What We Learned this Bowl Season

Nick Cohen

By Harrison Peltz

As the new year enters, another chaotic bowl season passes. College football 2014 is already leaving us yearning for Saturday, especially due to the previous set of bowl games, which included an expanded playoff system that had never before been used. For the most part, fans loved it: the Sugar and Rose Bowls averaged 28.2 million viewers per quarter, while the National Championship Game averaged a healthy 33 million, both of which shattered records for televised college athletics. However, it was not only the expanded playoff that made this past bowl season so exciting; the smaller bowls exhibited some great football, too. With so many teams playing, so many hard battles being fought, and so many games coming down to the final second, we learned a lot about the true colors of America’s best.


The Committee Got It Right

The highly advertised, first ever Selection Sunday of College Football was met with an uproar of dispute and disagreement. TCU got jipped. Ohio State had a home loss to Virginia Tech. Florida State was undefeated. Florida State won too many close games. What about Baylor?

I think all the naysayers have been proven wrong due to the outcomes of the playoff games, with a slight exception of Florida State. They were evidently the worst team in the playoff, and they might have even been worse than TCU. However, they were undefeated in a power five conference. I don’t wanna hear that they won close games. They were undefeated.

Ohio State, the team that hecklers disrespected the most, won the damn thing. Skeptics thought they only made the bowl due to a huge win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten final. They thought they were taken purely due to momentum. Well, yeah. They dominated a very good Wisconsin team 59-0, holding Melvin Gordon to less than one hundred yards, an accolade no other team in the country could possibly do. Of course their resumé was better than TCU’s; TCU lost their biggest game of the regular season, Ohio State won theirs in destructive fashion. And one more thing, they’re the best team in the country.


SEC West Is Merely a Great Football Division

The media was obsessed with the SEC West this season. Obsessed. They claimed that the SEC West boasted three of the nation’s best ten teams: Alabama, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. Fine, Alabama was legit, and my in my opinion, the second best team in the country behind Cardale Jones and friends. After that, however, the teams are solid at best. This bowl season only proved that.

Mississippi State fell off well before bowl season after suffering back-to-back losses in regular season play, and their tank was capitalized with a 49-34 to Georgia Tech. They finished eleventh in the AP.

Ole Miss was not very good, frankly. Bo Wallace , their quarterback, was as trustworthy as Rex Ryan’s super-bowl predictions. They got absolutely smacked by a dynamic TCU team, 42-3. They finished seventeenth in the AP.

Auburn was pretty good, I guess. Nick Marshall is versatile and insanely fun to watch, but he’s not a man you can trust to win a football game against a good team. Sammie Coates was underused, which is kind of a head scratcher considering how freakin’ good he is. Auburn finished 8-4 after losing a very close bowl game to Wisconsin. They finished twenty-second in the AP.

And thats it. Four of the seven teams finished in the top twenty five, with LSU, Texas A&M, and Arkansas being left out. Four of seven is impressive, but having only one finish in the top ten is not. They were simply a very good football conference, and nothing more.


Cardale Jones is Legit

Wow. Who saw this coming? A third-string nobody who had never is thrown in with a short week of preparation to face a thirteenth ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten Finals. The reporters said he couldn’t handle the responsibility on such short notice, he didn’t have the athletic tools, and he that was a third-string quarterback for a reason. How does he respond? 257 yards on only 17 attempts, 3 touchdowns, no picks, and an adjusted quarterback rating of 90.4. Let’s not forget these numbers were put up against a defense that finished fourth in the nation in the yards.

Fluke, right? He was amped for the game, Wisconsin couldn’t gameplan for him, and momentum overtook his inexperience. He’d crash and burn against a legit team, like Alabama or something.

243 passing yards, a touchdown, a pick, 43 rushing yards, and an adjusted QBR of 71.8. A pretty good game by any quarterback’s standards, but to beat the best team in the country in your second game ever? Come on. Dude is good.

It didn’t stop there. In the grandest stage of them all, the National Championship Bowl against Oregon, who was seemingly unstoppable considering the way they dismantled Florida State, Cardale delivered again. Two total touchdowns, 242 passing yards, and a total QBR of 65.7. Again, not outstanding, but he won the national championship.

