Monday, January 01, 2007

BOWL PREVIEW: FedEx Orange Bowl

So, after the whole Boise State beating Oklahoma thing, this is probably anything but significant.
Suddenly, Louisville and Wake Forest don't seem quite the upstarts.
Not so plucky?
But remember where we were. Two years ago, Louisville wasn't in the Big East and was one of those medium-sized schools wanting to crash the party. This year, they are Big East champions. Granted, that's sort of like getting called the best-looking woman at Clemson. But it's still worth a BCS berth.
And then there's Wake Forest. When the ACC became a superconference, it was decided by those that know that Miami would play FSU for the conference title nine years out of ten. Two years of ACC championship games later, it has never happened. And, this year, it was Georgia Tech vs. Wake Forest. Wake Forest? Yes, Wake Forest.

So this is the kind of BCS bowl we never saw coming. Granted, that means the ratings will all but certainly tank. But I'll say it now: This will be a game worth watching.

Bowl: FedEx Orange Bowl
Location: Miami
When: Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Purported reason for existence: Matching up two BCS teams.
Real reason for existence: So that, even this year, Miami residents can know what a BCS bowl feels like.
Teams: Louisville vs. Wake Forest
Interest level: The indie film you find at Blockbuster. Part of you wants to watch it just so you can say you did. And, hey, who knows? It might be good.
Key player for Louisville (on offense): QB Brian Brohm, who still led the team to an 11-1 record after the loss of RB Michael Bush in the first game of the season. Brohm threw for 2,738 yards, 16 TDs and just 5 INTs.
Key player for Louisville (on defense): What? Louisville plays defense? Apparently they do, because LB Malik Jackson has 14 TFL, 8 sacks, two fumbles forced and two recovered.
Key player for Wake Forest (on offense): QB Riley Skinner's numbers -- 150-of-227, 1,780 yards, 8 TDs and 4 INTs -- might not wow, but he has to run the peacock offense right for it to work. And he's ridden it to the ACC crown and an 11-2 record.
Key player for Wake Forest (on defense): FS Josh Gattis had five picks, 5.5 TFL, 73 tackles overall, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and seven passes broken up.
Coaching matchup: Bobby "I started the plane-tracking thing" Petrino will lead Louisville -- at least for now -- while Jim "How long will I stay" Grobe is the mastermind behind Louisville's peacock. Both have been mentioned as candidates for the Alabama job because they (a) are head coaches; and (b) have a pulse.
Winner: Wake Forest. Why not? Let's put it all on the line for this game. Wake Forest manages to slow down Louisville's offense while confusing the Cardinals D. Wake Forest wasn't supposed to do half of what they've done so far, so let's give them one more they shouldn't win. (NOTE: This could be a result of the post-Boise buzz.)

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