To Big Red Country:
My Happy New Year’s wish for you
Is for your best year yet (in recruiting),
A year where life is peaceful (stay away Callahan),
And what you want, you get (Big XII Championship.)
A year in which you cherish
The past year’s memories (9-4?),
And live your life
Full of bright expectancies (12-2 next season.)
I wish for you a holiday
With happiness galore (and a Gator Bowl win);
And when it’s done, I wish you
Happy New Year, and many more (National Championships.)
We want to thank everyone who stops by DXP as our 2008 edition is officially in the books. We wish everyone a great 2009 and especially to Jeffie and the future Mrs. Jeffie Husker, who will be launching the second version of MTV’s ‘Newlyweds‘ next summer. I would like to be able to tell you what you can expect in 2009 from us, but as you know by now, we really have no clue about anything.
We know return you back to the bookie sheet with some analysis.
(A reminder that the ‘‘XtraWatchabilityPoint’ for this year’s bowl games are now being done by our game critic extraordinaire, A. Rose. The games are ranked in line with the watchability factor of dancers at five Las Vegas area clubs. From worst to first, they are: Glitter Gulch, Cheetah’s, Olympic Gardens, Scores, and the Spearmint Rhino.)
Thursday Jan. 1 11:00 am ET ESPN
Iowa (-3) over South Carolina – Only after Iowa’s upset win over Penn State late in the season did people start to take notice of the Hawkeyes and RB Shonn Greene, who finished the season the season with 1,729 yards and rushed for at least 100 yards in every game. Iowa (9-4) lost their 4 games this year by a combined 12 points while South Carolina finished the season with two losses to Florida and Clemson by a combined score of 87-20. South Carolina’s defense (#12) is great but their offense (#97) is horrid due to Qb play (go figure.) Iowa’s #13 ranked defense should fare well in this spot and as long as Iowa gets minimal mistakes from mobile Qb Ricky Stanzi, they win.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – You’re looking at Olympic Gardens again. It’s watchable, but don’t expect any high flying action. If no make-up or +2 enhancements is your thing, it could be a decent time, but don’t be surprised when you wish the cocktail waitresses were the ones with their clothes off.
Thursday Jan. 1 1:00 pm ET CBS
Nebraska (+3) over Clemson
This is a great matchup for Nebraska.
The only reason Clemson’s defense is thought of highly – #15 total defense and #9 pass defense – is simply a result of they haven’t played a passing team all year. Nebraska’s balanced rush/pass attack hasn’t missed a beat this under Shawn Watson as they have averaged 458 yards/game (#12) while ranking #36 in rushing and #14 in passing. Bo Pelini’s focus here will almost solely be on stopping RBs James Davis and CJ Spiller (leads the ACC in all-purpose yards.) Shockingly, Clemson’s rushing offense only put up 120 yards/game while Qb Cullen Harper threw for only 2,395 yards with 11 Tds/12 Ints – which combined puts Clemson’s offense in at #81.
The HUGE advantage Nebraska has here is at both lines. Clemson’s defenisve line averaged only 1.17 sacks/game (106th) while their offensive line gave up 2.33 sack/game (94th.) Nebraska’s defensive line, anchored by DT Ndamukong Suh who lead all Big 12 DL in tackles, accounted for 80% of the team’s sacks. And with the offensive line being as healthy as they have been since fall camp, expect the Huskers to dominate both lines of scrimmage and walk away here with plenty of momentum heading into next season as the Big XII North favorites.
Nebraska 34 Clemson 27
XtraWatchabilityPoint – I give this a Scores night rating. There’s something intriguing about Russian girls who couldn’t speak English 2 months ago, but have now mastered the art of emptying your wallet. Solid turnaround and highly watchable.
Thursday Jan. 1 4:30 pm ET ABC
Penn State (+10) over USC – Pete Carroll comes into the Granddaddy of Them All with a 5-0 lifetime record vs. the Big 10. This season, USC is 5-1 vs. bowl teams and 2-4 ATS while Penn State is 4-1 vs. bowl teams and 4-2 ATS. Against both runner-ups in the conference, USC handled Ohio State while Penn State handled Oregon State. Penn State wants to be here and although Carroll has said the Trojans are excited, they really wanted a Big 12 or SEC opponent for this year’s bowl game. Go with Joe Paterno and the Nittany Lions + the 10 points here as this Penn State team will come ready to play in what should be a low-scoring game that will be decided in the 4th quarter.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – This rates as a Spearmint Rhino game. Some of the best talent you will find across the country makes this very watchable. You’re likely to find at least one future Vivid or Wicked contract girl on stage.
