Now 5-3 picking the winner and 2-6 against the score. Apparently, there is a limit to how many sacks Rudy Carpenter can take before his brain turns to jello.
Bowl: Champs Sports, 5 p.m. Friday, ESPN
Teams: No. 14 Boston College vs. Michigan State
Boston College's season was... A roller-coaster. After shooting up to No. 2 in the polls (expect to hear that a lot in these previews), the Eagles barely escaped Blacksburg before falling to Florida State. Yes, it was that kind of season. BC still finished up 10-3, not bad for a team "in transition" from one coach to another.
Michigan State's season was... Not John L. Smith-like. Despite ended up tied for 8th in the 11-team Big Ten, the Spartans are headed for a bowl game after compiling a 7-5 record. Hooray mediocrity! When it's your first postseason appearance in four years, you're not picky.
Boston College impact player: QB Matt Ryan. The on-again, off-again Heisman candidate threw for 4,258 yards and 28 TDs while completing 60.3 percent of his passes (366-of-607), though he was picked off 18 times. In the three BC losses, Ryan threw 5 TDs against 7 INTs.
Michigan State impact player: RB Jehuu Caulcrick's 813 yards rushing was good for only second on the team, but he scored 21 TDs on the season. Caulcrick failed to score in just two games: at Notre Dame(!) and at Ohio State, when he only carried the ball four times.
Fun Sponsor Fact: Actual disclaimer from the Champs Sports Web site:
Champs Sports does not sell products for purchase by children. We sell children's products for purchase by adults.
Well, I'm glad we got that straight.
Prediction: When you've been ranked No. 2 in the nation and end up runner-up for an ACC championship, what goes through your mind when the coach says, "Alright, boys, we're going to the Champs Sports Bowl!" Meanwhile, Michigan State is losing players, including the impeccably named Jonal Saint-Dic and SirDarean Adams, as fast as John L. Smith used to lose games. Soooo. We'll go ... Boston College 43, Michigan State 14. Why not? Though it could turn out the other way. Or end up being a close affair.
Bowl: Texas, 8 p.m. Friday, NFL Network
Teams: TCU vs. Houston
TCU's season was... Disappointing by Horned Frogs standards. TCU, used to winning conference championships or at least coming close, ended up 7-5 and in a bowl game that no one will see. Why am I so sure no one will see it? Because when the NFL has a really important game scheduled for its own network, it makes other arrangements.
Houston's season was... At 8-4, not as bad as some might have thought following the loss of the team's star quarterback in Kevin Kolb. The 2-3 start was rough, but the Cougars have been rolling along.
TCU impact player: DE Chase Ortiz. The senior had 15.5 tackles for loss, including eight sacks, while forcing three fumbles and recovering one. You must believe me when I say there is absolutely no player with impressive numbers on the offensive side of ball. Please don't look at the TCU offensive numbers. It will cause indescribable eye pain.
Houston impact player: RB Anthony Alridge. The senior has 1,992 all-purpose yards, including 1,568 yards and 14 TDs on the ground and 424 yards and 5 TDs receiving. He's also 2-of-4 for 28 yards, 1 TD and a pick passing.
Fun Sponsor Fact: One of the bowl's sponsors is ... Texas Monthly? Yes, apparently the mag so subversive it once featured a Photoshopped, shotgun-wielding Dick Cheney on the cover is now in the college football biz. It also gave Fran it's prestigious "Bum Steer of the Year Award." And it'll only cost you $5 or so to read about that.
Prediction: Houston Coach Art Briles has apparently developed a case of acute lunacy and is headed for the green pastures of Baylor, where his career will die a slow, painful death. How depressing does that team meeting have to be. "Boys, I'm leaving for Baylor."
Don't let the fact that he looks like Ted Buckland fool you. He's a madman.
TCU 34, Houston 31
Bowl: Emerald, 8:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN
Teams: Maryland vs. Oregon State
Maryland's season was... Up and down. The Terps beat Rutgers and Boston College, but lost to North Carolina and Florida State en route to a 6-6 record.
Oregon State's season was... A step down from last year, but nonetheless an 8-4 campaign in an impressive Pac-10. That included knocking off the Oregon Ducks, a rival that once seemed headed for greatness before Dennis Dixon's knee disintegrated.
Maryland impact players: RBs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball. The duo has combined for 1,552 yards and 25 TDs. The passing game has chipped in seven. All year. Rushing TDs by other Terps? Three.
impact player: RB Yvenson Bernard, who rushed for 1,037 yards and 12 TDs in 10 games. Bernard will apparently be back for the bowl game.
Fun Sponsor Fact: Emerald Nuts are not going to advertise during the Super Bowl this year. And felt compelled to announced this.
Prediction: Oregon State is, I think, the better team. Oregon State 37, Maryland 13
The rest of the weekend after the jump.
Bowl: Meineke Car Care, 1 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Teams: Connecticut vs. Wake Forest
Connecticut's season was... One of those that made the whole year confusing. The Huskies jumped out to a 8-1 record while knocking off South Florida and Rutgers before coming back to earth a bit, ending up 9-3 after a 66-21 demolition at the hands of West Virginia.
