Yearly Archives: 2009

Bowl Games 2009: Party Like It’s…

The massacre continues. While I may be above .500 for now, I’m not counting on that to hold up.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday, December 31
12:00: Air Force vs. Houston (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): This edition of Air Force can definitely play some defense, while this edition of Houston can be wildly inconsistent. The will probably come down to whoever is most excited about being in Fort Worth again, but at least on my paper Houston’s passing attack should carry the day.
Previous meetings: This is the 3rd meeting between the two teams since September 2008, which was also their first meeting. They also played in last year’s Armed Forces bowl. Air Force won the regular season contest but lost the bowl.
Last bowl game: As mentioned above, both these teams played in last year’s edition of the Armed Forces bowl, so I think this is pretty self-evident.

2:00: Stanford vs. Oklahoma (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Whatever happens in this game, it cannot possibly be worse than last year’s 3-0 non-entity between Oregon State and Pittsburgh. (I don’t even remember who go the field goal, but it’s not really important because, let’s face it, there were no winners there.) Again, on paper, I think the Sooners should win, especially coming off their upset victory over rivals Oklahoma State. Stanford certainly has a chance, but then again they certainly should have been able to beat Cal at home in the Big Game. (In fairness, they did win their game, against Notre Dame.) There’s also this business about Andrew Luck’s broken finger – while Oklahoma is also missing their ideal signal caller I’d say they’re a lot more used to their backup at this point than the Cardinal are. Stanford still has Toby Gerhart, of course, so they’re not completely out of it. I except a pretty high scoring contest here (of course, by recent Sun Bowl standards, that’s not saying much) but Oklahoma to edge it out.
Previous meetings: Their last meeting was a 19-7 Oklahoma win, back in 1984. The had met three times before that, and OU holds a 3-1 series lead.
Last bowl game: Stanford hasn’t appeared in a bowl since the 2001 Seattle Bowl which they lost 24-14 to Georgia Tech. Oklahoma lost last year’s BCS Championship Game 24-14.

3:30: Missouri vs. Navy (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): This Navy team has some serious issues, especially on defense. Missouri I think feels a bit shafted by their bowl selection and I think will be plenty motivated. I think Navy will have the edge in the first half, but provided Mizzou doesn’t come out flat and recovered by the end they should be able to out-athlete Navy. Of course, almost every time I’ve said that so far it’s turned out to be completely untrue, so take that (and everything else here) with a grain of salt.
Previous meetings: Mizzou holds a 2-0 series advantage, with their previous meetings coming in 1948 and the 1961 Orange bowl.
Last bowl game: Missouri won last year’s Alamo Bowl contest against Northwestern, 30-23. Navy, meanwhile, lost the inaugural EagleBank Bowl to Wake Forest 29-19.

6:00: Iowa State vs. Minnesota (Insight Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; NFL Network): I wish I could tell you, nay, urge you to find out if you get NFL Network and tune into this game. Alas, in good conscience, I cannot. I mean, really, two 6-6 teams that don’t really have a lot of offense but don’t really play much defense either? My predictions is that the two teams run at each other for 60 minutes and at the end Minnesota is declared the winner. I mean, geez, at least in the Texas Bowl you get the novelty of watching Navy run their offense. The only novelty in the game is, “Hey, look, Iowa State is in a bowl game!” The only reason Iowa State is here is due to their massive 9-7 upset of Nebraska, in which the Cornhuskers turned the ball over eight times. Minnesota had to beat Syracuse in overtime and, er, upset (for lack of a better term) Northwestern.
Previous meetings: As with most things Iowa State, the Cyclones have a losing record against Minnesota: 2-22-1 to be exact. However, all but three of those games came before 1989, in fact, they all came up to 1924. The two teams met every year (except 1901) from 1895 to 1915, then the series came back briefly in 1923-24 and then promptly went away again. The result of all this is that Iowa State’s only two wins came back in 1897 and 1898.
Last bowl game: Iowa State last appeared in a bowl in 2005, where they lost to TCU 27-24. UMN is in their second straight Insight Bowl, and will hopefully do better than last year’s 42-21 loss to Kansas.

