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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Let's Go Bowling...39 TIMES!!
1st #CFBPlayoff + Bowl Season = Couch Ass Grooves for All

'Tis the season for bowling....college football bowl games I mean.  Although, if you want to head out to your local bowling alley for some pin-knocking fun, go for it.  College bowl season is a bit out of a hand I will admit.  39 games...39!!!...played over a three week period is crazy.  For a college football fan, this is pure heaven.  Of course everyone knows this is really just a money grabber for the NCAA and sponsors.  I mean look at some of the name of the bowls being played this year: Camellia, Miami Beach, Heart of Dallas, Foster Farms, TaxSlayer.  Who wouldn't want to celebrate the new year with a fancy title of Potato Bowl Champion?  Oddly enough, there are even arguments over some teams being left out of playing in a bowl game.  From a university football program perspective, the invite to a bowl game does generate revenue, usually brings national exposure with a televised game (for some teams the 1st televised game of their season) and can assist with recruitment and program recognition.  From the players perspective, they get one last game to impress scouts, build on next year and, for the seniors, perhaps play their final game of football.  Not to mention some of the cool gifts!  Just take a look at what each player from all 39 bowl games will be taking home with them this year, courtesy of Sports Business Daily.

But let's get to the big discussion: the #CFBPlayoff!  Everyone, myself included, was ready to scrutinize the selection committee for their top 4 picks but at the end of the day it is very hard to argue against them.  The top 3 of Alabama, Oregon and Florida State have been locks for many weeks (assuming they won out, which they did).  It was that 4 spot which everyone was left guessing.  I honestly saw Baylor nabbing that last spot if they could get past Kansas State in their final game (which they did).  However, I was not expecting Ohio State to win...and win BIG...in the B1G Championship Game.  Had the Buckeye's lost, or maybe even not have won in such a dominant one-sided way, the argument would have been made for Baylor.  But the lack of a championship game in the Big 12 coupled with Ohio State destroying a highly ranked Wisconsin team were too much for Baylor (or TCU) to overcome.  At the end of the day, these are the top 4 teams in the nation and, unlike the BCS era, there is little argument against the selection committee.  I would call the first year of the playoff a success actually.  On to the bowl picks....

Last Week: 9 - 4 (69%)
Overall: 276 - 108 (72%)

I would say overall not a bad winning percentage in picking games.  I was really hoping to stay under the 100 L mark but could not pull it off (mostly because of Georgia Tech and the MAC!!!).  Let's see how I can do with my bowl picks though.  Bowl games are tricky to pick and often see some upsets.  Teams are unfamiliar with one another, teams have had many weeks off to prepare...you really never know what you are going to get.  You can get some amazing bowl games....and you could end up with some real stinker sleeper games.  Let's hope we see more of the former and less of the latter.

December 20, 2014

New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) over Nevada (7-5) - The Cajuns have owned this bowl lately.  They have only gone bowling 3 previous times in their program history and all 3 have been to the New Orleans Bowl.  They have yet to lose as well, going 3-0 in their bowl games.  Nevada, on the other hand, has not won a bowl game since 2010.  This is basically a home game for the Ragin' Cajuns, so going with them.

New Mexico Bowl
Utah State (9-4) over UTEP (7-5) - Interesting stat for you: UTEP's last bowl win was in 1967.  They have not even played in a bowl game since 2010.  I think the losing streak will continue.

Las Vegas Bowl
Colorado State (10-2) over (22) Utah (8-4) - The Rams were an outside pick at making a Big 6 bowl game this season.  They are a very talented team.  Utah has not looked as good in closing the PAC-12 season.

Potato Bowl
Western Michigan (8-4) over Air Force (9-3) - Talk about two teams on similar paths.  Both had turnaround seasons with the Broncos going from 1-11 to 8-4 and the Falcons going from 2-10 to 9-3.  Also similar is their inability to win bowl games.  Air Force has lost 5 of their last 7 and Western Michigan has NEVER won a bowl game (0-5).  I think the Broncos finally get their 1st program bowl win....in the Potato Bowl!

Camellia Bowl
Bowling Green (7-6) over South Alabama (6-6) - South Alabama will be playing close to home in their home state and playing their first bowl game in program history.  Bowling Green has looked great in some games this season and horrible in others.  Which team steps up on Saturday?