Wake Forest's season was... Not as impressive as the breakthrough 2006 year, but Wake ended up winning eight of its last 10 games, losing only to Virginia and Clemson during that stretch.
Connecticut impact player: FS Robert Vaughn has 6 INTs, with 114 yards coming on the returns, though he oddly has not taken one back for a TD.
Wake Forest impact player: QB Riley Skinner. Not because his numbers are that great (207-of-288, 1,936 yards, 11 TDs, 12 INTs in 10 games), but because he runs the whack-a-mole game that is the Wake offense.
Fun Sponsor Fact: The 2007 Dealer of the Year was Ray Howell. This, along with a rambling blow-by-blow of a confusing lawsuit, is apparently all anyone has seen fit to add to the company's Wikipedia entry. At least until someone writes that Howell is really an alien bent on taking over the world.
Buy a muffler from me or die!
Prediction: Two teams whose records are inflated because they feasted on the dregs of their respective conferences. Connecticut did it with defense and something; Wake Forest did it with wishes and pixie dust. Have a good book with you when you watch this one. Connecticut 14, Wake Forest 13
Bowl: Autozone Liberty, 4:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Teams: UCF vs. Mississippi State
UCF's season was... At the beginning, poorly hydrated. Otherwise, George O'Leary continues to live up to his resume. The honest one, anyway. The Knights ran off seven straight wins to close out a 10-3 campaign and a C-USA championship.
Mississippi State's season was... Freaking Mississippi State? In a freaking bowl? One not named the "Egg Bowl" just because? Well done, Sly Croom. Well done.
UCF impact player: RB Kevin Smith, the nation's top rusher. I'll repeat that: A player for the University of Central Florida, once of "rent-a-rout" fame, is the nation's top rusher. That'd be 2,448 yards and 29 TDs. UCF got crushed, 64-12, in the one game (at South Florida) where Smith ran for less than 100 yards and less than one score.
Mississippi State impact player: First, let's realize something: The Bulldogs were outscored by an average of 2.4 ppg this year. Yes, outscored on average. But QB Wesley Carroll was a capable caretaker for a team built on defense, completed 126 of his 237 pass attempts for 1,353 yards, 9 TDs and 6 INTs.
Fun Sponsor Fact: The New London store? Not a place you want to be.
A driver got into the zone when he crashed his vehicle into the Auto Zone at the New London Shopping Center on South Frontage Road.
Prediction: I like Mississippi State in this game. They're the SEC feel-good story of the year when the projected Cinderellas, South Carolina and Kentucky, couldn't get out of their own way. Mississippi State 13, UCF 10
Bowl: Valero Alamo, 8 p.m. Saturday, ESPN
Teams: Penn State vs. Texas A&M
Penn State's season was... Good enough for JoePa to continue getting paid with a year's supply of brains for another few years. The Nittany Lions went 8-4, good for fifth in the eleven-team Big Ten.
Texas A&M's season was... So bad that the head coach got "resigned" right after beating a hated rival. I would tell you more, but that's only available to the insiders who pay me $1,200 for my newsletter.
Penn State impact player: RB Rodney Kinlaw, who rushed for 1,186 yards and 10 TDs. You didn't think I was going to go with Anthony Morelli, did you?
Texas A&M impact player: QB Stephen McGee, who was 192-of-333 for 2,147 yards, 12 TDs and 7 INTs through the air and 858 yards and 5 TDs on the ground.
Fun Sponsor Fact: One of Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For.
After hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit, Valero dispatched semis filled with supplies, set up temporary housing for employees, fed volunteers -- and donated $1 million to the Red Cross.
In other words, they were more prepared than the federal government.
Prediction: Texas A&M has been in turmoil all year. Meanwhile, it would be hard to find a program with more stability than Penn State, which hasn't been in the market for a coach since the Paleozoic Era. Penn State 30, Texas A&M 21
Bowl: PetroSun Independence, 8 p.m. Sunday, ESPN
Teams: Alabama vs. Colorado
Alabama's season was... Probably not what Nick Saban was expecting. The Tide went 6-6, which is the same as 2006's record, and didn't beat Auburn but did manage to lose to Louisiana-Monroe.
season was... The Buffaloes needed just six wins to secure third place in the Big XII North. Those wins were Colorado State, Miami (OH), Oklahoma(!), Baylor, Texas Tech and Nebraska. But, hey, Colorado got its six wins at a much cheaper rate than Alabama.
Alabama impact player: WR D.J. Hall. Despite John Parker Wilson's ... um, erratic play, Hall had 63 catches for 947 yards and 6 TDs.
Colorado impact player: QB Cody Hawkins, whose sharing of a last name with the head coach is completely coincidental. Completely. He was good but not great (239-of-424, 2,693 yards, 19 TDs, 15 INTs), but then again, Colorado was good but not great.
Fun Sponsor Fact: They're producing energy from algae. Really.
Prediction: Again, going on the supposition that Bama is the better team here. Alabama 24, Colorado 20