Michigan State wins the 100th Rose Bowl

Fourth-ranked Michigan State beat #5 Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl yesterday, 24-20, and finished the season with a 13-1 record, having gone undefeated in the Big Ten. The Spartans are Rose Bowl champions for the first time in twenty-six years. MSU was balanced in the victory, their top-in-the-nation defense leading the way and securing the win by allowing only one offensive touchdown, while unheralded quarterback Connor Cook and his receivers posted a career passing day by recording 332 yards through the air, including two touchdown passes. The Spartans’ defensive numbers are ridiculous, but this puts the win in perspective:

Following the game, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis silenced rumors that head coach Mark Dantonio might be a candidate for the Texas job by extending Dantonio’s contract, making Dantonio and his assistants among the three highest-paid head coaches and coaching staffs in the conference. Here’s to a fantastic Rose Bowl win and many more for this great team.

2013 college football bowl schedule

Before getting to the 2013-14 college football bowl schedule and associated predictions and operations, a note on sponsored discourse. In this post-Musburger-for-all-the-Tostitos world, it is an unremarkable fact that the bowl games are not merely sponsored football contests but business entities in and of themselves, the sponsorship-style nomenclature– e.g., “the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl”– a mere reflection of the game’s less overtly monied past. Even the ostensible bastion of postseason intercollegiate purity now is known as “the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio.”

When a bowl game is a business, and not merely a happening, there is an associated shift in the commercial advertising language referential to that business. The NFL’s decision to prohibit the use of “Super Bowl” by non-league advertisers, who now must offer you late-January deals on new televisions for watching “the big game,” provides a rough analogy.

I understand and accept the logic behind a business’ desire to control its portrayal in other business’ advertisements and insist on inclusion of a game’s full, sponsored title in that portrayal. What I do not understand is why the news media plays along. This week, I heard a local sports talk show talk about talking about Georgia’s appearance in “the Taxslayer dot com Gator Bowl,” and that’s far from the only example. I understand that some of the sponsors have integrated their names into the bowl games’ names in such a way that it’s difficult– or, where the sponsor’s name and the bowl’s name are one and the same, impossible– to say the bowl’s name without saying the sponsor’s name as well (e.g., the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and the Capital One Bowl, respectively). “Taxslayer dot com” is a mouthful, though, and everybody already knows the Gator Bowl. “The Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio” is ridiculous to say, and things like “the Allstate Sugar Bowl,” “FedEx Orange Bowl,” and “Tostitos Fiesta Bowl” simply are superfluous. Why the sports news media feels obligated to append these sponsor names when discussing the bowls is beyond me, and you won’t find us doing it here, unless it’s something humorous like the Beef O’Brady Bowl or the RealOakFurniture.com Bowl.

Onto the bowl schedule, which begins this Saturday.   Continue reading

Bret Bielema is a mirror on the true state of college football

As reported everywhere yesterday, Bret Bielema is leaving his head coaching position at Wisconsin to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Bielema’s in his seventh year at Wisconsin, and he took the Badgers to a bowl game every year. When Wisconsin appears in the Rose Bowl this January, it will be the school’s third consecutive trip to Pasadena. Ten or fifteen years ago, a record and trajectory like this would cement the forty-two year-old Bielema’s (68-24 career record) destiny to become a legendary coach at Wisconsin and a top-echelon coach in college football’s historic conference. Today, it makes him plan B for a 4-8 team that went 2-6 in conference and itself lacks a consistent historical conference and regional identity.

To be fair, Arkansas was a top-five team last year, and had Bobby Petrino and his mistress not crashed his motorcycle, the Razorbacks probably would’ve contended for a national championship this year. Instead, another former Big Ten head coach rode the Hogs hard into the ground. (Then again, he’s got an acknowledged history of that.)

As much as Bielema’s decampment to Fayettville reflects the diminished stature of the Big Ten and affirms the completed rise of the SEC (and it’s hard to imagine the former’s recent expansion to fourteen teams didn’t play a role here), one has to wonder whether the Big Ten’s realization that the SEC is college football’s premiere conference actually indicates that we’re at some point on the downside of Peak SEC.

Whatever Bielema’s decision indicates about the state of college football, one thing seems  clear: any complaints from the new Hog coach about recruiting tactics are going to fall on deaf ears in SEC land.

ALDLAND Podcast

Here we are with yet another edition of the ALDLAND Podcast.  Chris Cunico is off making bad decisions in Nola, so the task falls to blog founder AD to talk about a wide variety of sports-related topics with me, from the exciting finish to the English Premiere League season to the impending change to the college football postseason.  So take thirty minutes out of your work day and check out this awesomeness.

