Category Archives: On TV This Week

This Week In College Football: Week 1

As we get the season proper started, a quick reminder on the format of this post. I’ll do small descriptions of each contest involving two FBS teams on a regular linear television channel, otherwise it’s just listed here without commentary.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Thursday

6:30: Temple @ Rutgers (BTN): Wait, this is the game that’s going to kick off the college football season? Well, at least Greg Schiano will get a chance to show some progress in Week 1.

7:00:

  • Boise State @ Central Florida (ESPN): This is the sort of intra-G5 matchup I want to see more of. Mostly because I don’t have a fantastic read on either of these teams and I think it’d be fun to be able to watch this, even though I’m traveling and I won’t be able to. I’m picking… this is a tough one y’all. Boise? Sure, Boise.
  • Long Island @ Florida International (espn3.com)
  • Wagner @ Buffalo (espn3.com)
  • Tennessee-Martin @ Western Kentucky (ESPN+)
  • Western Illinois @ Ball State (ESPN+)
  • The Citadel @ Coastal Carolina (ESPN+)

7:30:

  • Eastern Carolina vs. Appalachian State (Duke’s Mayo Classic @ Charlotte, NC):  App State should be able to take out ECU easily.
  • South Florida @ North Carolina State (ACCN): This is still a relatively depleted USF team that shouldn’t worry the Wolfpack.
  • Weber State @ Utah (Pac12)
  • California-Davis @ Tulsa (ESPN+)

8:00:

  • Ohio State @ Minnesota (FOX): I hope the Gophers can give a fight here, but it’s hard to see anything other than the Buckeyes rolling.
  • Bowling Green @ Tennessee (SEC): The Vols should be able to take out one of the worst teams in college football.

10:00: Eastern Washington @ Nevada-Las Vegas (Stadium)

10:30: Southern Utah @ Arizona State (Pac12)

Friday

6:00: North Carolina @ Virginia Tech (ESPN): Most of the college football universe is essentially waiting to see whether Justin Fuente is going to get fired, and well, I like Carolina here for a reason.

7:00:

  • Duke @ Charlotte (CBSS): I think I still have to pick Duke here but if I’m being honest I’m not all that confident about it.
  • Old Dominion  @ Wake Forest (ACCN): Wake.
  • Saint Francis @ Eastern Michigan (espn3.com)

8:00: South Dakota @ Kansas (ESPN+)

9:00:

  • Michigan State @ Northwestern (ESPN): I’m not going to watch this game, and you don’t have to either. I’ll take Northwestern here though.
  • South Dakota State @ Colorado State (FS1)
  • Northern Colorado @ Colorado (Pac12)

Bowl Games 2020: Four Games, but I Wish There Were More

The latest schedule and picks can be found here in convenient table form. As you might have surmised, I’m posting these at a trickle so I don’t spend a bunch of time researching stuff for games that get canceled. So let’s talk about the games for Tuesday and Wednesday.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday, December 29

5:30: Miami vs. Oklahoma State (Cheez-It Bowl @ Orlando, FL; ABC): There’s been one constant this season, and that’s the incessant parade of Cheez-It commercials during games. It all culminates right here, right now. Formerly, they sponsored what would’ve been the Guaranteed Rate Bowl this year, but that game won’t be played, so here we are with what used to the Camping World Bowl. So yeah, what’s your favorite flavor? Me, I love white cheddar anything, but I usually get the reduced fat ones because… oh, right, there’s a football game. Both these teams head into this game going backward, especially since the Canes were most recently seen getting their doors blown off by North Carolina. Also, Miami has recently been hot garbage in bowl games. For those reasons, I’m going against the numbers and picking Oklahoma State.
SP+ line: Miami by 1.8
Vegas line: OSU -3
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Just one, a regular season matchup back in the Orange Bowl in 1991. Miami won 40-3.
Last bowl game: While Miami still isn’t back, they’re definitely on a consistent bowl streak now. This will be the eighth straight bowl game for the Canes, dating to the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl, where they lost to Louisville 36-9. Last season they lost 14-0 to Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. For Oklahoma State, this will be their 15th consecutive bowl game, going back to the 2006 Independence Bowl, 34-31 win over Alabama. Last season they lost 24-21 to Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl.
Announcers: Dave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Katie George
Fun fact: Did you know that this is the first Power 5 vs. Power 5 matchup of the 2020 season?

