Sports Medley: College football predictions & UCLAís football future 28
by Tony Medley
Cotton Bowl, Dec. 31:
Alabama over Michigan State. MSU doesnít belong in this elite company.
First of all, it is in the Big Ten, which is the most overrated sports
conference in America. They are hopelessly incestuous, playing most, if
not all, their games with each other. So just because they have a good
record in the Big Ten, that doesnít mean they compete with the Stanfords
and Alabamas of this world. Their dismal record in road games against
the Pac-12 shows that. Since 1993, the Big Ten is 5-25-1 on the road
against the Pac-12. Second, MSU wouldnít be there but for a fluke win
over Michigan, when they scored the winning touchdown on a botched punt
by the Michigan punter on the last play of the game. MSUís quarterback,
Conner Cook, has not impressed me when Iíve seen him. On top of that,
Alabama has the second best defense, if not the best team, in the
country, although Iíve only seen them play once.
Orange Bowl, Dec 31:
Oklahoma over Clemson. I havenít seen either team play, but Clemson has
had several close calls, over Notre Dame, Louisville, South Carolina,
and North Carolina. Oklahoma has been hot, outscoring its opponents
556-242 for an average margin of victory of 26 points, both my parents
are from Oklahoma, and my mother went to OU. If thatís not convincing, I
canít help you.
Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 1:
Notre Dame over Ohio State. Ohio State probably has the best team in the
Big Ten, which, as I indicated above, is damning with faint praise, but
Notre Dame is only four points from being undefeated, losing to two of
the five top rated teams in the country, Clemson and Stanford by two
Rose Bowl, Jan 1:
Stanford over Iowa. Iowa is another Big Ten cheese champ, couldnít even
beat MSU in a final drive during which MSUís freshman running back, LJ
Scott, carried the ball almost every time, whereas Stanford should be in
the final four. They are defensively challenged, but that shouldnít
affect them against Iowa whose offense is nothing to write home about.
Iowa played in the weakest section of the Big 10 and didnít have to face
Ohio State or Michigan, and when faced with MSU, lost. Iíve been
impressed with Stanford every time Iíve seen them play this year. If
they were in the final four, Iíd pick them to at least make the finals
Who cares? There are so many bowl games now that they have become
meaningless. Imagine UCLA (8-4) playing Nebraska (5-7) in a post season
bowl game! Ridiculous. Bowl games used to be rewards for success. When a
team that loses 60% of its games gets invited to a bowl game, itís a
symbol of how trivial they have become.
All that said, as sleazy mutual fund salesmen might say in their fine
print, past performance is no guarantee of future success.
UCLAís football future:
UCLA proved that for Jim Mora to improve, he has to replace both his
offensive (who calls more bubble screens than Lawrence Welk) and
defensive coordinators. UCLAís defense has been a joke ever since Mora
arrived. In losing to Nebraska, they allowed the Cornhuskers (only the 6th
team to beat a Pac-12 team on the road, since 1993) 500 yards in total
offense last week, the defense against the run nothing but a faint
dream. Even when UCLA wins, its opponents run wild. In what was called a
ďrout,Ē UCLA beat Arizona 56-30, but Arizona rolled up 468 yards of
total offense. Worse, once again UCLA is a penalty cornucopia, finishing
124 out of 127 teams. Wake up, Jim. A head coach is only as good as his
assistant coaches. The greatest football coach in UCLA history, Red
Sanders, was loaded with brilliant assistants, including future Hall of
Fame coach Tommy Prothro and Jim Myers, who became Tom Landryís
assistant head coach with the Dallas Cowboys during their glory years.
Until Mora upgrades his staff, UCLA will struggle.