Blog, tagged with Block of Granite
2021-01-13 10:22

And that's the end of the season.
Still, I did not really warm with it overall.
It did not help that the conferences did start on different timeslots, with different schedule and it did also not help that the virus protocol did lead to many games being canceled.
Comparison of strength was always a problem for the 125 teams playing, but with so many games canceled, interconference games almost not existing and sometimes only a handful of games played by a team, how do you determine a true champion, if that is really necessary in time like this?
Well, the NCAA did try it with the FBS the best way possible, I guess under such conditions.
For you info, the FCS, the level of strength below the FBS, did move all season (on current status of planning) to April/May for postseason and I actually n don’t know when or how many teams will actually start the regular season on that level.

Saturday, January 2
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
#23 NC State vs Kentucky

A very strange game, at least for me.
NC State did more or less not show up for 1st half, did throw an INT, missed a FG and did only trail 0-13 at the half.
Lucky them, I guess.
Then NC State got some energy for the 2nd half and scored (after missing another FG on the 1st drive of 2nd half).
Then it went back and forth on field positions, until NC State throw another INT.
But they held Kentucky to a FG and scored after that a TD. 14-16 now.
Then they stopped Kentucky, got the ball back and ... did throw another INT.
Kentucky scored, the Wolfpack scored and Kentucky recovered the onside-kick, finished.
The Wildcats won 23-21 by play good and error free, while NC State did ALMOST win this, but committed 1 error too much.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-7

Saturday, January 2
Outback Bowl
Ole Miss vs #11 Indiana

Indiana did commit less errors than NC State, but they lost also.
That we-are-better-than-you-think-attitude by Indiana didn't have a big effect on Ole Miss and they did control the ball most of the game, leading 20-6.
Indiana score their 1st TD, the Rebels miss a FG and the Hoosiers did score again and suddenly we had a tied game at 20.
But, somehow, did Ole Miss find their confidence back, marched over the field and scored for the final score of 26-20.
Indiana had over 4 minutes left to play, but their drive did stuck at Ole Miss 40 yard line on 4th and long.
Lane Kiffin got as reward on his 1st season as HC a prolongation already.
Jacks BOWL Score: 16-7

Saturday, January 2
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
#25 Oregon vs #10 Iowa State

I was a bit surprised that Matt Campbell, HC of Iowa State, did not get a Job by some other, bigger school, after his results at Iowa State.
I mean he did get not a losing team, he got one of the worst teams.
This season he won almost the Big12 and did also win the Bowl against the PAC12 Champ Oregon 34-17.
But he is still Cyclones coach.
In the Bowl he did coach excellent, his team did lead early and basically never looked back.
Oregon came close when they tied the score in the 2nd quarter at 14, but Iowa State did score, made an ONSIDE KICK without a need, recovered the ball, and scored again.
Oregon score a FG before the half and then committed so many errors in the 2nd half that they were held scoreless.
Great game by Iowa State.
Jacks BOWL Score: 17-7

Saturday, January 2
Capital One Orange Bowl
#5 Texas A&M vs #13 North Carolina

This was strange also, but in a different way.
North Carolina did play on the same level as A&M, trailed at the half 13-17, led in the 3rd 20-17 and then, for whatever reason, North Carolina did fall apart.
The Aggies tied the game, UNC scored and the Aggies did also score, but something had changed and it showed later, when UNC was unable to stop Texas A&M, but were unable to score on their own.
At the end they lost 41-27.
It sounds more than it was, but for s strange reason UNC did not play well in the 4th quarter and led Texas get the game.
Jacks BOWL Score: 18-7

Monday, January 11
CFP National Championship pres. by AT&T
#3 Ohio State vs #1 Alabama

