In case you missed it (and let’s face it, it’s really quite possible that you missed it), Virginia Tech played Rutgers on Friday night in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Virginia Tech won 13-10. And it was ugly.
I mean, really ugly.
There was no offense to speak of and mistakes galore. The stands were more empty than full. The atmosphere was, well, poor. So far as college football goes, this was a fairly awful event.
But as Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated pointed out the next day in a brilliant piece about the game, the awfulness was in some ways irrelevant. It was bad college football, yes, Staples wrote. But it was college football nonetheless. And for college football fans, that’s always good enough.
Which brings me to Part II of my 2012 bowl preview, in which we’ll take a look at some games that, in the end, may prove to be fairly awful as well. But of course, we won’t care, because we’re college football people, and we love college football in all forms—good, bad, ugly.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt (12 p.m., Monday): Another maddeningly inconsistent season down at N.C. State cost Tom O’Brien his job after six years. He was 40-35 during his tenure. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much as good as it’s going to get for N.C. State, a program that has a long, proud history of average football. As for this game? Vandy won six straight to end the season. They’ll make it seven. Vanderbilt 34, N.C. State 17
Hyuandai Sun Bowl: USC vs. Georgia Tech (2 p.m., Monday): Oh, USC. Oh, Lane Kiffin. The season started with such enormous promise. There was talk of a Pac-12 title and a national title and a Heisman Trophy for Matt Barkley. Everyone, including Yours Truly, was decidedly high on the Trojans. Then they lost to Arizona in late October and it kinda all went to hell. I mean, they even lost to UCLA. And for their putrid efforts, they now have the honor of playing a terrible Georgia Tech team that hasn’t beaten anybody of note all year. Yeah, not exactly what Kiffin was expecting. USC 45, Georgia Tech 10
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. Tulsa (3:30 p.m., Monday): This is one of those bowl games that makes people say that there are too many bowl games. A 6-6 Iowa State team with a mostly anemic offense takes on a 10-2 Tulsa team that, to be frank, deserves much better than this; I mean, they did win their league and all. Granted, the mid-season loss to a bad Arkansas team doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence, but this is a good team. A motivated team, too. I don’t see Iowa State caring much one way or the other. Tulsa 24, Iowa State 14
Chick-fil-A Bowl: No. 8 LSU vs. No. 14 Clemson (7:30 p.m., Monday): If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my many years of watching college football, it is this: You don’t trust Clemson. You don’t trust Clemson when they’re supposed to win and you don’t trust Clemson when they’re supposed to lose. You make no assumptions about Clemson. You don’t presume to figure Clemson out. You don’t become an expert in Clemson. You just watch Clemson and be amazed. As for LSU, I saw them in person this year, and I can attest that, physically, they are an imposing bunch. Yes, the offense is painful to watch at times, but the talent is there, and it’s bowl season, and SEC fans demand bowl victories, and LSU will deliver. That being said, don’t trust Clemson. LSU 28, Clemson 24