My photo
Charleston, SC, United States
"Fear is a stranger to the ways of love. Identify with fear, and you will be a stranger to yourself." -ACIM

Thursday, January 29, 2009

2009 Food and Wine Expo

From time to time it’s nice to get out and hobnob with all the other hospitality people of Charleston . There are a million Food and Wine events every year and you might as well take full advantage every chance you get. For an average cost of $25 it’s all the food and all the wine one can consume. This past weekend however was one of the cheaper tickets of the Food and Wine season ($5) since it was put on my the local Technical College’s Hospitality program. What this breaks down to is all the good wines without having to put on a tux. Needless to say everyone was there.

I had a great time with some friends both old and new taking in all the flavors and all the food. I am not a wine snob by any stretch, but I do know what I like and know the difference between good and bad wines. For example, I have found myself drinking a lot more of the Malbec wines. What is Malbec? “Once known as a varietal of Bordeaux , Malbec has found a new home in South America . This grape has thin skin and needs lots of sun. The Malbec of Argentina (sometimes called Malbeck) and Chile is rich and supple. These words are often used to describe Malbec. It can be called Merlot's softer, lusher brother. While the wines are made from different grapes, they can be very similar in style. Malbec has often been used to blend with other wines.” (according to this website that I totally just ripped that from)

I do like my red wines a lot though. The Pinot Noirs are some of my favorites but you can’t in my opinion beat a big body Cabernet. There is not a better feeling (at a wine tasting anyway) than sticking your nose down in that glass of Cab. Mmmm…

Moving on… I did find a really tasty wine from the table of Spanish Vines. I’m generally against both Spanish and Italian wines just because they are too brash and overpowering at times. But, the Spanish Vines reds were great and both were reasonable on their retail prices. So, I suggest you look for either of these two labels and pick up a bottle next time you’re looking for a nice night at home with a good book (or better yet, good company).

Also represented were two of my favorites: J’s Russian River Pinot and Row Eleven. Yum! If you ever see J on the bottle, just take my word for it and pick yourself up one. Red or white, they do a good job. Same goes for Row Eleven. You may pay a few extra bucks for the Row Eleven on retail, but you’ll know where that money went once you put you nose down in there and let the flavors roll off the back of your tongue.

There were a few disappointments. For example, someone in the planning committee let Gnarly Head Wines have a table. When I see a wine on sale for $4 at Harris Teeter the week before, I can’t say that I had high expectations. After tasting two of their wines, I felt like the $4 was about $3.75 too much. A few of my female friends are into the Rose’. I am not. Same goes for the sparkle; unless it’s good Champaign , I’m not that into it. Now, I am notorious for my Sunday Brunch mimosas but I won’t get the best campaigns for that. I’m starting to ramble here.

Anyway, had fun at the Expo and I can’t wait for Spring in Charleston when all the art galleries start their exhibitions with free wine tastings. After that, all the vendors have Wine tastings all over town and you are sure to find some amazing wines all over town, and catch some amazing wine buzzes.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Funny Classic from Me

I ran across this the other day and thought I might post it. This was from the Fall/Winter of 2004, my first year in K-Stan. It got a lot of laughs and I thought since it was Winter, I would give it another run. So, without further delay...

AJ’s Rules for Surviving a Subzero Outhouse:
(All of these were learned by me through personal experience and over the course of four months of using a subzero outhouse)

Rule 1: Get dressed as normal. Hat, coat, two pairs of socks, boots, gloves etc.

Rule 2: DON’T, DO NOT, DO NOT forget the toilet paper. (No you can not leave it out there even in a plastic bag, it will freeze.)

Rule 2.5: If night time, take a flashlight. There is no light out there. Don’t take a book or magazine at any time, you won’t want to be out there that long.

Rule 3: Take a deep breath, exit the house and move quickly to the outhouse some 30 yards away.

Rule 4: Use small broom to sweep away any snow from the floor so as to prevent slipping.

Rule 5: Pull the door closed, but NOT ALL THE WAY. Yes, your breath will cause enough moisture to freeze the door closed and will require you to have to pry it open and cost you more time outside in the cold.

Rule 6: Remove coat and hang on wall. Remove one glove. Keep hat on. (Why only one glove? Look, you only need one hand free to do this and if you have to balance yourself with the other, you don’t want that hand to freeze to whatever it is that you’re grabbing. Who cares if you look like Michael Jackson for a second or two, just do it!)

