Football Follies 2017: Booger goes long

Football Follies 2017: Booger goes long
An art contest winner from the Fort Worth Schools , sponsored by the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, 2016. (Image via cottonbowl.com)

This is the week of weeks coming up.  The one when Booger doubles down.  You can hardly believe it, but there will be a high count of nineteen Booger bowls over the next week, along with the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.  (You can decide for yourself if the venerable Hyundai Sun Bowl, San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, and Valero Alamo Bowl are, properly speaking, Booger Bowls.  But we are 100% certain the Cotton Bowl is not.)

Order-of-business-wise, we start by congratulating the FCS title contenders, James Madison and North Dakota State, for getting to the championship game.  They’ll meet in Frisco, TX on 6 January, and we admit to looking forward to such a quality match.  This could be one for the ages.

We also applaud Texas A&M-Commerce for prevailing over West Florida in the Div II championship game last week.  The Lions delivered an impressive 37-27 victory to take their first Div II title.  Good job to West Florida as well, and to all concerned.  We’re gratified that SMOD held off for another week, to boot.

Now on to the action.

Saturday 23 December

The Inner Circle takes the turf twice on Saturday, but first up will be the ingenious matchup of Texas Tech (6-6) with South Florida (9-2*) in the Birmingham Bowl.  We love to see an AAC team, especially our USF Bulls, break through to take on the Power 5, even if it is Kingsbury’s uneven 2017 Red Raider squad.  USF had an exciting OT nail-biter with South Carolina (motto: The Other USC) in last year’s Birmingham Bowl, ultimately prevailing 46-39.  We’re not without hope.

We do note, with a sense of passing intrigue, that NFL great Cornelius Bennett (Alabama ’86) was honored this week as the 2017 Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham, which we are sure is meant as a compliment.  Bennett is best remembered for his years with the Bills, of course, but he played for Atlanta and Indianapolis in the late 1990s as well, and racked up five Pro Bowl appearances.  Congratulations to him, and to Birmingham for having another legend on its hands.

South Florida gives 3 in this one.

The Inner Circle hits the ground running in the afternoon slot with Army (8-4) meeting San Diego State (10-2) in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth.  We warn you, there are only 34 tickets left at this late hour (which seems pretty amazing).  Apparently, there’s a big market for watching football between a team that does nothing but run, and a team that didn’t know much from running until Rashaad Penny showed up.

Penny is worth the price of admission, at least judging by the Aztecs’ late-season games.  Army’s going to have its hands full.

We are sorry to report that the winners of the 2017 Fort Worth Schools-Armed Forces Bowl Art Contest have not yet been posted online.  That’s been a big crowd favorite in previous years.  We’ll keep you updated.

Meanwhile, to go with your military-hardware-enhanced tailgating on Saturday, we have an SDSU give of 6.5.  There’s only one Rashaad Penny.

Our own MAC champion Toledo tees off next with Appalachian State (8-4, #2 in Sun Belt) in the Dollar General Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.  The bowl is working on some impressive Booger cred, and would be further along if it had switched venues along the way.  But it’s been in Ladd-Peebles in Mobile since 1999.  So it will take a couple more sponsorship changes (to date, Mobile, GMAC, GoDaddy, and Dollar General) to complete a full Booger transfiguration.

That said, you can’t go far wrong with a bowl whose past MVPs include LaDainian Tomlinson (2000) and Ben Roethlisberger (2003).

We’re proud to point out that the USO Mayor’s luncheon on Friday, 22 December – a distinguished Dollar General Bowl Week event – featured former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops as the speaker.

We also feel sure there’s a perfectly good explanation for this:

This one, of course, needs no explanation.  Toledo players visit USS Alabama.

Chick-fil-A served lunch to the teams on board the ship.

This game is a do-over, of course, for Toledo.  QB Logan Woodside is healthy, and the Rockets are giving 6.5.

Sunday 24 December

Sunday, being Christmas Eve, brings us the Hawaii Bowl, featuring MWC-West titlist Fresno State (9-4) and AAC’s Houston (7-4).  We’re sorry to report that it will be about 80 and ever-so-slightly cloudy in Aloha Stadium for the kickoff.

Houston came up as the early favorite, apparently, by about 1.5. But the latest line has this one as a pick ‘em.