9:00: Texas vs. Colorado (Alamo Bowl @ San Antonio, TX; ESPN): I was supposed to travel a lot this year, but as with most things 2020 those plans have gone by the wayside. Instead, of the two times I’ve left California this year, one of them was to go to San Antonio. Anyway, that’s about my entire connection this. I don’t think I watched Colorado at all this year, so I don’t have a great read on them. That said, if Texas has done anything consistently under Tom Herman, it’s “show up for bowl games”, so I’m picking the ‘Horns.
SP+ line: Texas by 12
Vegas line: Texas -12.5
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: There’s been 18 meetings between the Longhorns and the Buffs all-time. 6 of those were before the implosion of the Southwest Conference, and the other 12 were when they were both in the Big 12. Texas won the first meeting back in 1940 39-7. The last time they met was also a Texas victory, 38-14 in 2009. Overall, Texas has a 11-7 record in the series.”
Last bowl game: “This will be Texas’s fourth straight bowl game, dating to the 2017 Texas Bowl, where they beat Mizzou 33-16. Last season they beat Utah in the Alamo Bowl 38-10. For the Buffs, this is the first bowl game since the 2016 Alamo Bowl, where they lost 38-8 to Oklahoma state.
Announcers: Jason Benetti, Mike Golic, Kris Budden

Wednesday, December 30

12:00: Wake Forest vs. Wisconsin (Mayo Bowl @ Charlotte, NC; ESPN): Sure, it’s officially the “Duke’s Mayo Bowl”, but a) I’m from the South and I’ve never heard of Duke’s Mayo before I saw the announcement for the title sponsor of this bowl game and b) it’s always more fun to have just the product if possible. Anyway, I’m not sure there’ll be much to this game, which is maybe why ESPN is leaving it at noon even though the in-between game for today, the Music City Bowl, was canceled when Mizzou pulled out. I’m off work this week and I’m still on the West Coast, so this one may be over before I even wake up.
SP+ line: Wisky by 14.5
Vegas line: Wisky -7
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is Wake’s fifth straight bowl game, going back to the 2016 Military Bowl, a 34-26 win over Temple. Most recently, they lost 27-21 to Michigan State in the Pinstripe Bowl. The Badgers are meanwhile appearing in their 19th consecutive bowl game, dating to the 2002 Alamo Bowl, where they beat Colorado 31-28. Last season they lost 28-27 to Oregon in the Rose Bowl.
Announcers: Taylor Zazour, Matt Stinchcomb, Marty Smith

7:15: Oklahoma vs. Florida (Cotton Bowl @ Arlington, TX; ESPN): After several Florida players opt-ed out today, I thought about maybe taking this game down a notch, but I think this will still be pretty good regardless. The Sooners are extremely young, so there is still a risk of Florida pulling away, but I’ve actually got this down as a close Sooners win.
SP+ line: Florida by 1.9
Vegas line: Florida -3
Watchability tier: IV
Previous meetings: Just one, the 2009 BCS Championship Game. The Gators won 24-14.
Last bowl game: This is Oklahoma’s 22nd consecutive bowl game, dating to the 1999 Independence Bowl, where they lost to Ole Miss 27-25. Last season they lost to LSU in the Peach Bowl, 63-28. This is the third straight bowl game for the Gators. They beat Michigan 41-15 in the 2018 Peach Bowl and beat UVA 36-28 in last season’s Orange Bowl.
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Holly Rowe

Bowl Games 2020: Opening Slate

Oh, right, the bowl games start today. I should’ve anticipated this since these games were generally announced last week, but here we are. At any rate. I’ve been in this bowl game business since 1999. The last time we had 28 regular bowl games, it was 2005, likely more famously known for Vince Young singlehandedly leading Texas over the pre-anointed Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl, which unlike this year’s Rose Bowl was actually in the Rose Bowl.