Rule 7: Pull down pants and get on with it. (Note: at this point you have about 3 to 5 minutes before things start to go wrong and you need to go inside finished or not)

Rule 8: Finish what you have to do as fast as possible. Things will freeze whether you’re done with them or not. And yes, the smell is still bad no matter what the temperature.

Rule 9: When done, make sure you are DONE! You don’t want to have to come back out here again.

Rule 10: Get dressed fast! At this point you are numb from the waist down and it is hard to walk. Put on coat.

Rule 11: Don’t put on the other glove! That hand is already numb and of little use to you and you’ll need to wear that glove again later.

Rule 12: DON’T forget the toilet paper! It will just be frozen when you get back out here the next time.

Rule 13: Go to house quickly and wash hands in cold water. Hot water hurts at this point.

Rule 14: Sit in warm spot. If you have a radiator in the house this is where you will want to be for the next 10-15 minutes of your life.

If you remember to follow all of these rules every single time… you’ll survive a subzero outhouse. Otherwise… things could go wrong and the humor could ware off.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Book Review Times Three

So I’ve been slack on my book reviews lately. Sorry about that. Who am I talking to? Nobody reads these things right? Anyway, here are the last three books I’ve read in no particular order.

The Unholy City: An irreverent romp through American history featuring Charleston, South Carolina
By: Howard Elgison
If you ever want to find out how Charlestowne (Charleston) got started and you’re looking for a very quick read, pick this one up. Coming from someone who lives in the Holy City and who can’t even look out his door without seeing some historical building, this book was both educational and entertaining. It starts off with the founding of the city (somewhat by accident) and takes you through all the way to the end of the War of Northern Aggression (Civil War). Elgison does a great job of moving the story along, pausing only to give some strong man love to John C. Calhoun from time to time. Which, can you blame him? Anyway, I blew through this book in one night and one sitting because it was just fun to see how Elgison was able to tell a lengthy narrative in such a short (300 pages?) book while still making it humorous. I really liked this one and will probably hold on to it rather than throwing it in the pile to donate to the library.

Mile Zero
By: Thomas Sanchez
Now I am not one to put down a book. I will struggle through and read one to the end 99% of the time. This was one of those exceptions. I hated this book! The writing was bad and the story after 100 pages had gone nowhere. It was built up too! “A magnificent tapestry… Sanchez forges a new world vision… Rich in the cultural literary intertexuality of Steinbeck and Cervantes, Joyce and Shakespeare, Mile Zero is an accomplished novel.” –Los Angeles Times. The only thing this novel accomplishes is long overly dramatic sentences and wasted descriptors. The novel is divided into three books over 350 pages. I made it through Book One and the first two chapters of Book Two before enough was enough. One example of what I consider a bad sentence would be this, “St. Cloud was at sea in a sea of sleep, a dream swimmer born half in air, half out of water, floating toward the same nightmare in Neptune’s murky cobalt closet, the submerged vision of a woman on the reef, wealth of seaweed wreathed in her hair, white body pierced by fish, turtles sucking at flowing fingers, her eyes translucent pearls, mirrored souls of ancient oysters.” That’s right. That was one sentence to tell you that he was asleep and dreaming of his ex-wife. However, this is all before you even know who St. Cloud is and that he even has an ex-wife. The book is full of those sentences. 66 words when 10 will do. This book should have been 100 pages long and then readers would know that it was all flash with no character development or plot worth getting engaged in. And, Key West (the supposed subject of this book) and its culture appears differently to everyone. So, don’t waste time reading this and just go there yourself and take it for how you take it. God this book sucked!

Russia and The Soviet Union: An Historical Introduction from the Kievan State to the Present
By John M Thompson
If you took a college intro course to Russian history, I think this would be one of your textbooks. It was good and I enjoyed brushing up on some Russian history after having taken more than one course in college and having spent some time with the Russians as well. I thought Thompson did a good job of trying to capture the Russian culture and how it influenced the historical course and vice versa. His sections on the development of Russia from the Kievan State were the best and were very informative. However, I had a problem with his transition to the Soviet State and the overthrow of the tsarist period. Thompson spent a total of two pages in this book introducing Lenin to the reader. It seemed to me, if I didn’t know better, that Lenin just showed up one day on a train and overthrew the Tsar with a little help from Trotsky. And, that was it. Seriously. I won’t go into all the details of the book, but I will say that it was an easy read for a nonfiction subject and was very enjoyable. If you’re interested in learning a little about the rich history of Russia and all that it and its people have gone though to get where they are today, then this book should serve you quite well.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Final College Football Blog!