December 22, 2014

Miami Beach Bowl
Memphis (9-3) over Brigham Young (8-4) - The Tigers have been one of the feel good stories of the season, claiming a share of the AAC title this season.  Memphis has not had a 10 win season since 1938.  I like this team and, given the Christmas spirit, would like to see a bit of an unheralded team pull off a bowl win.

December 23, 2014

Boca Raton Bowl
Northern Illinois (11-2) over Marshall (12-1) - These are two of the best teams in the Group of 5 conferences.  Both had hopes of crashing the Top 6 bowl games during the season.  The Herd are a tough team to rate due to their relative cupcake schedule.  Northern Illinois came through the often unpredictable, yet also relatively weak, MAC.  Both teams will have lots to prove and want to build towards next season.  Expect a high scoring game with many lead changes.  This should come down to a last possession, end of the 4th quarter type score or big defensive stop.

Poinsettia Bowl
San Diego State (7-6) over Navy (7-6) - The Aztecs are playing at home.  They have won 9 straight over the service schools (Navy, Army, Air Force).  Navy has lost their past two games in this bowl.  All signs points to the home town fans having an early Christmas present W.

December 24, 2014

Bahamas Bowl
Western Kentucky (7-6) over Central Michigan (7-6) - Well these two teams can't really complain, getting to spend Christmas Eve in the Bahamas.  Sounds nice doesn't it?  They are also quite familiar with one another as they played against each other just last year in the Little Caesar's Bowl, which Central Michigan won.  The Hilltoppers are still looking for their 1st bowl win and what better way than a revenge matchup in Nassau.

Hawaii Bowl
Rice (7-5) over Fresno State (6-7) - Another Christmas Eve bowl game, another exotic beach location.  The Bulldogs had to request a special approval to qualify for a bowl game after finishing the season under .500.  They have not won a bowl game since 2007 either.  Rice has not had a ton of bowl experience and have often been considered a cupcake team in the past.  They have a shot at getting an 8 win season for only the 10th time in school history.

December 26, 2014

Heart of Dallas Bowl
Louisiana Tech (8-5) over Illinois (6-6) - I am a bit surprised to see Illinois playing in a bowl game.  They needed to upset Penn State and Northwestern to end the season to get here.  The Bulldogs are coming off a tough C-USA championship game loss to Marshall, which they could have easily won.  LA Tech only has 1 bowl game win in their history and are playing in a bowl game for the first time since 2008.

Quick Lane Bowl
North Carolina (6-6) over Rutgers (7-5) - Expect a ton of offense from these two teams.  Not because their offenses are really good...more because both defenses are really bad.  Each team could score over 40 points.  We may see a classic 56-55 or 62-58 final here.

St. Petersburg Bowl
UCF (9-3) over NC State (7-5) - The Knights are trying to end with a 10-win season for the third straight year and 4th in the past 5.  The Wolfpack looked dead in the water for a bowl game a few weeks back but after dominating wins over rivals North Carolina and Wake Forest, they find themselves with a redemption bowl game and chance to end their season on a high.

December 27, 2014

Military Bowl
Cincinnati (9-3) over Virginia Tech (6-6) - This is the same Hokies team that beat Ohio State?  What looked like a huge win died off quickly for this team as their season unraveled.  But hey, they still qualified for their 22nd straight bowl game, 2nd longest active streak in the nation.

Sun Bowl 
(15) Arizona State (9-3) over Duke (9-3) - We have ourselves a classic battle of the Devils in this game.  Clever for the Sun Bowl selection committee.  Who will come out on top: Sun or Blue?  Arizona State had a successful PAC-12 season, just missing the championship game with a loss to rival Arizona.  Duke hasn't won a bowl game since 1961.

Independence Bowl
South Carolina (6-6) over Miami, FL. (6-6) - What do we expect in a game with two teams who underperformed this season?  Both were huge disappointments for their fans, players and coaches.  Hard to bet against Spurrier in a bowl game though.  The Hurricanes could send him to his first losing season as a head coach since 1987 though.

Pinstripe Bowl
Penn State (6-6) over Boston College (7-5) - The Nittany Lions are back in a bowl game.  Earlier in the season their appeal to lift their postseason ban was approved and here they are.  I would not expect a lot of offense in this game as both teams have very strong defenses.  This should be a close, low scoring affair.  We could see a 14-10 or 17-14 final.  Which D will step up with the big stop at the end of the game?

