Thursday belongs entirely to the NFL this week, although that may not say much for football quality, with the Rams playing in Seattle tonight. The spread is somewhere around 15 as of this writing. Poor Rams. Good thing they’re based in Hypeville, USA, where don’t nothin’ ever blow so bad you can’t put a tinsel bow on it and call it, you know, the stealth sleeper of the year with little uncut jewels of surprising art, or whatever. (Which is exactly how to describe the Rams playing football, if you throw in some severed alligator limbs and a loaded refuse vehicle.)
But I digress. Speaking of the NFL, we’re now obsessed with the price of tickets for some of those uncut jewel teams out there. So far, no one has equaled the $10 tickets in Cleveland last week, but it looks like you can see Dolphins at Jets on Saturday for $17 a head.
Meanwhile, in the FBS, it’s time to begin the march of the Booger Bowls. We have four illustrious Inner Circle teams featured in Week 1.
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. This will be way more fun than the meeting of the Electoral College.
The Tulsa media are all excited that head coach Philip Montgomery has just signed a five-year contract, and that may very well be great. But jaded alums have been watching the Power-5 poach our best Tulsa coaches regularly for years, so we figure this mainly means there’s a bigger buy-out if you want Montgomery. We’ll see. I’m not expecting to have been overly pessimistic about this.
You really can’t fault a bowl played in Marlins Park in Miami Beach, at any rate. This will be only the third Miami Beach Bowl, but the wonder is that no one thought of it before. The oddsdudes have 9-3 Tulsa giving 12.5, and that looks good on paper versus the 6-6 Chippewas.
A couple of Tulsa players are in the hunt for NCAA Div I-A yardage records with this final 2016 outing. Oklahomans at large, meanwhile, will be hoping for a little revenge for the bureaucratic snafu “victory” CMU posted over OK-State in September. Roar, Hurricane, roar!
Incidentally, this is as good a place as any to point out that Obama and his “outreach” to Cuba have failed in the one thing they might have been good for, and that’s resurrecting the long-defunct Bacardi Bowl. It was played in Havana a handful of times between 1907 and 1946, and if restored relations with Cuba gave us anything worthwhile, it would be a resumption of such an august gridiron meeting.
But Obama has failed at that, along with everything else.
#25 Navy went to 9-4 with the loss to Army in The Game. But the Mids spring back into action on 23 December, meeting Louisiana Tech (motto: “Dude, the ‘I survived the WAC’ T-shirts are still selling”) in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.
8-5 Louisiana Tech is giving 5.5 at this writing, due to Navy’s loss of most of its backfield in the AAC title game.
Our Toledo Rockets, 9-3, surge right out of the gate into the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, AL on 17 December. The Rockets will meet Sun Belt champ Appalachian State (9-3). Rocket QB Logan Woodside comes in leading the nation in passing touchdowns (43 on the season), and sporting an insane QB rating of 162.9. But the oddsquad likes Appalachian State and the Sun Belt competition enough to call this one even at the starting line.
Many of you will remember the old Camellia Bowl from Days of Yore in Sacramento, which served as a playoff game for (basically) Div II, although the final game in 1980 was a Div I-AA match. This isn’t that Camellia Bowl.
We have a somewhat peculiar Inner Circle tie-in to note here. An individual calling himself @DrunkenGobbler – apparently a fan of our Virginia Tech Hokies, judging by his Frank Beamer profile image – has confessed on Twitter to having Camellia Bowl fever.
I gotta tell you guys. I tried to avoid it. But I, like everyone else, have Camellia Bowl Fever!
— Drunken Gobbler (@DrunkenGobbler) December 15, 2016
The Wyoming Pokes, 8-5, round out the Inner Circle’s week heading to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (motto: Never abbreviated) on 21 December, to fight off the BYU Cougars.
We are extremely sorry to report that the Wienerschnitzel Wiener Dog Nationals races were already run back in June. This outstanding annual San Diego event had been occurring during the Booger Bowl weeks in previous years, but seems to have been offset from them now, and for the foreseeable future.
So we’ll just have to make do with the football. We’re even sorrier to report that BYU running back coach Reno Mahe lost his three-year-old daughter to an accident with a mini-blinds cord at the end of November, and we offer him and his family our deepest sympathies. It may be a tough beginning from more than one perspective, but on the field, it will be all business, and we anticipate a great game. The Cougars are favored by 9, but you can never count out the 2016 Cowboys.
The outer limits
We always love to see New Mexico throwing itself a bowl, and the Gildan New Mexico Bowl kicks off the Booger parade on Saturday at noon Mountain, featuring the 8-4 UNM Lobos and the UT-San Antonio Roadrunners, 6-6, of C-USA (The Remnant). Lobos give 7.5.
The Las Vegas Bowl Presented by GEICO clocks in next, having once again changed sponsors, but at least announcing its presence in sensible grammar (never a guarantee with this roguish bowl). 9-3 Houston will hit the turf under the direction of new head coach Major Applewhite, fleeting up from offensive coordinator. We have no comment about UH’s brief flirtation with Lane Kiffin, but only because we’ve got a team of industrial compactors holding us down.