Well the college football season is over. Here it is the very last edition of the college football blog for the 2008-09 season. It was a fun year and there were a lot of great games to be debated and talked about all the way up to Spring Practice when everyone’s hopes are renewed.

Thanks for reading and we’ll see you again next year. (Maybe). But, don’t delete this blog from your reading since there will be other topics to be discussed other than books and college football now that my mind has time for other things besides football.

Moving on…

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl attendance: 72,047
#3 Texas over #10 Ohio State 24-21
A great finish to what was a great game all the way around. Both teams played well and this was a fun one to watch at the end. Ohio State thought their drought in BCS games would come to a close, but alas, no. The Buckeyes had a strong 4th quarter putting up 15 points to take the lead 21-17 with 2:05 left to play. But McCoy brought Texas back and drove the field to score with only :14 on the clock and Texas claimed the win. Colt McCoy is a great QB and tossed for over 400 yards in the game while throwing 2TDs and only one pick. Ohio State in my opinion just mismanaged the game despite their success in the final frame. And, once again I should fill this page with slanderous statement against OSU, but I leave them to lick their own wounds this time.

GMAC Bowl attendance: 32,816
Tulsa over #22 Ball State 45-13
I didn’t watch this throw away bowl game and I couldn’t have cared less who won the GMAC Bowl. Really? Tulsa vs. Ball State?

National Championship Game attendance: 78,468
#2 Florida over #1 Oklahoma 24-14
I’m sure if your reading this you saw the game so I need only sum it up in two words and three letters: Tim Tebow and S-E-C. That’s all. Oh, and how many teams are going to get beaten by that jump pass? At least Oklahoma had it covered. Too bad Tebow is just that good. Should he decide to come back for one more year, he may very well place himself at the top of the all time greatest college football players.

A State of the Conferences Address:
The Bowl Challenge is a measuring stick for the conferences when it comes to who’s on top for any particular year. I rank these by how I see them shaking out based on win/loss percentage and by how many teams each conference sent to bowl games. So… here we go:

PAC-10: 5-0
A perfect bowl season for the PAC-10. Congrats. Half of your conference went to bowl games and all of them were winners. USC, Oregon State, Oregon, California, and Arizona all claimed victories. USC, Oregon and Arizona to me collected the only good wins since Oregon State won a 3-0 game against Pitt and Cal took out a Miami team that had to play essentially a road game at Cal on the other side of the country. The PAC-10 despite claiming a clear statistical victory here can still not be considered the top conference since (only) half the teams made bowl games and USC is the only team that can really compete out of conference against the bigger schools.

SEC: 6-2
Two losses, both of them bad. Bama was unprepared and fell to Utah and SC got beat down by Iowa. Other than that, a full 8 of 12 teams went bowling and 6 came home with big wins. Vandy took out an ACC divisional champ in Boston College, LSU stomped Georgia Tech, Georgia took out Michigan State, Ole Miss put the Red Raiders of Texas Tech in their place, Kentucky laughed at East Carolina and Florida won the National Championship Game. This marks three years in a row that the National Championship trophy will get to live at home in the SEC. The Southeastern Conference once again established itself as The powerhouse conference and separated itself from the Big-12 with those wins by Ole Miss and Florida over Big-12 programs.

ACC: 4-6
Hey, you have to hand it to the ACC. Despite having what everyone thought was a down year, they ended up sending a full 10 teams bowling, more than any other conference. Too bad they managed only 4 wins in those ten games. Virginia Tech was the star of the league this year claiming the Orange Bowl and conference titles. Other than that, none of their bowl wins came in big games and the other stars of the conference (GT and BC) both got kicked around. When will the ACC that everyone feared would dominate after they realigned a few years ago show up? That’s yet to be determined, but if they keep developing this conference could one day be a major factor.

