Monthly Archives: December 2011

Bowl Games 2011: Part 3

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Friday, December 30
12:00: Tulsa vs. Brigham Young (Armed Forces Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPN): Tulsa sports a fun, high-flying offense. BYU comes in with a pretty decent defense, so this could be a, let’s say, 35-27 kind of affair. The question, which side gets to 35 first? Does BYU generate enough stops to limit Tulsa to just 27, or does the porous Tulsa defense allow the Cougars to get there first? Actually, let’s make that 35-32, Tulsa.
Previous meetings: These two have met seven times, and BYU leads the all-time series, 6-1. They last met in 2007, which Tulsa won 55-47.
Last bowl game: Tulsa demolished Hawaii in last year’s Hawaii bowl, 62-35. This is BYU’s 7th straight bowl game, with their last game being a 52-24 beatdown of UTEP in the New Mexico Bowl.
Fun facts: Tulsa is known as the “Golden Hurricane” because at the time (the early 1920’s) Georgia Tech was known was the “Golden Tornado”. Tulsa stuck with their weather phenomena moniker, but the Yellow Jackets did not.

3:30: Iowa State vs. Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): Dear Cyclones: while I found your double overtime win over Oklahoma State exhilarating and exciting, it did, unfortunately, doom us to LSU-Alabama Part II. I’m picking Rutgers in a close, low-scoring game.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: Iowa State last made a bowl game in 2009, where they beat Minnesota 14-13 in the Insight Bowl. Rutgers had a 5-year bowl game streak snapped last year. In 2009, they won the-then St. Petersburg Bowl 45-24 over Central Florida.
Fun facts: Rutgers was not the original name for the State University of New Jersey. Founded in 1766 as Queen’s College, the Revolutionary War necessitated a new name, and Colonel Henry Rutgers was around at the time, and one thing lead to another…

6:40: Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): Other than Wake’s now-traditional upset of Florida State, both of these teams pretty much beat the teams they were supposed to and lost to the teams they were supposed, which is pretty much how you get to 6-6. That said, it’s hard to see these Bulldogs getting blown out by Vanderbilt 41-7, so I’ll have to go with the ess-eee-cee again in this one.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Bulldogs make their second straight bowl appearance, with the previous game being a 52-14 rout of Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Wake Forest is just breaking out of one of their “down cycles”, with their last bowl appearance being a 29-19 win over Navy in the 2008 Eaglebank Bowl (which is now the Military Bowl).
Fun facts: In one of my favorite university history anecdotes, Wake Forest was originally found around what would become known as Wake Forest, North Carolina, after the college. After a sizable donation in 1946, the school began work to move to nearby Raleigh, and completed the move by 1956, leaving the town named after the university with a new Baptist seminary.

10:00: Oklahoma vs. Iowa (Insight Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): While the Hawkeyes may get a slight spark from the retirement of their long time defensive coordinator, I feel like they kind of used their “upset of clearly superior team” card this year when they beat Michigan. I’m going with Sooners in a scoring bonanza.
Previous meetings: Just one: a 21-6 Oklahoma win in 1979.
Last bowl game: This is Oklahoma’s 13th straight bowl game, with the progenitor of the streak being the 1999 Independence Bowl, which they lost to Ole Miss 27-25. Last year, they destroyed UConn in the Fiesta Bowl, 48-20. This will be Iowa’s fourth straight bowl game, with their previous game being this very game, actually, where they beat Mizzou in a thriller no-one saw, 27-24.
Fun facts: Of all the Big Ten’s various trophy games, by far the most amusing is the Iowa-Minnesota game, which is played for a pig known as the Floyd of Rosedale.

Saturday, December 31
12:00: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Northwestern (Car Care Bowl of Texas @ Houston, TX; ESPN): My favorite running joke of this college football season has been TAMU’s second half defense. It goes something like this: “Down by more than 10 points at halftime? You’ve got Texas A&M right where you want them.” Both these teams are more than capable of putting up points, which means what this game lacks in quality or defense it should make up for in scoring. And, well, at this point, can you really pick the Aggies? Northwestern rallies in the second half to win a shootout.
Previous meetings:None.
Last bowl game: This is TAMU’s third straight bowl game. The lost to 41-24 to LSU in last season’s Cotton Bowl. Northwestern is actually appearing in their fourth straight bowl game, and they lost last season’s TicketCity Bowl to Texas Tech, 45-38.
Fun facts: Both of these schools apparently have satellite campuses in Qatar. I’m not sure what else to say about that.

