Boy, have we got news. Yes, the bowl schedule is firmed up (COVID willing), and we’ll get to that, but the news is that Georgia Southern is rolling like a boss all over Louisiana Tech (motto: “WAC! Come back, WAC! Come ba-ack…!”). The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl is a few seconds shy of halftime, and GASO is up 21-3 on the Bulldogs. (Update: final, 38-3. Congrats, Eagles.)
We imagine the 47 fans in the Super Dome are glad to be in out of the rain.
Up next Wednesday: the Montgomery Bowl, featuring Memphis and Florida Atlantic. (Tigers 25-10 in the 4Q. … and final.)
We are delighted to report that our very own Nevada knocked off Tulane 38-27 on the Blue Field of Death on Tuesday, in a fun game that won the Wolf Pack the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl title and a nice crystal serving bowl, suitable for presenting raw potatoes if for some reason you ever want to do that, mounted on a wooden base. Well done, Pack! Did us proud.
As previously previewed, we’re looking forward to Hawaii and Houston tomorrow in the New Mexico Bowl in Frisco, Texas.
Now, first, a tour of our non-bowl-bound Inner Circle. We’ll preview the bowl-bound Inner Circle decently and in order.
Navy, as mentioned last week, retired honorably from a tough season after the loss in the fog to Army on the 12th. It was a tremendous Learning Experience for the Mids this year, and we know they’ll come back stronger in 2021. Fight on, Midshipmen!
Air Force had, all in all, a good season, but couldn’t finish with the Commander’s Trophy, and because of the late-starting Mountain West didn’t have the chance to impress bowl schedulers with victories they could well have had. Air Force had a good team this year, and much to be proud of. Well done.
Virginia Tech was in the Power 3 – ACC, Big-12, SEC; the ones that started playing in week 1 and based their season on a full schedule – and gets kudos just for that. The 5-6 Hokies had a rebuilding year full of Learning Experiences, and get a hearty Good job! from us here at Liberty Unyielding.
LSU finished 5-5 and with their own set of great Learning Experiences, and a worthy claim to fame for 2020: knocking off Florida in the next-to-last “regular season” game. They went on to hack their way past Ole Miss in the final minutes of the very last game. They still need a D, but you know they’ll grow one. If you can slide in sideways with your hair mussed exclaiming, “Dang, that was fun!” – you did something right. Nicely done!
We bid a sad farewell to Kansas State, our Inner Circle selection committee having decided to accept the recommendation of the Wildcats’ biggest fan in our ranks. We follow our Inner Circle teams through thick, thin, sniper fire, and the valley of the shadow of death, but not if it just brings up bad memories for the correspondents of the LU Football Commentary Service. We wish KSU well in their future endeavors.
Toledo finished an abbreviated MAC season 4-2, returning from the wars with their shield and raring to go in 2021. We miss them on Wednesday nights. Good job, Rockets!
Wyoming likewise retires from a short Mountain West season, 2-4 and blessed with a baker’s handful of great Learning Experiences. As previously mentioned, the Cowboys got to play for the Bronze Boot and the Paniolo Trophy even in this short-stack season, and have the Paniolo Trophy safe for the next year from the weird excursions it seems to be subject to in Hawaii. Well done, Pokes!
CFP Bowl listing
These events too we will preview decently and in order. For now, just the listing to keep everything straight.
1 January 2021
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Capital One (in Arlington, TX): #1 Alabama and #4 Notre Dame
Allstate Sugar Bowl (in New Orleans, LA): #3 Ohio State and #2 Clemson
We also include games with an outside double bankshot at supplying a replacement team if COVID strikes in the Final Four or the two finalists.
30 December 2020
Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic: #7 Florida and #6 Oklahoma
1 January 2021
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl: #9 Georgia and #8 Cincinnati
2 January 2021
Capital One Orange Bowl: #5 Texas Tech and #13 North Carolina
Booger Fest ignites
Regrettably, there have been 15 Melancholy Bowl Cancellations so far. More on the back-end below.
We had to leave you hanging on the Camellia Bowl last week, but can now proudly announce that it will feature Marshall (C-USA/Remnant) and Buffalo (MAC) when it kicks off in Montgomery, AL on Christmas Day. That’s, like, two days from now, and fans from West Virginia and New York haven’t had a whole lot of time to prepare. But after the storms blows through it looks like a sunny 40-ish for the noonish kickoff, and in December that’s hard-ish to sneeze at.
The bowl’s event schedule still says it’s “coming soon,” and if it hasn’t come by now, we figure folks should just grab a handful of pamphlets or do some online searches and enjoy Montgomery. Buffalo is favored by 4.5.
Boxing Day kicks off with the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, which always features fine teams but is really held to give kids (and kids at heart) the opportunity to inspect the coolest toys used by America’s front-line first responders. Well, that and treat the first responders and their families to a quality bowl game dedicated to honoring them.
Unfortunately, the bowl website provides this uncompromising advisory:
There will not be a Fan Fest at the 2020 First Responder Bowl game.
So no MRAPs, police cruisers, antique fire engines or ambulances for the kids to ooh and ahh over this year.
Meeting at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford (No Relation) Stadium in Dallas will be #19 Louisiana-Lafayette (U-LA-LA) and UT-San Antonio. U-LA-LA has the odds nod by 14.
The Lending Tree Bowl pops up next in one of our favorite venues, Mobile, AL. Mobile is famous for hosting as many bowls as they can schedule, and we appreciate their support. Western Kentucky will meet Georgia State in Ladd-Peebles, a stadium we regard as family now, after this particular bowl has cycled through it in the guise, among others, of the Dollar General Bowl, the GoDaddy Bowl, and the GMAC Bowl.
We are encouraged to report that Lending Tree also sponsors the Mobile County Spelling Bee, and provides game tickets to all the school winners. We’re confident they can spell like a house afire in Mobile County, Alabama, so we expect to see quite a contingent there on Saturday.
GAST gives 4.
The FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl brings 26 December home for us, with Liberty and #12 Coastal Carolina squaring off in Campaign World Stadium in Orlando. With their respective records of 9-1 and 11-0, the Flames and Chanticleers bring by far the most promising firepower the Cure Bowl has seen to date (it having started life as an “alternative” bowl the teams didn’t need to win 6 to be eligible for. Liberty, incidentally, is the returning champ this year).
In storied yesteryears the Cure Bowl, dedicated to a cure for breast cancer, enlivened the Fan Fest Boardwalk with a tent where proactive game-goers could walk in for free mammograms. In the year of living COVID-ly, you won’t be surprised to learn that there’s no Fan Fest, no Boardwalk, and no free mammograms. So we’re sighing a bit over that.
But there will be a game, and Coastal Carolina is giving 7.5.
Skipping ahead past a patch of Melancholy Cancellations brings us to our next Inner Circle Booger Bowl, and it’s a classic.
Somebody’s gotta do it: our own #21 Oklahoma State meets #18 Miami (Da U) in the Cheez-It Bowl, which is sponsored by Cheez-It but not to be confused with the Cheez-It Bowl that was oppressed and downtrodden within the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl franchise the last few years.
This year’s Cheez-It Bowl is the one that was known as the Camping World Bowl from 2017 to 2019, and in the best Booger Bowl tradition is now on its 10th sponsor since 1990. It’s operated by Florida Citrus Sports, which obviously has a keen eye for sponsors. Like the Cure Bowl, it will also be convening in Orlando at Camping World Stadium.
So we’re definitely not in Arizona anymore. We’ll miss the annual opportunity to mention how many miles of sidewalk could have been paved with the concrete used to build State Farm Stadium in Glendale. But we’ll cope.
Tragically, a Cheez-It Bowl search on Google still brings up the authoritarian Fiesta Bowl website. (To order tickets, go to Camping World Stadium’s site.) But the 2020 Cheez-It Bowl has a lively Twitter presence, offering fans an opportunity to create cheese-themed live fan avatars:
"Congrat-cheez-lations @CanesFootball @CowboyFB! You made it to your dream game @CheezItBowl.
