Lots to digest from Tuesday's bowl action. Let's start with a top 5 in 10 words or less, or as it has become known, the 5-in-10 from the 5-at-10.
1. Urban Liar goes out with a W: THE OSU gets to 13-1 with Rose victory
2. LSU does the Lord's work: Hey UCF, get back in your lane.
3. UK studs deliver: Snell, Allen wrap Big Blue's 10-win season.
4. MSU offense sleep-walks vs. Iowa: Hawkeyes win despite -15 rushing yards. (Yes, -15.)
5. Georgia UGH! More on that last one in a moment.
So what is the takeaway from this bowl season. Well, in truth, the gap between 2 (Alabama and Clemson) and everyone else is much wider than we may have realized.
Two of the teams with the biggest beef about being left out of the playoff —THE OSU and Georgia — looked indifferent at times Tuesday, and maybe that's to be expected considering the fall-off between playing for it all and playing one more bowl game regardless of the prominence and history of its name.
It also points to the closing of the gap of everyone else around the country and the SEC teams not centered in Tuscaloosa. The SEC teams not represented by a Red Elephant went a pedestrian 5-5 in bowl games. The highlights belonging to LSU, which ended UCF's 26-game winning streak with a wide receiver playing most of the second half at cornerback, Auburn, Texas A&M, Florida, and of course Kentucky.
You can offer your final SEC rankings on a Which Way Wednesday below, but for our money, the final SEC rankings are 1) Alabama, 2) Alabama's back-ups (Hey, they would have the second-best QB in the league), 3) LSU, 4) Georgia, 5) UK, 6) Florida, 7) A&M, 8) MSU, 9) Auburn, 10) Missouri, 11) Vandy, 12) South Carolina, 13) Tennessee, 14) Ole Miss, 15) Arkansas.
Of course, judging a program, a season and especially a conference on bowl stats is like picking the Super Bowl favorites on which team has the best preseason record. Sure, there is some math and reasoning to it, but the motivation — and more specifically the lack of it at times — carries such weight and is such a variable that it seems like a convenient argument to be leveraged in either direction. SEC fans are shrugging off the 6-5 bowl showing would have been chest-pounding if that mark was say, 9-2.
SEC fans — and don't get me started on the banner wavers in this conference riding Alabama's coattails; gang Alabama's excellence is because of Alabama and Saban not because of the league in which they play or some silly "Iron sharpens iron" mantra — cheering for SEC teams because of conference loyalty and/or some search for validity have always puzzled me. If you are an Auburn fan or a UT fan, Alabama — which you play every year — not improving its portfolio to recruits behooves you and your program.
(That said, I have never cheered harder for LSU. And speaking of convenient truths, the folks saying "Well UCF would have won if their quarterback had not gotten hurt" make me tired. First, injuries are a huge part of every game and every season. Plus, those folks must not have been aware that LSU was without eight — yes, eight — defensive starters for most of the second half. Hey UCF fought back, but LSU dominated that game — without those defensive studs mind you — so let's dial that back. And if you are asking why the UCF rant, well, we think the hypocrisy of "We deserve a shot at the title" and then bemoaning the knocks on their schedule with "We can only play who's on the slate" and then turning down a 2-for-1 with Florida did not get nearly enough play during the bowl season. That was chicken bleep and they completely gutted any argument they may have had.)
Another bowl takeaway that has been discussed repeatedly is the issue of players sitting out the bowl games. It also has been very interesting to listen to the folks bagging on the players who are sitting out. (We will also note that not once did any of these panelists or talking heads discuss any of the coordinators on the go and the effects that may have had. Again, blame the )
There were several noticeable absences. Will Grier. Deebo Samuel. Half of Michigan's notable dudes. Houston's top two defenders. N.C. State's two best players. DeAndre Baker, the nation's best defensive back. All of those teams were defeated and those dudes could have helped.
But LSU was missing a slew of defensive guys. Oklahoma State still found a lot of points and yards without its leading rusher in Justice Hill.
In fact, the one interesting talking point that may spin the season forward is that the simple fact of players skipping bowls is out of the barn. That will not likely change back.
But two of the stud ducks in this draft class — Nick Bosa and Ed Oliver — in a lot of ways skipped out on the season.
Think about that.
We will start with the last one because, well, you know.
Texas, especially defensively, was ready and excited to be there.
Georgia, especially the offensive line, looked like they were focused on the party — and the Twitter — more than the game.
The 28-21 Longhorns win — which started with Bevo almost goring Uga — was complete and looks to be the frontrunner for big things to come for the Longhorns.
Major credit to Tom Herman, because this entire thing could have have spun out of control and off the rails with that surprisingly bad loss to Maryland. But Herman and his his Horns welcomed in 2019 with the program's first 10-win season in a decade and quarterback Sam Ehlinger telling Holly Rowe, "We're BAAAACCCCCKKKKKK," and it's hard to argue with him.
