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.
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.