John U. Bacon talks Big Ten and bowl games
Michigan Radio sports commentator John U. Bacon joins us to talk about the Spartans' ninth Big Ten Championship and the upcoming bowl season.
Spartans take Big Ten
The Spartans emerged victorious on Saturday, winning their ninth Big Ten Championship and giving Iowa its first loss of the season.
The Hawkeyes stayed on top until MSU pulled out a nine-minute, 22-play, 82-yard scoring drive to secure the winning touchdown.
Bacon explains that scoring drives typically last “three, four, five minutes maybe.”
“I didn’t know you could fit 22 plays into 80 yards, but they did it,” he says. “They’re talking about this as one of the greatest drives in the history of college football.”
He calls it one of Mark Dantonio’s finest hours. “The man is on a roll,” Bacon says.
College Football Playoffs
The Spartans will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Cotton Bowl while Clemson and Oklahoma go head to head in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
The betting line places MSU as nine-and-a-half-point underdogs to the Crimson Tide, but as Bacon points out, the Spartans were “13-point underdogs against Ohio State.”
“Dantonio’s teams, they live to be the underdog. They’re not very comfortable, I think, when they’re the favorite,” Bacon says. He points to their loss against Nebraska, for which they were the clear favorites, and their victories against U of M and Ohio State, both of which were favored above the Spartans.
Bacon tells us the Spartan’s one exploitable weakness will be their defensive backs, “the farthest back guys on the defense,” and he’s sure Alabama coach Nick Saban will plan for it.
“If nothing else, the game is going to be very close. I have a hard time imagining an Alabama blowout,” Bacon says.
U of M going to the Citrus Bowl
The Wolverines will play New Year’s Day against Florida in the Citrus Bowl. Bacon expects the Gators could pose a serious threat to U of M, but tells us things get a little harder to predict when it comes to bowl games.
He explains that the six-week break before the game gives plenty of time for players to get healthy again and for coaches to break down “way too much tape, and these coaches have a habit of doing that.”
“So bowl games are exceedingly hard to predict for that reason, however, I do think that Michigan has the clear advantage here,” he says.
Central Michigan vs. Minnesota
The Chippewas are scheduled to face the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field on December 28.
Bacon tells us this game is hard to call, since Minnesota coach Jerry Kill’s sudden retirement means “you’ve got a coach who’s been there for about five games,” but the Gophers have shown that they can be a dangerous team.
The biggest thing for CMU, according to Bacon, is that they’re going to a bowl game.
“They’re not going anywhere warm, they’re going to Detroit,” Bacon says, “but for any MAC team to go to a bowl game is usually a pretty big deal, so hats off to the Chips.”