Football Follies 2016: The Game

Football Follies 2016: The Game
Bill the Goat, ready for his close-up.

Amateurs may think there’s not much going on in the NCAA FBS football world right now.

But you experts out there know that IT. ALL. COMES. DOWN. TO. THIS.

And we’re not talking about Oakland at Kansas City in the pros this evening, although that will be exciting for some.  Who knew these teams would be struggling for dominance of the AFC West by this time?  Seriously, raise your hand if you knew.  Aaahh…put your hands down, ya posers.

We need to get some bowl notifications out of the way.  And yes, we know some of you have peeked already.

Inner circle

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane, which beat Notre Dame 28-27 on 30 October 2010, will be going to the Miami Beach Bowl to clash with Central Michigan on 19 December.  (More on all these scintillating match-ups as the relevant weeks come into view.  But we’re just saying: Marlins Park.  Miami Beach.  Authentic Cuban sandwiches.  Oh, and football…)

#7 Oklahoma hauled home the Big 12 honors, and will meet #14 Auburn in the Super Dome on 2 January in the All State Sugar Bowl.

#12 Oklahoma State came in second, and will play #10 Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) on 29 December in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

#25 Navy, 9-3 after losing the AAC title to Temple last week, will be in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, meeting Louisiana Tech (motto: “Just kidding; we LOVED the WAC!”) on 23 December.

We totally love that Army, 6-5 before The Game and bowl-eligible, will get another shot at North Texas in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl on 27 December.  The Mean Green overrode Army in October, but you know what they say about payback.

Air Force finished the season with a win over Boise State, and heads to the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, in Tucson on 30 December, to collide with Sunbelt’s South Alabama.

#22 Virginia Tech, which frankly hung in better with Clemson than suggested by the new #22 ranking, gets a quality outing against Arkansas in the Belk Bowl, in Charlotte, NC on 29 December.  It’s hard to get Boogerer than the Belk Bowl, which makes it tops in our book.  We’ll explain later.

Nevada will be enjoying some well-deserved time off, dreaming of winning seasons and bowls to come.

TCU is 6-6 after the season-ender with Kansas State, but raring to go in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, on 30 December.  Who wouldn’t want to see the Frogs square off with the Georgia Bulldogs?

Meanwhile, the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl should be so lucky: Kansas State, 8-4 on the season and fourth in the Big 12, meets Texas A&M at NRG Stadium in Houston on 28 December.

Toledo, 9-3 coming off a scrappy but rewarding season, actually leads our Inner Circle off in the bowl action, heading to the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, AL on 17 December.  The Rockets will duke it out with Sunbelt champ Appalachian State.

And our Wyoming Pokes, 8-5 after the MWC title loss to San Diego State, have bagged one of our all-time favorite bowls, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (motto: Never abbreviated).  They’ll meet the BYU Cougars on 21 December in Qualcomm Stadium.

Whosus the Army mule, looking cuddly and amiable.
Whosus the Army mule, looking cuddly and amiable.

Miscellaneous bowls

The playoffs will occur on 31 December, of course, with #1 Alabama and #4 Washington taking the field for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, and #3 Ohio State and #2 Clemson colliding in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale.  (We assume you don’t have to be told to affect a weird accent when you say “PlayStation.”)

All other bowls decently and in order, as they crop up.  The Granddaddy of them all can wait its turn.

Other ranks

Lingering business in the FCS championship for us, as Southland Conference’s Sam Houston State survives to compete in another round.  After downing Chattanooga 41-36 last week, SHSU is ranked #1 in the Coaches Poll and will meet #5 James Madison on Saturday.  Good luck to the Bearkats.

Pros

We’re a little freaked out to observe that you could get $10 tickets to the Cincinnati-Cleveland game as of this writing.  I mean, we knew the Browns sucked ostrich eggs, but dude.

Pittsburgh charges out of the gate early Sunday at Buffalo, giving 3 and rubbing the beads for Big Ben, who’s still got the juice, but definitely needs it to keep the 7-5 Steelers in it down the stretch.

Denver’s not accustomed to being third in the AFC West, but at 8-4, they’re still in it.  They hit 6-6 Tennessee early on the south side of 1.

Washington (-2) heads to Iggles for an NFC East classic.

New Orleans, struggling at 5-7, could really use a get-well win at Tampa Bay, although the Saints’ post-season prospects are dim at this point.  One slight positive: three of their last four games are against NFC South leaders Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

Dallas, at Giants Sunday night for the other half of the NFC East, has locked in the playoffs and home-field.  But the new, improved Cowboys may actually still play like they mean it, rather than resting on their unfamiliar laurels.  They’re giving 3.5.

The Steelers should be able to enjoy Monday night, when AFC North rival Baltimore takes on the Death Star (-7) in Foxboro.

The Game

Sadly, the longstanding tradition of playing in Philly is no more.  If The Game could lose luster, it just might.  But fortunately, it can’t.  It confers luster wherever it goes – yea, even on Baltimore, where the Midshipmen of Navy and the Black Knights of Army will meet on Saturday in M&T Bank Stadium at 3 PM EST.  Reportedly, President-Elect Donald Trump is “tentatively” scheduled to be there.

The Army-Navy game, 1941.
The Army-Navy game, 1941.

As every schoolboy knows by now, Navy comes in hurt.  Starting QB Will Worth was lost with a broken bone against Temple, as was super-productive RB Toneo Gulley.  Navy’s next two go-to slots are also still “in evaluation” for Saturday’s game.  For an option offense, this ain’t good.

Coming in behind Worth will be sophomore Zach Abey.  The good news here is that he was recruited by FBS schools, and committed to Buffalo before he got his USNA appointment.  Encouragingly, perhaps, for the system orchestrated by Coach Ken Niumatalolo (Indian name: Needs a Nickname), Abey in high school was called “a tailback playing quarterback.”

Of course, Will Worth has had to break his arm out of cold storage a number of times this fall, and Abey hasn’t played a game-day down one way or the other.  Army hasn’t played since 19 November.  So predictions are dicey.  The oddsquad has Navy giving 6, for what that’s worth.  Expect a whole lot of guys in one kluge after another, trying to run.

Meanwhile, to get us all in the mood, we’ve got a small selection of 2016 spirits spots lined up for you.  Because it’s our blog and we can be as biased as we wanna be, we’ve got two from Navy – starting out with the backbone of the fleet, the CRUDES black shoes, represented in just the right spirit by USS Benfold (DDG-65).

We doubt you’ll think we deliberately favored anybody’s most intelligent spirit spot over anyone else’s.

Memo to Army, with the decoy dog: nice try, dirt-doggers.  We have a goat.

Battle cry.  (Image via Flickr)
Battle cry. (Image via Flickr)
J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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