Yearly Archives: 2013

Bowl Games 2013: Part V, New Year’s Eve Edition

Tuesday, December 31
12:30: Boston College vs. Arizona (Advocare V100 Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN): Both these are going to want to rush the ball. The problem for Boston College is that Arizona is likely better able to defend against it. I’m expecting a comfortable Arizona win.
Previous meetings: Three, and they were all awhile ago. Texas Tech won the first meeting in 1961, 14-6. BC’s only win was a 42-13 romp a year later, and then in 1971 Texas Tech won 14-6 once again.
Last bowl game: BC hasn’t been to a bowl since the 2010 Fight Hunger Bowl, where they lost to Colin Kapernick and Nevada 20-13. Arizona’s last bowl game was last year and also against Nevada, but they won the New Mexico Bowl 49-48.
Announcers: Tom Hart and John Congemi

2:00: Virginia Tech vs. California-Los Angeles (Sun Bowl @ El Paso, TX; CBS): Virginia Tech has been one of college football’s most maddeningly inconsistent teams over the course of the season, but losses to Duke, Boston College, and Maryland do not bode well for their recent body of work. (But in between those losses? A win over Miami. Go figure.) The defense remains a lone, but consistent, bright spot for VPI. UCLA meanwhile, had only three losses, and really those were the only three teams on the schedule that UCLA wasn’t better than. (Stanford, Oregon, and Arizona State.) While UCLA doesn’t have quite as good of a defense, they are still much more consistent on offense (as in, they actually have one), which means they should able to score the requisite 17-24 points it will take to beat the Hokies.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: VPI has made 21 straight bowl games, a streak dating back to the 1993 Independence Bowl, which they won 45-20 over Indiana. They technically won last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl 13-10 over Rutgers. This is UCLA’s third straight bowl game. Their mini-streak started with the 2011 Fight Hunger Bowl, which they lost to Illinois, 20-14. Last year they were massacred by Baylor in the Holiday Bowl, 49-26.
Announcers: Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson

4:00: Rice vs. Mississippi State (Liberty Bowl @ Memphis, TN; ESPN): Miss State has some major problems on offense, ranking 80th in the country in scoring. That said, by all rights, Miss State should win this game, so this one of those bowls that could come down more to motivation than anything else.
Previous meetings: Just one, a 28-14 Miss State win back in 1975.
Last bowl game: Rice beat Air Force in last year’s Armed Forces Bowl 33-14. This is Miss State’s fourth straight bowl game. Their streak started with the 2010/2011 Gator Bowl, wherein they routed Michigan 52-14. Last season’s Gator Bowl was somewhat less successful, though. They lost to Northwestern 34-20.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Rod Gilmore

8:00: Duke vs. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (Chick-fil-a Bowl @ Atlanta, GA; ESPN): I have this as my highest confidence pick on ESPN. I simply cannot fathom any way Duke wins this football game. Texas A&M’s offense will simply be too much for Duke’s undersized and undermanned defense. The only other offense they’ve faced that comparable is Florida State’s and the Seminoles dropped 45 on them. The only possible chance they have is to make it a shoot-out, which isn’t impossible cause TAMU’s defense is inexcusably awful.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is the first time in the history of Duke’s football team that they have gone to back-to-back bowl games. They lost last year’s Belk Bowl 48-34. This is TAMU’s fifth straight bowl game, a streak dating back to what is likely an otherwise forgettable game for A&M partisans, a 44-20 loss to Georgia. Last season they destroyed Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, 41-13.
Announcers: Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack

Bowl Games 2013: Part IV

Monday, December 30
11:45: Navy vs. Middle Tennessee State (Armed Forces Bowl @ Fort Worth, TX; ESPN): I’m not terribly sure about this one. MTSU is about the caliber of teams that Navy has on its schedule, but they had a mixed record against those teams this year (losses to Western Kentucky and Toledo, wins over South Alabama and San Jose State). MTSU has not played any other option teams other than BYU, whom they lost to. In the end, I’m going with Navy, but just barely.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Navy’s second consecutive bowl, after appearing in last year’s Fight Hunger Bowl, where they got blown out by Arizona State 62-28. MTSU was 8-4 last year but didn’t go bowling, so their last appearance was the 2010-2011 Bowl, where they lost to Miami 35-21.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Joey Galloway

3:15: Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech (Music City Bowl @ Nashville, TN; ESPN): Probably the best preview I’ve seen for this game is Bill Callahan’s. That said, he ultimately comes to the same conclusion I’ve had about this game: it’s a toss-up. The main things Tech fans are worried about are the same they’ve been throughout the season: how well the offense runs and if the pass defense will be any good. Well, the former is potentially a weakness for Ole Miss and the latter is potentially a strength for them, which brings this game back up to the toss-up thing. The preview I linked above is focused on the statistics and draws that conclusion. The betting line I’ve seen on this game is Ole Miss by 3 or 4 points, so the bookies are calling this a toss-up too.
So what conclusion can we draw? Well, I’m going to be attending this one in person, which will be first Tech game in four years. I’m looking forward to the frigid temperatures either way.
Previous meetings: This is the fourth meeting between these two teams. The first was in 1946, which Tech won 24-7. The last two were in bowl games. Tech defeated Ole Miss 24-7 in the 1952/1953 Sugar Bowl. The last meeting was a 41-18 Ole Miss win in the 1971 Peach Bowl. “Wait”, you’re saying, “weren’t Georgia Tech and Mississippi in the same conference from 1922 through 1963?” Yes, yes they were. But back then teams set their own conference schedules, and so like most reasonable people, John Heisman, William Alexander, and Bobby Dodd saw no reason to go to the state of Mississippi unless someone made them.
Last bowl game: Ole Miss went to last year’s BBVA Compass Bowl, beating Pittsburgh 38-17. Georgia Tech is tied for football’s 3rd-longest consecutive bowl streak, and this will be their 17th straight game. The streak started with a 35-30 win over West Virginia in the Carquest Bowl in 1997. In what will the be last time I ever get to say this, we beat Southern California 21-7 in the Sun Bowl last year.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard

6:45: Oregon vs. Texas (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): By all rights, Oregon should be a massive favorite in this game. Then again, they were before they blew a shot at the national title and Pac-12 North in a 42-16 loss to Arizona back in November. Both teams have popular coaches retiring, with Oregon’s long-time defensive coordinator leaving and Mack Brown being forced out. So motivation shouldn’t be a question in this game. In that case, it comes down to strengths and weaknesses, and once again, those massively favor Oregon.
Previous meetings: Five of ’em, the first being a 71-7 Texas rout back in 1941. The most recent meeting was the 2000 Holiday Bowl, which was Oregon’s first win of the series, with a 35-30 scoreline.
Last bowl game: This is Oregon’s ninth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2005 Holiday Bowl, which they lost 17-14 to Oklahoma. Last season, they beat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-17. Texas now has a three game bowl streak, dating back to the 2011 Holiday Bowl, which they won 21-10 over California. They won last year’s Alamo Bowl 31-27 over Oregon State.
Announcers: Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge

10:15: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): The Red Raiders won seven straight to start the season. Then they started playing games against teams that were just as good or better than then and it didn’t go well. Five straight losses followed, and most of them weren’t very close. Meanwhile, Arizona State is very good. It’s hard to give TTU much of a chance here.
Previous meetings: Just one, a Sun Devil 31-13 win back in 1999.
Last bowl game: This is Arizona State’s third straight bowl game. They appeared in the 2011 Las Vegas Bowl, losing to Boise State 56-24. They beat Navy 62-28 in last year’s Fight Hunger Bowl. Texas Tech is in a bowl for the second year in a row. Last year they won the Car Care Bowl (Houston edition) over Minnesota, 34-31.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore and Matt Millen

Bowl Games 2013: Part the Third

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 28
Noon: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers (Pinstripe Bowl @ New York, NY; ESPN): I had this second in my confidence picks, so I guess I felt pretty good about Notre Dame at the time. Nonetheless, it’s not like Rutgers is very good, so provided that Notre Dame’s offense doesn’t screw up too badly they should be able to see it through.
Previous meetings: Four, and Rutgers, in a testament to their historical ineptitude, has failed to win all of them. They first met in 1921 (a 48-0 Irish win) and then took a 75 year break. Notre Dame won that 1996 contest 62-0. 2000 saw the closest game in the series, a 45-17 Notre Dame win, and their last meeting was in 2002, when the Irish shut Rutgers out again, 42-0.
Last bowl game: The Irish have played in three straight bowls going back to the 2010 Sun Bowl, where they defeated Miami 33-17. Last year, they got routed by Alabama in the national title game, 42-14. This will be the third in a row for Rutgers. Back in 2011 they beat Iowa State 27-13 in this very same bowl. Last year they lost last year’s dreadful Russell Athletic Bowl, 13-10 to Virginia Tech.
Announcers: Chris Fowler and Jesse Palmer

3:20: North Carolina vs. Cincinnati (Belk Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Generally picking a 9-3 team over a 6-6 team would be a slam dunk, but the hitch is Cincy’s awful schedule that was literally one of the worst in the country. UNC has only one maybe “bad loss” (a 55-31 rout at the hands of East Carolina) but Cincinnati three losses are a blowout to an awful Illinois team, a close loss to a really bad South Florida team, and an overtime loss to the best opponent on their schedule, Louisville. So I basically feel about as bad about a 9-3 team over a 6-6 team as one can possibly be.
Previous meetings: Just two. The first was a 1979 win for Carolina, 35-14, and the second was in 1991, which the Tarheels also won, 51-16.
Last bowl game: Due to pre-emptive probation, the Tarheels didn’t go bowling last year, killing a four-year streak. Their last bowl appearance was the 2011 Independence Bowl, which they lost to Missouri 41-24. This is the Bearcats’s third straight appearance. They won last year’s Belk Bowl over Duke, 48-34.
Announcers: Carter Blackburn and Danny Kanell

6:45: Louisville vs. Miami (Russell Athletic Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ESPN): These two schools have a lot in common. Well, at the very least, both their programs were built by Howard Schennellenberger and both will be in the ACC last year. Either way, this will arguably be Louisville’s stiffest test of the season. While they still only had one loss, they did have some closer-than-they-should-have-been November games that raised a few eyebrows. Nonetheless, I’m sticking with the Cardinals here.
Previous meetings:  Louisville and Miami have met 11 times, and Louisville has only not lost twice. Why not lost? Well, there was a 13-13 tie back in 1950. Their first meeting was in 1933, a 33-7 Miami victory. The met regularly through the first half of the 80’s, all Miami wins. Their last meeting was in 2006, and was also Louisville’s first win in the series, by a margin of 31-7.
Last bowl game: This is Louisville’s fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2010 Beef ‘O’Brady’s Bowl. They won that contest over Southern Mississippi 31-28. Last year, they appeared in the Sugar Bowl, wherein Teddy Bridgewater became a household name in a 33-23 defeat of Florida. Miami, like UNC, missed out on a bowl last year due to pre-emptive probation, as well as the year before, so this is their first bowl since the 2010 Sun Bowl, where they lost to Notre Dame 33-17.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Rod Gilmore

10:15: Kansas State vs. Michigan (Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl @ Tempe, AZ; ESPN): This game is basically a toss-up to me. If the Michigan offense that played against Ohio State shows up, they have a pretty good shot, but otherwise I think K-State guts out a close win.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is K-State’s fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2010 Pinstripe Bowl, which they lost to Syracuse 36-34. They didn’t stand much chance in last year’s Fiesta Bowl, losing 33-17 to Oregon. This is Michigan’s fourth straight game as well. Their current streak started in the 2010/2011 Gator Bowl, a 52-14 rout at the hands of Mississippi State. They lost last year’s Outback Bowl, 33-28 to South Carolina.
Announcers: Sean McDonough and Chris Spielman

Bowl Games 2013: This Is The Second Part

Bowl games really start to get into the swing of things here. We’ll examine the next five bowls and then do Saturday’s in another post.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday, December 26
6:00: Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green (Little Caesars Pizza Bowl @ Detroit, MI; EPSN): Bowling Green sports a 10-3 record and some gaudy defensive numbers, but one of those three losses was a 42-10 blowout at the hands of Indiana. I’m going with Pitt in this one, though it could be close.
Previous meetings: Three, all the in regular season. Pitt won back-to-back games in 1999 and 2000, but lost in 2008, 27-17.
Last bowl game: Bowling Green lost last year’s Military Bowl to San Jose State, 29-20. Pitt is making their sixth bowl appearance in a row, dating back to 2008’s Sun Bowl (most famous for being a 3-0 tragedy against Oregon State in which all of us lost, but especially Pitt). The lost last year’s BBVA Compass Bowl to Ole Miss, 38-17.
Announcers: Dave Lamont and Ray Bentley

9:30: Utah State vs. Northern Illinois (Poinsettia Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): Both these teams are coming off winnable letdowns in their conference title games, though it was NIU that suffered the most grievously in their 47-27 rout against Bowling Green. That said, Jordan Lynch’s final ride should be a success, though I don’t now how much of one, or even if it’ll be enough for the Huskies to win. I’m giving them a slight edge here.
Previous meetings: Only one, back in 1995. The Aggies won 42-7.
Last bowl game: Utah State is making their third bowl game in a row, and after two straight trips to Boise I’m sure they’ll relish the weather in San Diego. They beat Toledo 41-15 last year. This is NIU’s sixth bowl game in a row, dating back to a 17-10 loss to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. They lost 31-10 to Florida State in last year’s Orange Bowl. The Huskies would have one of the nation’s larger bowl streaks if it weren’t for a lost 2-10 campaign in 2007 and not making a bowl in 2003 despite being 10-2. (Or, to be even more generous, they were 8-4 before that and 6-5 in 2000 and 2001.) That’s a pretty good run for any team, much less one from the MAC.
Announcers: Joe Davis and Mike Bellotti

Friday, December 27
2:30: Maryland vs. Marshall (Military Bowl @ Annapolis, MD; ESPN): I picked Marshall here in what I’m guessing a slight upset. I guess another way of saying that is I don’t think Maryland is very good.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these two teams.
Last bowl game: This is Maryand’s first appearance in a bowl since the 2010 edition of this game, which was played at RFK Stadium. They beat East Carolina 51-20. This is Marshall’s first bowl since the 2011 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl, which they won 20-10 over Florida International.
Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham

6:00: Syracuse vs. Minnesota (Texas Bowl @ Houston, TX; ESPN): I wouldn’t expect a lot of offense in this one. Problem for Syracuse is that a) their offense is worse than Minnesota’s and b) that their defense is a lot worse. This would seem to spell trouble for the Orange, but, well, there’s a reason why I put that disclaimer at the top.
Previous meetings: Four, three of which have been won by Minnesota. The first meeting and only Orange victory was in 1995. They last met last year, where the Gophers won 17-10.
Last bowl game: Syracuse beat West Virginia 38-14 in last year’s Pinstripe Bowl. Minnesota lost 34-31 to Texas Tech in last year’s Car Care Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard

9:30: Washington vs. Brigham Young (Fight Hunger Bowl @ San Francisco, CA; ESPN): It’s generally not a good sign when you go back and look at your ESPN Bowl Pick ‘Em picks and are surprised at who you picked. We’ll roll with it anyway. At any rate, these are both teams that can run the bowl, but Washington has been more adept at offense over the season. Neither defense gives a lot of points, though, so BYU will definitely be hanging around. I think this game will be one of the closer, tighter ones, but I’m going to stick to my pick.
Previous meetings: Eight of ’em, and the series is evenly split between the two. They split back-to-back games in 1986 and 1987, but Washington won three of the four games played from 1996 to 1999. BYU has won the last three meetings, including a 23-17 victory in 2010.
Last bowl game: This is U-Dub’s third bowl in a row, going back to 2010’s Holiday Bowl. They lost to Baylor 67-56 in last year’s defense optional Alamo Bowl.
Announcers: Dave Pasch and Brian Griese

Bowl Games 2013: Opening Slate

Once again, it’s time for post-season football. (Note that I have predicted all winners and losers already, I just need to fill in the scores, which requires slightly more research. These will be up soon.)