Anyway, I’ve got this whole thing put together at pretty much the last minute, at least for these pre-Christmas games. So let’s get crackin’. First, though, let’s also examine a 2020-adjusted version of the Watchability Rankings:

  • I: Something to have on on the background while reading the Wikipedia article about “Timeline of the Far Future” and trying not have an existential crisis while doing so.
  • II: Decidedly less existential, this tier starts to get into stuff that could be interesting, or might just go totally sideways for one team or the other. Either way, it’s worth at least having on for the first half.
  • III: This is a game I will definitely be watching, but isn’t a “mainstream pick”, as in, “yeah man, I knew about Coastal Carolina before knowing what a Chanticleer was was cool”.
  • IV: Playoff games, well, the championship game at least, and anything else of important note.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Monday, December 21
2:30: North Texas vs. Appalachian State (Myrtle Beach Bowl @ Conway, SC; ESPN): Okay, let’s get this thing started… with a game that kicks at 11:30 AM on the West Coast and one team is heavily favored. Yeah, this is what Watchability Tier I was invented for. But hey, App State is a fun team, and you’ll be free to enjoy your evening.
SP+ line: App State by 21.3
Vegas line: App State -21
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: This is North Texas’s first bowl game since a 52-13 loss to Utah State in the 2018 New Mexico Bowl. This is the sixth straight bowl game for App State, going back to a 31-29 win over Ohio in the 2015 Camellia Bowl. Last year they bet UAB 31-17 in the New Orleans Bowl.
Announcers: Courney Lyle, Eric MacLain, Marty Smith, Ryan McGee

Tuesday, December 22
3:30: Tulane vs. Nevada (Potato Bowl @ Boise, ID; ESPN): This one could actually be pretty cool. Tulane’s offense is just plane fun, and it’s been good to see Nevada be kind of decent again. The forecast this game calls for snow in the morning, but cold and clear by kickoff, so that’s less than ideal, but the blue turf will be a different vibe for your TV. I wonder if Tulane will wear their all-green uniforms… at any rate, I expect the Green Wave to win in the end.
SP+ line: Tulane by 5.7
Vegas line: Tulane -3
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Once, back in 1992. The Green Wave washed over Reno 34-17.
Last bowl game: This is the third straight bowl game for the Green Wave. They won the 2018 Cure Bowl over Louisiana, and beat Southern Miss in last season’s Armed Forces Bowl. This is also the third straight bowl game for the Wolf Pack. In the 2018 Arizona bowl they beat Arkansas State 16-13, and last season they lost this very bowl game to Ohio, 30-21.
Announcers: Chris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Taylor Davis

7:00: Central Florida vs. Brigham Young (Boca Raton Bowl @ Boca Raton, FL; ESPN): UCF looked like world beaters when they played us, and I know we’re not good or anything, but they still dominated in a way that no on else did outside of Clemson against us. At any rate, I expect this game to fun and poinsty, but with BYU playing enough defense to win in the end.
SP+ line: BYU by 9
Vegas line: BYU -7
Watchability tier: III
Previous meetings: Twice, and relatively recently. The first meeting was a 24-17 BYU win in 2011, followed by a 31-24 overtime win for the Knights in 2014.
Last bowl game: This is the fifth straight bowl game for UCF, dating to a 31-13 loss to Arkansas State in the 2016 Cure Bowl. Last season they bulldozed Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl, 48-25. This is the third straight bowl for BYU. They beat Western Michigan 49-18 in the 2018 Potato Bowl, and lost last year’s Hawaii Bowl to Hawaii, 38-34.
Announcers: Dave Neal, DJ Shockley, Lericia Harris

Wednesday, December 23
3:30: Louisiana Tech vs. Georgia Southern (New Orleans Bowl @ New Orleans, LA; ESPN): Start your Christmas Eve Eve off right with… well, okay, this is probably not so great. Southern is favored by multiple scores, and I have no reason to doubt that.
SP+ line: GSU by 11
Vegas line: GSU -6
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: This is the first meeting between these teams.
Last bowl game: Louisiana Tech has a good streak going for themselves, as this is their seventh straight bowl game. They beat Illinois 35-18 in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl, and more recently they shut out the Miami Hurricanes in last season’s Independence Bowl by a score of 14-0. Georgia Southern is making their third straight bowl game. In 2018 they beat Eastern Michigan in the Camellia Bowl, 23-21. Last season they lost to Liberty 23-16 in the Cure Bowl.
Announcers: Matt Barrie, Mike Golic Jr, Dawn Davenport

