2021-12-30 14:22

Looks like COVID-19 now makes an impact on the bowl season and it might have a major impact on the college football playoffs.
The omicron variation of the virus is spreading fast and the semi-finals will be played end of December, soon.
Several bowls got canceled or if lucky a replacement, but the longer the bowl season goes on, the more unlikely it becomes to find a replacement.

But before I start with the recaps of the last weeks bowls, I own you the name of the so far last HC spot open.

After my recap of the Army-Navy-game I did name every new HC knows that far, but Temple was open, when I posted the text.
Then I was busy preparing the bowl games, and the message of the new HC did slip.
Basically, a day after I did post my text with the coaches did Temple name Stan Drayton as their new HC, that's roughly 2 weeks ago.
He is a long-time position coach at RB and did serve since 2017 at Texas as such, but also as assistant HC and run game coordinator and was surprisingly kept when the last HC change at Texas was done.
I don't doubt his qualification, but usually new HCs do clean ship and bring their own buddies to the program.
Well, now Drayton got the call and left for Temple as HC. It's his 1st HC job at age of 50.

Ok, with that done, let's get to the games.

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

Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
The result does look quite clear, but until halftime the game was quite open.
Miami and North Texas each did throw some punches and did take the lead several times.
But late in the 2nd quarter did North Texas throw 2 INTs and let Miami pull a little bit away, leading 20-14.
Then in the 1st drive after the break did Miami score again and somehow the Mean Green were done with the game.
Miami did even miss a FG at some point, but the crucial part was, the did control North Texas completely and did not allow any scoring.
Miami out of Ohio won 27-14.
Jacks BOWL Score: 7-6

Union Home Mortgage Gasparilla Bowl
UCF vs Florida

Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
At first it looked like a close one, with Florida leading at the half 10-9, but the 3rd quarter was ALL UCF, and the Knights did at that point basically end the game.
They won the quarter 17-7 and did then prevent Florida from scoring in the 4th, while they did score a field goal on top.
Boom, Florida won against South Florida, the won against Florida State, but they lost to Central Florida the 1st time ever.
Congratulation for the Knights.
The Gators will now concentrate under a new HC to get back into competition.
Jacks BOWL Score: 8-6

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

Clarence T.C. Ching Athletics Complex, Honolulu, HI
Well, Hawai'i did pull out of that bowl, because of COVID-19-issues and the organization did cancel the bowl.
It did look like they did not even try to find a replacement, likely given the fact of short notice, the long travel and finding a team willing to play under such conditions.

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

@Cramton Bowl, Montgomery, AL
I did say 'Expect a close one', but Georgia State had other ideas and did dominate the game shortly after the start to end.
Ball State got the 1st score and it did look like Ball State can move the ball, but they fumbled on their 2nd drive late and the Panthers scored a TD on the return to take the lead at 14-7.
From that point on was Georgia State much better and Ball State much worse.
The Panthers won 51-20.
Jacks BOWL Score: 9-6

Monday, December 27
Quick Lane Bowl
Western Michigan vs Nevada

@Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Same here, i EXPECTED Nevada to be ready, but WMU did outscore the Wolf Pack big time.
Halftime score? 31-10 for the Broncos.
Nevada did then try their best but managed only a 7-7 3rd quarter result and collapsed in the 4th for the final score of 52-24.
Nevada will now focus on their new coach and to get the team ready again, while WMU can celebrate the good ending of the season and then try to get better again.
Jacks BOWL Score: 10-6

Military Bowl Presented by Peraton
Boston College vs East Carolina

@Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, MD
Boston College explained their situation with COVID-19 issues missing over 40 players.
I did play myself in a team which had player number issues almost every season and I can't see, why a roster of 50 to 60 is not enough to play in a game, but fine.
It was canceled.

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

@Protective Stadium, Birmingham, AL
Auburns offense was awful. All game long.
Their luck was that Houston had almost every time problems with the Auburn defense.
But ... Houston scored, on the opening drive and often enough to lead at halftime 10-3.
It did seem like Auburn did get the upper hand, scored a FG and later a TD, leading 13-10 at that time.
And Houston became sloppy, did throw and INT and later another one on a trick play.
But the Auburn offense was awful, as said.
And Houston did find that small crack in Auburns defense again and scored for the final score of 17-13.
Jacks BOWL Score: 10-7

SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Air Force vs Louisville

@Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX
Air Force did look like a clear winner in the 1st half.
They outscored Louisville quite good and led at the half 28-14.
Then in 2nd half the magic was gone, and Louisville was able to score.
At the start of the 4th quarter got Air Force their forces back and managed to get a long drive together but capped it only with a field goal.
Louisville scored again a TD and cut the deficit to 3 points, tried an onside kick and failed.
Air Force moved the ball and ran down the clock to win this.
Jacks BOWL Score: 11-7

