2021-12-23 07:23

And the bowl season has started.

Some strange results, but that's normal for bowls, since those games usually do feature teams not often playing against each other, teams who play under interims conditions, teams playing with less or more motivation than the regular season.

Let's jump into the games.

Friday, December 17
Bahamas Bowl
Middle Tennessee vs Toledo

@Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, NP
Toledo let the game slip away in the 4th quarter.
They were unable to score more than a TD 1 min to end of the game, the rest of the 4th quarter was all MTSU, while Toledo led at the half 17-14.
Overall a quite interesting game, with a quite thrilling end phase, but Toledo did fail on the onside-kick and would have needed a hail Mary afterward anyway.
A good ending for the Blue Raiders, winning 31-24.
Jacks BOWL Score: 0-1

Tailgreeter Cure Bowl
Northern Illinois vs Coastal Carolina

@Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
A nail biter with a strange ending.
The game lead changed quite often, and every team had the chance to win.
NIU led at the half 24-19 and did build the lead further in the 3rd quarter/start of the 4th, but then did Coastal Carolina ignite the afterburner and scored 2 TDs in a row to take the lead back.
NIU fumbled on the next drive but was able to stop CCU after 3-and-out and got a long drive running.
It came down to a 4th and 1 on the CCU 8-yard line with 7 ticks left and NIU did convert the down for a 1st down (which is in the slow-mo not 100% sure) and the zebra does rule it in bounce tackle, while the player went out of bounds in the progress. By rule the game clock starts again when the ball is set (since it was a 1st down and the sticks have to be moved) and basically the 2 ticks left went down and CCU won the game.
It looks all quite strange, since a) maybe the ball was not caught, then turnover on downs. If the ball was caught, it's not 100% clear whether the player stepped out of bounds, but it seems his knee was down on the field and then he sled out of bounds (then the clock would have stopped until the snap) and if it was in bounce, whether the clock was managed the right way (it seems the ball was set, but NIU had to deal with the ref passing through the o-line and the clock was running at that time already). I doubt a different result overall, but still, not good managed in that situation.
Coastal Carolina won 47-41.
Jacks BOWL Score: 1-1

Saturday, December 18 Boca Raton Bowl
Western Kentucky vs Appalachian State

@FAU Stadium, Boca Raton, FL
A very high scoring game and at the end did WKU win this 59-38.
Appalachian State was in the game in the 1st half but did let WKU score 3 TDs in the 3rd quarter and was unable to answer this sufficiently.
WKU QB Bailey Zappe had 6 TD passes in the game and was a major factor for this upset.
Jacks BOWL Score: 1-2

PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl
UTEP vs Fresno State

@University Stadium , Albuquerque, NM
It's very interesting that so far all games were quite open until the half and then somehow it seems the motivation did drop for some teams.
Here also it was open, halftime score was Fresno State leading 19-17.
Then it was at some point 26-24, but the Bulldogs seemed to be a bit more motivated, scoring another FG and recorded also a Safety.
UTEP tried to work against the looming loss but fumbled the ball away and WKU was able to secure the win, winning it 31-24.
Jacks BOWL Score: 2-2

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
UAB vs #13 BYU

@Independence Stadium, Shreveport, LA
This was the most disappointing result so far for me.
BYU had such a good season and then they lost to UAB?
No offense to UAB, but BYU won during the season against later PAC-12 Champ Utah and later MWC-Champ Utah State.
Conference USA is far from the level the PAC-12 or the Mountain West has.
BYU did start bad in this game, found no offense and when the half was over, they trailed 14-21, with all their scores in the 2nd quarter.
Then they even did get an INT of UAB, but overall, they were unable to stop UAB from scoring and on their last drive they did fumble the ball, and by that the game, away.
UAB did win the game 31-28 and I can only congratulate them for that great upset.
BYU did cap their season on a false note.
Jacks BOWL Score: 2-3

