Bowl Games 2016: Opening Slate

Predictions are being gradually updated on the site, but they may not be complete by the time games kick-off on Saturday. Nonetheless, let’s get this thing started.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Saturday, December 17
2:00: New Mexico vs. Texas-San Antonio (New Mexico Bowl @ Albuquerque, NM; ESPN): Bowl season kicks off featuring good ol’ Bob Davie’s option-lovin’ Lobos facing off against what figures to be an outmatched team somewhat ironically nicknamed the Roadrunners. (We’ll overlook at that New Mexico lost to Rutgers earlier this year.) I like Davie and Co. at home.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is New Mexico’s second straight bowl game. They lost last year’s edition of this game 45-37 to Arizona. For the Roadrunners, this is the first bowl game in the school’s history at FBS, dating back to 2012.
Announcers: Adam Amin and Mack Brown

3:30: Houston vs. San Diego State (Las Vegas Bowl @ Las Vegas, NV; ABC): Look below, and yes sir, that’s Brent Musberger released from his SEC Network house arrest and let loose in Vegas. If you need to get wasted during the middle of a Saturday afternoon, take a swig anytime there’s an on-air gambling reference. As for the game, this is basically going to come down to whether not Houston shows up. If we get Oklahoma or Louisville Houston, then the Cougars win this one going away. If we get SMU Houston, well, it could get interesting. It’s easier to predict the former scenario than the latter scenario.
Previous meetings: Two, back in 1972 and 1973. Houston won both games, 49-19 and 14-9.
Last bowl game: This is Houston’s fourth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2013-14 Birmingham Bowl. With some 1-year gaps filled in, the streak would go all the way back to 2003, but alas. They defeated Florida State 38-24 in last season’s Peach Bowl.
Announcers: Brent Musberger and Jesse Palmer


  • Toledo vs. Appalachian State (Camellia Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): If it weren’t for that pesky bunch to the north and west of them, Toledo would be the team we’d be talking about out of the MAC this year. Alas, the Rockets have to settle for second best, and, as I’m predicting, a win over a potentially feisty Appalachian State team.
    Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
    Last bowl game:
    This is Toledo’s third straight bowl game. They beat Temple in last year’s Boca Raton Bowl 32-17. The Mountaineers beat Ohio in last year’s Camellia Bowl, 31-29.
    Eamon McAnaney and John Congemi
  • Central Florida vs. Arkansas State (Cure Bowl @ Orlando, FL; CBSS): I don’t care if Monday’s blue, Tuesday’s grey and Wednesday too
    Thursday I don’t care about you, it’s Friday I’m in love
    Monday you can fall apart, Tuesday Wednesday break my heart
    Thursday doesn’t even start, it’s Friday I’m in love

    Saturday wait, and Sunday always comes too late
    but Friday never hesitate…
    I don’t care if Monday’s black, Tuesday Wednesday heart attack
    Thursday never looking back, it’s Friday I’m in love
    Monday you can hold your head, Tuesday Wednesday stay in bed
    or Thursday watch the walls instead, it’s Friday I’m in love
    Saturday wait, and Sunday always comes too late
    but Friday never hesitate…
    Dressed up to the eyes, it’s a wonderful surprise
    To see your shoes and your spirits rise
    Throwing out your frown and just smiling at the sound
    and as sleek as a shriek spinning round and round
    Always take a big bite, it’s such a gorgeous sight
    to see you in the middle of the night
    You can never get enough, enough of this stuff
    It’s Friday I’m in love

    I’ve got UCF here.
    Previous meetings: Just one, back on October 5, 1991. UCF won 31-20.
    Last bowl game:
    UCF had a pretty solid streak going before last year’s season-long debacle. Their last bowl game was the 2014 Bitcoin Bowl, where they lost 34-27 to NC State. This is Arkansas State’s sixth straight bowl game, dating back to the 2011-12 Bowl. They lost last year’s New Orleans Bowl to 47-28 to Louisiana Tech.
    Carter Blackburn and Aaron Taylor

9:00: Southern Mississippi vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): For reasons elaborated on below, this is essentially the Ragin Cajun Bowl. They’ll get 30,000 folks there easy, but Hattiesburg isn’t too far away either (just up I-59!) and if there’s an early season bowl destination that sells itself, it’s New Orleans. Hopefully the on-the-field action will live up to the action off of it. I’m also predicting some temporarily bummed out Cajuns.
Previous meetings: This depends on how you definite it, but counting only games where both teams are considered “major” (i.e., equivalent to FBS), they’ve met 20 times since 1974, and Southern Miss is 16-4 in that time. When one or both of the teams was non-major, though, you can also include around 30 games between 1923 and 1974. So, basically, it depends on who you ask, but either way the Golden Eagles hold a sizeable lead.
Last bowl game: The Golden Eagles appeared in last year’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, losing 44-31 to Washington. The Ragin’ Cajuns had a nifty four-year bowl game streak snapped last season, their last appearance was a 16-3 win over Nevada in the 2014 New Orleans Bowl. They have never appeared in any other bowl game.
Announcers: Jason Benetti and Rod Gilmore