BlogPoll Ballot Week 14 — Following the Rules

There is a lot of complaining about bowl games nowadays.

Kirk Herbstreit was on ESPN’s BCS Bowl Game Selection Show extravaganza slamming the process and Northern Illinois’ Orange Bowl bid. The thing is though who is going to blame Northern Illinois for accepting that bid? Who really had the right to complain?

It is just another thing to yell at the BCS about, but it was something they were almost required to do that to avoid an antitrust lawsuit. It was something some would say ESPN was very much campaigning for. If there is anyone to blame for NIU’s surprise BCS bowl bid it is the human pollsters and Nebraska. The human polls, after all, make up 2/3 of the BCS and helped Northern Illinois — and Kent State, for that matter — climb into a position where they could make the BCS with the right bounces.

Then there is Nebraska. Oh, Nebraska.

That devastating and somewhat embarrassing performance in the Big Ten Championship Game threw everything for a loop. The loss allowed Wisconsin to go to the Rose Bowl for the third straight year and added an extra team into the premium Big Ten bowl pecking order.

The fact Michigan could not jump Nebraska forced the Capital One Bowl into a Northwestern or Nebraska decision that proved to be very difficult. Yes, the conference may have stepped in to see to it that the Legends Division champion went to the conference’s marquee non-BCS bowl. But the Capital One Bowl did not break any rules in selecting the Cornhuskers. NU fans have a right to be upset, but blame the parties that really messed up — Nebraska and the Big Ten.

Or not. After all, like Northern Illinois, they were just following the rules set for this crazy game. As Stuart Scott used to say: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. And this bowl selection game — judging by the incredibly lengthy posts Brett has been putting together these last few weeks — is kind of silly.

So on to this week’s BlogPoll ballot. I think there is still time to submit edits (I am in my exam week at school, so I am a freaking wreck right now) so let me know your thoughts and any changes you would make.

1. Notre Dame
Bowl Game:
BCS National Championship Game vs. No. 3 Alabama (Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: We get to see if a defensive player can win the Heisman this weekend when Manti Te’o represents his side of the ball in New York at the Heisman ceremony. The Fighting Irish were really led by the heart and passion Te’o played with this season, and he would receive my vote for the Heisman if I had one. Likely though it seems like enough momentum has been built for Johnny Manziell for him to take the trophy home. Notre Dame has a bigger trophy in mind and will face its toughest challenge in Alabama to get it in early January.

2. Ohio State
Bowl Game:
No Bowl Game
The Buzz: The Big Ten’s biggest what-if this season. What if the Buckeyes were bowl eligible and able to play in the national championship game against Notre Dame? How much would it raise the conference’s profile even in this weak season to be playing for the crystal football (in Florida, no less)? Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes have a lot to be proud of this season and they might even steal a few first place votes should Notre Dame lose. But this season will always be about what could have, or should have, been.

3. Alabama
Bowl Game:
BCS National Championship Game vs. No. 1 Notre Dame (Jan. 7, 7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: The Crimson Tide played one of those great college football games in defeating the Bulldogs last weekend in the SEC Championship Game. Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon established everything on the ground early on, bulldozing their way through the Georgia defense. But it was the game-winning pass from A.J. McCarron to Amari Cooper, a beautiful 45-yard pass, that won the game. The Crimson Tide are just used to winning and they found a way to do it. They are one win away from a second straight national championship and an incredibly impressive three-year run.

4. Oregon
Bowl Game:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl vs. No. 5 Kansas State (Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: This should have been the national championship game right? Well if Kansas State did not suffer a late-season loss to Baylor and Oregon did not suffer a late-season loss to Stanford it would have been. At least we still get to see this game. Two high-scoring offenses and two very very good teams. Oregon has that spread, fast-break offense that they run. It is extremely effective and is one that is difficult to prepare for. One thing that has been consistent in bowl games recently is that while Oregon’s talent allows the team to recover and play well, it usually takes a while for the offense to find its rhythm early on in bowl games. That might be something to watch for as Oregon apparently has its best defense of the Chip Kelly era.

5. Kansas State
Bowl Game:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl vs. No. 4 Oregon (Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Colin Klein was the favorite for the Heisman at one point. He will be in New York for the trophy presentation, but it seems like his time passed him with one bad performance. If there is one guy who can conduct an offense to keep up with Oregon’s, it might be Klein after the season he had. That is what makes this matchup so fascinating. These are two very good teams in ways that are not always obvious. Honestly, as far as entertainment value goes, this might be the most intriguing matchup of the entire bowl schedule. Be sure to tune in.

17. Nebraska
Bowl Game:
Capital One Bowl vs. No. 6 Georgia (Jan. 1, 12 p.m. CT/ABC)
The Buzz: Yuck. That was embarrassing Nebraska. No other way to put it. Sure, Taylor Martinez had one of the great quarterback runs of the year when the game still looked like it might be competitive. Wisconsin though just bulldozed its way through Nebraska on the ground and dominated the game. Thankfully for Nebraska, the conference stepped in and made sure it went to Orlando. So congratulations, Nebraska, you get to face a very strong and very physical Georgia team. Bo Pelini better make sure his players are prepared and ready to play or another embarrassment might be coming.