2:00: Georgia Tech vs. Utah (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): This is the toughest game for me to predict, every year. Yes, I know about the Georgia Tech bowl streak, especially with regards to our offense. Do I necessarily think there’s anything to it? It’s hard to say. Against LSU and Iowa, we simply lost to better opponents. Against Air Force, it looked like we were just… bad. This Utah squad sports the nation’s 7th ranked rush defense but unlike in past years they haven’t played any option teams. However, they did win their last three games straight against Air Force. Perhaps the best matchup for the Jackets is Utah’s mediocre-to-bad offense that couldn’t score against Colorado with the Pac-12 South on the line against GT’s mediocre-but-improving defense.
Previous meetings: One, in the 2005 Emerald Bowl. Utah won 38-10. That’s really all there is to say on the matter.
Last bowl game: GT is making its 15th straight bowl appearance, which is currently tied for the fourth-longest in the country with UGA, of all teams. The streak started with a 35-30 win over West Virginia in the 1997 CarQuest Bowl, which these days is in Orlando and is known as the Champs Sports Bowl. However, starting with the last time these two teams faced each other, Tech has lost six straight bowl game, including last year’s ugly 14-7 loss to Air Force in the Independence Bowl. Utah is making its ninth straight bowl appearance. Their streak started with a 17-0 win over Southern Miss in the 2003 Liberty Bowl. Last year, they lost 26-3 to Boise state in the Las Vegas Bowl.
Fun facts: Like any good football rivalry, Utah and BYU disagree on the number of wins and losses on each side. Utah counts 6 games BYU played as the “Brigham Young Academy” in the late 19th-century, while BYU says the series did not begin until 1922. Either way, Utah leads the series, but 53-33-4 or 50-30-4 depends on who you ask.

3:30: Vanderbilt vs. Cincinnati (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ABC): Vandy has the country’s 19th ranked defense, which is starting to make me think there may be something to “well, maybe most of the offenses in the SEC are just kind of bad” train of thought. I’d make this a fun fact, but it’s just too fun: Cincy’s quarterback for the past few games has been Munchie Legaux. While I expect the ‘Dores to put up a fight as they have for most of the season, I think Cincy has the edge here.
Previous meetings: The first meeting really goes back. I mean, really, because it was in 1898 with a follow-on game in 1899. Cincy won both games, 10-0 and 6-0. Vandy put in a one-off beat down in 1934 (32-0), and then Cincinnati got to repay the favor in 1976 by winning 32-0. A year later though, the Dores decided revenge was a dish best served hot and not over half a century later by winning 33-7. Vandy won the last two meetings in 1993 and 1994 17-7 and 34-24.
Last bowl game: Vandy is making their first bowl game appearance since 2008’s Music City Bowl, where they beat Boston College 16-14. Cincinnati had a four game bowl streak snapped last year. The last game in that streak was a 51-24 loss to Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Fun facts: One of Cincinnati’s chief football rivals is Miami University (you know, the one in Ohio). The series is much more even than you might expect. Miami is 59-49-7 all-time, and also is pretty even over the past 20 years even as Cincinnati has risen through the college football ranks.

3:30: California-Los Angeles vs. Illinois (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN): Well, I hate myself enough to actually watch this game. Do you? This game is the poster child for “there are too many bowl games”, as UCLA had to get a waiver to even be eligible at 6-7, and Illinois just went 0-6 to end the season. Both of teams subsequently fired their head coaches and booked travel to San Francisco. At least when UCLA got blown out to end the season, it was to teams like USC and Oregon and not, you know, Minnesota. These sorts of games tend to be sloppy affairs, the question is if it’ll be of the fun sort where neither side really bothers to play defense or the kind where neither team really shows up and someone happens to win at the end. I’m guessing the latter here. For some reason I’m taking the Illini.
Previous meetings: These teams have met 11 times, so I won’t go through them all. They first met all the way back in the 1946-1947 Rose Bowl, with the Illini winning 45-14. I guess they worked out some sort of scheduling agreement then, because then they played 6 times in the regular season from 1950 to 1964, with the Illini going 4-2. In 1983-1984 they met in the Rose Bowl again, with the Bruins winning 45-9, and then 7 years later they also won the Sun Bowl, 6-3. They then met 12 years later with the Bruins winning with the same 6-3 score, and then finally some touchdowns were scored in they last meeting in 2004, with UCLA coming out ahead 35-17. The Bruins lead the all-time series 6-5.
Last bowl game: UCLA’s last bowl game a was a 30-21 win in the 2009 EagleBank Bowl. Illinois made a bowl game last year, where they beat Baylor 38-14 in the Texas Bowl.
Fun facts: This game dampens my spirits such that I can’t think of anything fun about it.

