Bowl Games 2016: Let Us Begin

Yes, there’s been several bowl games already, but this week will contain the bulk of the games, and we’ll start to see teams from the power conferences. All in all, it’s starting to get exciting (well, sort of). Again, if you’d like to see my current progress and also just the TV information, see here.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 26
11:00: Miami vs. Mississippi State (St. Petersburg Bowl @ St. Petersburg, FL; ESPN): I don’t like applying the “OH” or “FL” tags for the two Miamis, generally hoping that context clues will provide what you need to know. Unfortunately, this bowl does have an ACC affiliation, so to be clear: it’s the one from Ohio. Anyway, Miss State is 5-7, but let’s face it, they should beat all but one, maybe two, MAC teams everyday and twice on Sundays. Miami is not one of those MAC teams.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Miami’s first bowl game since the 2010-11 Godaddy Bowl, where they beat Middle Tennessee State 35-21. This is Miss State’s seventh straight bowl game, going back to a 52-14 win over Michigan in the 2010-11 Gator Bowl. The Bullldogs beat NC State 51-28 in the Belk Bowl last year.
Announcers: Dave LaMont and Rene Ingoglia

2:30: Maryland vs. Boston College (Quick Lane Bowl @ Detroit, MI; ESPN): No, remember that Maryland is in the Big Ten now. (I occasionally still have trouble with this, but more so for Nebraska.) Anyway, these two teams are pretty even: occasionally good defense and not a whole of offense. I have BC as a slight favorite.
Previous meetings: These teams have met 11 times, which seems low until you remember that BC only joined the ACC in 2004. Indeed, the two had only met twice before being conference mates from 2005-2013. BC has won the last 3 straight and is 8-3 overall, the most recent being a 29-26 win.
Last bowl game: This is the first bowl for the Terps since the 2014 Foster Farms Bowl, a 45-21 loss to Stanford. BC also last went to a bowl in 2014, losing 31-30 to Penn State in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Announcers: Mark Neely and Ray Bentley

5:00: North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt (Independence Bowl @ Shreveport, LA; ESPN2): Well, this is probably the most fun game of the day just by default. For starters, I count Shreveport, Louisiana as one of college football’s more ridiculous bowl venues. Secondly, these are both teams that are coming in hot, winners of two of their last three, including season ending victories over bitter rivals. So if you’re taking advantage of Boxing Day sales, then you may want decompress with this one on. Also, it’ll probably rain a lot in the second half. Fun! I’ve got the Wolfpack as a slight favorite.
Previous meetings: Just two. The first was in 1946, a 7-0 Vanderbilt win. The last was the 2012 Music City Bowl, which Vandy also won, 38-24.
Last bowl game: This is the Wolfpack’s third bowl game in a row. They lost last year’s Belk Bowl to Mississippi State 51-28. This is Vandy’s first bowl since the 2013-14 Birmingham Bowl, where they defeated Houston 41-24.
Announcers: Mike Couzens and Cole Cubelic

Tuesday, December 27
12:00: Army vs. North Texas (Heart of Dallas Bowl @ Dallas, TX; ESPN): I have a mental block about this game. Army is like a 10 point favorite. Yeah, sure, North Texas isn’t good or anything, but Army lost to this team by 17 points at home! Look, I’m a stats-oriented person and I know that head-to-head isn’t the best indicator of the quality of these two teams two months later. But, still, 17 points! I have the Mean Green here.
Previous meetings: Five, beginning in 1996-7, 2009-10, and then earlier this season. Army had won the first four, but UNT won back in October 35-18.
Last bowl game: This is Army’s first bowl game since the 2010 Armed Forces Bowl, wherein they defeated SMU 16-14. UNT’s last bowl game was this very game, back in the 2013-14 season. They defeated UNLV 36-14.
Announcers: Allen Bestick and Mike Bellotii

3:30: Temple vs. Wake Forest (Military Bowl @ Annapolis, MD; ESPN): Yes, Virginia Maryland, Wake Forest did actually qualify for a bowl game! Unfortunately for them, Temple is actually pretty good. I have the Owls all the way here.
Previous meetings: Just one, way back in 1930. Temple won 36-0.
Last bowl game: This is the second straight bowl game for the Owls. As far as I can tell, this is the first ever set of back-to-back bowls for them. They lost last year’s Boca Raton Bowl to Toledo 32-17. This is Wake’s first bowl game since the 2011 Music City Bowl, where they lost 23-17 to Mississippi State.
Announcers: Jason Benetti and Kelly Stouffer

7:00: Minnesota vs. Washington State (Holiday Bowl @ San Diego, CA; ESPN): I find Wazzu to be one of the most vexing teams in college football, right down to how to spell their nickname. Regardless, it seems likely that they’ll run through and throw over Minnesota while the Gophers will be unable to return fire.
Previous meetings: Five, and all in the regular season, somewhat surprisingly: 1965, 1971, 1976, 1982, and 1988. Wazzu holds the 3-2 advatnage and won the last matchup 41-9.
Last bowl game: This is Minnesota’s fifth straight postseason game, going back to the 2012 Car Care Bowl, which they lost 34-31 to Texas Tech. They beat Central Michigan in last year’s Quick Lane Bowl 21-14. Washington State beat Miami (the one from the ACC) in last year’s Sun Bowl, 20-14.
Announcers: Bob Wischusen and Brock Huard

10:15: Boise State vs. Baylor (Cactus Bowl @ Phoenix, AZ; ESPN): Boise.
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is the seventh straight bowl for the Bears, going back to a 38-14 loss to Illinois in the 2010 Texas Bowl. They beat North Carolina 49-38 in last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl.
Announcers: Rece Davis, Joey Galloway, and David Pollack