LendingTree Bowl
Eastern Michigan vs Liberty

@Hancock Whitney Stadium, Mobile, AL
This was all Liberty and EMU had no chance at all.
At the end of the game the final score was Flames winning 56-20.
The Flames did play offense for 3 quarters and then garbage time did start.
Jacks BOWL Score: 3-3

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel
Utah State vs Oregon State

@SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA
Both teams did play on the same level for the 1st half, with Utah State having the lead 14-10.
Then the Beavers did take a nap and led Utah State take over the game with some FG and a TD in the 3rd, while Oregon State got a missed FG as total result of that quarter.
After that the 4th quarter was all defense and many turnovers, but the offense units were off the field doing whatever.
Utah State won 24-13.
Jacks BOWL Score: 4-3

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
#23 Louisiana vs Marshall

@Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
And the last of the Saturday bowls, with Marshall having their hands full to let the game not slip away.
They did take the lead in the 3rd quarter after a TD, 21-16 at that time.
Now Louisiana got somehow motivated and scored 20 unanswered points in the 4th and win the bowl 36-21.
Overall an interesting game.
Jacks BOWL Score: 5-3

Monday, December 20
Myrtle Beach Bowl Pres. by TaxAct
Old Dominion vs Tulsa

@Brooks Stadium , Conway, SC
It started great for Old Dominion and it then went downhill from there.
The Monarchs did return the initial kickoff from their own endzone to the Tulsa house.
Then Tulsa took over and kept Old Dominion in check and allowed only 3 points further on, until in garbage time the Monarchs did score another TD.
But at that point the Hurricanes did lead by 20 points and at the end won the game 30-17.
Of cause a great finish for Tulsa and a disappointment for Old Dominion.
Jacks BOWL Score: 6-3

Tuesday, December 21
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Kent State vs Wyoming

@Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
Kent State was full into the game until halftime.
They did lead at that time 24-21, even had a missed FG, so they left some points on the field until then.
But after the break did Wyoming got the ball in the 1st drive and scored a TD to take the lead and never gave it away.
They stopped Kent State on the next drive, got the ball back and scored another TD and even it was not clear at that point, but basically the game was over then.
Kent State missed a FG afterwards and was unable to stop Wyoming again and slowly the Cowboys increases the margin, until the final score of 52-38.
Quite disappointing finish for Kent State, after a great season losing the MAC and also losing the bowl, but I guess that's the sometimes-felt cruel sport reality.
Jacks BOWL Score: 7-3

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
UTSA vs #24 San Diego State

@Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
UTSA and SDSU did fight it out quite on the same level, UTSA did draw first blood and did look a bit better in the 1st half, but SDSU did overcome the deficit late in the 2nd quarter and did extent then the lead to 31-17 late in the 3rd quarter.
UTSA tried to come back and got a TD basically at the end of the 3rd, but then San Diego was able to fend off the Roadrunners ambitions for a comeback and scored a TD to seal the win.
The Aztecs won 38-24.
Jacks BOWL Score: 7-4

Wednesday, December 22
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
Missouri vs Army

@Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX
I can't describe the feeling I had when I did read the result of that game.
Well, Army did beat Missouri on a last second field goal, 24-22.
The road to that final climax was a rocky back and forth game.
Mizzou went ahead 10-0 thanks to a missed FG by Army.
Then Army did their things a bit together and scored, but Mizzou was able to score 2 more FGs, so the Tigers led 16-7.
That went as expected.
Then Army did something unexpected, they kicked an onside kick starting the 2nd half, recovered it and managed to get a long drive together, finishing it with a TD. 16-14.
And Missouri did leave something in the locker room and did not manage to answer that long drive.
Army got the ball back and scored again, now leading 21-16.
Then a period of no-scoring drives started in which no team was able to get things done, until Missouri managed to score a touchdown with a failed 2-pointer, 22-21.
Army got the ball back for their final drive and managed marge roughly 50 yards over the field and to kick that FG.
A tremendous win for Army and Missouri did against prove to be not reliable as it seems.
Jacks BOWL Score: 7-5

The 1st wave is now over, and the results are mixed, as expected.

