Monthly Archives: December 2012

Bowl Games 2012: Part 4

Well, I’m 9-10 now. I guess this makes up for having a good year last year? That said, still 16 games to go, so there’s still time to avert my first below .500 year since 2005.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 31
12:00: Vanderbilt vs. North Carolina State (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): This one was pretty difficult for me to call. Vandy did end on a relatively high note for their season, but their offense really is kind of woeful. NC State, meanwhile, is just plain vanilla and mediocre, which is something that the administration in Raleigh only apparently just caught on to when they fired Tom O’Brien. So I’ve predicted the Wolfpack to win, but in as narrow a fashion as possible.
Previous meetings: Despite both teams being in the South (and in the original Southern conference), they have only met once: on November 9, 1946. Vandy won 7-0.
Last bowl game: Vandy is going to consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history. They lost last year’s Liberty Bowl to Cincinnati, 31-24. This is the Wolfpack’s third straight bowl, and they beat Louisville in last year’s Belk Bowl 31-24.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Rod Gilmore

2:00: Georgia Tech vs. Southern California (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Here we are, once again. USC will be without Matt Barkley and may be without Marquise Lee, but nonetheless their backups are still likely more talented than any of our players. In general I agree with this write-up, but then again, most everything there is a pretty obvious roadmap for a heavy underdog to pull of a monumental upset.
Maybe the thing I haven’t seen much of is that Tech’s best player, Orwin Smith, will play in this game after missing the UGA game the ACC championship game. Him and Jeremiah Attachou on defense may be the only guys on our team that would have a shot of cracking USC’s two-deep, and so we will need to lean heavily on them to make the plays that will be needed for us to have a shot. One player that will be missing for the Jackets is starting safety Isiah Johnson, the team’s leading tackler. That’s a big loss for an already thin and not very good secondary.
Perhaps the ray of hope for Tech partisans can also be this: USC is here for a reason. They lost to games to Stanford, Oregon, and Notre Dame, yes, but on paper at least one of those should’ve been a win, much less the losses to UCLA and especially Arizona. We don’t exactly have a Kenjon Barner in our backfield but the Trojans’ defense didn’t just give up 426 rushing yards in a void. That suggests a defense that has issues with assignment football and discipline, which is just the sort of thing we can exploit.
On the flip side, well, our defense is awful and as said earlier everyone on USC’s offensive two-deep would start almost anywhere else in college football. a5 and I’s worst nightmare when we first realized that the stars were aligning to put these two teams in the Sun Bowl were visions of Matt Barkley lobbing passes to wide-open receivers streaking downfield, and just because Barkley isn’t playing doesn’t make that any less possible.
That’s all about I have for this.
Previous meetings: I’m not surprised we’ve played USC before, but I am surprised that all 3 contests took place during the regular season. The games took place in 1961, 1969, and 1973. Tech won the first 27-7, but USC claimed the last two, 29-18 and 23-6.
Last bowl game: This is Tech’s 16th consecutive bowl appearance. They lost last year’s Sun Bowl 30-27 to Utah. (Notably, GT hasn’t won a bowl game since the 2004 Champs Sports Bowl, which was a 51-14 beatdown of Syracuse.) Thanks to NCAA probation, USC’s 9 year bowl streak was snapped in 2009. That year, they beat Boston College in the Emerald Bowl 24-13.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson

3:30: Tulsa vs. Iowa State (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Iowa State just isn’t, well, good.
Previous meetings: Just once, in 1961. Iowa State won 27-6. Some will remember that Tulsa used to be a big passing team, but that’s no longer the case, as they now sport a prolific rushing attack. I don’t see how the Cyclones can keep up.
Last bowl game: This is Tulsa’s third straight bowl appearance. They lost to BYU in last year’s Armed Forces Bowl, 24-21. Iowa State lost last year’s Pinstripe Bowl to Rutgers, 27-13.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard

7:30: Clemson vs. Louisiana State (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Clemson’s offense is prolific, but as one of the few to beat Texas A&M this year, LSU has shown they have the defensive talent to contain some of the nation’s best attacks. Clemson, on the other hand, got outclassed by South Carolina in their last game and will probably have similiar issues trying to get anything working against the LSU defense while their own defense will probably not be up to the task. The best case for the orange and purple tigers might be to keep this one tight and low scoring and hope for some breaks, because it’s hard to see how their offense will prevail.
Previous meetings: These tigers have met only once, and both in bowl games. In the 1958/59 Sugar Bowl, LSU won 7-0, while in the 1996 Peach Bowl LSU won 10-7.
Last bowl game: This is Clemson’s eighth straight bowl game, though they would probably rather forget about last year’s Orange Bowl debacle, where they got trounced 70-33 by West Virginia. Then again, arguably more embarrassing was LSU’s offensive no-show in last year’s BCS Championship, which they lost 21-0 to Alabama. This will be their 13th straight bowl appearance.
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham

Bowl Games 2012: Part 3

It’s been a mixed bag for me so far in the prediction game, but the next four days is the bulk of the activity. So I’m currently 9-7, but that can change quickly.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 29
11:45: Rice vs. Air Force (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): A few years ago, Rice started to sling the ball around and got back so something resembling competence before fading away again. This year they’re back, but now they run the ball. Not quite as much as Air Force, though, which in terms of passing yards is 122nd in the nation. That said, I’m going with a narrow Air Force win.
Previous meetings: These two have met 6 times previously, with all meetings happening between 1985 and 1998. Air Force is 5-1, and won the last game 22-16.
Last bowl game: The Owls last appeared in a bowl in 2008, where they beat Western Michigan 38-14 in the then-Texas Bowl. This Air Force’s sixth straight bowl game. They’ve actually appeared in this bowl 3 time already from 2007-2009. Last year, though, they lost to Toledo 42-41 in the Military Bowl.
Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway

3:15: West Virginia vs. Syracuse (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): West Virginia may have the worst defense of any bowl team this year, which is probably why after their hot start they’re now in the Pinstripe Bowl. I still have them beating Syracuse, but for some reason I predicted the scoring margin on this one to be a lot larger than it probably actually will be.
Previous meetings: With both being Northeastern independents at one time or another and then members of the Big East, they’ve met 59 times dating back to 1945. Syracuse has the slight edge all time (32-27) and won their last regular season meeting last year, 49-23.
Last bowl game: WVU has been in a bowl every year since 2002. Last season was their savage 70-33 beatdown of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Orange missed a bowl last year, and so their last appearance was the 2010 edition of this bowl, where they beat Kansas State 36-34.
Announcers: Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer

4:00: Arizona State vs. Navy (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN2): I thought all year that this edition of the Sun Devils was underrated and the expanded Pac-12 schedule does them no favors. This version of Navy (lacking any marquee wins this year) probably isn’t good enough to beat them.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: ASU got trounced by a jilted Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, 56-24. Before last year, Navy had made 8 straight bowls, but missed out last year. They lost to San Diego State in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl, 35-14.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese. Note that this the first game scheduled to be on at the same time as another game and that’s on ESPN2 and not ESPN.

6:45: Oregon State vs. Texas (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): I have this as an easy win for Oregon State, as I just don’t see how Texas’s utterly disjointed 2012 offense will be able to keep up with the Beavers’ attack. Also, as a school that rarely has off-field distractions, the news out of San Antonio the past day has to be a shock, which may well be reflected on the field.
Previous meetings: Two, and Texas won both times: 35-0 in 1980 and 61-16 in 1987.
Last bowl game: This is the Beavers’ first appearance in a bowl since the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl, where they lost to BYU 44-20. Texas won last year’s Holiday Bowl, beating Cal 21-10.
Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman. At least, that’s the schedule, but that mostly depends on how McDonough’s trial run doing a NBA game last week went.

