Wednesday, December 31, 2008

DUCKS AND COWBOYS: NOW THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT!

There are those pundits (as well as fans) who whine and complain that all of these bowls are irrelevant, that no one cares about them, that they are stupid and that other than the BCS Championship game there is no reason to play them. Those people are wrong. So, so wrong.

The ratings for both ACC bowl games on last Saturday were big – 4.0 or better – and higher than a regular season Yankees v. Red Sox game. As usual, seemingly to almost everyone’s surprise, the overwhelming majority of the games are competitive and entertaining. We surmise that’s good games are what fuels the ratings, and it isn’t just a case of post-holiday couch comas and random television viewing.

Does NCAA D1 need a playoff? Of course, but there is room for an eight team playoff and a full calendar of bowl games like last night’s Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The Oregon Ducks and the Oklahoma State Cowboys squared off in a rock-em, sock-em dynamite of a game which ended in a Duck’s 42-31 victory.

The game featured big plays, big hits, lots of offense and dazzling individual performances. What more does a football fan want from a random bowl game on a Tuesday night? How much CSI Cleveland are you going to watch?

Oregon running back Jeremiah Johnson started the highlight reel answering the Cowboy’s opening scores with as good a 76 yard scoring run as one might see any season. The two offenses generated over 1,000 yards and the special teams added a 91 yard kickoff return. OSU wide receiver Dez Bryant set Holiday Bowl records with 13 catches for 168 yards, and he did a big part of that on one leg.

The Ducks’ Jerehiah Masoli had a huge game going 18 for 32 for 258 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 106 yards and three touchdowns. Not to be outdone, the Cowboy’s Zac Robinson was 27 for 50 for 329 yards one touchdown and two interceptions while absorbing several bone-crunching hits. Check out Sports Center today and you will no doubt see the hardest one. It still hurts to watch it.

Robinson added 54 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown of his own. Seriously, the game should have been called the Quarterbacks Holiday (Not!) Bowl.

Just when it appeared safe to glance away from the television or to go get a refill adult beverage, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti inserted LeGarrette Blount into the game. All Blount did was put an exclamation point on the victory with a 29-yard touchdown run during where he hurdled one Cowboy defender and stiff-armed another while scoring the back-breaking touchdown.

All in all, a quality entertainment product and a exclamation point on how entertaining these “meaningless” bowls can be. And after all, it’s sports, and, just in case you have forgotten, sports are entertainment.

As entertainment goes, the Holiday Bowl was just plain fun.

(Photos by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

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