7:30: Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Virginia Tech looks to improve upon their record in Atlanta so far their year (0-2) against a team in Tennessee that should, theoretically, be over matched. Both these teams sport very capable defenses, so I expect a tight, low-scoring game to wrap up the day, but for VPI to sneak in a win at the end.
Previous meetings: Here’s another game you have to go back in the books for. Their last meeting was in 1994, which VPI lost 45-23 in the Gator Bowl. The other six games were played in 1896, 1897, 1899, 1911, 1933, and 1937. Basically, it was so long ago that people besides me and my late grandfather still called them VPI. Oh, and Virginia Tech has lost all of them except the 1899 and 1911 editions.
Last bowl game: Virginia Tech was the ACC representative in the Orange Bowl last year, where they beat Cincinnati 20-7. Tennessee, of course, missed a bowl game last year but was in the Outback Bowl back on New Year’s Day, 2008. The beat Wisconsin 21-17.

Bowl Games 2009: The Slaughter Continues

Merry Christmas! Anyway, this first set of games has proven exactly why I attach the following disclaimer to my posts:
As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 26
1:00: Ohio vs. Marshall (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): Well, ordinarily I would say something about, “well, we’re talking about a 6-6 C-USA team that barely got into a bowl” and use that as my logic for picking Ohio here. But I think SMU is thoroughly debunking that as I type this. So, well, I already picked Ohio, so let’s hope they can pull it out.
Previous meetings: These former MAC foes have met 52 times, most recently in 2004 (a 16-13 Marshall win). The Bobcats hold a 29-17-6 series lead.
Last bowl game: Ohio’s last game was the GMAC Bowl back in the 2006 season, where they lost to Southern Miss 28-7. It was Ohio’s first bowl game since the 60’s, and the Bobcats are 0-3 in bowl games. Marshall went to plenty of bowls after moving back to Division I-A in 1997. In fact, their first four appearances were with this very bowl, but their last appearance was in the 2004 Fort Worth Bowl, where they lost 32-14 to Cincinnati.

4:30: North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh (Car Care Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): I hate pick Pitt in anything, but though they last their lost game to Cincy in the de facto Big East title game, they certainly ended on a higher note than UNC, who lost to a very bad NC State team in their last game. So, despite all my instincts, I’m going with Pitt.
Previous meetings: The schools have only met 6 times, all since 1974. Their last meeting was in 200, which UNC won 20-17. UNC also holds a 4-2 series lead.
Last bowl game: UNC appeared last year in this bowl, losing to Pat White and West Virginia 31-30. Pitt supposedly was at last year’s disaster of a Sun Bowl, where they supposedly lost 3-0 to Oregon State.

8:00: Boston College vs. Southern California (Emerald Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN): These are both hard teams to read at this point, and it was very difficult to go with USC here. I can’t imagine either of these teams are terribly motivated here. BC partisans are, of course, not excited about getting the ACC bowl shaft again, and I can’t imagine USC planned out a trip to San Francisco back in August. However, it’s hard to ignore the talent advange USC should have, but then again USC should’ve out-talented Stanford and Arizona as well.
Previous meetings: These teams have only met twice, in 1987 and 1988. BC lost both games, 23-17 and 34-7.
Last bowl game: BC landed in last year’s Music City Bowl, where they inexplicably lost 16-14 to Vanderbilt. USC was in some sort of Rose Bowl thing? Apparently they beat Penn State 38-24.

Sunday, December 27
8:15: Kentucky vs. Clemson (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): Speaking of unmotivated teams, Clemson fans are really unexcited about landing in Nashville after their ACC title game loss. Hopefully their team doesn’t share those feelings, as I still like C.J. Spiller and friends over a mediocre-seeming Kentucky team.
Previous meetings: Kentucky leads the all-time series, 8-4. The last two matchups have been in bowl games, the latest 2006’s Music City Bowl, a 28-20 Kentucky victory.
Last bowl game: Kentucky beat ECU 25-19 in last year’s Liberty Bowl, while Clemson fell 26-21 to Nebraska in the Gator last year.