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Mississippi State vs Texas Tech

@Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, Memphis, TN
For whatever reason did Mississippi play bad and bad and bad again.
The first half was only bad and the trailed, 7-13.
In the second half they forgot to score and forgot to play defense, hence Texas Tech did win the Leach-Bowl 34-7.
A great season ending for the Red Raiders, a bad ending for the Bulldogs.
Jacks BOWL Score: 11-8

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

@Petco Park, San Diego, CA
UCLA did pull out of the Bowl because of COVID-issues and the bowl was canceled.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl
West Virginia vs Minnesota

@Chase Field, Phoenix, AZ
A very boring game, at least for my taste.
A lot of errors and both teams were not able to cash in on those.
Minnesota did play a bit better and scored a few more points, and scored as only team in the 2nd half, winning 18-6.
Jacks BOWL Score: 12-8

Wednesday, December 29
Wasabi Fenway Bowl
SMU vs Virginia

@Fenway Park, Boston, MA
Virginia has also COVID-19 problems, hence they can't bring in enough troops.
For whatever reason did they instantly cancel the bowl, instead of searching for a replacement, but maybe again the short notice was an issue.
Regardless, no Fenway bowl this season.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Maryland vs Virginia Tech

@Yankee Stadium, Bronx, NY
Well, Virginia Tech did not come to play seriously.
Maryland was able to score often und plenty and VT did basically do nothing.
The Hokies will have a lot of stuff to do to get this right again.
The new HC can start now.
For Maryland I think they might get better, next season.
Jacks BOWL Score: 13-8

Cheez-It Bowl
#19 Clemson vs Iowa State

@Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
Clemson needed an unusual pick-6 after they scored a Touchdown on their own to level the game to their favor.
Iowa State was on the same level as Clemson for 2+ quarters, but they had that short period of weakness and that was all Clemson needed.
I always hope for ISU to get their things together for a big push, but they have those periods regularly and I hope they will get that fixed next season.
Clemson will likely be more dangerous next season.
Jacks BOWL Score: 14-8

Valero Alamo Bowl
#14 Oregon vs #16 Oklahoma

@Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
Bob Stoops return did work out big time.
The Sooners outscored the Ducks in the 2nd quarter 24-0 and even when the Ducks gave their best and tried to come back in the 3rd, the Ducks were unable to score enough.
But Oklahoma managed to secure the win, by bending, but not breaking.
The new HC will have a great group to work with and the new HC of Oregon has the also a good foundation.
We will see whether both team will be as strong or stronger than this season.
Jacks BOWL Score: 15-8

That was the 2nd bowl wave, let's go for the 3rd wave.

Thursday, December 30
Duke's Mayo Bowl
North Carolina vs South Carolina

@Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Played in the home field of the Carolina Panthers, this bowl is played under different names since 2002, latest change since 2020.
It's an ACC vs SEC game planned for this season and tada! we have one.
And this season I really like it.
It's for the bowl likely one of the best you can wish for, since such a rivalry game in North Carolina will draw lots of attention and the motivation shouldn't be an issue also.
North Carolina (6-6 this season) has played so far 4 times in the bowl and won only 1 time.
South Carolina (6-6 this season) did play once so far in this bowl and lost.
Situation for both teams are different, with North Carolina definitely underperforming this season, aiming for a division title and finished only 5th inside the division, and South Carolina having a new HC and winning likely more games than anticipated.
The so called 'Battle for the Carolinas does happen in unregular periods, last in 2019.
Overall, 58 meetings so far and UNC has 16 wins more. UNC also won in 2019.
UNC is favored to win this year by 9.0 points, which seems to be a lot based on the results, from my point of view.
Granted, UNC did play some tougher teams and lost in close games or even won, while South Carolina did lose big in such games.
The rivalry situation will make this game intense, no chance to see, how this will go.
UNC has an old coach, who did at least last season motivate the young players tremendously, South Carolina has a new coach, who might get an extra effort in this bowl out of his players.
Coin toss!
Tar Heels win.

