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!