Well, yesterday was not ideal. The Aggies came out flat and stumbled around in Nashville, yet still had a chance to win the game at the very end despite a two-turnover and a three-quarterback differential. But yes, it was bad. And plenty more on that in the endless months to come, but until that last snap is over and all the confetti dumped a week and a half from now, we're gonna talk about all the bowls.
by GBH Staff
11:00 a.m. | ESPN
Florida State vs. Houston
We were totally gonna do this one but then figured that anyone who can't beat Louisville doesn't need to be #TalkinBoutTheNoles. I'm sure Florida State will be dominant and regain their rightful place among the nation's elite, though.
Orange Bowl (semifinal)
3:00 p.m. | ESPN
Oklahoma vs. Clemson
The Sooners are feeling nostalgic and lucky, because I heard yesterday on ESPN segments that the last time they won a national title was "at the Orange Bowl" and that just like that team, this one was focused and got it done on the road despite all the pressures and being an underdog. Well you know what else was going on that year? Creed and Backstreet Boys were topping the charts and Gladiator made Russell Crowe a household name. Baker Mayfield was in Kindergarten and probably riling up the competing teachers that passed over him to be line leader or some shit.
I want to talk about Clemson. I will respect Dabo's wishes and not use that word, because frankly, it hasn't been applicable for a couple of seasons now. But like all online phenomenons, it sticks around far longer than is necessary. Clemson is a good team with a very good quarterback and a much better defense than most people realize. Dabo was the one to finally lure Brent Venables away from OU after all those years, and it's paying huge dividends. Not least of which is his ability to emulate Baker Mayfield in bowl practices. (All TAMU official footage of Chavis emulating Lamar Jackson over the last few weeks has been summarily destroyed.)
The game is not without the flair and drama that big bowls with big buildups bring. Clemson's had a few players sent home for team rules violations. And Oklahoma's handling of Joe Mixon's press conference was slovenly, heavy-handed, and obstinate. So it's natural that both coaches are secretly thanking the Pat O'Brien's patrons in San Antonio right now for helping a far more high-profile star steal the spotlight.
These are the two "fun" teams, and it was my secret hope that they wouldn't square off in the first round, but Larry Culpepper had other ideas. These are the modern offenses, the loose cannons, the high paced, let-it-all-out guys. It's gonna be a show as opposed to the staid, traditional suit-and-tie demeanor espoused by the teams in the Cotton Bowl. Good thing it's the early start, because this one's going four hours easily. Tune out the drama off the field and watch some really good ball being played in Miami. One of these teams will actually have a chance at the national title, and that's a pretty cool thing to realize after years of the BCS and other systems. Enjoy.
Cotton Bowl (semifinal)
by Dr. Norris Camacho
7:00 p.m. | ESPN
Michigan State vs. Alabama
A dark Dallas hotel, near midnight. A tall man approaches a room door and gives a complex coded knock. After a brief pause, it opens, and he enters.
The tall man shakes the other's hand and sets down a black leather bag. He removes an older model gaming system, an N64.
"MarioKart or Goldeneye?"
Nick moves silently to the room fridge and opens it. It is stacked with Mr. Pibb, a silent affront to the playoff inventor Larry Culpepper. Both men snicker. Within minutes the console is plugged into the adapter, the game displaying the menu screen. Both are ensconced comfortably in arm chairs.
"Wario, as I recall?" asks Nick.
"Yep. And you're still Peach?" replies Mark.
The night hours unfold in a mellow and musical journey. Tense moments and flying detritus bring the men closer, vicious jockeying around the corners keep their competitive edge. Sometime around the Rainbow Road, at three or four in the morning, the Karting Hour as they know it, they speak the only business they have ever intended when this meeting came about.
"Will you defer?"
"Thank you, Mark."
The early morning hours roll by just like the countless tiles and turtle shells spinning around them: a mesmerizing digital opera that takes them back to those magical nineties moments shared in the East Lansing film room two decades hence. A silent reunion of two silent men with the same mission: to come in first at all costs, but only by staying within the narrow borders of the very defined track they inhabit.
"HERE WE GO!"