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 21
2:00: Washington State vs. Colorado State (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Wazzou makes it back to a bowl for the first time in the Mike Leach era. I think that excitement will translate into a slight win for the Cougars.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: Yes, it really has been 10 years since Wazzou last appeared in a bowl. They beat Texas 28-20 in the Holiday Bowl. After a five year drought themselves, the Rams make a return trip to this very game. The last time they were here in the post-season, they beat Fresno State 40-35.
Announcers: Mark Jones and Brock Huard

3:30: Southern California vs. Fresno State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ABC): USC’s defense will be, bar none, the best defense the prolific Fresno State offense has faced all year. I think that will be enough for the Trojans to hold them off, but it’s kind of dicey because a) USC still has to adjust to the idea of playing in minor bowls b) DaCoachO was, by all accounts, very popular and resigned after USC hired Steve Sarkisian and c) depth.
Previous meetings: These two in-state foes have met only twice. The first meeting was in 1992, where the Trojans lost 24-7 in the Freedom Bowl. The last was more memorable, perhaps for Fresno’s plucky performance at what was being called at the time the Team of the Century. USC would win 50-42, preserving their undefeated season so they could lose to Vince Young in the Rose Bowl.
Last bowl game: This will be the second to last time I get to say this, most likely: USC lost to Georgia Tech in last year’s Sun Bowl, 21-7. Fresno lost last year’s Hawaii Bowl to SMU, 41-10.
Announcers: Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, and David Pollack

5:30: Buffalo vs. San Diego State (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): In what is annually one of my favorite bowls for reasons mostly related to the name (it just feels right for bowls to be named after agricultural products, you know?). As for the game itself, I don’t have a good feel for this at all. Looking at the stats, and then looking my predicted winner, I guess I’m basically just saying SDSU is going to get lucky. Again, because they did beat some solid Mountain West teams and almost knocked off Fresno State themselves.
Previous meetings: None.
Last bowl game: The Bulls haven’t been to a bowl since their somewhat improbable run to a MAC championship in 2008, after which they lost to UConn in the International Bowl, 38-20. This will be the Aztecs’ fifth fourth bowl. They lost last year at home in the Poinsettia Bowl to BYU, 23-6.
Announcers: Clay Matvick and Matt Stinchcomb

9:00: Tulane vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Tulane has a surprisingly good defense, but they are inept offensively. The Ragin’ Cajuns meanwhile have an okay defense and a good offense. These games, as one might suspect, are relatively hard to predict, but I gave a slight edge to the Cajuns.
Previous meetings: These in-state rivals have met only 26 times, and the Green Wave own the overall series 21-5. Lafayette won the last meeting last year, 41-13.
Last bowl game: This is Tulane’s first bowl game since the 2002 Hawaii Bowl, where they beat their hosts 36-28. Meanwhile, this is Lafayette’s third straight New Orleans Bowl. Last year they beat East Carolina 43-34. (The game is completely sold out, so apparently they’re not tired of going back yet.)
Announcers: Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham

Monday, December 23
2:00: East Carolina vs. Ohio (Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): The nation’s 11th ranked scoring offense against its 66th scoring defense does not augur good tidings for the Bobcats.
Previous meetings: Two of ’em, actually, in 1996 and 1998. East Carolina won both, 55-45 and 21-14.
Last bowl game: The Pirates lost to the aforementioned Ragin’ Cajuns in last year’s New Orleans Bowl, 43-34. The Bobcats, meanwhile, are playing their fourth straight bowl game. They beat UL-Monroe 45-14 in the Independence Bowl last year.
Announcers: Beth Mowins and Joey Galloway

Tuesday, December 24
8:00: Oregon State vs. Boise State (Hawaii Bowl @ Honolulu, HI; ESPN): Both these teams were rebuilding this year, so a trip to Hawaii after a pair of trying seasons has to be a bit of a relief. I think by the end of the year Boise was a slightly better team, so I have them as an appropriately slight winner.
Previous meetings: Seven times, with the Beavers holding a slight 4-3 edge. Boise has won the last two meetings, which were in 2006 and 2010. The 2010 win had a 37-24 margin.
Last bowl game: Oregon State lost last year’s Alamo Bowl to Texas, 31-27. This is Boise’s 12th straight bowl game, dating back to the 1999 Humanitarian Bowl, where they won 34-31. They also won last year’s Las Vegas Bowl over a Pac-12 opponent, beating Washington 28-26.
Announcers: Steve Levy, Lou Holtz, and Mark May