Something to get off my chest as the new year – and, depending on how you view things, new decade – starts.
Over the weekend, I was talking with someone about the football bowl games that were ongoing. During halftime of the Iowa-USC game, the commentators were talking about the (then yet-to-be-played) Peach Bowl featuring LSU and Oklahoma and whether they thought a 14-point edge by LSU was fair.
OK if he thinks that the game was going to be close. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. I mean, Oklahoma didn’t get to the College Football Playoffs and get their No. 4 seed by accident.
But I suggested that LSU – with their Heisman-winning quarterback – might be better than 14 points better than Oklahoma. I suggested 17 points.
The guy spit out, “I don’t want to talk to you!” And then said I was full of something that cannot be printed in a family newspaper.
Really? I’m full of whatever profane word you said?
Just remember – I’m a sports editor. I might not know everything about college football that ever was, and yes my record in this past season’s Beat the Pros contest was something to be desired, to say the least.
But I knew well enough to know that LSU was way better than Oklahoma and that it might not be a pretty game. I just went 17 points just to be nice.
I guess I was being too nice.
The way Joe Burrow tore and shredded and decimated a defense that wasn’t all that superb to begin with. I’m just surprised that 515 yards – almost 500 of it passing – was all that he came up with before he was pulled from the game.
I mean, when you allow 5 yards per play and allow 24 points per game ... OK, sure that’s well in the upper half, but this isn’t a championship team by any means.
Next time, I’ll be more brutal with my prediction and really rile up this guy.
I say LSU should have scored three or four more touchdowns against Oklahoma and really set some CFP records that may never be broken.
At least Clemson and Ohio State and the Fiesta Bowl was a close game. Clemson showed real guts and courage, being down 16-0 at one point, to rally past the Buckeyes and prove to me that they weren’t happy with being a No. 3 seed or having their 28-game winning streak seriously threatened.
I don’t know if they’ll make it 29. The way Joe Burrow – and the rest of his teammates, for that matter – played against Oklahoma, it may be kind to say this will be anything less than a three-touchdown rout.
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Speaking of bowl games, it would be remiss of me to not look back for a second at the Iowa and Iowa State games.
I’m shaking my head at both games. Both were supposed to be close games.
But Iowa, in the Holiday Bowl, delivered a performance that Hayden Fry I’m sure approved of from his, the “best seat in the house,” seat. The Hawkeyes may be good at delivering on short, quick drives, but on this night, they proved that long, methodical drives and a diverse Ihmur Smith-Marsette, that guy that can score on a pass reception, on the run and on a kickoff return, were the keys to victory.
I also liked how they didn’t panic when potential adversity arose.
Down 28-17 at halftime, the Trojans struck back when Kedon Slovis fired a 55-yard pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown, before Stephen Carr’s 2-yard run on the second half’s opening drive. Michael Brown then recovered his own onside kick, which you knew was coming, and all of a sudden, one had to wonder if the Trojans would keep doing this all night as their chance to win the game.
But then Slovis got hurt, and the backup Trojan quarterback couldn’t deliver in the clutch. Iowa did, and this was key evidence that Fry taught his student – the guy that’s the nation’s longest-tenured coach – quite well.
Now, I wonder: They based a situation comedy off Hayden Fry. In this day and age of reboots and remakes of old sitcoms, will the creators of “Coach” come up with a successor based on the life of Kirk Ferentz?
Anyway, it appears that, for all the good that Matt Campbell has done with Iowa State football, there’s still a long ways to go to compete with the nation’s truly elite.
They did OK within the confides of the Big 12, but I seem to remember that each of the bowl teams were underdogs in their games. (I write this as several Big 12 teams had yet to play their bowl game, including the Sugar Bowl that features Baylor.)
For whatever reason, the Cyclones sputtered and never did anything too spectacular against Notre Dame. Certainly, they never got into the end zone, and when the Irish can that means nothing but trouble.
Sports Illustrated magazine’s assessment of the game came down to basically this. In SI’s words: “This game was about big plays that were a direct result of Notre Dame simply having much, much better offensive players than what Iowa State had playing defense.”
It was almost that same way when ISU had the ball. Brock Purdy never really showed what he was capable of, and that was a result of Notre Dame simply being a better team and being better prepared.
There’s no doubt Iowa State has improved greatly from just five years ago, when Cyclone Nation was calling for Paul Rhoads’ head. Matt Campbell has brought a lot of talent to Ames ... but if we are to believe SI, there is still a large gap between the Cyclones and the nation’s elite.
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Finally, I hope you all had a great New Year’s holiday and Christmas break.
Time to get back at the sports and let’s have a successful second half of the winter sports season.