Rose Bowl better than title game? Ha!

Pete CarrollSo I’m watching Air Force play Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl on New Year’s Eve and one of the ESPN announcers says (I’m paraphrasing), “Everyone wants to focus on the national championship game, but the best bowl this year is in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl is best matchup on the bowl schedule this year.”

No way. No…way…

The announcer went on to talk about how USC was the top ranked program in the nation at one point this year and how Penn State was ranked in the top five, so the matchup is outstanding. Okay, I get that. The matchup does look outstanding, but it won’t be better than the title game.

I’ll be the first one to eat my words if I’m wrong, but I say USC waxes Penn State in the Rose Bowl this evening. The Trojans have one of the fastest and most talented defenses in the entire nation and while Joe Pa’s spread offense has been explosive, PSU hasn’t faced a defense like USC’s and I fail to see how this game remains close when the Trojans are playing in their own backyard.

The only way I see this game being tight is if USC comes out flat like it has a penchant for doing, or if Mark Sanchez starts turning the ball over – which he has a penchant for doing. In fact, if Penn State hangs with USC, I’ll dedicate an entire post about how underrated the Lions were all season and how wrong I was about the Trojans.

The Florida-Oklahoma title game matchup has everything. How will the Sooners’ dynamic offense fare against the Gators’ stifling defense? Will 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford outperform 2007 winner Tim Tebow? Can Bob Stoops’ team perform better this year than they have in past bowls? Will Urban Meyer win his second national championship in three years?

The Rose Bowl looks great on paper, but it’s a stretch to say that it’ll be more entertaining than the title game. (And the ESPN announcer hasn’t been the only one who suggested that it would be better than the title game because several media members throughout the week have been sharing that sentiment.)

Outside of USC and Penn State fans, does anybody else believe the Rose Bowl should be more exciting than the national title game? Am I missing something here?

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BCS odds released: Florida 3-point favorite over Oklahoma

The opening point spreads for the BCS bowl games have officially been released with oddsmakers establishing the Florida Gators as 3-point favorites over the Oklahoma Sooners in the national title matchup.

Rose Bowl: Penn State +10 vs. USC
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech +2 vs. Cincinnati
Sugar Bowl: Utah +10 vs. Alabama
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State +10 vs. Texas
BCS National Championship Game: Florida –3 vs. Oklahoma

I would say oddsmakers have the opening lines pegged right. And if (“if” – ha!) I were a gambling man, I would definitely lay the wood on USC to beat Penn State and Alabama to beat Utah, although the public will certainly push both of those lines up over the next couple weeks and the Utes might give ‘Bama a game because of their defense and the fact that the Sugar Bowl is a letdown for the Tide after losing to Florida in the SEC Championship.

The other bowls I’m not so sure about. The Bearcats have had a great season, but Frank Beamer’s defense looked stifling in the ACC Championship Game and you have to like what Tyrod Taylor brings to the table, although Cincy’s defense is no joke either. And the Buckeyes beat the Longhorns three years ago in Austin so a pissed off Texas team should still get a game from Terrelle Pryor and OSU.

The title game is a doozy. The public loves the favorite, so that line will likely go up, too. And for as well as the Gators are playing, one has to believe Sam Bradford and the Sooners’ dynamic offense will keep that game close. That might be a game to take the over, although the opening total has been set at 71.5.

Now take all the above information and fade my ass to a nice pay day.

College Football Week 14 Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25:
Oklahoma State CowboysNo. 3 Oklahoma at. No. 12 Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM ET
The Sooners’ dismantling of Texas Tech last Saturday might have been the most impressive victory of the college football season. Not only did they win 65-21, but they did so in compiling 32 first downs and 625 yards of offense. They finished one yard shy of rushing for 300 yards and threw for 326 threw the air. They didn’t let up for 60 minutes and now have put themselves in striking distance of playing for a national championship. They’ve got a couple of huge hurdles left, however, and one is this Saturday night in Stillwater. The hardest part for Bob Stoops this Saturday will be getting his team back up after playing such an emotionally-charged game last week. The Cowboys are also coming off a week of rest and their offense has been balanced and potent at times this year. Led by quarterback Sam Bradford, Oklahoma has one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. But OK State won’t be a pushover and we can probably expect a tight contest.

No. 4 Florida at No. 20 Florida State, 3:30 PM ET
I know this is a huge rivalry in the sunshine state, but no team is playing better than Florida is right now. FSU’s win over Maryland last week was impressive and they have the fifth best defense in the nation, but can anyone slow down Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin right now? Bobby Bowden will have his team fired up – especially at home. But nobody should be surprised if this is another Florida romp as they get ready for Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. The only thing that might deter the Gators is if they get caught looking ahead, but the chances are slim that Urban Meyer allows that to happen.

No. 22 Georgia Tech at No. 11 Georgia, 12:00 PM ET
The Bulldogs have fallen a long way since being crowned as the top team in the nation in the preseason. Not only have they dropped in the rankings, but their wins over Auburn and Kentucky the past couple weeks left something to be desired. The Jackets have bounced back well after they were awfully mistake-prone in a loss against North Carolina a few weeks ago, and they get a Georgia defense that has struggled of late. Even though Tech hasn’t won against UGA since 2000, the Jackets want to use this game as a stepping-stone to build on next season. Much like most of these rivalry games this weekend, this should be a close one.

Oregon State Beavers
No. 23 Oregon at No. 17 Oregon State, 7:00 PM ET
This is obviously a massive game for the Beavers, as a win would clinch their first Rose Bowl appearance since 1964. The only problem is that they’re facing a better-than-advertised Oregon team and they might not have dynamic underclassmen Jacquizz Rodgers, who injured his shoulder on the final play against Arizona last week. Oregon State has the better overall depth and talent, but the Ducks are balanced and it would make their season to knock off their in-state rivals on their home field – especially with a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line.