Tuesday 26 December

Tuesday has us saving the best for last, but starts early with the Youths of Utah (6-6, 5th in PAC-12 South) squaring off with West Virginia, pride of the Big 12 (7-5, 4th in Big 12), in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.  Somebody’s got some bongo bucks to burn, is what we’re thinking.  But hey, Zaxby’s is good food; the teams are big names; it’s Dallas (the Cotton Bowl Stadium)…what could go wrong?

Plus, there’s a Guns and Hoses Climb for Community (think first responders), and you know we’re there for that.  Don’t even bother us with a bowl game that doesn’t include a climb of over 3,100 steps, a fire engine display, and a SWAT Bearcat for the kids to check out.

The oddsquad has Utah favored by 6.  (But the oddsquad has been seriously underperforming here in Booger Week 1, so we’re just saying.)

Next it’s up to Detroit for the Quick Lane Bowl, which we continue to kind of love, even if it’s got some miles to go for full Booger cred.  Duke (6-6) will be meeting Northern Illinois (8-4) at Ford Field late Tuesday afternoon.

The football will no doubt be a hoot, but we Quick Lane cognoscenti know to be on the qui vive for the fowling update from this one – and we’re not disappointed.  (Combining football, bowling, horseshoes, and refreshing beverages is pure genius, just to start with.)

See a long-snapper attempt to take out bowling pins with a football at the world-famous Fowling Warehouse.

Tuesday’s game seems to register with the oddsdudes as a total pick ‘em, at least as it stands now.

Finally, we get to the real Tuesday treat: the evening knock-out round between our own Kansas State (7-5) and UCLA (6-6), in the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field, which you’ll know better as the home of the Diamondbacks.

It doesn’t get Boogerer than the Cactus Bowl, which has been wandering around Arizona since 1989 going through sponsors like a house afire.  We’re especially fond of the Weiser Lock era (1992-95), but the whole list is a Who’s Who of Who-dom: Domino’s Pizza, Weiser Lock, Insight Enterprises, Buffalo Wild Wings, TicketCity, and Motel 6.  The bowl is under the wing of the Playstation Fiesta Bowl now, and just seems to be styled “Cactus Bowl” for this go-round, which is totally Booger, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

That said, the Fiesta Bowl does kind of suck up all the bowl-week event oxygen.  There’s only one specially designated Cactus Bowl event, apparently: the Oasis Cactus Bowl Pregame Party, Presented by Ménage A Trois.  And you know what?  We’re just going to let you check that one out on your own.

The Wildcats will have enough to keep them busy without having to refer to French phrase books.  Climbing over the inert bodies of lackluster Bruins won’t be a cakewalk.  The Chip Kelly era won’t start with this bowl game, so UCLA will be kind of playing from limbo, and is reportedly worried about a jinx when facing an opponent’s backup QB – never a real encouraging sign under the best of circumstances.

If KSU’s Skylar Thompson is on his game, we see the Wildcats more than covering their 2.5 edge.

No Cactus Bowl preview would be complete, of course, without mentioning the great Dick Enberg, who passed away this week at 82 in his home in La Jolla.  Although he spent many years broadcasting pro ball for NBC, he got his early start with UCLA basketball in the 1960s.

He has been long remembered for a very special rendition of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” when UCLA won the conference basketball title in 1970.

Rest in peace, old friend.

Wednesday 27 December

Wednesday is a full day, but manages to slip by us without an Inner Circle participant.  First up will be Southern Miss (8-4, C-USA) and Florida State (6-6) in the Walk-On’s Independence Bowl.  If the bowl had been hoofing it from pillar to post for the last 28 years like its prickly sister in Arizona, it would have the crème de la crème of Booger cachet.  But since it’s been in Shreveport all this time, it has perfected a different sort of Boogerdom as a sponsor-history champion contender.

We know one of our number has a particular affinity for the Poulan/Weed Eater period (1991-97).  But there’s an awful lot to recommend the balance of the distinguished list: Sanford, Mainstay Suites, PetroSun, AdvoCare, Duck Commander, Camping World, and now, in 2017, Walk-On’s (which we know you know is a Louisiana chain of “Bistreaux and Bars”).

There’s drama erupting over the faceoff in Shreveport because some concern troll pointed out that Florida State shouldn’t actually be bowl-eligible (i.e., have 6 eligible wins), due to NCAA qualification oversights for FCS opponent Delaware State.  Our philosophy is, we could let that stop us, or we could head to Walk-On’s and get happy.  No one seems disposed to do anything about it, which just shows you the sort of country we live in now.

Ticketholders, we note, will be entered in a raffle for a Ford F-150.  The Seminoles are giving 17.

