Friday, December 30, 2016

Bowl Games 2016: Riding Out 2016

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 31st
  • Louisville vs. Louisiana State (Citrus Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): This game is a tough assignment, if you ask me. Louisville, of course, still has their all-everything player, and while the LSU offense certainly showed signs of life later in the season, missing Fournette is still big. Furthermore, Louisville did somewhat inexplicably lose to Kentucky, a loss that could provide a blueprint for LSU. Despite all this, I still like the Cardinals a lot here.
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
    Last bowl game: This is Louisville's seventh straight bowl appearance, dating to the 2010 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl. They beat Southern Mississippi 31-28. They defeated Texas A&M 27-21 in last season's Music City Bowl. This is LSU's 17th straight bowl appearance, which is the nation's fifth longest streak. The streak started with a 28-14 win over Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl, and the most recent addition was a 56-27 win over Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl.
    Announcers: Dave Pasch and Greg McElroy
  • Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky (Taxslayer Bowl @ Jacksonville, FL; ESPN): Speaking of Kentucky, here we are. In a season characterized by uneven offensive performances and a horrid defense, Georgia Tech kept going and wound up making enough plays to beat Georgia. This matchup would seem to be pretty good for us, but the defense just remains so incredibly suspect that I have to remain nervous.
    Previous meetings:
    19, and none since Tech left the SEC in the early 60's. Remember that in the early day of college football conferences, teams had a lot more flexibility to set their own schedules. and Kentucky was not one of Tech's major opponents. The longest streak of consecutive games was 1935 through 1942. Anyway, the first meeting was a 3-3 tie in 1923. The last meeting was a 23-13 Tech win in 1960, and the Jacket have an 11-7-1 overall series lead.
    Last bowl game: GT, of course, used to own the third longest bowl streak in the nation. Unfortunately, last year's 3-9 disappointment ended the streak with the 2014 triumph in the Orange Bowl, a 49-34 lead over Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl. This is Kentucky's first bowl game since a 27-10 loss to Pitt in the 2010-11 BBVA Compass Bowl, which was the last in a five-year streak of their own.
    Announcers: Mark Jones and Rod Gilmore
3:00: Alabama vs. Washington (Peach Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): And so it begins. For the first game of the playoff, we have a game that pretty much everyone assumes will be a blowout. And frankly, if Alabama doesn't win a national title it'll be a huge upset. They are simply bigger, stronger, and deeper than the rest of the field, where "the rest of the field" is the entire FBS. The only other team Washington played that approached Alabama's talent level was Southern Cal, and the Huskies wound up losing 26-13. Don't get me wrong. I think it'd be great of UDub pulled this off and I will be rooting for them. I just... don't see it happening.
Previous meetings: Four. The most famous, of course, was the first: the 1925-26 Rose Bowl, where Alabama hung on for a 20-19 win. They met in the regular season in 1975 and 1978, and the last was the 1986 Sun Bowl, all Alabama wins. The Tide are 4-0 overall.
Last bowl game: Bama has the eight largest streak in the nation, at 13 straight games. Indeed, you'll need to go back to the 2004 Music City Bowl to find the start of that run, a 20-16 loss to Minnesota. Yeah, the Tide doesn't really go to bowls like that anymore. Last season, they blasted Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl and then beat Clemson 45-40 to win the college football playoff. This is Washington's seventh straight bowl game. The game that started that run was the 2010 Holiday Bowl, a 19-7 win over Nebraska. Last season, they beat Southern Mississippi 44-31 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore and Todd Blackledge

7:00: Clemson vs. Ohio State (Fiesta Bowl @ Glendale, AZ; ESPN): I think this game will be as close as the other game will be a blowout. I see the matchups across the board as strength-on-strength, with maybe the only edge being at quarterback (that is, with Watson being better). Thing is, this Clemson team is not nearly as dominate as last year's version was, with a tendency to play up or down to their competition. Even if that holds up here, I still see the Buckeyes doing what Louisville and FSU couldn't do to this Tigers, and that is put them away.
Previous meetings: Two, and both in bowl games. Clemson won 17-15 back in the 1978 Gator Bowl as well as 40-35 in the 2013-14 Orange Bowl.
Last bowl game: Yep, at this point in bowl season, you start getting into streak territory. Clemson has a 12 game streak, going back to the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl, where they beat Colorado 19-10. Clemson's streak would be six games longer in the modern bowl landscape, but back in 2004 there just wasn't room for a 6-5 Clemson team. Last season, of course, saw a 37-17 win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl and a 45-40 loss to Alabama in the college football playoff. The Buckeyes would also have a long streak, but the sanctions on the 12-0 2012 team prevented that. And so, their current four game streak dates to the 2013-14 Orange Bowl, mentioned above. Last season, they beat Notre Dame (which went 4-8 this year) 44-28 in the Fiesta Bowl.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit

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