Big-12: 4-3
The three losses stand out more than the four wins since two of them were in big bowls (Oklahoma and Texas Tech) with Texas claiming the only big win in the Fiesta Bowl. And, I mean come on, who can’t beat Ohio State in a BCS game? Nebraska and Missouri were winners; barely, with Kansas and Oklahoma State playing equal competition and coming out at 1-1. The Big-12 may have had more wins than losses, but I think everyone now has to say that the Big-12 South was just a little bit overrated this year and there really is no truly scary defense in the conference. A lot of offense that’s to be sure, but Defense wins Championships and defines who the best conferences are. (Texas Tech over Oklahoma; Ole Miss over Florida; Ole Miss over Texas Tech; Florida over Oklahoma)

Big East: 4-2
South Florida, W. Virginia, Rutgers and UConn all got wins. None of them in “major” bowls. The class of the field Cincinnati fell to an ACC Champ and that’s all there really is to say about the Big East. Decimated by the departure of Virginia Tech and Miami (see above) this conference can now look forward to basketball season.

C-USA: 4-2
Tulsa, Rice, Air Force and Southern Miss. These are the teams that C-USA has to hang their hat on. Wow. I have nothing to say here. Tulsa won the “biggest” of those bowls and that was over #22 Ball State. Other than that, they played no major competition and when they did, they lost.

Mountain West: 3-2
Utah stands out as the class of the conference and provided this year’s biggest bowl upset with the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. Congrats to them and too bad you couldn’t claim the AP National Championship as a consolation prize for being the only undefeated team in the country. TCU also collected a good win over the MAC (insert throat clear here) and Colorado State took out Fresno State. Other than that BYU got beat by Arizona (a lower team even for the PAC-10) and the rest of the games were uninteresting. Houston vs. Air Force? Really?

Big Ten: 1-6
Can we please ban Ohio State from BCS bowls for the next three years since they have been beaten on a national stage for the last three years? Over the past two years, the Big Ten has beaten exactly TWO bowl-bound BCS teams (Michigan State's victory over ND, and Penn State's win over Oregon State--both this year). By contrast, the SEC has beaten 8 bowl bound BCS teams, same number as the Pac-10. The 11 Big Ten teams scheduled exactly 13 BCS teams in their non-conference schedule this year. So they schedule like crap in the non-conference, don't seem to beat any good teams that they do schedule, and then get torched in bowl season. At what point is that no longer an aberration, but a reflection of the state of the conference? The Big-10 managed just one win and that was Iowa over a South Carolina team that didn’t even have a quarterback. Wow.

WAC: 1-4
Louisiana Tech took out Northern Illinois (see below) for the WAC’s one and only win. Even the mighty Boise State fell to a Mountain West TCU team and the WAC is back… in the bottom two conferences in division one football.

MAC: 0-5
Hahahaha… Indeed, the MAC is Whack!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Bowls Week Three (Part Two)

We now continue with our regularly scheduled bowling...

Rose Bowl attendance: 92,293
#5 USC over #8 Penn State 38-24
Well if you didn’t have this one picked correctly, then you just haven’t been paying attention all year long. Penn State got lucky during several of their games and USC has now won 3 Rose Bowls in a row. The Trojan defense is probably one of the best in the nation and even the overrated Mark Sanchez has had a decent year and had a great Rose Bowl (28/35 for 413yds and 4TDs). This game was over in the first half (31-7) and I probably won't be spending much DVR time on this one since it was mostly just USC bombing Penn State and bad game management by the Lions. State did have a chance down 14 (after scoring 17 garbage points in the 4th) with 40-something seconds left after USC botched a snap on a late punt. But an INT in the end zone with a second left clinched it up for USC. Both teams racked up some yardage (both over 400 total yards) but the 3 turnovers for PSU were a killer. USC should finish in the top 4... again... by finishing 12-1 while Penn State drops to 11-2 and will probably finish out of the top 10 after being one game against Iowa away from the National Championship game. I guess USC could say the same thing about the Oregon State game, but that was early and they don't play enough tough competition to get in with a loss. In a playoff, nobody would want to play USC however I think any of the top teams could beat them if given the chance to play them away from Los Angeles. (insert small slam on the fact that they only ever play big games a few miles away from home).

Orange Bowl attendance: 73,602
#19 Virginia Tech over #12 Cincinnati 20-7
BCS Bowl number two and the ACC's streak of losses in them (8) is over. Of course I picked Virginia Tech over a Big-East team that I had no faith in. Cincinnati scored within the first two minutes to go up 7-0 and did nothing after that. Unless you count throwing 4 interceptions as doing something. Tyrod Taylor, as usual, was the VT offense collecting 187 total yds and a TD while "managing" the game very well despite throwing a pick of his own. VT really just ran all over the Bearcats collecting 258yds on the ground in the game while their defense played well to contain the Cinn offense. Tech finishes the year as ACC and Orange Bowl Champions at 10-4; they have won 10 or more for five straight years now under Beamer. Cincinnati finishes as Big-East Champions and 11-3. Not too bad seeing as 2 losses came at the hands of Oklahoma and VT in the bowl. Their other loss was at UConn and was really the only reason they didn’t get to go play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Remind me again why the Big-East gets a BCS spot? Because as you will remember Pitt finished second in the Big-East and lost their bowl game to Oregon State 3-0. Come on Big-East. Don't make us swap you out with the SunBelt or WAC, or if you keep looking this bad, I may recommend that you lose your spot to the MAC.

