.
Beef `O' Brady's Bowl
Ball State (plus 7) vs. UCF
Player to watch: Knights KR Quincy McDuffie, has three TD returns .... BALL STATE 24-23.
SATURDAY, DEC. 22
New Orleans Bowl
East Carolina (plus 5 1/2) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Ragin' Cajuns won first bowl game here last year ... LA.-LAFAYETTE 38-31.
Boise State (minus 5 1/2) vs. Washington
Broncos have won three straight bowls ... WASHINGTON 23-21.
MONDAY, DEC. 24
SMU (plus 12) vs. Fresno State
Last time June Jones returned to Hawaii (2008), Mustangs won ... FRESNO STATE 42-14.
WEDNESDAY, DEC. 26
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Central Michigan (plus 5 1/2) vs. Western Kentucky
First bowl for Hilltoppers ... WESTERN KENTUCKY 28-17.
THURSDAY, DEC. 27
Bowling Green (plus 7) vs. San Jose State
Round 2 in MAC vs. WAC ... BOWLING GREEN 27-21.
Duke (plus 7 1/2) vs. Cincinnati
Another Bearcats bowl game without the coach who got them there ... CINCINNATI 34-21.
Baylor (plus 1) vs. UCLA
Old-school Holiday Bowl. Expect plenty of points ... UCLA 50-45.
FRIDAY, DEC. 28
Louisiana-Monroe (minus 7) vs. Ohio
Pair of September darlings face-off in December ... LA.-MONROE 37-24.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Virginia Tech (minus 2 1/2) vs. Rutgers
Hokies 0-2 against Big East this season ... RUTGERS 20-16.
Meineke Car Care Bowl
Minnesota (plus 12 1/2) vs. Texas Tech
Gophers won two Big Ten games. And one was against Illinois ... TEXAS TECH 48-10.
SATURDAY, DEC. 29
Armed Forces Bowl(equals)
Rice (plus 1) vs. Air Force
Both teams like to run. Neither can stop the run ... AIR FORCE 38-35.
Fight Hunger Bowl(equals)
Arizona State (minus 14) vs. Navy
Navy is rarely fun to play in a bowl ... ARIZONA STATE 35-24
Syracuse (plus 4) vs. West Virginia
NFL prospects playing quarterback for both teams ... WEST VIRGINIA 48-42.
Texas (plus 2) vs. Oregon State
Longhorns try to avoid going into offseason on three-game skid ... TEXAS 28-24
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Michigan State (plus 2 1/2) vs. TCU
In a year full of excruciating losses for Spartans, another ... TCU 17-16
MONDAY, DEC. 31
Music City Bowl
Vanderbilt (minus 6 1/2) vs. N.C. State
Player to watch: Commodores WR Jordan Matthews .... N.C. STATE 28-24.
Georgia Tech (plus 10) vs. Southern California
Not exactly the way most figured Matt Barkley would end his career ... USC 45-21.
Iowa State (plus 3) vs. Tulsa
Golden Hurricane, known for offense, bring pretty good D ... TULSA 23-17.
LSU (minus 3) vs. Clemson
SEC Tigers ACC Tigers ... LSU 31-21.
TUESDAY, JAN. 1
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Purdue (plus 18 1/2) vs. Oklahoma State
Cowboys are better than 7-5 record ... OKLAHOMA STATE 45-24.
Mississippi State (minus 2) vs. Northwestern
Wildcats last and only bowl win: 1949 Rose Bowl ... NORTHWESTERN 38-37.
Capital One Bowl
Georgia (minus 8) vs. Nebraska
Only two bowl teams have worse turnover margin than Nebraska's ... GEORGIA 28-21.
South Carolina (minus 4) vs. Michigan
Players to watch: Gamecocks DE Jadeveon Clowney vs. Wolverines OT Taylor Lewan ... SOUTH CAROLINA 24-13.
Stanford (minus 6 1/2) vs. Wisconsin
Power vs. power ... STANFORD 24-18.
Northern Illinois (plus 15) vs. Florida State
Can Huskies pull a Boise State? ... FLORIDA STATE 35-14.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 2
Florida (minus 13 1/2) vs. Louisville
Gators D will be toughest test by far for Cardinals QB Teddy Bridgewater ... FLORIDA 31-14.
THURSDAY, JAN. 3
Kansas State (plus 9 1/2) vs. Oregon
Would make for a nice semifinal ... KANSAS STATE 35-31.
FRIDAY, JAN. 4
Texas A&M (minus 3) vs. Oklahoma
Heisman winner have won last three bowl games ... OKLAHOMA 38-37
SATURDAY, JAN. 5(equals)
BBVA Compass Bowl
Pittsburgh (plus 1 1/2) vs. Mississippi
Three trips in a row to Birmingham, Ala., for Panthers ... MISSISSIPPI 31-24.
SUNDAY, JAN. 6
Kent State (plus 4) vs. Arkansas State
Player to watch: Golden Flashes RB Dri Archer ... ARKANSAS STATE 35-30.
MONDAY, JAN. 7
BCS National Championship
Notre Dame (plus 7 1/2) vs. Alabama
Roll Repeat! ... ALABAMA 21-10.
Championship weekend record: 7-3 (straight); 4-5 (vs. points)
Season record: 218-51 (straight); 126-116 (vs. points)
Best bets: 5-9.
Upset specials: 8-6.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoap