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Santa's giving away Bowl Games

Contributor Millard West High School

Published: Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 17:12


The Christmas season has created its share of traditions over the years.  But one in particular has become synonymous with the season over the last 10 years.

Next to Santa Claus, eggnog and family gatherings, the weeks before and after the holiday can be recognized by touchdowns and tackles.  

After opening presents and sadly admiring the decaying Christmas decor, millions of college football fans rush off to enjoy the holiday bowl season.  In 2012 and the new year, 35 different bowl games are scheduled to close out a wild college football season.

This year, the college football and holiday season have more in common than usual.  We receive bad presents throughout the year.

Reluctantly we look and the closet and think, “no one will know.” Before we know it we’re “re-gifting” an ugly sweater or mini-blender to our aunt-in-law.

This season college football teams across the country re-gifted bowl games as well.  They were slated for a BCS berth or a perfect season but gave it away before Santa had the chance to make his way down the chimney.

After last year’s BCS championship, Alabama and Crimson Tide fans celebrated a national championship after defeating LSU in all-SEC rematch in New Orleans. Their heavy run game, highly efficient quarterback and deadly defense were supposed to do it again this year and lead Alabama to an undefeated season.

But in one of the biggest surprises of the season, Johnny Manziel, known affectionately as Johnny Football, or more recently Johnny Heisman, went into Tuscaloosa and beat the Tide 29-24. Manziel gave the Aggies an early Christmas gift by piling up 200 yards of his own, in the first half alone. 

Texas A&M scored a touchdown on each of their first three drives, successfully ripping the Tide defense early on in Bryant-Denny Stadium.

But just as the door was opened for Kansas State and Oregon, the Wildcats and Ducks re-gifted Alabama a spot back in the national title race with losses the very next week.  K-State visited Baylor and got blitzed by the Bears 52-24, and then Stanford broke Oregon hearts with a 17-14 overtime win in Eugene.

Suddenly, the Tide crept back into the conversation.  Alabama completed its Christmas list just a few weeks later at the SEC championship.

Georgia had the ball at the 11-yard line, trailing 32-28 with the clock running.  But rather than spike the football and stop the clock, quarterback Aaron Murray threw a pass that was deflected and caught.

With no timeouts the completion meant the clock ran out on Georgia’s hopes at the national championship game.

Alabama’s win came in a national semifinal.  The winner gets to play no. 1 and undefeated Notre Dame.

The Irish haven’t won a title since 1988 and haven’t been this relevant on the national stage in a decade.  It’s definitely a Christmas miracle.

After years of disappointment, Notre Dame fans couldn’t be happier.  The opposite can be said for a lot of the college football community.

The Irish are a polarizing team, much like the New York Yankees.  Notre Dame’s schedule was ranked the most difficult at the beginning of the season.

But some of those teams, Michigan, Michigan State and Southern Cal, faded quickly.  The Irish had big wins at Oklahoma and home against Stanford, but other opponents included Purdue, Boston College and Wake Forest.

Not playing in a conference and picking their own schedule is a criticism football fans have had about Notre Dame for years.  

UNO freshman Taylor Boham shares that criticism.  “[Notre Dame] didn’t have a difficult enough season to prove they are the best overall team,” Boham said.

Then there’s the Stanford game.  The Cardinal had beaten the Irish three years in a row and Notre Dame was out for revenge. The game went to OT and the officials determined the Irish barely stopped Stanford’s Stephan Taylor inches from the goal line.

With a touchdown to start overtime, Notre Dame escaped with a 20-13 win.  Controversy surfaced when replay footage appeared to show a touchdown. 

We’ll all find out if this Irish team and Heisman Manti Te’o are for real when Notre Dame and Alabama face off in the BCS Discover Championship on Monday, January 7th at 8:30 PM. 

With two traditional programs and the Irish back in the spotlight, it promises to be one of the most watched sports events of the year.

“Notre Dame being undefeated…I didn’t expect them to be good this year,” UNO freshman Alex Zuehlke.

Locally, Husker fans have been reeling for over a week after Nebraska re-gifted the Rose Bowl back to Wisconsin.  In hindsight, it probably should have been expected.

It was a season on a roller coaster that included an early loss at UCLA, a blowout at Ohio State and then six wins in a row.  But outside of the win over Minnesota, there were few games during the six-game win streak that felt comfortable.

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