10 Things We Learned from the New Year's College Football Bowl Games
One of the greatest traditions in college football is the New Year’s Day bowls. This year, because of the way the days fell, everything got pushed back to Jan. 2, but boy was it worth the wait.
Four of the six games came down to one possession, two went into overtime and Case Keenum capped off his college career with a truly dominating performance.
Here are the 10 things we learned from those bowls.
Field Goal Kickers Are Terrible
Georgia and Stanford fell victim to kicking woes, each team missing two field goals late in the game which would have won the Outback and Fiesta Bowls, respectively.
Blair Walsh missed a 42-yarder to win the game and then went for a tying field goal in triple overtime. Michigan State blocked the kick to cap off its improbably comeback. Stanford’s Jordan Williamson missed a 34-yard kick which would have won the game as time expired and then missed again in overtime.
Heartbreaking doesn’t do what happened justice.
The Big Ten Is Not Close to the SEC
The Big Ten and SEC duel it out every New Year’s with at least three games between the conferences. This year, the SEC won the battle 2-1 with the one loss coming from Michigan State’s amazing luck.
South Carolina dominated Nebraska and Florida thoroughly handled Ohio State. Then Penn State got demolished by Houston, and Wisconsin couldn’t best Oregon in the Rose Bowl. The Big Ten is 3-5 in bowls, and those three wins are by a combined 14 points. Not a good look for the conference.
Offense, Offense, Offense
Defense may win championships, but offense will apparently win you bowls. Every New Year’s bowl had at least one team score 30 or more points, with the exception of Florida who is only averaging 25 points per game.
Oregon and Wisconsin set records in the Rose Bowl for points and had over 1,100 yards total. The Fiesta Bowl also had records broken as Justin Blackmon had three receiving touchdowns in the game. Between those bowls and the Alamo Bowl, fans may have OD’d on offense.
Stanford Will Be in a Lot of Trouble Next Year
When people think of Stanford, they think of Andrew Luck, and he will be going to the NFL. But if you watched the Fiesta Bowl and didn’t come away impressed with the Cardinal’s offensive line, you weren’t paying attention.
Johnathan Martin and David DeCastro are both first-round picks as well, and they bullied the Oklahoma State defensive front, allowing 243 yards rushing including 177 by Stepfan Taylor. Without Luck, Martin and DeCastro, Stanford will be in a world of hurt in a Pac-12 that figures to be even better next season.
De’Anthony Thomas Is the Real Deal
If you didn’t know De’Anthony Thomas before the Rose Bowl, you certainly do now. The true freshman was nothing short of phenomenal against Wisconsin, gaining 155 rushing yards, 34 receiving yards and 125 kick return yards.
Did I mention that he is a true freshman? The “Black Mamba” has officially staked his claim as one of the elite receivers in the country and will battle with Clemson’s Sammy Watkins next season for the Heisman. Oregon will definitely be in competition for the national championship next year largely because of Thomas’ play.
Patrick Edwards Is Better Than You
Any time a receiver has over 200 yards in the first half, you know that he is good. Patrick Edwards absolutely destroyed a Penn State secondary that was fourth in the country in passing yards allowed.
Case Keenum certainly did his part with an incredible 532 yards, but the separation Edwards created set the tempo for the entire game. In a deep wide receiver class, NFL scouts will need to take a second and third look at him.
South Carolina Could Be Great in 2012
The Capital One Bowl was one of the most bizarre games of the 2011 season with an extra point return for a touchdown, a Hail Mary touchdown and two ejections. But South Carolina showed glimpses of brilliance, even without running back Marcus Lattimore.
Connor Shaw couldn’t find many open receivers, but he laid the ball in perfectly on almost every throw. Ace Sanders showed he can be just as productive as Alshon Jeffrey, and a defense that had trouble against the run stepped up and held the Huskers to just 137 yards on the ground. The Gamecocks could definitely challenge Georgia for the SEC East title next year.
Michigan State Could Be Better Without Kirk Cousins
Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins has had a pretty good season this year, but he tried his hardest to lose the game for his team. He had three interceptions in the game and set up Georgia with excellent field position which set up the Bulldogs for two field goals, one which Blair Walsh missed.
The biggest problem facing Michigan State next year is play at quarterback and wide receiver, but if Cousins couldn’t handle quality defenses, the team may be better off without him.
Jared Abbrederis Will Be One of the Big Ten’s Best
Sophomore receiver Jared Abbrederis put on a great show in the Rose Bowl, leading his Badgers in receiving, but his return abilities could be unparalleled. He ranked fourth in the country in punt returns and 47th in kick returns, but he had 227 return yards including a 60-yard kickoff return.
Nick Toon has gotten almost all of the attention at wide receiver, but Abbrederis now has more yards than him and a higher yards per reception average. With B.J. Cunningham, A.J. Jenkins and Derek Moye graduating, he will likely be the Big Ten’s best at receiver and in the return game.
Braxton Miller Will Thrive Under Urban Meyer
Florida’s pass defense ranked 10th in the nation in yards allowed per game, but that didn’t stop Braxton Miller from having his most complete game of the season. He completed over 78 percent of his passes for 162 yards and touchdowns.
He’s already shown that he can run the ball effectively so under the guidance of Urban Meyer, Ohio State should have the best quarterback in the Big Ten next season.