TransPerfect Music City Bowl
Tennessee vs Purdue

@Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
This is played in the Tennessee Titans home stadium.
The bowl itself exists since 1998.
Last season the game was planned, but then canceled, because one team had COVID-19-issues.
It's a Big10 vs SEC game, and we have the 7-5 Tennessee Vols vs the 8-4 Purdue Boilermakers.
Almost a home game for the Vols, but their record in the bowl is so far 1-1.
Overall did Tennessee record a 7-5 season so far and is favored 4.5 points in this game.
Purdue has a 8-4 record and played here only once, which was a loss.
Both teams did win against quite easy opponents on their last 2 games and lost in the game before against top teams big time.
I expect a quite close game, leaning towards a Vols win, but my suspicion is, that because a SEC team plays against a historical speaking weak Big 10 team.
Checking the teams results over the whole season there is not much to weight as pro or cons causing a definite result, at least for me.
So, I just weight the 'almost home'-factor and hope for the best.
Volunteers win.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#12 Pittsburgh vs #10 Michigan State

@Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, GA
This college football playoffs at-large vs at-large bowl is played since 1968 and is played now inside the new home of the Atlanta Falcons.
This season we have the ACC Champ in Pittsburgh (11-2) vs a high ranked Big 10 team in Michigan State (10-2).
The Pitt HC was for a long time the DC of the Spartans, but of cause the teams did move forward and the link is only historical.
Still, the playing style is quite different, and we will likely see a defense driven game.
Both teams never played in this game.
The majority of ESPN sees Pitt ahead, Vegas has MSU favored by 2.5 points.
I have the feeling MSU has a tougher team at the start, still Pitts numbers, including their Championship win, are impressive.
Still, I go with the Spartans, expecting a very close game.
Spartans win.

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
Wisconsin vs Arizona State

@Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Last season not played because of COVID-19, this bowl is operated since 1992 and is now played inside the home dome of the Las Vegas Raiders and UNLV.
It's a PAC-12 vs BIG 10 bowl this season, as planned.
Arizona State, 8-4, had some strange losses and did therefore finished only 2nd inside the PAC-12 South, while Wisconsin, 8-4, also had some strange losses, which did cost them the Championship spot finishing 3rd inside the BIG 10 West.
I do lean towards the Badgers, but likely only based on felt strength and toughness, while ASU always felt like a tough playing team, lacking some sort of consistency.
It seems all others have similar feelings, since all indicators have Wisconsin ahead, Vegas with 6.5 points.
Don't get me wrong, ASU has all the tools to win this, but I just think the chances are a bit less than for the Badgers.
My guess is, this will be a low scoring game.
Badgers win.

Friday, December 31
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
#17 Wake Forest vs Rutgers

@TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
This bowl is played on the home field of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
It was established in 1946 and does usually field SEC vs either Big10 or ACC, depended on the year.
This season we got an ACC team, and the other team should have been #25 Texas A&M, but they have also COVID-19-issues, so instead they looked for a replacement and found it in 5-7 Rutgers, being the team with 5 wins and best academic score.
That makes this game less attractive of course.
Rutgers is 14.5 points underdog in this game and had less time to prepare and had to get their players back from holidays, basically.
Fine, Wake Forest had prepared for A&M and had to switch now to Rutgers, but they were in training and the ACC championship game loser is way stronger than Rutgers.
At least on paper.
Might be that we will see a Scarlet Knight miracle with Rutgers playing their heart out for that opportunity, but I will not ignore the facts.
And with those in mind I see a huge Wake Forest win coming.
Demon Deacons win.

Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
Washington State vs Central Michigan

@Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX
This bowl was canceled last season because of COVID, but is established since 1935.
It's a PAC-12 vs ACC game, but COVID did mess up the scheduled game between Wazzu and Miami, because Miami has COVID-issues.
The organization looked for a replacement and found it in Central Michigan, since they lost their Arizona Bowl matchup partner Boise State, also to Covid-issues.
The Arizona Bowl is canceled, and the Sun Bowl gets now Wazzu vs Central Michigan.
Wazzu is 7-5 and had their issue with their HC (vaccination not fulfilled, got fired) and the interims coach got the job permanently after the team crawled out of their slump and did beat Washington in the Apple Cup.
Central Michigan played an OK season inside the MAC, with an 8-4 record, but lost the direct compare to NIU, so no championship game for them.
Wazzu is for me the clear favorite, the only thing might be motivation, but with the new coach being established since 5 games now, I think that won't be an issue.
Vegas sees WSU as favorite by 7.0 points.
It feels a bit too few, but we will see.
Cougars win.

Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl
Central Michigan vs Boise State

@Arizona Stadium, Tucson, AZ
As said, Boise State did pull out and Central Michigan moved to another bowl, hence no contest here.