BUT — whose fans are gonna get the wheelest? Build your #CheezIt Wheel Live Fan avatars at https://t.co/BZCzszeDM3 and wheel see… pic.twitter.com/ETsqfxZVge
— CHEEZ-IT (@cheezit) December 22, 2020
… and inspect assurances about stadium cleanliness from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, which certifies Camping World to be a Star Facility:
This certification for @citybeautiful and @CWStadium represents a significant benchmark for cleanliness in venues, and receiving it is an important step toward providing the safest possible environment for our event participants and attendees next week and beyond. https://t.co/dMZWeGwADX
— Cheez-It Bowl (@CheezItBowl) December 23, 2020
Cowboy fans would no doubt pay money to see this one, meanwhile.
— Cheez-It Bowl (@CheezItBowl) December 21, 2020
That is, if they’ve gotten over OSU RB Chuba Hubbard’s decision to skip the Cheez-It Bowl in the interest of an imminent NFL career. Hubbard’s been a bit of a squeaky wheel this year, but we wish him the best.
Pokes give 2.
Tuesday 29 December also gives us #20 Texas and Colorado (motto: “We take a pounding!”) in the Valero Alamo Bowl, which gratifies us by being exactly the bowl we were expecting, in the same place it’s been, if minus the fun-filled event schedule. Ain’t nobody doin’ hardly nothin’ this bowl season, other than playing in front of dozens of fans if they’re lucky enough to survive the Melancholy Cancellation guillotine.
Still, this one has the feel going in of a good game between not colossally ill-matched teams, with Texas favored by 9.5.
As feelz go, this is the day: the turning point, where Deep Booger starts crossing over with Elite Booger, and the upper ranks of teams start horning in on the action.
The day starts with Wake Forest at Wisconsin in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, which you probably can’t place unless we spot you the venue: Bank of America in Charlotte, N.C. Yes, it’s our old friend the Belk Bowl, and sometime Meineke Car Care Bowl, and others back into the mists of time.
If there’s anything hipper than a cheese cracker snack sponsoring a football bowl game, it’s a specialty mayonnaise sponsoring one.
The Duke’s Mayo run could be starting more auspiciously, for sure. Only player and staff families—no general fans – will be allowed to attend the game in person. As you can imagine, that really puts a dent in the old event schedule.
College Football Saturday pic.twitter.com/zGjfn48A8g
— Bank of America Stadium (@BofAstadium) December 19, 2020
Above: an approximation of the attendance to be expected for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl.
We’ll see. The teams may surprise us and put on a good show. Badgers are laying 7.
Next up: the TransPerfect Music City Bowl, with #15 Iowa and Mizzou meeting in Nashville. Our favorite year of the Music City Bowl, which has been going strong since 1998, was the one sponsored by American General Life & Accident. “American General Life & Accident Music City Bowl” is really in “can’t touch this” territory as bowl names go. But it spent the most years (up to 2019) as the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, and we pause to bid FAM a respectful farewell.
TransPerfect brokers business campaigns between language and cultures, based on the offerings at its website. We’re thrilled to see this has them flush enough in the pocket to sponsor a bowl game.
They offer a fan cutout option for $65, but fans had to get their photo submissions in for that by 22 December. Since pretty good tickets are still available in the $200 range in Nissan Stadium, and there are a ton of them left for $25 up in nosebleed, that’s probably not a tragedy.
We’ll miss the annual hot wings eating contest at Hattie B’s, which has gone the way of all COVID casualties this year. The Hawkeyes give 14.5.
Finally, we get to the important game on 30 December: the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic featuring #7 Florida and #6 Oklahoma, the highest-ranked finisher in our Inner Circle in 2020. It’s in AT&T in Arlington these days, because all things must become new and fangled with the passage of time.
As every schoolboy knows, the Cotton Bowl comes with a kick-tuchus school art contest each fall (and some of the kids are pretty good). However, The COVID Reaper has struck here as well, according to the bowl website:
Thank you for your interest in our annual Goodyear Cotton Bowl Art Contest. We have been monitoring the situation with COVID-19, and after much consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s art contest. Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the school year ahead, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented situation. We are very disappointed that we are unable to hold this year’s contest for our North Texas students.