One of our all-time favorite bowls ensues: the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium, featuring Iowa and Boston College, both 7-5.  That nominal parity is a bit deceiving, since BC lost to everyone they played who was any good this year.   Interestingly, the Eagles are nevertheless giving right around 3.

Arizona (7-5) and Purdue (6-6) will meet next in the Foster Farms Bowl in the Tiny Stadium (Levi’s) in Santa Clara, CA.  This used to be the Fight Hunger Bowl, among other things, and we kind of miss that.  But at least it’s football.

The big “event” leading up to the game is basically the torturous process of getting to the game, and we wish everyone well.  Meanwhile, here’s a preview of what the players will be receiving in their goodie bags:

Fossil watch, Sony XB950N1 extra bass noise canceling headphones, Timbuk2 backpack, coin, $25 Apple iTunes gift card.

Which sounds nice, although we kind of expected more in the way of poultry products.  Arizona is favored by 3.

Rounding out the night, Texas (6-6) and Missouri (7-5) will clash at NRG in Houston in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl, which you may remember from recent years as the Meineke Car Care and AdvoCare V100 Bowl.  This one needs some development on it, but seems to have a promising Booger future.

The new sponsors still have the website reminding us of the attractions of the bowl week’s “Rodeo Bowl.”  But they haven’t updated it with new pictures, so we have only the ones from two years ago to keep our spirits up.  Should be a good time, though, with plenty of fans making the very doable trek.  There seems to be an odd sense that Mizzou (-3.5) could win.

Thursday 28 December

Thursday is the epic day LU Nation’s football faithful may not survive.  It’s definitely loaded for bear, charging out of the gate with Virginia and Navy, both 6-6, in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman.

If you happen to be headed to the game, you can still nominate your “Bud hero” (courtesy of Budweiser) for a free ticket and recognition at the game.  We think the real honor is being named and reflected on the webpage by the folks who nominate you.  Hand salute.

Navy gives 2, being on their home turf. Go Navy!!!

At 5:15 PM in Orlando, #22 Virginia Tech and #19 Oklahoma State will kick off in the Camping World Bowl, a game that promises to be one of the best of the holidays.  Tune in to this one for the football.  Both teams had some ups and downs this year, but they’re loaded with talent and held their own in their heady Power 5 fields, OK-State setting the standard in some offensive areas, and VT on defense.

Bowl-wise, incidentally, the Camping World Bowl stands up against anyone, although it hasn’t wandered quite as much as some.  But it’s had an impressive nine name changes (granted, one was from Micron PC Bowl to Micron PC.com Bowl, but we assure you, that counts), and for one halcyon year (2001) was called the Visit Florida Tangerine Bowl, which you really can’t beat with a stick.

They’re keeping their schedule of events pretty close to the vest at the bowl website.  But they probably assume everyone will either be at Disney or Universal, or out swinging clubs, and they don’t really need to organize a lot of stuff for seasoned traveling fans like the Hokies and the Pokes.

I swore to myself there would be no Hokie-Pokey jokes, so we’ll just note OK-State’s 4-point give and move on.

The late games offer us some serious good stuff.  Our Inner Circle bout features #15 TCU with #13 Stanford in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.  Like the VT-OSU game, this one should be a barn-burner, matching a couple of teams with offensive flame-throwers, if they remember to bring them.  TCU should have the edge on defense.

The Stanford band naturally did something terrible already, one of its members reportedly not being responsible for a hurtful anti-TCU tweet which has now been deleted, but nevertheless the matter is being dealt with internally. Or something.  I basically don’t understand this aspect of college sports anymore.  Comments like this apparently have to be deleted and “dealt with internally”:

Yay! Now more fans can see you get smoked by @OU_Football each year!!!

— Stanford Tree (@DaStanfordTree) December 20, 2017

This is something oldsters my age would literally have paid no attention to, except possibly to snort in passing and ask who had let the idiots out of the padded room.  It’s lame.  Yet it now has to be deleted and dealt with.

It seems wisest to just register TCU’s give of 3 and keep going.

As we hurtle toward Thursday’s finish line, we note with sorrow the passing of the Poinsettia Bowl, for years the bowl in the crown jewel of southern California sponsored by the San Diego Country Credit Union.  The bowl played its last in December 2016, and we, personally, are observing a moment of silence every time we think about it.

