SwampSwami’s 2018 College Football Recap

Is it really over now? 

After 39 bowl games (OK – 38 this year because the First Responder Bowl in Dallas was cancelled early in the game due to persistent lightning), the Clemson Tigers have taken home the BCS Championship Monday night to end another season of college football.

Being the honest person that I am, it’s time to report how well the SwampSwami Top 130 (ranking all of the BCS schools) performed during the college bowl season. 

The answer?   Not as well as I hoped.  With a bowl record of 22-16 (all picks were based on the team’s final regular season ranking of the whopping 78 bowl participants), I was hoping for better than a 58% winning percentage. 

Oh, well.  There’s always next year.

Though your faithful SwampSwami put a lot of stock in the University of Central Florida for the past two seasons, it’s important to note that UCF’s 25 game winning streak was a terrific story.  Though LSU and UCF both had key players missing in the Fiesta Bowl, I think it’s safe to say that UCF’s injured quarterback, Milton McKenzie, might have caused a few more problems for the Bayou Bengals. 

Hang in there, UCF.  And a big “Good luck and get well soon” to Milton McKenzie recovering from your leg injuries!

It’s time to salute the Army Cadets on a fantastic season, too.  With a resounding thumping of the University of Houston in their bowl game, the Black Knights finished with a school record eleven wins this year. 

To top it off, the Lombardi Foundation announced Tuesday that Army’s head football coach, Jeff Monken, has been named the winner of its 2018 Vince Lombardi College Football Coach of the Year Award.

The award is focused on leadership skills with recognition for, among other things: doing the most with the least, overcoming adversity, creating and/or maintaining a successful environment, and playing by the rules with integrity, honor, and respect.

Rising out of the swamp in Gainesville, the Florida Gators and new head football coach, Dan Mullen, improved from 4-7 in 2017 to 10-3 this season.  Move over, Georgia!  These Gators will be dangerous in the years to come.

The same positive vibes are coming out of Austin from Bevo and the Texas Longhorns.  Coach Tom Herman’s turnaround operation in Austin has lifted Texas into the national discussion for next season after the Horns whipped Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to finish the year at 10-4. 

On the other side, the decline of the Pac-12 Conference has been incredible.  Former powers like USC (5-7), Colorado (5-7), and UCLA (3-9) have nearly faded from the national discussion.  Though Washington State’s 10-2 season mark was impressive, only two conference teams (Wazzoo and the University of Washington) finished this season ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

I call ‘em as I see ‘em, and SwampSwami continues to shake his head at the unwavering and undeserved media love showered onto the Big Ten Conference.  Ohio State (#3), Michigan (#14), Penn State (#17), Northwestern (#21), and Iowa (#25) serve to prove my point.   Though the SEC had more teams (six) in the Top 25 (Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, and Texas A&M), the BCS playoff snub of Ohio State (again) speaks to the weaker level of competition in the Big Ten.

Finally, 2018 brought us the story about Purdue’s determined cancer-stricken student football fan, Tyler Trent.  Tyler passed away on January 1st at the age of 20 to a form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma.  For those of us fortunate enough to have watched Purdue’s stunning upset of then-unbeaten Ohio State with Tyler Trent in attendance, this inspiring and happy young man served as a reminder to enjoy life every single day while you still can.   

Congratulations to Clemson and the FCS (small college) champion, North Dakota State.  The Tigers and the Bison both finished 15-0 to take their respective national championships home.

Goodbye (for now), college football.  We’ll welcome you back in August!

Boiler up! Purdue enters the SwampSwami College Football Top 25

For most college football fans, the next big “Game of the Year” is coming in two weeks when the Alabama Crimson Tide visits LSU to play the upstart Tigers.

For as great as that game may be, I was truly mesmerized last Saturday night in West Lafayette, Indiana as Purdue took on Ohio State University.  Purdue came into the game at a disappointing 3-3, and Ohio State was undefeated and 7-0 on the season.

But the Boilermakers’ three losses were by a total of seven points, and the team was rallying to make a dream come true for Purdue student, Tyler Trent.

If you did not see the game, check out this terrific story about Tyler and make sure to keep a handkerchief handy if you scroll down to view the ESPN profile of this brave young man.  It is worth your time.

Tyler Trent is 20 years old and has terminal bone cancer.  He is in hospice care right now and is literally week-to-week.

He loves his Boilermakers, though, and he proclaimed that Purdue would shock the world Saturday night and end Ohio State’s perfect season.