The events calendar is empty for 2020; we’ll have to content ourselves with a game between the Big 12 champion and the SEC East title holder, which certainly has the potential to be a barn-burner. The Gators are unimpressed by their opponent, a point we’re featuring to shake the totem on the Sooners’ behalf.
Unless we’ve missed something, OU will go in with a full complement of play-makers as things look right now. Florida skill star Kyle Pitts will be on NFL-prep vay-cay, a presence the Gators will miss. Florida lays 3 in this one.
New Year’s Eve couldn’t be juicier, with three of four games featuring our Inner Circle – and what great seasons they’ve all had.
#24 Tulsa rolls out of the gate, facing Mississippi State in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. The bowl honors military members and families by hosting them at the game, like the First Responder Bowl for emergency workers over east of I-35. Apparently there are still a few general-public tickets available for purchase, if you’re prepared to sit in a pod of exactly two or exactly four people.
We’d certainly sit in a pod for this one, if we could. It’s been a while for Tulsa and bowl action. We wouldn’t even demand anything on the event schedule, which lines up perfectly since there isn’t one.
Tulsa went 6-2 on a full AAC season with some COVID cancellations, matching #8 Cincinnati stride for stride in a conference title game that came down to the final minute; Mississippi State is 3-7 with a string of fairly narrow losses, all to SEC teams. The Tulsa defense is in the FBS elite in some respects this season, a wonderful improvement over 2-3 years ago.
Could be a very good game. The Golden Hurricane is giving 2.5 to the Bulldogs.
The Offerpad Arizona Bowl strikes next, in Tucson, featuring the match-up of Ball State and San Jose State, respectively the champions of the MAC and Mountain West. This off-brand bowl has the makings of a good game with titlists involved from conferences that played a similar number of games. We were kind of used to it being the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl, but we can adapt with the times. Offerpad is a direct-buy service that will collect your home from you when it becomes a little bit de trop around the edges.
We’re gratified to see that there’s a tailgater and a post-game bowl bash with fireworks to go with the action on the field. That’s our feisty Arizona.
SJSU is laying 8.
One of the most venerable of Upper Boogers, the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, unfolds next in Memphis with a collision of West Virginia, pride of the Big 12, and our own Army, Commander’s Trophy winner for 2020. Army was previously scheduled for the now-cancelled Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl in Shreveport, and has apparently replaced Tennessee in the Liberty Bowl, so there’s no telling what kind of Union-Confederate maneuvers were going on behind this one.
But darned if Army didn’t go 9-2 this year, with the losses to Cincinnati and Tulane. The Army defense has improved markedly over the season, and we don’t despair of a good showing against the 5-4 Mountaineers. WVU is laying 7.5.
The Inner Circle rounds off our week for us with TCU meeting Arkansas New Year’s Eve night in the Mercari Texas Bowl at NRG in Houston. Both teams – a fair match on paper – were inconsistent but performed better than expected at key junctures. The Frogs are 6-4 on the season; the Hogs 3-7, mostly woeful on D but with some respectable offensive showings against SEC opponents in almost all their losses.
The bowl sponsor for several years has been Academy Sports + Outdoors, but in 2020 Mercari, a Japanese e-commerce company, has taken over. It’s basically a Japanese eBay, and we wish them all the best. The schedule, including the ever-popular “Rodeo Bowl,” in which the two teams compete in seven pure-fun events, is all TBD at the moment, boding ill for any changes in the next seven days.
TCU is giving 6.
Sufficient unto the week are the bowls thereof. Next week: the New Year’s weekend bowl blast.
Some of these Melancholy Cancellations are downright hurtful. In a year without the Bahamas Bowl, SMOD might as well just go ahead and hit. We’ll miss that darn crazy New Era Pinstripe Bowl. Losing the Fowling Vulnerability Window of the Quick Lane Bowl speaks for itself.
We did hope to find out what a “Guaranteed Rate Bowl” might be. We’re trying not to say “We told you so” on the Gasparilla Bowl: home mortgages instead of riding mowers? Who thought that was a good idea? Cank!
Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl
Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl
Military Bowl Presented by Perspecta
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
Quick Lane Bowl
Las Vegas Bowl