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Sports Then and Now

Zultan’s BCS Bowl Challenge: Picking the Winners in the Top 25 Bowls

Posted on December 08, 2010 by JA Allen

In December the 2010 college football landscape lays wasted after a full season of all-out assault featuring vicious sacks and bone-cracking tackles.

The aerial attacks landed bomb after bomb as receivers somersaulted into opponents’ end zones to light up the scoreboard.

Finally, the victors have risen through the ranks undefeated to lay claim to the No. 1 ranking. This year we are sure––there can be no lingering doubts about who has the best football team in the nation? That indisputable team will be crowned on January 10th. Right?

On then to the anachronistic bowl system which will provide further clarity to the overriding question of who deserves to be playing in the final game of the season. It will all be clear at the end, won’t it, since we have the computer rankings – the infallible BCS?

If you believe this propaganda, you live in Fantasy Land. The All-Seeing Zultan spits in the eye of the BCS and the hordes of college football analysts pocketing millions of dollars who hawk this meaningless bowl system as scientific. Pah-leez.

These network and cable drones know no more than hapless Zultan who––like Chris Fowler–– wishes to see a true play-off system in place.

Crowning a national champion remains largely one huge popularity contest based on tenuous circuitous thought processes. You have major college football conference opponents generally playing a slate of cupcakes during the non-conference season––followed by beating each other up during a hard-fought schedule of conference games.

Because all the meaningful contests during the college football season are held between conference rivals, the only thing we really know for sure is which teams are the best in their respective conferences.

Ranking the conferences against each other is all smoke and mirrors. This year we assume the SEC and the Big Ten are the two best.  Based on what?  Scant statistical evidence if you ask me.

Why not give a berth to each team that has better than a 500 mark in their conference and send them off into a playoff system.  Details could be developed to enhance and complement the current bowl system and money could be made once again for everyone except the players who provide the game.  The irony never escapes the All-Seeing Zultan.

In the current bowl system, Zultan complains vehemently, Michigan State and Boise State, to name two, got royally clipped. Michigan State at 11-1 has every right to play their way into a national championship game––just as does Boise State, Alabama, Stanford, Ohio State, Wisconsin, TCU and on and on.

All teams ranked in the top ten or even the top 25 deserve a chance to go for the Championship. Because, realistically, how excited do you think Oklahoma or Alabama  is going to be playing in the Acme Chipped Beef Bowl after working all season for a shot at the top spot?

Zultan ended his regular season gig spinning in the Toilet Bowl, going down 4-6 in his last forecast where once again he picked against Auburn. Click here to find out all the winners who scored well against the All-Seeing One throughout the 2010 season as well as all other prize winners.

But here it is again – the great Zultan’s Bowl Challenge––a whole new contest and a new chance to win something.

Click here to enter your picks and let us see who is better at selecting winners––you or me, the Mighty Zultan, who promises either to come to your house and sing the theme song for Goldfinger or give you a prize worth something.

Actually anyone who does better than the Big Z will be entered into a drawing for $100 PayPal card and everyone who enters will be entered into a drawing for one of three $15 iTunes cards. These prizes provided by our sponsor Sports Then and Now.

Let the games begin!

1. MAACO Bowl – Boise State (11-1, 7-1 WAC) vs. Utah (10-2, 7-1 MWC) in Las Vegas on December 22

Boise State fell to Nevada to spoil their BCS dreams.

Their loss to Nevada brought a screeching halt to Boise State who had to remain perfect in order to have any chance at the BCS title game. Now the Broncos are relegated to this meaningless bowl game to end another great season.

The Utes might have been a bit more of a challenge but their quarterback Jordan Wynn is out for the game with a shoulder injury. Assuming Boise State can inject some enthusiasm into their disappointed troops for the game:

Zultan Picks: Boise State.

2. Poinsettia Bowl – Navy (8-3, 3-2 away) vs. San Diego State (8-4, 5-3 MWC) in San Diego on December 23

All in all, a great match-up––great running vs. great passing. But playing at home with an explosive offense and a defense that specializes in stopping the run, you can expect the Aztecs to win this one:

Zultan Picks: San Diego State.

3. Independence Bowl – Air Force (8-5, 5-3, MWC) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6, 4-4 ACC) in Shreveport LA on December 27

You have two teams that love to play in the dirt and avoid tossing the ball.  The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets will face the Air Force Falcons with little or no passing to slow down the clock. The game will go by faster than Zultan on Speed.