Cotton Bowl attendance: 88,175
#25 Mississippi over #7 Texas Tech 47-34
Pop Quiz. What happens when good offenses play good defenses? Good Defenses win every time. And if I may gloat over two things here, one I picked Ole Miss and two the SEC is tougher top to bottom than any other conference out there. Period. The defenses are tougher and faster and the run games will wear down any other conference's defense that thinks they can hold up for 60 minutes. Ole Miss who never puts up big numbers on offense racked up 515 total yards (292 passing and 223 rushing). The Rebels were able to overcome 3 turnovers and forced 2 of their own. Harrell had a big day, but could not overcome his defense's lack of stops. Ole Miss had drives of 8plays 78yds, 10plays 85yds, 9plays 80yds, 6plays 35yds, and 9plays 48yds. They also had some short quick scores, an interception for a TD and a safety to add some salt to the wounds in the fourth quarter. We'll have to see how the Big-12 holds up in the rest of their bowls, but score a big one for the SEC here with a mid range #25 Mississippi just controlling #7 Texas Tech for the whole game (minus those first 10 minutes). Mississippi finishes 9-4 after wining their last 6 games while Tech dropped only their second game of the year to finish up 11-2. This loss has to hurt Red Raider fans who can't hope for a repeat next year since they will be losing a lot of players to the draft and graduation. This from ESPN: "When Rebels fans finished clapping, they began chanting "S-E-C! S-E-C!" They did so again with 1:37 left after Ole Miss snuffed out a 2-point conversion attempt, then again following a recovered onside kick. A little louder and the chants might've been heard at the Big 12 offices about 12 miles away. Still, the message that the fourth-best team in the SEC, according to the polls, is better than the third-best team in the Big 12 will certainly be noted as schools from these leagues -- No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Oklahoma -- meet next week in the national championship game."

Liberty Bowl attendance: 56,125
Kentucky over East Carolina 25-19
I was forced due to work to listen to this one on the radio and it was highly entertaining. Another win for mid level SEC team, this time over the C-USA Champion Purple Pirates. To my mind, Kentucky shouldn’t have even been in a bowl game, but they were and pulled out a close win. This game was back and forth with E. Carolina taking a 16-3 lead into halftime. UK came back early in the second half to tie it up at 16 then kicked a field goal late to tie it up at 19-19. There were a few turnovers later, that under review went East Carolina’s way but the final fumble was clear and returned for the winning TD 56yards by Ventrell Jenkins. I think I’ll name my first son Ventrell. I was thinking about Ebenezer, but Ventrell might be better. Anyway, another win for the SEC and a good finish for Kentucky (7-6) after only collecting two wins in conference all year (Miss State and Arkansas). East Carolina after starting the year as a Cinderella Story with wins over Virginia Tech and West Virginia finishes as conference champs but a bowl loss drops them to 9-5 on the year. I think they have to be happy with 9 wins. Had you heard of East Carolina before this year? Didn’t think so.

