All season in my articles, I have tried to stay positive and focus on the things going well for Miami. I finally reached a breaking point as I watched Louisville celebrate their blowout victory throughout the 4th quarter. The Canes simply didn't show up on Saturday night and blew a huge opportunity to send a message to the college football world. Louisville played with an edge and was the aggressor at all times. I still have faith in Al Golden and think he will be the one to turn this program around. That being said, the Canes were clearly outcoached on Saturday night. James Coley looked overmatched by Charlie Strong's defense in the first half. Clearly the loss of Duke Johnson was too much for this offense to overcome, but Coley has to improve and make his play-calling less predictable. Every Miami fan knows that Malcolm Lewis alone on one side of the field usually signals a running play. Fans are frustrated that every opponent is able to jump our snap count by the second half. The Canes' defense actually played decent in the first half, but Teddy Bridgewater's talent and UL's perfectly timed screen game put the game out of reach.
Reading articles, comments, texts, and message boards after the game was a painful experience. Miami fans are frustrated and nearly all of the excitement that was around the program after a 7-0 start has now faded away. I don't think there will be major changes to the coaching staff, mainly because of the disruption it would cause on the recruiting trail, but we shall see. Al Golden certainly has a new message to relay to recruits. He should say: "We need you now. I play freshmen and if you are better than what we have, you'll play right away." It is going to be a long offseason in Coral Gables. I will continue to support the program as always, but the 2014 season can't come soon enough.
The show must go on. Bowl season has been almost as disappointing for my picks. After 15 games, my record sits at 6-9. Even worse, I'm 1-4 in Golden Picks, with Notre Dame's lack of a killer instinct causing my latest defeat. With 20 games remaining, the time to make a run is now. There are four games today, four games tomorrow, and six games on New Year's Day. I am ready to rise to the occasion and start a winning streak. Get your popcorn ready.
ARMED FORCES BOWL
NAVY -6.5 vs Middle Tennessee State 1145am - MONDAY – ESPN
Navy has bowl experience and is led by QB Keenan Reynolds, who has been unstoppable running the option offense this season. Navy won four straight games to finish the year, highlighted by an impressive domination of rival Army. MTSU won five games in a row to finish the season, but the last four came against teams with a combined six wins on the season (FAU, Southern Miss, UTEP, & UAB). I think the long bowl layoff for MTSU could be a disadvantage. The Blue Raiders have had a full month off, while Navy played Army just two weeks ago. I expect the Midshipmen to start fast and take an early lead. Like many college fans, I always root for the service academies because they represent something more than just football. Navy controls the clock and wins by double digits.
MUSIC CITY BOWL
OLE MISS -3 vs Georgia Tech 315pm - MONDAY - ESPN
This is a classic SEC vs ACC bowl matchup. Ole Miss has more talent and QB Bo Wallace is looking to rebound from a disappointing finish to the year. The Georgia Tech defense will be an easier matchup that the Rebels have been used to facing in the SEC West. Ole Miss freshman WR Laquon Treadwell should have a big game against an average GT secondary. Georgia Tech has had issues with turnovers and a few fumbles could be the difference in the game. Ole Miss has the speed on defense to be able to defend the option effectively. Hugh Freeze and his young team will get a win in front of a predominantly Ole Miss crowd on hand in Nashville.
VALERO ALAMO BOWL
TEXAS +14.5 vs Oregon 645pm - MONDAY – ESPN
Motivation matters in bowl games. Texas will play inspired football, determined to send Mack Brown out with a win. Brown is truly a player’s coach and I expect his guys to rally around him. QB Case McCoy will make just enough plays to keep this game interesting. Oregon’s players consider this season to be a disappointment and may overlook Texas given how most of the country assumes the Ducks will win easily. The Alamo Bowl is a long way away from the National Championship game the Ducks seemed destined for earlier this season. Oregon’s defense struggled down the stretch and will have issues stopping the power running game of the Longhorns. Oregon DC Nick Aliotti will be coaching his final game for the Ducks. Oregon’s talent probably wins out in the fourth quarter, but this game will be closer than most people expect.
ARIZONA STATE -14 vs Texas Tech 1015pm - MONDAY – ESPN
Texas Tech was once 7-0 like Miami, but the Red Raiders lost their final five games. QB Baker Mayfield was a star early in the year, but he lost his starting job and is now transferring out of Lubbock. Texas Tech has been a disaster on defense, giving up an average of 49 points a game in those last five losses. Arizona State’s offense should put up monster numbers tonight, led by talented dual-threat QB Taylor Kelly. ASU Coach Todd Graham will have his team prepared and eager to atone for a disappointing loss in the Pac-12 title game. Arizona State is a program on the rise and a dominating bowl win would be a nice springboard into the offseason.
SOTU STAFF PICKS
Jerry Steinberg (8 - 7 record) - Navy, Ole Miss, Texas, Texas Tech
Michael Grunewald (6 - 9 record) - Navy, GT, Texas, ASU
Josh Maser (6 - 9 record) - Navy, GT, Oregon, Texas Tech