Monday Musings

This week our publisher wonders how you can judge a basketball coach by how much he sits down, and offers up his picks on how the Big 12 will do this bowl season.

You have got to be kidding me.

A couple of Iowa State fans actually took the time on Sunday night to call WHO-TV's SoundOff show and complain about a basketball coach who is 5-0 because he sits down too much during the games.

My ears could hardly believe what I was hearing during this program. Frankly, I expect this kind of trivial nitpicking from our brethren on the eastern side of the state, who have weighed and measured a quarterback that has led them to a 9-3 record and New Year's Day bowl and found him wanting.

That's not to say that I'm ready to declare Wayne Morgan all that and a bag of chips after beating Liberty and a union local from Fort Wayne. We'll have a better understanding of what kind of season this will be on January 8th, after the Cyclones finish a difficult stretch—at Drake, Xavier at home, at Virginia, at San Diego State, and Missouri at home. If ISU is, say, 8-1 or 7-2 at that point then I think it's time to start getting excited.

However, just because a coach doesn't stomp up and down on the sidelines and let loose an obscenity-laced tirade only a Turret's Syndrome sufferer could appreciate doesn't mean he's not doing anything. To criticize a guy's coaching when he hasn't lost a game yet is preposterous.

I'm also wondering if any of those callers actually bought tickets to the game, considering the amount of empty seats I saw at Hilton Coliseum on Saturday?

Big 12 Bowl Season

Yes, the college football regular season just ended. And yes, the college football bowl season is already underway.

There are two bowl games this week, so there's not time like the present to give you my thoughts on how I think the Big 12 Conference will fare.

Tangerine Bowl—Kansas (6-6) vs. N.C. State (7-5)

Wolfpack by 11

The Wolfpack is loaded with offensive firepower, and they've been excellent in bowl games under Chuck Amato. I'm guessing Phillip Rivers puts up some video game passing numbers in this one. Pick—N.C. State 38, Kansas 20.

Alamo Bowl—Michigan State (8-4) vs. Nebraska (9-3)

Cornhuskers by 3

Nebraska will likely name Bo Pellini as its new head coach by the time this game is played, if not even as soon as this week. That should give the Huskers an emotional lift, but I think this is a tough matchup for the Big Red. Michigan State has a steady, prolific senior quarterback in Jeff Smoker and an excellent defensive line that should be able to stand up to Nebraska's running attack. Plus, the Spartans have the edge on special teams. Pick—Michigan State 24, Nebraska 17.

Houston Bowl—Navy (8-4) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)

Red Raiders by 13

An intriguing contrast in styles highlights this one. The Midshipmen, and their triple-option offense, led the nation in rushing. Under Mike Leach, Texas Tech is perennially one of the most high-powered passing attacks in America. Look for B.J. Symons to become the first Division I-A quarterback to ever throw for 50 touchdowns in a season in front of a friendly crowd. Pick—Texas Tech 52, Navy 28.

Holiday Bowl—Washington State (9-3) vs. Texas (10-2)

Longhorns by 9

The question for Texas, which has a huge talent advantage in this game, is how motivated will they be to play in another non-BCS bowl? If they come to play, given how willing the Cougar offense is to turn it over, the Longhorns should roll. I'm betting they will, but Washington State's defense is stout. Pick—Texas 28, Washington State 14.

Independence Bowl—Missouri (8-4) vs. Arkansas (8-4)

Razorbacks by 21/2

This will feel like a road game for the Tigers, although in Brad Smith they will have the best player on the field. Look for a high-scoring affair, with the more experienced Razorbacks coming out on top. Pick—Arkansas 31, Missouri 28.

Cotton Bowl—Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Mississippi (9-3)

Rebels by 2

I see this one becoming a blowout, but not the way you probably think. Ole Miss will get all the hype behind Eli Manning, and it will perhaps bring an entire state of fans to Dallas with it. But beyond Manning's heroics, the Cowboys simply have better talent on the field. I just don't see any way the Rebels can stop OSU's offensive balance. Pick—Oklahoma State 35, Mississippi 24.

Fiesta Bowl—Kansas State (11-3) vs. Ohio State (10-2)

Wildcats by 7

The nation is on the K-State bandwagon after its stunning demolition of previously unbeatable Oklahoma. However, this spread is absurd. Ohio State is returning to the scene of its greatest triumph a year ago, and has a talented senior class that fights to the last minute. Other than Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles, the Buckeyes have vastly superior talent everywhere else on the field. Pick—Ohio State 20, Kansas State 17.

Sugar Bowl—LSU (12-1) vs. Oklahoma (12-1)

Sooners by 6

The conventional wisdom is that the Sooners will be one mad nest of hornets after their blowout loss in the Big 12 Championship. I'm not a big fan of that line of thinking. While the Sooners have been winning a slew of individual awards this month, the Bayou Bengals have been lying in wait. This reminds me of the 2000 Orange Bowl, when Oklahoma defeated a more physically gifted Florida State squad. This will be a home game for LSU, which is no slouch after winning the rugged SEC. The Tigers have en elite defense and a 24-year old quarterback that will not be intimidated. Plus Nick Saban is no Mack Brown. This is my best bet in all the bowl games. Pick—LSU 19, Oklahoma 14.

Look for USC and LSU to split the national championship, causing endless debate throughout the offseason. It will also spark changes in the BCS system, which will be announced this spring after the annual April meeting of the conference commissioners.

(Steve Deace can be heard each weekday from 3-6 p.m. on the radio in Iowa on 1460-KXNO, the flagship of the Cyclone Radio Network)


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