In Cardale’s first three starts ever, he’s 3-0 with three wins over ranked teams, two which were in the top five. I think he’s the first quarterback ever to be asked if he’s entering the NFL draft after playing three games as a sophomore. Of course, his answer was no, as he’s far still far from being a big league quarterback. But does he have the athleticism, accuracy, and pure instinct to get there? Definitely.


Marcus Mariota is Human

What? I thought Mariota was perfect. I thought he had some mandate of heaven that would always thwart opposing defensive backs from actually guarding their men.  Well, he doesn’t. You all saw it.

He finished with 42 passing touchdowns in contrast to four interceptions. That’s incredible. You know who had numbers like that, too? Geno Smith. I’m not saying Mariota is Geno Smith, but numbers do have to be analyzed, not merely read.

Mariota’s ridiculous production is exaggerated by the offense he plays in. It’s simply too fast for college level defenders. I’m surprised more teams haven’t adopted it, because it works. Mariota is in the perfect scheme fit, and he’s been taking advantage of it for the past three years. However, he is still human.

It doesn’t take a genius to see how flustered Mariota gets when he’s asked to drop-back like a conventional, Jameis Winston-like quarterback. Mariota is dominant when it comes to screens, outs, and other quick-hitters. His arm strength combined with his accuracy make those plays nearly unguardable. Nevertheless, he struggled in both the Rose Bowl and National Championship Game when he was asked to make reads. Both of his interceptions came off of plays where he was sitting in the pocket, a product of his inability to make decisive reasons. This is something a quarterback can learn, however, his shaky play in the National Championship game certainly has NFL scouts nervous.

Don’t get me wrong. Mariota’s really freakin’ good. I just wanted to remind everyone that he’s human.


Urban Meyer is the Best Collegiate Coach in the Country

Straight up, he’s better than Saban. The money may not say it, but the stats do. Plus the fact that his team knocked around Saban’s team pretty good in the Sugar Bowl. That helps too.

Urban Meyer has the third highest winning percentage of any college football coach ever, and the highest of all actives. Saban’s twenty-ninth.

Urban Meyer has the highest bowl winning percentage of all time (that shocked me too). Saban is 34th, at only 50 percent. Cute.

I know, Saban won three championships in four years. I’m not sure if you remember, but one of those seasons Ohio State went undefeated, however couldn’t participate in a bowl game due to an NCAA violation. Who was their coach? Urban God Damn Meyer.

And now, finally, Meyer and Saban got to go head-to-head in a Sugar Bowl with magnitude never experience before. Meyer proved his superiority, beating Saban 42-35, and going on to win the National Championship with a third-string quarterback. Take notes, Saban.


New College Playoff is Great, But Still Needs to Be Expanded a Bit

I love the four team playoff. I think in any given year, any of the top four teams could easily be the best team in the country, and that can only be determined through tournament-style play. This playoff only proved that theory, as the fourth ranked team ended up winning the damn thing.

The fans loved it, too, as all three games in the playoff broke the record for most watched collegiate sporting event that was previously set by the game before it. The Rose Bowl got 28.2 million viewers per quarter, the Sugar got 28.3, and the National Championship got 33. America likes the playoff, evidently.

Still, I believe the playoff should be expanded to eight teams. I’m sick of writing paragraphs, so my reasons why are in homestyle bullet form.

-It’s much better to be debating over the eight and nine seeds rather than the four and five seeds. In all reality, there isn’t much to separate the fourth and fifth seeds, and both teams have similar chances of actually winning. They’re both deserving of a spot. Why not have the debates occur over teams that probably won’t win anyway. That way, if the committee poops the bed, it won’t matter, as the team they left out probably wouldn’t have had a chance anyway. Imagine if Ohio State were left out this year. We would’ve missed the best team in the country win two very exciting games. That would never happen in an eight team playoff.

-Brackets are fun. College football bracket pools would be too intense. An eight team playoff is a gambler addiction waiting to happen. And I love that.

-More money for the schools. TV contracts would go way up, as would advertisement rates. I’m not quite sure why they’re opposed to it at the moment.

-The more the merrier. It’d be dope.

I know, the athletes have to go to “school”. How about we knock out one cupcake regular season nonconference game and instead replace it with a round of high-caliber college football. This way, the seasons finish at the exact same time as they would without the playoff. No one watches Alabama @ San Jose State anyway.

Bowl season was really fun this year. It would only improve with an expanded playoff.

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