The Canes have arrived in Orlando and I'm confident we'll see an inspired performance from Al Golden's team. I'll preview that game later in the week, but first I need to vent about my rough start to begin the bowl season.
Saturday started off very promising; with Washington State taking a 35-13 lead in the second quarter against Colorado State. The Cougars were scoring at will and had complete control of the game. After getting a key first down to keep possession, WSU led 45-30 with five minutes left in the game. Normally I am paranoid until the clock reads all zeros, but I felt confident enough to head to the car to drive to my next destination. I listened to the radio in agony as Mike Leach decided to throw twice and keep the Rams alive. A few minutes later, with the game seemingly over at 45-37, two consecutive fumbles doomed the Cougars and Colorado State was able to inexplicably win the game in regulation. During my recent trip to Seattle, I discovered a new college football term at the Apple Cup. I kept hearing the phrase "They Couged It" from fans of both UW and WSU. Urban Dictionary has an accurate description of the phrase and why it is applicable in this situation.
1. The inability to keep a lead in a sporting event;
a) to lose a game in the last minute or second.
b) to surrender a walk-off homerun or lose in sudden death
2. Incomplete; to not finish a task; to stop prematurely.
Origin: This term is used by the alumni of Washington State University Cougars for their athletic teams lack of ability to win big games after holding large leads against top ranked teams and the University's archrival the University of Washington Huskies. Games are usually lost in the last seconds."
In 2010, I offered my clock-management services to Miami HC Randy Shannon. After weeks of yelling at the television, I'd had enough. All I wanted was a headset in the press box and I would help manage the clock for free every Saturday. This weekend reinforced the need for that position on every coaching staff. The Leach debacle on Saturday set the stage for the Pittsburgh Green Bay game on Sunday, in which each head coach tried to cost his team a victory in the closing minutes. It's time to stop making excuses for coaches that are paid millions of dollars. Hopefully none of my remaining 31 bowl picks will be decided by clock errors because I'm not sure I can handle it.
Following Washington State's collapse, Fresno State and Buffalo were both dominated from the outset, leaving me winless on the day. Thankfully, LA-Lafayette was able to hold on and win by three to salvage some of my pride. Heading into Christmas week, I'm 1-3 in bowl picks and 0-1 on Golden Picks. ECU and Oregon State have the ability to get me back to 50%, which has been a magnet for me all season. Enjoy ECU Ohio today at your office and be prepared to book your next vacation to Hawaii after watching tomorrow night's game. Follow me @JPickens15 for the emotional rollercoaster that defines picking games during bowl season.
BEEF ‘O’ BRADY’S BOWL
EAST CAROLINA -14 vs Ohio 2PM – TODAY – ESPN
I pride myself on my MAC knowledge, but Buffalo let me down on Saturday. This time I’m picking against the MAC and expect East Carolina to win easily this afternoon. Ohio doesn’t scare opposing defenses and the Bobcats were blown out by Buffalo, BGSU, and Kent State in November. QB Tyler Tettleton has talent, but his offensive line has struggled throughout the season, leaving Ohio 96th in the nation in rushing yards. East Carolina has one of the best passing offenses in America, led by emerging star QB Shane Carden. He will bounce back from a disappointing game at Marshall and throw for at least four touchdowns today. WR Justin Hardy is an explosive playmaker that will challenge the Ohio secondary. Download the WatchESPN app at lunchtime and prepare to enjoy some daytime college football at the office. The Pirates win in convincing fashion.
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL
OREGON STATE -3 vs Boise State 8pm – ESPN
The Hawaii Bowl is a Christmas Eve tradition for most college football focused families, or at least it should be. Boise State will be playing under Interim HC Bob Gregory in Hawaii. Chris Petersen finally left Boise and his players won’t play well without him on Tuesday. BSU starting QB Joe Southwick was sent home from Hawaii for allegedly using the hotel balcony as a bathroom. Grant Hedrick will get the start, but I don’t trust him in a game that will likely be a shootout. Look for the Beavers to put up big numbers on offense, led by star WR Brandin Cooks and QB Sean Mannion. Oregon State lost five straight games to close the season, but all five of those opponents finished with eight wins or more. Expect Oregon State to be the more motivated team and take the lead early. The Pac 12 might be the best conference in college football this season and the Beavers will impress the nation on Christmas Eve.
SOTU STAFF PICKS
Jerry Steinberg (2 - 2 record) - ECU and Boise State
Josh Maser (0 - 4 record) – Ohio and Oregon State
Juan Toribio (2 - 2 record) - ECU and Oregon State
Michael Grunewald (3 - 1 record) - ECU and Boise State
Happy Holidays to everyone and Go Canes.