Sugar Bowl attendance: 71,872
#6 Utah over #4 Alabama 31-17
What the hell Alabama? Seriously!? This game was won on one front only… coaching. Utah was prepared and learned how to beat Bama by watching that Florida game. Go no huddle on offense and keep the tempo up and put pressure on John Parker Wilson up the middle. That’s it. If you bring pressure on Alabama up the middle, you not only stop their run game, you keep Wilson from being able to find open receivers or step up to scramble. This game had a chance to be good after halftime, but Utah proved who they were and deserve to be the AP National Champions after being the only undefeated team in the nation. 11 minutes into the game and Utah was up 21-0. Wow. Bama came back and went into the half down 21-10 with hopes of a better second half. Remember, the touchdown came on a punt return that was just bad tackling. The Tide’s offense did nothing in the first half. And, yes I did watch it and despite Utah’s speed it was all about game planning and schemes that kept Wilson off balance. After Utah went up 28-17 late in the third, this game was over. Alabama’s players were down and the coaches were making no adjustments. When the whole world was singing the praises of Alabama in the last month (including me) and telling everyone how bad they were going to beat Utah, Urban Meyer was on the phone with his buddies in Utah telling them exactly how to stop the Tide. If you think that’s untrue then you have no idea how much Florida hates Alabama. Forget about the conference, they love to see Bama get beat. Utah looked like Florida’s defense and their offensive tempo in the first half was just like Florida in the second half of the SEC Championship game. Hey, my hats off to them! 13-0 with a Sugar Bowl win, Mountain West Championship and big wins over Michigan, Oregon State (remember they beat USC), TCU and BYU. I don’t think they would have survived in a conference like say the Big-12 or SEC, but I have to give them credit. They played their schedule and won them all. Alabama must now go home and answer some tough questions about preparation and how to finish out a season.

International Bowl attendance: 40,184 (in Canadian)
Connecticut over Buffalo 38-20
MAC Champion goes down to the fourth best school in the Big-East. No surprise. UConn gave the Buffs 5 turnovers and still managed to beat them easily. UConn’s Brown rushed for 261yds on 29 carries and scored a TD while the QB Lorenzen went only 4/6 for 49yds and a TD but also rushed for 32yds and 2TDs. 358 total rushing yards for the Huskies compared to 24yds for Buffalo. This was not a good game, but it was entertaining in the fact that even the commentators were simply guessing run right, run left, or run up the middle. UConn ran 6 passing plays compared to 49 rushing and Buffalo just looked bad not being able to stop what the entire country of Canada saw coming on every snap.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bowls Week Three (Part One)

Time for Week Three in the Bowls! Bowl attendance: 38,582
Rutgers over North Carolina State 29-23
Silly me thinking NC State would have the wherewithal to prepare for Rutgers in the ever popular Bowl. Don’t just think Papa Johns people; think!
Anyway, the first half of this game was just nuts: missed extra points, blocked kicks, missed kicks, and turnovers. When everyone was picking Rutgers (except me) NC State took at 17-6 lead into halftime. The ACC is having a good bowl season and I was confident in my Wolf Pack pick going into the second half. Then NC State decided to play quarterback roulette and stop playing any form of defense. 17-6… 17-9… 17-16… 17-19… 23-19… 8 plays 64yds and NC State is back in it and only has to hold on for 9 minutes. 23-26; 51 seconds later and 23-29 after sucking up a lot of clock on an 11 play drive by Rutgers. This bowl ranks up there with those San Diego people’s Credit Union for dumb name but it did provide some entertainment if for only laughing at NC State and their 4 turnovers.

Valero Alamo Bowl attendance: 55,986
#21 Missouri over #23 Northwestern 30-23 in OT
Everybody from all the networks picked Northwestern and I was thinking I was screwed for another pick since I took Mizzou in this one. I know; I had forgotten about all the bad games they played this year (see Kansas and Oklahoma in November) but this was a chance for them to get back to back 10 win seasons for the first time and there was no way that Maclin and Daniel were going to let this one drop. And, let’s not forget Northwestern hasn’t won a bowl game since the Rose Bowl of 1949. So I felt good going into this game and felt sick after the 1st quarter when I realized the Missouri had no cornerbacks. Mizzou did find a way to scrap together 3 points and Maclin got them a huge 75-yard punt return with a minute left to go in the half to tie it up at the break. The box score will tell you that NW only passed for 304yds but let me tell you it felt like a lot more that, because every time they needed a pass they got it. Northwestern just didn’t want to win this game with missed extra points and stupid plays (see overtime and a bad bad sack/fumble. You can’t let that happen at this level son.). Its true Missouri was not happy to be playing the Alamo Bowl and NW was just happy to be on TV and this turned out to be a better "game" than it should have been. Daniel (3INTs in this game and got out played by a guy named Bacher, except for that sack/fumble…in OVERTIME!) will get picked up by somebody in the 3rd round or later of the draft and Maclin will go in the top 15 but neither of them can be too happy about the way this season turned out ever since that Big-12 title game in 07. (yes I know that was a long ass sentence) The future is cloudy for Northwestern since I have no idea whether they are going to be any good in the coming years since they still have to recruit against the other Big-10 schools. Hey, congrats on going 9-4! It's better than your 6-6, 4-8, 7-5 and 6-6 records the last few years.