18. Michigan
Bowl Game:
Outback Bowl vs. No. 11 South Carolina (Jan. 1, 12 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Tampa is really selling the Denard Robinson vs. Jadaveon Clowney matchup in selling this game. And that has made the Outback Bowl one of the non-BCS Bowl games to watch. All Steve Spurrier comments aside, this should be a pretty good matchup between two talented but flawed teams. Too bad no one will be watching because Northwestern will be taking care of business in Jacksonville. Speaking of which…

19. Northwestern
Bowl Game: Gator Bowl vs. Mississippi State (Jan. 1, 11 a.m. CT/ESPN2)
The Buzz: No one probably suffered more from Nebraska’s loss in the Big Ten Championship Game than Northwestern. Going from Capital One to Gator Bowl. There is definitely a loss in prestige. But if you ask the Wildcats, all that really matters is getting the win. It may not be a monkey this year, but the Cats will be hungry no matter the disappointment in falling in the bowl pecking order. We know that every bowl game matters. At least for us. Mississippi State is still a pretty good team. Not someone to look past. But it is a very winnable game for the Wildcats.

21. Wisconsin
Bowl Game:
Rose Bowl Game vs. No. 13 Stanford (Jan. 1, 4 p.m. CT/ESPN)
The Buzz: Am I being a bit of a Big Ten homer? Probably. The Badgers lost a lot of close games and failed to live up to expectations. Yet, there they are in the Rose Bowl Game for the third straight year. This is still an incredibly talented team and Wisconsin found itself at the end of the season and particularly in Indianapolis to win the conference yet again. That deserves a ranking. So there it is for them. Deserved or not, they are Big Ten champs.

25. Penn State
Bowl Game:
The Buzz: The Nittany Lions put together an incredible season considering the circumstances. It makes sense that Tom O’Brien is up for the national coach of the year. He is very deserving of it for getting his team to play with so well with so many disadvantages. He and this team deserve a salute for the work it did this season. This is my way of doing that. After that rough start, Penn State put together a superb season. Unfortunately, the sanctions are just beginning.

  • DT

    Kirk Herbstreit is a whining twit and in obvious distress and in the midst of ill temperment from watching Erin Andrews sharing the desk at Fox in lieu of strutting the sidelines for The World Wide Leader Of Misinformation… What a dickhead..

    Go Huskies!

    • SocalScott

      Kirk Herbstreit’s argument is much better than what I have read from you since Sunday. NIU in a BCS Bowl is a joke! So add me to your whining twit, dickhead list. Although I could not careless about Erin Andrews.

      Perhaps you were at a wedding on Sept 1, or you suffer from amnesia..Sept. 1 was the day NIU lost to Iowa, the only “tough” (if the Hawkeyes even qualify) date on their schedule. And please, don’t even mention beating Kent State in OT; the mighty Golden Flashes lost to 0-8 SEC power Kentucky by 33 points!

      Give it up.

      • DT

        You got it… You are on the list Malibu..

        • BostonWildcat

          DT – why are you such a bit NIU fan? Serious question – not trying to be inflammatory. You’re on these boards all the time, and when you’re not bashing NU, you’re hyping NIU. I personally find it strange. Either you have some kind of personal/family connection or you’ve decided that’s a good way to be attention-seeking.

          • DT

            I’m a big NIU fan right now because it is the best story in college football and has been with Jordan Lynch the last month of the season. While a Northwestern fan, I’m a college football fan first and foremost. Being in Chicago (as opposed to Boston…) I’m on the bandwagon a bit for NIU, with many local kids, ones that Fitz missed no less seemingly in some cases, playing near home as great representatives our area no less.. No personal ties to the university or program and trust me, I could care less if I hear from you a third time on the subject as well.. Needless to say, both you and Malibu have shared your thoughts and manifesto why NIU should not be included in the BCS and why god forbid, they should not be ranked higher than Norhtwestern, which really seems to have gotten your attention.. Personally, I find your zeal a bit odd in that seemingly a MAC team achieving more than Northwestern seems to have eroded your self esteem to some level… Let’s just say we agree to disagree on this?
            Net/net, my comments were directed at Kirk Herbstreit not you pal.. I continue to feel his comments and tone were totally inappropriate under the circumstances… Again, maybe he is pissed that Andrews left ESPN.. Run with that one..

          • SocalScott

            Yes; we shall agree to disagree until Jan 1. And rest assured, I don’t think any NU alum could link their self esteem to NU football!

            However, on Jan 1, when NU plays Miss State, and Georgia plays NIU, it will be clear whose judgement is clouded.

          • DT

            Actually NIU is playing Florida State, but I’ll give you that one, knowing it is early in SoCal or maybe you concussed on your longboard.. BTW Malibu, FSU is a Top 15 team, The Bulldogs of MSU, got a vote or two in “The others” category.. Anyway…
            I too am looking forward to 1/1/13 where hopefully both NU and NIU win bowl games of huge importance to the respective programs… Validate the comparison between the two how you might and I’m sure you will..