7:30: Virginia vs. Auburn (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Virginia looked for awhile to actually be kind of legit, and then they got blown out 38-0 by their in-state rival. Whoops. Meanwhile Auburn just lost their offensive coordinator to Arkansas… State. Auburn also had an awful time against teams that actually played defense, which (38-0 aside) Virginia actually does. I’m going to predict a moderate score for both sides in this game, which will probably be more exciting than most observers thing, but I’ll kowtow to the ESS-EEE-CEE groupthink and go with the Tigers.
Previous meetings: Two, in 1997 and 1998. Auburn won the first game 28-17, but the Cavs shut out the Tigers 19-0 in the second.
Last bowl game: This is UVA’s first bowl game since 2007-8’s Gator Bowl, where they lost to Texas Tech 31-28. Auburn is appearing in their third straight bowl game. You might recall they beat Oregon in last year’s BCS Championship Game, 22-19.
Fun facts: Virginia’s athletic teams really are named after the historical English Cavaliers, the side in the English Civil War that was loyal to the king, and later on, the original Virginia colonists who were loyalists.

Bowl Games 2011: Part 2

Merry Christmas, loyal readers. All, um, five of you.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 26
5:00: North Carolina vs. Missouri (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN2): Nothing quite says “mediocre bowl game” like two teams with 7-5 records and average statistical rankings, it seems like. I guess it shows I haven’t paid a lot of attention to Mizzou this year, as I’m pretty shocked that they’re 11th in the nation in rushing and 57th in passing, which is pretty much the complete opposite of the past few years for them. This version of the UNC defense isn’t as fearsome as past editions, which makes me give a slight edge to the Tigers.
Previous meetings: Two, all the way back in 1973 and 1976. Mizzou won both games, 27-14 and 24-3.
Last bowl game: This is Carolina’s fourth consecutive bowl game, with their last appearance being that that debacle of a Music City Bowl against Tennessee that they wound up winning 30-27. Mizzou makes their seventh straight bowl appearance here, but you probably don’t remember their last game: the very anonymous Insight Bowl. They lost 27-24 to Iowa.
Fun facts: I’d grumble some more about 5th down, but these are supposed to be fun facts.

Tuesday, December 27
4:30: Purdue vs. Western Michigan (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): The Boilermakers are pretty much here due to their miracle upset of Ohio State back on November 12th. It’s hard to tell how much of a talent disparity there is in games like, this, though, as WMU’s stats could be inflated by their league while Purdue’s could be deflated by theirs. I’m leaning toward this being a shootout, with Purdue coming out just barely ahead.
Previous meetings: Two, which is actually lower that I would’ve thought given the Big Ten teams’ proclivity of scheduling MAC teams as patsies. Anyway, they were both in September, but the first was in 1993 and the last in 2002. Purdue won both, 28-13 and 28-24.
Last bowl game: The Boilermakers are making their first bowl appearance since 2007, when they beat another directional Michigan (Central) in this very same game, 51-48 (though it was then the Motor City Bowl). The Broncos’ last bowl appearance was actually more recent. They lost 38-14 to Rice in the 2008 Texas Bowl (which is now the Mieneke Car Care Bowl of Texas).
Fun facts: Purdue quarterbacks (a group that includes names like Bob Griese and Drew Brees) have more touchdown passes thrown in the NFL than any other school.

