Fiu Final Thoughts: Rose, Orange, Sugar
Posted Dec 31, 2012

The Final Thoughts before the Rose, Orange and Sugar Bowls.

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Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO Preview - Wisconsin vs. Stanford

- The return of Barry Alvarez to the sidelines is a can't hurt, could help situation. If the Badgers get blasted by the Cardinal, the narrative will be that the team lost its head coach and Alvarez was making the best of the bad situation. But if Wisconsin wins, all of a sudden, the history books on the Bret Bielema era will note in big, bold letters that he went 0-2 in Pasadena, and the bar will be set at a Rose Bowl-or-Bust level for Gary Andersen.

- Of course, Urban Meyer is going to have something to say about that for the next decade.

- Don't let it be forgotten that Wisconsin was, technically, the sixth-best team in the Big Ten and the third-best team in the Leaders over the course of the season.

- However, as I wrote before the Big Ten championship, Wisconsin basically knew it was going to represent the Leaders in the Big Ten title game the second Penn State went on probation, and it played like it. That's not to say the team didn't try its tail off to beat Ohio State, and there were several reasons for the meltdowns against Nebraska and Michigan State, but when it was time to focus and come up with a great performance, out came the 62-14 destruction of Indiana. When the lights went on in Indianapolis, Bucky hung 70 on the board.

- The key to the game will be the quarterback play. Neither team has a high-powered passing attack, but Stanford's Kevin Hogan and Wisconsin's Curt Phillips have been effective enough to get by.

- But Hogan is much, much, much better.

- Stanford does what Wisconsin wants to do, only better.

- Both teams have to prepare for their respective running games to go absolutely nowhere, but have to also expect to keep forcing the issue. The key to each team's offense to work is the ability to wear down the opposing defensive front, and that takes time.

- However, it's not like Stanford's No. 3-ranked run defense faced a slew of power teams – Notre Dame sort of qualifies as the lone team on the slate that can blast away, and it gained 150 yards partly because Everett Golson scampered for 41.

- This isn't going to stop for Stanford. David Shaw has put together some nice recruiting classes and the system is in place to remain a national player for a long, long time.

- I'm still angered that if the 2015 playoff system was currently in place, Oregon would be in the Final Four without winning its own division.

- I don't know why, but I'm also still a bit miffed that roughly 19 people showed up at Stanford for the Pac-12 championship.

- Wisconsin's last loss by more than a touchdown? 34-24 Michigan State on October 2nd, 2010, and that was only because the Spartans came up with a late score. The last true blowout came against Ohio State in the middle of 2009.

- How amazing is this three-year run by Stanford, and throw in the 8-5 2009 season? The Cardinal went from 2002 to 2008 without a winning record.

- Ohio State beat Oregon in the Rose Bowl three years ago. The last Big Ten team before that to win? Wisconsin over Stanford in the 2000 game.

Discover Orange Preview - Northern Illinois vs. Florida State

- Look, the only reason you might be the slightest bit miffed over Northern Illinois getting into this game is because you haven't seen the team play this season and have no earthly clue whether or not it's any good. You didn't have time to prepare.

- No, you wouldn't care a lick if Louisville was playing Florida State instead.

- No, you wouldn't. That would've been the lowest-rated BCS game of all-time. Northern Illinois vs. Florida State will at least have the novelty factor going.

- Florida State, treat this game like you were going against Alabama and everything will be fine. If you wish in any way that you were playing a bigger-name opponent, then go out and win by 30 and then we'll all agree with you.

- Northern Illinois, don't do the nobody-believes-in-us Rocky-story thing. Either you belong, or you don't.

- Act as if. Act as if you're a real, live college football team playing in the BCS, and act as if Florida State should be lucky to be playing you.

- Utah beat Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl because it really and truly believed it was the better team. Boise State went into the 2007 Fiesta Bowl against Alabama knowing it could win.

- Hawaii was just happy to be there in the 2008 Sugar Bowl against Georgia.

- At some point, Florida State is going to wake up and realize that it's Florida State and Northern Illinois is Northern Illinois, and the speed and athleticism disparity will be appalling.

- Florida State has a pair of NFL starting defensive ends in Bjoern Werner and Cornellius Carradine, but Northern Illinois has a couple of killers of its own in Alan Baxter and Sean Progar.

- The one really big thing to watch out for – turnover margin. Mistakes could be the great equalizer. The Seminoles lost 12 fumbles over the last six games and gave away six picks over the last four games. As good as the defense has been, it has a mediocre 19 takeaways on the season.

- Northern Illinois has given away just five interceptions on the season and two in the last nine games. The Huskies have to be at least +3 in turnover margin, and it might be.

- However this turns out, it can't be worse than either of the last four Oranges – West Virginia 70, Clemson 33; Stanford 40, Virginia Tech 12; Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14 (BORRRRING); Virginia Tech 20, Cincinnati 7.

Allstate Sugar Preview - Louisville vs. Florida

- I'm in a bad mood. Every time I hear the word Sugar over the last three days, Echo & the Bunnymen's Lips Like Sugar goes off in my head.

- However, it temporarily replaces the infinite loop of Sam and the Womp's Bom Bom.

- A Louisville win would be more stunning than if Northern Illinois beats Florida State in the Orange.

- Weird things happen in bowl games, and maybe the time off will help the Cards heal up a bit and play stronger, but if this game was played on Thanksgiving weekend, Florida would win by at least 20.

- This is what we call a Show Up game. If Florida wants to win the Sugar Bowl, I mean, REALLY wants to win the Sugar Bowl, it will.

- That's not a given.

- She'll ask you and you'll give her … LIPS LIKE SUGAAAAAAAR … - Here's the problem; the Cardinal run defense couldn't handle Syracuse. It struggled against Temple and got rumbled on by Southern Miss. This season, Louisville beat FIU, a winless Southern Miss and South Florida all by seven points or fewer. The wins over Rutgers and Cincinnati were nice, but no team that loses to Connecticut should be able to stay with this Gator team.

- No, I'm not disrespecting Louisville. I'm giving too much credit to a Florida team that's good enough to have won the BCS championship.

- Look, if Louisville was in the Orange and Oklahoma was here playing Florida, you know exactly what would happen. The Sooners couldn't handle Kansas State or Notre Dame at home, and Florida does what those to do in terms of power offense and nasty defense, only better.

- At least we get to see what Teddy Bridgewater can do on a big stage. If he can pull this off, get the NFL and Heisman hype rolling. He's worth the price of admission even if the Cardinals don't come up with the shocker.

- But this could be a long, long day for Teddy Ballgame if the Gator defense comes out frothing at the mouth. The Gators are No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency defense and allowed 17 points or fewer to everyone by Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida State and Tennessee.

- Louisville allowed fewer than 17 points to Missouri State. That's it.

- The Cardinals have to come out fast and aggressive. Short-to-midrange passes aren't going to work – there won't be any yards after the catch whatsoever against the athletic linebackers.

- Louisville's biggest problem? Special teams. John Wallace is a solid kicker, but the return game is among the worst in America and the punting game is the second-worst in college football. Florida has phenomenal special teams and should dominate the field position battle because of it.

- Yeah, yeah, yeah, Florida probably should've lost to Louisiana-Lafayette and struggled way too much against Missouri, but the 37-26 blasting of a jacked up Florida State team in Tallahassee showed what those November dog day clunkers really were aberrations.

- Florida vs. Alabama in the BCS championship would be a better game than what Notre Dame vs. Alabama is going to be.