Roady's Humanitarian Bowl attendance: 26,781
Maryland over Nevada 42-35
Another successful pick for me bucking those at ESPN who all picked Nevada in this one. I hate this bowl every year no matter who is in it because of that damn blue field. It always gives me a headache and that stadium is ugly as hell with that track running around it and bleachers with dozens of people who came out to watch Turtles and a Wolfpac in Idaho. Maryland had about 10 starters suspended for the first half thanks to a curfew violation but it didn't slow down a track meet in the first quarter with 27 points (missed extra point). This game was a case of Maryland having a better offensive line, a better running game and a defense that hung in there well enough. This was entertaining though with 6 total turnovers and big plays for touchdowns (59, 99, 53 and 49-yard plays for Maryland). The Terp's All-ACC 1st team starting back Scott didn't even get into the game until mid way through the 3rd thanks to his suspension and still managed to rack up 174yds and 2TDs on only 14 carries. I don't care who you are, you have to know that even a mid level ACC team is better than a WAC squad that finishes at 7-6 with three of those losses coming in conference (this was their second loss in Boise to go with losses at Hawaii and New Mexico State). Maryland finishes at 8-5 and will in my opinion probably repeat as Humanitarian Bowl Champs next year with a similar record.

The Texas Bowl attendance: 58,880
Rice over Western Michigan 38-14
More than twice the number of people showed up to watch Rice vs. Western Michigan than did the Humanitarian Bowl? I guess it helps when Rice plays a home game. The MAC got whacked by Rice and C-USA all over the place and Rice was up 38-0 in the fourth before giving up two garbage touchdowns late. I didn’t watch this one since it was on NFL Network and well... who cares about Rice (10-3) and W. Mich (9-4)?

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl attendance: 59,106
#17 Oregon over #13 Oklahoma State 42-31
Experts said Oklahoma State. I said, not so fast my friend! and picked Oregon in this one. OK State's only losses were to #1 Texas, #2 Texas Tech, and #3 Oklahoma, but they got exposed in those games by good teams and gave Oregon a game plan: run early to wear them down and pass late to put up points. Oregon TDs: 76-yard run, 1-yard run, 41-yard run and 17-yard run in the first three quarters; (up 28-24). Fourth quarter: OK State goes up 31-28, cause you can't keep them from scoring points, but then Oregon responds with: 20-yard TD pass and 29-yard TD pass to close it out 42-31. Now I have no love for PAC-10 schools not named USC (and I don't like USC but they have a great team) but let's not forget Oregon only had 3 losses this year and those came vs. Boise State (bad) but then at USC and at Cal; both very good teams for the PAC-10. Oregon put up 565 yards of offense against the Cowboys with 307 of those coming from the run game. If you let up over 300 yards on the ground on only 40 attempts (7.7yds per rush), don't expect to win a bowl game. Oklahoma State was a year away anyway and next year, baring injuries, they should be in the hunt for a Big-12 Championship. Oregon, well they're in the PAC-9 + USC so second place should be a nice goal.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl attendance: 41,127
Houston over Air Force 34-28
I’ve got a soft spot for the service academies in the bowl games so I went with Air Force. Hey I figured the Shock and Awe passing game would work. Guess I should have known they were a running team huh? 243 rushing vs. 109 passing. Anyway, can’t say I had the free time at noon on a Wednesday to watch this one. In fact, New Year’s Eve is a terrible time to have a bowl game. Come on! Last night of the year. Turn off the TV and rock it out man! Ok, sorry. I have no idea how this one went down and I don’t care enough to look it up. Go Cougars! Houston finishes 8-5 (6-2 C-USA) in their head coach’s first year. Air Force also ends at 8-5 (5-3 Mountain West).