8:00: North Carolina State vs. Louisville (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Mediocrity, ahoy! Both of these teams sport anemic offenses and above-average defenses, which points to a low-scoring struggle to see who can kick the most field goals. However, NC State’s kicker is 10 of 15 and Louisville’s is 11 of 16, so that doesn’t quite work either in terms of distinguishing these two teams. In their last two games, both teams found their offensive mojo, as NC State routed Maryland in their last game and upset Clemson before that, while the Cardinals won 5 of their last 6 after a 2-4 start. These are basically the same team, if you ask me, so I’ll go with the one that beat North Carolina this year: NC State.
Previous meetings: This will be the fourth meeting between these two teams, with NCSU looking for its first win against the Cardinals. The first was all the way back in 1953, which Louisville won 26-2. In 1994 they won 35-14, and in 2007 they won 29-10.
Last bowl game: The Wolfpack went to the Champs Sports Bowl last year, where they beat West Virginia 23-7. Louisville won last year’s Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, beating Southern Mississippi 31-28.
Fun facts: I’m not entirely sure how this works, but the cardinal in the Louisville logo has teeth.

Wednesday, December 28
4:30: Toledo vs. Air Force (Military Bowl @ Washington, D.C.; ESPN): Combined average defense ranking of these two teams: 73rd in the country. Mean, both these teams are more than capable of scoring: Toledo, (in)famously lost game this year 60-63 and then came back and won the next week 66-63. Air Force’s defense is really awful in all phases, though, while Toledo is mainly terrible against the pass (118th out of 120), something they won’t really have to worry about against the triple-option lovin’ Falcons. Toledo edges out (another) shootout.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Rockets went to last year’s Little Caesar’s Bowl, where they lost 34-32 to Florida International. Air Force is making their fifth straight bowl game, and they (sigh) beat Georgia Tech 14-7 in last year’s Independence Bowl.
Fun facts: Toledo’s moniker, the Rockets, apparently originated as a contraction of “Skyrockets”, which was made up during in the pressbox during a massive upset in the early 1920’s. The name stuck, despite the university not otherwise having much to do with rocketry.

9:00: California vs. Texas (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): After watching the Texas-Texas A&M game, I think I described the Longhorns’ offense as “the McGuyver of offenses”, held together by trick plays, bubblegum, and dental floss. This is the best all-around defense the Golden Bears have played all year, and they already struggled offensively against every other decent outfit they’ve played. Both teams will struggle to score, but I think Longhorns are more used to that and will come out ahead in the end. (Yes, I’m aware Texas just gave up 48 to Baylor, but Cal doesn’t have Robert Griffin III at QB for them, last I checked.)
Previous meetings: The Bears are 0-4 against the Longhorns, and it hasn’t really even been close. The first meeting was in 1959, which Texas won 33-0. Two years later, they met again, with the Texas winning 28-0. To close the decade out, they met in 1969 and 1970, and again, it was all Texas, as they won 17-0 and 56-15, respectively.
Last bowl game: Cal previously had a good bowl streak going, but missed out on the postseason last year, making this their first game since the 2009 Poinsettia Bowl, where they lost to Utah 37-27. Texas looks to restart a long streak that was also broken last year, which was only one season after the lost to Alabama in the 2009-2010 BCS National Championship Game, 37-21.
Fun facts: One of the first fight songs I ever learned was the Cal Drinking Song. Of course, there’s another Cal song that has a tune that’s very familiar to most Tech fans, though I’ve read articles elsewhere that state the common theory about the song being lifted after the 1929 Rose Bowl to be false.

Thursday, December 29
5:30: Notre Dame vs. Florida State (Champs Sports Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): FSU’s offense is also a short of make-shift outfit, but they do have the dynamic E.J. Manuel, who on his good days can put some points on the board for the Seminoles. They also have the sixth ranked total defense in the country, but as their 23-13 loss to Oklahoma showed, that doesn’t necessarily matter if you still can’t put up the points, which hasn’t been a problem for the Irish this year. I’ll take the Domers in a relatively low-scoring affair.
Previous meetings: For the all the cachet this matchup has, I was actually somewhat surprised to find that FSU and Notre Dame only met once when the former was an independent, in 1981. (FSU joined the ACC in 1992.) FSU won that game 19-13. In the 90’s, the two teams played 3 times, with ND winning 31-14 in 1993 and FSU winning 23-16 in 1994. On New Year’s Day in 1996, they met in the Orange Bowl and FSU won 31-26. And finally, they played again in 2002 and 2003. ND won the first game 34-24, but FSU shut them out in the latter game, 37-0.
Last bowl game: Notre Dame ventured to El Paso last year for the Sun Bowl, where they beat Miami 33-17. FSU, of course, currently owns the longest bowl streak in the nation, with this being their 30th consecutive appearance. One has to go all the way back to 1976 to find the last time the Seminoles failed to reach a bowl game. The year after, they went to what was then known as the Tangerine Bowl, where they beat Texas Tech 40-17. Last year, the beat South Carolina in the Chick-fil-a Bowl 26-17.
Fun facts: Other than the usual (and tired) jokes about FSU being a women’s college until 1947, I can’t really think of anything to put here.

