Michigan State had just lost to Oregon and an Ohio State team still transitioning away from Braxton Miller had just fallen to a very average Virginia Tech team. The view of the B1G was so bad that Yahoo.com sports writer, and professional B1G troll, predicted the conference would finish the bowl season 0-10.
How quickly all of that changed as Michigan State came back from the dead to edge almighty Baylor 42-41, ending the Bears cries of foul for being left out of the college football playoff, and Ohio State outscored Alabama 42-35 leaving the S-E-C(!!) without a representative in the inaugural championship game. (Side note: Had the B(C)S still been in effect the championship game would have been Florida State and Alabama. It's harder to dominate when you're not operating in a system designed for your benefit.)
Vegas has immediately established the Buckeyes as 7 point dogs to the Oregon Ducks, a line that I'm not inclined to quibble with. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see Ohio State be competitive nor would I be surprised to see a blow-out. I'll delve more deeply into the why's later.
For now though, congratulations to the B1G who, with the addition of the Harbaugh hire, is proving to everyone that they are not only relevant, but competitive at the highest levels as well.
And now, for some bowl picks.
Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Pitt (-6) After the firing of Tony Levine I have a feeling the Cougars are going to be fired up in this game. That being said I think the team is too offensively limited to do much against Pitt. Call this the "Desperately hoping for a turn-around" Bowl.
UH 10 Pitt 27
Tax Slayer Bowl: Iowa vs. Tennessee (-3) For all of the good I wrote about the B1G above you have to look at individual teams. Iowa is not good. Tennessee is on the rise.
Iowa 3 Tenn 35
Alamo Bowl: Kansas State vs. UCLA (-1.5) In the pre-season I was very high on the Bruins. Over the course of the year they morphed into one of the most disappointing teams in the country. As with most K-State games my thoughts can be summed up thusly: UCLA will make mistakes, K-State won't.
KSt 24 UCLA 20
Cactus Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Washington(-7) This one is fairly straight-forward. In what we now know to be a down Big
OSU 14 Washington 27
Birmingham Bowl: East Carolina vs. Florida(-7) This line is clearly a public special. With Florida's name it would be hard to balance the betting if ECU was installed as the favorite. That said, I think ECU is a much better team and Florida will be without their coach. Surprisingly, this could be a benefit for them.
ECU 24 Florida 23
Go Daddy.com Bowl Toledo(-4) Arkansas State Despite Toledo being favored by 4 points I think this game is a pick 'em. The two teams are somewhat mirror images of each other as they each possess a good running back, and little else offensively. It's going to be hard to find an edge but I think the Sun Belt conference is just slightly better than the MAC.
Toledo 20 Arkansas State 21
Good luck and enjoy the last weekend of College Football.