One thing I have noticed watching the bowls this season is how teams playing in unseasonably cold weather have been competing. While this might just be coincidence, it is interesting to see that teams from cold weather climates have outperformed teams from the "warmer" southern climate. For instance, Wisconsin's performance against Miami on Tuesday, last night's performance by Nebraska over Arizona, Utah vs. Cal, and BYU's performance over Oregon State in the Las Vegas Bowl (granted that one is a stretch, Corvallis is not a really "warm" climate towards the end of the season).
Here are some of the stats for games pitting cold vs. warm:
Some further evidence can be seen in today's game between Houston and Air Force. The game time temperature was 48 degrees, and Air Force is up 24-6 at halftime.
Is there a clear effect?
For Miami, I would say there was a definite effect on the team. They came out in the first quarter in short sleeves, and most of the players came out at the beginning of the second half with their "cold weather" sleeves on. Wisconsin didn't have to make a change, they looked quite comfortable in that weather (probably a welcome change from Madison right now). Aside from the razzle-dazzle that Miami demonstrated at the beginning of the game, and at the end, they looked like they were out of their element. Can you attribute that to the weather? Or is that a testament to Wisconsin's defense? Who really knows, but it is an interesting correlation to consider when you look at other games of similar settings.
Arizona should have some experience in this type of weather, since they play the likes of Washington, Washington State, Oregon, and Oregon State. Playing games in Corvallis, Pullman, Seattle, and Eugene should have presented this team with some less than desirable weather. This is not the case though, Arizona traveled to Corvallis on September 26, and Eugene on October 10. They also hosted Oregon and Washington State this season, so they really hadn't played in any conditions like this all season. This was apparent in how they were performing during the game last night, several times there were players slipping, or balls skipping off of receivers hands. Some of that can be attributed to how torn up the field was thanks to the games that had been played there since the field was recently re-sodded, but some of it has to fall on the weather conditions. Nebraska seemed to handle the field far better, as I only saw them slipping a few times, and not making catches that skipped off their hands a few times.
The other games do not lend such a decisive advantage to the weather, but it is something to take into consideration. The Las Vegas Bowl can be attributed to the howling winds that were faced throughout the game, and the Poinsetta Bowl featured statistics that show a pretty even matchup.
Games that do not follow:
Obviously, USC's route of Boston College, and UCLA's defeat of Temple are games where it was cold, and had teams from both types of climate. It is interesting to consider how the weather effects the teams that aren't used to it. I'd love (and hate at the same time) to see the game time temperature in Miami be about 42 degrees with rain, just a miserable setting for the Georgia Tech team, and a welcome respite from the bitter cold of the Midwest for the Hawkeyes. Since I'm going to the game, I don't really want to see this happen, but I wouldn't be opposed to it if it gave the Hawks an advantage.
What was my takeaway?
It would be interesting to see the ESS-EEE-SEEE speed be forced to play in conditions like the Minnesota game. Tebow would have a hard time adjusting to the frigid cold, and snow that often grace the fields of the Midwest late in the season. Southern teams that run a lot wouldn't have a tough time adjusting, as the game plan doesn't have to be altered thanks to the conditions. The only way I can see the running games not being successful is when those RBs start getting pounded by the defense (it seems to hurt more when you get blown up when it's cold out). I can only imagine the effect weather would have on the MNC game if it was at Soldier Field (this will never happen, the southern folk are a bunch of pussies when it comes to cold weather).