9:00: Washington vs. Baylor (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): The best hope for the Huskies in this one is probably to force a shootout and hope to have the ball last, because otherwise their offense isn’t good enough to keep up with the Bears, even with Baylor’s really bad defense.
Previous meetings: Four, and somewhat surprisingly none were bowl games. Baylor won the first two contests in 1954 and 1955 34-7 and 13-7, respectively. They met again in 1964 and 1965, and this time the Huskies managed to win a game 35-14, but the Bears came right back in ’65 and won 17-14.
Last bowl game: The Huskies snapped a bowl drought last season by making the Holiday Bowl, where they pulled off one of the most shocking upsets of last bowl season by beating Nebraska 19-7. Baylor’s drought was even longer before they made the Texas Bowl last year, when they lost to Illinois 38-14. Before that, they had not appeared in a bowl game since 1994, and you have to go all the way back to the 1992 Sun Bowl to find the last time they won a bowl game. (They beat Arizona 20-15 in that game.)
Fun facts: Very occasionally, there is actually somewhat clever writing on Wikipedia. For instance, referring to Washington: “The husky was selected as the school mascot by student committee in 1922. It replaced the ‘Sun Dodger,’ an abstract reference to the local weather that was quickly dropped in favor of something more tangible.” Well done, I say.

Bowl Games 2011: Opening Slate

Let’s start off with all the pre-Christmas bowl games. The full set of winner-loser predictions are available, but more detailed previews will come closer to the games themselves.

As usual, all times Eastern, and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 17
2:00: Temple vs. Wyoming (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Bowl season kicks off down in New Mexico, where anything could happen in this MAC-MWC matchup. Which, like many of these sorts of games, make it hard to predict. The matchup the Owls will be looking to exploit is their 7th-ranked rushing attack against the nation’s 115th-ranked rushing defense. Temple also has a decent defense themselves, which makes me inclined to think they’ll prevail.
Previous meetings: Only one, back in 1990. Wyoming won 38-23.
Last bowl game: For the Cowboys, it was the 2009 edition of this very game, where they beat Fresno State 35-28. Temple also last went bowling in 2009 despite an 8-4 record last year. They lost to UCLA 30-21 in what was then the Eaglebank Bowl, but is now the Military Bowl.
Fun facts: New for this year, I’ll attempt to unearth some sort of interesting (to me, at least) fact about either or both of the teams involved in the game. Generally this means I’ll look something up on Wikipedia, so hopefully the schools involved don’t generally have their pages vandalized very often. But today, I will remind you that brown and gold are Wyoming’s official colors. This leads to what I think are college football’s most charming and, at the same time, ugliest uniforms:

When EA Sports’ NCAA Football games used to have a create-a-school option I generally tried to make the home uniforms as ugly as possible. After they took that out, well, it was pretty obvious which team I had to lead to glory.

