Wouldn’t you know it: the bowls gods have decreed that Booger Bowls shall commence on Friday. In the past, we’ve had the Friday before the Booger onslaught to spend in quiet reflection and preparation (not to mention getting insightful commentary polished up for public viewing). But it’s 2019, so to H-E-doubles with all that – the countdown to Friday 20 December is officially underway!
In week 1 of Booger madness, our Inner Circle has only two outings. And they’re both a week from Friday, on the 27th. We’ll leave you in suspense and address their moments of eventhood in due course.
In the meantime, let the Booger parade begin.
Friday 20 December
Kicking the action off for us all, a big salute to MAC’s Buffalo Bulls (7-5) and the Charlotte 49ers of Conference USA (7-5), meeting in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. This will be the first meeting for the two teams; the 49ers football team has only been around since 2008, and joined the FBS in the C-USA New Blood in the 2015 split. We congratulate them on their first-ever FBS bowl game.
The teams participated on Wednesday in a youth football clinic, where we’re sure a great time was had by all.
But this is the Bahamas, and there are priorities. The Atlantis resort, which you’ll no doubt recognize from TV, offers the accommodations for the bowl game, and on Tuesday both teams had a day off to inspect and instruct the local beach.
We’d never neglect to mention the Bahamas Bowl trophy, the only one in all bowldom awarded by a prime minister (and known, therefore, as the Prime Ministers’ Trophy).
Best of luck to both teams. Buffalo gives 6.5.
Friday evening, Utah State (7-5) and Kent State (6-6) will clash in the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl, which we’re beginning to love more than life itself because it’s so rapidly developing the most credible of Booger Bowl cred.
In its first two years, the bowl was sponsored by DXL. Now it’s sponsored by Tropical Smoothie Café – but it’s still played in the soccer stadium (Toyota Stadium) in Frisco, Texas, and it’s got another insane mismatch teed up for us. The scores in the first two bowls were 51-10 and 27-0, and we’re feeling pretty good about Utah State clobbering the pants off of Kent State to keep the tradition going.
Kent State probably feels differently. They seem to have had a pretty good time at the team dinner this week.
— Kent State Football (@KentStFootball) December 19, 2019
That said, Utah State got it going too.
WE HAVE OURSELVES A DANCE OFF!!
— Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl (@FriscoBowlGame) December 19, 2019
The Aggies are giving 6.5.
Saturday 21 December
FBS bowl action doesn’t start until 2 PM Eastern on Saturday, possibly because of the Friday placement for the first bowls. But at least Saturday will launch in fine style in one of our favorite stadiums, Albuquerque’s Dreamstyle, where you can ponder home remodeling and take in some football all at the same time. The teams are the Chippewas of Central Michigan (8-5) and San Diego State (9-3) in the New Mexico Bowl.
The teams seemed to have a great time on Game Night Wednesday.
Our second favorite kind of bowling! pic.twitter.com/h9hExEIkUv
— New Mexico Bowl (@NMBowl) December 19, 2019
But the Chippewas win the Twitter Grand Prize for the bowl season (yes, we’re confident in awarding it this early; the restraint of the commentary alone is worth the highest commendation):
— Michael Alford (1) (@AlfordCMUAD) December 18, 2019
Aztecs give 3.5.
Next up are Liberty and Georgia Southern (both 7-5), who lucked out and got the FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl, which has the distinction of being the only bowl that offers free mammograms to enhance your bowl experience. The Cure Bowl is played in Exploria Stadium in Orlando, which naturally you know is the home of the Orlando City Soccer Club.
But it’s preceded by the pe-game party at the nearby Church Street Station, a refurbished railroad station built in 1889, where we are pleased to report you can “join hundreds of college football fans and breast cancer survivors as [they] turn Church Street Station PINK for The March 2 Cure.” On cue, the partygoers will march down Church Street to the stadium and kick back for some gridiron spectating.
The Cure Bowl donates proceeds to the worthiest of causes: the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
GASO’s Eagles are favored by 4.
One bowl with potential to be a fun contest is the Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl, which may have gone a tad tamer on the bowl name (it was hard to top Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl), but this year features SMU (10-2) and Florida Atlantic (10-3), the latter being the Conference-USA champion for 2019.
We’re excited to announce that we’ve found another kid art contest, incident to the Boca Raton Bowl. The theme, of course, is good health, the sponsor being Cheribundi, maker of premier health beverages. Here’s the Second Prize Middle School submission from Lily A. You can view other artwork and photos of the awards event here.
The Boca Raton Bowl is played in FAU Stadium, which will give the Owls (no longer Kiffin’s Hooters, after his end-of-season move to Ole Miss) a true homefield advantage. But the Mustangs have the odds-nod by 3, due partly, no doubt, to Lane Kiffin’s departure and the use of an interim head coach (DC Glenn Spencer).
