Christmas is over, finally. Yeah I know it seems to be everyone's favorite holiday but for m its a time of just high stress too many mass texts received, too much money spent and in the too much watching of the same three movies over and over again. It got to the point on Friday that I was watching Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's outstanding acting skills in The Gameplan to avoid the surefire insanity that would come with seeing one more second of A Christmas Story or Christmas Vacation. Sure both are great movies but 24 hours of anything besides fishing, the beach, beer specials or hot wings is too much for me.
Along with the Christmas festivities there was a slew of Bowl Games to feast on. Some of the games were stinkers a la the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl that saw Nevada get their doors blown off by June Jones' Mustangs but overall it was just nice to have some football to watch. Last week we had just three, this week we get a healthy appetizer of seven contests to sink our teeth into. We've also got Urban Meyer invading into my bowl game experience with 30 texts all exclaiming URBAN MEYER QUIT and the conference bowl picture is starting to clear itself up.
So read more to get into The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of the second week of bowling...
-Dion Lewis of Pittsburgh. The freshman was an absolute joy to watch even as he completely decimated the Tar Heels defense to the tune of 159 yards, 5.7 yards per carry and a touchdown. True he should have had two touchdowns but he fumbled away his first score for a Pitt touchback. Even with the turnover the kid was unfreaking believable.
He is one of the best backs I've seen this season and his skillset is definitely on par with Gerhart, Ingram, Royster and the rest of the workhorse true running backs. He's not a home run hitter but he's built in the LaSean McCoy mold that Wannstedt likes for his Panthers squad. Dion Lewis was the best part of the Meineke Car Care Bowl and that is high praise coming from myself, a dyed in the wool Carolina supporter.
-Southern California's response to critics. Folks all over, myself included, have questioned whether or not Carroll could motivate the Trojans and how they would react to playing in the Emerald Bowl as well as the Joe McKnight situation. They handled it adequately. I won't say it was a great response, allowing BC to battle back to 14-13 was unimpressive, but they were good in taking care of business. Matt Barkley completed 73% of his passes for 350 yards in what was by far his best performance. Damian Williams made a statement for his NFL draft prospects as he hauled in 12 catches for 189 yards and looked like the best receiver in the Pac 10.
All in all I was just impressed with the lack of a let down. I think we all saw it coming, especially with their lackadaisical attitude and relative apathy during their four previous losses. Hat tip to Pete Carroll and the seniors for not allowing the let down. I'll say it early and get my plug in now, this Southern California team will be back in a BCS Bowl Game next year, 2010 they will be as hungry as the SoCal teams in the early 2000's.
-Clemson seniors getting a win in the Music City Bowl. As we stated in our Non-BCS wishlist at #3 we wanted to see CJ Spiller go out with a win. The game Spiller played was not his best as he totaled just 172 yards of total offense and one touchdown however, getting their first bowl as a class was monumental. Not just for Spiller but for guys like Jacoby Ford, DeAndre McDaniel and Ricky Sapp as well. The win puts and exclamation point on one of the best players Clemson has ever had and for guys like Sapp and McDaniel it provides a positive springboard into the NFL Draft Season.
Plus the ACC needed a win after the Heels heartbreaker and BC being outclassed by Southern California.
-The WAC. Not just because Fresno State lost to a bad Wyoming team and not only due to Nevada getting steam rolled by SMU, but also because of the dispersions this casts on the Boise State at-large bid. The Broncos schedule was easy, we all knew that. Now we're seeing just how easy it was. Nevada got absolutely boat raced by a middle of the road Conference-USA team. Not a middle of the road SEC, Pac 10 or Big East team. This was exactly the fear that I had early in the season, Boise State getting into a BCS bowl game after playing Oregon and dirt for their schedule.
-Urban Meyer's flip flopping "detirement" as phrased by the folks over at Team Speed Kills. If you're a Florida fan this is bad because of the implications it has on recruiting. He cannot sit in a kids house and say "I will be here for five years to coach you" with any sort of confidence. Especially not heading into the Sugar Bowl after arriving and then he decides now is the time to leave. Florida fans, this is bad for you, just know that Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Randy Shannon and Lane Kiffin will be using this against you on an almost daily basis.
For the rest of us this was bad for a whole new reason, the absolute assinine nature of the event. I was in the bowl game receiving text messages from ESPN, friends, fellow bloggers and the like all screaming to the fact that Urban Meyer had quit. He's resigned due to health reasons. He's gone from Florida who will be the replacement. Watched a press conference to see Meyer tell us nothing and absolutely sidestep everything before finally saying he's not quitting and will just take a leave of absence. Thank for nothing.
-The field at Bank of America Stadium for the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Seriously, I understand that the Panthers played Sunday night and I also know that they don't like to use the stadium for anything but Panthers games but the job they did on that field was slipshod and lazy at best. The field looked like it had been painted that morning and they didn't even bother making it look nice, just painted over the Panthers logo with some crayola washable tempered paint and be done with it. Not impressed.
-Attendance at bowl games. Just about every game that we've seen so far has had a rash of empty seats. The game that I went to in Charlotte saw the entire upper level less than 20% full plus two whole sections of Pitt lower level seats 100% vacant. Every game from the Las Vegas Bowl to the Music City Bowl and Emerald Bowl had glaring empties. The New Mexico Bowl was the best showing in terms of fan enthusiasm but for the bigger conferences their have been some not so great bowl turnouts. It will be interesting to see how this improves going forward.
-The Pac 10 and the ACC's bowl showings thus far. Their combined bowl record thus far is 2-4 and that includes the Emerald Bowl where one of the leagues had to get a win because they were playing each other. The Pac 10 is 0-2 against the MWC which is probably the toughest pill to swallow as the MWC is staying on the league's heels. With seven games left between the leagues' games they will have to find a way to turn this embarrassing tide. For the ACC that means beating the Big 10 and the SEC which makes for a considerable up hill battle. For the Pac 10 that means beating the MAC, Big XII and the Big 10 in their upcoming contests. If these teams can't get a good showing the Pac 10 will lose their status as the second best league and the ACC will remain in the bottom of the BCS leagues.