CFP Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
#4 Cincinnati vs #1 Alabama

@AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX
One of the big bowls of the College Football Playoff series, this season one of the semis.
Played since 1937 this does feature the first group of 5 team ever making the playoffs against the SEC Champ.
It's played in the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
It's for all group of 5 teams important how Cincinnati will play here.
For the Bearcats it's the most important game of the year.
They are 13.5-point underdog in this game.
Alabama did prove they can play and win against any team, beat Georgia and they are likely better than the whole season, except, but that's true for both teams, the break.
It's hard to predict who has their team better prepared, but I just can't see how Cincinnati can win here.
Alabama has much more talent and the best coach of the FBS.
I hope for the best, but I expect a big destruction of the Bearcats by the Tide.
Crimson Tide win.

CFP Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl
#3 Georgia vs #2 Michigan

@Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL
Another CFP-bowl, featuring the second semi.
The Orange-bowl itself exists since 1935 and is played inside the stadium of the Miami Dolphins.
It does feature the better matchup of the semis and I hope for a very close game.
But Georgia is favored by 7.5 points and I have problems to see Georgia losing this.
But I also did not see them losing against Alabama, so maybe we will get a surprise again.
Georgia has a very good defense; Michigan will have their problems finding openings.
I hope all sides will have some great drives and we will see an epic game.
But I fear, the Bulldogs will be a bit too much for the Wolverines.
Bulldogs win.

Saturday, January 1
Outback Bowl
Penn State vs #21 Arkansas

@Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Played in the home stadium of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this bowl exists since 1986.
It's another Big10 vs SEC bowl.
This season we have the 7-5 Nittany Lions against the 8-5 Razorbacks.
The Lions did look like real contenders until they lost 3 in a row from week 6 to 8.
It became clear there were some deficits which the team did limit.
And Arkansas had a much better season than anticipated.
Now they clash here.
The espn community sees Penn State ahead and Vegas sees Arkansas ahead, by 2.0 points.
Likely this will come down to preparation, like so often in the bowl season.
I think Arkansas has all the tools to win here, and eventually they can also bring in more motivation than the Lions.
It's a gut feeling, but what else can I lean on?
Razorbacks win.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl
#9 Oklahoma State vs #5 Notre Dame

@State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ
The Bowl exists since 1971 and is played in the home site of the Arizona Cardinals.
It's part of the College Football playoffs rotation, this season having 2 at-large teams against each other.
Again, we have the BIG-12 Championship game loser (11-2) but this time against indy Notre Dame (11-1).
Notre Dame lost their HC and found an new one from inside.
This team will be motivated, I'm just not sure they are really #5 strong.
The Irish are favored by just 2.0 points and Oklahoma State had big problems with Baylors defense and Notre Dame does field a good one, too.
I think the Cowboys will need a good game here to win, and I think Notre Dame needs all the motivation they can get.
Overall, I believe the situation at South Bend with the new HC being their DC will result in a close win.
Fighting Irish win.

Vrbo Citrus Bowl
#15 Iowa vs #22 Kentucky

@Camping World Stadium, Orlando, FL
The Citrus bowl was established in 1947 and does feature a SEC team vs a Big10 team.
Iowa (10-3) did lose the BIG-10-Championship game and does face a good Kentucky (9-3) team.
Kentucky is favored by 3.0 points and I believe the Wildcats can really win here.
Iowa had problems with high scoring teams and the Wildcats did big against their rival Louisville on their last game, while Iowa lost big against Michigan.
I have the feeling the teams will clash here and will I think one team will dominate and with so many strange results by Iowa this season I lean on Kentucky.
Wildcats win.

Rose Bowl Game Pres. by Capital One Venture X
#11 Utah vs #6 Ohio State

@Rose Bowl, Pasadena, CA
A College Football Playoffs bowl, and this season featuring two at-large teams.
Played again in their regular home, not like last season in Texas.
The Rose Bowl exists since 1902.
Not sure what to make out of this game, PAC-12 Champ Utah (10-3) has to face off against hopeful but failed Ohio State (10-2).
Almost the traditional Rose Bowl matchup featuring usually both Champs.
Ohio State is favored by 4.5 points.
Utah did beat Oregon big time, twice this season, while Oregon did beat Ohio State, at season start.
Utah is likely the boring choice here, but they did prove to beat good teams.
Ohio State will bring likely their A-game, so hopefully a close one coming.
Utes win.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
#7 Baylor vs #8 Ole Miss

@Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, LA
The Sugar Bowl is this season another at-large-CFP-bowl, and it is alive since 1935.
Baylor (11-2) as BIG-12 Champ did show a lot of spirit in the Championship game and I hope they will bring exactly that one for the bowl.
Ole Miss (10-2) did take on the fight against every team and lost only to Alabama and Auburn.
They are favored to win by 1.5 points, which is nothing.
I hope for a high scoring game and pick the Rebels as winner.
Because they did prove to be a very strong team and Baylor would need all their luck and then some to win, I think.
Rebels win.

'Til next time

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