2022-12-14 07:30

The Army-Navy-game, this season just some game at the end of the season with no consequences, is done.

Army vs Navy
This game might have had some exciting moments in it, but overall, I would say it was quite dull.
The 1st 4 drives, all ended with punts, 2 of them were 3-and-out.
Navy did kick a field goal on the 5th drive, then 4 more drives with punts.
Then Army was quite deep in Navy territory and tried a 4th and 2 but failed.
After that came the 1st highlight of the game, almost end of the 2nd quarter, when Navy did try to punt and Army did block it.
The ball was finally recovered an inch short of the last endzone marker line, since the Army boys did fumble the ball a bit around.
Well, lucky them, it was a Touchdown and Army got the lead at the half with 7-3.
Navy needed 2 drives in the 2nd half to finally also score a TD and get the lead. Ironically a 77-yard run on 1st down right through the middle. The whole Army defense did mess up on that play.
We had then 6 more drives with punts when Army did get finally close enough to tie the game with a field goal.
In the last 2 minutes no team was able to do much, so the game went into overtime.
In the old days the game would have just ended, and all parties would be proud on the 10-10 effort, but now we play it out, right?
Well, both teams did surprise and scored Touchdowns on their 1st drives.
Then Navy got the ball and fumbled on a 3rd and goal on the Army 2-yard line.
Army got the ball and could have just kick a field goal, but tried to get a better field position, which did not work out well, they gained 3 yards max.
But the Army kicker did nail the 39-yarder and did screw up my pick that way.
A few hours later did the Navy HC Ken Niumatalolo get the pink slip after 15 seasons as coach with the most wins of the Academy, fielding a record of 109–83, winning the division 3 times, but never won the conference. But he won the Army-Navy game 10 times out of 15 matches, unfortune for him of the past 7 only 2. Most problematic was likely that the team did decline after the 2019 season and never recovered.
Army vs Navy -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 27-14

Some more coaches’ news.

A sad news came in this Tuesday, Mike Leech died on a heart attack with age of 61. He was the HC of Mississippi State for the past 3 seasons, and was turning the Bulldogs around, having an 8-4 record this season, after much less wins the past 2 seasons. I always liked the teams he did coach, once his system did sink in, those teams were always dangerous and did outperform their talent level, from my point of view.

Louisville did make a small splash and found Jeff Brohm, so far HC of Purdue and Western Kentucky. Brohm had 6 seasons at Purdue lately and guided them to the Championship game this season, even the record was not that good, 8-5. Overall, he is 36-34 with the team, which is traditionally not that winning team inside the BIG 10. Now he has to guide Louisville further to a winning team, his predecessor has done so far.

Western Michigan did name Lance Taylor as new HC, so far the Louisville OC. It's his 1st head coach job, and from my point of view a quite heavy one, since Western Michigan wants winning seasons and IF he wins, usually the coach is gone fast to better paying schools and if you lose you get the pink slip fast. Good luck.

Stanford waited until their new HCs old team was eliminated from the FCS-playoffs, and right afterwards did announce the hire. Troy Taylor, the HC of Sacramento State of the past 4 years, with no contest in 2020, was named the new HC of Stanford. Taylor won the Big Sky Conference in all of his seasons and went to the FCS-playoffs, losing in 2nd round and the quarter finales.
It will be interesting to see, what he can do with the Cardinals.

Purdue found their new HC in Ryan Walters, the past seasons the DC of Illinois. It's his 1st HC job and I think he has quite huge shoes to fill.

An interesting hire we have at North Texas, they named 37 years old Eric Morris as their new HC. He was the HC of Incarnate Word, a FCS program, winning the conference 2 times in 4 seasons. After that he became the OC of Washington State for this season. He either will have huge success at North Texas and will be gone in very short time, or he will suffer. My thoughts on him.

Right now, only 3 jobs open, Mississippi State, Kent State (seemed to have found their guy) and Navy. With Mississippi State becoming open, there might be some domino effects, since the Bulldogs will hire likely some guy from another school, likely a HC, maybe a coordinator.

