Thursday this week may bring us the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, but it brings us an NFC East clash between the Giants (-2.5) and the Eagles as well.
The week also brings us most of the NFL football on Saturday. But more on that in due time.
Army (-10) takes the pole position on Tuesday, 27 December, meeting North Texas for a revenge match in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. The subscriber-losing bozos at ESPN have dubbed this the “least watchable bowl” of the 2016 season, helping to explain why everybody hates them. 5-7 UNT beat 7-5 Army 35-18 back in October, and will be stoked for the rematch after the epic win over Navy.
We are excited to note that Zaxby’s opened its 800th chicken restaurant in Mustang, OK in October, and according to its website has another opening scheduled soon for Adel, GA. This game’s in the Cotton Bowl, and is dedicated to honoring first responders. Eat it, ESPN.
Wednesday evening, 28 December, LU Nation can belly up to some very fine fare as Kansas State meets Texas A&M in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston. Besides making QB Trevor Knight a 9-hit wonder with their season, the 8-4 Aggies came in dead center in the SEC West. The Wildcats, meanwhile, got a bit of a rocky start, but ended up 8-4 and fourth in the Big 12, with Coach Bill Snyder posting his 201st win.
We always like to give you a report on the availability of AdvoCare’s top-selling products, which in the past has been something of an issue just before bowl-time. What we discovered checking in this year is that AdvoCare has gone the Amway route, and now has its sports supplement products available only through independent distributors. Somehow, this seems to fit in with the whole “defection of A&M” to the SEC thing. Just throwing that out there.
What you’re really missing from bowl week, however, is a Texas Bowl event called the “Rodeo Bowl,” in which the teams visit the George Ranch Historical Park, “an internationally recognized living history site that authentically preserves and interprets the four generational storyline of a remarkable Texas family beginning in 1824 and spanning more than 100 years.” At the George Ranch Historical Park, the teams
…are immersed in an authentic Texas Rodeo experience. The teams square off in 7 competitions, ranging from an offensive line dance-off, to a hay bale toss, all the way to a race to see who can tackle and chalk brand a live calf the fastest. The winning team receives bragging rights and a shiny new Rodeo Bowl trophy to take back home.
We can’t imagine the game itself being more fun than an offensive line dance-off. It also looks to us like these boys could get hurt doing some of this stuff.
A&M gives 2.5.
On Thursday, 29 December, #22 Virginia Tech couldn’t make us prouder, colliding with Arkansas in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC. The Hokies ended up 9-4, with a tough-hanging, in-it-to-the-end 42-35 loss to #2 Clemson in the ACC title game. 7-5 Arkansas didn’t fare quite so well in the SEC, but the Hogs are always a quality get.
A classic in the Booger Bowl genre, this bowl started out as the Queen City Bowl, and did three years as the Continental Tire Bowl and another six as the Meineke Car Care Bowl, before becoming the Belk Bowl in 2011, named for its current sponsor, the family-owned Belk department store chain.
Hokies give 7.
Thursday night puts #12 Oklahoma State head-to-head with #10 Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) in the Valero Alamo Bowl, one of what we might call the better class of Booger Bowl. The Cowboys (9-3) and Buffaloes (10-3) are the number 2s in the Big 12 and PAC-12, and their two feisty offenses, facing somewhat forgiving defenses, portend a fast-moving game in San Antonio, with a lot of air action.
Buffaloes give 3.
Friday 30 December gives us a couple of great match-ups. In the early game, TCU confronts Georgia (-1) in the august AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis. You’ll have to get up early for this one; kickoff is at 11:00 AM Central. The Frogs come in 6-6 to the Bulldogs’ 7-5. TCU could stand to stop with the turnovers (a particular problem for QB Kenny Hill this year), and will want to step it up on the rushing defense if at all possible.
Later that same day, Air Force will bring us home for the week meeting South Alabama in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson. This is only the second year for the Arizona Bowl (LU fave Nevada beat Colorado State in 2015), but we feel the Booger cred busting out with this one. For one thing, it was webcast last year, and will be broadcast by American Sports Network this year, which means you might be able to see it on TheCW, or a separate local affiliate, depending on your provider market. Nothing builds Booger cred faster than alternative broadcasting arrangements.
The 9-3 Falcons are favored by 13.5 over the 6-6 Jaguars, who ended the season 8th in Sun Belt.
It’s the bowlfullest week of the year, for sure.
Christmas Eve kicks us off in festive style with the Hawaii Bowl, featuring Hawaii (6-7) and Middle Tennessee (8-4, and third in C-USA East). Most of the day will be devoted to the NFL, of course, with Christmas being on Sunday this year.
Monday 26 December couldn’t be finer, starting with Miami (OH) (6-6) and Mississippi State (5-7) in the St. Petersburg Bowl. We kind of liked it when magicJack (2008) and Bitcoin (2014) sponsored the St. Petersburg Bowl, but really, what does St. Petersburg need with bowl sponsors? In an average year, the Red Hawks look a bit overmatched by the Bulldogs (-13.5), but we don’t never say never about nothin’.
Maryland (-1) and Boston College are up next in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit, which the Booger cognoscenti remember began as the Motor City Bowl, and got its rocket boost as the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl from 2009-2013. Both teams come in 6-6; if you watched either of them play this year, you may agree that the real fun will be at the Fowling competition – one of the Quick Lane Bowl events – when the teams will attempt to knock down 10 of each other’s bowling pins by throwing a football at them. We have to guess the quarterbacks are not allowed to do the honors in this intriguing rivalry.
The Camping World Independence Bowl – one of our all-time favorite Booger Bowls – finishes Monday the 26th off. NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) will collide with Vanderbilt in Independence Stadium in Shreveport, LA, which is far from the worst place to be if you’re attending an outdoor game in late December.
Both teams, 6-6, were approximately half bad during the season. But they actually had their moments, including the Wolfpack’s underdog win over UNC, and Vandy knocking off the Volunteers. There’s potential here.
There’s also a “Craft Crawl” on 22 December, in which fans will be conveniently shuttled from one craft beer tasting venue to another. But we’re confident that if you plan to be at the Camping World Independence Bowl, you’ll have your 2017 Thor Axis 24.1 Class A recreational vehicle on hand for your transportation needs, purchased for a price “too low to show” from Camping World’s year-end blowout sale.
NCSU gives 4.
After Army’s outing on Tuesday 27 December, #24 Temple (-12) and Wake Forest are up next, in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman in Annapolis. The Demon Deacons come in 6-6; the 10-3 Owls finished the year as the AAC champs.
As of this writing, the Minnesota Golder Gophers football team has ironed out its differences with management, and will be appearing in the National Funding Holiday Bowl in San Diego versus Washington State (-10.5) on Monday evening. We are gratified that due process and the rule of law prevailed in the controversial situation at hand – although we also encourage parents to teach their children better than to behave the way anyone did on the infamous night in September.
Both teams are 8-4, with notable wins and credible losses to ranked teams.
The Motel 6 Cactus Bowl rounds out a very full 26 December, featuring Boise State (10-2) and Baylor (6-6). After losing head coach Art Briles in a sexual assault allegation that took out the top athletic staff, the Bears melted down mid-season, losing their last six games and losing starting QB Seth Russell to an ankle injury in November. Although the school has hired Temple’s AAC-winning coach Matt Rhule to replace him, it’s actually interim head coach Jim Grobe – plucked from retirement (from Wake Forest) to replace Briles for 2016 – who will coach the team in the Cactus Bowl.
Needless to say, Boise State is favored by 7.5. Baylor may even be a bit relieved that the Cactus Bowl is packaged for advertising purposes with the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, and tends to take a back seat to it.
Thursday 28 December kicks off bright and early with our latest Booger obsession, the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium. Keep your Potato, Cactus, and Cure Bowls; give us a Pinstripe Bowl every time. This one sees #23 Pittsburgh (8-4) take on Northwestern (6-6); granted, something of a mismatch, but not as much as it would have been in some previous years, when Northwestern really sucked. Pitt gives 5.
#16 West Virginia (10-2), pride of the Big 12, will give Miami (Da U) (8-4) what-for next, in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. (Here we should mention that Camping World also has its name on the Citrus Bowl stadium now, so, you know, visit your local Camping World RV outlet accordingly.)
