Zemek Final Thoughts: Rose, Orange, Sugar

Staff Columnist
Posted Dec 31, 2012


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

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek


ROSE BOWL

1) Wisconsin has five losses. Teams with more than three losses should never be given automatic entry into prestige bowls, especially not the Granddaddy Of Them All. It's a stain on the sport.

2) The 2000 Rose Bowl between Stanford and Wisconsin was a snoozefest. Sorry, folks, but this game doesn't promise anything better. If Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck could be given one-day special eligibility for this game, it would be a showstopper. However, that's not the world we live in.

3) Barry Alvarez is collecting $118,500 for coaching this game. He is a caretaker head coach, but due to that act of greed (he actually wanted more than that amount for coaching this game, in addition to his already-fat athletic director's salary), he should be judged as a permanent head coach on New Year's Day in the Arroyo Seco.

4) Stanford does what Wisconsin does, only better. Wisconsin has to force turnovers and create equation-changing plays on special teams to have a good chance.

ORANGE BOWL

1) It's not an exaggeration; it's plain truth: The 2013 Orange Bowl is a great American moment. It is a moment in which the little guy gets to share the stage with the big boys. It is a moment in which a member of the underclass gets to sit at the royal banquet table and dine in a tuxedo with the finest china. It is a moment in which a poor boy gets his chance to transform his career, to hit it big… or be exposed as a fraud and never come across another similar opportunity ever again. Northern Illinois gets to rise – or fall – on its merits. The fact that NIU has this chance is what the American ideal is all about. This is not hyperbole – this is the story of our nation's best attributes. NIU gets its chance to make something of itself. Whether the MAC champions succeed or not is almost (almost!) a side issue. The reality that the Huskies simply have a shot on the big stage is what will frame this drama in South Florida.

2) Florida State, you have a penchant for playing down to the opposition. Are you going to shelve that tendency or persist in underachievement?

3) Jordan Lynch against Florida State's defensive front is one of the most attractive matchups of the entire 35-bowl slate, not just the cluster of BCS bowls. Bring it!

4) Did you see what Arizona State did to Navy in the Fight Hunger Bowl? Florida State fans would be justified in thinking that E.J. Manuel should eviscerate Northern Illinois's defense in a similar manner. If Manuel stumbles in this situation, it will be hard to look upon his collegiate career in a particularly favorable light.

SUGAR BOWL

1) Charlie Strong made a name for himself at Florida. He made a name for others – specifically, his players – by not taking the head coaching job at Tennessee. Louisville will be motivated, and that alone should make this game interesting.

2) It will be fascinating to see if a month off makes Florida's offense the picture of precision or the portrait of rust. That variable is the one that will shape the outcome of this game more than any other. Jeff Driskel has been so inelegant and fortunate in 2012, but he owned several moments, especially against Florida State on Nov. 24. If the Driskel who took charge in the final 20 minutes in Tallahassee shows up in New Orleans, Louisville is cooked.

3) Teddy Bridgewater gets to face a big-boy defense with a month to prepare. He won't be blessed with optimal physical condition, but Bridgewater will be healthy enough to make this confrontation with Florida's defense one of the more intriguing games-within-the-game in the set of five BCS bowls.

4) While everyone focuses on Northern Illinois as a team that might not have deserved to get a BCS bowl invite, it's not as though Louisville blew the competition away. The Cardinals' showing is going to leave a lasting impression about the fitness and readiness of the Big East as 2014 lingers in the distance. The way Louisville plays in the Sugar Bowl could very well affect the way the Big East is able to battle for the "group of five" contract/host bowl slot in 2014. This is true even though Louisville will be in the ACC by 2014. Don't you just love how uncomplicated college football is?