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Download the ALDLAND podcast at our Podcasts Page or stream it right here:

Wildcard Monday

The wildcard round of the NFL playoffs is complete. The Lions, in their first playoff game since 1999, fell to the apparently unstoppable Saints in New Orleans Saturday night. Detroit was in command of the game throughout the first half, but by the fourth quarter, the home team had decidedly overwhelmed them. An errant whistle cost Detroit a touchdown, but there were too many missed opportunities on offense and too much softness against the run on defense for the visitors to finish the upset. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson had good games, but it wasn’t enough. Still, the Lions have to feel ok about a 10-win season that included a competitive playoff game after going 0-16 three years ago. Keep reading…

Tuesday morning special

We normally do this on Mondays, but with the breakdown of this fall’s orderly football schedule, together with adverse outcomes in the two games I attended over the weekend and the opportunity to post the song below, I figured it was ok to wait until Tuesday this time.

On Friday, the Red Wings lost by a goal on the road to Chicago, and on Saturday, Vanderbilt lost by a touchdown to Cincinnati in the Liberty Bowl. Recaps of both of those games will come later.

There wasn’t much of special note in the NFL’s final week of regular season play on Sunday, except that Steelers’ RB Rashard Mendenhall tore his ACL and is done for the season, a literally crippling blow to Pittsburgh’s Super Bowl chances, especially considering Ben Roethlisberger’s lingering leg injury.

The traditional New Year’s Day bowls were played on January 2 this year, and Michigan State came back to win a triple-overtime game against Georgia in the Outback Bowl, much to the chagrin of commodawg and bpbrady. By the second half, it appeared that nobody wanted to win the game. The officials insisted that there had to be a winner, though, and two missed field goals by Georgia, including one the Spartans blocked in the third overtime, sealed the game.

The BCS games played yesterday were exciting as well. Oregon topped Wisconsin for the Ducks’ first Rose Bowl victory in over ninety years, and Oklahoma State beat Stanford in overtime for all the Tostitos in the Fiesta Bowl.

Tonight, the once-proud Sugar Bowl stakes its claim to irrelevancy when Michigan takes on Virginia Tech. Our bpbrady is there. Watch for him on tv, assuming he makes it into the stadium after a week in the French Quarter.

Liberty Bowl preview

After a couple weeks of silly bowl games and lamenting the defunctedness of the Baccardi Bowl, it’s come time to get into college football’s more serious postseason games. With the BCS bowls getting going on January 2 (there are no New Year’s Day bowls this year), New Year’s Eve provides a suitable appetizer, including Cincinnati and Vanderbilt in the Liberty Bowl, 2:30 pm Central time on ABC. Watch for me on the TV.

Rather than try to duplicate the good work already done by dedicated Vanderbilt bloggers and create my own full game preview, I’ll yield to more experienced voices below, after offering my own thoughts, in bullet-point format (it’s Memphis, after all):

  • While Vanderbilt was three plays away from a 9-3 record in the regular season, they finished 6-6, which still triples their win total from last year with essentially the same roster and bests their win total from the past two seasons combined. That said, a win on Saturday would give the Commodores a winning record on the season; a loss, of course, would give them a losing record. Coach James Franklin has hit this point in his preparation this week and I think it’s an important one. A season this good, comparatively speaking, cannot end with a losing record.
  • This is just the fifth bowl appearance for Vanderbilt, but this year’s senior class is the school’s first to play in two bowl games. At a school where nobody leaves early for the NFL (not even Jay Cutler), the seniors represent a strong, experienced group of leaders. They also have played for three different coaches (Bobby Johnson, Robbie Caldwell, and Franklin) in three years, so they have been through a lot together. After a win in the Music City Bowl three years ago, followed by two down years, the seniors seem to play for themselves as much as they do for Franklin and the future of the program. I think this bodes well for their performance in their final game.
  • As much as 2008’s Music City Bowl was a coming out party for quarterback Larry Smith, the 2011 season has been a coming out party for his replacement, Jordan Rodgers. The junior starter with a famous brother has been an offensive force this year, both as a rusher and a passer. Rodgers need not have a perfect total game for Vandy to win– other offensive options and tools are available– but he needs to avoid making the kinds of mistakes he did in the overtime loss to Tennessee.
  • Cincinnati is a relative unknown to me, and probably to you, something the information below should remedy. The two things that come to my mind are 1) they aren’t that far removed from Brian Kelly, so there probably is a talent residue there; and 2) their basketball team is made up of some hard brawlers, which may or may not carry over onto the football field. I just looked up their regular season record: 9-3. But they play in the Big East.
  • I’ve been to one other bowl game, the 2007 Rose Bowl. USC embarrassed Michigan that afternoon, and I was embarrassed to be associated with the state in which the losing team was located. I very much am hoping for a different result on Saturday.

History: Sensibly, the Liberty Bowl started in Philadelphia in 1959, but by 1965, it had moved to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis to host larger crowds and establish itself as one of the oldest non-BCS bowls. The People’s history of the Liberty Bowl is here.

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