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 godaddy.com 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