Florida International (6-6) and Arkansas State (7-5) will kick off next in the Camellia Bowl, at a seasonable hour in Montgomery, Alabama, at the Historic Cramton Bowl.
We like to track the Alabama Football Legend Luncheon, which will be held on Friday 20 December, and this year is honoring Larry Blakeney, Auburn QB from 1966 to 1969 and later head coach at Troy University, where he became the all-time winningest coach in Sun Belt Conference history, retiring after the 2014 season at 178-113-1.
And do not worry for one minute: those great folks at Golden Flake, premier producer of chips, cheese curls, and pork skins, are still a proud sponsor of the Camellia Bowl. They don’t seem to be affiliated with the Legend Luncheon this year, however.
Krispy Kreme is also a Camellia Bowl sponsor, which we’re just saying.
The Red Wolves are favored by 2.5.
The marquee slot on Saturday will see #19 Boise State (12-1), the Mountain West champions, taking on Washington (7-5) in the Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl, which could win us over in a heartbeat if it just switched that name around for one year to something like Bowl Motors Vegas Mitsubishi Las. But they’re checking some good Booger blocks with the frequent sponsor changes. Keep it up, dudes.
Meanwhile, the teams were hardly in town before they were doing good works on Wednesday.
Thank you so much to this year’s @LasVegasBowl participants — @UW_Football and @BroncoSportsFB — for coming out to tour Opportunity Village this morning. You made our day! We’ll be cheering loud and proud for both teams this weekend. Best of luck! 🏈❤️ #OpportunityVillage pic.twitter.com/YiJzR0jTxc
— Opportunity Village (@OppVillageLV) December 19, 2019
They did take a little time to kick back at Buca di Beppo on Fremont Street, where we understand the players were able to “showcase their talents off the field and on the stage.” The mascots got the high-line treatment.
We had some special guests tonight at our welcome dinner for the Boise State Broncos and Washington Huskies ahead of the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21. pic.twitter.com/3ZJY4WYaeG
— Fremont Street Exp (@FSELV) December 19, 2019
Ladies’ Day is Thursday in downtown Summerlin; we’ll let you know if the photos from that are deemed suitable for public viewing.
Washington is favored by 2, which strikes us as a bit optimistic for the Huskies. Going 7-5 in the PAC-12 is, let’s say, not what it might once have been in terms of making a rep. (That said, Boise State is not what it once was either. So it’s kind of a wash.)
Bringing up the rear on Saturday is the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, which we love as one of those anchor Boogers that keep their sponsors and venues for years. Sun Belt champions #20 Appalachian State (12-1) will take on Alabama-Birmingham (9-4) of the Conference-USA Remnant (which lost rather badly to FAU in the C-USA title match).
We know you haven’t forgotten the thrill of “Dashing through the Dome,” the two-mile run that basically uses the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as an obstacle course. That will be on Friday. Props to the runners, and may all finish and all have prizes.
But this year they’re going massive with the diverse fan appeal, and on game day will be offering not only Cornhole in the Dome but Yoga in the Dome. We regret to inform you that Yoga in the Dome, which takes place “ON THE FIELD!”, is sold out. But we assume you can try to sign up next year. They’ll probably be bringing this one back.
Cornhole, meanwhile, looks to be a Cornhole League event, so you can’t just show up for that one either. But, again, if you want to shoot for next year, the Greater New Orleans Cornhole League can apparently set you up.
The Mountaineers are giving 17.
Monday 23 December
Monday afternoon sees Central Florida (9-3) and Marshall (8-4) duking it out in Tampa in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, which is on our bucket list for as long as it takes to get to it, or until it gets a more pedestrian sponsor with fewer fun toys, whichever comes first. We have zero interest in the reduction of grasses and other underbrush infestations, but it looks like a total hoot tooling one of those things around.
We suspect you don’t have to live in the Oklahoma City area to benefit from the advice offered in this helpful video we ran across while gawking at the merchandise.
The bowl teams are at Busch Gardens today (Thursday), so we’ll let them get back to us.
There’s all kinds of stuff going on in Tampa and St. Petersburg, but clearly, the parking lot at Ray-Jay Stadium is the place to be on Monday. They’ll have section 6D fenced off for the attractions; the Bad Boy Mower rides start at 11 AM, accompanied by Onbikes bike rides (Onbikes gives bikes to needy children, mostly those living without their parents in their lives). Besides Gasparilla pirate-themed floats to ooh and ahh over, there will be a pop-up outdoor skating rink and a “Snow in Florida” winter wonderland.
The Gasparilla Bowl will now serve as the Official Kickoff to Gasparilla Season!
