2020-12-21 12:34

The conference finals went into the book and we will face now the bowl season, which will be of cause different that the past seasons.

But before I write about the Bowls, here the conference finals and other game:

UAB did win the Conference USA by beating Marshall 22-13. The favored Herd was ineffective in the 1st half, but trailed only 0-9, got a TD in the 3rd quarter to get to 7-9 and then the game went a bit wild. UAB scored 2 more FGs in the 4th to extend the lead to 15-7, Marshall had 1 big play for a TD (failed 2-point-conversion) and UAB got the ball back at 15-13. On 3rd and 6 did UAB get a big play and scored a TD for the final score. Marshall did try to get back into the game, but the Dragons defense did hold their ground and won their 2nd conference title in 3 seasons.
Ball State won the MAC Championship by beating Buffalo 38-28. That game was open and a scoring firework in the 1st half, with Ball State coming out as winner at 35-21 at that point. Not bad as the underdog. Buffalo did allow a lot of big plays and the pass defense was sometimes very bad with the Cardinals taking advantage of that. The 2nd half was more or less the opposite of that. Buffalo did score 1 TD, Ball State 1 FG, which did lead to the final score, but overall that half was most of the time defense. Last time the Cardinals won the MAC was 1996 and since then did 3 coaches try and the 4th did deliver.
Oregon did beat USC for the PAC12 crown as underdog with 31-24. The Ducks did look a bit stronger over the whole game length scoring just a bit more often than the Trojans and even the Ducks did lose the 4th quarter 3-7, overall it was enough too secure the win and wrap up the 2nd conference title in the past 2 years. A quite unique one, since they failed to win the division, but at the end, likely no one will ask. Washington will likely mourn about that missed opportunity forever.
Ohio State did need some time, but at the end they won against Northwestern 22-10 to win the BIG10 Championship. Until halftime this game was wide open, with a slightly advantage on the Wildcats side. But the 2nd half was all Ohio State, even it was not that convincing as many did wish for or did like to see it. For me this was not a TOP4 team winning their conference, but I'm not in the committee, so ..... Ohio State won now the gazillion championship in a row (just 4th, but feels like forever).
And while we war talking about a long lasting defending champion, Oklahoma did again win the BIG12 Championship, this time against Iowa State 27-21, their 6th in a row. The Cyclones did actually lose this one more than Oklahoma did win this. The Cyclones QB had the worst game of this season, and not because of Oklahoma’s great defense. The Sooners played well, no doubt, but the QB did just miss passes, made bad decisions and failed in crucial moments. They did play better in 2nd half and almost got a comeback going, but that poor QB play did catchup and sealed the game with about a minute to play.
Next upset in a conference final did made San Jose State Mountain West Champ, when they beat favored Boise State 34-20. Boise State did not look that good over the whole game, the Spartans had often a bit more juice and did score more often. It's the 1st conference title for them in the Mountain West and their 1st since 1991. Their HC made a bad team into a winner, so we will see, whether he will get offers from bigger schools soon.
Cincinnati had their hands full with fighting off Tulsa, but they prevailed and won the American Conference 27-24. The Bearcats lead by 7 at the half, but Tulsa got close tied the game an 24 with about 3 and a half minutes left to play. Cincinnati did drive down the field and kicked the game winner with time running out. Their 2nd title in that conference ever and their last was 2014.
Clemson did cut Notre Dame in pieces winning their 1 millionth (well, just 6th in reality) ACC Championship in a row with 34-10. Notre Dame did score on their 1st drive and then again late in the 4th down 34-3 in garbage time. That was not a TOP4 team.
Alabama and Florida did battle it out, at the end did the Crimson Tide win their next SEC Championship with a score of 52-46. Last season LSU did win it.
And the last Conference Championship game was canceled, because of Covid-19, and both teams, Louisiana and Coastal Carolina were named Co-Champs. A better solution then the PAC12-method, I think.
Army did win against Air Force in a defense battle 10-7 and wins the Commander-In-Chief-Trophy.
And Wisconsin did win against Minnesota the battle for 'Paul Bunyan’s Axe' 20-17 in OT and kept the trophy that way.
Stanford did play UCLA and won in 2OT 48-47. That win does actually put Stanford even ahead of now PAC12-Champ Oregon inside the division, but ... well, too late.

Overall 10 games were canceled on that weekend.

Now let's talk about playoffs.
With Alabamas win, they are in, for sure.
Clemson as ACC Champ, former #3 winning against former #2 in a high flying way, are in also.
And now it could have gone interesting.
We have Ohio State as former #4 winning the BIG10, but in a quite lame way.
We have the former #2 losing in a big way against former #3, so Notre Dame should be in or out?
We have a BIG12 Champ Oklahoma winning against a higher ranked team, so is that enough to leap frog all other teams?
Then we have as outside chance Cincinnati winning the AAC against a ranked team, but not very convincing.
And we have Texas A&M winning against Tennessee this week to maintain their 1-loss-rank.
So, who is #3 and #4?

The committee is meant to put in the 4 strongest teams.
My personal take here is, I would have put Notre Dame out and Texas A&M in, Ohio State at #3.
Ohio State did win their conference, and with a lack of more data of more games, this is a good guess.
Notre Dame did look bad and lost to Clemson, while Texas A&M did lose only to Alabama during the season, but won against Florida.

Well, to make this short:
Ohio State was ranked #3 and Notre Dame was ranked #4.

Therefore, we have as Semis:
Alabama vs Notre Dame
Clemson vs Ohio State

That's it with the regular season. Now the Bowl season starts and it actually starts TODAY!