5:30: Utah State vs. Ohio (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): Utah State chose pretty much the most dramatic route to a bowl game possible. After a 2-5 start including a game at Auburn that they led in the fourth quarter and a double overtime loss to Colorado State, they rallied to win five straight. Nonetheless, they only one two of their games by more than a touchdown, which means that the Bobcats will likely be in this thing to the end. Both these teams would prefer to run the bowl, especially Utah State, whereas Ohio features a more balanced offense. That said, I like the Bobcats. While their numbers are very similar, I think the MAC was a tougher conference than the WAC this year. I guess we’ll find out for sure on Saturday, though.
Previous meetings: Once, amazingly, in 1994. If I had more time, I would look this up, because Utah State apparently won 5-0. (I just checked on Google, but even 1994 as a search term it still just came up with articles for this year’s game.)
Last bowl game: For the Aggies, you have to go all the way back to 1997, when they lost to Cincinnati 35-19 in the Humanitarian Bowl. The Bobcats are headed to their 3rd straight game and their first win in a bowl game (they’re 0-5 all-time in bowl games). They lost 48-21 to Troy last year in the New Orleans Bowl.
Fun facts: Utah State’s basketball arena is known as the “Dee Glen Smith Spectrum”, which reminds me that one of these days I need to figure out how “Spectrum” became used as a word for indoor sports arenas, as Idaho has the Keenan Spectrum for basketball, and Philadelphia, of course, had the most famous version.

9:00: San Diego State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): The Ragin’ Cajuns should definitely enjoy home field advantage in their first ever bowl game. That said, I don’t think that will be enough to get them past a superior San Diego State team.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Ragin’ Cajuns have been playing major college football since 1973, and this will be their first bowl game. In that time, they only have two other seasons with more than 6 wins: 1993 (8-3) and 1976. The Aztecs are now in a bowl game two years running. Last year they beat Navy 35-14 in the hometown Poinsettia Bowl.
Fun facts: There have been numerous debates in Louisiana over the years about which school there had the right to call itself just “the University of Louisiana”. While there’s always definitively been one Louisiana State, the University of Louisiana system was only formed in 1974 as a conglomeration of existing campuses. That said, Lafayette is the largest campus in the system.

Tuesday, December 20
8:00: Marshall vs. Florida International (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): Neither of these teams really do the “scoring points” thing particularly well, but at least FIU does prevent other teams from scoring points. The result? A situation where I’ll actually pick a Sun Belt team to win.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: For the Herd, it was the 2009 Little Ceasars Bowl, where they beat Ohio 21-17. FIU, of course, made their first ever bowl appearance in that very same game, but in 2010, where they beat Toledo 34-32.
Fun facts: FIU was established in 1965, which has to make them one of, if not the, youngest universities in major college football.

Wednesday, December 21
8:00: Louisiana Tech vs. Texas Christian (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): While TCU finds itself in the somewhat strange situation of being outside the top ten teams in the country in defense, they’re still pretty good. And I’ll roll with the MWC champs over the WAC champs any day.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: LaTech was last seen beating Northern Illinois in the 2008 Independence Bowl, 17-10. TCU meantime, is back in the Poinsettia Bowl (where they played in 2008, beating a 12-1 Boise team 17-16) after two straight appearance in BCS bowl games. Boise got revenge in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, winning 17-10, but the Horned Frogs mustered just enough to win the Rose Bowl 21-19 against Wisconsin last year. TCU has also made a bowl appearance every year since 2004, and discounting that, every year since 1998.
Fun facts: Unlike, say, Georgia Tech, the full name of LaTech is actually “Louisiana Tech University”. And they really are a university, since they have 19 bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts. If you’re reading this, you likely already know the answer to this question, but I’ll ask anyway: in major college football (Division I-A or FBS, that is) there are 120 teams. Five of them, one of them being Georgia Tech, do not have the word “university” in their title (as GT is the Georgia Institute of Technology). What are the other four?

Thursday, December 22
8:00: Arizona State vs. Boise State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ESPN): Unless Boise just comes in completely deflated and unmotivated in making their second straight Las Vegas Bowl appearance after having BCS aspirations (with this year being especially painful since they this was probably their best chance of getting into the BCS title game ever), this should be a cakewalk for Boise. The best Arizona State can hope for, most likely, is a shootout. [insert obligatory mention of Arizona State quarterback Brock Oswelier’s 6’8″ stature here]
Previous meetings: One, back before Boise State was any sort of powerhouse. The Sun Devils won easily, 56-7.
Last bowl game: Probably part of the reason Dennis Erickson got the ol’ heave-ho is that this is the Sun Devil’s first bowl game since 2007, where they lost to Texas 52-34 in the Holiday Bowl. Boise beat down Utah 26-3 in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, continuing a streak they’ve had since 2002, or 1999 if you discount that they went 8-4 in 2002 but didn’t get an invite.
Fun facts: While I don’t really mind the blue turf myself, it has invited a host of copycats. Most famous of these non-Boise surfaces is, of course, Eastern Washington:

