Tuesday fell like a great Saturday in the fall

mlough@macon.comJanuary 2, 2013 

There were a few Saturdays during the fall that were just exquisite.

Tuesday pretty much matched it for the average college football fan, and it served as a reminder for less blanket grumbling about the bowl system in general, one that -- save for one or two games -- never has impacted the national championship picture and never will.

You’d be hard-pressed, through all of these years, to find anybody -- fans or teams, unless they were just idiots in the first place -- who had a bad bowl experience, outside of losing or having a general travel snafu. While the bowl process is more complex than people think, yes, a few bowls need to go so we have fewer 6-6 teams in and no 9-3 teams like Louisiana Tech get left out.

It gives us the matchups we don’t otherwise get, like Georgia-Nebraska, South Carolina-Michigan and LSU-Clemson this year, and Michigan-Virginia Tech and Oregon Wisconsin last year, and so on.

We get to travel a little bit, courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce fillers offered by the networks during games people promise Dec. 8 to ignore and end up watching a bit of.

The open-minded enjoy broadening horizons, watching other teams play and recognize that there is ability and wisdom outside of the local conference and home team.

It no doubt needs some work, but what doesn’t? As it is, we ended one year and began another with a buffet of entertainment.

New Year’s Eve gave us Vanderbilt and uber-energetic head coach James Franklin finishing off a 9-4 season -- a nine-win season at Vanderbilt -- by pulling away from N.C. State.

And then Georgia Tech thrilled SEC fans with an in-your-face performance against Lane Kiffin and Southern Cal, which, for all of its whining, will spend the offseason explaining seven points and 205 yards to a defense that gave up 510 yards and 49 points to Middle Tennessee State and played the bowl with an interim coordinator.

Yeah, that’s the problem with being arrogant at bowl season. If you fail to put up, you’ll hear about it throughout the offseason, and the Trojans’ ears will burn.

The Liberty Bowl killed some time before the glorious Chick-fil-A bowl, which was again a beauty, with Clemson and LSU turning in a buzzer-beater.

Shoot, even blowouts in the Chick-fil-A somehow seem better than other blowouts.

Three of Tuesday’s five games gave “Jan. 1 bowl game” a little cache again.

Northwestern’s first bowl win since 1949 brought tears to the eyes of head coach Pat Fitzgerald, and Oklahoma State hazed Purdue by 44 points. Then it got good.

Anybody who saw Jadeveon Clowney’s nasty hit on Michigan running back Vincent Smith -- it was a figurative de-cleater and an actual de-helmeter -- that changed the game might have suffered from their own phantom rib pains afterward. And there were South Carolina’s quarterbacks, hobbling around like a pair of Fred Sanfords, leading the way to a final-minute win.

Georgia fans were nearing the ledge when Nebraska took a halftime lead, and the impatient knee-jerk crowd was frazzled until, well, the better team started playing like the better team and in fact did not wear down.

Aaron Murray had a monster day, as did several teammates on offense, and an unsettled defense settled down against a squirrelly offense that was fun -- and dizzying -- to watch.

Stanford and Wisconsin engaged in the expected slobber-knocker, quality viewing for purists, and then Florida State took care of business against Northern Illinois.

Let’s not get too dismissive of Northern Illinois. Entering Wednesday, eight other bowls had spreads of 21 or more, and NIU’s underdogs certainly gave a better account of themselves than other stronger programs did (hello, Purdue).

BCS games aren’t all nailbiters. Remember last year’s Orange (70-33), the Orange (40-12) and Fiesta (48-20) in 2010 and Sugar (51-24) in 2009 -- so don’t dump on the Huskies too much.

We also went into Wednesday with 12 games decided by single digits and seven by a field goal or less.

With the NCAA’s increasing involvement in postseason college football, the bowl system might finally be up for review, and that’s good. But don’t wish for too much change. Do we really want less college football?

Didn’t think so.

Contact Michael A. Lough at 744-4626 or mlough@macon.com.

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