Now let's get to the 2nd wave of Bowl games.

Thursday, December 23
Frisco Football Classic
North Texas vs Miami (OH)

Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
This is the bowl game created this season to give all eligible teams a spot.
This could be interpretated as substitution of the San Francisco Bowl game, which was canceled for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.
But officially this game was 'created' shortly before the regular season did end, thanks to a change in the bowl rules.
Before the change the period for a new bowl was quite long, now they can actually create bowls on demand (if they find places to play of course).
The Bowl features a MAC team with a 6-6 record vs a CUSA team with a 6-6 record.
Both teams did also play 5-3 inside their conferences.
Miami is favored by 3.0 points, which is almost nothing.
North Texas did win their last 5 games to get into this bowl, while Miami won 3 of 5.
Most impressive from North Texas was their last game, winning against later CUSA Champ UTSA.
THAT is a great argument to see North Texas as potential winner here.
I'm really not sure what to make out of this, but I'm actually leaning towards the Mean Green.
I expect a close game and any winner will not surprise me.
Mean Green win.

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl
UCF vs Florida

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
This bowl was canceled last season, because of the COVID-19 situation, but will happen this year.
The tie-ins were negotiated quite wide open since 2020, so basically this means the bowl organizer can s e l e c t teams assumed to draw some attention and willing to participate.
This season we have likely some sort of homerun setup, featuring two Florida teams, Central Florida from Orlando (from the American Conference) vs Florida from Gainesville (from the SEC) playing in the stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It's reported the game is sold out the first time in history (since 2008).
The Gators had a rough season, which led to a fired HC and thanks to a win against FSU on the last gameday they are now in this game.
UCF played a good season, but inside the conference only 5-3, but won of the last 6 games 5 matches.
So, we will see some sort of rivalry game here, with both campus been apart roughly 100 miles.
Florida is favored by 6.5 points, but I'm not sure how much of this is SEC vs American.
UCF did play really well and should give the Gators a lot to think about.
Their HC is a former SEC coach, so he should know how to prepare the team.
Likely this will come down to motivation and who gets the feet better on the ground in terms of execution and mental fitness.
I go with the underdog here, still skeptical regarding the Gators team inside the rough transition under interims HC guidance.
Golden Knights win.

Friday, December 24
EasyPost Hawai'i Bowl
Memphis vs Hawai'i

Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, Honolulu, HI
This bowl was also canceled last season because of COVID-19.
Now we have it again and it is a bit of a downer.
Played basically on the practice field of the Rainbows, since the regular stadium has major problems and will likely be replaced.
The field has only 9.000 seats this season and will be expanded next season to 15.000 to fulfill the minimum demands of the FBS football rules.
On top of that it features an American vs a Mountain West team and got of cause Hawaii as preferred playing team inside the bowl (9 times in, 5 wins) with a 6-7 record, which led to again the check whether a team with negative record can participate or not.
But since the team DID win 6 games and the 7th loss was due to the week zero game, it was OK, stating that if a spot is available, they would be the number one preferred team. Not a clear 'you are in' but at the end they are in.
As opponent they have Memphis with a 6-6 record.
Memphis is on a down season by that and I was really worried.
They lost 3 of their last 5, while Hawaii did win the same amount, but only to end the season with 2 wins.
Memphis is favored by 7.0 points.
I doubt this will get so far apart.
Hawaii as home team will have some boost, but the field .... not sure it will help or not.
Likely it will help Hawaii more than not.
This looks like a coin toss game.
Rainbow Warriors win.