7:00: Memphis vs. Florida Atlantic (Montgomery Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): This game was originally supposed to be the new Fenway Bowl, but now I sort of wonder if that will come back, pandemic notwithstanding. Fenway’s an awkward fit for a football field and, well, it’s Boston in December. For the game itself, FAU wasn’t really that good this year, and while Memphis has come down from the high of last year, I think they’ve got this game easily.
SP+ line: Memphis by 7.2
Vegas line: Memphis -9
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Once, back in the 2007 New Orleans Bowl. FAU won 44-27.
Last bowl game: Memphis is appearing in their seventh straight bowl game, dating to the legendary (and no, I’m not being sarcastic) 2014 Miami Beach Bowl, where they beat (heh) BYU 55-48. Last season they tried their shot at the big guys, but came up short 53-39 to Penn State in the Cotton Bowl. FAU is making a second consecutive bowl game. Last season they beat SMU 52-28 in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Announcers: Clay Matvic, Rock Boiman, Lauren Sisler

Thursday, December 24
3:30: Hawaii vs. Houston (New Mexico Bowl @ Frisco, TX; ESPN): The Rainbow Warriors get the leave the island for a bowl game for the first time in a while (largely because the Hawaii Bowl itself was canceled, but still), and they wind up against a team that sort should eat their lunch. But you know what, if I have to be on the West Coast and watch a game that starts at 12:30 on Christmas Eve, well, I’ll do just that. Besides, Houston still figures to be rusty, anything could happen! (They’re probably going to win easily.)
SP+ line: Houston by 13.7
Vegas line: Houston -13
Watchability tier: I
Previous meetings: Once, in the 2003 Hawaii Bowl. Hawaii won 54-48 in overtime.
Last bowl game: Hawaii’s made three straight postseason contests, but this will be their first outside the state. In 2018 they lost to Louisiana Tech 31-14, and season they beat BYU 38-34. Houston last appeared in a bowl game back in 2018, where they got walloped 70-14 by Army in the Armed Forces Bowl.
Announcers: TBA

Friday, December 25
2:30: Buffalo vs. Marshall (Camellia Bowl @ Montgomery, AL; ESPN): I can’t say that I know much about Marshall this year, but I do know that Buffalo is fun, so once you’re done unwrapping presents over Zoom, grab yourself a beverage and hop over to ESPN. This one could be good by virtue of the two teams apparently being even according to SP+, so I’ll take it, but I still like the Bulls better in the end.
SP+ line: Buffalo by 0.3
Vegas line: Buffalo -3.5
Watchability tier: II
Previous meetings: Nine times, going all the way back to 1959. Buffalo won that meeting 37-12, but the Bull have gone 0-6 ever since. The most recent was a 48-14 Marshall win in 2004.
Last bowl game: The Bulls are buffaloing their way to a third straight bowl game. They appeared in the 2019 Dollar General Bowl, where they lost 42-32 to Troy. Last season they beat Charlotte in the Bahamas Bowl, 31-9. Marshall is thundering their way into a fourght straight bowl game, dating to the 2018 New Mexico Bowl, where they beat Colorado State 31-28. Last season they lost the Gasparilla Bowl 48-25 to UCF.
Announcers: TBA

This Week in College Football: Week 14

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday

6:00: Ohio @ Akron (ESPN+)

7:00: Western Michigan @ Northern Illinois (ESPNU): NIU is kind of bad this year, but it’s not surprising that this is the game that made it to TV. I like WMU though.

Thursday

7:30: Mississippi @ Mississippi State (“The Egg Bowl”; ESPN): If it makes any sense, this rivalry is possible overrated as an underrated rivalry. Okay, so that probably doesn’t make sense, but there’s a reason why college football people always talk about this game. If you’re not from Mississippi (and I’m not), then the ferocity of this game is not generally going to be known. And let’s face it, ferocity is not a word often thrown around when it comes to the Turkey Day NFL games. (Of course, I say this and the NFL game it’s going up against is Saints-Falcons, so…) Anyway, Ole Miss is terrible this year, so yeah the Bulldogs should be able to secure the win in Starkville.