Expect offensive fireworks in this clash of also-rans. Miami lays 3.
The countdown continues to K-State in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl with the final precursor: the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, CA. #19 Utah (8-4) and Indiana (6-6) will duke it out here, with the favorite being rather obvious. On top of other things, Hoosier head coach Kevin Wilson resigned abruptly at the end of the season, and former DC Tom Allen has just been fleeted up to take the helm.
We may not need to remind you that this bowl used to be the Fight Hunger Bowl (2010-2013), and in its earlier incarnation as the Emerald Bowl was played in goofy old Candlestick Park. But we do feel duty-bound to remind you that Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is a really, really tiny stadium, and fans from the Los Angeles area feel very constricted there, because the Coliseum seats so many more people. Youths give 7.
Thursday finishes YUUGE with Virginia Tech and OK-State in their respective bowls. But it starts out with a bang in the Birmingham Bowl (Alabama), with South Florida (-10.5) taking on South Carolina (motto: The Other USC). South Florida (10-2) came in a close second to AAC champ Temple in the AAC East, and as the oddsquad suggests, poses more of a threat to the 6-6 Gamecocks than you might think on paper.
As a general rule, we feel sure that any bowl sponsored by Golden Flake is worth your time. Go Bulls!
Friday’s surfeit of bowls will be hard to beat. Along with the kickoff contest in the Liberty Bowl, #18 Stanford (9-3) and North Carolina (8-4) start edging us from Booger to Bigger in the Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX. The Tar Heels won’t have the Candy Pink’s Christian McCaffrey to kick around; the draft-eligible RB, having recovered from a season injury, will be sitting out the Sun Bowl to preserve his bones and sinew for a shot at the NFL.
Quite a few noses are out of joint about that. Talk amongst yourselves, if you must; we’ve got a lot else on our minds here. The First Light Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade, incidentally, will be before the game on Friday morning. The reviewing stand is at First Baptist Church at 805 Montana, which we mention only because I know where that is, having driven around that area of El Paso once looking for U.S. Highway 54.
The Precious Petal gives 3.
#21 Tennessee and Nebraska offer another fine match-up in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl in Nashville. The 8-4 Vols (-4.5) and the 9-3 Huskers continue the theme of well-matched teams that makes the 30th a transition day; we can only hope they turn in commensurate performances.
In addition to the usual battle of the bands, popular music concerts, fanfests and parades, the bowl schedule will be enlivened on 29 December by the Hattie B’s Hot Chicken Eating World Championships. Some of us might actually prefer Fowling these days, but competitive hot-chicken consumption is bound to appeal to children of all ages.
The bowl week concludes, according to our custom, on Friday night, with #6 Michigan (-6.5) and #11 Florida State leaving Boogerdom behind in the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami. This is sure to be fun football, if nothing else, featuring a 10-2 and 9-3 pairing of perennial Power-5 powerhouses.
We’ll tackle New Year’s Eve, and all it portends, next week.
Saturday, Christmas Eve, will be the big NFL shindig, although most of our LU teams won’t be playing then. New Orleans (6-8) hosts NFC South rival Tampa Bay (8-6) on Saturday, Saints giving 3, for whatever that’s worth at this point.
On Sunday, Pittsburgh (9-5) hosts AFC North rival Baltimore, and would like to win this one to improve the Steelers’ already clinched playoff standing. The 8-6 Ravens are bucking for a playoff berth, so they won’t go easy. Steelers give 5.5.
Denver, 8-6, didn’t look real all-fired great in the outing with the Patriots, but can still get wild card value out of a win at Kansas City (10-4) on Sunday night. With all the injuries on the Bronco roster, that’s looking less likely. Chiefs are laying 3.5.
Dallas (-7) hosts Detroit Monday night, and much as we love our Pokes, we’re looking for 9-5 Detroit to take this one, because they’re hungrier. Dallas tends to start losing once they’ve clinched the playoffs.
In our fascinating Bargain Tickets Watch, we note that there might not seem to be a more pointless game on Saturday than Miami at Buffalo – but danged if you can’t get in to see San Diego at Cleveland for $9. A 10% discount from last week.