Saturday, December 25
TaxAct Camellia Bowl
Georgia State vs Ball State

@Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL
This is played since 2014 and features usually Sun Belt vs MAC.
The bowl is owned by ESPN.
It features the 6-6 Ball State against the 7-5 Georgia State.
Ball State won last season the MAC but fell short this season finishing only 4-4 inside the conference.
Georgia State did finish 6-2 inside the conference but did not made it to the conference finale.
Georgia State did start bad but finished strong and is therefore favored by 4.5 points.
Ball State really needs to step up here, from my point of view.
Not sure they can do it.
Location should help Georgia State with Ball State playing usually in cold weather Indiana.
Expect a close one.
Panthers win.

Monday, December 27
Quick Lane Bowl
Western Michigan vs Nevada

@Ford Field, Detroit, MI
The 2020 version was not played, but this season the bowl is back.
The bowl exists since 2014 and did feature several teams from several conferences, usually from the ACC, Big 10 and the MAC.
This season we have Nevada from the Mountain West with a 8-4 record facing Western Michigan from the MAC, having a 7-5 record.
Nevada plays under interims reign, which will cause unknown effects.
Under best conditions, Nevada should be a heavy favorite.
But Vegas has Western Michigan as 6.0 favorite.
WMU did beat later MAC Champ NIU on the last gameday, which is for sure an impressive win, compared to their season achievement until then.
Nevada did play the contenders inside their conference in the last few games, but lost close games.
I did favor Nevada here, but their starting QB skips the bowl, which changes everything.
My gut feeling is, we will see some great matchup and a close one.
By the way, a MAC team has never won this bowl before. We could see a series break here.
Broncos win.

Military Bowl Presented by Peraton
Boston College vs East Carolina

@Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
Another bowl not being played in 2020.
Created in 2008 this should feature until 2025/2026 season an ACC vs AAC matchup.
And hurray, we have one.
It's played on the homefield of the Midshipmen.
Boston College had a 6-6 season so far, winning only 2 games inside the ACC.
East Carolina won 7-5 games, 5-3 inside the conference.
The Pirates did already play inside this bowl in 2010 but lost.
This season they are 3.0-point underdog, but I think they have the tools to win here.
Likely this game will come down to the typical bowl preparation and motivation uncertainties.
Often teams do play different in bowls, maybe because they do not take the game seriously or do underestimate the opponent.
Which team is effected is hard to predict.
Both teams need this win, since they did not have much to cheer about during the season.
A group of 5 team is often underestimated in such matchups.
I give East Carolina my pick.
Pirates win.

Tuesday, December 28
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
#20 Houston vs Auburn

@Protective Stadium, Birmingham, AL
This bowl exists since 2006 and was also skipped in 2020.
It should feature a SEC team vs an American Conference team.
With Auburn (6-6) we have a team which did play tough but lost some crucial games, especially 4 in a row inside the SEC. Their game against Alabama did crumble to an OT-loss in the last quarter and the 4OTs, which was for sure disappointing.
Houston on the other side had a great season inside their conference (total 11-2) but lost the championship game.
We will likely see a great game here, both teams should have some offense power.
Auburn did change their OC, so not sure what to make out of this.
Location is more a home game for Auburn, so no wonder the Tigers are favored here, but only by 2.5 points.
I'm torn between my wish (Houston) and the stereotype SEC vs group of 5 matchup mindset (Auburn).
Overall, I can see both teams win here, but Auburns small pro points are more than the con points, from my point of view.
Tigers win.

