There are few things more idiotic in sports than the refusal of the powers-that-be in college football to go to a playoff system. However, I’ve got to admit that the BCS bowl matchups this year are pretty compelling. Here are my picks against the spread:
1) Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State (-4) over Notre Dame – The national media continues to fawn over Charlie Weis’ turnaround of the Irish program, but they seem to forget that the most impressive game they played this year was a loss to USC (granted, the Trojans cheated to pull out that win), they needed a miracle to beat Stanford (who lost to Division 1-AA school UC-Davis this season), and they got lit up by a pretty bad Michigan State offense. Meanwhile, Ohio State’s only blemishes were at the hands of fellow BCS participants Texas and Penn State. The relatively unheralded Buckeye defense is going to stifle the Irish. OSU backers can easily give the 4-point spread because this game isn’t going to be close – the Buckeyes are winning big.
2) Sugar Bowl: Georgia (-7.5) over West Virginia – The Sugar Bowl is in Hot-lanta this year, so this is going to be a virtual home game for the Bulldogs. Also, the fact that Georgia had to survive a gauntlet run in the SEC to make it here while West Virginia faced a bunch of Big East basketball schools means UGA is quite a bit more battle tested.
3) Orange Bowl: Florida State (+7.5) over Penn State – In the JoePa – Bobby Bowden septuagenarian matchup, Penn State will win the game but won’t cover the spread. I love the skills of Nittany Lions QB Michael Robinson and his team was a couple of seconds away in their game with Michigan from being undefeated. However, despite some bad losses by the ‘Noles, Free Shoe U is still talented and the game is being played within driving distance of campus. The score is going to be tight here.
4) Rose Bowl/National Championship Game: Texas (+7) over USC – The two-week SportsCenter exercise of matching up the 2005 USC team with the best college football teams of the past 50 years is way premature considering that Texas is not only going to beat the spread, but also beat the Trojans straight up for the national title. Reggie Bush is spectacular (I actually hope the Packers win one more game just so they have no chance of picking this guy in the NFL draft) and Matt Leinart is a great field general for the Trojans. However, isn’t there a little saying that defense wins championships? Remember Ohio State shutting down the all-world Miami offense in 2002? Texas has a good defense while USC struggled to stop Fresno State. Plus, the Longhorns aren’t a one-trick pony, either – Vince Young can lead scoring drives as well as anyone. This is going to be billed as a big upset even though it really shouldn’t be if you take two seconds to think about what types of teams win championships over the years. The Longhorns are going to devastate the Trojan faithful in L.A. in a classic Rose Bowl game.