Ill-Advised Day After Bowl Game Predictions

The sack of weasels isn't even close to being as crazy as the man on the left at times.

The sack of weasels isn't even close to being as crazy as the man on the left at times.

Cotton Bowl – The reason a Texas Tech/Ole Miss match-up fascinates so many is not only because they are invited in a location somewhat available to both fan bases, but the personality and tendencies of both coaches. Mike Leach is the Pirate of the Skies, his luster diminshed just slightly after leaving his BCS title hopes in Norman; Houston Nutt is the boredline insane hick who will throw every manner of trick at you — he calls it as if he has nothing to lose, but is uneven enough to win a big game he’s not exepcted to and blow the next one on a bizarre coaching decision. On pure assembled talent alone, Tech should win this, but any time you think a Nutt team isn’t talented enough to pull it off, you get made to look like a fool. Tech by no more than a touchdown.  The line of -4 is just about right.

Sugar Bowl – Everyone’s hoping for a Boise State, but many are resigned to a Hawai’i. Utah is likely somewhere in the middle. This time they’re not lining up against a Big East patsy like Pitt a few years back; they get the SEC’s power-hitting pro-set team.  What the Utes need to do — MUST do if they want a realistic shot at the upset — is to make John Parker Wilson look like the incosntent thing he can be. I’m not sure Glenn Coffee and Mark Ingram will play poorly enough to force him to have to be that.  Meanwhile, the Utes will score some — but Terrance Cody and the rest of the Bama front seven are a rather revved-up TCU, hungry for redemption after falling before the Florida attack in the SEC championship game. Tide by two scores, in the range of 10-14 points.

Liberty Bowl – Fairly simple. Kentucky is atrocious on offense. If East Carolina can at be mediocre in its attack, this should be handled rather easily.

Above The Rim: Isn’t It “Los Soles” Or Something?

Despite the Spanish cross-promotion that gave us “Los Spurs” versus “Los Suns” yesterday, Phoenix at least gave us a glimpse of something of what they could be when they made the trade for Shaquille O’Neal and held a team to under 90 points for once. If you’re getting 14 points and 16 boards from Shaq, he’s doing his job. Let’s face it: the Spurs’ Big Three didn’t have a great shooting day, but always give credit to a defense when a team doesn’t shoot well. For Phoenix, it’s somewhere to start.

Chicago is crumbling faster than a cheap Subway cookie. At least 7 points to the Pistons is a close loss, but when Chauncey Billups is torching you for 34 and you can’t put a body on Tayshaun Prince (15 points in the last 17 minutes of the game), you’ve got problems and you’re not getting in the playoffs this year. John Paxson may be trading his way down into the Bad GMs Club.

The Pau Gasol trade didn’t negate one thing about the Lakers: if Kobe Bryant isn’t having a good night shooting (at least in terms of accuracy, if not number of shots), they can lose to bad teams, and a one-point loss to Sacramento in this manner stinks. Beno Udrih (25 points, 10 assists) sunk two free throws to get the lead with 4.6 seconds left, then Kobe missed the fadeaway at the last second. Gasol had 25 points.

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Short Notes On College Hoops

Arizona is probably going to miss the tournament save a very deep run in the Pac-10 tournament — and losing a very, very close game to UCLA was really the last thing the Wildcats needed.  Obviously, most teams in college hoops don’t have a way to really body up on Kevin Love, but the Wildcats don’t have enough talent on the floor to match up in a conference with one stand-out team and a few other good ones crowding for space (Arizona State, Wazzu, USC) and tourney bids.   The program may be in transition, and it needs a solid post player to go with it next season.

Tennessee ekes out a needed victory over a surprisingly resilient Kentucky squad, one without Patrick Patterson — and while it does give us a glimpse of how the Vols were able to bounce back, I’m a bit more impressed with the work Kentucky is doing after such a tough start to the season.  Billy Clyde Gillispie will be okay in Lexington — if he keeps being competitive now, wait until more of his recruits come in to town.

Is getting blown out by 29 points merely a blip or a harbinger for Indiana? The recent chain of events in Bloomington doesn’t necessarily point to anything good in that regard, but considering that this is the Big Ten we are talking about, the Hoosiers have enough talent to get over, if not actually being a Final Four threat.  The Spartans just came out hot early and got so far in front that it wasn’t ever really close.

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Take The Skinned and Headless Bowling, Part II.

Kentucky 35, Florida State 28 – Not like FSU wasn’t completely shorn of players for the Music City Bowl, but it certainly didn’t look like it. The Seminoles were able to get offensive drives scoring and put up plenty of points — but the absence of players hit them hard defensively, where Kentucky QB Andre Woodson threw for four touchdowns and 358 yards against Bobby Bowden’s squad.

Cal 42, Air Force 36 – It seemed like Cal had no get-up-and-go early, with the offense sputtering under Nate Longshore and the Falcons getting out to 21 first half points. Kevin Riley then relieved Longshore and it was a completely different ball game, turning into an offensive shoot out. The crucial part came when Air Force QB Sean Carney had his leg bend in a way that really shouldn’t happen (so much so that announcer Dan Fouts told the audience to turn away), and the Bears were able to come back and solidify another winning season.

Oregon 56, South Florida 21 – Two things I learned from the Sun Bowl: the Big East isn’t as good as I thought yet, because South Florida, on paper, should have been much more competitive against a down on its luck Pac-10 team; Oregon is more resilient and has a better system than I thought, because for most of the season, I thought Dennis Dixon really was the ultimate key to it. He may be the best catalyst, but Justin Roper ran it well by using a heavy dose of running back Jonathan Stewart — 253 yards rushing.

Fresno State 40, Georgia Tech 28 – Pat Hill’s Mustache Riders romp on a BCS-conference opponent again while the Chan Gailey Equilibrium (TM EDSBS) strikes in combination with what is quickly becoming the Curse of the Interim — Jon Tenuta’s balls-out defensive calling skill didn’t work against Bulldog RB Clifton Smith, who rushed for 152 and 2 scores. Wait, Bulldogs? No wonder Tech folded — dogs, whether from Fresno or from Athens, seem to give them issues, and the Humanitarian Bowl was no different.

Oklahoma State 49, Indiana 33 – The Cowboys won on the strength of Zac Robinson; the QB threw for 3 scores and more than 300 yards in a game that very few got to see (thanks, NFL Network, not like many outside the fans of the two schools wanted to see the Insight Bowl.)

Auburn 23, Clemson 20 – So the Tigers have something interesting offensively going, with somewhat of a two-QB system between senior Brandon Cox and the future QB, Kodi Burns, who scored the winning touchdown in overtime after a game in which Auburn was able to put the screws to Cullen Harper, limiting Clemson’s attack in the Chk-fil-A Bowl.

Photo: AP/Bill Waugh