          • SocalScott

            Yes, I realized after typing early CA time…but too late to recall. Thanks for posting the correction!

          • SocalScott

            Too funny…I just reread your post. Why the positioning now that FSU is the tougher opponent than Miss State? You are already carving out an excuse for when NIU gets blown out and NU wins! Which one is it, DT? Does NIU belong in a BCS bowl playing FSU or not? You are already hedging because you know NIU is going to lose. You crack me up. Add yourself to the whining twit, dickhead list!

          • BostonWildcat

            It’s only gotten my attention because we have a better body of work than them. Again, I encourage you to lay out a case for the contrary.

            I assume you notice the 2 other teams against which I made a case above. Not just NIU. That’s just the team about which you’re strangely sensitive. Given we’re on an NU blog, I think it’s much less strange that I’m arguing for NU than you continually arguing for NIU.

            And what in the world are the comments re: Erin Andrews about? And what does it mean to “run with them?”

          • BostonWildcat

            I also hear another local team that rhymes with Motor Fame is having a decent year (news got all the way to Boston!) and I don’t see you hyping the Fighting Irish up and down the boards…

  • UVA Cat

    Why do you have Oregon State ranked below UCLA and Wisconsin? The Beavers beat both of those teams head-to-head…

  • Marc

    Wisconsin ranked below Nebraska? No. Not after that game.

    • dave

      Rankings are supposed to be based on the whole season, not one game.

      Wisconosin has 5 losses and barely beat northern Iowa (FCS) and Utah state. PRR shouldn’t have even ranked them, much less ahead of nebraska.

      • Ron

        Based on the hysterical rants above about NIU (apparently their success threatens the value of someone’s NU fandom?), I’m waiting to hear why there are not also hysterical rants about Wisconsin, with those losses, both being ranked and in the Rose Bowl.

  • CatAlum06

    Ohio State had a great year, but no way are they ahead of KSU of Alabama, and potentially even Georgia. They just didn’t play enough quality opponents to be ranked that high. I would have them tied with Oregon at 4 or 5.

  • CaliforniCat

    Penn State’s coach is Bill O’Brien, not Tom.

  • BostonWildcat

    It’s hard to ever think we would rank NU lower in our SB poll than their ranking in the highest major poll. We’re currently 17th in the coaches poll, so why not rank us at least #17? NU has beaten 4 bowl teams (Syracuse/Vandy/Minny/Sparty) with no bad losses (all to ranked teams or those getting votes). A few teams that strike me as teams we could definitely justify being ranked ahead of:

    * Louisville: Played no ranked teams the entire season; beat 3 bowl teams; 1 bad loss (UCONN)
    * NIU: Beat 4 bowl teams (but CMU at 6-6 in the MAC probably the worst bowl team out there); 1 very bad loss (Iowa, as we all know after Herbstreit’s rant!); played 1 ranked team (#25) … other 12 are not even getting votes.
    * Michigan: yeah, I know we lost head-to-head … but at their place, in OT, and on the flukiest of plays. Michigan has no bad losses (the 4 teams that beat them have a combined 4 losses), but NU is the ONLY team with a winning record that they’ve beat this year.

    So I don’t think it’s crazy to rank us number 16, ahead of those 3 teams. Thoughts anybody?

    I largely agree with the rest, except for Wisky. Just too bad of an overall season to be that high, and they should have never been in the B1G champ game to begin with.

    PRR – good luck with finals!

    • SocalScott

      I agree…perplexed how NIU could be ranked ahead of NU.

      • DT

        God forbid NIU be ranked above the Cats… This is true injustice..

        • SocalScott

          If you play the Mothers of the Poor and the School for the Blind, you have to go undefeated to matter. They played nobody except lowly Iowa and lost! Wake-up…Get over your self loathing issues with elitism. You went to NU…others couldn’t…its OK.

          • DT

            This from a guy who does not know who is playing in the Orange Bowl… And how do you know I went to NU???
            Hang ten, dude…

          • SocalScott

            Guilty as charged on the Georgia reference!

            But please repeat after me, “I don’t have to hate myself because I went to NU and other people couldn’t”. You’ll feel better. You might even muster the courage to put that NU Alumni license plate frame on your car that you bought years ago after a home game win but is hidden in your dresser. Its OK man, really.

          • BostonWildcat

            How about this: if NIU beats Florida State, I’ll post a pic wearing a Huskies t-shirt (if I can find one). If FSU wins, DT has to reveal his identity so he can’t be an anonymous dick anymore.

            DT – deal?

        • BostonWildcat

          Why not make a reasoned, data-driven argument for why they should be? I recognize that sarcastic, insulting rants are more your style, but they earn you no credibility and people (like me) just assume it’s because you have an emotional attachment and can’t see things logically.

          • DT

            Don’t flatter yourself… Gaining credibility with people “like you” is not the goal here Boston…