And of cause the bowl season is coming.

Last season 43 bowls were scheduled (I messed up the numbers last year and said 42 ...), but 5 bowls were canceled because of covid-stuff and some matchups were changed to secure at least some bowls to happen, since some teams dropped out because of covid.

This season we have planned 42 bowls, including the national championship game, which is filled up with the winners of the semis, so initially 41 bowls to be filled, means 82 teams had to be selected.
This number could have changed, because there might get more teams bowl eligible than spots and the organizations did decide to pop-up a bowl more likely than a team to not play a bowl being eligible. That's a bit odd, knowing the history, when many teams did not play, even having 6+ wins, but times did change. Last season we had such a pop-up-bowl, this season not.
In fact, we had 1 spot not filled and Rice got a call as 5-7 teams to fill that spot, having the best academic score of all 5-7 teams.
And New Mexico State got a waiver, even being only 6-6 with 2 FCS-wins. But since that 2nd win was only because the San Jose State game was postponed and basically canceled and therefore NMSU had never the chance to get the 6th win, the NCAA did allow them to participate.

Friday, December 16
HomeTown Lenders Bahamas Bowl
UAB vs Miami (OH)

@Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, Nassau, NP
It's a CUSA vs MAC Bowl and it was played so far 7 times, so now I would say it's established (as established such a thing can be)
Last season the CUSA won and are now leading 4-3, but so far was no conference able to win the bowl 2 times in a row.
The stadium is a small one, still the largest, on the Bahamas.
I never understood the purpose of that bowl, since it is never sold out (always roughly 1500 tickets short to sold out to the basic 15.000 seats, still can be extended up to 25.000) and the teams playing are usually not the best-known ones.
UAB has a 6-6 record and will get after the bowl a new HC. So likely the kids will play their hearts out for the leaving coach.
The team is only a few points short a much better winning record, they lost a lot of quite close games, while they won usually with a bigger margin.
Miami is also 6-6 and did also lose some close ones but did also win some close ones.
UAB is heavily favored to win this, -11.0 is the betting line right now, and I think they have at least the better tools to do so.
For Miami as a team, this bowl is a new spot, UAB did play here already in 2017, but lost in a landslide.
As always is the new environment, the bowl feeling and the longer break essential and how the teams did react on that and that's tough to predict.
On paper I think UAB should be better and win this.
Blazers win.

Duluth Trading Cure Bowl
UTSA vs Troy

@Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL
The stadium is usually used for soccer games here, for example for Orlando City, the MLS team.
The bowl exists since 2015 and plan was to have a MAC team vs a Sun Belt team. The Sun Belt was so far in every Cure Bowl.
Last season Coastal Carolina from Sun Belt won here, but overall is the Sun Belt only 3-4 in the bowl.
This season we have a quite exciting matchup, and lucky us no MAC team, but a CUSA team.
Because ... we have the CUSA-Champion vs the Sun Belt Champion.
So some sort of tiny Super Bowl, if you want to.
Both teams did play an 11–2 season.
UTSA lost only to Houston in a close one and against Texas.
Troy had all wins, except against Ole Miss and Appalachian State.
Surprising for me the betting line is very close, it was EVEN, now at -2.0 Troy.
The community, as I, do prefer UTSA, they did play really good this season.
Granted, Troy played a great Championship game and won against a tougher team, from my perspective, than UTSA did against their opponent in their championship game, but overall, I think the Roadrunners do have more strength, or let's say, a deeper roster regarding talent.
This will be hopefully a shoot-out and I pick UTSA to win this.
Roadrunners win.

