I’ll write a lot more about this subject on Friday when I make my predictions, but I sure do miss New Year’s Day as the date that really matters in college football. Here are Five Burning Questions I have about Saturday’s games:
1. Will the Gators send Urban Meyer out with a win? The Outback Bowl between Florida and Penn State is strictly a mindset game. If Florida is excited about playing the game the Gators are going to win because they simply have more athletes. But if Florida comes out flat and uninspired it could get pretty ugly. These kids at Florida have been through a lot in the last 12 months. Last year when Urban Meyer retired and then unretired Florida came out on fire in the Sugar Bowl and just destroyed Cincinnati. It will be very interesting to see how Florida’s players respond to Meyer and his staff in this final game.
2. Will this be the last college game for Alabama running back Mark Ingram? Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in 2008 and his numbers were down for various reasons in 2009. Will Ingram, a native of Flint, Michigan, go out with a bang against his dad’s alma mater (Michigan State) in the Capital One Bowl? Alabama has a chance to close out the season with 10 wins but Michigan State (11-1) is the only team in the country to beat Wisconsin this season. This should be fun.
3. Will a loss to Mississippi State send Rich Rod on his way? Michigan athletics director Dave Brandon has said he won’t evaluate the status of head coach Rich Rodriguez until after Saturday’s Gator Bowl game with Mississippi State. It seems to me that if Brandon intended to keep Rich Rod he would have done it by now and told the staff to go recruit some defensive players because right now Michigan doesn’t have any. Just keep your eye on this situation because if Michigan comes open, the coaching carousel will crank up big time again. Also keep an eye on Michigan alum Jim Harbaugh, the head coach at Stanford. His team plays Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. I personally think Harbaugh is going to the San Francisco 49ers.
4. Can TCU play with the REALLY big boys from Wisconsin? Before this season started I thought this had a chance to be Gary Patterson’s best team at TCU. He had a senior quarterback in Andy Dalton and another fast, athletic defense. The Horned Frogs are 12-0 and will get a chance to prove their worth on one of the biggest stages in all of college football when they play Wisconsin (11-1) in the Rose Bowl. Certainly, this is not the game that the Rose Bowl folks wanted (they wanted Stanford-Wisconsin) but the vagaries of the BCS system gave them TCU. Does TCU play with a chip on its shoulder? Will that matter?
5. Will Oklahoma-Connecticut be a blowout? The boys in Vegas–who drive big cars and live in big houses–certainly think so. They have Oklahoma as a 17-point favorite against the Big East champs. That’s a lot of points for a bowl game, especially when both teams have had a month off. UConn is a solid, well-coached team by Randy Edsall who has a very good player in running back Jordan Todman, the nation’s second-leading rusher with 1,574 yards. That number seems high to me but I’ll discuss this more in Friday’s predictions.
By the way, if you want to read a great college football piece, check out this story from my friend Keith Dunnavant on crimsonreplay.com. There is a historical connection between Alabama and Michigan State that goes back to the civil rights era in the 1960s:
See you on Friday from New York where I’ll be working for CBS and its coverage of the Sun Bowl between Miami and Notre Dame. Please send out the sled dogs if I get lost.
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