Welcome back college football fans! This is our final Campus Hot Takes for the 2018 season. Logan & Scott would like to thank all of our loyal readers for sticking with us all year and for enjoying the journey through this college football season. So whether your a fan from Tuscaloosa, Clemson, South Bend or Norman (or none of those) we hope your team had a great season. Some surprised us, some disappointed us. So here we go, Scott & Logan’s Top 3 surprises & disappointments. Then the picks for the 5 bowl games they’re most looking forward to (and some of them may match!)
1) Central Florida (12-0): Josh Heupel strolls in to replace Scott Frost and nothing changes. Another perfect season, and I know everyone will say “It’s the AMERICAN”. Still, 12-0 is 12-0. Do they belong in the Top 4 over Oklahoma? No, because if there was a “play-in” game, the Sooners would win, although it would probably go like that Chiefs/Rams Monday night game. In other words, the first to 60 wins. I didn’t expect them to go undefeated for a second straight year. Now having said that. UCF should consider joining a conference if they don’t want to be construed as crying over spilled milk that they didn’t make the Playoff. Oklahoma plays in the Big 12, maybe UCF should too.
2) Notre Dame (12-0): I knew that the Irish were going to improve from last season, as the defense got better and they had solid QB’s in Wimbush & Book. Well early on ND’s running game got them victories as Wimbush would be…ok. They caught Michigan on an off night, and then continued to rack up wins. Then, realizing Wimbush is a good but not great, Brian Kelly started Ian Book against Wake Forest and the Irish scored 56 points. That was it, save for a Wimbush start on Senior Day against Florida State Book kept the ND train moving. But it wasn’t just the throws that made Book stand out. It was the gutsy bootlegs on third and long and all the hits he took. Even in sub-par efforts against Pitt and in particular USC Book gutted out the slumps and have put ND on the verge of history. Can they beat Clemson? It will take a VERY tall order, but with this team anything is possible.
3) Washington State (10-2): All the hoopla in the state of Washington when the season started was on Jake Browning & the Huskies. Certainly not the Cougars & their mustachioed QB Gardner Minchew and his 4,477 yards passing. They overcame the early loss to USC and rolled through all the ranked Pac-12 teams (Stanford & Oregon in particular) and was ready to book tickets to Pasadena (or maybe even a CFP game). Then the dreadful Apple Cup performance and Browning again got the last laugh. Browning finished 4-0 in his career against Washington State. Now instead of a Big 6 bowl, they will go to San Antonio for an Alamo Bowl date with Iowa State. Should be a fun one, but in what was Mike Leach’s final season he made Wazoo fans happy.
1) Kentucky (9-3): No one came as out of nowhere this year than the Kentucky Wildcats. Lead by RB Benny Snell Jr., the Wildcats have won 9 games this season, something they haven’t done in quite sometime. They will meet the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Citrus Bowl to get to the 10 win mark, which will be an amazing feat for head coach Mark Stoops and his team to have accomplished.
2) Florida (9-3): Florida is a team who made a coaching change this past year, bringing in Dan Mullen from Mississippi State. While I had full belief that he would get things turned around, I had no idea how quickly he would make an impact. He was able to guide the Gators to 9 wins and a berth in the Peach Bowl against Michigan. While work needs to be done to overtake the Georgia Bulldogs atop the SEC East, this first season for Mullen in Gainesville is a good sign of things to come.
3) Syracuse (9-3): Like with my other two surprise the Syracuse Orange were able to win 9 games. This team was only team to beat Clemson last year in the regular season, and came pretty damn close to doing it again. They were pretty much the only team to give Clemson a battle when it came to ACC play. Eric Dungey lead the Orange to 9 wins as I said before and will face West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl.
1) Penn State (9-3): Now, 9-3 is nothing to sneeze at. But James Franklin was expecting big things in Happy Valley this year. Sure Saquon Barkley’s gone but they still had Trace McSorley and a really good defense that should have competed for a Big 10 title and a playoff spot. Instead they blew a lead at home to Ohio State and laid stinkers against the two Michigan teams. By then McSorley’s bloom fell off the rose. The Nittany Lions played out the string with wins, and will face Kentucky New Year’s Day. But you feel they should have finished better.
