We are just two days away from the start of the college bowl season and LTP fans get to compete for much more than pride this season in our ESPN College Bowl Mania contest. That’s right, the winner gets to host Gary Barnett’s game-worn 1996 jacket for the entire year. There are braggin’ rights and then there is this. Forget about the green jacket, we’ve got the purple one and it is coveted. By now you know the rules. Simply click here, follow the 1-2-3 sign-up instructions (don’t worry, it is free) and search for the group “LTP”. Rank all 35 bowls based on your confidence factor. We’re hoping to eclipse the 200 contestant mark for the first time ever, and after launch day (yesterday) we were already at 75 and counting. Now, on to other news and notes:
Mississippi State Back-Up RB Out For Gator Bowl
Bad news for Bulldogs fans. MSU back-up RB, Nick Griffin, is out for the season after tearing his ACL on Saturday at practice in preparation for the Gator Bowl. The 6-0, 225 back rushed for 223 yards in 2012.
Mark Talks About Wearing Out MSU Impressive D-Line
Jack McCarthy of ComcastSportsNet Chicago had a nice feature on Pat Fitzgerald and Venric Mark’s perspective of Mississippi State and some of the specific challenges they present. Fitz gushed about Jim Thorpe award winner, Johnathan Banks, the nation’s top defensive back, along with the impressive D-line. Venric Mark, also impressed by the sheer size of the Bulldogs line, was very Venric in his confidence talking about how he thinks NU can wear them out with the option. I found it interesting that Fitz made the comparison between Dan Mullen’s squad and both Iowa and Michigan State – “downhill running” teams that invoke the, gulp, play-action (our nemesis!).
‘Cats Voted BCS National Champ – In Top 25 Meets Academics, Time Magazine Blog
This article is the single most emailed link I’ve received in months. Sean Gregory, a writer for Time, covered one of the more unique CFB meets academics rankings I’ve seen and Northwestern was ranked #1 in the nation (using a pool of only Top 25 teams). The New America Foundation puts out the list and its methodology is a bit more complex than the NCAA level stuff. It uses things like graduation context for each football program as it relates to the general student body, as well as by white-to-white and African-American-to-African-American comparisons. You can read much more about it above, but Northwestern, ranked #20 in the AP, gets the nod as the #1 overall program, while NIU surprises just about everyone, especially when you consider their football graduation rate is nearly 20% below Notre Dame. Hey, as a PR tool, any time you rank Northwestern #1, you know I’m a sucker for promoting it. For those in the know, the Mississippi State-Ole Miss game is known as the Egg Bowl. This? Well, we’ll call it the crown of the Egghead Bowl and be very happy about it.
So Much For That Theory
Just Tuesday we had USA Today’s Paul Myerberg join us to talk about the potential preseason rankings love we’d get with a win over Mississippi State and its potential impact. Well, Athlon has ALREADY come out with their preseason Top 25 and NU didn’t make the cut (shocking, lack of respect…that would be sarcasm). The ‘Cats are on the edge in this countdown, but I’m convinced if we can beat the cowbell team, we’ll be getting all kinds of love.
Speaking of Cowbells
Teddy Greenstein tweeted yesterday that the Gator Bowl has allowed Mississippi State fans to bring cowbells in to the stadium.
Gator Bowl Fun Facts
Let’s start leaking out some history and pageantry about the Gator Bowl for fans to start acclimating to a relatively recent B1G add in the bowl line-up.
- The ‘Cats January 1 game marks only the 12th time a B1G team will play in the Gator Bowl and the record is none too kind. The B1G sports just a 2-8-1 mark in the game.
- The ACC leads all leagues with 41 appearances, followed by the SEC with 37 and then the league formerly known as the Big East is third with 18. The B1G is next.
- Florida (9), Clemson (8), Georgia Tech (7) and North Carolina (7) lead with most games played in the bowl game that dates back to 1946.
- Florida beat Ohio State 24-17 in last year’s bowl which was a virtual infomercial for Urban Meyer.
- Mississippi State played in this very bowl, just two seasons ago, and you might remember, ended RichRod’s Michigan career with a 52-14 thumping. Dan Mullen was the coach of that team as well.
- Some notable game MVPs include Michael Vick, Phillip Rivers, Donovan McNabb, and Thurman Thomas.
- Four Heisman Trophy winners have played in this game.
- Everbank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is the site of the game and holds 77,510
More Awards Trickle In
Congratulations to Wildcat freshmen CB Nick VanHoose, SB Dan Vitale and DE Dean Lowry, all of whom were named to the ESPN.com B1G All-Freshmen team.
Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.com fame tabbed NU OL coach, Adam Cushing, as one of the top B1G assistants of 2012 thanks to the drastically improved run game and the role the line had in that.