Brut Sun Bowl attendance: 49,037
Oregon State over #20 Pittsburgh 3-0
When I saw this score I thought two things: 1. thankfully I didn’t watch this one because it obviously sucked and 2. thankfully I picked Oregon State since their offense appeared to suck a little less. We’ll let the stats tell the tale… Total yards OSU 273 to 178. 178? Seriously? Rushing Pitt 89-80. I rush for more yards on the way to work everyday. Turnovers OSU 3 Pitt 2. Penalties OSU 7 for 48yds Pitt 2 for 15 (not bad). Possession was almost dead even. This game was just a snore and should have been on at about 7pm on Thanksgiving. Zzz… Both finish 9-4; how the hell did Pitt every get to #20? The only ranked team they beat was then #10 South Florida back in early October.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl attendance: 54,250
Vanderbilt over #24 Boston College 16-14
I hate when I pick against the SEC and it comes back to bite me in the ass. I figured that the team that lost the ACC Championship game would be able to take out Vandy, I mean come on it’s Vandy. Seriously though, Vanderbilt did have a great year (for Vanderbilt) and finish at 7-6 on the year by dropping BC to 9-5 and notching a win for the SEC in their first bowl game of 2008/09. Um let’s see a quick look at the box score will tell you that a field goal with about 3 minutes left put Vandy on top 16-14 and a late interception sealed it up for them. Vandy also played mistake free with 0 turnovers and 0 penalties. Not one penalty and they managed to win with only 200 total yards of offense! The 1 for 15 on 3rd downs kinda sucked though. Anyway, Vandy gets the win and the SEC starts off 1-0. I picked against LSU in the next game too, so we’ll see how that turns out.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! (Nothing like staring a new year with a pounding headache and having to work at 3pm. Thank you DVR)

Outback Bowl attendance: 55,117
Iowa over South Carolina 31-10
South Carolina had all that time off and still weren’t able to find a quarterback. Garcia? No Smelley for the second half. And of course in this one, I went with the SEC and have no idea who made my picks for me. I went against LSU and with SC??? South Carolina had a good chance to win this game if they could have kept from committing 5 turnovers and gotten more then 42 rushing yards! Mix in 10 penalties for 100 yards and Iowa rolls Carolina and collects a win for the Big-10 over the SEC making it a streak for the Big-10 in the Outback Bowl. Iowa finishes up with this win and the one over Penn State to go to 9-4 and finish above expectations. South Carolina falls to 7-6 and finishes exactly where they are projected every year. If that team could ever quit shooting themselves (now known as pulling a Plexico) they wouldn’t be that bad. But the Gamecocks' trademark is turnovers and bad QB play. South Carolina finishes the year leading the nation in interceptions thrown topping SMU for the worst in college football.

Capital One Bowl attendance: 59,681
#15 Georgia over #18 Michigan State 24-12
Glory Glory to Ol' Georgia! A Michigan State coach when asked about all of Georgia's injuries throughout the year (19 players out for the year 7 D-line and Linebacker starters and 3 O-line starter) was quoted as saying "How the hell did they ever win 9?" Well sir, it's because we're that good. And, don't try to fake punts on us... it doesn’t work. Despite all the penalties throughout the year and those 3 bad halves against Ala, Fla and GT, Georgia could always rely on Stafford (20/31 for 250yds and 3TDs; 1INT) and Moreno (62yds rushing and 63yds receiving with a TD) to put in good performances every game. And, the defense is deep at every position (except DB). Ringer for MSU had over 1,500yds rushing coming into the game with 21TDs. The Dawgs defense held him to only 47yds on the day with MSU's only TD. This game could have been higher scoring even with MSU leading at the half 6-3. But, both defenses played well and it was a good game overall to watch. Lots of defense! Lot of sacks by UGA. MSU finishes the year 9-4 while Georgia goes to 6-2 in Mark Richt's 8 years in bowl games (2 SEC Championships) and 10-3 this year. Ranked #1 to start the year, I'd have to say that 10-3 is a disappointment, but being a Georgia fan is about hopping for a National Championship every year and always being happy to finish in the top 10 due to one or two bad games. But, at least we're there every year. Georgia improved to 7-0 all-time vs. Big Ten schools in bowl games and won its 10th game for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. Dawg fans can only hope that both Knowshon and Stafford come back next year instead of going to play for the Lions and Rams. I can also hope to win the lottery tomorrow, but that ain't gonna happen.

Gator Bowl attendance: 67,282
Nebraska over Clemson 26-21
Yeah I didn’t watch a second of this game and don't feel any worse off because of it. I had the DVR trained in on the Georgia game's second half and the Rose Bowl. What can I say here? Nebraska (9-4) and Clemson (7-6) both suck. I can't say that either of these programs are that exciting and this one really just comes down to a win for the Big-12 over the ACC in the Bowl Challenge. Neither of these teams impressed enough throughout the year and I can't say that the Gator Bowl made good selections for a New Year's Day match up. But, over 67,000 people came out to watch in the greater Jacksonville area, so… what do I know?

I'll kick off part two of bowl week three with the start of the BCS bowls...