Holiday Bowl
(24) USC (8-4) over Nebraska (9-3) - These two storied programs have never met in a bowl game.  The 'Huskers have fired HC Bo Pelini before this game and will have an interim HC in Barney Cotton calling the shots.  Odd fact but USC has never played in the Holiday Bowl.  Quite surprising given the PAC-10/12 tie in to this bowl game.

December 29, 2014

Liberty Bowl
West Virginia (7-5) over Texas A&M (7-5) - Do you like passing?  Want to see some spectacular catches and some high scoring?  Need something to do on a Monday afternoon before New Years?  This is the perfect game for you.  Expect a shoot-out.

Russell Athletic Bowl
Oklahoma (8-4) over (17) Clemson (9-3) - The Sooners entered this season with high hopes and expectations to be playing in one of the #CFBPlayoff games.  This has not been the season they were hoping for!  The Tigers had a similar case with many thinking they could give Florida State a run for their money this year.  Neither team really lived up to expectations.

Texas Bowl
Arkansas (6-6) over Texas (6-6) - Both of these teams enter this game riding momentum.  Both looked dead in the water midway through the season.  Both had to pull out a winning streak at the end of the season just to get here.  The Longhorns won 3 of their final 4 games just to qualify.  The Razorbacks had a more daunting schedule, having to beat ranked SEC rivals LSU and Ole Miss near the end of the season.  Arkansas enters with more momentum, has played and beat stronger teams and looks to end their season on a high, building lots of momentum for next year. 

December 30, 2014

Music City Bowl
(23) LSU (9-3) over Notre Dame (7-5) - Oh Notre Dame, how everyone loved you and considered you a playoff team during the first half of the season.  They held close with FSU and almost knocked off the Seminoles.  Then reality set in and this team has not looked the same since.  Amazing this team started the season 6-0 remember!  LSU on the other hand is in next season mode right now.  They are looking to make a statement towards next year and put themselves in the early prediction line for a next year's playoff.

Belk Bowl
(13) Georgia (9-3) over (21) Loisville (9-3) - The Bulldogs have lost 3 of their past 4 bowl games.  The Cardinals have won their past 3 bowl games.  Do streaks continue or end in this game?  I think Nick Chubb is going to be able to run all over the Cardinals D and should lead his Bulldogs to a big victory in this game.

Foster Farms Bowl
Stanford (7-5) over Maryland (7-5) - What to expect from this game with two teams with opposite feelings on their season?  Stanford has to consider this season a disappointment, seeing their streak of playing in 4 straight BCS bowl games come to an end.  Maryland, on the other hand, had a successful first season in the B1G, beating Iowa, Michigan and Penn State.  If Stanford plays how they did in their regular season finale upset win over UCLA, the Terps are going to be hard pressed to stop them.

December 31, 2014

Peach Bowl
(6) TCU (11-1) over (9) Ole Miss (9-3) - Ah the first of the Big 6 bowl games and what a blockbuster match-up.  Both of these teams had high hopes of making the playoff and both were ranked in the top 4 by the selection committee at some point of the season.  The lack of a Big 12 Championship game and loss to Baylor killed the Horned Frogs chances.  The Rebels were brought down by a tough SEC schedule.  Both enter off huge wins, TCU destroyed Iowa State and Ole Miss pulled the upset of rival Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl (also knocking their rivals out of the playoff).  This will be a game of which side is stronger: TCU offense or Ole Miss defense?  TCU is a Top 5 team and should win this game, ending the Bulldogs 6 game bowl winning streak.  The TCU win will propel them as an early favorite for next year's playoff.

Fiesta Bowl
(16) Arizona (10-3) over (20) Boise State (11-2) - Everyone remembers Boise State's first trip to the Fiesta Bowl: the epic Statue of Liberty play, OT upset win over Oklahoma in 2007.  They replicated the success in a victory over TCU in 2009.  Can they pull off the same kind of holiday magic this year?  Arizona will play in their first Fiesta Bowl since 1993 and enter the game off of a tough PAC-12 Championship loss to Oregon.  Don't let that one game fool you, remember this is the same Wildcats team who handed the Ducks their only loss this season.  This has the makings for another Fiesta Bowl classic.  I would not recommend missing this game.  

