College Football Winds Down

Six college football games will be played on Tuesday and several more remain until the Jan. 8 national championship between Ohio State and LSU. John Feinstein picks Ohio State to win. The most interesting of the 32 bowl games? Feinstein picks the Hawaii vs. Georgia Sugar Bowl match.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

No fewer than six college football games will be played today. Even so, five more games remain, leading up to the national championship on January 7th between Ohio State and Louisiana State.

Commentator John Feinstein joins us now. Good morning. Happy New Year.

JOHN FEINSTEIN: Good morning, Renee. Happy New Year.

MONTAGNE: And was there not a time when New Year's Day marked the end of the college football season?

FEINSTEIN: Ah, yes, a wonderful time in a place far, far away, where we knew that the four New Year's Day bowl games, then five when the Fiesta Bowl joined the party about 25 years ago, would end the college football season. But now they have to extend it on and on and on.

And as you mentioned, even though there are six games today, it won't be until the 7th of January that the college football season finally ends, and we'll have a bunch of sort of meaningless games in between today and that championship game.

MONTAGNE: Today's games - which though are actually worth turning on the TV for?

FEINSTEIN: Well, you know, they're all fun and they start at 11:00 o'clock in the morning, and you can sit and watch football until well after midnight because there are so many games throughout the day. But the one that I think is the most interesting is the last one, the Sugar Bowl Game between Hawaii and Georgia.

Hawaii is undefeated, but they don't play in one of the major BCS conferences, so they don't get a chance to play for the national championship. Again, only in college football can you go undefeated and not have a chance to win the title. But they're playing against Georgia from the powerful southeast conference and people think they're going to get blown out.

Well, last year Boise State went undefeated coming out of a small conference and played Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, and it turned out to be the best bowl game in the season with Boise State winning in overtime.

So I want to see Hawaii play with their quarterback Colt Brennan against Georgia. And then, of course, the Rose Bowl always has the most tradition, even though it's not a particularly great match-up, because Illinois is a three-loss team playing Southern California, but it's still the Rose Bowl.

MONTAGNE: It's a little remarkable, though, that already 21 bowl games have been played. Look back for us, please.

FEINSTEIN: As you said, you know, there are total of 32 bowl games now, which is amazing in itself. But one of the things that stood out to me watching the bowls is the officiating really is terrible.

The NCAA needs to do something about college football officiating. There was one game where an official literally did not know the rule and made a wrong call that could have decided the game in the Navy-Utah game. There was another 12-minute delay during another game because the officials didn't know the rule on something.

They need to centralize officiating and make it more professional and make officials accountable, for the sake of the players and the coaches.

MONTAGNE: Any one of those games stand out for you?

FEINSTEIN: Yeah, Penn State/Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl, because Joe Paterno coached these 500th college football game. Imagine that, Renee. They only played 12, 13 games a year, and he's coached 500 games. And it was nice to see Penn State with Paterno, who turned 81 last week, still bouncing up and down on the sidelines, winning that game.

MONTAGNE: Now, just got a few seconds. The championship, let's get back to that, between Ohio State and LSU.

FEINSTEIN: Yeah, they both sort of got there by default because everybody else lost. A lot of people think LSU is going to win the game easily, but I think Ohio State, which got embarrassed by Florida in the national championship game last year, will really come ready to play, and this will be a very close, competitive game.

MONTAGNE: Close, competitive - any predictions who will win?

FEINSTEIN: Well, I'm going to go with Ohio State, just because I like to pick upsets. Everybody is picking LSU. So you know me, Renee, I'll pick Ohio State.

MONTAGNE: All right. Well, thanks, John.

FEINSTEIN: Thanks, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Talk to you a lot in the New Year. The comments of John Feinstein, whose latest book is "Cover-up: Mystery at the Super Bowl."

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