Monday, December 28
5:00: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Georgia (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN2): Well, A&M flashed some competence in their last game against Texas, but (unfortunately) so did UGA. I begrudgingly like Georgia here, which usually means they’ll lose by 30.
Previous meetings: While TAMU is 3-1 against UGA, the last meeting in 1980 was a 42-0 rout in favor of Georgia.
Last bowl game: TAMU’s last bowl game was the 2007 Alamo Bowl, where the lost 24-17 to Penn State. UGA beat Michigan State in last year’s Capital One Bowl, 24-12.

Tuesday, December 29
4:30: Temple vs. California-Los Angeles (Eaglebank Bowl @ Washington, D.C.; ESPN): Well, I mean, UCLA isn’t a very good football team. Nonetheless, I can’t really take Temple over them. If this were during the season, this would be even easier, but as I’ve learned so far, any team has a chance in during the bowls.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: If you guessed that Temple’s last bowl was “a while” ago, you’re absolutely correct. Their last post-season appearance was the 1979 Garden State Bowl, where they beat California 28-17. UCLA last appeared in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl, where they lost 17-16 to BYU.

8:00: University of Miami vs. Wisconsin (Champs Sports Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): Wisconsin was embarrassed by a much faster team in last year’s edition of this bowl. Provided Jacory Harris gets his mojo back in time for the game, I think Miami should beat the Badgers. Not easily, perhaps, but beat them nonetheless.
Previous meetings: Miami is 2-1 against the Badgers, the last two coming in decisive (51-3, 23-3) victories back in 1988 and 1989. Wisconsin’s lone win dates from a 20-0 shutout back in 1958.
Last bowl game: “Da U” lost last year’s Emerald Bowl, 24-17, to Cal. Wisconsin played in last year’s Champs Sports Bowl where they got downright beat (42-13) by Florida State.

Wednesday, December 30
4:30: Idaho vs. Bowling Green (Humanitarian Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): Well… um… I’m not really sure what to write about this WAC-MAC battle. I guess BGSU is going to win? Idaho did lose four of its last five games, including a blowout loss to Boise State in their last blue turf appearance.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Idaho’s first appearance since a 42-35 loss to Southern Miss in the 1998 Humanitarian Bowl. Bowling Green was last seen getting blown out (63-7) by Tulsa in the 2007-2008 GMAC Bowl.

8:00: Arizona vs. Nebraska (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): The Wildcats got here thanks to their upset (are they really upsets at this point, though?) of USC in their last Pac-10 outing, while Nebraska got here due to losing the Big 12 title game. Despite that, however, Nebraska certainly has the best defense Arizona has faced all year, so provided the Cornhuskers show up and can manage to score a TD (or, just maybe, two touchdowns) I think they can eke this out.
Previous meetings: These teams have met twice. The first was a 14-14 tie back in 1961, while the last was the 1998 Holiday bowl, which Arizona won 23-20.
Last bowl game: Arizona won last year’s Las Vegas Bowl, which was their first bowl appearance since 1998. Nebraska, meanwhile, beat Clemson in last year’s Gator Bowl (as mentioned previously).

I’ll do separate posts for the 31st, 1st, and 2nd most likely. Until then, Merry Christmas!

Bowl Games 2009: Opening Slate

In this opening post of bowl season, we’ll go over all the pre-Christmas games. So get your TV watching area set up and get ready to go. For reference, the full set of predictions is located here, with a smaller “mobile” version available as well.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 19
4:30: Wyoming vs. Fresno State (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): While Wyoming was reasonably consistent this season, Fresno gave several good teams all they wanted (see: Wisconsin, Cincinnati), did their usual thing in the WAC, and then beat Illinois thanks to a Fat Guy two point conversion two weeks ago. I like the Bulldogs here.
Previous meetings: Last meeting was in 1997, when Fresno defeated Wyoming 24-7. The overall record between the two is 3-3.
Last bowl game: Wyoming’s last bowl game was in the 2004 Las Vegas Bowl, where they lost 24-21 to UCLA. Fresno lost last year’s New Mexico Bowl 40-35 to Colorado State.

