Ranking the 10 best bowl games of 2012-13

25 Comments

Before the postseason began, we asked y’all to vote on which bowl games you felt would be the best and worst of the non-BCS group.

Thirty-five bowls later, the only thing we’ve confirmed is that you might be better off picking games by throwing a dart blindfolded. With that in mind, it’s time to go back and rank the 10 best bowls of the 2012-13 postseason (note: there’s no need to rank the 10 worst because, well, why would you want to relive cruddy bowls?).

1. Outback Bowl: No. 8 South Carolina 33, No. 24 Michigan 28

A back and forth game between the Big Ten and SEC that came down to the final seconds on New Year’s Day would be enough by itself to warrant the top spot on our list. Then Jadeveon Clowney made arguably the best individual, game-changing play of the bowl season. Of course, if you argue with Clowney, he’ll form tackle you into a fine powder.

2. Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 11 Clemson 25, No. 14 LSU 24

Tajh Boyd‘s heroics against LSU’s blitz-happy defense were amazing until you realize he was actually a test subject in a real-life episode of ESPN’s “Sports Science.” Today, we ponder how many times a quarterback can get hit with the same amount of force per square inch exerted by a space shuttle on liftoff… and live to tell about it.

3. Alamo Bowl: No. 19 Texas 31, No. 20 Oregon State 27

“Texas back?!?!?!?” will undoubtedly be the theme for the Longhorns this year after a come-from-behind win over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl. Defensive end Alex Okafor went Oka-BEASTMODE with nine tackles, 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble, most of that damage coming in the third and fourth quarters. The win makes UT’s offseason tolerable, but 2013 is a critical year for Mack Brown.

4. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati 48, Duke 34

Oh, Duke. Y’all were so close to winning your first bowl game since 1961. Unfortunately, the Blue Devils “Belk’d it” by allowing Cincinnati to score on an 83-yard touchdown pass and a 55-yard pick-six within the final minute of the game. For 59 minutes though, this game was awesome.

5. New Mexico Bowl: Arizona 49, Nevada 48

Nobody circles the wagons like the fightin’ RichRods. Down 13 with under two minutes to play, Arizona scored not once, but twice with the help of a successful onside kick to win the first bowl game of the season. I can only imagine the shock of the loss played a role in Chris Ault‘s retirement. Okay, it didn’t really. But still.

6. New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette 43, East Carolina 34 

America demands offense in games that have no national implications because we don’t give a single damn about your defensive coordinator’s job security, even in the worst of economies. The New Orleans Bowl understood that and obliged by racking up 45 points in the second quarter. The sacrifice was complete.

7. Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31

Comebacks are always welcome in bowl games and Texas Tech scored 10 points in the final 1:10. However, we can only speculate that had Tommy Tuberville been on the sidelines, the Red Raiders would have elected to take a knee and play for overtime rather than attempt a risky 28-yard, game-winning field goal.An opportunity missed to jump up our rankings, to be sure.

8. Rose Bowl: No. 7 Stanford 20, Wisconsin 14 

This was the only BCS bowl where the game was decided by a touchdown or less. That should give you an idea as to how the BCS bowls played out this year. Defense lovers will point to the low score; cynics like me who only wish they were athletic enough to play football will point to some iffy execution by both offenses. But a close one in The Grandaddy of Them All? We’ll gladly take it.

9. Capital One Bowl: No. 5 Georgia 45, No. 25 Nebraska 31

The irony of an “SEC defense” and the “blackshirts” giving up a combined 76 points and over 1,000 yards was too much for us not to include this game. This was old man football… if the old man was in better shape than you and could probably beat you up.

10. Military Bowl: No. 21 San Jose State 29, Bowling Green 20 

I’m gonna miss you, WAC. At least San Jose State was able to get you a win before you went peacefully into that big ‘ol bowl game in the sky. Also, there were, like, four blocked punts because weird things tend to occur when #MACtion and #WACtion happens at the same time on the same field.

ESPN analyst: Jimbo Fisher called Texas A&M soft, vowed to change the program

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If there was one thing that really seemed to put Kevin Sumlin on the hot seat during his time at Texas A&M, it was the Aggies seemingly annual collapse in the second half of the season and inability to finish games they had the potential to win. That explains some of the reason why the school ponied up to lure Jimbo Fisher from Florida State in a $75 million hire late last year.

While most of the outside focus on Fisher’s move to College Station has been centered on that humongous contract, there’s little question that hiring a national title-winning coach was a coup for the team. That subject was brought up again on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show Friday evening and ESPN college football analyst Booger McFarland relayed a rather interesting conversation he had with the coach earlier this year in which Fisher said something you typically don’t hear made public. You can head to the 8:18 mark (or there abouts) for the interview.

“I talked to Jimbo in Atlanta. I told Jimbo point-blank — the same thing I told you guys about Texas A&M the last several years — A&M is a soft program,” McFarland said. “Jimbo looked me in the eye and was like, ‘You know what, you’re damn right. We are soft, but I’m going to change that.’”

