Too many bowl games. Arrrgh. For some reason, people get genuinely upset at the abundance of bowl games each season. Last time I checked, no one was forced to watch a single game.
This past weekend something called the Little Caesars (Pizza, Pizza) Bowl made history. Sarah Thomas became the first female to officiate a Bowl Subdivision postseason game. Hooray for equality in 2009!
In other unprecedented bowl news, the Cotton Bowl has been moved from the Cotton Bowl to Cowboys Stadium. No truth to the rumor that the game will be renamed Cowboys Stadium Bowl, though.
Oklahoma State versus Mississippi elicits Josh Fields versus Eli Manning thoughts in my cranium. Manning led Ole Miss to a 31-28 victory over the Pokes. It was a fantastic contest.
Here's hoping this year's tilt matches the offensive intensity of '04. Let's breakdown the match-ups in old-fashion style.
Quarterbacks: Zac Robinson goes one-on-one with Jevan Snead. Robinson continues to battle ankle woes. Will Head Coach Mike Gundy run the option and put Robinson in harm's way?
These QBs are very similar. Both entered the season with extremely high expectations. Robinson was supposed to bring OSU to a BCS Bowl berth and came up short. Snead was a top-ranked passer worthy of a high NFL draft pick. Neither lived up to the hype. Advantage -- OSU.
Running backs: Oklahoma State's multidimensional offense took a hit when Kendall Hunter went down to injury. Then again, he didn't look right when healthy.
Keith Toston averaged more than five yards per carry.
Runnin' Rebel Dexter McCluster stands 5-foot, 8-inches and weighs only 165 pounds. Head Coach Houston Nutt thought McCluster's lack of prototypical size warranted spot duty for much of the year. Once Nutt, the former OSU back-up, released the mighty McCluster, all hell broke loose for opposing defenses.
He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Ole Miss creatively gets him the pigskin. Watch for the lightning bug to zip, zig and zag his way all over the field. Advantage -- Ole Miss.
Receivers: Take away the top pass catcher at any BCS school and watch productivity drop. Take away a man-child like Dez Bryant, and OSU is lucky to have finished with a 41-catch receiver Hubert Anyiam. Anyiam does not strike the fear into defensive secondaries.
Shay Hodge is an above average receiver for Snead. However, McCluster and his 39 catches is the guy to watch. Houston Nutt uses him like the New Orleans Saints use Reggie Bush--out wide, in the slot, backfield, Wild Rebel formation--you name it. Advantage -- Ole Miss.
Offensive lines: Both are average. Mississippi ranked 42nd in total offense, while Oklahoma State ranked 62nd. In terms of power blocking, the national ranks in rushing tell the story up front: OSU 24th and Ole Miss 33rd. Advantage -- Push.
Defense: I'll be honest. No firm grasp on this one. Statistically speaking, Ole Miss ranks 17th in the nation in scoring defense, while OSU is a respectable 35th.
However, chew on this. The Big 12 and SEC are known as one-trick ponies. People have said that the SEC plays good defense because the conference's offenses are porous.
The nation contends that the Big 12 piles up offensive numbers against atrocious defenses. Most of the time, the "experts" are simply talking out of their seats. It is like using the word "arguably" in a self-made argument.
Oklahoma State is "arguably" the best team in the Big 12 South. Of course, anything is arguable. I could argue that it did not snow at my house last week. You could argue OSU being a 3-point underdog is a travesty.
Back to the Big 12 offense versus the SEC defense. This is not the best match-up to gage a winner. Or is it? These are two middle-of-the-road teams from each conference. Advantage -- Cotton Bowl viewers who get an answer.
Coaches: Oh boy, this could get awkward. Mike Gundy matching wits with Houston Nutt. How can we put this nicely?
Remember when you were growing up and playing pick-up basketball in the neighborhood. The games were always competitive because of repetition. Every kid knew the other kids' moves.
Teams were fairly matched due to knowledge of strengths and weaknesses. When the games were over, everyone patted each other on the back and drank lemonade. Egos were tested, but in the end, everyone's confidence grew.
One day, with loads of confidence built up against your friends, a group from the neighborhood visits another court for a new challenge.
Your hoods' top three lay down the gauntlet against three unknowns. A few hours later and a couple of behind the back passes, long-range jumpers and double-crossover moves, you slink back to your neighborhood disheveled.
I'm not saying Ole Miss romps in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, but there are many warts on the Rebels sideline, too.
Think about this. Oklahoma State has not challenged OU in a Bedlam match-up since Les Miles exited stage left. You could argue (see what I did right there) that Oklahoma State has fielded similar talent to the Miles' coached squads.
Miles' familiarity with Stoops' game planning helped his teams compete and defeat several powerful Sooners squads.
How did Gundy's knowledge of Stoops' teams the past three years help in this year's contest? Ahem.
College football is all about the coach. Players dominate the NFL, but coaches rule the colleges. And for Poke fans this means one thing.
Advantage -- Ole Miss.
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