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December 25, 2005
Champs Sports Bowl
Clemson (7-4) vs. Colorado (7-5)
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
Line: Clemson -10
Doug: Clemson -10
This is one of those bowl games that has been in every city in Florida, has had about 37 different names, and 14 different conference affiliations. Yet somehow, the Champs Sports/"insert random corporation based in Florida" bowl manages to piece together decent matchups every year.
In any other year, Clemson-Colorado is a pretty solid matchup for a December 27th bowl game. Two pretty good programs from different parts of the country in a bragging rights type game.
Obviously, this game went into the tank the moment Gary Barnett got canned at Colorado, so it's tough to really get a feel for how it will turn out (although Notre Dame fans can probably take a guess). For the record, I know he's not the greatest guy in the world, but I actually think highly of Gary Barnett as a coach. Barnett taking Northwestern to the Rose Bowl in 1995 still goes down as one of the greatest coaching performances I've ever seen. Truly the Cardiac Kids. Every victory down the stretch was more improbable than the game before. Pat Fitzgerald, Brian Musso, D'Wayne Bates, Darnell Autry, and Steve Schnur. I don't think I'll ever forget those names. I'd even shell out for a DVD recap of that season as long as they included the ABC game footage of Brent Musberger (NU grad) having a weekly heart attack announcing the games. By the time the Rose Bowl game came around, I had bonded with that team so much that I felt like I had been a Northwestern fan my whole life.
Although I think Barnett is a good coach, the Buffs probably won't miss Barnett now that they reeled in Dan Hawkins, who is a true hidden gem out there in Boise. Ok, so maybe he's the ugliest coach in college football. He's certainly not the only one. I think Hawkins will do a nice job at Colorado.
As for Clemson, Tommy Bowden somehow manages to keep his job every year in spite of inconsistent efforts and underachieving. Bowden is one of those guys who looks like he should be a good coach, so he'll always have his supporters. Sort of like Jim Haslett (how that guy never seems to be in jeopardy of losing his job is beyond me). Every year, we hear the same "look out for Clemson" story, and every year they are an easy team to bet against because you can count on them choking away a game they're "supposed" to win.
Until this year. I've bet against Clemson probably four or five times this year (starting with the opener against A&M), and lost every one of them. Either Bowden is putting it together, or his players are winning in spite of him (probably the latter). Clemson is pretty solid this year. Flip around those OT losses to BC and Miami, and Clemson could have been a top 12 or so team. I probably would have picked them to win this game even if Barnett were on the sidelines for Colorado. I have no reason to think Colorado cares at all about this game, so I'll go with Clemson in a major rout.
Clemson 34 Colorado 13 Over - 45
Matt: Clemson -10
ND fans need only look back 365 days to see how well a team performs when they have been through a controversy like the coach getting run out of town. Gary Barnett has been on borrowed time since the tales of CU recruiting practices were told. (Are people really naive enough to think that some form of this doesn't go on at most major football schools during recruiting weekends. I lived with an ND football player and hold a story or two that would make Knute Rockne roll over in his grave.) At least Barnett was able to provide us with the soundbite of the century when he said "Not only was Katie Hnida a girl, she was an awful kicker." Pretty brutal, but i'm sure not far from the truth. Anyway, with Barnett in the rear view mirror and the team having long since packed it in, this one should get ugly in a hurry. The only chance the Buffs have is if Joel Klatt can rely on his 11 years of college experience. (Maybe not 11, but it seems like he took the job after Kordell Stewart graduated. He is a proud member of the Jess Settles Stay in School Club with John Stocco, Luke Recker, Nik Caner-Medley and Chris Rix just to name a few.)
Meanwhile, Clemson is a few plays away from being a BCS contender. Look at their losses: Miami by 6 in 3OT - Heartbreaker, and they had chances to win BC by 3 in OT - Gotta beat BC at home At Wake by 4 - Bad loss, but Tommy Bowden has one of these every year to get the pot simmering At Georgia Tech by 1 - Tough loss, but not classified as a bad loss
A couple of different bounces and a few breaks and the Tigers are undefeated. Of course a lot of teams can say that, like ND for example, but in this game it wouldn't matter if Clemson was starting me at QB. They roll