Boy, was he right!  With Tyler in attendance for this game, Purdue steamrolled Ohio State 49-20.

In a second half of football which was simply magical at times, Purdue answered every Ohio State challenge with some of the most mesmerizing touchdowns I have witnessed on a college football field.  One after another after another.  There was no doubt who was going to win this game.

Therefore, in appreciation for the most enthralling half of football I have seen all season, I am making a special exception and place in the SwampSwami Top 25 for the inspired team from Purdue University.

SwampSwami has refused to bend and put any two-loss teams into his rankings thus far in 2018.  With Purdue now at 4-3, this week’s poll still doesn’t have any two-loss teams!

Congratulations to the Purdue football team, head coach Jeff Brohm, and their number one fan, Tyler Trent.  You made my Top 25 poll with the most inspiring football I have witnessed in a very long time!

Now…on with the countdown!

Rank  Team  W L          Best win/loss this season

1 Alabama 8 0
2 Clemson 7 0
3 UCF 7 0
4 Notre Dame 7 0
5 South Fla. 7 0
6 Kentucky 6 1                26-16 @ 6-1 Florida
7 Florida 6 1                    27-19 over 7-1 LSU
8 LSU 7 1                       36-16 over 6-1 Georgia
9 Georgia 6 1                  38-12 @ 3-4 Tennessee
10 Texas 6 1                    48-45 over 6-1 Oklahoma
11 Oklahoma 6 1             Lost to 6-1 Texas 48-45
12 Michigan 7 1              38-13 over 5-2 Wisconsin
13 Wash.State 6 1           28-24 over 5-2 Utah
14 West Va. 5 1               42-34 @ 5-2 Texas Tech
15 Iowa 6 1                     13-3 over 4-3 Iowa State
16 Ohio State 7 1            27-26 @ 5-2 Penn State
17 NC State 5 1              35-21 over 5-2 Virginia
18 San Diego.St 6 1        19-13 @ 5-2 Boise State
19 Utah State 6 1            45-20 @ 4-3 BYU
20 Houston 6 1               45-18 over 3-5 Arizona
21 UAB 6 1                    28-7 @ 5-2 La. Tech
22 Cincinnati 6 1            34-30 over 4-3 Ohio U.
23 Buffalo 7 1                 36-29 @ 5-3 Temple
24 App. State 5 1            35-9 @ 4-3 Ark. State
25 Purdue 4 3                 49-20 over 7-1 Ohio St.

Go, Go, Gadget Boilermaker Engineers!

Purdue University is one of the NCAA’s Sweet Sixteen remaining teams after last weekend’s first two tumultuous rounds of play in the annual college basketball championships known as March Madness.

After watching their senior star 7’2″ center Isaac Haas go down with a fractured right elbow in the first round of the tournament, the 30-6 Boilermakers’ chances of reaching the Final Four took a gigantic (pun intended) hit.  The painful injury to the big man’s elbow also means that Haas’ chances of suiting up again for his beloved Boilermakers have all but vanished, too.

The doctors have advised Haas, who is the team’s second-leading scorer at nearly 15 points/game, that his collegiate playing career is over as he requires a season-ending surgery.

The Purdue training staff also told the big man that he has likely played his final game for the old gold and black.

If only someone could just design a specially-fitted protective elbow brace which would also meet the NCAA’s strict guidelines, then the Boilermakers big man could possibly contribute a few points, rebounds and blocked shots on the court for his team.  Unfortunately, such a device is not commercially available.

Never say never to the Boilermaker faithful, though.  Where there’s a will (to win the school’s first national championship in men’s basketball), there’s a way.

Enter the ever-resourceful, never-say “can’t” Purdue Mechanical Engineering department!

The university’s renowned engineering students have put their minds on designing a specially-made elbow brace to allow their big man a chance to play again Friday night against Texas Tech.

When your school hasn’t advanced past this round in the NCAA tournament in 18 years and hungers to win its first-ever national title, motivation is not a problem in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Purdue head coach, Matt Painter, is hopeful but seems less optimistic than his fanatical engineering team.

The Boilermakers’ injured center, Isaac Haas, would love to get another chance and is keeping his spirits up regardless of the outcome.

“I’m gonna give everything I got, whether that be cheering on the bench or going out and playing two minutes,” Haas said. “I give my heart to these guys and I know they’ll do the same for me.”

Don’t give up, Isaac!  Your Mission Impossible team of mechanical engineers may have a March Madness surprise in store for you soon, big fella.

Go, Go, Gadget – elbow brace!