While he would like to draw readers' attention to his 10-5 record on games forecast to date (that's straight-up, and marred Friday by determined overachievers from Kentucky, Maryland and very nearly Minnesota and Missouri) but in general the single-minded bowl blitzing of this week has left SMQ burnt out and frazzled heading into the holiday weekend respite. But he has enough left in the proverbial tank for one last, postseason extravaganza edition of "Sunday Morning Quarterback" tomorrow, which the pre-release buzz pegs as a substantial, smash hit.
Meanwhile, quicker picks on games for this final Saturday of 2006:
Meineke Car Care Bowl • Navy v. Boston College
B.C. had a good amount of success defending Maryland's version of the option, though Navy, obviously, executes the operation at several times the proficiency of Maryland, regardless of the wishbone's predictability, having made every defense (with the notable exception of Rutgers) pay for each instance of overpursuit and blown responsibility to the tune of at least 260 rushing yards, and typically much more; seemingly, Boston College has the personnel and chops to thwart such one-dimensionality, but the endless ledger of dizzy defenders in its wake tells us the Middie misdirection can always be counted on for more substantial gains than should be logically expected. But substantial enough to overcome the inevitable yields of the Navy defense to B.C.'s balanced, multi-faceted attack? D'Brickashaw Onyenegecha finalist Kaipo-Noa Kaheaka-Enhada hasn't thrown more than nine passes in any of his six appearances over the second half of the season, even in the dire straits of a 26-point loss to Notre Dame, but unless a third or so of that number stuns the ballhawking, over-aggressive Eagle secondary for huge, gashing gains, whatever good the option manages against the most capable defense its faced almost certainly won't be enough.
Boston College 32, Navy 17
Alamo Bowl • Texas v. Iowa
Absent Colt McCoy, given its problems the last two times it's had to face a decent outfit without him, Texas would be broaching Iowa warily, knee-deep in SMQ's suspicions. But if young Colt is indeed cleared of the shoulder misfortune that puts at risk the `Horns' immediate championship future, UT must be the pick; Iowa, after all, dropped its last five Big Ten games and over the final month of its regular season beat only Northern Illinois, so there is no precedent for these Hawkeyes successfully dealing with any unit even approaching Texas' quality. Expect Iowa to make of a go of it, though, for intagible - possibly mprovisational - Drew Tate-related reasons in his final game, as well as his first college game in his native Texas, and if it can limit the turnovers and dropped passes that have plagued the offense like plague most of the season. Regardless, even if it does everything all or almost all right mentally, Iowa's receivers don't figure to give Tate much room to work against Texas' lauded secondary, or the UT defense much reason to back the extra man away from Albert Young/Damian Sims duty. The absence of leading tackler by far Mike Klinkenborg in the middle of Iowa's already iffy run defense is good news for Texas backs limited to 70 yards in their last appearance and looking for excuses to keep McCoy out of the line of any gratuitous hits - not that the Hawkeyes (3 total sacks in the last four games) were doing a lot of that, anyway.
Texas 28, Iowa 17
Peach Chick-Fil-A Bowl • Georgia v. Virginia Tech
At some point in the season, about a month in, SMQ was planning a two-fer post on the relative over-ratedness of Georgia and Virginia Tech, both undefeated and highly-ranked at the time but struggling to put away weak sisters and soon to fall victim to streaks of futility that would drop both from everyone's poll by the end of October. And look at them now! Georgia resurrected its mandated rebuilding year by pounding Auburn into tiny pieces and outlasting Georgia Tech; the Hokies emerged from an embarrassing, borderline meltdown on national TV at Boston College to wax then-darling Clemson, followed by road wins at Miami and by three touchdowns at eventual league champ Wake Forest, while allowing a combined six points to Southern Miss, Kent State and Virginia in between. So while the tie-in says "ACC No. 3," SMQ considers Tech at the end of the season a BCS-caliber unit and the best in the ACC by a wide margin, and its defense is going to present all kinds of fits to Babyface Stafford et al on the UGA offense, which benefited from defensive touchdowns in both of its big late wins and gobs of field position-assisting interceptions in the first of those. Both offenses are quite a bit more viable now than in dismal October incarnations, but against a Tech unit that's only allowed one 300-yard game all season (that's 300 yards total), Georgia's offense is the one more likely to be made one-dimensional, and the one less likely, with a freshman quarterback, to overcome stagnation on the ground. A special teams play (or plays) will be crucial in the difference here.
Virginia Tech 20, Georgia 16