Monthly Archives: December 2016

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

Bowl Predictions 2016: Final

At least, the final edition of the predictions are available. I’ll note that they’re not neccessary set in stone. After I wake up this morning, I will begin scanning my newsfeeds for any updated information as the dominoes of the bowl games fall into place. So let’s hit the highlights:

  • I redid a lot of the ACC’s bowl games to reflect two things. First, it seems likely that Georgia Tech will get a bid to the Taxslayer Bowl, 10 years after our previous appearance in what was then the Gator Bowl. (Hopefully it goes better this time.) I was also persuaded by the arguments for the Backyard Brawl in the Russell Athletic Bowl, but if the RAB isn’t then Virginia Tech probably slides up into that slot.
  • I’m sticking to my guns with regards to the top-4 for the playoffs: Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Washington. I think the only argument is for Penn State over Ohio State. Even if this gets weird later today, the damage will only be contained to the CFP-controlled bowls, unless Washington winds up in the Rose. 
  • I made some other changes based off rumors, like Houston playing San Diego State in the Las Vegas Bowl. They came form ESPN folks, though, and they own almost all the bowl games, so if anyone has an inside track, it’s them.

That’s all I have for now. I’ve explained my process before, and I’m out of things to explain. All that’s next is to wait.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:00: Ohio vs. Western Michigan (Mid-American Conference Championship @ Detroit, MI; ESPN2): By any reasonable measure, Western Michigan should win easily. However, I can’t help but think back to the 2013 MAC title game, where an unranked Bowling Green beat an undefeated Northern Illinois 47-27. That said, yeah, you can’t reasonably pick against the Broncos here.

9:00: Washington vs. Colorado (Pac-12 Championship @ Santa Clara, CA; FOX): Strangely, an upset here probably results in overall less intrigue, since Colorado will just slide right into the Rose Bowl. Instead, all the drama is in the Huskies winning. That said, a win here would give Washington a pretty solid victory for the ol’ strength-of-schedule, and they would be a conference champion. Would that be enough to ensure their spot? I think so. And while I think these Buffs are pretty good, I think Washington is just a bit better.


  • Temple @ Navy (American Athletic Conference Championship; ABC): If you like keeping the ball on the ground, this is the game for you. Featuring two of the best rushing attacks in the country, passing will be at a premium. That said, I think the Owls are better matchup for Navy than South Florida would’ve been, and I think they’ll be able to prevail at home.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Western Kentucky (Conference USA Championship; ESPN): If you like to see the pigskin spending most of the afternoon in the air, well then good news! Featuring two attacks that absolutely like to fling out it around, consequences be damned, this game figures to be a rollicking good 62-58 kind of time. In that scenario, I like the Hilltoppers.
  • Troy @ Georgia Southern (ESPN2): Southern enters this game on a four game losing streak that doesn’t figure to stop there.
  • Kansas State @ Texas Christian (FS1): With the two teams otherwise through the rest of the Big 12 schedule, they enter pretty darn close when it comes to most statistical categories, so I figure this a coin flip. In that case, I like K-State’s chances.

12:30: Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (FOX): It’s Bedlam! And honestly, I don’t figure this one to be especially crazy. Oklahoma has been pretty good this year! While Oklahoma State is 8-1 in conference, they haven’t exactly dominated the way the Sooners have (seriously, as fluky as that Central Michigan loss was, they should’ve also lost to Texas Tech). I’ve got the Sooners all the way here.

3:30: Baylor @ West Virginia (FS1): West Virginia.

4:00: Alabama vs. Florida (Southeastern Conference Championship @ Atlanta, GA; CBS): Seriously, SEC, just move Alabama (and Auburn) to the East and be done with it. Bama should roll.

7:30: Arkansas State @ Texas State (ESPN2): Texas State is basically the Rutgers of the Sun Belt, so the Red Wolves should roll easily.

7:45: San Diego State @ Wyoming (Mountain West Conference Championship; ESPN): the Aztecs ventured up to Laramie two weeks ago and had a chance to tie with the clock expired with an extra point. Instead, they opted for the two point conversion, which failed. Since then, both these teams have fallen backward into the game. SDSU’s position as West champs was never in any doubt, but they lost to Colorado State last week kinda badly (63-31!). Wyoming, meanwhile, is here mainly because Boise State had the courtesy to lose to Air Force the day before they got bowled over by New Mexico. So, basically, I don’t know what to expect here, except that the San Diego State players are probably going to be very, very cold, with the temperature expected to be somewhere around 20 degrees (Fahrenheit!) at kickoff. So good luck with that, and I like Wyoming here.


