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Sunday, Mar. 29, 2015

Monday's bowl games deliver great matchups

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I think the BCS is a sham for matching up the teams that should be playing for a national title.

HOWEVER, the matchups we got on Monday in the various bowl games around the country have possibly provided some of the most exciting college football we've seen in years.

Making the 'Case'

As expected, Houston's senior QB Case Keenum again provided some of the best statistical numbers a collegiate quarterback ever has. He hurled the pigskin for 532 yards and had three touchdown passes in the Cougars' 30-14 romp over Penn State.

But as exciting as it was to watch Keenum pile up over 500 yards passing, it wasn't the best game of the day.

No, the best game of the day could have been the Outback Bowl, featuring the Georgia Bulldogs and Michigan State Spartans, which took 3OT to decide the winner.

Spartan rally

Georgia started hot, and quickly put the Spartans in a 16-0 hole by the end of the first half. But then State rallied around QB Kirk Cousins for 27 points in the second half to force overtime. Again and again, players made huge offense plays, and key defensive stops. In the three overtimes, the teams combined for only nine points, all of which came from kickers Blair Walsh (47 yd) and Dan Conroy (35 yd, 28 yd).

Cousins completed 27 of 50 attempts in the shootout against Georgia, and accumulated 300 yards passing with three TDs to his credit, but had one INT against the Bulldogs.

His counterpart also had a solid showing in the Outback Bowl. Bulldog QB Aaron Murray connected on 20-32 attempts for 288 yards with two TDs, but also threw two picks, including a pick-six nearing the end of the third quarter.

The Outback Bowl shootout definitely became an instant classic between the Bulldogs and Spartans.

But perhaps the Outback Bowl wasn't the most exciting game of the day either.

Rosy competition

How about the Rose Bowl showdown between Wisconsin and Oregon?

The 2012 Rose Bowl was a BCS bowl game that literally came down to the final seconds.

Trailing 45-38, and with no time outs, Badger QB Russell Wilson completed passes for 29 yards and 33 yards to Jared Abbrederis and Nick Toon, respectively to put the Badgers on the Oregon 25 with two ticks left on the clock.

After Toon caught the first down pass, it seemed the Badgers would get one final shot at the end zone. With no timeouts, Wilson attempted to spike the ball to give the Badgers time to orchestrate one final attack at the Ducks' end zone, but as he spiked the ball time expired.

The teams combined for over 1,100 yards total offense, and racked up the highest-scoring Rose Bowl in the game's 98-year history.

Both offenses dueled to the finish, but a crucial mistake early in the third quarter, one which cost the Badgers a timeout, that could have cost the Badgers the W.

But there's a chance that even the Rose Bowl, which was the highest-scoring in the Bowl's 98-year history wasn't even the best game played on Monday.

How, you might ask, is that even possible?

Rumble in the desert

Well, enter the Stanford Cardinal and Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

Yet another BCS Bowl game that came down to the wire.

After trailing 14-0 early, the Oklahoma State Cowboys had an answer for nearly every score that Andrew Luck and the Cardinal accumulated. Couple that with a pair of shanked kicks by Stanford Kicker Jordan Williamson, and the Cardinal had little chance of escaping fate against the Cowboys.

It's a shame that either one of these teams had to lose, because both played well enough for the win, or even the right to face LSU in the National Championship next week. But in the end, it was Andrew Luck that came up short.

But it wasn't Luck's fault. The man did everything in his power and more to win. He completed 27-31 passing attempts for 347 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53-yard bomb to Ty Montgomery.

His adversary, Brandon Weeden also had the game of his life. The 28-year old former baseball star found receivers on 29 of his 42 attempts, good enough for 399 yards and three touchdowns.

What ifs?

But in the end, the game came down to the ability to make field goals under pressure and the simple fact is Stanford crumbled and Oklahoma State stood strong.

Now the 800-pound gorilla in the room that begs the question, "Should Oklahoma State have been in the BCS National Championship?" must be addressed. But for now, the Cowboys will revel in their victory.

Everybody that watched any, or even all of these games, will have their own personal opinions as to which game on the Monster Monday of bowl match ups was the best.

Regardless of which you personally might think was the best, one thing is for sure. The games played on Monday treated fans and spectators to some of the best offensive shootouts and showdowns we've seen in years.

Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette. Email him at sports@t-g.com.

Chris Siers
The Extra Point
Chris Siers is sports editor of the Times-Gazette.