Now we’re finally getting somewhere. We’ve heard from most of our LU Inner Circle, but a couple of fat ladies are left to sing, and they’ll be some doozies. The elite also meet Saturday to decide who will go head to head for the FBS championship.
And in there mixing it up will be every team in the NFL, playing a final game on Sunday as nature intended.
We regret to report that TCU lost the AutoZone Liberty Bowl to Georgia 31-23. But congrats to Georgia.
The big news is that #20 LSU is on track to sink their teeth into #13 Louisville Saturday morning, 31 December, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando. As you would imagine, there’s a lot of food associated with this one. The 7-4 Tigers are giving 3.5 to the 9-3 Cardinals, which isn’t completely stupid even though Leonard Fournette is sitting this one out in anticipation of the draft. Geaux Tigers!
Finally, the night of 2 January, we get to the bowl of bowls for the 2016 season: the Allstate Sugar Bowl, in which #7 Oklahoma (10-2) will take on #14 Auburn (8-4) in the Superdome in New Orleans. Given their habit of choking in these big games, it isn’t that surprising that the Sooners are favored by only 3. Even a middling SEC defense will be a thing not so much dreamt of in OU’s squarely Big 12 philosophy. So it will be interesting. The syllables “Mixon” shall not pass our lips.
Those other bowls
Florida will be rocking on New Year’s Eve morn, as the TaxSlayer Bowl gets underway in Jacksonville at the same time as the Orlando outing. As every schoolboy knows, the TaxSlayer Bowl used to be the Gator Bowl, and has some pretty serious Booger cred, having been sponsored not only by Mazda but by Toyota, Outback Steakhouse, Konica-Minolta, and Progressive Insurance.
You’d think there would be some bowl-week event dedicated to slaying taxes, but apparently not. Not even a luncheon with PowerPoint slides and a 1040. There will, however, be a game between 8-4 Georgia Tech and 7-5 Kentucky, with the Yellow Jackets giving 3.5.
We also note that there’s a Coaches Luncheon and Hall of Fame Induction on Friday in Jacksonville, at which Frank Beamer and Tom Shouvlin are being honored. Consider these two fine coaches shouted out.
Saturday afternoon brings the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta, which doesn’t quite sound like it ought to be a champion-making playoff bowl, but maybe that’s only for us old folks. #1 Alabama and #4 Washington will duke it out, the oddsquad giving the Huskies basically no chance, with a Tide give of 14. We’ve been skeptical of the Washington ranking all season – I mean look at the PAC-12 – but any given Saturday, as they would say if they talked about Saturdays.
Saturday night sees #3 Ohio State and #2 Clemson collide on the turf in Phoenix, in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl (and don’t think we’re not still mourning the glory days of its Tostitos forebear). The oddsbubbas, being smarter than the CFP supercomputer, have the Buckeyes giving 2.5.
And after that, we’ll know.
Making the leap to 2 January, we find the Outback Bowl in Tampa leading us off. #17 Florida and Iowa, both 8-4, will duke it out for the Bloomin’ Onion bragging rights. Bowl week is so chock full of Tampa glitz, it’s hard to fit the actual bowl game in. But that’s just part of the fun. Gators are laying 3.
The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic kicks off at the same hour in Dallas, featuring an interesting matchup of #15 Western Michigan and #8 Wisconsin. If you’re thinking WMU is pretty overmatched, well, the oddsdudes agree with you; the Badgers are favored by 8.5.
Worth noting: the Cotton Bowl sponsors a children’s art contest every year, and you can see the results here. Some of the works show real promise.
Some of them are downright unique.
And others look like a ringer sidled in at the last minute.
Off where’s there’s no art to speak of, only artifice, the Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual completes the warm-up for the Sugar Bowl. Pasadena will witness an old-time classic, with #5 Penn State and #9 USC facing off. The Trojans are giving 7, for some reason. We’re a bit dubious of both rankings, but PSU’s had some stuff this year, whereas USC hasn’t had so much that you’d notice. (Cf. the drubbing Colorado – motto: “We take a pounding!” – got from the Big 12’s #2 Oklahoma State on Thursday night. The PAC-12? Really?)
Other ranks slug: FCS championship game on Saturday, 7 Jan. More later
The NFL is doing it up right with an all-Sunday final-week-fest. A freighted day for the remaining wild card slots; we figure a lot of hair will be lost on the first day of 2017.
From our Inner Circle:
Dallas (NFC East champ) at Iggles (-5) in the early slot.
Pittsburgh (AFC North champ)(-5.5) hosting Cleveland in the early slot. (Tickets $71 and up.)
New Orleans (7-8) at Atlanta (NFC South champ)(-7) in the late slot. The Saints are out of the playoff picture now.
Denver (8-7)(-1.5) hosting Oakland (AFC West champ, but lost QB Derek Carr to a broken fibula in the last game) in the late slot. Broncos are out of the playoff picture as well.
Tampa Bay is still in the wild card hunt and hosts Carolina early, giving 4. Washington is the other wild card hopeful, hosting the Giants late. The Giants have their wild card berth clinched; Redskins give 7.5.
Sunday night will hold interest because it will decide who wins the NFC North. Both Green Bay and Detroit (hosting) are 9-6 and have clinched playoff slots, but this head-to-head match will decide the division title. Packers give 3.5.
We’ll end by heaving this out at the indifferent universe: if the Dallas Cowboys hope to beat New England in the Super Bowl, they’re really going to have to step up the defense.