— Gasparilla Bowl (@GasparillaBowl) December 18, 2019
We figure the folks from Marshall will probably appreciate the beaches a little bit more, however.
Sadly, we don’t see any heart and blood pressure monitoring opportunities offered by a local hospital this year.
UCF gives 17.5.
Tuesday 24 December
The fine tradition continues of the Sofi Hawaii Bowl teeing off on Christmas Eve, and this year’s imported opponents for Hawaii (9-5) are BYU’s Cougars (7-5).
Naturally, the teams will visit the USS Arizona Memorial on Saturday 21 December, and trek to Wet ‘n’ Wild the 21st and 22nd. But there will also be a Snow-Zone for the kids outside the main box office at Aloha Stadium on game day, which for fans should liven up the luxurious island-time tailgating and the scent of Hawaiian barbecue.
BYU is favored by 2.
Thursday 26 December
Bowls don’t come finer than the Walk-on’s Independence Bowl in delightful Shreveport, Louisiana, where if you’re lucky you can cut the eau de oil refinery with a knife. Louisiana Tech (motto: “Get OVER the WAC already”) will go head to head with Miami (Da U), the Bulldogs enjoying the advantage of a 9-3 record as opposed to Miami’s 6-6, but by the oddsquad’s reckoning, little else.
There appear to be two Walk-on’s Sports Bistreaux in the greater Shreveport area (one in Bossier City), but the official game after-party will be at Great Raft Brewing, just so you know. We don’t see a progressive all-merchants tootle around the town scheduled this year, although we doubt it was a flop in 2018. Great Raft, meanwhile, will be offering local beer, live music, and (somewhat ominously) food trucks.
There will, of course, be a parade to go with the pep rally on game day. This is Louisiana.
The Hurricanes give 6.
The Thursday night game sees Pitt (7-6) clashing with Eastern Michigan (6-6) in the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, another one in which the oddsdudes aren’t feeling it for the in-state boys.
We were going to get right to the fowling for you, because we know that’s what you zoom the Quick Lane Bowl for. But the website hasn’t been updated with fowling event info yet. (In fact, the information is pretty scant right now: you can buy game tickets, but you’ll be doing it from one of the Quick Lane main pages, and the banner menu across the top offers options to shop tires and get an oil change. A tidy convenience, at least.)
Well. Last year’s game had the fowling on game day, set up at the stadium. We imagine that’s pretty handy.
In the meantime, scrolling down to the bottom of the page, we discovered an arresting disclaimer for California residents:
Exercise your rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act here.
Quick Lane© is a brand owned by Ford Motor Company. If you share your personal information with Quick Lane©, you are sharing it with Ford Motor Company. Ford will be assisting you if you choose to exercise any of your rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act.
You just can’t hardly ever tell what’s next.
The Panthers are giving 11.
Friday 27 December
We do have to get through some preliminary skirmishes on Friday before the Inner Circle finally debuts for us. But there are some quality matches queued up, starting with North Carolina (6-6) and Temple (8-4) in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman.
The Military Bowl is at RFK in Washington, D.C. this year, but don’t let that fool you. The bowl week events look to be mostly in Annapolis. As you would expect for a self-respecting Military Bowl, there’s a Wine Walk and Scavenger Hunt through downtown Annapolis on 26 December, from 4-6 PM.
Also on the 26th: a Bar Crawl through the same section of downtown Annapolis, running from 4-9 PM.
Just in case these nicely paired expeditions don’t get you fully loaded for the game on 27 December, there’s a third event on the 26th: the Miracle on Annapolis Street, a gentle walk to downtown, featuring the Budweiser Clydesdales and the refreshing beverages that always come in their wake. This event will run from 11 AM to 5 PM.
As always, nominate your military Bud Hero here.
The Tar Heels are favored by 4.5.
Friday afternoon our beloved New Era Pinstripe Bowl kicks off at 3:20 PM sharp in Yankee Stadium, featuring Michigan State (6-6) and Wake Forest (8-4). If you can get to New York before Christmas Eve, they’re giving tours of the stadium up through the 24th.
You couldn’t pay us to go see Frozen on Broadway. But Oklahoma! is running there, along with the usual mix of popular, more recent shows, and is probably a hoot.
Meanwhile, we’re apparently the last to know that the NYC arts community is collaborating to offer autism-friendly productions of the biggest musicals, which we think is awesome. What a gift to people dealing with major challenges most of us can hardly imagine.
It doesn’t look like there are performances scheduled for the Pinstripe Bowl week, but you can check out opportunities later this winter here. Tickets reportedly sell out in nothing flat, so knowing about the offerings in advance is key.
Back on the field, the Spartan give is 4.5.
Finally, our own #25 Oklahoma State (8-4) will meet Texas A&M (7-5) in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl in Houston on Friday evening.
