Hope all that celebrated yesterday had a great Christmas. I know I did, even if the holiday did begin with The Impossible Dream being crushed. Yes, it’s true, I lost a game. I not only lost a game, I lost a game in embarrassing fashion. It appears I was shafted yet again by the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes (need I remind you that I write this while wearing my Notre Dame sweatshirt). Two things I take away from Christmas Eve’s Hawaii Bowl.
1. I’m never picking Hawaii to win it ever again. I’ve picked the Warriors the last two times they’ve played in this bowl and they’ve been destroyed both times. The first time, obviously, I was happy about it. The second time, not so much.
I mean, would Hawaii prefer to play an away game? Do they consider playing in their own back yard on the night before perhaps the biggest holiday in the world a nuisance? What gives? Two bowl home games. Two bad losses to statistically inferior teams. It just doesn’t make sense.
2. Which leads me to this point. The Impossible Dream of an undefeated bowl season will never happen to anyone.
Against the spread? Maybe, but not straight up.
This game is a perfect example. On paper (which is what you have to go by if there’s no head to head matchup and few or none common opponents), Tulsa had NO BUISINESS winning this game. Forget the fact that Hawaii was ranked (which after Friday night is hard to believe), but they had the number one passing attack in the game…and TULSA can’t stop anybody!
Then Hawaii comes out and turns the ball over six times, and actually has a minuet chance to win the game in the fourth and blows it again? Unbelievable!
The first loss is always the toughest.
Little Caesers Bowl – Florida International vs Toledo
Bad football. Bad football.
Look, I’m not going to sit here and pretend a lot of people care about this game. It’s a Sunday night and, if you’re like me, you’re watching the NFL or you’re not watching football. But for those Bowl junkies (not saying I won’t flip it on during commercials of Eagles/Vikings) who will be glued to the worst bowl matchup of the year, here’s some things to watch out for.
Toledo only lost one game in the MAC this year. That loss was a 65 – 30 drubbing at the hands of the offensively potent Northern Illinois. 65 points is a lot to give up to anyone, but no one could stop NO – ILL this year (unless you’re from Miami (Ohio)…oh, snap).
But here’s the thing – The Rockets might have been 7-1 in a generally weak conference, but nothing (and I mean nothing) stands out about them. The ranked 54th in the nation in points scored. That happens to be their highest ranking and thus, best side of the ball.
So, if you’re average (at best) offensively AND give up more points than you score, how do you win six games, let alone 8? Easy, you play in the MAC.
In 3 out of the Rockets 4 losses, they allowed 41 or more points. In those three losses, they scored a combined 53 points. Arizona beat them 41 – 2 in the first week of the season, maybe the coolest final score the sport has seen in decades. Boise State gave them a Boise State pounding, and we detailed what Northern Illinois did to them.
Oh, and 3-9 Wyoming beat them at home.
Excited about Toledo yet?
Let’s try Florida International. They notched up a sixth win and a bowl berth in the second to last week of the year, a win over Arkansas State. They promptly followed that up with a one point loss to Middle Tennessee and entered Bowl Mania with that ugly 6-6, just happy to be alive, mark.
FIU started the year out 0 – 4 against some decent teams (Maryland and Pitt), meaning they finished the year 6 – 2. That’s not exactly unimpressive. It’s easy to lie down and die after a 0-4 start. At that point, the post season is so far off that FIU folding would have been a shock to no one.
But they didn’t.
A 42-35 win over Louisiana-Monroe on November 6th started a season-saving four game winning streak that saved the season. This streak included an impressive 52-35 win over Troy, a team that killed Ohio in a bowl last weekend.
The Golden Panthers run the ball well for a 6-6 team. The tandem of Darriet Perry and Darion Mallary ranked 28th in the land with 189 yards a game.
They can’t stop a sole, allowing nearly 30 a game, but their 6-6 i.e, not good.
But the season will end well for FIU. They may be two games worse than Toledo, but I think they’re much better. They have an aspect of the game that they do well, Toledo doesn’t. They score more points than they allow, Toledo doesn’t.
They also played a much harder schedule. Swap the two ledgers and Toledo wins four games. FIU might have won 10. No joke
The Pick: FIU
Bowl Mania: 6-1