The massacre continues. While I may be above .500 for now, I’m not counting on that to hold up.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Thursday, December 31
12:00: Air Force vs. Houston (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): This edition of Air Force can definitely play some defense, while this edition of Houston can be wildly inconsistent. The will probably come down to whoever is most excited about being in Fort Worth again, but at least on my paper Houston’s passing attack should carry the day.
Previous meetings: This is the 3rd meeting between the two teams since September 2008, which was also their first meeting. They also played in last year’s Armed Forces bowl. Air Force won the regular season contest but lost the bowl.
Last bowl game: As mentioned above, both these teams played in last year’s edition of the Armed Forces bowl, so I think this is pretty self-evident.
2:00: Stanford vs. Oklahoma (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Whatever happens in this game, it cannot possibly be worse than last year’s 3-0 non-entity between Oregon State and Pittsburgh. (I don’t even remember who go the field goal, but it’s not really important because, let’s face it, there were no winners there.) Again, on paper, I think the Sooners should win, especially coming off their upset victory over rivals Oklahoma State. Stanford certainly has a chance, but then again they certainly should have been able to beat Cal at home in the Big Game. (In fairness, they did win their game, against Notre Dame.) There’s also this business about Andrew Luck’s broken finger – while Oklahoma is also missing their ideal signal caller I’d say they’re a lot more used to their backup at this point than the Cardinal are. Stanford still has Toby Gerhart, of course, so they’re not completely out of it. I except a pretty high scoring contest here (of course, by recent Sun Bowl standards, that’s not saying much) but Oklahoma to edge it out.
Previous meetings: Their last meeting was a 19-7 Oklahoma win, back in 1984. The had met three times before that, and OU holds a 3-1 series lead.
Last bowl game: Stanford hasn’t appeared in a bowl since the 2001 Seattle Bowl which they lost 24-14 to Georgia Tech. Oklahoma lost last year’s BCS Championship Game 24-14.
3:30: Missouri vs. Navy (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): This Navy team has some serious issues, especially on defense. Missouri I think feels a bit shafted by their bowl selection and I think will be plenty motivated. I think Navy will have the edge in the first half, but provided Mizzou doesn’t come out flat and recovered by the end they should be able to out-athlete Navy. Of course, almost every time I’ve said that so far it’s turned out to be completely untrue, so take that (and everything else here) with a grain of salt.
Previous meetings: Mizzou holds a 2-0 series advantage, with their previous meetings coming in 1948 and the 1961 Orange bowl.
Last bowl game: Missouri won last year’s Alamo Bowl contest against Northwestern, 30-23. Navy, meanwhile, lost the inaugural EagleBank Bowl to Wake Forest 29-19.
6:00: Iowa State vs. Minnesota (Insight Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; NFL Network): I wish I could tell you, nay, urge you to find out if you get NFL Network and tune into this game. Alas, in good conscience, I cannot. I mean, really, two 6-6 teams that don’t really have a lot of offense but don’t really play much defense either? My predictions is that the two teams run at each other for 60 minutes and at the end Minnesota is declared the winner. I mean, geez, at least in the Texas Bowl you get the novelty of watching Navy run their offense. The only novelty in the game is, “Hey, look, Iowa State is in a bowl game!” The only reason Iowa State is here is due to their massive 9-7 upset of Nebraska, in which the Cornhuskers turned the ball over eight times. Minnesota had to beat Syracuse in overtime and, er, upset (for lack of a better term) Northwestern.
Previous meetings: As with most things Iowa State, the Cyclones have a losing record against Minnesota: 2-22-1 to be exact. However, all but three of those games came before 1989, in fact, they all came up to 1924. The two teams met every year (except 1901) from 1895 to 1915, then the series came back briefly in 1923-24 and then promptly went away again. The result of all this is that Iowa State’s only two wins came back in 1897 and 1898.
Last bowl game: Iowa State last appeared in a bowl in 2005, where they lost to TCU 27-24. UMN is in their second straight Insight Bowl, and will hopefully do better than last year’s 42-21 loss to Kansas.
7:30: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Virginia Tech looks to improve upon their record in Atlanta so far their year (0-2) against a team in Tennessee that should, theoretically, be over matched. Both these teams sport very capable defenses, so I expect a tight, low-scoring game to wrap up the day, but for VPI to sneak in a win at the end.
Previous meetings: Here’s another game you have to go back in the books for. Their last meeting was in 1994, which VPI lost 45-23 in the Gator Bowl. The other six games were played in 1896, 1897, 1899, 1911, 1933, and 1937. Basically, it was so long ago that people besides me and my late grandfather still called them VPI. Oh, and Virginia Tech has lost all of them except the 1899 and 1911 editions.
Last bowl game: Virginia Tech was the ACC representative in the Orange Bowl last year, where they beat Cincinnati 20-7. Tennessee, of course, missed a bowl game last year but was in the Outback Bowl back on New Year’s Day, 2008. The beat Wisconsin 21-17.