Throw a dart at the board––it will be quicker than trying to analyze the quarterbacks in this contest, even if one supposedly represents flying high.

Zultan Picks: Air Force.

4. Insight Bowl – Iowa (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) vs. Missouri (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) in Tempe AZ on December 28

Iowa fell out of contention late in the 2010 season.

Ah, you have the team that broke poor Zultan’s heart in 2010. The All-Seeing One’s Iowa Hawkeyes ended their season losing to the lowly Minnesota Gophers who had yet to hire a coach named Kill.

Zultan went into deep prognosticator-therapy after that loss.

Still – despite the indignity of playing on December 28––a  freaking Tuesday––Iowa finds itself facing a very strong opponent, the Missouri Tigers in the Insight Bowl.  Who dreams up these bowl names, anyway?

The two teams are mirror images in uniform but Iowa is on a three game losing skid. Missouri, on the other hand, had a great year with some great wins.  Still Zultan picks his underachieving Hawkeyes to upset Missouri––even if Arizona has never proven to be a lucky place for the Hawkeyes.

Zultan Picks: Iowa

5. Texas Bowl – Illinois (6-6, 4-4 Big Ten) vs. Baylor (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) in Houston on December 29

Illinois after a good rebound season lost three of their last four games, doing just enough to become bowl eligible––saving Ron Zook’s job for another year. Baylor after winning three in a row lost their last three.  So who will win this bowl game between two teams fading badly at the end of the season.  Does anybody really care?  The Texas team will win because this game is played close to their own back yard.

Zultan Picks: Baylor

6. Alamo Bowl – Oklahoma State (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) vs Arizona (7-5, 4-5 Pac 10) in San Antonio on December 29

What happened to Arizona? The Wildcats lost their last four games of the season.  After standing tall at 7-1, Arizona folded as they met the cream of the Pac-10 crop at the end of the season.  Certainly Oklahoma State who lost only to Nebraska and Oklahoma this season will be primed to send the Wildcats back to the desert to retool their offense for the 2011 campaign.

Zultan Picks: Oklahoma State.

7. New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Kansas State (7-5, 3-5 Big 12) vs. Syracuse (7-5, 4-3 Big East) in Charlotte, NC on December 30

Kansas State must travel to the Bronx to play in a bowl.

As if we don’t have put up with the damn Yankees enough during baseball season. Now they are hosting a bowl game so named––not for football––but for the noxious uniforms of the snooty Bronx Bombers!  Zultan is not a Yankees fan.  Who wants to go to a football game in the Bronx on December 30? No living person that I know of.

Who wants to see a couple of mediocre teams trying to keep their hands warm enough to hang onto the ball? Come on!  What kind of reward is this for players who expect to play in the warm sunshine and maybe enjoy a day on the beach.  Sad concept. Kansas State needs this one because they had to travel to the North Pole to get it.

Zultan Picks: Kansas State

8. Music City Bowl – North Carolina (7-5, 4-4 ACC) vs. Tennessee (6-6, 3-5 SEC) in Nashville on December 30.

Tennessee is on a four-game winning streak, finishing in the middle of the pack in the  SEC East.  North Carolina, wounded and under investigation stands on the brink of something of a turning point. So which of these two teams will bring home the bacon in Nashville?

Hard to say really. But winning their last four games in the SEC––supposedly the best of the major conferences––gives the edge to the home town boys.

Zultan Picks: Tennessee.

9. Holiday Bowl – Nebraska (10-3, 6-2 Big 12) vs. Washington (6-6, 5-4 PAC 10) in San Diego on December 30.

What a come down for the Huskers to be playing in the Holiday Bowl instead of on New Year’s day or better.  What a waste of a great team to have to play in this bowl when there were far better match ups that might have revealed more about this Husker team.

They have already annihilated the Washington Huskies once this season and all the experts predict that Nebraska will lay waste to the Huskies again.  So  does Zultan.

Zultan Picks: Nebraska.

10. Meinke Car Care Bowl – South Florida (7-5, 3-4 Big East vs. Clemson (6-6, 4-4 ACC) Charlotte, NC on December 31

Yawn. Zultan will be spending his New Year’s Eve day practicing his dance moves for a night of Limbo contests. That would be preferable to watching this match up. No disrespect intended. Zultan understands that the respective educational institutions and fans of their football teams will want to watch this game, urging on their favorite team to win.

But in the grand scheme of things, like many of the Bowl games, the outcome of this game means nothing in unraveling how good either team really is, except in relation to each other and  perhaps to the Big East and ACC.