10:15: Texas Christian vs. Michigan State (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): Sparty has a pretty good defense, but offensively Michigan State is just, well, woeful. TCU also had a mediocre offense against the generous defenses of the Big 12, so this one could actually be a lot closer than I originally predicted. Nonetheless, I’m sticking with TCU.
Previous meetings: Just one, in 1953. Sparty won 26-19.
Last bowl game: TCU would have a pretty healthy bowl streak dating back to 1998 had they not missed out in 2004. As it is, they beat Louisiana Tech in last year’s Poinsettia Bowl, 31-24. Sparty’s been to a bowl every year since 2007, and beat Georgia in the Outback Bowl last season, 33-30.
Announcers: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge

Bowl Games 2012: Part 2

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Wednesday, December 26
7:30: Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): I’m once again finding myself in the odd position of predicting a Sun Belt team to win, but the Hilltoppers were pretty good on the season, while CMU barely got into a bowl.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Western Kentucky’s first ever bowl game. Central Michigan last appeared in the 2009/10 GMAC Bowl, where they beat Troy State 44-41.
Announcers: Mark Neely, Ray Bentley
Fun facts: Western Kentucky’s mascot is an amorphous blob named Big Red. Yes, really.

Thursday, December 27
3:00: Bowling Green State vs. San Jose State (Military Bowl @ Washington, DC; ESPN): I have this being a close game with San Jose State coming out ahead. It’s hard to get a feel for these WAC teams, after all. That said, I’m not going back on my prediction here.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: SJSU’s last bowl was the 2006 New Mexico Bowl, where the beat New Mexico 20-12. BGSU’s last appearance was the memorable wacky 2009 Humanitarian Bowl, which they ended up losing to Idaho 43-42.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kanell

6:30: Duke vs. Cincinnati (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): I don’t think Duke really has much of a shot in this one, then again, I didn’t think Kent State had much of a shot against Cincy either. That’ll teach me to have any confidence at all in a Big East team, I suppose.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Duke’s last bowl game was the 1994/5 Hall of Fame Bowl, where they lost 34-20 to Wisconsin. Cincy dispatched Vanderbilt in last year’s Liberty Bowl, 31-24.
Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham

9:45: California-Los Angeles vs. Baylor (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): I have this as 31-28 UCLA on my predictions page, but I’m still afraid that’s not going to be enough points. That said, the odds of the Baylor “defense” getting enough stops to make a difference is pretty low.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: We can only hope that this game is as memorable as Baylor’s last encounter with a Pac-12 team. This is their third straight bowl. The beat Washington 67-56 in last year’s Alamo Bowl. UCLA appeared in last year’s Fights Hunger Bowl, which they lost to Illinois 20-14.
Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese

Friday, December 28
2:00: Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN): Ohio looked to be a force in the MAC this year, that is, until they dropped 4 of their last 5 conference games. Whoops. While in general these things don’t make that much of a difference, here it’s enough for me to take a Sun Belt team by a slight margin.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is the Bobcat’s fourth straight bowl. They beat Utah State 24-23 in last year’s Potato Bowl. This is Monroe’s first ever bowl game.
Announcers: Dave Lamont, Kelly Stouffer

5:30: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech (Russell Athletic Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): I hope you don’t like points, because this could get ugly. It’s almost mind-blowing how bad the Virginia Tech offense was this year. Maybe they’ll figure out it for the bowl game, but, well, I’m thinking they probably won’t. Still tough to pick a Big East team here, though, so my confidence here is low.
Previous meetings: There were two one-off meetings in 1920 and 1953, but after that all meetings where in the framework for the Big East from 1992-2003. VPI leads the all-time series 11-3, with them winning the last 11 in a row.
Last bowl game: Rutgers beat Iowa State 27-13 in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. This is VPI’s 20th straight bowl game, with their most recent postseason effort being a 23-20 loss in last season’s Sugar Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen

9:00: Texas Tech vs. Minnesota (Car Care Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): I had TTU winning big originally, but I wonder how bad Tommy Tuberville’s hasty exit will affect the team. Then again, there are still players on this team that remember how unceremoniously Mike Leach was fired, so perhaps they’ll still have the mental fortitude to go out and dismantle the Golden Gophers (reminder: they were 2-6 in Big Ten play this year) like they should.
Previous meetings: These two teams have met exactly once, in the 2006 Insight Bowl. Texas Tech won in overtime, 44-41.
Last bowl game: This is TTU’s first bowl appearance since 2010, where they beat Northwestern 45-38 in the Ticket City Bowl. Minnesota also makes their first appearance for a while, with their last postseason effort being a 14-13 loss to Iowa State in the 2009 Insight Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard

Bowl Games 2012: Opening Slate

New for this year: announcers! Last year’s “fun facts” return only for selected games, as least for the opening slate here as I have not had enough time to to do my research.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 15
1:00: Arizona vs. Nevada (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Arizona’s been a pretty solid team in the last half of the season, with the cornerstone of their year the upset over USC. Nevada has an okay year, by their standards. They made a bowl again, but I believe they were one of the preseason favorites in the Mountain West and they wound up dropping games all the teams they needed to beat. Anyway, in this cats vs. dogs battle, I like the Wildcats.
Previous meetings: This is the first time these two schools in neighboring states have met since 1941. Nevada won in 1924, they played a 0-0 draw in 1925, and then the Wildcats go on the board in 1941 with a win.
Last bowl game: This is Arziona’s first appearance in a bowl game since the 2010 Alamo Bowl, which they lost to Oklahoma State 36-10. Nevada has made a bowl every year since 2005, and actually played in this game in 2007. They lost to hosts New Mexico, 23-0.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kannel

4:30: Utah State vs. Toledo (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): While Toledo did get a big upset this year (a win over Big East frontrunners Cincinnati), Utah State was 5 points away from an undefeated season (2 to Wisconsin, who I remind you are somehow the Big Ten champions, and 3 to BYU). They also upset WAC frontrunners Louisiana State, in Louisiana. I’m going with the Aggies.
Previous meetings: Somewhat unsurprisingly, this is the first meeting between these two schools.
Last bowl game: Utah State appeared in this game last year, losing to Ohio 24-23. Toledo is making its third straight bowl appearance. They beat Air Force in the Military Bowl last year, 42-41.
Announcers: Tom Hart, Mike Bellotti
Fun facts:

Hope everyone is as excited as we are! #Toledo vs. #UtahState…
— FamousIDPotatoBowl (@IDPotatoBowl) December 3, 2012

Yes, that is a picture of Brono Stadium set inside of a baked potato. I don’t feel like I really need to say much else.

Thursday, December 20
8:00: Brigham Young vs. San Diego State (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): BYU is a pretty good team, but their offense has just been sadly lacking in the second half of the season. I’m not putting a lot of confidence on this one, though.
Previous meetings: Thanks to a shared conference history in the WAC and then the MWC, these two have met quite a lot (every year from 1978 to 2010). However, since BYU went independent, they haven’t played. The Stormin’ Mormons are 27-7-1 against the Aztecs.
Last bowl game: BYU has played in a bowl game every year since 2005, most recently beating Tulsa in last year Armed Forces Bowl. This’ll be the Aztech’s third straight, and they’ll be staying home once again. They got to travel to New Orleans last year, where they lost to the local Cajuns 32-30.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Rod Gilmore

Friday, December 21
7:30: Central Florida vs. Ball State (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): UCF went big this year, but they failed to get the result that presumably would’ve made the impending NCAA banhammer worth it, as they lost to Tulsa in the CUSA title game. Ball State, meanwhile. enters on a relative high note, having closed their season in strong fashion against their MAC rivals. That said, I think on paper UCF is still the better team, so I’ll go with them here.
Previous meetings: Ball State owns the all-time series, 2-1.
Last bowl game: We last saw Ball State in the 2008/9 GMAC Bowl, where they were obliterated by Tulsa 45-13. This’ll be UCF’s first bowl appearance since the wonderful 2010 Liberty Bowl, where they beat Georgia 10-6.
Announcers: Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Desmond Howard