Saturday, December 17
Wasabi Fenway Bowl
Cincinnati vs Louisville

@Fenway Park, Boston, MA
A new bowl, in his 2nd season now, but this season we will the 1st real played game (likely).
The game is 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.
It has those strange circumstances that there are external viewing sites on the houses next to the stadium.
The bowl was planned to debut in 2020, but COVID-19 crossed that out and last season, 2021, we should have seen the debut, the matchup was planned, but COVID-19 did again void the game.
So, this season we might see the 1st kickoff. The matchup was planned as ACC/Notre Dame vs American, which did happen.
Cincinnati had a good season, 9-3, but failed to reach the American Championship game and on top they now lost their loved coach to Wisconsin.
But lucky them, they face the 7-5 Louisville Cardinals, who lost THEIR coach also. And the Cardinals did give former Louisville player and also former NFL WR Deion Branch the job to coach them through the bowl. Branch is right now the director of player development at Louisville. Why none of the coordinators got the job, I don't know.
So under such conditions, the bowl is hard to prep and hard to pick.
Players and coaches can react differently, they can be on the wrong page or can play the game of their lives.
Louisville is favored by 1.0 points right now.
From my point of view is Cincinnati absolutely able to win this, IF they can get their talent 100% on the field.
I mean this mentally and regarding motivation.
All games they lost were lost to good teams, in close games.
Louisville on the other hand did also lose some games heavily or unneeded against not so good teams.
As said, hard to predict, but I give Cincinnati more credit here.
I hope for a close game, a bit more points than usual.
Bearcats win.

SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl
Florida vs #14 Oregon State

@Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
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 SEC bowl planned, and we got a quite interesting bowl matchup you don't see that often.
Oregon State, 9-3, had 2 visits on this bowl so far, a win in 2003 and a loss in 2009. The Beavers had a bowl drought from 2014 onward to 2020 and got into a bowl last year, losing that match. But they had a great season so far, won all their non-conference games and did only lose to the 2 Championship participants and Washington. Means they did also win against rival Oregon, which is likely worth a lot.
Florida, 6-6, had so far no match in this bowl, but are regular bowl participants. Last season they lost on interims HC basis. The Gators had an OK season, did only lose against the stronger teams, even their expectation was to BE a stronger team, but lost the last 2 games against on paper at least looking equal or weaker teams.
Vegas sees Oregon State ahead by 10.0 points, which is a lot.
It will come down to preparation I think.
Talent level should be good on Florida, but the team lost Starting QB (going for the Draft) and Back-Up QB (dismissed because of child porn distribution in 2 cases as far as I know), so the team looks weak on that side.
Oregon State did show strength and spirit and as far as the season went, I think the coaches will get the most going in the bowl.
Beavers win.

Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel
Washington State vs Fresno State

@SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, CA
And quite new bowl here, since 2021 and with tie-ins to Mountain West and PAC-12.
I can't help it but the name does not stuck in my head, bad marketing decision from my point of view.
Of course, the stadium is the home field of the LA Rams and the LA Chargers and right now one of the most advanced stadiums in the world.
Playing parties are Washington State, 7-5, after a mid-level season inside the PAC-12, and Fresno State, 9-4, winning the Mountain West conference after a rocky season.
The Cougars did almost sharp win against the teams sorted lower than themselves and lost against the teams sorted higher.
Biggest win was likely the non-conference upset of at that time ranked Wisconsin. AFTER the season the win does not look that impressive anymore, still willing at Wisconsin is something you still have to manage to do and not many did in the past.
The Bulldogs did play bad at the start, were 1-4 at some point, including a loss against Boise State, but won after that ALL games, including the rematch against Boise State for the Championship.
Now the 2 teams do face off against each other and I'm not sure what to do here.
As is Vegas as it seems, since Fresno State is favored by 3.0 point, the community does favor Wazzu by 55%, so also not very clear here.
I'm willing to go with the Cougars, since they did stay in games against stronger teams and almost did win some of them, losing close.
Fresno State did win a lot of games lately, but all inside the quite weak (at least this season) Mountain West, so there is no real hint, what the PAC-12 team can do or not do with that MWC-team.
I did underestimate Fresno State in the Championship game, no doubt, so maybe I will do it again.
My gut feeling is, that the Cougars will get prepared into the bowl and will win this in a close one.
Cougars win.