Zultan Picks:  Clemson

11. Sun Bowl – Notre Dame (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5, 5-3 ACC) in El Paso on December 31

Notre Dame finally back in bowl contention.

What can Zultan say about this game.

No team can claim a home field advantage, although Notre Dame does seem to have its own television network.

How do they manage that?  Both teams have been a disappointment to their fans although both probably played up to their potential. That is always a hard reality for Boosters to swallow.

Miami fired their coach Randy Shannon for losing. Notre Dame has shown some progress under new coach Brian Kelly and getting to this bowl game is a big plus for Notre Dame.  The Irish will be hungrier and try harder.

Zultan Picks: Notre Dame.

12. Liberty Bowl – Georgia (6-6, 3-5 SEC) vs. UCF (10-3, 7-1 C-USA) in Memphis on December 31

Neither of these teams is worth a special trip to Memphis to watch this game between them. Both feel fortunate, however, to be in a bowl game anywhere.  Georgia had to scrap to get themselves bowl eligible while the UCF Knights captured their second Conference USA Championship game.

So far the Knights have never won a bowl game after being at the altar four times. This could be their best chance to win one. But Zultan feels that the Bulldogs have too many weapons for this Conference USA opponent.

Zultan Picks: Georgia.

13. Chick-fil-A Bowl – South Carolina (9-4, 5-3 SEC) vs. Florida State (9-4, 6-2 ACC) in Atlanta on December 31

South Carolina played Auburn for the SEC Championship and lost.  Florida State played Virginia Tech for the ACC Championship and lost.  It will be hard for either team to rise to the occasion for this contest on New Year’s Eve realizing how close they came to being part of a BCS bowl. Still the runner-up in the SEC should beat the runner up of the ACC according to the pundits.

Zultan Picks: South Carolina

14. TicketCity Bowl – Northwestern (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) vs. Texas Tech (7-5, 3-5 Big 12) in Dallas on January 1

When Northwestern lost QB Dan Persa, they lost the best part of their offense. This happened as the Wildcats upset Iowa, again. With Persa out of the line up, Northwestern did not fare too well against their remaining opponents losing to Illinois and to Wisconsin in a lop-sided affair.

Texas Tech has shown some definite promise under first year coach Tommy Tuberville. Playing this game in Dallas, a certain amount of home team advantage should go the Red Raiders way.

Zultan Picks: Texas Tech

15. Outback Bowl – Florida (7-5, 4-4 SEC) vs. Penn State (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) in Tampa on January 1

Penn State wins the slot for New Year's day bowl.

Neither team screams out excitement!  Both teams struggled while improving on the year.

Both are here in this game on New Year’s day more out of reputation than outstanding results.

Teams more deserving like Boise State or Nebraska or Oklahoma State should be playing on this traditional day for college football because they put together better seasons with wins against better opponents. How long will we allow a team to live on its past successes in college football, Zultan demands to know?

Zultan Picks: Florida.

16. Capital One Bowl – Alabama (9-3, 5-3 SEC) vs. Michigan State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) in Orlando on January 1

This game has the potential to be one of the best bowl games of the season. Both of these teams, especially Michigan State deserved better than this decrepit system could provide because Michigan State overcame terrific odds to share in the Big Ten title.

There is no good reason why their season is judged as less than Ohio State’s or Wisconsin’s (Michigan State actually beat Wisconsin). Alabama simply was not good enough to overcome a couple of competitors.

The bottom line is that if both teams play up to their potential, it will go a long way to provide an answer as to which conference is truly better in 2010? The SEC or the Big Ten?

Zultan Picks: Michigan State.

17. Gator Bowl – Mississippi State (8-4, 4-4 SEC vs. Michigan (7-5, 3-5 Big Ten) in Jacksonville, FLA on January 1

Both teams will spread the offense and try to out run and out gun the other team’s defense. Denard Robinson and the Michigan Wolverines with their No. 6 ranked offensive squad will attack the Mississippi State line but the Bulldogs have held up well on defense all season long.

Mississippi State is making its first bowl appearance since 2007 and Michigan hasn’t gone bowling since 2008. Denard Robinson’s has had a break out year for the Wolverines but probably he will not be able to overcome the power of the Bulldogs.

Zultan Picks: Mississippi State.

18. Rose Bowl – Wisconsin (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) vs. TCU (12-0, 8-0 MWC) in Pasadena on January 1

Wisconsin has not appeared in the Rose Bowl since 2000 when they met and defeated Stanford. They should have met Stanford in 2011 except that this year the BCS has chosen the TCU Horned Frogs, from a non-automatically-qualifying conference to play in the Rose Bowl instead.