8:00: Central Florida vs. Rutgers (St. Petersburg Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): I know little about Beef O’Brady’s except I’m reasonably sure I never want to go there. At any rate, while I fully support George O’Leary’s team and their late-90’s Georgia Tech replica uniforms, I have to like the State University of New Jersey here. Rutgers wasn’t great this year or anything, but it was solid enough and they should generally roll in with more talent than the non-Scarlet Knights can match. (Also, when did UCF go from the “Golden Knights” to just “Knights”?)
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is UCF’s 3rd bowl in the program’s short football history (their first year of Division I-A ball was 1996), and were last seen losing 10-3 in the 2007 Liberty Bowl against Mississippi State. This is Rutger’s 5th straight bowl appearance. Last year they beat NC State 29-23 in the Bowl.

Sunday, December 20
8:15: Middle Tennessee State vs. Southern Mississippi (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): It’s not like USM automatically outclasses their Sun Belt opponent in this bowl, but I still like them to win against their fellow bottom-of-the-barrel ACC team beaters. I also a expect plenty of points.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Now in their 11th season at DI-A, MTSU last went bowling in Detroit, where they lost the then-Motor City Bowl 31-14 to Central Michigan. USM makes their 7th straight bowl appearance and the 2nd year in a row at the New Orleans Bowl. Last year they beat Troy 30-27.

Tuesday, December 22 
8:00: Brigham Young vs. Oregon State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ESPN): I just don’t like BYU that much this year – something about giving up 55 points to FSU just left me with a bad taste in my mouth. (They also pretty much rolled over and died against TCU.) Oregon State should be able to just outclass them, starting with the Rodgers brothers on the ground.
Previous meetings: BYU and Oregon State have played 8 times, however, they have not faced one another since 1986. Oregon State won that meeting 10-7 and the Beavers lead the overall series 5-3.
Last bowl game: BYU’s been in a bowl game every year since 2005, and they’ve all been appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. (I guess either Mormons really like traveling to Vegas or the organizers think it’s really funny to keep inviting them.) They lost 31-21 to Arizona last year. This will be Oregon State’s 4th straight bowl game and they currently sport a 5 game bowl winning streak. Last year they walked into the Sun Bowl and then stumbled out a few hours later with a 3-0 victory in terrible game that later gets called a “defensive battle” because that doesn’t sound as bad as saying “neither offense bothered to show up”.

Wednesday, December 23
8:00: Utah vs. California (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): Both these teams come off not-so-great losses in their previous games. Utah lost to its rival in OT, while Cal followed their victory over Stanford with a blowout loss to Washington. It’s hard to gauge this one – I like Utah in a reasonably close contest.
Previous meetings: Cal leads the overall series 4-2. The first meeting was in 1920 and a 63-0 rout by Cal. Their last meeting was in 2003, when Utah won 31-24 in Berkeley.
Last bowl game: Utah’s played in a bowl game every year since 2003, and won each of those contests, most notably the 35-7 beatdown of Pitt in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and last year’s 31-17 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Cal has also appeared in a bowl every year since 2003, and beat Miami (FL) 24-17 in last year’s Emerald Bowl.

Thursday, December 24
8:00: Southern Methodist vs. Nevada (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): SMU’s had a decent year (especially compared to last year’s campaign), but I think they will have trouble keeping up with Nevada and their bevy of 1,000 yard rushers (though they’ll be missing one of them for this game). SMU may still get a touchdown or three, but I think Nevada is plenty capable of just running all over the Mustangs.
Previous meetings: This is the 5th meeting between these two schools – the previous 5 took place after Nevada joined the WAC for the 2000 season. SMU left for C-USA in 2005. Nevada is 3-2 in the series but lost the last game in 2004 38-20.
Last bowl game: This is SMU’s first bowl game since the 1984 Aloha Bowl, where they beat Notre Dame 27-20. Incidentally, the Hawaii Bowl is played in the same stadium as the Aloha was. This will be Nevada’s 5th straight bowl game. They lost last year to Maryland in the Humanitarian Bowl, 42-35.

Don’t forget about the actual championships happening today and tomorrow, as well:
8:00: Montana vs. Villanova (@ Chattanooga, TN; ESPN2): Last weekend’s games were thrilling in their own right. I especially enjoyed Montana’s thrilling back-and-forth game with Appalachian State in freezing, snowy weather up in Montana. Had Villanova lost, I’d probably actually be at this game, but they didn’t so I’ll see it on TV.