Before I get into some details, remember that last season we had 40 Bowls, including the Semis and the CFP-Final.
Right now we have this season 29 Bowls, which is a very low number since ages.
The reason for that are wide spread. Some bowls were on the brick of cancelation anyhow, due lack of sponsorship and other factors. The pandemic did made that decision much easier.
Some did cancel due to traveling restrictions in Covid-19-times.
Some did cancel due not enough teams being available, since several bigger teams did announce already to decline any invitation and closing the season early.
We have 1 new bowl and 1 substitute bowl this season, and we have right now 1 bowl without teams, not officially canceled.

In addition did the Rose Bowl move from California to Texas thanks to visitors restrictions and some pressure by teams. It's one of the Semis this season. A bit of a shame, but I don’t know what would have been a better solution. Playing it as ghost game and keep the tradition site intact and the streak? Playing it in Texas and keep the streak as bowl intact, but lose the traditional site? Not playing it at all and lose the streak?
My guess is, they did argue over the pros and cons, but the money did lead to the current decision and they did keep that way the bowl streak intact, only to have it (hopefully) played in Texas once.

Monday, December 21
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Appalachian State vs North Texas

@Brooks Stadium , Conway, South Carolina
A new Bowl in the year of so many canceled bowls.
It is as it is.
They play in the stadium of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers football.
The bowl is owned by ESPN and has conference tie ins with Conference USA, SUN BELT and the MAC.
So fitting the game is between Appalachian State from SUN BELT and the North Texas team from CUSA.
Remember there were no restrictions on the bowl participants, hence North Texas with a 4-5 record does play here against a much better team, at least on paper.
The Mountaineers are 8-3 under their new HC and are 21.0 points favorite to win this.
In the past did North Texas play some good seasons, but this year they are mid level at best inside their conference, which is right now the worst in FBS.
Appalachian State was close to play inside the conference championship game, so they are quite good.
I expect a beating for the Mean Green, becoming the Meat Green, as in old burger patty.
Mountaineers win.

Tuesday, December 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Tulane vs Nevada

@Albertsons Stadium, Boise, Idaho
This is a quite long running bowl, since 1997, and it's played on the smurf turf field of Boise State Broncos.
It's basically a Mountain West bowl with some other team invited, this season from the American Athletic.
Tulane is a bit in a rebuilding mode since some seasons after several very bad seasons and finished 6-5.
They won the last 2 bowls, 2018 and 2019.
Nevada on the other hand finished 6-2, which is very good for them since some time and they did almost play for the MWC championship.
Before that they were more a mid-level team.
Tulane is favored by 3.0 points in this and I think we can expect a close one, still I think Nevada did show some great games this season, while Tulane did unfortunately lose some key games.
So I pick Nevada to win this.
Most crucial thing here is, which team is more focused on that short notice game?
Wolf Pack win.

Tuesday, December 22 Boca Raton Bowl
UCF vs #16 BYU

@FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, Florida
A bowl since 2014 it's a game between always new negotiated conference tie ins, usually for 2 seasons.
It's played on the home field of the Florida Atlantic Owls.
This season we see a quite high valued matchup compared to former games.
UCF did win the American (and selves claimed National Title) some seasons ago, but 2019 and 2020 were a bit more rocky.
This season they finished 6-3, which is the worst record by their HC in his 3 seasons.
BYU did play as independent against any team willing to play against them in this complicated season and won all games except 1 game.
They had hoped to get a shot in the playoffs, but their loss against CCU did put them into the mid field of the TOP25.
Playing UCF will be a good test for the team and I think it will be closer than the betting line of -7.0 does suggest.
Because I think BYU might not be as strong as they want everyone to believe they are.
Still, I did pick the Cougars, since they DID win a lot of games and UCF DID lose some more than BYU did.
Weather conditions and the short notice of preparation could turn this game upside down.
Cougars win.

Wednesday, December 23
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana Tech vs Georgia Southern

@Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
This exists since 2001 and is a SUN BELT vs Conference USA game.
The 5-4 Louisiana Tech did not bring their A-game this season and they will face 7-5 Georgia Southern.
Not the best matchup I could imagine.
Georgia Southern is favored by 6.0 points and my gut says I should add a few more on that.
LT did just not convince me playing on the same level as Georgia Southern.
Granted, the Eagles did lose all critical games, but having them face off against LT just screams Eagles win.
The Bulldogs did play some good games, they won actually against the now crowned CUSA champ UAB, but they also lost several games against stronger teams, with a big margin.
I think it will heavily depend on the prep and the motivation. I pick Georgia Southern, but my rational mind says it will be closer than the betting line.
Eagles win.

Wednesday, December 23
Montgomery Bowl
Memphis vs Florida Atlantic

@Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
Another new bowl, owned by ESPN and officially called a substitution game for the planned Fenway Bowl, which is now planned to start in 2021.
Complicated stuff. And to confuse everyone, this sentence: The Montgomery Bowl is played in the Crampton Bowl, which also hosts the Camellia Bowl, later.
Got it?
Well, that stadium is since a few seasons home of the Camellia Bowl, and also home of FCS team Alabama State Hornets.
Memphis (7-3) as AAC team is 9.5 points favorite to win this against FAU (5-3) from CUSA.
I would like to say, ONLY 9.5 points, because FAU under the new HC is far from the FAU they were the last 2 seasons.
They do face a team from Tennessee, which is actually on the edge to become a very good team and might get at some point 'promoted' to a power5 conference.
It's not their best season, this year, but they played quite good and my feeling is, they will play much better than FAU.
Not sure any team gets a bonus on traveling or weather conditions, I think that's quite evenly matched.
My take is, Memphis will only fall, if they play sloppy football.
Tigers win.

'Til next time

PS: 300th post on that blog.

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