By MIKE FEIFEL
It is time once again football fans, for the New Year's Day bowl game extravaganza as you gear up to ring in the New Year.
This day of football has been a fixture in my life as well as many others but it has lost its luster over the past few years. 'Back in the day', there were twelve or thirteen bowl games. Four of which, were the major bowls played on the first of the year. They would not only mark the end of the college football season but also crown the national champ with their win in the Cotton, Sugar, Orange, Rose, and later on the Fiesta Bowl. (No, there were not any corporate names accompanied those storied games.)
The day began with parade of your choice as you shook off the cobwebs after staying up to watch a fully-functioning Dick Clark drop the ball on Times Square. The Cotton and the Sugar Bowl ran against each other in the early afternoon, followed by the Rose Bowl over dinner, and the Orange Bowl in the night cap.
One exciting day back in 1977 crowned my Irish as the champion with as much controversy as the BCS does today. The Irish were not led by Joe Montana to start the season but Rusty Lisch as they traveled to Pittsburgh to defeat the defending National Champs 19-9. The following week, Notre Dame took their #3 rank in the AP poll to Mississippi where they were stunned 19-9.
It was not until week three against Purdue where the third string Montana got his chance and the Irish did not look back. Including the famed 'Green Jersey' game against USC, the Irish reeled off nine straight wins behind the future NFL Hall of Famer.
Ranked fifth in the country, Notre Dame was invited to play Texas (#1) in the Cotton Bowl. "Bear" Bryant's Crimson Tide of Alabama (#3) hosted Woody Hayes' Ohio State Buckeyes (#8) in the Sugar Bowl. Michigan (#4) matched up with the then PAC-8 champs Washington Huskies, and the Oklahoma Sooners (#2) hosted the Lou Holtz coached Arkansas Razorbacks (#6) in the Orange Bowl.
The chaos began with Notre Dame shutting down Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell and crushing the #1 ranked Longhorns 38-10. Alabama dismantled Ohio State (35-6) and the 13th ranked Huskies behind Warren Moon dumped Michigan 27-20.
That left Oklahoma in the driver's seat to win it all with a win over Arkansas, who suspended six starters before the game, including their leading rusher and receiver. It was not to be as Holtz guided the Razorbacks to a stunning 31-6 performance
Now, Alabama ascends to the top spot right? Wrong. Notre Dame's large margin of victory over Texas was enough to top the major polls to win their seventh national title. Alabama (11-1) was second followed by Arkansas (11-1), Texas (11-1), Penn State (11-1), and Kentucky (10-1), who would have played in the Sugar Bowl, not Alabama, had it not been on NCAA probation.
My, how things have changed! We are now up to 32 bowl games. We do have some head-scratcher names like the Beef O'Brady Bowl, the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and the BBVA Compass Bowl. Even the New York Yankees have gone bowling with the Pinstripe Bowl. They couldn't get the streets plowed in Brooklyn but field at Yankee Stadium was ready to go.
With everyone getting involved in the bowl business, maybe we should too! Anyone for the Pencor TIMES-NEWS Bowl?
As it is today we have 15 games to go and eleven more days until we find out who wins the title. Luckily for you, I am here to tell you who will win so you will not have to wait.
Sun: Notre Dame 37 Miami Fla 27 – The Golden Domers get their second straight bowl win.
Liberty: UCF 27 George 24 – is this the end of Mark Richt at Georgia?
Chick-fil-A: Florida State 31 South Carolina 27 – FSU is the most under-rated teams this year
Capital One: Michigan State 19 Alabama 17 – Where have you gone Mark Ingram
Outback: Penn State 41 Florida 27 – Sharp, dull, old, young, Joe Pa knows bowls. Florida's greatest era ends.
TicketCity: Texas Tech 45 Northwestern – the defenses stayed home for the holidays.
Gator: Miss St. 38 Michigan 14 – Harbaugh leading the Wolverines has a ring the Michigan fans want to hear!
Rose: Wisconsin 45 TCU 20 – BCS busters busted! Anyone for Ground-up Frog?
Fiesta: Oklahoma 27 UConn 20 – Lehighton's Robbie Frey scores but Sooners have too much firepower!
Orange: Stanford 26 Virginia Tech 17 – Solid Cardinal squad will start the Harbaugh rumors flowing.
Sugar: Arkansas 38 Ohio State 16 – Buckeyes get tattooed. (sorry, couldn't resist)
GoDaddy: Miami (Oh) 48 Mid. Tenn. St. 17 – MTS lost to North Texas! Isn't that a high school?
Cotton: LSU 32 Texas A&M 29 – A must watch game – Les Miles won't screw this one up!
BBVA Compass: Pittsburgh 28 Kentucky 12 – Ty Tkach finishes his career with a bowl win.
Kraft Fight Hunger: Nevada 37 Boston College 21 – Beating Boise State has to count for something.
BCS Title: Oregon 48 Auburn 46 – This one is worth the wait! Auburn's pass defense too porous for a Duck offense than can throw and run. Cam Newton's will star college finale but come up short at the end of this overtime thriller.