We now have our FBS championship game set up, and you know how some of us feel about that.
Congratulations to Clemson and Alabama. More later, but we’ve still got a hill to climb to get there.
#16 Oklahoma State leads off for the Inner Circle (following Thursday’s debacle for OU). The 10-2 Cowboys take on #12 Ole Miss (9-3) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl Friday night. The Rebels are giving 9, even with both Nkedmiches sidelined, and although we envision the Pokes covering, we aren’t expecting a win. That said, go Pokes!
Saturday’s a big purple day for the Inner Circle: Kansas State (6-6) will meet Arkansas (7-5) in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, a distinguished supra-Booger bowl for a deserving Wildcat squad coming off a hard-fought season. The Razorbacks give 12.5, and we can’t say, objectively, that we disagree. But K-State’s done stranger things this year than beat Arkansas, so you never know.
Late afternoon brings us #11 TCU (10-2) facing off with #15 Oregon (9-3) in the Valero Alamo Bowl – a game that would be considerably better in prospect if the Toads’ Trevone Boykin and WR Preston Miller were going to be in it. Sadly, the two got stupid Thursday night and mixed it up with the San Antonio police, who arrested Boykin for assaulting one of them. (He left the officer with “a swollen face, bruises, and abrasions.”)
Both players are suspended from the bowl game. Oregon is giving 7 at this point, which isn’t unrealistic since TCU has no defense, and relies on the offense to get the job done. Boykin indicates that words can’t express how sorry he is for letting his team down.
The New Year’s Day festivities are well underway at this point, with #23 Tennessee leading #13 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl. Things look pretty mellow in Tampa (Northwestern may have a different perspective), and we just hope everyone gets to have a cholesterol injection at Outback afterward.
Up the road in Orlando, #14 Michigan, is up big on #19 Florida in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. The two teams met in the Citrus Bowl in 2008, when Tim Tebow was still playing football, with Blue prevailing in a 41-35 shootout.
Meanwhile, #7 Ohio State leads #8 Notre Dame decisively in the aptly named BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl. BattleFrog, for the totally clueless, sponsors adventure obstacle course races for a passel of idiots who like to travel around doing adventure obstacle course races. Why this seems like a good idea is a mystery, but we feel sure that if anyone can uphold the brief, odd tradition of adventure obstacle course racing, it’s Ohio State and Notre Dame: doughty old football programs whose pedigrees are longer than Gandalf’s life-span and twice as Storied.
(We pause briefly to note that Bo must be turning in his grave like a hog on a spit at the cavalier attitude this newfangled Michigan squad seems to have toward tackling.)
The Granddaddy of Them All bursts forth at 2 PM Pacific in Pasadena: The Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual. #5 Iowa and #6 Stanford take the field to show who’s boss, Heathered Mauve giving 6.5. The media are boresighted on Stanford’s multipurpose yardage machine Christian McCaffrey, but Iowa is expected to play too.
Not as warm as you might imagine in the stadium today: the temp will top out around 65, and descend rapidly as the sun drops, in full solstice mode, before 5 PM.
Saturday brings additional delights, Penn State and Georgia opening the day with their face-off in the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville (FL). Unfortunately, if you’re not in Jacksonville, you’re going to miss the performance of the Parris Island Marine Corps Band today – part of TaxSlayer’s week of pre-game festivities. The Bulldogs give 6 in this one.
After TCU and Oregon get done, Saturday evening features West Virginia (7-5), pride of the Big 12, and Arizona State (6-6) in the last of the great supra-Boogers, the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl. The Mountaineers, we are sorry to report, will be without cornerback Daryl Worley, one of their go-to guys, due to an unfortunate series of events with term papers, or something like that. They’ll be missing three other starters for similar reasons. Bettors have WVU giving a tepid 1.5.
The countdown continues to the FCS championship game on 9 January, featuring North Dakota State (motto: “Du-uh”) and Jacksonville State.
The games that matter this week will feature the barely-theres of the always entertaining AFC South, where the Colts are still on life support. The 7-8 Colts host the 3-12 Titans in the early slot on Sunday, with bettors apparently not giving a flip. If the Colts win and a bunch of other teams lose (including the Texans, Pats, Jets, and Chiefs), the Colts could still make the playoffs. So, basically, they’re not going to make the playoffs.
The 8-7 Texans give 7 hosting the 5-10 Jaguars, and aren’t likely to lose on Sunday. So unless you’re a die-hard Colts fan, you’ve already read the writing on the divisional wall and moved your life forward.
But don’t forget the Steelers, who are still in the wild card hunt, and will (I think) seal the deal with a win at Browns. Pittsburgh gives 11-ish in that one, the 3-12 Browns having a whole baggage train of issues. Good luck to the Steelers.
The playoff menu is otherwise set, so the balance of our Inner Circle pros are playing for pride (or whatever some of them play for) in the final regular season game.
Hilariously, 4-11 Dallas (motto: “Oh, forget it already”) is giving 4 in the line hosting Redskins Redskins Redskins, the NFC East “champion” and playoff representative.
Saints will be at Falcons for a last hurrah, Atlanta giving 7.
Denver is in the playoffs but still fending off Kansas City for the division title. The 11-4 Broncos host the Chargers, who may be 4-11 but probably won’t be a pushover. Denver gives 10. KC, 10-5 and also with a playoff berth clinched, hosts the Raiders, giving 7.
In other notes, Green Bay and the Vikings, both 10-5 (who expected that, at the beginning of the season?), conveniently play each other in Sunday night football to settle the NFC North. Their playoff berths are both guaranteed; they’re fighting for advantage at this point.