Football’s version of Madness

Each March, sports fans throughout America fill out brackets for the NCAA Basketball Tournament, better known as March Madness.

They do so with the hope of filling out a perfect bracket. But by the end of the opening round, upsets -often some stunning ones -already have dashed their virtually impossible dream.

Move over, March Madness, you don’t have a monopoly on stunning results. Just look at what has happened in the college football bowl games.

It all began when Colorado State, a 6-6 team from the Mountain West Conference, upset Washington State, a member of the mighty Pac 12.

That set the stage for one stunning result after another, many in much more significant games.

We watched 14-point underdog Texas Tech destroy Arizona State.

Upstart Central Florida hang 52 points on high-flying Baylor.

Perennial national powers Alabama and Ohio State end their seasons with two consecutive losses.

While Alabama gave a rather lackluster effort against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl -making many question the Crimson Tide’s motivation since it wasn’t playing for the national title -anybody who watched Friday night’s Ohio State-Clemson matchup in the Orange Bowl knew they had seen a classic contest between two highly-skilled and entertaining teams. Yes, Buckeye fans were disappointed in the final result, but those of us who don’t get emotionally involved couldn’t have picked a better game to watch.

We usually come out of the bowl season with one or two of the major conferences dominating their bowl games as well as a couple leagues whose teams get beat up.

The SEC -which has Auburn in Monday night’s title game -can claim a 7-2 record thus far, but high-profile losses by Alabama and Georgia stung the league that all others are trying to match.

The Big 12 can delight in wins by Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma, but they are offset by the losses incurred by Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State.

Of the four major college teams in our coverage area, only Marshall can claim a bowl victory as Ohio State and Ohio University lost their postseason games and West Virginia University didn’t qualify for one.

Once the national title game concludes, we’ll likely divide our focus between the National Football League playoffs and college basketball, as we start scouting teams for those March Madness brackets.

While we always associate the word parity with the National Football League, it also must be applied this winter to college basketball, as there is no clear-cut favorite for the national title, although many of the usual suspects -Kentucky, Duke, Arizona, Kansas -are among the many contenders.

We’ve seen teams such as Butler nearly pull off the ultimate of shockers. Don’t be surprised if a Wichita State -whose nickname is the Shockers -makes a major run this year.

That’s the great thing about the sports world. One sport ends, another takes its place.

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