This bowl season is exactly why predicting those games is often a waste of time, not an indicator of any team’s strength and, realistically, fill-in programming for television and little else.
One of the most interesting in all of the games from an SEC standpoint was Kentucky’s 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl. Frankly, the Wildcats even making that game was eye-opening, then beating Penn State was, well, something not a lot of folks saw coming.
Arkansas fans should take note.
The last time the Razorbacks played the Wildcats was on a miserable, rainy night back in 2012. It was 49-7 at halftime, the weather was getting worse, so everybody just said it was good enough and the game was called and John L. Smith got his third win of the year.
The Wildcats were on their way to a 2-10 season and coach Joker Phillips’ firing. The Hogs were already looking for a coach because by mid-October it was evident Smith wasn’t the answer to replace Bobby Petrino.
Since then Arkansas has been 31-44 while Kentucky is 36-39. Granted, this season made the biggest difference there as while the Hogs lost 10, the Wildcats won 10.
At the end of the 2012 season the Razorbacks hired Bret Bielema and Kentucky hired Mark Stoops. At the time I said it was the worst hiring at Arkansas since Otis Douglas in 1950 and, well, we all know how that worked out. The Wildcats were so bad not many people outside of Kentucky paid attention. Or cared.
Now the Hogs are on another coach after going 29-34. Kentucky stuck with Stoops, who was 26-36 going into this year.
Patience paid off in Lexington, but will there ever be enough of that to make it work in Fayetteville?
Stoops started 2-10, then went 5-7 for a couple of years, moving to 7-6 for two years before breaking out this year.
Bielema wasn’t going 10-2 at Arkansas this past season, so don’t even start that. His best team was 2015 and he used more luck in that one season than some coaches have in a career going 8-5.
Kentucky had the good fortune this year to have one of the best running backs in the league plus a sound defense and catching some teams early with new coaches (Florida and Mississippi State).
Hey, luck is part of it.
But if it takes six years to turn things around with the Wildcats, it’s possible at Arkansas.
And I don’t think it takes six years.
LSU ends UCF nonsense
Thank you, Ed Orgeron and LSU.
With the Tigers’ 40-32 win over Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl we don’t have to listen to a team in a junior varsity conference awarding itself a national title and complaining about being left out of the playoff for a year.
Also, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow showed he was one tough sonofagun getting absolutely blown up after he threw an interception, then bouncing back to go 21-of-34 for 394 yards and four touchdowns.
Considering the Golden Knights couldn’t make big plays against the Tigers’ third and fourth team secondary, do you really think they ever belonged in the conversation to begin with?
Of course LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda compensated by sending everybody with any eligibility remaining after the UCF quarterback. They hadn’t seen that and couldn’t handle the speed.
Oh, and don’t thrown Auburn out there last year in the Peach Bowl. The Tigers had virtually zero interest in that game after blowing up in the SEC Championship Game.
That leads us to …
Another face plant by SEC runner-up
We should have known something was up with Texas on Tuesday night when the normally docile Bevo charged Uga, Georgia’s mascot, in the pregame.
Everybody was okay, including the cowboy who grabbed Bevo’s horn and the people who busted their tail trying to get the hell out of his way.
Pro tip: When a full-size longhorn comes your way with his head down, drop everything in your hands but a baby and run at an angle, not straight ahead. Those steers can do pretty good straight ahead, but forcing them to make sharp cuts is your best option. Especially on field turf.
After that, Texas just beat the daylights out of Georgia on the field. The Bulldogs had a couple of good series that prompted some people to think they could have done that all night, but that’s dreaming up excuses.
And it may not have mattered.
Not with Jake Fromm throwing the ball just about everywhere but to his receivers in critical situations. The Longhorns were making the plays when it counted the most.
The Aggies can’t win it all when they win
Texas A&M throttled North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl, 52-13 … and still managed to lose in it’s ongoing public relations battle with the Longhorns.
While Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies are third in the country in the composite national recruiting rankings and boasting about their bowl win, Texas does it to them again. By the way, the ‘Horns are ninth in the recruiting rankings, which means they aren’t exactly getting overwhelmed in recruiting.
The Longhorns love to proclaim they do everything bigger and better.
In the never-end PR war with the Aggies (that’s been going on for 100 years or so), well, they accomplished that this year. Sorry, A&M, but Texas’ win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl is a bigger, better win.
Oh, and they finished 10-4 while A&M is 9-4.
And the Aggies continue to be, well, the Aggies … and always will be.