The biggest game of the regular season has yet to be played. Batten down the hatches and sound the alarm: Navy and Army are blowing into Philly for their annual match-up, hitting Lincoln Financial Field at 3:00 PM on Saturday for the showdown.
Navy comes in 9-2 and ranked #21 nationally. Army is 2-9, but the good news is that one of the victories was over an FBS team, Eastern Michigan. (The other was over Bucknell.)
This certainly sounds like a prescription for disaster for Navy. If you’re a glass-half-empty kind of person, things have started out inauspiciously, with Bill XXXVI, the Navy mascot, having taken ill recently after apparently consuming part of an azalea bush.
But we’re all about the glass being half-full here, so we take encouragement from the news of Bill’s recovery, and the information that he’s been cleared to model Honor, Courage, and Commitment for a watchful nation at Saturday’s game.
Army will have its usual contingent of twitchy mules there too, as we understand it.
The oddsquad has Navy giving 21.5.
Less important, perhaps, but still noteworthy: our Inner Circle has rounded up quite a bit of juicy, mostly Booger Bowl action for the post-season. This week we’ll just list our prize Booger Bowl bag-and-tags (along with non-Boogers OK-State and Oklahoma). Previews to follow as the weeks ensue upon us.
In a two-fer that could hardly matter more to Liberty Unyielding, the University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane (6-6), which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, is going to the Camping World Independence Bowl to face our very own Virginia Tech (6-6), which beat Ohio State 35-21 on 6 September 2014, in Shreveport on 26 December.
#4 Oklahoma (11-1), Big 12 champ, will face #1 Clemson in Sun Life Stadium in Miami on New Year’s Eve, for what is officially known as the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl.
This learning-challenged appellation is just begging for Navy-ization into a lengthy, unintelligible abbreviation (lengthy abbreviations being an oxymoronic specialty of the U.S. Navy). Something like CFPSEMICAPONE ORBOL seems appropriate. Or come up with your own.
#16 Oklahoma State (10-2) will meet #12 Ole Miss in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.
Navy, #21 and soon to be 10-2, will face Pitt in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman on 28 December. This is the one bowl we have a bit of a beef with. Sure, Navy’s in the AAC now and theoretically constrained by the conference bowl tie-ins. But come on: it’s Navy, they’re ranked, they’re playing great, they’re 9-2 before the Army game, and they should really get a, shall we say, older and/or more prestigious bowl. OK. Rant off.
Air Force (8-4), the Mountain West-Mountain champ, will go head to head with Cal – no longer Sudden, but darn good sports – on 29 December in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.
Nevada (6-6) heads to Tucson to meet Colorado State in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, also on 29 December. We’re just proud to think there is a NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl. It’s hard to beat a Camping World Independence Bowl, but if anything could, we feel it might be this one.
#11 TCU (10-2) will take the field against #15 Oregon (9-3) in a classic match-up for the Valero Alamo Bowl on 2 January.
Danged if #20 LSU (8-3) doesn’t get another crack at Texas A&M (8-4) on the 29th in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston. If inviting the nearby teams that finished 3rd and 6th in the SEC-West doesn’t sound like a recipe for a good bowl game to you, it’s obvious you’re not a Texan. Par-TAY.
We could just bust ourselves over Kansas State pulling out the 6-6 record and getting a shot at Arkansas (7-5) in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on 2 January. Which every schoolboy knows is in Memphis.
Toledo (9-2), we are happy to say, is off to the curiously named Marmot Boca Raton Bowl on the 22nd, which besides featuring #24 Temple (10-3) as the opponent is bound to have some entertaining backstory.
Obligatory is mostly out the window in bowl season. But we will take this opportunity to note the meeting of #2 Alabama and #3 Michigan State, both 12-1, in the College Football Playoff at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, in the late slot on New Year’s Eve. (We’ll leave it to you, readers, to Navy-ize that one.)
We’ll preview the bowl games for each week, starting next week. The first bowl games are on 19 December. And we’ll just tantalize you with this tidbit: there’s a “Cure Bowl” this year. Oooooh…AAAAHHHHHH…
If you like Div III action, the usual suspects are playing in one semi-final at noon on Saturday: Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater. At 3:30, a new set of suspects will be duking it out for the other final berth: St. Thomas (Minn.) and Linfield.
The Div III championship game is on 18 December.
Div II (AKA “The division no one can think of the big names in”) will be running its semis on Saturday as well. Shepherd and Grand Valley State (so, OK, some people can think of GV State) play in the noon slot, and West Georgia and NW Missouri State (all right, all right, people can think of NWMSU too) collide at 3:30.
The Div II championship game is on 19 December.
We’re pretty much over the FCS playoffs after McNeese State’s inelegant retreat. But they have a bunch of games left to decide who goes to the championship clash in Frisco on 9 January.
The Cardinals had a surprisingly tough time with the Vikings this evening, but prevailed in the end to get to 11-2.
The Saints may have a shot at edging the 6-6 Buccaneers in Tampa on Sunday. (The oddsdudes give the Bucs the advantage by 4-ish.)
Steelers are at Bengals for an AFC North game that seems likely to simply consolidate 10-2 Cincinnati’s divisional lead. Bengals give 2.5, but Pittsburgh can hope.
Redskins Redskins Redskins are at Bears, both coming in 5-7, but only Washington proudly topping its division with the losing record. Fittingly, the Bears give 3.5.
Raiders are at the hot-hot-hot 10-2 Broncos for a Sunday afternoon kickoff, Denver giving 8.5.
Cowboys will be at Packers, on the short end of 7. We see…interceptions.
Sunday night football sees Patriots (-3.5) at Texans.
Monday night brings us one of those late-season whatever-dude games, with 5-7 Giants at 5-7 Dolphins. Miami is out of the playoff picture, but in the clinically imbecilic NFC East, the Giants – who are 1-1 with both Dallas and Washington, and one up on the Iggles – could still take the division.