For The Love of Sport: Going Bowling: In College Football’s dystopian landscape there are a few gems that beg to be watched, one of those games is the Sugar Bowl match-up between Hawaii and Georgia.
What can be said about college football’s bowl season? 32 games over 19 days, 23 teams with at least five losses a convoluted and oversaturated world that renders all but the final game meaningless. Perhaps the worst match-up would be the already played New Orleans Bowl featuring two 7-5 teams in FAU and Memphis. In College Football’s dystopian landscape there are a few gems that beg to be watched. One of those games is the Sugar Bowl match-up between #10 Hawaii and #4 Georgia. I know that the Patriots are still pursuing perfection but honestly that story has been hogging the media spotlight since they beat the Colts on November 4th and they still have an awful long way to go. I love the Pats dearly but this is basically a meaningless game with the mild curiosity factor of whether or not Belichick plays his starters into the fourth quarter to protect a 21 point lead. The Sugar Bowl on the other hand is to me the most interesting match-up of the college football season. It is one of just nine bowl games that features two ranked opponents and one of just five bowl games featuring two teams ranked in the top 16 (bowl games good enough to rival any playoff game). On the most basic level this should be a great game to watch as Hawaii’s electric offense will try to keep things close. On a deeper level this game is the type that stirs up controversy as the winner can immediately be held up as an example of the need for a playoff format and the loser will immediately be used by the BCS crowd as a reason why the system works. If Hawaii were able to pull off the upset then they can easily say, “Not only were we undefeated but we capped it off by beating a major conference team ranked #4 in the country, what else do you want from us?” Hawaii represents the latest gate crasher, the most recent in a long line of little teams just looking for a chance. Statistically they are the 3rd best offense in the country and the 33rd ranked defense. It must be pointed out however that of Hawaii’s 530 yards per game 450 come through the air and they actually have one of the least productive rushing offenses in the country. Five of their 12 wins were by 7 points or less including an overtime victory over Louisiana Tech and when we look at Hawaii’s staunch defense it would be a good time to point out Hawaii’s strength of schedule that includes such luminaries as Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern. So really what we are looking at is a totally one-dimensional offense and a defense that has never been tested. I still expect Hawaii to show up to play and keep this one exciting. On the other hand in a season in which just winning is monumental Georgia has won their last six games. They have averaged just over 34 points per game and won by an average of 12.5 per game in those six wins which included three ranked opponents (Florida, Auburn and Kentucky). If Hawaii is the barbarian at the gate then the Georgia Bulldogs are a classic example of the old guard. Georgia has won two consensus national championships (1942 and 1980). There have been literally dozens of all Americans who played for the Bulldogs from Champ Bailey to Fran Tarkenton (yes that Fran Tarkenton, how many did you think that there were) and two Heisman Trophy winners (Frank Sinkwich in 1942 and Herschel Walker in 1982). If not for an early October thumping at the hands of Tennessee then Georgia would have won the SEC East and had an inside track at both the SEC title and with just one loss the National Title. The question is will this be a big letdown game for a team that could have achieved so much more or will the Bulldogs show up with something to prove. While some could contend that this season no team has a compelling argument that they were left out, I think that you could just as easily argue that there are easily a dozen teams who could make an argument for inclusion. Having 2-loss LSU in the title game only shows that if you include them than you have to look at every team with 2 or fewer losses and say well why not them, a short list that includes the two teams in the “title game”, the two teams in the sugar bowl, 1-loss Kansas and at 2-losses BYU, WVU, VT, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona State, and USC. I am not saying that LSU is an unworthy opponent all that I am saying is that if the BCS dinosaurs would simply get over themselves and institute a simple 16 team playoff system all of these idiotic debates would go away. Fans would have far more compelling match-ups as there would be fifteen playoff games with every team in every game ranked in the top 16. Revenue would skyrocket proportionally to the ratings which would skyrocket because every fan would watch just about every game. Most of the major bowls could be incorporated into a playoff format if the NCAA saw fit. Not only would the major bowls benefit by having far better match-ups but the lesser bowls would then have a wider talent pool from which to choose increasing their chances of creating a watchable game. I guess that the point is that while the Sugar Bowl looks to be a great match-up between to quality teams wouldn’t it be great if we had fifteen match-ups just like this spread out over four weeks that ultimately led to a true champion? I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments. Background information for this article was found at Yahoo.com, Rivals.com and Georgiadogs.com.