It’s Christmas week, and most of us are thinking a variety of thoughts.
(That there is an alternative is not quite unheard of in our philosophy.)
Some of those thoughts have to do with football – especially here at LU, where a number of our Inner Circle teams go busting out this week in full Booger mode.
As we prepare the Follies preview, Middle Tennessee is in an unsurprising 17-all tie with Western Michigan in the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl.
The Chargers and Raiders play this evening, both well out of NFL playoff contention. Pigskin fans may make do with the NCAA’s tropical bowl wave blowing across the Bahamas and Hawaii.
On Saturday, 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 Virginia Tech (6-6), which beat Ohio State 35-21 on 6 September 2014. We could hardly be more pleased. Shreveport, Louisiana should be so lucky.
Camping World, as we’re sure you know, is a recreational vehicle retailer. Granted, we can’t claim to have noticed much about it before. But it seems to have several excellent retail locations situated prominently along I-40 in New Mexico and Arizona.
If there’s Camping World backstory involving vermin or undergraduate hijinks, they’re not letting on. But the 50-year-old company’s headquarters is in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and Camping World is the title sponsor for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which we bet is one heck of a series, whatever it is.
VT gives 14. That sounds a little light to us. 21 would be more like it. T-storms in the AM, 70s and clearing at game time, or so they say.
On Monday, 28 December, #21 Navy (10-2) hits the home turf to square off with 8-4 Pitt in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman. The Mids’ last two opponents have been onto them, although skitter-master QB Keenan Reynolds has still had his moments. Navy gives 3, and will have the checkerboard set up for a fine match. Go Navy!!!!!!!
Air Force will face Cal, an off-and-on Inner Circle fave, in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth on Tuesday. The MWC-Mountain champ Falcons come in 8-5, but the formerly-Sudden Golden Bears, 7-5, are giving 7 in the line.
We do feel that this bowl has lost something, with the demise of its once-imposing designation as the “Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Fort Worth Bowl.” We’re just saying.
Tuesday evening sees Nevada and Colorado State collide in Tucson in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, which has the distinction of bearing off the prize for sheer Boogerness this week. Billing itself as the “first bowl to have a digitally-focused broadcast strategy,” the Arizona Bowl is also seeing its first year of play. We don’t know why no one has thought of this bowl before, but happily, someone did.
The bowl does, we are told, follow “the tradition of the Insight.com Bowl (also known as its predecessor the Copper Bowl),” which gives it a certain distinctive flair. If you happen to get the American Sports Network, you can see the bowl that way. But it will also be streamed live by Campus Insiders.
CSU gives 3.
Tuesday evening is capped by the appearance of #20 LSU in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl to clash with Texas Tech (7-5). The 8-3 Tigers are giving 7 in the line, and frankly shouldn’t have much trouble with TTU. But we don’t want to jinx anything.
We note that AdvoCare’s V100 Tropical Chews are available online for $34.95 – an improvement over previous years, when the company seemed to run out of some of its most popular V100 products right around bowl time.
The week builds up to the festivities on Thursday, when the #4 University of Oklahoma Sooners battle #1 Clemson in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl.
We pause briefly to note that we, personally, never expected the Sooners to be in the playoff picture this season. That said, the way they’ve been playing in the last handful of games, they are certainly a match for Clemson. If they don’t get cocky, they’ve got a good shot at covering their 4-point give – an artifact of the world’s most optimistic fan-bettors.
Later that same evening (New Year’s Eve), Oklahoma’s CFB Championship opponent will take the field. #2 Alabama meets #3 Michigan State in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, a new sponsorship that is OK by us, even if we do get tired of the revolving door for bowl sponsors. The Tide gives 9.5, and given MSU’s comparatively moderate defensive ranking, that’s not unrighteous.
Other than that, it’s a Booger Bowl parade between now and New Year’s Eve.
Saturday delights us bright and early with Connecticut and Marshall in the St. Petersburg Bowl. The Thundering Herd gives 5, and the weather should be glorious (80 and sunny).
Miami (Da U) and Washington State (-2.5) will be kicking off at the same time in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, where the weather is not expected to be quite so pleasant (50s and clouding up for PM thunderstorms).
No bowl Saturday would be complete without the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, featuring Washington and Southern Miss in the Cotton Bowl stadium. (Zaxby’s, LU Nation will remember, is a purveyor of fine barbecue, among other popular cuisine.) The Huskies give 8-ish.