Thursday Jan. 1 8:30 pm ET FOX
Virginia Tech (+3) over Cincinnati – Virginia Tech has now lost 4 straight BCS bowl games while this is Cincinnati’s first game on this stage. The Hokies defense has been their strong point this year as they have allowed only 17.5 points/game and are lead by shutdown CBs Victor Harris and Stephan Virgil, who should slow down great Bearcat WR Mardy Gilyard. Hokie Qb Tyrod Taylor and Rb Darren Evans should provide enough of a rushing game for Va Tech, who is 89-8 when out-rushing their opponents. Cincinnati will need a great game from Qb Tony Pike as Nebraska and Florida State were the only teams this year to score exactly 30 points on the Hokies.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – Glitter Gulch material. Unbelievable how a once proud institution has degraded to this unwatchable mess. If the cabbie didn’t kick you out on Fremont Street for making Al-Qaida comments about his name, you’d be at Scores by now.
Friday Jan. 2 2:00 pm ET FOX
Mississippi (+5) over Texas Tech – The Rebels’ 4 losses this season came by an average of 4.8 points/game, including a 4 point loss to Alabama. Qb Jevan Snead, a transfer from Texas, leads a potent Ole Miss offense that includes 2 running backs, Cordera Eason and Dexter McCluster, who were #7 and #8 in the SEC. Houston Nutt’s ‘Wild Rebel’ offense is run by McCluster, whose favorite target out of the formation is WR Mike Wallace, who had an astonishing 20.1 yards/reception this season. The Texas Tech defense has been soft at times this year and with the fact that Ole Miss wants to be here much more than Texas Tech, watch out for the outright upset.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – Solid Olympic Gardens watchability rating. Not the best of the best, but it’s still fun to watch that one hot stripper among a group of average talent get back up and stage and hopefully give you a 2-for-1 song special back in VIP.
Friday Jan. 2 5:00 pm ET ESPN
East Carolina (-2) over Kentucky – On paper, this game is about even as you can get. Both teams sport offenses that have been less than stellar (East Carolina #87 in points scored and Kentucky #90) this year due to injuries. These two teams come into this game on completely different patterns. Kentucky lost 4 of their last 5 games including Florida and Georgia while East Carolina won 6 of 7. Kentucky will be without starting Qb Randall Cobb, who recently had knee surgery, for the first time this season. East Carolina should be excited here to get a shot at the SEC and add to their impressive 2008 resume which included wins over West Virginia and Virginia Tech.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – Cheetahs on the worst imaginable night. Very unwatchable and even shocking to the talent downgrade after a promising start. A whole bunch of no-namers and very few that will make to the Spearmint.
Friday Jan. 2 8:00 pm ET FOX
Alabama (-9) over Utah – Losing OT Andre Smith isn’t going to help Utah much in this one as Alabama still holds a big advantage in the trenches. The only notable defense Utah faced all season, TCU, held them to only 13 points while Alabama held 9 opponents this season to 14 points or less. Utah last played back on November 22nd while Alabama last played on December 6th which means Utah will be going on well over a month without any game experience. Nick Saban’s Tide has way too much talent here for a Utah team that hasn’t seen an SEC team since the early 80’s. Rb Glen Coffee and WR Julio Jones will provide big plays for a surprisingly good Alabama offense that did move the ball on Florida.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – The ultimate Scores battle of fresh faces vs battle tested veterans. The up-start talent will make this very watchable against the much more talented A-teamers. Think of Gina Lynn from The Sopranos at Bada Bing in a pole war against the Bucci twins (just do the Google image search.)
Double Double Extra Lock
Saturday Jan. 3 12:00 pm ET ESPN2
Connecticut (-5) over Buffalo – I’m routing for Turner Gill here as much as you but let’s be realistic here. Buffalo managed a turnover ratio this year of +1.15 (6th) which would explain their 8 wins including a miracle vs. Ball State, a game where they were outgained by 202 yards. UConn RB Donald Brown had 1,923 yards with 17 TDs despite horrible Qb play (4 Tds/17 Ints.) The Huskies have plenty of talent on a defensive unit that allowed only 282 yards and 20 points/game. The miracle Bulls might be one miracle too short here.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – Another Glitter Gulch night, but at least there’s there some talent on Fremont Street after the World Series of Poker Main Event. The watchability might be low, but don’t be surprised to see some talent.
Thursday Jan. 1 1:00 pm ET ABC
Georgia (-8) over Michigan State – Remember when Georgia was preseason #1? Neither do I, but I do remember how talented they are. To go along with future NFL 1st rounders Qb Matthew Stafford and RB Knowshon Moreno, Georgia has the SEC’s top 2 leaders in receiving yards with WRs AJ Green and Mohamed Massaquoi. In Michigan State’s 3 games this season in which they were an underdog, the Spartans went 0-3 and lost by an average of 25 points/game. In fact, they were 0-5 ATS vs. the 5 teams they played this year with a winning record. If Georgia shows up, this one gets ugly.
XtraWatchabilityPoint – Another Scores battle. You have the highly rated former Vivid starlets that couldn’t live up to expectations and are relegated to making side money on a $29.99/month website that has 10 subscribers. It’s watchable, but the possibilities could have been so much more