Monday, December 29, 2014

College Football: Undo praise for a matchup between two 6-6 teams. (And some bowl picks)

If you read the Chron on Sunday you might be forgiven for thinking the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl was a matchup for the ages between two of 2014's national powers with something real on the line.

Texas Bowl helped re-establish Houston as a 'viable' college football market. Joseph Duarte,$$)

Most recently, the Texas Bowl entered a six-year agreement with the Southeastern Conference, a league it has targeted since inception, to pair with the Big 12. That made possible a Texas-Arkansas matchup, a rivalry that dates to the grudge matches of the old Southwest Conference and the Game of the Century in 1969 between the No. 1-ranked Longhorns and No. 2 Razorbacks.

That's all well and good and romantic sounding but the reality of the situation is that neither the Longhorns or the Razorbacks were especially relevant on the college football landscape this year.

The rest of the Chron story goes on to talk about Houston as a premier college football destination. Again, while the profile for Houston is improving it's still miles behind Dallas as a major player in the game.

When you consider that the College Football Playoff Championship Game will be at Jerry's World, and that the CFP Committee held their final meetings at the Gaylord in Dallas, and that the home of the Cowboys hosts more, and higher profile college games than the home of the Texans you understand how Houston has devolved into a second-tier destination.  In Bowl terms it's probably closer to 3rd tier.

This is not to say that Houston hasn't made improvements, in fact, the city has.  From a college football waste-land to a college football city, there's at least signs that what happens in the City will at least be paid some attention to, even if it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

The Advocare V100 Texas Bowl game tonight might accidentally be fairly entertaining. Because it's the University of Texas-Austin vs. The University of Arkansas-Fayetteville there should be a good crowd and some good energy in the stands. However, because it's reportedly being played on the Texans grass field there's sure to be some pretty poor conditions as well.

All of that said, I'll be watching the game for no other reason than it will be the only show in town. True, it will probably be on mute on TV #2 (on TV #1 will be the Rockets game) I'll still at least keep up with it and am excited that the match-up seems fairly solid.

My good friend Kevin always notes that the Houston Chronicle is one of the best newspapers in the world when it comes to writing glowing, uncritical stories of local institutions. I feel that this is the case here.

Certainly the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl has risen from the ashes to be a compelling 3rd tier bowl, to suggest that it's made Houston into a major college football player is stretching it just a bit.  It keeps the Bayou City from being totally irrelevant, but it doesn't grant it a seat at the adult table.

Game Picks: Three games today, here's how I see them going down.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Texas aTm & West Virginia (-2) - At one time the Liberty Bowl was the eventual destination of the C-USA champion, now it, like the Advocare V100 Texas bowl is a destination for middle-of-the-pack SEC and Big Twen teams. The AutoZone Liberty Bowl is one step above however.  In this game I think the key match-up is aTm's struggling defense and WV's high-powered offense.  I don't expect much, if any, defense to be played:  aTm 49 WVU 52.  (Note: if you're a fan of Twitter the gimmick account @fauxHolgorson is making its curtain call during this game. Whoever did this has been one of the better fake coach accounts on Twitter for a while now. Follow in if you can)

Russell Athletic Bowl: Oklahoma (-5) vs. Clemson: Call this the "Didn't live up to expectations Bowl" if you want but the key matchup is OU's running game with Perine and Clemson's overrated, but statistically solid, defense.  While Clemson is the ranked team here the ACC has been awful early in bowl games suggesting the conference is not as strong as people imagined.  OU 33 Clem 20.

Advocare V100 Texas Bowl: UA-Fayetteville (-7) vs. UT-Austin: First things first, this won't be a replay of the Game of the Century. In fact, while I think UT-Austin is on the upswing with coach Strong and I truly believe that coach Bielema is one of the worlds great turds, I also think that UA-Fayetteville is one of the better rushing teams in the country.  UA-F 27 UT-A  10.

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