Friday

Noon:

  • Texas Tech @ Texas (“Battle for the Chancellor’s Spurs”; FOX): It turns out Texas is as mediocre as we thought they’d be before they beat the pants off Georgia in the Sugar Bowl last season. Who knew? Anyway, I’m still going to take them to beat Texas Tech because, well, I’m not sure really.
  • Virginia Tech @ Virginia (“The Commonwealth Cup”; ABC): We all thought last year would be the year that UVA could finally do it and beat VPI for the first time since 2003, but nope, they went out and blew it. That was in Blacksburg, at least, this time they have to be considered favorites with the Coastal on the line, right? (Note: “Coastal favorites” is synonymous with “the right to demolished by Clemson next week”.) I think they can do it this time. Maybe.
  • Toledo @ Central Michigan (ESPNU): I’ve given up on trying to figure out what’s up with Toledo, so for the sake of my sanity I’ll go with CMU.
  • Miami @ Ball State (CBSS): Miami is 7-4, and Ball State is 4-7, yet the ESPN FPI matchup predictor gives the Cardinals a 64% chance of winning. Yeah, I’ll disagree.
  • Bowling Green @ Buffalo (ESPN+)
  • Kent State @ Eastern Michigan (ESPN+)

2:30:

  • Missouri @ Arkansas (“Battle Line Rivalry”; CBS): Arkansas: the Rutgers of the SEC. Everyone’s “get right” game. The wonder of how a SEC team could be this bad. It’s truly mind-boggling, and this is the last time you’ll get to see it in 2019.
  • Iowa @ Nebraska (“The Heroes Game”; BTN): Iowa is presumably going to do Iowa things and get out of Lincoln with an Iowa win. I have no desire to watch any of it.

3:30:

  • Cincinnati @ Memphis (ABC): Now then, this could be fun. Cincy already as the AAC East secured, but the West is still up for grabs, but Memphis hold the reins. They also figure to be a better team in the end, and put themselves in prime position to a) beat Cincy again next week and b) become the top G5 team in the College Football Playoff rankings.
  • Boise State @ Colorado State (CBSS): The main question about this game is probably whether or not Colorado State coach Mike Bobo will retire afterward. Boise shouldn’t have an issue.

4:00: Washington State @ Washington (“The Apple Cup”; FOX): This Apple Cup looks like a complete coin flip. UDub absolutely looks… bad on offense, but Wazzu’s defense is an excellent salve for offensive woes. Combine that with Wazzu’s penchant for offense, and we could potentially have some fireworks in Seattle. Just because of Wazzu’s unpredictability, I like UDub in the end.

4:15: West Virginia @ Texas Christian (ESPN): WVU lost 5 straight, beat Kansas State, and then lost again. I’m going to go with TCU here.

5:00: Arkansas State @ South Alabama (ESPN+)

6:00: Appalachian State @ Troy (ESPN+)

8:00: South Florida @ Central Florida (“The War on I-4”; ESPN): I had to check real quick, and yep, Charlie Strong isn’t fired yet. That said, it’s hard to imagine who would do better in USF, really. UCF figures to run away with this one.

This Week in College Football: Week 13

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

Tuesday

7:30:

  • Eastern Michigan @ Northern Illinois (ESPN2): Well, there’s a whole week of games afoot, starting off with two solid blocks of MACtion. NIU needs a win here badly to get bowl eligible, but in my projects I have EMU winning.
  • Ohio @ Bowling Green (ESPNU): The Bobcats have been pretty uneven this year, but they should be able to prevail over the Falcons.

Wednesday

7:30:

  • Toledo @ Buffalo (ESPN2): Toledo has had one of the strangest trajectories of any team this season. To wit: they lost to Kentucky to open the season, as one would expect. They then reeled off four straight, including winning at Colorado State and beating BYU. They then lost to Bowling Green, which wasn’t great, and then they got absolutely slobberknocked by Ball State. They then two more before losing again last week. I have no idea what to make of them or this game. I’ll go with the Rockets, I guess.
  • Akron @ Miami (ESPNU): Akron is… not good. Miami all the way here.

Thursday

8:00: North Carolina State @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): Two steps forward, one huge step back. That’s how this season feels so far. I was expecting it to be pretty rough, but it’s hard to be encouraged when you get blown out by a team you blew out last season. Of course, it’s hard to have high expectations when you’ve got two walk-ons taking a lot of snaps on the defensive line. I hope we can resolve these depth issues over the winter. About the best thing I can think of to say about this immediate game is, um, the Midtown skyline is really pretty at night.

Friday

9:30: Colorado State @ Wyoming (ESPN2): Well, it’s safe to say Wyoming is no longer the luckiest team in football, a title bestowed upon them after they won their first three games in the most random manner possible. They then lost a weird game to Tulsa, but since then they’ve otherwise done a solid of beating the teams they should and losing to the teams that are better to them. They should be able to continue that trend and beat Colorado State.