The last couple of days have had some real blowouts, haven’t they?
I haven’t been doing so well myself, either. After a blazing 5-2 start, I’ve gone 2-5 in the last seven games to drop me to an even 7-7. Let’s hope things improve.
As usual, all times Eastern and predictions wrong.
Thursday, December 30
Noon: Army vs. Southern Methodist (Armed Forces Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPN): Perhaps this isn’t a terribly great place to start, but you go to the couch with the bowl games you’ve got… or something like that. Army’s stats against teams that are worth a darn are pretty abysmal. Now, I’m not sure if SMU is worth a darn, but I’m reluctantly going to take the Ponies here.
Previous meetings: These teams have met exactly twice. The first meeting was in 1928, which Army won 14-13. The second was in 1967, which Army also won, 24-6.
Last bowl game: Army breaks a pretty long bowl drought, which dated back to the 1996 Independence Bowl. They lost to Auburn 32-29. SMU broke their own bowl-less streak last year, beating Nevada 45-10 in the Hawaii Bowl.
3:20: Kansas State vs. Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): There may not be snow on the ground in the House Steinbrenner Built, but it’ll still be cold, with a projected high of 40 tomorrow in the Bronx. (Of course, at least the field fits (barely) in this particular ballpark.) Syracuse’s 5th ranked defense is somewhat deceiving considering their competition, which is why I like K-State here. This could be low scoring but I don’t think it’ll be low scoring enough for the Orange to win. But hey, at least they probably won’t give up 51 like last time (see below).
Previous meetings: These teams have met twice previously, both in bowl games. The first meeting was the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, which K-State won 35-18. The second was the 2001 Insight Bowl, which KSU lost 26-3.
Last bowl game: Kansas State’s last bowl the 2006 Texas Bowl, where the lost 37-10 to Rutgers. Meanwhile, Syracuse provides one of my favorite cautionary tales, most recently demonstrated by Tennessee in a classic case of “you don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone”. Syracuse got pounded by Georgia Tech 51-14 in the 2004 Champs Sports bowl, and I’ll never forget the in-booth interview with Syracuse’s then new athletic director, who basically fired long time coach Paul Pasqualoni on air. What followed was the Greg “Gerg” Robinson era, which was probably most notable for a Syracuse blogger’s longing for the now-defunct International Bowl than anything else. (Indeed, in the first two years of the post-Gerg era the ‘Cuse has already won more games than they did during his four year tenure.)
6:40: Tennessee vs. North Carolina (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): This game happened essentially because of a game that won’t happen next year: Tennessee had a home-and-home with UNC starting next year but backed out to soften the schedule. (They don’t really even deny it, but it’s late so you can Google that yourself.) This was something of a lost season for UNC, but they pulled through and got to a bowl. Tennessee finished strong, but you should finish strong when your last four games are Memphis, Ole Miss, Vandy, and Kentucky. I think the Tarheels are an overall better team and I like them here.
Previous meetings: These teams have played each other 28 times, but they haven’t met since 1961. The first meeting was a 1908 contest the Vols won 12-0, while the last was won by the Tarheels 22-11. Tennessee holds a 20-7-1 overall record in the series.
Last bowl game: Tennessee inexplicably appeared in last year’s Chick-fil-a Bowl, where they were pounded 37-14 by Virginia Tech. UNC appeared in both of the last two Car Care Bowls, and even appeared in the 2004 Continental Tire Bowl (without appearing in a bowl in between), making this their first trip to a different bowl since the 2001 Peach Bowl. Carolina lost last year’s Car Care Bowl 19-17 to Pittsburgh.
10:00: Washington vs. Nebraska (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): Husky Stadium is, generally, considered one of the loudest venues in major college football. Which doesn’t seem to help the eponymous home team much, especially back in September when Nebraska pounded them in Seattle. In certain situations, bowls don’t mind re-matches of oft-met or regular season foes. This isn’t one of them. I’m not big on “moral victories” but it will be one for Washington if they don’t get blown out here. I picked Nebraska to only win by 10 because I’m not sure of Taylor Martinez’s ankle, or after this Big 12 Championship Game, his brain, but we’ll see.