For the first 20 minutes or so this game did look quite even, but then did Alabama shifted into the next drive and went up, up and away.
At that time did Alabama lead 21-17.
Both teams had scored TDs, were able to move the ball, Alabama had a turnover and just at that moment held Ohio State to a field goal, got the ball back and scored a TD.
Bang, 28-17.
No reason to fear, right? Both teams did move the ball before.
But Alabama force a punt after 5 plays, needed 3 plays to score a TD again and held Ohio State again away from scoring range.
Bang. 35-17 at the half.
Tough, against the #1 team in the country to come back, right?
Well, Ohio State did try, for maybe 1 drive, but then the juice was gone and it was all Alabama, who did cruise this one home with a final score of 52-24.
Nick Saban has now won 7 National Championship, more than anyone ever since the Polls were used (somewhere around 1936).
That's quite an accomplishment.
To be fair, no team in the past since let's say 20 years, had the chances Saban had.
In poll era the championship is given by the major polls, no playoffs except the past few seasons, no BCS. Just opinions.
Saban (and of cause all other coaches in the past 20 years) had the chance the give at least 1 last statement by the team, playing #1 vs #2 or playoffs between the best 4 teams.
If you win this, you are Champ. Before that there was opinion 1 vs opinion 2 and it was tough to get enough votes on your team to be #1 at the end of the season.
So what coaches like Bear Bryant had done was to field a very convincing team, many times over the whole season and then have enough votes to become champs.
If they would have given +1 game against #2, maybe some coaches would have a lot more championships under their belts, or much less.
Regardless, Saban can be proud of his titles with 2 teams.
Jacks BOWL Score: 19-7

Small notes of news here.
The famous Heisman Trophy was won by Alabamas WR DeVonta Smith, who was one of the cornerstones of Alabamas excellent offense and who had a major impact, also in the final, scoring 3 TDs.
Pre-season favorite Travor Lawrence, QB of Clemson, did finish 2nd.

Then some HC positions were filled and opened.
Biggest change came from Texas, who did Tom Herman go after 4 seasons, even after he did win the Bowl and might have moved the team further into a positive direction.
Likely his results over the 4 seasons were behind the expectations, especially regarding Big12 Championship competition and in the rival games against Oklahoma.
Texas did assign the team to Alabamas OC Steve Sarkisian, former HC of USC and Washington, who did crash his HC career temporally with his Alcohol addiction and based on that very strange behavior.
It seems he did sort things out under various coaches (he was also in the NFL for some time) and got the gig at Texas after this great Alabama season for which he was awarded as best assistant national.

Boise State has filled the position opened by Harsins departure with Andy Avalos, a former Broncos Linebacker, who has been the Oregon Ducks DC for the past 2 years.
It's Avalos 1st HC gig.

The HC of Marshall was let go by not renewing his contract. Marshall is looking into their options for new HC, the position is right now not filled.

So, that's it for the Block of Granite Blog for this season.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully, see you in August for the next season.

'Til next time

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2021-01-02 10:25

Happy New Year. We are closing in on the last few Bowls to play.

I'M sorry I did not see the game cancellation of the Texas Bowl, before I posted my preview.
TCU has some virus spikes, so they did call off the game.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
#24 Tulsa vs Mississippi State

Well, you can hurt the sport just by a few actions.
And both teams did not do well after the game in that category.
Before that actions, the game was fine, open until halftime with MSU leading 7-6.
Then did Tulsa fall a bit behind in the 3rd, 13-21, which is not much.
Tulsa scored, the Bulldogs did score on the next drive and with about 3 minutes left to play did Tulsa then throw an INT which did give the Bulldogs the Ball back at 28-19.
But Tulsa was motivated to turn the game, held their opponents to 3-and-out, scored a TD and tried an onside-kick with 1:30 left to play.
The recovery failed and the Bulldogs won 28-26.
THEN after the game, the emotions went high and both teams were in some sort of wedge against each other, divided only by official, coaches and staff as it seems, but at some point punches were thrown and at the side of the wedges players were rushed after, kicked, punched.
It took some time to sort this mess out and break it up.
One player seems to have a serious concussion after the brawl, possibly when he was on the ground inside some pit where many seemed to kick and punch.
I seriously hope this will have consequences for the teams and the players.
The problem in college football is, some of those players might not be there next season, the do/did graduate and are off.
So it's problematic to punish the right address.
I never understand why there are no real crime related consequences for player recorded on film punching and kicking, you often don't hear about that.
Seems the field is law free zone.
Jacks BOWL Score: 11-4

Offerpad Arizona Bowl
Ball State vs #22 San José State

As one of the biggest surprises this game ended with a big win by Ball State, 34-13.
Ball State is an up and down university, sometimes having good teams, often having losing teams, but this season is a winner.
The Spartans were just playing awful in the 1st quarter and trailed 0-27!
Then both teams were unable to score in the 2nd quarter and in the 3rd both did commit turnovers, but Ball State did extend the lead at first further and then did the Spartans score a bit in garbage time.
The Spartans did prolong the coaches deal, not sure the university is so happy about that now.
No, seriously, it looked liked the Cardinals were better prepared and better motivated and the Spartans did put everything they had against Boise to win the Championship and then not much was left.
Jacks BOWL Score: 11-5

