2020-12-24 10:10

The first few Bowls got their kickoffs.

Before I get into those, one additional crazy info in this crazy time.
The Army Black Knights had a very good season this year, finishing 9-2, won against the 2 other military academies ... almost perfect.
Except those independent military teams often have only 1 bowl spot by contract to participate, if not making the playoff-bowls.
So no wonder when the bowl spots were filled with whichever team was still willing to play, Army was a bit pissed when they realized their BOWL of this year was canceled and no other bowl did invite them.
That was on Sunday.
On Monday the Tennessee Volunteers got the message their team has Covid-19-problems, including the HC, and the team will not play in the bowl they were invited to.
Guess what, the bowl organization did invite Army as replacement to play in that bowl, the Liberty Bowl.
All good now?
We will see.

The next Bowl, which fell to Covid is Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl, which was canceled after South Carolina did report several Covid-19-cases on the coaching stuff, which would have meant the players would be without coaches, except the interim HC.
The Gamecocks did inform the Bowl and they did not find a substitution team (for whatever reason) and decided to cancel the bowl.
Planned opponent of South Carolina would have been CUSA Champ UAB Blazers.
I did already a text on that game and pick the Blazers in a coin toss decision, but we will never know, what would have happened.
Bad luck for UAB, but maybe they get a substitution spot on the eventually next effected Bowl game, like Army did.

There are some news that some teams invited for other bowls do also have Covid-19-cases, so likely we have to wait, whether some of the still planned to be played bowls will actually happen.
Worst case scenario from sports point of view would be that the playoffs will be effected.

I hoped the players and coaches would find some routine in avoiding contacts and play in some sort of campus bubble, but it seems the teams did not and the cases just happen, again and again.

Myrtle Beach Bowl
Appalachian State vs North Texas

This bowl went a bit as expected, Appalachian State did kill North Texas, 56-28.
Biggest winner of the day was Mountaineer RB Camerun Peoples with 22 carries and 317 yards on the ground, scoring 5 TDs.
Overall had App State 500 yards rushing with an average of 12.8 yards per carry.
The Mean Green had no chance.
Jacks BOWL Score: 1-0

Tuesday, December 22
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Tulane vs Nevada

As expected did Nevada win here, 38-27.
They had a very strong 1st half, leading 26-7, but Tulane did fight back in the 3rd and held the Wolf Pack scoreless closing the gap to 26-20.
But a Tulane INT beginning of the 4th quarter did turn things again in favor of Nevada, who scored a TD after that INT.
Next few possessions were all Punt drives for both sides until Nevada did score another TD and Tulane had only 4 minutes left to force the turnaround which did not happen.
Jacks BOWL Score: 2-0

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

BYU did close the season with a big win over UCF, winning 49-23.
UCF never had a chance, trailing after the 1st quarter 0-21 already and it did not become better in the next quarters.
BYU was able to score almost on every drive, while UCF did show some flashes, but were held to punts way too often.
A great season for BYU, even it was a bit different than their usual one.
Jacks BOWL Score: 3-0

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

Georgia Southern did dominate the Bulldogs all over the length of the game and won 38-3.
LT did score only a FG in the 2nd, the rest was all Eagles.
The Georgia team had 322 yards rushing, while LT had less than 250 total and 4 INTs.
Jacks BOWL Score: 4-0

Wednesday, December 23
Montgomery Bowl
Memphis vs Florida Atlantic

Memphis did lead at the half 18-0.
Then in the 3rd did Florida tried to make an effort and shorten the gap to 18-10.
But Memphis scored a TD afterwards for the final score of 25-10.
Seems that score did break FAUs neck.
Jacks BOWL Score: 5-0

Ok, those were the Bowls until 23rd, now we look at the next set of Bowls until 26th of December.

Thursday, December 24
New Mexico Bowl
Hawai'i vs Houston

@Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Usually this game is scheduled on campus of the New Mexico Lobos (since the start at 2006), but because of Covid-19, we have it this year in Texas.
Seems like Texas becomes somehow the refugee state for Bowls. Not sure that's a good thing, but rules are rules, I guess.
The stadium is just a 20.500 people home of MLS club FC Dallas, a soccer pro team.
It's a ESPN operated bowl and usually fields teams from MWC and CUSA.
This season we have a quite good quality matchup with Hawai'i from the MWC (4-4) against Houston from the American (3-4).
Yes the record do look mid-level, but remember they played less games and they did mostly only play inside the conference, where both teams did lose against the contenders, but won against other teams, obviously.
Houston has of cause a huge advantage just with traveling and playing in Texas. It's not the home field, but way better than thousands of miles away from home in different time zones and stuff like that.
The Cougars are 13.0 point favorite to win this and I'm willing to believe they will win here.
If only there was this little voice saying that the Cougars are prone to collapse for no reason.
Actually collapsing is not the right word, more of not-concentrated-and-motivated-at-the-start-and-too-late-to-wake-up-and-turn-it-around like they were against Memphis, which they lost by 3.
So, it comes down to how Houston will advance this game, sloppy or focused.
The focused Cougars will win, no doubt.
The sloppy ones, will have a hard time.
Cougars win.