Besides having the merit of featuring the Okie-Pokes, the Texas Bowl is attended by a country music concert just about every whipstitch, a couple of team spirit walks, a family spirit day, a hoedown called the Love Street TexFest, a Field Goal Challenge at which fans can try to put it through the uprights to win tickets to the CFP championship in January, and a brewery-sponsored event billed as the Hopadillo Bowl Bash, where you might even win sideline passes.
No rodeo games for the teams this year, as far as we can detect. There will be a team luncheon, however, attended by great Texas football players to be named later.
A&M gives 7.5, which we kind of think is to laugh. Go Pokes!
Another classic shaping up Friday night is the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (motto: Never Abbreviated, No Matter Where We Roam), in which #22 USC (8-4) and #16 Iowa (9-3) will have themselves a Rose Bowl th’owback in America’s finest underused stadium (formerly Qualcomm, now San Diego County Credit Union Stadium).
We used to have the Wienerschnitzel Wiener dog races to review at this time of year, but the Wiener Nationals will be in San Diego in January 2020. Sigh.
The Port of San Diego will be putting on the Holiday Bowl Parade on 26 December, however, coursing along the bayside streets downtown. The Holiday Bowl Parade is billed as “America’s Largest Balloon Parade,” and unless you’re a jaded Los Angeleno and your life has been lousy with the world’s most expensive bowl-season parades, you’ll probably get a kick out of it.
It doesn’t look like they’ll be herding livestock through downtown San Diego this go-round. Apparently that was a one-time good deal last year. If you like ships, don’t miss the USS Midway Museum. You may also enjoy the Maritime Museum of San Diego, where you can see the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India, which dates back to the 1540s.
Be watching for fans to do The Wave en masse during the game, as a greeting to sick children at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. We’re fans of this delightful gesture.
What could be the coolest thing in @HolidayBowl history? Bowl director says it’s coming Dec. 27 for @HawkeyeFootball and @USC_Athletics. Column: https://t.co/MDSFjzZqBf #trojans #hawkeyes @UIchildrens
— Bryce Miller (@Bryce_A_Miller) December 17, 2019
The Hawkeyes give 2.
Capping off our week will be the Inner Circle’s noblest Falcons: Air Force (10-2) taking on Washington State (6-6) in the Cheez-It Bowl.
As usual, the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl sucks up all the oxygen in the pairing with the Cheez-It Bowl. But Cheez-It goes the extra mile to zoom around with a van placing the brand, and drumming up interest for the game.
It looks like you can still slide in under the wire with your favorite Cheez-It flavor to win bowl tickets.
Want to go to the #CheezItBowl?
— Cheez-It® Bowl (@CheezItBowl) December 16, 2019
The pre-game party, held next to Chase Field (home of the Diamondbacks), will be replete with Cheez-It cuisine, and we note that while there will be numerous concessions, we see no mention of food trucks.
Road-trippers for the game will be kind of on their own for entertainment otherwise. There’s a selection of Motel 6s in the greater Phoenix area, although we can’t say they seem to be near much that you’d want to see. But no one could be bored in Phoenix. An art installation by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama at the Phoenix Art Museum looks promising. It’s a firefly infinity mirror room, officially named “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies.”
We’re sorry to report that you’ve missed the sunset swarms of Mexican Free-Tailed Bats at the Phoenix Bat Cave for the year. Those erupt only in the summer.
Air Force is favored by 3. Go Falcons!
Sufficient unto the week are the bowls thereof. The Inner Circle has a lease on a massive chunk of Bowl week 2, but all things decently and in order.
Our Div II star, Slippery Rock, succumbed last week in the semi-finals to Minnesota State, thus ending a heck of a season for the Rock. Well done!
The other ranks are still busy with their tournaments, of course. The FCS semis are on Saturday 21 December, with #1 seed North Dakota State (you had to ask) meeting Montana State, and James Madison versus Weber State.
The FCS championship is on 11 January.
The Div II championship game on Saturday 21 December matches Minnesota State and West Florida, which stunned Div II by knocking off #1 seed Ferris State last week. The teams will meet in the super-opulent high school stadium of the McKinney, TX Independent School District, which excited such dubious musings from a sportswriter last year. It seems the Div II championship had a “tremendous experience” there in 2018.
This year’s attack monster in Div III is North Central (IL), which got past mighty Mount Union 59-52 in the quarter-finals, and has now advanced to take on Wisconsin-Whitewater in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Div III championship on Friday evening in Shenandoah, TX (just outside Houston). This is the Stagg Bowl’s second (and final) year in Shenandoah. It’s scheduled to move to Canton, OH for the 2020 season. That should give it a run at being played in zesty winter football weather at least as often as in Salem, VA, where it was hosted for so many years before the move to Texas.