Something says that Fisher and the Aggies strength coaches are going to use the comments as a bit of a challenge in the weight room and during spring practice over the coming months as they lay the groundwork for the 2018 season. Even the most ardent maroon and white supporters would probably agree with the sentiment that the team went a little soft toward the end of Sumlin’s tenure but it’s not everyday you see a coach call out his new program quite like that.

Maybe it’s something in the water down there in College Station though, judging by some other comments by the school’s athletic director, but one thing is for certain — things are going to be very different at Texas A&M going forward.

Scott Frost wants Nebraska football roster to grow to 150 players or more in 2018

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In the days before you were limited to 85 scholarship players, it was not totally uncommon to see teams stock their rosters full of players and wind up in the triple-digits with close to 200 players on a team. Even after the NCAA mandated a limit of 85 scholarships, roster sizes were still not that much smaller when you factored in walk-ons and others on a squad.

It appears Scott Frost wants to get back to those sort of days in Lincoln and is apparently pushing the school to help him expand the Cornhuskers roster right into the 150 range.

“I’d like to accommodate (Frost’s) desire” to expand the roster, athletic director Bill Moos said this week in an interview with Rivals’ HuskerOnline. “But we do have that issue with Title IX” along with locker room facilities challenges, organized practice schedules, and other daily management nuts and bolts to sort through.

“Nebraska has been known for having a lot of players on the team…a lot of walk-ons. I’d like to get back to that,” Frost had said on Signing Day earlier in the month. “The best thing Coach (Tom) Osborne did was have everybody practice… and part of that is what led to the development of players and helped walk-ons and young players get better faster and get on the field and help the team. I think that’s an asset that Nebraska can have if we’re willing to expand the roster.”

HuskerOnline details some of the compliance and budgetary challenges that going to 150 would entail but it certainly sounds like the school is making the effort to beef the numbers up. The Cornhuskers are well known in college football history for their walk-on program and roughly 10-15 walk-ons per class would apparently help them land right around Frost’s ideal roster size after factoring in the 85 full-scholarship players he would recruit.

Interestingly, going to 150 would allow the program to pass Michigan for the Big Ten’s biggest roster. The Wolverines under Jim Harbaugh are reportedly sitting at around 135 players after the 2017 season while most of the other conference’s schools are mostly around the 120 mark with a few exceptions. Title IX is not surprisingly the biggest obstacle for teams but it seems like some can manage things with no issue.

Frost was hired this offseason to help take Nebraska back to their perch atop college football and it seems like he is certainly attempting to do that in more ways than one when it comes to Big Red.

Purdue hires Utah State’s Mark Tommerdahl as special teams and tight ends coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jeff Brohm is bringing in longtime coaching veteran Mark Tommerdahl to fill out his staff and serve as Purdue’s special teams and tight ends coach.

The Boilermakers announced the move on Saturday afternoon as Tommerdahl heads to West Lafayette after spending just a season at Utah State where he also coached running backs and ran the Aggies’ special teams. While his stay in Logan was brief, Tommerdahl has been all over the country in 34 years as a coach and is highly regarded for his work in the kicking game.

Tommerdahl has plenty of prior Power Five coaching experience and spent four seasons with Sonny Dykes at Cal where he coached three different position groups and served as assistant head coach. Prior to that he also had stops at Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU and several other schools.

The move to bring in Tommerdahl fills the spot on the Boilermakers’ staff that was left when former Houston coach Tony Levine left after one season with the school to pursue opportunities outside of the coaching profession. Brohm’s 10th assistant Kevin Wolthausen was also given special teams responsibilities when he was elevated to a full-time role so it’s possible the team is really beefing up their emphasis on the third phases of the game with the two new coaches splitting duties when it comes to special teams.

Either way, after a surprising 2017 season that ended with a bowl game victory it’s pretty clear that Brohm is not just sitting back when it comes to his coaching staff and is bringing in some veteran names to help the team take the next step in 2018.

Iowa State OC Tom Manning reportedly leaving Ames for Indianapolis Colts staff

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After one of the most successful seasons in recent memory at Iowa State, it appears head coach Matt Campbell will not be able to keep the band together for another run.

Campbell confirmed to The Des Moines Register on Saturday morning that offensive coordinator Tom Manning was leaving Ames and will be taking a job in the NFL. The paper later was able to confirm that the team in question will be the Indianapolis Colts for a spot on Frank Reich’s new staff. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg says Manning will be the team’s tight ends coach.

“I’m really happy and proud of him,” Campbell told the Register.

Manning has been with Campbell for years and the two actually played (and coached) together at famed D-III power Mount Union in the early 2000’s. Both were on the same staff at Toledo and Manning served as offensive line coach both there and at Iowa State. As offensive coordinator in 2017 he guided the Cyclones to a bit of an offensive renaissance despite relying on backup quarterback Kyle Kempt for most of the season, helping the team produce the third most points per game in school history while ranking in the top five in both total yards and passing.

ISU memorably upset Oklahoma in Norman and capped off an eight-win campaign in the Liberty Bowl with a victory over a ranked Memphis team.

The move leaves two openings on Campbell’s staff for 2018 but the Register notes that graduate assistant Jeff Myers is a possibility for the offensive line job and special teams analyst Joe Houston could be the team’s potential 10th assistant coach.