The credit union has dried its tears and stepped up to take over sponsorship of the Holiday Bowl, which is making its inaugural bow Thursday night as the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (transferred motto: Never abbreviated).  The contestants will be #18 Washington State and #16 Michigan State.  While we don’t anticipate this being quite the match we’ll see in San Antonio, it’s Power 5 football, and you always know anything can happen.

The Holiday Bowl is celebrating its 40th year, and although it’s been in San Diego the whole time, it has gone through a serious list of sponsors.  Sea World was a tad obvious, and Thrifty Car Rental kind of trying too hard, in Booger terms.  But Culligan (1998-2001) struck just the right note.  There have been six others, including San Diego County Credit Union, making the Holiday Bowl one of our most august Boogers.

Washington State is favored by 1, and if it weren’t WSU and MSU, you know no one would have bothered with the 1.  A fine ending to a good day.

Friday 29 December

Friday brings us four Boogers and a Bigger, starting with Wake Forest and Texas A&M, both 7-5, in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, NC.  The Belk Bowl is fierce, with the advantage out of the gate of having a certified name (the Queen City Bowl) that no one has ever used, and a brief but nutty history of being called the Continental Tire Bowl instead, and the Meineke Car Care Center Bowl (ha! Caught you; not the Meineke Car Care Bowl; that’s the other one), and then the Belk Bowl, which only makes sense to people who understand about the Belk department stores, which lets out probably 75% of the country.

So we’re very high on this bowl, which has also had Dak Prescott and Cam Phillips as previous MVPs.  The Demon Deacons are holding at a 3-point edge over A&M.

Next up is the venerable Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, featuring #24 NC State (motto: “They have a football team?”) and Arizona State.

Although we’ll possess ourselves with patience, we’re sorely tempted to just declare the winner of the Booger-off based on this photo of teams being welcomed to El Paso.

A big El Paso welcome for the Sun Bowl teams. (Image courtesy Hyundai Sun Bowl)

Keep your plastic leis and your sports photographer scrums.  That’s a welcome.

We’re not sure why the Sun Devils plan to fly to El Paso, of course.  Seems like it would be quicker to zip across I-10 on buses.  Since it’s not our problem, however, we just want to mention that the Sun Bowl Parade is back for another year, under the sponsorship of First Light Federal Credit Union, whose 2016 float could not delight us more if it had an outhouse depicted as a presidential library.

First Light Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade float, 2016. (mage courtesy Hyundai Sun Bowl)

NC State is favored by 6.5.

#21 Northwestern and Kentucky meet a bit later to duke it out in a “Battle of the Wildcats,” AKA the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, a Booger with a respectable pedigree in Nashville going back to 1998.  That was so long ago, incidentally, that Virginia Tech pounded Alabama 38-7 in the inaugural game.

The evening before, you may not want to miss the Hot Chicken Eating World Championship at Hattie B’s.  That’s according to your taste, of course.  Northwestern gives 7.5 in the current line.

A “Battle of the Aggies” will be erupting an hour later in the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson, as New Mexico State clashes with Utah State.  The Arizona Bowl is newfangled (2015) and has no prior history of riding the rails looking for a home, but you know that only makes it more worthy as a Booger, because nothing kills Booger faster than obviousness.

A couple of attractions we wouldn’t miss for anything: the unveiling of the world’s longest Sonoran hot dog at the downtown block party Thursday night (hot dog presented by El Charro), and a free concert by A Flock of Seagulls (apparently, yes) after the game on Friday night.

NMSU and USU have an extensive history, of course, with USU running 30-7 in the tally to date.  This year the oddspuppies envision an NMSU give of 4, however.  Seems a bit off to us, but other than suggesting the taking of no points, we’ll stay out of that one.

Our last game until the counter begins again next week is Friday night’s Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, featuring #8 USC and #5 Ohio State.  We figure the Buckeyes to go on a big stomp with this one; USC has won the last seven meets between the two teams, and is making no bones about that in a Twitter tweak-stream, which you know is the biggest jinx there is.  As far as we can tell, nothing is being deleted, dealt with, or sealed off from safe spaces, which tentatively raises our opinion of Buckeye fortitude.  But we’re reserving judgment on that.

Jinx or no, Ohio State, if it brings its best game, is the better team.  We’re satisfied with the OSU give of 7.5.

That’ll be what she writ until next week, when the action, and the Inner Circle, go into overdrive.

 

* All our sub-12 W-L totals are for Florida and Texas teams that were unable to play their full schedule due to the 2017 hurricanes.

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J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.


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