Friday, December 18, 2015

Bowl Games 2015: Opening Slate

We'll start off with an overview of Saturday's games, but of course I've updated the schedule page with my predictions for all of the games. Confidence values for ESPN's bowl pick 'em are tentative, as I'm writing this ahead of time.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 19
2:00: New Mexico vs. Arizona (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Bob Davie's back in a bowl game! His hometown Lobos have basically no chance, though.
Confidence: 30
Previous Meetings: Being from neighboring states and in the same conference a long time, these two have met 46 times. Unsurpsingly, though, Arizona holds a 43-20-3 advantage, amassed mainly when the two teams met every year from 1920 through 1977. The last two meetings, in 2007 and 2008, went New Mexico's way, however.
Last bowl game: This is New Mexico's first bowl game since their 23-0 win over Nevada in the 2007 New Mexico Bowl. This is Arizona's fourth straight bowl game. They lost to Boise State 38-30 in last season's Fiesta Bowl.
Announcers: Eamon McAnaney and Rocky Boiman

3:30: Utah vs. Brigham Young (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ABC): The Holy War is back ahead of schedule, and naturally these two teams are meeting in... Sin City. Hey, at least they'll still sell the hotel rooms (and the game is sold out). As for the game, Utah would seem to have the advantage, but there's a large "don't want to be here" factor in play for the Utes, as they played in this game last year and also probably deserved a better bid with their record. Also, there's a lot of bad blood in this rivalry these days, which the Utes going off to a Power 5 conference and gaining talent, money, and prestige while the traditional power in the state, BYU, languishes. I have the Utes, but only by a bit.
Confidence: 8
Previous Meetings: Despite what I said above, the Utes actually hold a 54-31-4 advantage all time (though the Cougars are 30-33-1 since 1950). The two previously met every year from 1922 through 2013.
Last bowl game: This is BYU's tenth straight bowl game, and their first appearance in this one since they appeared in four straight from 2005 through 2009. They lost to Memphis in the Miami Beach Brawl Bowl 55-48 last year. Utah won last year's Las Vegas Bowl 45-10 over Colorado State.
Announcers: Brent Musburger and Jesse Palmer
Fun fact: Ol' Brent loves him some sly on-air gambling references, which I'm pretty sure could be the basis of a pretty solid drinking game. On a related note, as of this writing "our friends in arid regions" (as Rece Davis would say) have the Utes by 2.5 or 3.

5:30: Ohio vs. Appalachian State (Camellia Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): Spoiler alert, but this is Appy State's first ever bowl game. So, yeah, welcome to FBS guys. Wasn't winning national titles more fun? But hey, at least they'll get a win.
Confidence: 9
Previous Meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: As spoiled above, this is Appalachian State's first ever bowl game, since this is the first "real" season of FBS play. The Bobcats had a nice little bowl streak going from 2009 through 2013, but last season they missed a bowl despite going 6-6. They lost the 2013 Beef O'Brady's bowl to East Carolina 37-20.
Announcers: Dave Neal and Anthony Becht
Fun fact: The camellia, native to East Asia, is the state flower of Alabama. There have also been two other Camellia Bowls. The first, in 1948, pitted Hardin-Simmons against Wichita State in Lafayette, Louisiana. The Shockers lost 49-12 and the game folder after only pulling 5,000 at the game. The Camellia Bowl was then a small-school bowl in Sacramento, California (the "Camellia City") bowl between 1961-1975 and 1980.

7:00: San Jose State vs. Georgia State (Cure Bowl @ Orlando, FL; CBSS): "Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream" she said
"The one that makes me laugh" she said
And threw her arms around my neck
"Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I'll run away with you
I'll run away with you"
Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed her face and kissed her head
And dreamed of all the different ways I had
To make her glow
"Why are you so far away?" she said
"Why won't you ever know that I'm in love with you
That I'm in love with you"

Soft and only
Lost and lonely
Strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You're just like a dream

Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe her name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone alone
Alone above a raging sea
That stole the only girl I loved
And drowned her deep inside of me

Soft and only
Lost and lonely
Just like heaven

I'm going with the Panthers.
Confidence: 10
Previous Meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is the Spartans's first bowl since the 2012 Military Bowl, where they beat Bowling Green 29-20. After going 1-23 in their first two seasons, this is Georgia State's first ever bowl game.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn and Aaron Taylor
Fun fact: I was so hoping ESPN's Robert Smith would be around for this, but alas, the game is on CBS Sports Network. As for what the game is trying to cure, proceeds from the game will go toward the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

9:00: Louisiana Tech vs. Arkansas State (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Louisiana Tech cruised through a lot of their C-USA schedule, but it was perphaps a sign when they lost 17-15 to UTEP, as they got thumped 58-24 by Souther Mississippi the last week of the season. Arkansas State had a pretty solid season in the Sun Belt, by which I mean they ran the table in the conference and won most of those games pretty thoroughly. I'm giving the Red Wolves a slight edge here.
Confidence: 11
Previous Meetings: 38 of 'em, if you can believe it. They met most every year from 1956 through 1998, and the Bulldogs are 26-12 all-time. They also two, with 1998's 69-21 win being the most recent.
Last bowl game: Louisiana Tech beat Illinois in last year's Zombie Cotton Bowl 35-18. This actually caught me a bit by surprise, but this is Arkansas State's fifth straight bowl game. They lost to Toledo in last season's GoDaddy Bowl, 63-44.
Announcers: Adam Amin and Kelly Stouffer

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