Happy New Year everybody! When it comes to college football New Year’s Day just ain’t what it used to be. The BCS title won’t be decided until Jan. 7. The Orange Bowl in on Jan. 5. The bowls are too spread out to the point where an outdoor hockey game in Boston is probably going to draw a pretty good TV rating today.
Still, here are Five Burning Questions we begin the first day of 2010:
1. Will Bobby go out a winner? It is still surreal to me that Bobby Bowden will be coaching his last game today when Florida State takes on West Virginia in the Gator Bowl (1 p.m., CBS). West Virginia has the better team but I’m hoping that Florida State’s players will understand that they are a part of history and will play at a very high level and win one for “the old man,” as he is affectionately called. These players don’t understand it now, but when they are fathers and grandfathers they will look back on this game as one of the most important events of their lives. The memories will be sweet but the memories are always sweeter when you win.
2. Is it finally the Big Ten’s turn in Pasadena? The Big Ten has lost six straight appearances in the Rose Bowl and really isn’t expected to win today against the Oregon Ducks and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. If Ohio State can run the ball and keep the Oregon offense off the field, then the Buckeyes have a chance. I really like the Ohio State defense but you just can’t give Oregon too many possessions. The X-factor is Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor. He’s gifted but unpredictable. If he doesn’t make mistakes, the Buckeyes have a shot.
3. Is Florida mentally prepared to play Cincinnati? There has been precious little written about tonight’s Sugar Bowl because the ongoing drama surrounding Gator coach Urban Meyer has sucked all of the oxygen out of this game. This will be the last game for Florida DC Charlie Strong, who’s headed off to be the Louisville head coach. Assistant Billy Gonzalez has left for LSU and I’m hearing that some other Florida assistants may be taking leave after this game as well. This is a very distracted football team and program whose future is uncertain. But the Gators have No. 15 on offense (Tim Tebow) and No. 51 on defense (Brandon Spikes). They will be fine. Talent beats distractions.
4. Is LSU going to pull a Georgia Tech on Penn State? Last year LSU was coming off a disappointing finish and was playing Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Tech got the edge because the Yellow Jackets finished strong and beat Georgia to end the regular season. But when the game started LSU trotted out all of those great athletes and just destroyed Georgia Tech. Penn State is a slight favorite in this game but I just don’t see it. I look at all of the athletes at LSU and even though the Tigers don’t have RB Charles Scott (shoulder) I think they are going to win and win comfortably.
5. Can Auburn close it out on a high note? If you had told the Auburn faithful in August that the first season under Gene Chizik would end with a near-win over Alabama and a bowl on New Year’s Day, they would have been absolutely giddy. The Tigers, who started 5-0, took the nation’s No. 1 team to the limit before losing. They are 7-5 and were rewarded with the Outback Bowl berth against Northwestern (8-4). Northwestern finished strong beating Iowa (Orange Bowl), Illinois and Wisconsin down the stretch. The Wildcats have not won a bowl game since 1948. I like Auburn.
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