11:00 AM: Mount Union vs. Wisconsin-Whitewater (@ Salem, VA; ESPN2): It’s the Stagg Bowl, otherwise known as the Division III title game. A fine way to kick off your Saturday morning before taking advantage of hte last weekend of Christmas shopping, no?

At any rate, I’ll be back on Christmas day with my next set of picks and trivia. Until then…

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

With one DI-A game this weekend various sorts of playoffs, I figured I would go ahead and write up a post for this weekend.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: William & Mary @ Villanova (ESPN2): I’ll still refrain from making predictions about the DI-AA playoffs because, again, I don’t really know enough. At any rate, this semi-final is a rematch of two CAA divisional foes. Villanova won the first meeting in October 18-17, and both teams sport DI-A victories this season. And, hey, it’s Friday night – it’s not like anything else is on.

1:00: Grand Valley State vs. Northwest Missouri State (@Florence, AL; ESPN2): This is for all the Division II marbles, folks. NW Missouri State is, from what I can tell, the Buffalo Bills of Division II – they’ve reached the title game four straight years and lost each time. This game is also a rematch of the 2005 and 2006 games.

2:00: Alabama A&M vs. Priarie View A&M (@Birmingham, AL; ESPN Classic): It’s the SWAC title game! Why the SWAC has a title game, I have no idea, but there you go!

2:30: Navy vs. Army (@Philadelphia, PA; CBS): Before the start of the UGA game a few weeks ago, my Dad said to my brother and I, “I guess I should be as nervous about Army-Navy as you guys are about this game,” or something to that effect. And indeed, Army fans haven’t had a whole to to cheer about lately. This is the first year they’ve even sniffed .500 since 1996, and they haven’t beaten Navy since 2001. And it’s not just to the losing to Navy over that span – the games haven’t really even been competitive, with an average score of Navy 39.14 and Army 10.14. Even though Navy is in a relative “down year” by their recently lofty standards, it’s difficult to pick against them.

4:00: Appalachian State @ Montana (ESPN): It’s the last game of the day, and it’s more DI-AA semi-final action. Montana is the number one overall seed and hasn’t lost since last year’s DI-AA title game, while Appy State has won three of the last four championships. This should be a good one.

Coming up next week, bowl predictions!

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Bowl Predictions: Final

I did upload a final set of predictions, but thanks to my obligations in Tampa and flying back I didn’t have time to do a write-up. Instead, I’ll talk about the final deal.

Keep in mind, I saw almost none of yesterday’s games except for the ACC title game and the end of the Pitt-Cincy game.

  •  On the title game: Well, Texas ran into by far the best defense they’ve played and floundered as Colt McCoy got sacked approximately a million times. The Horns still won, but nonetheless it makes you wonder – especially as Alabama rolled to a SECCG victory. Alabama also features a suffocating defense and, unlike Nebraska, has some semblance of an offense. That said, Texas still has Colt McCoy and, therefore, still has a chance – and of course, I’d prefer they win. However, the hype machine for ‘Bama is already well underway, almost reminiscent of the hype train USC rode into the 2006 Rose Bowl, and we know how that went.
  • As for the Fiesta, I don’t really have anything to add since SI’s Andy Staples summed it up already: “Welcome to Glendale, home of the Separate but Equal Bowl.”
  • That said, this has been one of the most unpredictable years for the bowls that I can remember. I think the weirdness started last week when the Outback took Auburn and just went from there. USC falling to the Emerald? The Sun willingly taking Stanford? Mizzou falling as far as they did – i.e., getting picked after Iowa State and Texas A&M? The whole stupid Florida State thing (that I talked about last week)? USF going to Toronto? Ugh.
  • Iowa over Penn State was probably the “right” thing to do, in the sense that Iowa did beat Penn State earlier this year. I was still surprised it happened, though.
  • Michigan State went a lot higher than I would’ve expected (the Alamo has the 3rd selection after the BCS), considering their recent legal troubles. Texas Tech was also a surprise there.

That’s it from now, as I’m exhausted from my adventure. More later.