Hope everyone had a great New Years Eve and had a great start to the new year. The Stack joins you today ready for another year that surely will have its share of surprises and I hope you keep coming back to read post after post. If you'd like me to talk about something in particular, let me know. I'll try to get it in there. Now then, let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for the first post of 2013 for today, Wednesday, January 2:
Florida State trumps Northern Illinois, Stanford wins Rose Bowl
There was a lot of uproar regarding Northern Illinois getting a birth in the Orange Bowl to face Florida State. For a while, they kept it close, but ultimately, Florida State's defense was too good and the Seminoles had too much speed and playmakers as they beat Northern Illinois 31-10 to win the Discover Orange Bowl. Good win for Florida State who hadn't won a BCS bowl game in twelve years. For Northern Illinois, they fought hard and represented themselves well. Ultimately they could not get it done, but they had one heck of a season.
In Pasadena, Stanford won their first Rose Bowl since 1972 after defeating Wisconsin 20-14. It was a defensive struggle throughout with neither team picking up a first down in the third quarter. Stanford started out strong, taking a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Wisconsin came back to make it close, going into halftime down 17-14, but they never led or tied Stanford in the game. Great win for Stanford, tough way to end the year for Wisconsin who already has seen coach Brett Bielema leave for Arkansas. The season had such promise for Wisconsin and they did make the Rose Bowl, but ultimately came up short.
In other bowl games, South Carolina scored a touchdown with eleven seconds left to beat Michigan 33-28 in the Outback Bowl. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney made one whale of a play when he crushed Michigan running back Vincent Smith in the backfield, knocking off his helmet and forcing a fumble which Clowney recovered. He is a great player and will be playing on Sundays in the future.
For the record, Northwestern beat Mississippi State 34-20 in the Gator Bowl, Oklahoma State crushed Purude 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl and Georgia beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Capital One Bowl.
Tonight's bowl game features #21 Louisville against #3 Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. I'll take Florida.
Thoughts on Black Monday
Seven coaches fired on NFL Black Monday. I beleive that is a record. Most firings weren't surprising. We all knew Andy Reid (Eagles), Norv Turner (Chargers), Pat Shurmur (Browns) and Romeo Crennel (Chiefs) would be gone. Chan Gailey (Bills) was considered a possible coach who would be fired. That proved to be correct as he got axed. Then there were the surprise firings and no head coach firing stunned more people and turned more heads than the Bears firing Lovie Smith. The Bears started out hot at 7-1, but faded a little bit down the stretch. The Bears GM said that Smith was fired because of the offense. That's a bunch of mularky. Yes the offensive line was a little shaky, but this Bears team always competed. Had the Vikings not beat the Packers, the Bears would be in the playoffs and Smith would still be the head coach. It is a joke that Smith got fired and the Bears will end up paying the price for it in the end I feel. The other firing that was a little surprising was Ken Whisenhunt (Cardinals), but then again, considering the lack of success the team has had in trying to find a quarterback to succeed Kurt Warner, perhaps time just ran out. There are GMs who were fired too and plenty of other coordinators who were sent packing. Check out the list here. It's probably not over. And when the head coaches are hired, we'll be there with plenty of reaction.
Final NFL week 17 power rankings
1. Denver Broncos 13-3
Eleven straight wins and homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. Yep, Broncos are peaking at the right time.
2. New England Patrios 12-4
Getting Rob Gronkowski back makes the Patriots offense very dangerous for the playoffs. Watch out!
3. Seattle Seahawks 11-5
Call me crazy, but the defense gets Brandon Browner back and Russell Wilson continues to play well. They have the confidence they can win anywhere.
4. Green Bay Packers 12-4
Getting Randall Cobb and Charles Woodson back for the playoffs makes the Packers especially dangerous on both sides of the ball. Another Super Bowl run? Probably.
5. Atlanta Falcons 13-3
In playing their starters in a meaningless week 17 game, the Falcons may have altered any postseason success with injuries to Dunta Robinson and John Abraham.
6. San Francisco 49ers 11-4-1
49ers seem more vunerable this time around versus last year and no I'm not talking about David Akers recent struggles though that does not help either.
7. Washington Redskins 10-6
Behind a rookie QB and a rookie RB, the Redskins have won the NFC East, but with RGIII not at 100 percent, do the Redskins have enough to make a big playoff run?
8. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
Great to see head coach Chuck Pagano back on the sidelines. His team has gone from two wins last year to eleven this year and a playoff spot. Anything can happen.
9. Houston Texans 12-4
Houston, we have a problem. A big problem. Texans are struggling bad right now and the Super Bowl, which seemed likely a few weeks back now is in serioius jeopardy.
10. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
The Bengals have a fantastic defense. If their offense can become a little more consistent, watch out for this team in the playoffs.
11. Minnesota Vikings 10-6
Four game win streak, but nine yards away from history. Has to be painful for Adrian Peterson, but the Vikings are in the playoffs. Their reward? Another meeting with Green Bay.
12. Baltimore Ravens 10-6
For a team that has struggled as bad as the Ravens have the last month, wouldn't it have been wise to play your starters at least for a half to get some momentum for the payoffs?
13. Chicago Bears 10-6
Had the Vikings not beaten the Packers, the Bears would be in the playoffs and Lovie Smith would still be the head coach. Have a feeling the Bears will end up regretting the decision.
14. New York Giants 9-7
Hey Giants! Put up that type of effort in either of your other two games and you'd be in the playoffs. You didn't though and now can only watch the playoffs.
15. Dallas Cowboys 8-8
In a big game to win the NFC East, history repeated itself with the Cowboys losing and Tony Romo playing bad. At this point, we shouldn't be surprised.
16. St. Louis Rams 7-8-1
Going 4-1-1 in the NFC West shows that the Rams will have something to say about the division over the next few years. Remarkable turnaround for this team this year.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers 8-8
Not the Steelers year. They're getting older on defense and may lose some weapons like Mike Wallace in the offseason. They'll retool though. They're the Steelers after all.
18. Carolina Panthers 7-9
Won five of their final six games and Cam Newton played very well late in the season. There is reason for optimism for Panthers fans.
19. Miami Dolphins 7-9
Dolphins better use some of that close to $47 million cap room money and get some weapons for Ryan Tannehill or they will not be making any progress next year.
20. New Orleans Saints 7-9
Disasterous season finally comes to an end for the Saints. They need to focus on improving a defense that was all-time bad though when Sean Payton comes back.
21. San Diego Chargers 7-9
New era of Chargers football will begin shortly following the firings of head coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith. Don't know how much they can/will close the gap on Denver.
22. Tampa Bay Buccaeers 7-9
Alot of negativity surrounding the Bucs the last half of the season. Maybe this win will help get rid of that negativity.
23. Buffalo Bills 6-10
The Bills will have a new regime and will be rebuilding once again. Different year, same message for Bills fans.
24. Tennessee Titans 6-10
Wasn't a good season for the Titans, but they made history Sunday with four touchdowns in five minutes without their offense stepping onto the field for even one play.
25. Cleveland Browns 5-11
What was said above for the Bills is the same for the Browns and their fans don't like it.
26. New York Jets 6-10
Finally and mercifully, the Jets season is over. Hope to stop hearing about them for a while. Time to blow up the entire operation.
27. Arizona Cardinals 5-11
If the Cardinals had a quarterback, they'd be competitive at least. Something that the new head coach will have to do. Maybe that coach is Andy Reid?
28. Detroit Lions 4-12
Lions need more discipline and more balance on offense if they want to avoid having another season like this year.
29. Philadelphia Eagles 4-12
No more Andy Reid on the sidelines for the Eagles next year. That is going to be weird. A lot of talent on this team. The new head coach is going to be lucky.
30. Oakland Raiders 4-12
Not sure if Terrelle Pryor is the answer at quarterback for the Raiders. Then again, Carson Palmer doesn't look like the answer either. Disappointing year in the Black Hole.
31. Jacksonville Jaguars 2-14
It's going to take the Jaguars a while to get back to competitive football, but maybe getting Tim Tebow will help accelerate the rebuilding.
32. Kansas City Chiefs 2-14
Number one pick, here the Chiefs come. They need a QB, but there may not be a QB worthy of the number one overall pick.
And before I go, the longest win streak in the NBA this season is no more as the Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets 92-78. The loss snaps the Clippers seventeen game win streak. They are still one of the top two or three teams in the NBA.
Coming up Thursday: NFL playoff news, head coaching moves and more