Strolling in just after noon Eastern will be Indiana and Duke in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl, one of our all-time favorite Booger Bowls. The 6-6 Hoosiers give 2.5 to a 7-5 Blue Devil squad. We expect a zesty, enthusiastic crowd in Yankee Stadium, which by some oversight went way too many years without its very own college bowl game. (Darned if it’s not supposed to be raining in NYC too.)
Clocking in late on Saturday, UCLA and Nebraska will go head to head in the Foster Farms Bowl, which was formerly the Fight Hunger Bowl, and undisputed king of the do-good-by-playing-football bowls.
Sadly, the bowl will no longer be played in San Francisco, where it once gave teams the opportunity to get all muddy and stuff while fighting hunger or promoting Kraft and Emerald Nuts. This year, the Foster Farms Bowl will be in Santa Clara, at the microscopic, inconvenient 68,500-seat Levi’s Stadium. (But – score! – the weather should be great: 50s and sunny.)
UCLA gives 6.5.
The NCAA has Sunday off, leaving that to the playoff-anxious NFL. But after Navy and Pitt kick off on Monday, Central Michigan and Minnesota join the fray in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit.
The Quick Lane Bowl has impeccable Booger credentials, having previously been the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl and the Motor City Bowl. Goldie and Pals (5-7) give 5 to the 7-5 Chippewas.
Afternoon fare on Tuesday, sandwiched between the Air Force and Nevada games, gives us #10 North Carolina and #17 Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Awesomely Booger-y backstory on this one yields names like Blockbuster Bowl, CarQuest Bowl, MicronPC Bowl, Tangerine Bowl, and Champs Sports Bowl. It’s hard to top that.
But the Tar Heels and Bears will give it a go in the Citrus Bowl stadium in Orlando. UNC gives 3; if anyone can give us a good game, it ought to be these two teams.
On Wednesday, 30 December, Auburn and Memphis hit the gridiron for the elegantly named Birmingham Bowl, at Legion Field in Birmingham. Auburn gives 2.5.
Keeping the Boogerdom going all day, the Belk Bowl kicks off next in Charlotte, NC, featuring NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs give 5.5.
Texas A&M and Louisville chime in next in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, with the Cardinals atop an interesting 4.5 give.
And dragging up the rear of a most satisfying bowl day, #25 USC and Wisconsin hit the turf for the Booger-transition classic National Funding Holiday Bowl in San Diego. We admit to not liking the clunkiness of the syllables “funding,” in the new nomenclature for this noble tradition. “Pacific Life” was more poetic. Bridgepoint Education was more cool. But we’re glad we’ve left the Thrifty Car Rental Holiday Bowl era behind.
Trojans are giving 3.5.
New Year’s Eve gets started, before the semifinalists set up, with the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, featuring #9 Florida State and #18 Houston. This should be another quality match, although we figure the ‘Noles’ 7-point give is about right.
And then it’s on to the fate of the FBS’s cream-of-crop. The rest of the story is for next week.
Congrats to Mount-of-Course Union for winning the Stagg Bowl, once again, in Salem, VA. The St. Thomas (Minn.) Tommies gave them a good game.
In Div II, Northwest Missouri State slaughtered Shepherd U. all over the field in a 34-7 rout – in which, as our correspondent Robert Jacoby noted, Shepherd ended the game with negative yardage. Congrats to the Bearcats.
In FCS, you will be astounded to learn that North Dakota State is in the championship game on 9 January, facing Jacksonville State.
This week’s Saturday match-up should be a tad more seemly than last week’s. Redskins Redskins Redskins (7-7) head to Iggles (6-8) with the NFC East (motto: “Just kill me now”) still undecided.
Big-loss Cowboys are at Bills on Sunday, with the 6-8 Bills expected to wipe the field with them.
Steelers have surged to 9-5, and can clinch a playoff berth with a win at Ravens Sunday – if the Jets lose, as expected, to New England. We assume the Steelers won’t rest on their laurels, but with the Ravens’ injury and performance challenges, the 11-point Pittsburgh give is realistic.
Saints will be entertaining Jaguars in a battle of “5-9 teams that aren’t quite as bad as the Cowboys.” The oddsquad is totally meh on this one.
We note that Packers at Cardinals should be a heck of a fine game in the late afternoon slot on Sunday. Arizona gives 4.5, but we know how that goes.
Sunday night sees Giants (6-8) at Vikings (9-5), a game that – yes – matters to the NFC East and the playoff picture if Washington should lose. There’s more than one way to bring it down to the wire. Winning is overrated.
And Monday night football is shaping up to offer a killer match featuring 11-3 Bengals at 10-4 Broncos.