Johnson Final Thoughts Rose, Orange, Sugar
Posted Dec 31, 2012

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


By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

- The "Granddaddy of Them All" should be the best bowl game on New Year's Day since it features two of the hottest teams in the country.

- I'm curious to see what Barry Alvarez will do with his unique opportunity to "un-retire" for one game. Will he use a more aggressive game plan since it's his last game, or does he take a more conservative approach?

- Keep an eye on the matchup between the Badger tailbacks and the Stanford front seven. After struggling early in the season, the three-headed monster of Montee Ball, James White, and Melvin Gordon has eclipsed the 500-yard mark twice in the past four games. How will they do against a Cardinal defense that ranks third nationally against the run?

- On the other side of the ball, expect for the Cardinal to run the ball straight at the Wisconsin defense. Ever since Kevin Hogan took over at QB, Stanford has had no trouble running the ball, averaging over 4 yards per carry against three of the top run defenses in the Pac 12. It will be interesting to see how that attack will fare against a Badger unit that allowed only 3.7 yards per carry this season.

- The key to victory for Wisconsin is to keep the game within striking distance heading into the fourth quarter. If they can do that, they have shot, as the Cardinal defense has given up scores late in both of its defeats this season.

- For the Cardinal to win this game, it must continue to play solid defense. The teams that beat Wisconsin this year did so because they kept the Badgers behind the sticks. Since Stanford leads the nation in both sacks and tackles for a loss, it has to like its chances.


By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

- Whether or not the Huskies actually belong in this game over Oklahoma is open for debate. However, by finishing higher than Wisconsin and Louisville in the final BCS standings, NIU automatically qualified for a berth in one of the major bowls.

- Don't be fooled into thinking that Florida State won't take Northern Illinois seriously. After failing to live up to some very lofty (some would say unrealistic) expectations this year, the Seminoles are eager to prove that they're an elite team.

- This game will pit strength against strength. Can the Huskies offense, which ranks ninth in both rushing and scoring, move the ball against the nation's second best defense? That's tough to say. Sure, Florida State's defense is bigger and faster than any unit NIU has seen this year. However, QB Jordan Lynch gets the bulk of the carries, giving the Huskies an extra blocker to help with any mismatches.

- On the other side of the ball, FSU will look to capitalize against a suspect Husky secondary that has allowed three 300-yard games this season. If EJ Manuel has time to throw - a big if considering that Northern Illinois is ninth in the nation in QB sacks - the Seminoles should have no trouble moving the ball through the air.

- Believe it or not, the Huskies can win this game. After all, FSU has been plagued by turnovers all season long, ranking 96th in the nation in turnover margin. As long as NIU can capitalize on these mistakes, it has a chance.

- With that said, expect the Seminoles to prevail. The Huskies struggled with Iowa and Kansas, and will have a tough time matching the speed and athleticism of a Top 15 team like Florida State.


By Terry Johnson
Follow me @TPJCollFootball

- This is one of the more underrated matchups of the bowl season, pitting strength against strength. It will be interesting to see how the top scoring offense in the Big East will fare against the third-best scoring defense in the nation.

- How motivated will Florida be to play in this game? Sure, it's the Sugar Bowl, but after posting an 11-1 record against one of the toughest schedules in the country, it's only natural for the Gators to be disappointed that they're not playing for a championship.

- The biggest question mark coming into this contest is the health of Teddy Bridgewater, who ranks eighth nationally in passing efficiency. If he's completely recovered from injuries to his left wrist and right ankle, Louisville has a chance to win this game since it could easily outscore the Gator offense.

- Look for Florida to establish the run early in this contest. The Gators have the third-best ground game in the SEC, and will look to take advantage of a Cardinal unit that finished seventh in the Big East against the run.

- On the other side of the ball, Louisville will put the ball in Bridgewater's capable hands and ask him to beat the Florida secondary, which ranks 13th nationally against the pass. Sure, they'll mix in a run or two, but the Cardinals can't hang their hat on the ground attack, which has struggled since losing Senorice Perry against Syracuse.

- If the Cardinals are going to pull off the upset, they must get off to a quick start. No lead is safe, especially against the Gators, who are notorious for their second half comebacks this season.

- On the other hand, the only team that's beaten Florida this year is Florida. Provided that the Gators protect the football, they will win this game.