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Air Force vs Louisville

@Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
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.
This season we actually getting an ACC team, Louisville (6-6), against a MWC team, Air Force (9-3).
The season of Louisville was quite disappointing and their level of competition did lack the strength of former years.
They did close the regular season with a loss in their rival game against Kentucky.
Air Force did play a quite good season, with only 2 real bad things.
The 1st is, they lost to Army, which cost them the Commander-In-Chief-Trophy.
The 2nd is, they lost to Utah State in a high scoring game, which did cost them a spot in the Championship game.
The Aggies and the Falcons did finish with the same conference record (6-2), but the direct compare did help Utah State to win the Championship.
Now that means all nothing, since they meet Louisville, and those compares are always hard.
Louisville gets the favorite nod by 1.5 points, which is basically nothing.
I go with the Falcons here, since they did so far accomplish a lot and should be higher motivated.
Not sure how motivated Louisville will be.
I think both teams can win, sure, but I think with Air Force playing good on both sides, the likelihood of a Cardinals win is just smaller here.
Falcons win.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Mississippi State vs Texas Tech

@Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
Welcome to the home field of the Memphis Tigers.
This bowl is played since 1959.
It got the matchup it did look for Big 12 vs SEC, but honestly, I'm not thrilled.
Mississippi State is a bit away from the thrilling team I expect under Leach as HC and Texas Tech did fire their HC after 2/3 of the season and the interims coach will leave for another team to become the HC there.
This could mean the guys will play their hearts out, or just want to get over this.
A 7-5 SEC team vs a 6-6 Big 12 team should always mean the SEC gets the nod, right?
Well, at least this time it is that way, MSU is favored by 8.5 points.
I will not bet against this; Mike Leach will very likely win big here against his former team.
Bulldogs win.

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
UCLA vs #18 NC State

@Petco Park, San Diego, CA
Last season this game was canceled, this season they do play the 1st time inside the Baseball stadium of the San Diego Pirates, since the former home, the stadium of the Chargers, was demolished.
The bowl exists since 1978 and should feature a PAC-12 team vs a ACC team.
Lucky us, we got it that way and we will see a UCLA team (8-4), which seems to get the transition slowly done into a South California version of the Oregon Ducks, thanks to their HC Chip Kelly, former Ducks coach, and we will see an NC State team (9-3), which had one of their best seasons so far, but failed to get into the ACC Championship game.
My initial feeling was NC State all the way, but Vegas has them only as 1.0-point favorite.
Sure the location is heavily in UCLA favor, but will this be enough to overcome the lack of consistency?
UCLA did play in this game in the past before, but also this won't help much.
NC State has a strong defense and I expect them to keep the UCLA offense enough under control to outscore the Bruins in a high scoring game.
Wolfpack win.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl
West Virginia vs Minnesota

@Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
This bowl is played since 1989 and it is played as you-buy-it-you-name-it-bowl.
It had several names in the past, from several sponsors.
Regardless, they play in the home stadium of the Arizona Diamondbacks, also a baseball team, and it features a Big 12 vs Big 10 team.
This years version looks quite interesting, since both team had some struggling during the season but finished OK.
West Virginia (6-6) did finish with 2 wins to get into a bowl, Minnesota (8-4) did finish also with 2 wins, after they already were bowl eligible and dropped 2 in a row afterwards.
The Mountaineers did play in this bowl twice before and split the results, Minnesota came here three times before and lost all matches.
The Gophers are favored by 4.0 points, which is fair, I think.
It will be tough for both teams to play here, Minnesota seems to be a bit better suited in general for road games than West Virginia.
I hope for a close one, but I think Minnesota will likely control this fast and then manage the time good enough to stay on top.
Golden Gophers win.

Wednesday, December 29
Wasabi Fenway Bowl
SMU vs Virginia

@Fenway Park, Boston, MA
A new bowl, going on in the stadium of the Boston Red Sox.
Fenway Park is a very old Baseball Stadium, which many Americans like a lot, because it's some sort of history.
The bowl was planned to debut in 2020, but COVID-19 did crossed that out and hopefully we will see it this season.
The matchup is as planned, ACC vs American and they got quite good playing SMU (8-4) against a quite good playing Virginia team (6-6).
Both teams will have a new HC next season, SMU is already under interims reign, because their HC did accept the gig at TCU.
Virginia HC will step down after the bowl.
The line is in favor of Virginia, with 2.5 points, but their results in the last 5 games were bad, they lost 4 games straight.
Sure those were quite challenging games against ranked teams, still beatable teams.
SMU was also not great in the last 5 games, sinking also 4 games, but only the last 2 straight.
I think Virginia has some points, which should make them more motivated.
Their HCs last game, a chance to stop the losing streak, and a game against a seemingly weaker team.
I would not be surprised to see SMU winning, but out of 10 games I would expect Virginia winning at least 6. Hence. ...
Cavaliers win.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Maryland vs Virginia Tech

@Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
The Pinstripe Bowl was not played in 2020, because of the COVID-19-cancalations, but it's played since 2010.
It should feature an ACC team against a BIG 10 team.
Played inside the Baseball stadium of the NY Yankees, this should draw some attention by that already.
The matchup itself is quite lame, from my point of view, since Maryland finished so far 6-6, 3-6 inside the conference and Virginia Tech did finish also only 6-6, 4-4 inside the conference, which was so disappointing that they did fire their HC.
So the Hokies under interims reign and Maryland with a so-so-season, which still was an improvement compared to former seasons.
Guess who the favorite in this is!
Vegas has Maryland at 3.5 points favorite, but the majority of the ESPN consumers favor VT. Hmmm.
I think Maryland has all the tools to win here, if they come out motivated.
VT at 100% is a real match and could win here, I just think they will not have that (or I hope that way, who knows).
Terrapins win.

Cheez-It Bowl
#19 Clemson vs Iowa State

@Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
This bowl here is operated since 1990 and had some many names during that time it is useless to write them all down.
Another 'sponsor buys the naming rights'-bowl.
For me, that sounds not good to setup a brand, from the bowl point of view, but I guess there is always another company willing to take a gamble on the naming rights.
Usually it's ACC vs Big12, and we have that kind of game again this season.
The Clemson Tigers had a quite rough season compared to their past few.
They finished 'only' 9-3, missed the championship game and lost inside the conference 2 times.
They won their last 5 straight and seemed to get better and more in sync with their offense.
The Iowa State Cyclones did finish 7-5 and did finish a bit below expectations.
They lost 3 of 5 last games.
For me surprisingly is Clemson only favored by 1.0 points.
That's quite low for a ranked team, playing in a warm weather condition bowl against a cold weather team with a significant lower winning record.
Iowa State is a dangerous team, no doubt, they have won games in the past few seasons as underdogs, but still, this season they had problems to get things done and they play an improving Clemson team.
I will not bet against Clemson in this.
It might become a close game, but I think Clemson should win this.
Tigers win.

Valero Alamo Bowl
#14 Oregon vs #16 Oklahoma

@Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
The dome in San Antonio is the home of the Spurs, the Basketball team, and they play in only half of the dome as far as I know.
Initially the dome was built to get an NFL team to San Antonio, but they still wait for that and with new build domes are now way fancier, I guess they will never see an NFL team playing there regularly.
The Alamo bowl is played since 1993 and does feature Big12 vs PAC12.
An interesting matchup, Oregon did play 10-3 this season, including the loss in the PAC-12-Championship game, against Oklahoma, who played 10-2 and missed the championship game, because of the direct compare to later BIG-12-Champ Baylor.
Oregon lost their coach (went to Miami) and Oklahoma did also lose their coach (went to USC), so an interims coach led bowl.
My gut feeling is, Oklahoma is better suited to win here, since Oregon had some problems with tough teams, since they won against Ohio State very long ago.
They lost twice against Utah, big time each.
Oklahoma did lose a close one against Oklahoma State and a bit more clearly against Baylor.
The main driver will be motivation and the transition in the situation the teams are in.
Tough call, everything is possible.
Oklahoma should be a bit better suited here, given the overall situation, from my point of view, so ...
Sooners win.

That's it for the 2nd wave of Bowl games.

'Til next time

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