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The Final Bowl Math Test: Dividing 4 to get 1
December 31, 2015  | By Gerald Jordan  | 2 comments

A tuxedo isn’t necessary, although it does seem quite appropriate tonight. When the nation’s top four college football teams collide on New Year’s eve to decide who’ll meet two weeks from now in suburban Phoenix to crown the national champion, this day – more than all the others during this ESPN-prolonged bowl buffet – matters. The winner of the Clemson-Oklahoma game (4 p.m., ET on ESPN) will play the winner of the evening game that pits Michigan State against Alabama (8 p.m., ET on ESPN).

What a day of college football.

Clemson (top) is ranked No. 1 and stands as the only undefeated team in what the unitiated would recognize as the top college football division. Oklahoma is ranked No. 4 and enters this game buffeted by two significant factors: the Sooners are playing some of the best football in the country and could do as Ohio State did last year – ride that No. 4 seeding to a championship. And, oh yeah, Clemson beat the hell out of Oklahoma last year; we’re talking 40-6 in something called the Russell Athletic Bowl.

The goal to stay unbeaten also is a powerful motivator. Erasing the stain from that whipping a year ago seems pretty potent, too. Both undoubtedly are focused on the national championship. The fact that they’ll meet in the Orange Bowl, formerly an achievement in itself for any college football program, seems more of an amusing side note.

Alabama – can’t you still hear Keith Jackson’s signature call – is ranked No. 2 in the land and Michigan State, No. 3. Something has to give. Even though the teams will meet in the Cotton Bowl (by the by, it’s worth tuning in just to see the college kids stare in awe at the county-sized scoreboard in Jerry Jones’ stadium), this tilt could easily be dubbed the Scowl Bowl with two of the nation’s pre-eminent non-smiling coaches stalking the sidelines: Alabama’s Nick Saban either still is smarting from the questions raised after the Tide was rinsed this season by the University of Mississippi, or not happy with a USA Today-reported $72,706 drop in pay from last year that left him at $7,087,481. And Mark Dantonio, who sometimes is misidentified as Mike, just doesn’t like to smile. He almost did after Michigan State miraculously beat Michigan on a last-second bad snap on a punt attempt.

What began Dec. 19 with the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl giving the two top historically black colleges a version of a national title game, has now gotten to the most serious segment of the bowl season. Hats off to the team from tropical Miami for trying to win the Hyundai Sun Bowl in snowy El Paso, Texas, but mistakes and Washington State proved too much. Poor Indiana, with an overtime loss to Duke in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl found heartbreak yet again. This season of several near-wins has haunted the Hoosiers.

Remember that the bowl surplus created a shortage of teams with winning records for the season? San Jose State won and congratulations to 5-7 Nebraska and 5-7 Minnesota for winning their bowl games. All three teams close the book on 6-7 seasons; not winning records, but definitely ending their season on a high note.

Back to the upper echelon of college football, cheer enthusiastically for the best of the best on New Year’s eve, then stuff your eyeballs on nine New Year’s Day and Jan. 2 bowls. That should hold you until the Jan. 11 national championship.
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This is truly a very exciting match between the strongest teams in American college football. With the competition between top teams, fans will definitely witness top-notch and dramatic matches.
May 29, 2024   |  Reply
S Copeland
ESPN now owns college football. Sure sucks if you don't do cable. Hope they lose money by the billions on their lousy bowl games.
Dec 31, 2015   |  Reply
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