Saturday, December 22
Noon: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): I’m not going to pick Sun Belt teams to win very often, but here we are. UL-Lafayette has flirted with greatness several times this year, while ECU scraped their way to 8 wins.
Previous meetings: From 1977 to 1990, these teams met 10 times and UL-Lafayette came out ahead, 6-4. They have not met since.
Last bowl game: ECU had a modest bowl streak broken last year, so they last appeared in a bowl game in the 2010 Military Bowl. They got blown out by Maryland 51-20. These particular Cajuns last Raged in last year’s New Orleans Bowl, where they beat San Diego State 32-30.
Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway

3:30: Washington vs. Boise State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ESPN): It took a week, but here’s our first real bowl game of the season. This is just the sort of situation Boise has thrived on the past, that is to say, 1-game chances to pick off a Pac-10/12 opponent. That said, with this particular bunch I would ordinarily pick the Huskies here but, well, one of these teams lost to Washington State Thankgiving weekend, and it wasn’t Boise. I’ll take the Broncos in a narrow win.
Previous meetings: These two have met exactly once, in 2007. U-Dub won 24-10.
Last bowl game: This’ll be Washington’s third straight bowl game, and third different locale. They lost last year’s (in)famously defense-less Alamo Bowl to Baylor, 67-56. Boise’s been to a bowl every year since 2002, and they only missed 2001 because there weren’t a million bowl games back then. (They were 8-4.) They won last year’s Las Vegas Bowl 56-24 over Arizona State.
Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit. Ol’ Brent at the Las Vegas Bowl? I swear, the jokes just practically write themselves.

Monday, December 24
8:00: Southern Methodist vs. Fresno State (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): June Jones is back in Hawaii! Woo? Fresno has generally beat the teams they should beat this year, while SMU lost to Tulane and Rice, barely getting to 6-6. I like the Bulldogs.
Previous meetings: SMU and Fresno met every year between 1999 and 2004. It didn’t go so well for the Mustangs, as Fresno is 5-1 all-time.
Last bowl game: This is SMU’s fourth straight bowl. They beat Pittsburgh in last year’s BBVA Compass Bowl, 28-6. Fresno had a pretty good thing going for awhile, but they missed a bowl last year so their last postseason game was the 2010 Humanitarian Bowl, which they lost 40-17 to Northern Illinois.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn, Kelly Stouffer

This Weekend in College Football: Week 15

There’s only one FBS game this weekend, so as usual this also doubles as my yearly foray into the FCS playoffs.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:00: Sam Houston State @ Montana State (ESPN2): It will be below freezing in Bozeman tonight with a 90% chance of snow. That’s reason enough to watch this if you ask me, though Montana State doesn’t quite have the same appeal as Montana does in terms of “played in what appears to be some sort of post-apocalyptic hellscape with a football stadium in it”.

Noon: Georgia Southern @ Old Dominion (ESPN): The reason to watch this is, of course, Georgia Southern’s Paul Johnson-style option attack.

1:00: Arkansas-Pine Bluff vs. Jackson State (SWAC Championship @ Birmingham, AL; ESPNU): APB already played Jackson State back in October and won 34-24. I’ll say it again: the SWAC only has 10 teams and they already play a 9 game conference schedule. What’s the point of this again?

3:00: Army vs. Navy (@Philadelpha, PA; CBS): Army’s win over Boston College says more about BC than it does Army, and their win over Air Force that makes this game the deciding game for the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy really came out of nowhere. Those are the only two wins for the Black Knights this year. Also, I hope you like running, because both of these teams are in the top 10 in rushing yards and the bottom 4 in passing. Fortunately, I do, so that’s why I’ll be watching this one anyway. Given their track records this year, though, it is pretty much impossible to pick Army to winthis.