Upset Watch:
It’s rivalry week – every game should be considered a possible upset.

Other notable games:
Texas A&M at No. 2 Texas, 8:00 PM ET Friday
The Longhorns can’t afford a slip up, but it’s doubtful Mack Brown’s team falters at home against the Aggies.

Auburn at No. 1 Alabama, 3:30 PM ET
The Tide control their own destiny – beat the Tigers on Saturday and the Gators in the SEC Championship Game and they’ll be playing for a national championship. The idea is simple, but the road is going to be brutal. Auburn might be 2-5 in the SEC, but they still have one of the better defenses in college football.

Fresno State at No. 9 Boise State, 6:00 PM ET
BCS supporters will quietly be rooting for Fresno State so they don’t have to hear about how the Broncos deserve a shot to play for the national championship.

Couch Potato Alert: 11/21

Michigan vs. Ohio State
It’s Michigan-Ohio State – a classic rivalry that unites strangers and divides friends once a year for three and half hours. The Buckeyes are 9-2 with dreams of a BCS bowl bid in their future, and a victory over the Wolverines will give them a share of their fourth consecutive Big Ten title. How bad is it for Michigan? Well, last week’s home loss to Northwestern officially stamped this season as the worst in school history. Never has a Wolverine team lost eight games in one season and Ohio State would love to lower the bar even further. National coverage begins Saturday at 12 PM on ABC. Click here for the official Michigan-Ohio State smack thread.

Michigan State vs. Penn State
A win for Joe Pa on Saturday could clinch Penn State’s first Rose Bowl appearance since 1994, their second year competing in the Big Ten. If Michigan State running back Javon Ringer cannot run the football, the Spartans will have no chance of winning this game. It will be a difficult task, as the Nittany Lions are ranked first in the Big Ten and 10th in the country against the run. Michigan State’s last victory in Beaver Stadium was in 1965, the year before Joe Paterno became head coach of the program. Regional coverage begins Saturday at 3:30 PM on ABC.

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma
A win in Norman on Saturday night would leave the Red Raiders two victories away from playing in the BCS national championship game. But an Oklahoma win will leave us with oh so many possibilities for our little bowl series come January. First off, we will have a three-way tie (Texas-Oklahoma-Texas Tech) for the top spot in the Big 12 South, and the conference has an interesting tie-breaker to determine the representative in the Big 12 title game against Missouri. The winner will be decided by which school has the highest ranking in the BCS bowl standing. So, Orwell’s big brother will have a vested interest in the outcome of this weekend’s game. National coverage begins Saturday at 8 PM on ABC. Click here for the official Texas Tech-Oklahoma smack thread.

New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans
Two of the hottest teams in AFC will square off this Sunday, as the New York Jets travel to Memphis to face the undefeated Tennessee Titans and the winner could emerged as the conference favorite to reach the Super Bowl. The East-leading Jets are riding a four-game winning streak into the game, while the Titans are looking to become the 13th team in league history to open a season with a 11-0 record. The media spotlight has shine brightest on quarterback Brett Favre, but the team’s turnaround can be contributed to the Jets running attack. New York has averaged over 160 yards per game and scored eight rushing touchdowns in its last five games. The Titans defense could welcome back two starters this week with defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) and cornerback Nick Harper (ankle) returning to the lineup. Regional coverage begins Sunday at 1 PM on Fox.

Couch Potato Alert: 10/24

Oklahoma State vs. Texas
Top-ranked Texas has won 10 straight games against OSU and have staged some incredible comeback victories during this streak. In 2004, Oklahoma State led 35-7 before surrendering 49 straight points to the Longhorns. In 2005, Texas trailed 28-9 late in the third quarter, only to rally and win. Last year, the Longhorns came back from a 35-14 deficit late in the fourth quarter to win on a field goal as time expired. This season, the Cowboys are 7-0 and are in the top 10 for the first time since 1988, but are they mature enough to finish a game against Texas? Regional coverage begins at 3:30 PM ET Saturday on ABC.

Penn State vs. Ohio State
A win on Saturday night could put Penn State in prime position to finish the season undefeated and earn no worse than their first Rose Bowl berth since the 1994 season. The best matchup on the field could be between the Nittany Lions offensive line vs. the Buckeyes defensive front. Penn State is the No. 1 rushing offense (235 yards per game) in the Big Ten, while Ohio State has the No. 1 rushing defense (97 yards per game) in the conference. And the Nittany Lions are trying to win in Columbus for the first time since 1978. Let the pushing and shoving begin. National coverage begins at 8:00 PM ET Saturday on ABC. Click here for the official Ohio State-Penn State smack thread.

The World Series
The World Series could become the wet series this weekend when it shifts to Philadelphia. The National Weather Service latest forecast predicts a 90 percent chance of rain on Saturday. Major League Baseball officials acknowledged that Philadelphia is going to get rain, but the main question for them is how long? Game Three is Saturday at 8 PM ET and Game Four is on Sunday at 8 PM ET; all World Series games are on Fox.

New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
They first met as rookies in 2004, Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have led their teams to Super Bowl victories and both appear to be in good shape for another title run this season. Roethlisberger developed faster at the quarterback position and led the Steelers to three straight road wins en route to a Super Bowl title in 2005. Two seasons later, Manning did the same, guiding the Giants to three road playoff wins before defeating the previous undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl last season. Manning’s New York Giants travel to Heinz Field to take on Big Ben’s Pittsburgh Steelers in a rare matchup of 5-1 teams this Sunday. Coverage begins at 4:15 PM ET on Fox.

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