But there’s also the field donated to Barrow High School, which I believe is the world’s northernmost American football field:

But this? There’s just… well, I guess if you’re the Central Arkansases (I guess that’s the plural of “Arkansas”?) you’ll do just about anything to stand out:

Saturday, December 24
8:00: Southern Mississippi vs. Nevada (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Nevada entered the season with hopes of dominating this year’s watered-down WAC, but instead lost two conference games and got sent to Hawaii. Southern Miss, of course, just pulled off a pretty big upset to take the Conference USA crown, and they did it by forcing Case Keenum to have the worst day of his life. However, instead of ending up in the nearby Liberty Bowl, shenanigans occurred and they got sent to Hawaii. I mean, there are worse places to go for sure, but it’s not so good in terms of having a victory lap for one of the most successful seasons in school history. They’ll also need to switch gears from their stifling pass defense to their pretty good run defense, as they face the Wolf Pack’s unique pistol offense. The Golden Eagles are no slouches on offense themselves, though, and they should eventually pull away in the second half for the victory.
Previous meetings: Two, in what was likely a home-and-home arrangement. Southern Miss won both legs, though. In 1997 the Golden Eagles prevailed 35-19, and then really poured it on in 1998 in a 55-28 win.
Last bowl game: Southern Miss is on a pretty long bowl game run themselves: every year since 2001, and 1997 if you discount that. Last year they lost 31-28 to Louisville in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. Nevada’s made a game every year since 2005, and last year beat Boston College 20-13 in the Fight Hunger Bowl.
Fun facts: In 1923, California finished 9-0-1 and claims a national title for that year. The only blemish was a 0-0 tie to Nevada. The Golden Bears had a 50-game winning streak at the time as well, making this one of the most unlikely upsets ever.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

The regular season is technically over, but we’ll cover the Army-Navy game as well as the various playoff games that are actually on television (not to mention the others that’ll be on the Internet).

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Northern Iowa @ Montana (Division I Quarterfinal; ESPN): These teams entered as the 5 and 4-seeds (respectively) in the tournament, and thus both received byes to the second round in the 20-team bracket. The Grizzlies thumped their second opponent, Central Arkansas, 41-14 while UNI ended up winning 28-21 with some help from probably the most boneheaded play of last weekend. Nonetheless, Montana has all the cards here, with superior offensive and defensive rankings as well as a projected game time temperature of about 25 degrees in their home stadium, which looking at attendance figures will probably be sold out. Meanwhile, UNI plays their home games in a dome. I think I know who I like here.

Noon: Montana State @ Sam Houston State (Division I Quarterfinal; ESPN): Sam Houston State is the #1 seed in the tournament, but they’re last in spelling, because apparently they are officially the “Bearkats”. I mean, at least “dawgs” is usually an unofficial nickname, but nope, it’s right there on their ESPN page. In protest, I refuse to write anything further about this game.

1:00: Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Grambling State (SWAC Championship @ Birmingham, AL; ESPNU): I really debated putting this game on the list. It’s on TV and all, but… I don’t know, maybe I just don’t fully understand the traditions of the SWAC that would cause them to want to have their own title game and not participate in the playoffs that so many of us at the top level of the sport of would love to have. Not only that, but the SWAC has 10 teams and plays 9 conference games, which means that a title game is wholly unnecessary. Oh, and speaking of rematches, A&M beat Grambling 20-14 back in September. If anything, the game should be the resolution of the three 7-2 teams that all beat each other in the regular season (Jackson State, A&M, and Alabama State).

2:30: Army vs. Navy (@Landover, MD; CBS): This has not been a banner year for these two academies. Navy is 4-7 and Army is 3-8 and is, last I checked, narrowly favored for what has to be the first time in awhile. Both have been undone by very mediocre-to-bad defenses. That said, though, Navy’s schedule was a lot tougher than Army’s, with Navy’s only really bad loss to San Jose State, then again, that’s countered by Army’s upset of Northwestern (which probably says a lot about how far the Wildcats have come more than anything else, since we can properly call it an “upset”). I’ll stick with the Midshipmen to continue their nine game winning streak.

Look for bowl previews starting next week!