2) Miami, Part 1 (7-5): Logan & I both need to pounce on Mark Richt’s mediocre campaign that definitely should have ended better than a Pinstripe Bowl appearance. Were they better than Clemson going into the season? No, but they were expected to at least make them sweat and pounce on the other teams in the conference. Even losing the opener to LSU wasn’t that big a deal, but then after five straight wins they slumped through four weeks of utter misery, including losses to Virginia & Duke. They rebounded to defeat Pitt in the season finale, the team that took what should have been Miami’s spot in the ACC Championship. QB play was inconsistent and the Red Zone offense was atrocious. So they head to the Bronx instead of to Dallas or Miami.
3) UCLA (3-9): I have no idea what the hell happened here. Chip Kelly probably shouldn’t still have a job, but Justin Frye was promoted to Offensive Coordinator after this Bruins team opened the year 0-5 and other than a 7 point loss to Washington none of the games were close. They did win the annual Battle of LA with USC, so there was a silver lining to this abysmal season. However, tensions will be high in Westwood this season as Kelly’s job is definitely on the line.
1) Mississippi State (8-4): This year in Starkville was supposed to be something special. While winning 8 games (possibly 9) is nothing to complain about, the team that Joe Moorehead inherited was one that was thought to challenge Alabama for the SEC West. The defense didn’t disappoint as they were statistically the best defense in the country. The offense is where this team struggled. In the games that the Bulldogs lost, the offense seemed to disappear, only mustering 16 points across the 4 losses they suffered. As a Bulldogs fan I will never cry over 8 or possibly 9 wins but it just feels like this season could’ve been so much more.
2) Miami, Part 2 (7-5): The season didn’t get off to a great start for the Hurricanes, as they were whipped from pillar to post by the LSU Tigers. While LSU ended up being a good team, that isn’t why this Miami team was a disappointment. They were heavy favorites in the ACC Coastal, with no real competition other than Virginia Tech on the horizon. Once they suffered for losses in a row in late October and early November, the division title dreams were all but gone. And while they were able to still win 7 games and finish the season on a 2 game win streak, this season was one where they were expected to be division winners and playoff contenders so all in all it ended up being a disappointment.
3) Wisconsin (7-5): Like Miami above, Wisconsin had high aspirations of not only winning their conference but going on to be in playoff and contend for a national title. A surprising early September upset to BYU derailed the Badgers season, as they weren’t every really able to recover. Again like Miami above they were still heavy favorites in their conference division, but
fell victim to an incredibly hot Northwestern team. They will be playing the Miami Hurricanes in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, but it may as well be the Disappointment Bowl because both sides
know if they had lived up to the hype this could’ve been a playoff semifinal.
Scott’s Bowl Picks to watch:
1) Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. Arizona State (Looking forward to seeing the Bulldogs end their fun season on a high note)
2) Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl: Houston vs. Army (When was the last time Army won 11 games in a season? It could happen if they beat the Cougars)
3) New Era Pinstripe Bowl: Miami vs. Wisconsin (As stated above, Mark Richt needs to end the year on a high note)
4) Camping World Bowl: West Virginia vs. Syracuse (Fun game with two fun offenses, when they’re on)
5) College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: No. 2 Clemson vs. No. 3 Notre Dame (Well duh)
Logan’s Bowl Picks to watch:
1) Fiesta Bowl: Central Florida vs. LSU (UCF going up against another SEC team in a bowl game again will be interesting)
2) Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. Mississippi State (Two of the best defenses in country and two powerful ground games should make this one interesting to see who overpowers who)
3) Orange Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma (As if this one being a playoff semifinal doesn’t make this one exciting enough, we have the two top Heisman finalist in the same game and I’m sure Tua
will be in the mindset to prove the voters they chose the wrong guy.
4) Camping World Bowl: Syracuse vs West Virginia (This is a matchup of two incredibly high powered offenses and should feature a lot of points)
5) Quick Lane Bowl: Minnesota vs Georgia Tech (This is Paul Johnson’s last game with the Yellow Jackets, so it should interesting to see if he pulls out anything crazy with his already incredible option attack)