  • Clemson vs. Virginia Tech (Atlantic Coast Conference Championship @ Orlando, FL; ABC): Hey, remember that time North Carolina totally recovered an onside kick to have a chance at beating Clemson in the ACC title game last year? All I’m saying is that, for maybe only the third or fourth time all year, the Tigers need to come to play, lest they need to get bailed out again. It’s not a good look.
  • Wisconsin vs. Pennsylvania State (Big Ten Championship @ Indianapolis, IN; FOX): So, yeah, this is totally the Big Ten title game we all expected a few weeks ago. Well, okay, it half is, since Wisconsin is pretty good and was a pretty expected pick to win the Big Ten West at that point. Instead, it was the East not holding up its end of the bargain, the circumstances of which we’re all familiar with at this point. So who’s going win this game? I have to say, I’m still skeptical on Penn State. Yes, they beat Ohio State, but (for the umpteenth time) the transitive property does not apply to college football. Also, it wasn’t like the Nittany Lions went out there and dominated the Buckeyes: they were outgained by over 200 yards and needed some special teams luck to win the game. On the balance, the Badgers’ defense was second only to Michigan’s in the Big Ten. They’re a force to be reckoned with, and in a different year Wisconsin would be coming into this undefeated. I like the Badgers here.

Bowl Predictions 2016: Week 7

First, a link.

And now, business. First off, many of these predictions are not as accurate as I’d like for the week after Thanksgiving. While all the controversy is closer to the top of the College Football Playoff rankings, the real uncertainty is due to two teams: Western Michigan and Navy.

Western Michigan, as you may know, are currently undefeated heading into their MAC title game tilt with Ohio Friday night. Navy will play in the AAC title game against Temple on Saturday. CMU is currently ranked 17th, while Navy is ranked 19th. The Playoff rankings are relatively opaque, which is sometimes a good thing (they seem more willing to move teams around based on new data, unlike the traditional polls), but also a bad thing because it makes it harder for us to predict. (And, frankly, we should know what their criteria are instead of having to guess at it.) I don’t think it’s especially likely that a 2-loss Navy would jump an undefeated Western Michigan, but the point is no one knows for sure. The result, currently, is chaos. The worst-case scenario is that the Committee decides that they need more data, thus meaning we all have to wait for Navy to play Army next weekend. In essence, it’s entirely possible that almost every MAC, AAC, or bowl with at-large slots will be unable to fill its spots until December 11th, possibly affecting the bowls that kick off the following Saturday.

In other words, there’s probably a lot of bowl officials going “I love our country, but… it’d really work out out if Navy lost on Saturday” right now. 


  • I just re-shuffled some of the Sun Belt bids, so the these predictions are fresh as of about 10 minutes ago.
  • Fun times in the ACC bowl hierarchy, where some unexpectedly 6-6 teams and a Louisville loss to Kentucky have shuffled things up. Let’s just go down the list:
    • Clemson’s in the playoff if they beat Virginia Tech, nothing’s changed there. They’ll be either a 2 or 3 seed if they’re in, I think.
    • Me, and just about everyone else, is now putting Florida State in the Orange Bowl over Louisville. Look, I don’t agree with it, but maybe the Cardinals just should’ve taken care of business at home.
    • Since four Big Ten teams are going to get into the CFP-controlled bowls, one of them is going to be in the Orange Bowl. And if one of them is in the Orange Bowl, then an ACC team gets in the Citrus Bowl. So that’s where Louisville will wind up if they miss out on the Orange Bowl.
    • The Russell Athletic Bowl gets the first ACC selection after that mess, and I think they’ll take the top team on the board, Virginia Tech.
    • Next up is the ACC mid-tier consisting of the Taxslayer Bowl (probably no Music City this year), Belk Bowl, Sun Bowl, and Pinstripe Bowl. Right now, I’m going with the obvious geographic fits for the Pinstripe (Pittsburgh), Belk (North Carolina) and Taxslayer (Miami). So that leaves the Sun to pick from 8-4 Georgia Tech and the ACC’s three 6-6 teams. I’m going with the Jackets for that one. About the only thing that I think could change is Tech to the Taxslayer and Miami to the Sun, but that’s about it.
  • As with last year, it’s basically impossible to predict where the 5-7 teams will end up. We can, however, pretty safely say a bowl eligible 6-7 Hawaii will end up at the Hawaii Bowl, but it’s not official yet. Here are your potential APR 5-7 teams, in priority order:
    • North Texas
    • Texas/Mississippi State
    • Northern Illinois

That’s about it for now. Stay tuned Saturday night, when the last predictions will go up before we transition to game previews. (Hopefully.)