San Diego State, 10-3 and Mountain West champ, brings RB Donnel Pumphrey needing 108 yards in the game to become the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher. The Cougars give 4, but Pumphrey could well get his 108 either way.
The AutoNation Cure Bowl emerges next on Saturday in Orlando, matching up 7-5 Arkansas State of Sun Belt with the local boys of Central Florida (AAC), coming in 6-6. The Cure Bowl is about breast cancer, and fans are informed that sponsor Florida Hospital will host a game day “Cure Village” at the Orlando Citrus Bowl, where fans can receive mammogram screenings. UCF is favored by 5.5.
Saturday winds up with the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in the Superdome, where Southern Miss (6-6) will take on Louisiana-Lafayette (6-6) in a C-USA/Sun Belt clash.
But there’s some serious action on Friday (16 December), when the bowl is sponsoring a “Dashing through the Dome” running event that actually sounds almost as insane as offering mammograms at a football game. Here’s the description:
This unique 2-mile race runs participants into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, up and around the Dome’s Ground, Plaza and Terrace Levels, then down the ramps finishing on the field! This event is fun for competitive runners looking for a new challenge, kids & football fans alike.
Right. Be sure to give us a strained-tendon and broken-foot-bone count, folks. Southern Miss gives 5.
Tuesday 20 December puts us in Florida again for the Boca Raton Bowl, featuring 8-4 Memphis (AAC) and C-USA champ Western Kentucky (10-3). We regret to report that sporting-wear manufacturer Marmot is no longer sponsoring the Boca Raton Bowl (the regret largely because Marmot’s backstory read so much like a couple of guys reminiscing over how annoying they found ST:DS9 back in middle school). Everyone expects a shootout in this game; the oddsquad is at odds with the sportsbabblers in favoring Memphis by 4.5.
On Thursday, 22 December, we nation-hop to one of our all-time favorite Booger Bowls, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise. This bowl has Booger cred you can’t buy with money. You can only earn it, and the Boise bowl has, by hanging in there since its days as the Humanitarian Bowl and going through five previous sponsors, including one stellar year (2010) as the uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. No point in trying to top that. You can’t.
But the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl is pretty darn good in its current incarnation, and rolls with a spud-stuffed bowl trophy to boot. Idaho (8-4) will represent the Sun Belt to Colorado State’s (7-5) Mountain West outing, Rams giving 13.5.
Before getting to our Armed Forces Bowl on Friday, 23 December, the early action will be in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, one of those bowls that obviously have to be. The MAC’s Eastern Michigan (7-5) meets C-USA’s Old Dominion, 9-3 and 2nd in C-USA East.
ODU’s Monarchs are a sentimental favorite for at least one of us, naming no names (while stationed in Norfolk, I did a couple of graduate courses there, and was happy to see the team graduate to Div I-A a couple of years ago). Gratifyingly enough, they’re favored by 4 in the line. We’re dubious on that head, however.
Friday evening finishes in style with the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, AL. The Booger cred is strong with this one; it’s been around since 1999 and has been through growing pains as the GMAC and GoDaddy Bowl. An 8-5 Ohio and 9-3 Troy will be ably representing the MAC and Sun Belt, respectively. Trojans give 4.
Sufficient unto the week are the bowls thereof. We’ll pick up with Christmas Eve in next week’s edition.
With Sam Houston State’s big swan dive last week, LU Nation’s remaining other-ranks connections have sung their last.
But in FCS, James Madison meets the North Dakota State Wehrmacht on Friday (16 December) in the semi-finals, and Youngstown plays Eastern Washington on Saturday. Should be some good football.
In the Div II championship match, NW Missouri State and North Alabama will duke it out at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, KS on Saturday at 3 PM Central.
And in Div III, the championship game – the Storied Alonzo Stagg Bowl – kicks off on Friday at 7 PM Eastern in Salem, VA. It has to get along without Mount Union this year; Mary Hardin-Baylor prevailed in a hard-fought match over the Div III juggernaut in the semi-finals, and will clash with Wisconsin-Oshkosh tomorrow night.
Best of luck to all the remaining contestants.
As the season belches its last few toots, Dallas (11-2) and Pittsburgh (8-5) from our LU Nation line-up have clinched, as conference champs. Denver (8-5) and Washington (7-5-1) are still above the line. Saints at 5-8 aren’t looking too good. The weekly meets:
Pittsburgh (-3) at Cincinnati Sunday early.
New Orleans at Arizona (-2.5) in the late-afternoon slot.
Denver entertains the Death Star (-3), late afternoon.
Dallas (-7) hosts Tampa Bay for Sunday Night Football.
Washington (-6.5) can use a win hosting Carolina in MNF to strengthen the Redskins’ playoff prospects.