Friday, December 25
Camellia Bowl
Marshall vs Buffalo

@Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, Alabama
This is played since 2014 and features usually Sun Belt vs MAC.
The bowl is owned by ESPN.
This season we have the 1st time no Sun Belt team at all in the matchup.
Marshall did just lose the Conference Championship game against UAB inside the CUSA and has a 7-2 record.
Buffalo did just lose the MAC Championship game against Ball State and finished 5-1 so far.
The Bulls are favored by 3.5 points, which is not much.
Weather could be a factor, but both teams are more cold weather area teams playing in warmer Alabama. Buffalo might have more issues to adjust.
This might become a very open game until the end.
I think Buffalo as small edge here, with their good rushing game, and I'm not sure Marshall can control that as Ball State did.
Bulls win.

Saturday, December 26
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
#19 Louisiana vs UTSA

@Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, Texas
Operated since 2010, this had shifting tie ins, usually some power 5 school vs group of 5 school as intention, but the actual matchups did usually never match the intention.
Same this season, and we got a Sun Belt vs CUSA, with a Sun Belt tie in never anticipated.
Louisiana did not play their championship game and are named co-champs of Sun Belt with a 9-1 record, while UTSA has a 7-4 record and finished 2nd in their division behind later Champ UAB.
Louisiana got ranked quite early in the season and when they were tossed out of the TOP25 after their only loss of the season they did fight back into it later.
Therefore it's not a big surprise that this team is 14.0 point favorite in this game here against a Texas team which lost 4 games inside the worst conference of FBS.
To be fair, 2 losses were against independent BYU and Army, both winning teams.
Overall there is not much room to argue, to make case for UTSA.
They play on the field of SMU, inside Texas, which might give them some extra, but likely not much.
Louisiana looks clearly a stronger team here.
I only see the Ragin' Cajuns fall here, if UTSA does play a pefect game, of Lousiana does not play 100%.
This can happen, it happens every season, but predicting this is lottery.
Ragin' Cajuns win.

Saturday, December 26
LendingTree Bowl
Western Kentucky vs Georgia State

@Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama
When I read this bowl my first reaction was: WTF, if you know what I mean.
Can't remember it was named that way already last season, but this is the former GoDaddy- and Dollar General-Bowl, if that rings a bell.
It exists since 1999 and is usually a group of 5 vs group of 5 bowl.
They play it in the former home of the South Alabama Jaguars.
We have this season 5-6 CUSA Western Kentucky against 5-4 Sun Belt Georgia State.
This is not really a high-flying matchup, at least not for me.
Georgia State is 3.5 point favorite, but I'm not sure they are this way favored, because they are thought to win, or someone had to be picked as favorite ...
Both teams did not look very good and in a normal season I guess both would not play inside a bowl, but here we are.
Both teams did lose more or less against stronger teams and won the mid level and low level fights, so .... pick a winner ....
To pick an upset once I pick WKU.
Hilltoppers win.

Saturday, December 26
FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl
Liberty vs #12 Coastal Carolina

@Camping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida
Played in the former home of UCF and the regular host of the Citrus bowl.
The bowl exists since 2015 and usually has American vs Sun Belt.
This season we have a very unique matchup with Liberty being a quite unknown independent college vs the Sun Belt Co-Champ of Coastal Carolina.
Liberty finished with just 1 loss became ranked for a few weeks after they have beaten Syracuse and Virginia Tech.
Once they lost against NC State (by 1 point) they fell from the ranks and finished 9-1.
CCU did gain some recognition, once they kept winning and beat better Sun Belt teams, especially at that time ranked Louisiana.
They kept winning every game and got the last laugh when they did beat ranked BYU in an substitution game, which was intended by BYU to put THEM in the playoffs, but at the end it did put CCU into the TOP15.
The Chanticleers are favored by 7.0 points and I'm willing to take that pick.
Chanticleers win.

Another news just came in, the Auburn Tigers did pick Bryan Harsin as new HC. Harsin was until now the HC of Boise State since Chris Petersen left for Washington after 2013 season.
Before that was Harsin for 1 season HC of Arkansas State.
He has at Boise State a record of 69–19 so far, won 3 Conference Championships in 7 seasons and 3 bowls out of 5 (the 6th was canceled because of weather and the 7th not played yet this season).
He was also some time OC at Texas, so national recruiting should be not too new for him.
Whether this is a good or bad hire, we will see. He is mid-40, so young compared to other SEC coaches.

And Terry Bowden was named new HC of Louisiana-Monroe. Bowden had great success with Auburn in the 90s, but when he did return to coaches he only got small school offers, latest was at Akron, where he did lead Akron to their 1st Bowl win ever.
Since he left the program did take a dive, so he did likely create a better environment there than his negative record there does show.
Akron is a quite harsh football program, not known for winning.
Same is true for Louisiana-Monroe, a quite small program inside the Sun Belt.

And latest news is that New England Patriots QB coach Jedd Fisch will become the new HC of Arizona Wildcats. A challenging job he gets there.
Wildcats are more of a Basketball university and he mid-level success in the past decade.
In 2017 he was for 2 games interims HC at UCLA, but other than that he was never a HC before.

'Til next time

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