Previous meetings: September 18th of this year was the most recent meeting between these two, where U-Dub got pounded 56-21. They’d met 7 times before this year, in 1925, 1926, 1967, 1991, 1992, 1997, and 1998. Including this year, Nebraska holds a 4-3-1 series lead.
Last bowl game: Nebraska won last year’s Holiday Bowl, beating Arizona 33-0. Meanwhile, Washington is making their first postseason appearance since the 2002 Sun Bowl, which they lost to Purdue 34-24.
Friday, December 31
Noon: Clemson vs. South Florida (Car Care Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): I have Clemson by the thinnest of margins here. Which Clemson team you get on a given day is always something of a crapshoot. I expect this game to be pretty low scoring, but provided the Tigers show up they should win.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: Clemson won last year’s Music City Bowl 21-13 over Kentucky, while USF won the last-ever International Bowl over Northern Illinois, 27-3.
2:00: Miami vs. Notre Dame (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): It’s Catholics vs. Convicts again! Well, kind of, since the one thing that could be said about Randy Shannon was that he did generally keep his guys out of trouble. (I’ll spare you a “speaking of trouble” segue that has to due with the players not being allowed to cross the border into Jaurez.) Motivation will be a factor here, I suspect, but the problem is I’m not sure whom it’ll be in favor of. I’m going with “da ‘U'” for now.
Previous meetings: These two former independent powers first met in 1955, which Miami lost 14-0. The real fun began in 1971, when they played each other every year until 1990, when Miami lost 29-20 in South Bend. ND leads the overall series 15-7-1.
Last bowl game: Miami lost last year’s Champs Sports Bowl to Wisconsin 20-14. Notre Dame didn’t go to a game last year even though they could have, so their last appearance was the 2008 Hawaii Bowl, which blew out the home team 49-21.
3:30: Central Florida vs. Georgia (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): In addition to the uniforms, George O’Leary has done his best to recreate late-90’s Georgia Tech down at Central Florida. (Hopefully the administration is actually keeping the kids eligible this time.) If he could also recreate great victories over UGA that would also be just peachy. I’ve cheekily picked the Knights, who’ve actually been pretty decent this year. Well, at least in C-USA. I’m not terribly comfortable with this, of course, but hey, UGA’s lost 6 games this year and I’m pretty sure they could out-athlete any of those teams, A.J. Green or no, except maybe Auburn.
Previous meetings: Once, in what was presumably a guarantee game in 1999. Georgia won 24-23.
Last bowl game: UGA beat Texas A&M in last year’s Independence Bowl, 44-20. UCF lost last year’s St. Petersburg Bowl 45-24.
7:30: Florida State vs. South Carolina (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): It’s the ACC-SEC runner-up show-down! Nonetheless, this should be a pretty decent matchup of two teams that can score and old visor wearin’ ballcoach against his former arch-rival. Also, South Carolina has Marcus Lattimore, who is pretty much the human personification of a freight train. As a freshman, hopefully he’s been able to use the break to recharge a bit. Also, while they may not have been able to stop Cam Newton (hardly something unique to them) South Carolina’s defense has held up well against other opponents. Suffice it to say, I like the Gamecocks here.
Previous meetings: These two have played 18 times, all between 1966 and 1991. FSU won the 1991 contest 38-1 and holds a 15-3 series lead. The Gamecocks haven’t beaten FSU since 1984.
Last bowl game: FSU won last year’s Gator Bowl 33-21 over WVU, and also owns, by far, the longest consecutive bowl streak in the country at 29 years in a row. South Carolina, meanwhile, lost last year’s papajohns.com Bowl to UConn 20-7.