In fact, we believe both teams in Tuesday night's Sugar Bowl will be preseason top-10 — Georgia will be top-three; Texas may be top-five but top-10 for sure — heading into next fall.
Where Georgia is placed will depend on a few things, including which of the draft-eligible dudes decide to return.
There are some studs in that group, including Mecole Hardman, Riley Ridley, Isaac Nauta, J.R. Reed, Elijah Holyfield and even that kicker fellow with the glasses.
There also is the entire Justin Fields thing, and by almost all measures, he has to be gone. If he was part of the plan moving forward, and considering how much Jake Fromm struggled, especially early, against the athletic Texas pass rush, wouldn't Kirby Smart have used Fields as a change of pace or tried him to get a spark from a listless and mistake-prone offense last night?
Georgia has a ton of talent — on the roster and coming in the next recruiting cycle — and is in this for the long haul.
But last night was a disappoint effort on all fronts. And you want another example of blaming players rather than the millionaire coaches, well how come we hear all the time about, "Does Team X want to be there" yet we seldom blame Coach of Team X for not getting his team excited and ready to play. But same coach gets a ton of credit when his team is motivated, you know?
How much longer until August practice?
We have covered some of the new rules coming to golf in these parts before.
Well the practicality of those new rules will be seen on the highest level of play starting Thursday.
The PGA Tour players are relatively unaware of all of the changes — that is what rules officials are for seems to be the main plan — but have some opinions on being allowed to tap down spike marks and putting with the pin in.
(Bryson DeChambeau appears to be the main voice of being in favor of putting with the flag in the hole. Here's his quote to Golf Digest: "After the testing we've seen, and what we just did out there now, absolutely, I'm going to leave it in. I'm going to do it until I can see that it messes me up. For the most part, we've seen it to be a benefit and not a detriment. That's from anywhere.")
The other golf story that caught my eye was this one, in which the networks are looking for players to submit to interviews during their round.
Very interesting idea, and one that we doubt many would be open to. Here's what Justin Thomas told Golf Digest about the suggested change in coverage: ''I've just been asked about it,'' he said. ''I said, 'No.' It's not me. I do a lot of self-talking. That's mine and Jimmy's time, whether we're talking about whatever, or even the next shot. For me, there's no benefit. It's only going to make me look worse.''
We understand Justin's view, but we disagree that there's no benefit. There's potentially a huge benefit to the sport, as seeing these dudes as people — and often likable guys rather than cliche-quote machines after the round — could greatly help a sport that already has declining interest.
Plus, for a sport that has to be aware that it's biggest star ever — some dude named after a jungle cat — is in the back end of his career, looking for new and better ways to connect with fans is a must.
We believe that when betting becomes legalized, golf has a real chance to receive as big a boost as any non-football sport. And allowing on-course interviews would be another interesting way to give fans more.
This and that
— Rest easy Tyler Trent.
— Antonio Brown wants out of Pittsburgh. Man, for a franchise that has forever been distraction free, this has been a year filled with them for the Steelers. When was the last time a team's two best players wanted out?
— Lincoln Riley signed an extension with the Oklahoma Sooners. That dude calls some ball plays friends. Details of the deal were not disclosed.
— We are planning to have the Bowling for Bowls of Bowl Game Success (Bowl Optional) standings up tomorrow. Deal? Deal.
— Did anyone else see the postgame interview between Tom Rinaldi and Urban Liar after the Rose Bowl? Rinaldi went in for a hug for Pete Jennings' sake.
— Speaking of sites to behold, man Joe Burrow rallying from a dreadful start and a complete ear-holing against UCF was cool. I have never
— Here's a detailed list of 50 movies — ranked in order of the author's anticipation — coming out in 2019. No. 1 on the list is not a huge shock since there is a Star Wars movie set for release this year.
Which way would direct the blame in Pittsburgh, Big Ben, Mike Tomlin or AB and/or LB?
Which way would you rank the SEC football teams this season?
Which bowl game was the most entertaining?
Today is National Swiss Cheese day. If you could only have one cheese forever, which one is it?
On this day 35 years ago, Miami beat Nebraska in the Orange Bowl that gave the Canes the title. Side note: Miami jumped Auburn to get that title. So there's that.
On this day two years before that amazing game in Miami, the Chargers beat the Dolphins in Miami — in 85 degree heat — 41-38 in a wildcard game that was amazing.
Tommy Morrison would have been 50 today.
Cuba Gooding Jr. is 51 today.
We did people with a city in their name earlier this week. What about the Rushmore of people with a country in their name?
Go, and remember the mailbag.