Orange Bowl
(12) Georgia Tech (10-3) over (7) Mississippi State (10-2) - Entering this season, who thought Georgia Tech and Mississippi State would qualify for a Big 6 bowl game and play one another in Miami?  Yeah, don't all raise your hands at once.  These are two of the feel good stories of the season with both teams far exceeding what was expected of them.  The Jackets almost knocked off the defending champion Seminoles in the ACC Championship game.  The Rebels were a win away from possibly making the playoff.  The difference here is going to be momentum.  Tech is happy to have climbed throughout the season to make the Orange Bowl.  Miss St, on the other hand, had higher hopes in November to be playing in the playoff game.  Suffering 2 defeats in their final 3 games ended those dreams quickly.  The Bulldogs are ripe for the upset and the Jackets are in full sting mode right now.  

January 1, 2015

Outback Bowl
(18) Wisconsin (10-3) over (19) Auburn (8-4) - What is going on in Madison the past few seasons?  This is the 2nd time in 3 seasons where the Badgers enter their bowl game needing their Athletic Director Barry Alvarez step in on the sidelines.  I suppose it is more a compliment than a concern as their head coaches are being pouched by other programs because of the success they have had at Wisconsin.  This game will provide an opportunity to watch Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon run all over the field for a final time.  I don't think Auburn has the D to stop him all game either.  He should be able to put up some big numbers.  Auburn can score as well though, averaging 35.8 points per game this season.  The question is the Auburn D.  If they cannot stop Gordon, they are going to have a hard time winning this game.  The Badgers are also going to want to come out and redeem themselves after that embarrassing 59-0 loss to Ohio State in the B1G Championship.

Cotton Bowl
(5) Baylor (11-1) over (8) Michigan State (10-2) - Yowzers, what a match up.  Two teams who had high hopes of the playoff throughout most of the season.  Sparty had two tough losses this year to knock them out but look who they lost to: Oregon and Ohio State.  Both losses came to teams playing in the playoff.  And what about the Bears?  If they had taken care of West Virginia they would be in the playoff.  Baylor has a strong case to make on why they should have made the playoff but in the end, a loss to Sparty will just prove they didn't belong in the first place.  This will be another game of contrasting playing styles.  Baylor will come at you with high-octane offense and lots of long passes.  Michigan State will try to smoother you with its defense and limit the amount of long yard plays.  Which side will prove to be superior?  Baylor can run a similar offense to Oregon and we saw what happened to Sparty in that game.

Citrus Bowl
(16) Missouri (10-3) over (25) Minnesota (8-4) - People keep underestimating the Tigers in a loaded SEC but they have won back-to-back SEC East titles now.  Shouldn't we all start giving this team the praise they deserve?  The Gophers have had a tremendous season, far outweighing expectations.  This is a surprising New Year's Day bowl matchup but one that should not disappoint.  If you haven't had a chance to see either of these two teams in action this season, this is a great opportunity and one not to miss.  The Gophers do not have bowl history on their side however as they have lost their past 6, with their last bowl win being the 2004 Music City Bowl.

January 2, 2015

Armed Forces Bowl
Pittsburgh (6-6) over Houston (7-5) - I think we can conclude a close game will be had in this one.  Both of these teams have been on the losing end of very close games all season.  The Cougars lost 4 games by 8 points or less and the Panthers lost 4 games by 5 points or less.  Which team will break the streak?  Which can come up with the big defensive stop?  Which team can come up with the big turnover at the right time to clinch a victory?

TaxSlayer Bowl
Iowa (7-5) over Tennessee (6-6) - A classic B1G vs SEC matchup, with no real momentum or interest.  I don't expect a classic game between these two teams.  But what else are you doing on Jan 2 in the afternoon?

Alamo Bowl
(11) Kansas State (9-3) over (14) UCLA (9-3) - A battle of "what could have been" teams.  The Bruins were one win away from a PAC-12 Championship game berth, only to be foiled by rival Stanford.  Kansas State struggled against BIG 12 Co-Champs Baylor and TCU.  This match-up will feature two of the better QB's of the season trying to outdo one another though.  This is a good way to enjoy some New Years leftovers over a supper-time game.  Not a bad game to keep the hangover going either.

Cactus Bowl
Washington (8-5) over Oklahoma State (6-6) - The Cowboys took until the last game of the season to become bowl eligible and what a way to do it, upsetting rival Oklahoma.  This is a young and inexperienced team and I think just making the bowl game is a victory in itself for them.  The Huskies on the other hand are probably not too happy with their mediocre PAC-12 season.  They entered with high expectations to challenge Oregon in the North but were unable to mount much of a threat.  They need this victory more heading into the off-season.

