As discussed in last Friday’s column, I honestly believe that Wednesday night’s Foster Farms Bowl is quite a setback for Arizona’s football program. The reaction in Tucson towards Rich Rodriguez’s team is one of apathy as is…fans have proven that they aren’t going to pay to watch star QB Khalil Tate nor an underachieving program. I feel as though most people in Tucson wait for the bottom to drop out when watching Arizona football…and it did so once again with under two minutes to play on Wednesday night in a 38-35 loss to Purdue.
So what can be done to rectify the problem? In my opinion there are only two realistic solutions:
1. Fire Rich Rodriguez whose act has gone stale in the minds of most Arizona fans. Go hire a coach who is energetic and willing to recruit his butt off in order to add to the already solid talent level the Wildcats have in terms of their young players. One example of a potential candidate who might stimulate the fan base: Lane Kiffin, having completed a very successful first year at Florida Atlantic.
2. Come up with a hell of a marketing campaign around QB and 2018 Heisman Trophy candidate, Khalil Tate. Maybe offer incredible season ticket deals, throw in some Arizona basketball single game tickets to entice fans to buy a season ticket package.
I know I’m getting desperate here but to me, it seems #2 won’t even help. I have a feeling that despite much higher expectations for 2018, the Wildcats football team is going to need a lot of help in order to win fans over next season.
And just an early prediction, assuming Tate stays healthy, it’s 9-3 or bust in the regular season, if not 10-2.
Predicting the Bowl Games from Friday-Monday
Belk Bowl: Wake Forest 34, Texas A&M 23
What reason does A&M have to play for anything considering an interim coach is replacing the fired Kevin Sumlin for this game? Wake Forest has been a pleasant surprise this season and will cap their season with a solid win over an SEC team.
Sun Bowl: Arizona State 27, NC State 24
Risky pick here but I feel that the Sun Devils will play very hard for outgoing coach Todd Graham. The Wolfpack had higher aspirations than the Sun Bowl and may take the Sun Devils lighter than they should.
Music City Bowl: Northwestern 29, Kentucky 24
I can’t analyze much about these two teams offhand so my recommendation would be to take Kentucky + the 7.5 point spread as I see this game being fairly close throughout.
Arizona Bowl: New Mexico State 30, Utah State 27
NMSU hasn’t played in a bowl game in 57 years – that’s enough reason for them to pull the upset on Friday afternoon in Tucson.
Cotton Bowl: Ohio State 35, USC 24
Such a fun matchup here and I’m so bummed it’s not in the Fiesta Bowl as was anticipated. The Buckeyes’ speed should be too much for the Trojans – but will they be fully motivated after being passed up by the CFB Playoff Committee for Alabama? Another storyline: will this be USC QB Sam Darnold’s last collegiate game before declaring for the NFL? I say yes.
TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville 38, Mississippi State 20
One team has arguably the best player in college football, (Cardinals) QB Lamar Jackson. The other is missing their star QB, Nick Fitzgerald due to a leg injury. The Bulldogs also are coachless with Dan Mullen having left for Florida. Easy pick here on paper.
Liberty Bowl: Memphis 40, Iowa State 24
Memphis is playing a game in their home stadium and I’m just not buying the fact that the Cyclones can slow down the Tigers’ potent offense.
Fiesta Bowl: Penn State 30, Washington 20
If star Nittany Lions RB Saquon Barkley plays, Penn State should dominate throughout. If he decides to sit out, the Huskies have a very good chance to pull the minor upset. Obviously I’m betting on the former.
Orange Bowl: Miami 24, Wisconsin 23
Not confident in this pick whatsoever…but the Hurricanes are playing on their home field and do want to avoid a 3 game losing streak to end the season. With a win by Wisconsin, an impressive 12-1 season should have them in the top-5 to start 2018.
Outback Bowl: Michigan 21, South Carolina 10
The Wolverines should have LOFTY expectations for 2018. Well last time I checked New Year’s Day was when this game was being played so I guess the fun starts now for Jim Harbaugh’s club.
Peach Bowl: Auburn 41, Central Florida 24
IF and it’s a big IF Auburn plays a motivated game against UCF, this one shouldn’t be close considering the talent level on both sides. But if the Tigers don’t show up as necessary against a potent Knights offense, I’m going to eat crow with this pick.
Citrus Bowl: LSU 24, Notre Dame 19
I’m not confident in this pick whatsoever. Notre Dame will be extra motivated to defeat a ranked SEC team. Will LSU treat this like its National Championship Game or Spring Practice?
Rose Bowl: Oklahoma 27, Georgia 24
In the first of what should be two GREAT semifinal games, it’s contrasting styles between Oklahoma’s awesome offense against Georgia’s dominant defense. The feeling here is the game should be close throughout and if the Sooners can prevent explosive plays from the Bulldogs on the ground, they should be able to generate enough offense to win. I’ll say this comes down to a game-winning field goal in the final seconds by Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert. One other key to watch: can OU Heisman Trophy winner avoid the bowl game jinx which has swallowed up many Heisman QBs in the past?
Sugar Bowl: Clemson 24, Alabama 20
For the THIRD straight year these two teams face off in the CFB Playoffs – the last two were in the National Championship Game. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, an Alabama alum, seems to have a formula to remain quite competitive with his counterpart, Nick Saban. But I came away VERY impressed with Clemson’s defense after their hiccup against Syracuse mid-season and expect them to make it difficult for Crimson Tide QB Jalen Hurts. QB Kelly Bryant and the Tigers offense will do just enough to secure a 3rd straight championship game appearance for Swinney’s team.
College Football Bowl Season – Week 3 Best Bets
Regular Season: 39-35-1
Last Week: 3-2
Bowl Season: 5-5
TaxSlayer Bowl: Louisville -6.5 vs. Mississippi State
Liberty Bowl: Memphis -3.5 vs. Iowa State
Fiesta Bowl: Penn State -2 vs. Washington
Peach Bowl: Auburn -9.5 vs. Central Florida
Sugar Bowl: Clemson +3 vs. Alabama
Have a Happy New Year!