Well, I’m 9-10 now. I guess this makes up for having a good year last year? That said, still 16 games to go, so there’s still time to avert my first below .500 year since 2005.
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.
Monday, December 31
12:00: Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina State (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): This one was pretty difficult for me to call. Vandy did end on a relatively high note for their season, but their offense really is kind of woeful. NC State, meanwhile, is just plain vanilla and mediocre, which is something that the administration in Raleigh only apparently just caught on to when they fired Tom O’Brien. So I’ve predicted the Wolfpack to win, but in as narrow a fashion as possible.
Previous meetings: Despite both teams being in the South (and in the original Southern conference), they have only met once: on November 9, 1946. Vandy won 7-0.
Last bowl game: Vandy is going to consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. They lost last year’s Liberty Bowl to Cincinnati, 31-24. This is the Wolfpack’s third straight bowl, and they beat Louisville in last year’s Belk Bowl 31-24.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Rod Gilmore
2:00: Georgia Tech vs. Southern California (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Here we are, once again. USC will be without Matt Barkley and may be without Marquise Lee, but nonetheless their backups are still likely more talented than any of our players. In general I agree with this write-up, but then again, most everything there is a pretty obvious roadmap for a heavy underdog to pull of a monumental upset.
Maybe the thing I haven’t seen much of is that Tech’s best player, Orwin Smith, will play in this game after missing the UGA game the ACC championship game. Him and Jeremiah Attachou on defense may be the only guys on our team that would have a shot of cracking USC’s two-deep, and so we will need to lean heavily on them to make the plays that will be needed for us to have a shot. One player that will be missing for the Jackets is starting safety Isiah Johnson, the team’s leading tackler. That’s a big loss for an already thin and not very good secondary.
Perhaps the ray of hope for Tech partisans can also be this: USC is here for a reason. They lost to games to Stanford, Oregon, and Notre Dame, yes, but on paper at least one of those should’ve been a win, much less the losses to UCLA and especially Arizona. We don’t exactly have a Kenjon Barner in our backfield but the Trojans’ defense didn’t just give up 426 rushing yards in a void. That suggests a defense that has issues with assignment football and discipline, which is just the sort of thing we can exploit.
On the flip side, well, our defense is awful and as said earlier everyone on USC’s offensive two-deep would start almost anywhere else in college football. a5 and I’s worst nightmare when we first realized that the stars were aligning to put these two teams in the Sun Bowl were visions of Matt Barkley lobbing passes to wide-open receivers streaking downfield, and just because Barkley isn’t playing doesn’t make that any less possible.
That’s all about I have for this.
Previous meetings: I’m not surprised we’ve played USC before, but I am surprised that all 3 contests took place during the regular season. The games took place in 1961, 1969, and 1973. Tech won the first 27-7, but USC claimed the last two, 29-18 and 23-6.
Last bowl game: This is Tech’s 16th consecutive bowl appearance. They lost last year’s Sun Bowl 30-27 to Utah. (Notably, GT hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl, which was a 51-14 beatdown of Syracuse.) Thanks to NCAA probation, USC’s 9 year bowl streak was snapped in 2009. That year, they beat Boston College in the Emerald Bowl 24-13.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson
3:30: Tulsa vs. Iowa State (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Iowa State just isn’t, well, good.
Previous meetings: Just once, in 1961. Iowa State won 27-6. Some will remember that Tulsa used to be a big passing team, but that’s no longer the case, as they now sport a prolific rushing attack. I don’t see how the Cyclones can keep up.
Last bowl game: This is Tulsa’s third straight bowl appearance. They lost to BYU in last year’s Armed Forces Bowl, 24-21. Iowa State lost last year’s Pinstripe Bowl to Rutgers, 27-13.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard
7:30: Clemson vs. Louisiana State (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Clemson’s offense is prolific, but as one of the few to beat Texas A&M this year, LSU has shown they have the defensive talent to contain some of the nation’s best attacks. Clemson, on the other hand, got outclassed by South Carolina in their last game and will probably have similiar issues trying to get anything working against the LSU defense while their own defense will probably not be up to the task. The best case for the orange and purple tigers might be to keep this one tight and low scoring and hope for some breaks, because it’s hard to see how their offense will prevail.
Previous meetings: These tigers have met only once, and both in bowl games. In the 1958/59 Sugar Bowl, LSU won 7-0, while in the 1996 Peach Bowl LSU won 10-7.
Last bowl game: This is Clemson’s eighth straight bowl game, though they would probably rather forget about last year’s Orange Bowl debacle, where they got trounced 70-33 by West Virginia. Then again, arguably more embarrassing was LSU’s offensive no-show in last year’s BCS Championship, which they lost 21-0 to Alabama. This will be their 13th straight bowl appearance.
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham