Monday, December 19, 2016

Bowl Games 2016: No Stopping Until Christmas Day

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 19
2:30: Tulsa vs. Central Michigan (Miami Beach Bowl @ Miami, FL; ESPN): Something to watch if you're working this week, I guess? I don't really see CMU standing much of a chance against the Golden Hurricane.
Previous meetings: Two. In 1986, Tulsa won 42-6, but a year later the tables were turned with a 41-18 Central Michigan win.
Last bowl game: Tulsa lost last year's cracker of an Independence Bowl 55-52 to Virginia Tech. This is CMU's third straight bowl game. They lost last year's Quick Lane Bowl 21-14 to Minnesota.
Announcers: Allen Bestwick and Mike Bellotti

Tuesday, December 20
7:00: Memphis vs. Western Kentucky (Boca Raton Bowl @ Boca Raton, FL; ESPN): This should be a fun game. Both of these teams like to score, all else be damned. Main factor may be the weather: there's a chance of rain and both of these teams prefer to move through the air. Unlike, say, most of the rest of the country, temperatures won't be an issue: expect the upper-70's at kick-off. I'm very slightly leaning toward the Tigers.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is the third straight bowl for the Tigers. They lost to Auburn 31-10 in last year's Birmingham Bowl. The Hilltoppers are now on a three game streak. They beat South Florida 45-35 in last year's Miami Beach Bowl.
Announcers: Dave LaMont and Desmond Howard

Wednesday, December 21
9:00: Wyoming vs. Brigham Young (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): I found this game really hard to call. Yeah, BYU is 8-4, but they don't have an real notable wins, that is, they don't have any wins over Boise State or San Diego State. Wyoming's resume is not exactly sterling, either. As is often the case in this situation, I have a feeling it'll be close. I'm leaning toward Wyoming.
Previous meetings: This one goes back a ways, to 1922 specifically when the teams met twice. Later, of course, both teams would be in the WAC and the Mountain West, but they haven't met since BYU's 25-20 win in 2010. The Cougars lead the overall series 44-30-3.
Last bowl game: Wyoming's last bowl game was the 2011 New Mexico Bowl, which they lost to Temple 37-15. This is the 12th bowl game in a row for the Cougars, dating back to 35-28 loss to Cal in the 2005 Las Vegas Bowl. Last season, the Holy War was renewed in Sin City, but the Cougars lost 35-28.
Announcers: Jason Benetti and Kelly Stouffer

Thursday, December 22
7:00: Colorado State vs. Idaho (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): POTATO BOWL! Long-time fans (uh, let's pretend fans should be plural and move on) of this site know about my deep-seating affection for this game. And who knows, this one could be best one since the last time Idaho played in this game (see below)! Unfortunately, I'm predicting a sort-of easy victory for Colorado State. The Rams have really come on as the season progressed and while this season has been wildly successful by Idaho standards they're still, well, Idaho. (That said, if the Vandals win they should get a Mountain West invite. Seriously.)
Previous meetings: Seven relatively sporadic meetings. These teams first met in 1969, with the Rams winning 31-21. The series was renewed again in 1971, 1973, 1976, 1992, 2009, and finally 2010, with the Rams winning 36-34. Overall CSU holds a 4-3 series lead.
Last bowl game: This is CSU's fourth straight bowl game, going back to a 48-45 victory over Washington State in the 2013 New Mexico Bowl. Last year, they lost 38-23 in the Arizona Bowl to Nevada (the ultimate "too many bowls" bowl game, seeing as how both teams are in the Mountain West). This is Idaho's first bowl game since a memorably crazy 43-42 win over Bowling Green in the 2009 Humanitarian Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Neal and Matt Stinchcomb
Fun fact: This is Idaho's third ever bowl game, and they've never played in anything other than the Humanitarian/Potato Bowl. Less fun is the potential for this to be Idaho's less ever bowl game. The Vandals have faced difficulty finding a conference since the dissolution of the WAC for football, and next season will be their last before dropping back down to FCS.

Friday, December 23
1:00: Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (Bahamas Bowl @ Nassau, Bahamas; ESPN): I wonder if there's any prop bets on the amount of time Steve Levy and Mack Brown actually spend talking about this game. Either way, bowl games a novel concept for both of these teams, much less leaving the country, so maybe this one could be fun? I have ODU as a slight favorite.
Previous meetings: Surprisingly, these two teams should be pretty familiar with each other. Old Dominion won 17-3 in 2014 and 38-34 in 2015.
Last bowl game: This is Eastern Michigan's first bowl game since the 1987 California Bowl, where they beat San Jose State 30-27. This is EMU's second ever bowl appearance. This is Old Dominion's first ever bowl game, though the school has only been a full FBS member since last season.
Announcers: Steve Levy and Mack Brown

4:30: Louisiana Tech vs. Navy (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): For most of the season, Navy accumulated wins and brought their game to all-comers. But then the last few games of the season happened, especially the loss to Houston. If there's a team that I'd think could regroup coming into bowl season, it'd be these guys, but nonetheless I keep seeing LaTech receivers running 4-verts right past too slow Navy defenders. 
Previous meetings: Just two. Navy won 32-14 in 2009 and 37-23 in 2010.
Last bowl game: This is LT's third straight bowl game, going back to a 2014 win over Illinois in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Last season, they beat Arkansas State 47-28 in the New Orleans Bowl. This is Navy's fifth straight bowl game, going back to 62-28 loss to Arizona State in the 2012 Fight Hunger Bowl. Last season they beat Pittsburgh 44-28 in the Military Bowl. Navy's streak would be 14 straight bowl games but for a 5-7 campaign in 2011.
Announcers: Roy Philpott and Tom Ramsey

8:00: Ohio vs. Troy (Dollar General Bowl @ Mobile, AL; ESPN): Troy may have been the best team in the Sun Belt this year, but I don't know what to make of their chances against a MAC team. That said, Ohio is pretty milquetoast, so I've got Troy, but barely.
Previous meetings: Just one, back in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl. Troy won 48-21.
Last bowl game: The Bobcats lost last year's Camellia Bowl to Appalachian State 31-29. This is Troy's first bowl appearance since the 2010 New Orleans Bowl, where they beat Ohio 48-21.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Dusty Dvoracek

Saturday, December 24
8:00: Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee State (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Maybe sip on a daiquiri and pretend your fireplace actually sounds like the sound of rolling waves as you watch this game? And since Hawaii's playing in it, maybe there'll actually be people there this year? Also, since when did Mark May do games anymore? I thought he was a studio guy for ABC's coverage now? Maybe his name came up in the "gets to go to Hawaii" in the ESPN company lottery this year. Either way, I have MTSU has a pretty clear favorite here.
Previous meetings: Just one, back in 1993. The Rainbow Warriors won 35-14.
Last bowl game: It's been awhile for Hawaii. Their last bowl game was a 62-35 loss to Tulsa in the 2010 edition of this game. MTSU lost 45-31 to Western Michigan in last year's Bahamas Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Cotter and Mark May

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