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
West Virginia vs Army

Very defense driven game, which did surprise me, since at least West Virginia can score and did that quite often in the past.
Still it was Army leading 14-10 at the half.
West Virginia had some trouble with turnovers to that point.
Then the 3rd quarter did extend the lead a bit to 21-16.
With 5 minutes left to play did then West Virginia score a TD and led 24-21, which was then the final score.
Army had chances to tie the game, but missed the FG and did commit an INT with the last few seconds to play.
Jacks BOWL Score: 12-5

Friday, January 1
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#9 Georgia vs #8 Cincinnati

Another game which did not go as I expected it.
First blood was drawn by Cincinnati, Georgia later tied the score.
Georgia made a FG, but Cincinnati did make a TD and led at the half 14-10.
Many errors in this game, on both sides and one crucial one by Cincinnati fumbling the ball inside their half, near the redzone, allowed Georgia to get back into the game.
They scored a TD, now trailing 16-21.
I think most important was, they stayed away from turnovers then and held Cincinnati scoreless.
But surprisingly they were not really able to move the ball efficiently, scored a FG for 19-21 later and then with 2 ticks left AFTER the kick they score the game winner for 22-21.
Then came a monster kickoff, placing the ball at the 2-yard line and Georgia did sack the QB for the final score of 24-21.
Great game by both teams, but Cincinnati did show some real game today, they were just not able to capitalize as much as needed from the Georgia errors.
Jacks BOWL Score: 13-5

Friday, January 1
Vrbo Citrus Bowl
Auburn vs #14 Northwestern

This here went as expected.
Auburn was bad, really bad, and Northwestern did just punch it in, again and again.
The Wildcats led at the half 14-6, which did look like an open game, but that changed in the 4th quarter.
The 3rd quarter was tied between the teams and the score was 21-13, Auburn was held on 4th and 1 on the 50 and from that point on ... Northwestern.
They did score on the next drive, 28-13, Auburn fumbled and Northwestern scored again, 35-13.
Still 7:49 to play, but Auburn needed 3 minutes to score for the later final score of 35-19.
Northwestern got the ball and Auburn did suck big time in defense, as before, and the time went by.
Great game by Northwestern and I hope Auburn gets some kicks by their new HC.
Jacks BOWL Score: 14-5

Friday, January 1
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Capital One - CFP Semifinal
#4 Notre Dame vs #1 Alabama

The good news for Notre Dame fans is, they did beat the spread of -20.0.
The bad news is, they lost by 17 points, with Alabama winning 31-14.
And what a game it was.
Bama went ahead 14-0 (with a fantastic hurdle play by Bama during the 2nd scoring drive), Notre Dame went for 4th down to punch in the 14-7.
Then Alabama became a wall Notre Dame was unable to penetrate and the Tide did increase the score to 31-7 over time, until Notre Dame did score another TD in the last few minutes when Alabama was already thinking about the Championship game.
What's left is, that Alabama won this clearly and that Notre Dame might be OK to be #4, but I still think they should have put A&M into this.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-5

Friday, January 1
Allstate Sugar Bowl - CFP Semifinal
#3 Ohio State vs #2 Clemson

Well, here we have the big surprise.
Ohio State won the game and really in style, 49-28.
For me the MVP of the game was not the Buckeyes QB, who did play very well, but the Buckeyes O-line which did take out that scary Clemson Defense line by 100% and which allowed Ohio State to exploit the biggest weakness of Clemson on that day, the defensive backs.
Maybe Clemson did look all season so great, because their D-line did pressure the QBs so much that the D-backs had an easy game over the weekend.
And Ohio State took that away and punched it right into their face.
The Buckeyes did win basically in the 2nd quarter, winning that one 21-0.
The rest of the game was more or less equal game, but that quarter was all Ohio State and no Clemson at all.
So, Ohio State will face Alabama in the Championship game. Good luck for that.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-6

Now let's get into the last few Bowls coming, including the National Championship game.

Saturday, January 2
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
#23 NC State vs Kentucky

@TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
This bowl is played on the home field of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was established in 1946 and does usually field SEC vs either Big10 or ACC, depended on the year.
Last year it was Big10, this season ACC, which resulted in this, for me not so thrilling, matchup.
NC State had an 8-3 season, but did clearly against all better teams inside the ACC.
Kentucky did much worse than last year and finished 4-6, hence in a regular year, they wouldn't be bowling at all.
Still Kentucky is favored by 2.5 points, which from my point of view reflects a) the weak ACC beside the 2 teams in the playoffs, and b) is likely based on the fact that Kentucky often did not lose with a high margin against the big SEC teams.
I'm a bit torn here, willing to give NC State a bit of credit winning so many games and not always against very weak teams, but Kentucky should at least play on the same level, if all goes well.
Still ... I think I pick the underdog.
Wolfpack win.

Saturday, January 2
Outback Bowl
Ole Miss vs #11 Indiana

@Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Played in the home stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this bowl exists since 1986.
It's another Big10 vs SEC bowl.
Should be named the drive-up-the-scoreboard-bowl, with 2 high scoring teams facing off against each other.
Ole Miss finished 4-5 under new HC Kiffin and scored 40.7 points against the SEC teams, while Indiana finished 6-1 and scored 30.1 (I thought it would be more in average).
The betting line is Indiana -8.5, which is too much, from my point of view.
The Biggest thread is likely that Ole Miss can't stop the Indiana offense, but since they can score a lot, this might get well compensated.
I'm willing to give Kiffin here the nod, since I expect the team to be motivated, and they did hold their own against the best of the SEC, so why should they not stay in the game against the Hoosiers, who did challenge Ohio State, sure, but lost there also.
Rebels win.

Saturday, January 2
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
#25 Oregon vs #10 Iowa State

State Farm Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
The Bowl exists since 1971 and is played in the home site of the Arizona Cardinals.
It's part of the College Football playoffs rotation, this season having 2 at-large teams against each other.
This season they have the Big12-Championship loser Iowa State (8-3) against the PAC12-Champ Oregon (4-2).
An interesting matchup, which might become an entertaining game, give both teams offense and defense power.
Iowa State did almost beat Oklahoma twice, but their comeback try felt short in the Championship game, so I expect a team willing to play here.
Oregon did not win their division, but won against USC the PAC12, which is unknown regarding the estimation of strength, since the PAC12 did not play inter-conference games.
We might see a blowout, we might see a close game.
The Cyclones are favored by 4.5 points.
I hope for a close game and do favor also Iowa State.
Cyclones win.

Saturday, January 2
Capital One Orange Bowl
#5 Texas A&M vs #13 North Carolina

@Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
Another CFP-bowl, featuring at-large vs at-large.
The Orange-bowl itself exists since 1935 and is played inside the stadium of the Miami Dolphins.
It does feature a quite lame matchup, but maybe UNC will surprise me big time.
Why do I say that?
Texas A&M did only lose to Alabama during the season and has an 8-1 record, falling short a playoff spot thanks to Ohio States and Notre Dames lobby or the need to have more conferences inside the playoffs.
Because from my point of view OSU did not look like a clear #4. But fine, A&M is at #5 and does now face North Carolina, which did finish 3rd inside the ACC, behind playoff teams Clemson and Notre Dame, with a record of 7-3.
They lost 3 times, against Florida State (which had a BAD season), Virginia and Notre Dame.
So a team losing only against that perfect Alabama team does play a team losing many times against mid level teams (and Notre Dame, yes).
Betting line for Texas A&M is surprisingly for me only -7.5. I would have guessed -14.0+.
Well, UNC is capable of playing strong against favored teams, so maybe they can pull an upset here, but I doubt it.
Aggies win.

Monday, January 11
CFP National Championship pres. by AT&T
#3 Ohio State vs #1 Alabama

@Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
So here we are with Alabama facing off against Ohio State.
Ohio State now 7-0 as Big10 Champ, while Alabama now is 12-0 as SEC Champ.
Since creating this kind of format for the 2013 season onward, both teams never met in this final.
Ohio State won it against Oregon in the 1st installment of that game, then came the big Alabama/Clemson dominance, with Alabama playing in all games but 1 since then (2-2) and the same for Clemson (also 2-2),
And both teams did also not meet in the National Championship game in the predecessor competition, the BCS.
The betting line is right now Alabama -7.5.
For me Alabama is clearly the favorite as well, since they did beat every team they played so far with great success.
The closest threat was the SEC Championship game, won by 6 points.
Now comes Ohio State, who did struggle against Indiana (won by 7 points) and Northwestern (won by 12 points, coming from behind).
That Clemson-game was impressive, no doubt and yes, it looks like the Committee did put them right into the TOP4.
But I doubt they will win this game.
If they do, they have a season to remember.
Crimson Tide win.

'Til next time

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