This time around, we really have six bowl courses on our post-season menu:
**–Pre-Christmas: Very light appetizers (Beef O’Brady’s, Poinsettia, Hawaii, etc.)
**–Post-Christmas: A decent house salad but the crutons are a little soggy (Little Caesars Pizza, Texas, Armed Forces).
**–Pre-New Year’s Day: Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Lobster bisque with just a touch of sherry. (Chick-fil-A, Liberty, Sun, Music City).
**–New Year’s Day: Still the main course for me. A fine filet from Ben Benson’s in New York. (Capital One, Outback, Gator, Rose, Fiesta).
**–Post New Year’s Day: An unexpected course of sherbet to clear the palate and extend the bowl season: Jan. 3 (Orange), Jan. 4 (Sugar), Jan. 6 (GoDaddy.com…I did not make that up), Jan. 7 (Cotton), Jan. 8 (BBVA Compass), Jan. 9 (Fight Hunger). We’ll have a taste but not consume it all because we’re really waiting for…….
**–BCS Championship (No. 1 Auburn vs. No. 2 Oregon): The perfect dessert. A Bannanas Foster from Commander’s Palace in New Orleans.
In that spirit here are my five burning questions for the non-New Year’s Day bowls. Feel free to pose your own:
1. Does A.J. Green go out with a bang? I’m never comfortable with absolutes but I do feel confident in saying that A.J. Green is the best wide receiver to ever play at Georgia. It’s hard not to wonder how Georgia’s season would have gone had Green been there from the beginning. Central Florida (coached by George O’Leary) is a good team but there is nobody like Green in Conference USA. Send him long early and often and he’ll make a bunch of big plays in his final college game.
2. Does Florida State have an answer for South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore? Florida State was third in the ACC in rushing defense (127.3 ypg) and eighth in passing defense (221.2 ypg). But the key to Friday night’s Chick-fil-A Bowl is going to be Florida State’s ability to contain freshman running back Marcus Lattimore (99.8 ypg), the SEC’s No. 2 rusher behind Auburn’s Cameron Newton. If the Seminoles can hold Lattimore to under 90 yards they can win the game. But if Lattimore goes over 90 the Gamecocks will get a couple of big plays off the passing game and they will win.
3. What will be the total yards passing in the Music City Bowl? North Carolina’s T.J. Yates (from Marietta’s Pope High School) closes out a good career on Thursday when the Tar Heels play Tennessee in the Music City Bowl in Nashville. Yates, who started hot as a freshman and then struggled a couple of years (injuries were a factor), began the 2010 season by throwing for over 400 yards against LSU. He finished the season with 3,184 yards and 18 touchdowns. Tennessee freshman Tyler Bray became the man down the stretch of this season as Tennessee won its last four games to become bowl eligible. I say the total passing yards will be over 700.
4. Will Ralph Friedgen go out a winner? Friedgen, the former Georgia Tech offensive coordinator and now the head coach at Maryland, his alma mater, is being forced out after a season in which he was named the ACC Coach of the Year. He is one of he most brilliant offensive minds of this generation. He also has a lot of pride. The Terps play East Carolina today in the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. Look for redshirt freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien to have a huge day and for Friedgen to walk off that field a winner. Don’t be surprised if the big guy gets a little emotional in the post game. Under that rough exterior he’s a softie when it comes to his players.
5. Can something, ANYTHING, good happen for Clemson? No matter how you slice it this has been a disappointing season at Clemson (6-6). Clemson was really good on defense as the Tigers led the ACC and were ninth in the country in scoring defense (17.8 ppg). Led by an extraordinary player in DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson has allowed only eight touchdowns by opposing offenses in the past seven games. Yeah, Clemson did miss C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford (now in the NFL) but the Tigers should have been better. Clemson plays South Florida in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, just a short hop up I-85 from campus. The Tigers and coach Dabo Swinney need to win this one to make the quality of life in the offseason just a little better.
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