Harrison Final Thoughts Rose, Orange, Sugar

Posted Dec 31, 2012

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


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Rose Bowl Thoughts

- Perhaps no other bowl has as many storylines to whet the appetite of the college football world as the Rose Bowl. Whether it's Barry Alvarez grabbing the headset again, a five-loss Wisconsin team crashing the party, or Stanford's unexpected run this year, it should all be load of fun to talk about.

- Don't for one minute discount the ability of Wisconsin to make a game of this. The Badgers can play big boy ball with the Cardinal and have a stingy defense of their own to make things tough sledding for any offense. Fire up the DVR and get your popcorn ready.

- Speaking of Barry Alvarez, you've got to be feeling downright nostalgic and intrigued about the legend roaming the sidelines one more time. It'll be interesting to see just how good of a grip the old gipper has on the offense and scheme of the Bielema blueprints. It'll also be interesting to see how the kids--most notably the seniors--respond.

- Will the layoff hurt Stanford? David Shaw had the Cardinal playing like a well-oiled machine before all the music stopped on the regular season. And if there's one thing we've learned about bowls, you just never know how this long layoff will affect teams coming into the game. I mean, the best psychologists couldn't figure this stuff out.

- Will freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan continue to be a difference maker for Stanford? Since the insertion of Hogan, Stanford has been Chuck Norris lethal, and has now rattled off seven-straight wins. The Badgers won't go way out of character but you can look for the defense to dial-up more blitz packages to rattle a kid that hasn't shown a tendency to pee down his leg thus far.

- It's still hard to believe that neither USC or Oregon are showing up in Pasadena this year. All credit goes to David Shaw who has gotten more comfortable in Palo Alto than a bachelor nestled into a LA-Z-BOY recliner.


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Orange Bowl Thoughts

- Yeah Northern Illinois is in a BCS Bowl, and yeah everyone and their next of kin are upset, but isn't this the type of thing we live for in March Madness? How many times have we seen the big underdog put everything together and shock the western world? If the Huskies can pull it off, we'll be talking about it for years to come.

- Jordan Lynch was to the MAC this year what Jason Bourne was to the Feds, but it bears watching how those skills translate over to a game where the athletic abilities of the opposing team are much better. Florida State might not always be in the football playing mood, but you can bet the speed of the game will be the best Northern Illinois, and Jordan Lynch, have faced all year.

- Speaking of the Seminoles, what kind of psychological state will the spear be flying with in this one? It doesn't matter who you are, the fact that the team lining up opposite of you is perceived to be a couple notches down on the talent-meter has to enter the soft tissue of the brain at some point. And if the Florida State players come out a little entitled, and if the Huskies can hang early, it could be a ball game.

- It's EJ Manuel's last game and to say he'd like to end it on a high note would be an obvious understatement. The Seminoles have gone as far as Manuel can take them, and unfortunately there have been way too many games in which the talented senior has rammed the Garnet and Gold engine in reverse while speeding blindly ahead. He has one last moment to shine, and one last moment to cement his legacy in Tallahassee.

- At the beginning of the season, Rod Carey was the offensive-line coach for NIU. Now he's calling all the shots as the head-man on quite possibly the biggest stage he'll ever perform. It's like being handed the keys to a Lamborghini after learning to ride a bike with training wheels. Go get'em cowboy.


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

Sugar Bowl Thoughts

- So maybe Louisville isn't the most glamorous opponent for the Florida Gators, and maybe this looks like a mismatch on stationary, but since when do we expect this Gator squad to blow anyone out? We've all been surprised before, but it's not likely that Florida has found an offense lying in the weeds of the swamp over the last few weeks.

- And what about Teddy Bridgewater? Anytime you have a talent like the sophomore from Miami, there's a chance that special things could unfold. And now that he's healthy, there's a more than fair chance that he can give a very good Florida defense some things to think about. As he goes, so too does the Cardinals' chances at springing the upset.

- The Big East is taking on water, and there's only one more year left (after this bowl season) in which the Big East champion gets an automatic spot in a BCS game. One can only guess what real conference affiliation that team will have once all of the seismic shifting stops. We haven't seen this many probable defections since the cold war was front and center.

- Charlie Strong's name has surfaced for more job openings than a temp agency, yet he still stays at Louisville. That's a big win for a school that has made a decent name in the world of college football over the last few years, yet is still not known as a destination job. The commitment appears to be there from both sides though, so it appears like we'll all get to see this experiment mature to fruition.

- Everyone kept waiting for the Gators to fall off their own fiscal cliff somewhere in 2012 with the close shaves and struggles on the offensive side of the ball, but it didn't happen. Will Muschamp got this team to a BCS Bowl by relying on a very, very good defense and timely plays on offense. The team kept fighting and pulling through and now has a shot to be crowned a BCS Bowl Champion. It could be a big springboard for the program heading into 2013.