LendingTree Bowl
Rice vs Southern Miss

@Hancock Whitney Stadium, Mobile, AL
The bowl was renamed several times in its past, but it was founded 1999 and is usually a group of 5 vs group of 5 bowl, plan was MAC vs Sun Belt, we got at the end CUSA vs Sun Belt.
They play it in the home of the South Alabama Jaguars.
Rice would not be in any bowl, since they have a record of 5-7. But the numbers of eligible teams was 1 team shy the needed 82 teams and in that case the 5-7 teams become interesting. The team(s) with the highest APR (Academic Progression Rate) get the bid(s), this season only 1 team was needed and that team became Rice, which never played in this bowl before. It's the 1st bowl for the program since 2014 and the 1st under the current HC.
Southern Miss is 6-6 this season and has played this bowl twice so far, both wins, 2000 and 2007. Last time in any bowl was 2019.
Rice is not only shy a win here compared to Southern Miss, but they also seems to be a bit weaker. But both teams have 1 common opponent this season, Louisiana, and both won in quite similar margin.
Of course, that is not really a great measurement, still, might help.
Southern Miss is clearly the favorite, got a Vegas-line of -6.5.
I would even guess they will beat Rice with a higher margin.
Both teams did end the season with some losses, Southern Miss did win their last game, but lost several before, so both teams will be looking a high note as finishing sign.
As said, my gut feeling is, Southern Miss will have the upper hand on this.
Rice does simply just allow too many points, so Southern Miss will have an easy path to score, often.
Golden Eagles win.

New Mexico Bowl

@University Stadium , Albuquerque, NM
Played on campus of the New Mexico Lobos, where it is played since the start at 2006.
It's a ESPN operated bowl and usually fields teams from MWC and CUSA, but this season also the American has a tie-in.
At the end we got SMU from the American and BYU as Indy team.
Both teams are 7-5, SMU never played in this bowl before, BYU did and won, 2010.
SMU did very constantly lose against the better teams and won against the weaker teams. Stand out win was the record setting win against Houston 77-63, which reads more like a Basketball result.
BYU was HOT until end of September, they were 4-1 at that point, ranked at #19 and were set to face Notre Dame.
Then ... they lost that game and 3 more in a row, including games against Liberty and East Carolina.
Only the 3-game winning streak in November, with good wins on the road, did give them a bowl spot.
SMU is favored by 5.5 points, which is suddenly much, when I checked first they had only 1.5. Strange.
The environment is neutral and both teams should be OK with the weather.
So, it comes down to preparation and motivation, I guess.
I'm leaning towards BYU here, since they did show spirit and had some wins against better teams.
But no result will surprise me, except a scoreless outing by any team or both.
Expect points, expect a close one.
Cougars win.

Frisco Bowl
North Texas vs Boise State

@Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
Founded in 2017 as American Conference Bowl against an at-large-team, the bowl did strip down and does seek now any matchup between Group of 5 teams. Hmmm.
The stadium is a soccer stadium for a MLS team from Dallas.
We have CUSA team North Texas, who did lose the Championship game and their HC on the same day, now the team is at 7-6.
And we have Mountain West team Boise State, who did also lose their Championship game, but kept their HC, now at 9-4.
So, it's some sort of losers-Bowl.
None of the teams did play so far in this bowl.
North Texas did play in several bowls in the past few seasons, often yes, sometimes not, but lost all games since winning the last time in 2013.
Boise State would have had a consecutive bowl participation since 2002 but did not play in 2020 because they opted to play not in bowl and 2021, because the bowl was canceled.
The Broncos are favored here, no surprise on that, by -10.5, which is maybe a surprise, but honestly, I'm not sure whether it's too high or too low.
Boise has that name for high explosive offense in the past 2 decades, but this season did lack a bit that explosiveness, losing therefore against Fresno State in the Championship game.
North Texas has all the potential, I think they could become a good school on group of 5 level but lack the fire power and maybe even talent.
Without their coach, who was fired AFTER he guided the team to the championship game and lost, the team might lack the motivation to actually challenge Boise.
I think the Broncos will crack that betting line and will win, clearly.
Broncos win.

That's it for the 1st wave of Bowl games.

'Til next time

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