January 3, 2015

Birmingham Bowl
Florida (6-5) over East Carolina (8-4) - Well the Gators certainly have lots to play for in this game.  A disappointing SEC season ended with head coach Will Muschamp being fired.  The question will be if this team comes out with motivation to put the season behind them and go out with a win or wilt under the disappointment and firing of their head coach and let East Carolina walk all over them.  The Pirates on the other hand are trying to knock off their 3rd opponent from a Power 5 conference this season after upsetting Virginia Tech and North Carolina.  This Pirates team was a bit of an enigma this season in beating teams they shouldn't and struggling against teams they should easily beat.  This game really is a case of two teams suffering from a Jekyll and Hyde syndrome.

January 4, 2015

GoDaddy Bowl
Arkansas State (7-5) over Toledo (8-4) - If you made it through all the other bowl games, why stop now?  This is the final bowl game of the season (minus the National Championship game).  The Red Wolves have owned the GoDaddy Bowl the past few seasons and have a way of knocking off, usually, heavily favored MAC teams.  The past two seasons they have defeated Kent State and Ball State.  In fact, this is the 4th straight GoDaddy Bowl game for this program.  Why stop the trend now?

#CFBPlayoff

January 1, 2015

Rose Bowl
(2) Oregon (12-1) over (3) Florida State (13-0) - This is really the prime bowl game match-up everyone is looking forward to.  The defending, undefeated national champions vs. the high-flying media darling favorites.  The ACC Champ vs the PAC-12 Champ.  The 2013 Heisman winner Jameis Winston vs 2014 Heisman winner Marcus Mariota.  FSU has won 29 straight games and will aim for 30 straight, a FSU and ACC record.  The Ducks are playing towards their first national championship, coming up short in 2010 vs. Auburn.  Florida State has been the escape artists all season, barely pulling off some of their wins.  Can they continue their Houdini act in the national semi-final?  The Ducks have a high-octane explosive offense led by Mariota.  The Flyin' Hawaiian is not done yet though.  I have a feeling the Ducks defense can contain Winston and the Seminoles while the offense will be too much to handle. FSU has not played a team like the Ducks all season.

Sugar Bowl 
(1) Alabama (12-1) over (4) Ohio State (12-1) - Oh Ohio State, you make it to the playoff and who do you find on the other side of your bracket?  Another SEC team!  The Buckeyes have lost 10...10!!..straight postseason games to SEC teams (not including the 2011 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas erased due to NCAA violations).  These have been two of the hottest teams at the end of the season and both have looked very convincing in their wins leading up to this game.  Fans cannot complain either getting another SEC Champ vs B1G Champ match-up in the semi-final.  These teams have only played each other 3 times with Alabama winning each time.  I think the more exciting story line may come from the sidelines in seeing another chapter in the Nick Saban vs Urban Meyer rivalry.

January 12, 2015

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
(2) Oregon (12-1) over (1) Alabama (12-1)

After months of talk, speculation and outstanding action on the field, the 1st college football playoff national championship game will finally take place on Monday January 12.  If this predicted game is what we end up getting, no college football fan (or sports fan for that matter) will have anything to complain about.  These are the two best teams in the nation this year.  The Crimson Tide would be going for their 4th National Championship in 6 seasons and a victory here would give Nick Saban his fifth national title, tying his with legendary coach Paul "Bear" Bryant for the most in history.  The Ducks will be holding up the hopes of a nation tired of seeing an SEC champion.  The PAC-12 often feels some disrespect from those in the college football world living out east.  This would present a classic East vs West game.  The difference in this game will be the play of the two quarterbacks.  Heisman winner Mariota will be looking to end his college football season on top, the exact reason why he came back this year.  Can Tide qb Blake Sims go head to head with him?  I think this will be a close game until the 4th quarter.  Both teams have shown they can struggle at the beginning of games and then pour on the gas in the second half and pull away.  I think the Ducks defense can withstand the Bama offensive attack but I am not as confident with the Tide D containing Mariota and Ducks O.  I think it is time for a change on the college football landscape and time for the PAC-12 to regain the top of the mountain.  The Oregon Ducks will be your National Champions and take home their first national championship in football.

#GoDucks