The Horned Frogs will need to employ their stingy defense to keep the high-scoring Badgers grounded.  Wisconsin loved to run up the score on lesser opponents.  The irresistible force meets the immovable object.

Zultan Picks: Wisconsin

19. Fiesta Bowl – Connecticut (8-4, 5-3 Big East) vs. Oklahoma (11-2, 6-2 Big 12) in Glendale on January 1

Kudos to the Connecticut Huskies for winning the Big East. Nonetheless, this is hardly a contest, is it really? If Oklahoma has any ambition at all, this game should be a walk in the park or a stroll on the beach. Bob Stoops needs to stop the Bowl curse that has fallen on Oklahoma and win this game in Glendale.

Zultan Picks: Oklahoma.

20. Orange Bowl – Stanford (11-1, 8-1 Pac-10) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2, 8-0 ACC) in Miami on January 3.

The Stanford Cardinal had an outstanding season.

This is another of the few really stand out match ups in the Bowl Series.

Stanford out of the Pac-10 and Virginia Tech out of the ACC meet in Miami in the annual Orange Bowl.

Stanford lost one game this year to Oregon while Virginia Tech after losing their first two games have won 11 games in a row.  This was a break out season for Jim Harbaugh’s Stanford Cardinal.

Zultan Picks: Stanford.

21. Sugar Bowl – Ohio State (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) vs. Arkansas (10-2, 6-2 SEC) in New Orleans on January 4

Another intriguing match up of Big Ten vs SEC. Ohio State, however, never beats the SEC––they remain 0-9 against the supposedly best football conference in the nation. Will this be the year this Big Ten juggernaut team gets a win against the SEC going through the Razorbacks?

Arkansas has a lot of weapons starting with their quarterback  Ryan Mallett. But Ohio State has a few weapons of their own in Tyrelle Pryor and a very good defense.

Zultan Picks: Ohio State

22. Cotton Bowl – LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC vs. Texas A & M (9-3, 6-2 Big 12) in Arlington, TX on January 7

This could actually be an entertaining football game to watch with two highly competitive  teams vying for the honors in Arlington in the Cotton Bowl. Texas A & M has won their last six games in a row while LSU just barely lost out to Arkansas and a BCS appearance in the Sugar Bowl.  Both teams are coming off very promising seasons with excellent results.  Which team will be best on January 7?

Zultan Picks: LSU

23. Compass Bowl – Pittsburgh (7-5, 5-2 Big East) vs. Kentucky (6-6, 2-6 SEC) in Birmingham on January 8

What is this Bowl doing here on January 8? It was formerly the Papa.Johns Bowl until this year. It seems remarkably out of place on this date with these teams playing so late on the bowl calendar.

Pittsburgh who just fired their coach Dave Wannstedt after six years as the Pitt head coach, will be playing against Kentucky in Birmingham on Saturday January 8. Kentucky lost three of its last five games.  Neither team offers many sparks but they appear to be equally mediocre.  Throw a dart.

Zultan Picks: Pittsburgh

24. Hunger Bowl – Nevada (12-1 7-1 WAC) vs. Boston College (7-5, 4-4 ACC) San Francisco on January 9

Nevada stunned the football nation upsetting previously undefeated Boise State in overtime. But the Wolf Pack never does well in post-season play. Boston College has  an aggressive and stingy defense which they will need to contain Colin Kaepernick and the power-packed Nevada offense.

Boston College resurrected their season after losing five in a row to end the season on a very positive note.  It will be up to No. 17 ranked Nevada to end their bad luck streak by defeating Boston College.

Zultan Picks: Nevada.

25. Tostitios BCS National Championship Game – Auburn (13-0, 8-0 SEC) vs. Oregon (12-0, 9-0 Pac-10) Glendale AZ on January 10

The Oregon Ducks are vying for the National Championship.

Well here it is the game for the BCS Championship––for all the marbles.

Both teams remain undefeated even after a few close calls.  They both struggled and found ways to win with a lot of talent and a little luck!

All year long Zultan has picked Auburn to lose and all season long he has picked Oregon to win. Now comes the ultimate decision. Which tract should dictate his choice?

Zultan always had more faith in Oregon’s coach than he did in Auburn’s because the Mighty One believed Chip Kelly had better answers to immediate problems than Gene Chizik.  It comes down to speed vs. power on both offense and defense.

Zultan picks: Oregon.

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