2023-12-13 09:03

The last game of the regular season did end with a sensational goalline stand of Army.


Sat. Dec 9
Army @ Navy
The game started slow, Navy did commit an INT on their 2nd drive, which did setup a longer drive by Army, capped with a Touchdown at the beginning of the 2nd quarter.
Navy then got nothing and so did Army for several drives.
Only on the last drive of the 1st half die Army get into scoring range again and walked off the field with a 47-yard field goal and a 10:0 lead.
The 3rd quarter was not much different than the 1st quarter, only with less interceptions.
But Navy finally got a decent drive going, switched the sided for the 4th quarter and when they were finally stopped, they kicked a 37-yard field goal.
Army got nothing, so Navy on the next few drives, until .... the Navy QB did drop back, got the ball stripped from an Army rusher and that rusher did return the bouncing ball to the endzone for a strip-and-score. Army now leading 17:3.
Now, Navy under big pressure, got the ball and did manage to get a drive going, went over the field and scored their 1st TD of the game.
For whatever reason did they then decide for a 2-point-conversion and failed! Army now leading 17:9, getting the ball, but was stopped fast.
Navy with the ball again, 1:20 left on the field.
Went over the field, fast and got into the redzone.
On 1st and goal on the Army 6, nothing, 2nd and goal, nothing, 3rd and goal a 4-yard pass.
Then the last Navy play, 4th and goal on the 2-yard line.
Quarterback sneak (but is it a sneak, when 11 people are waiting for you?) the whole Navy pushing, but the Knights did only allow ONE yard, not 2.
Turnover on downs, Army did commit on the last play of the game an intentional safety for the final score of 17:11 and the game was over.
Army gets the Commander-In-Chief-Trophy and has now a 2-game-winning-streak against Navy.
Army 17 @ Navy 11 -> Jacks TOP GAMES Score: 31-15

A few coaches news, Troy did lose their Championship HC Jon Sumrall, since he was hired by Tulane to lead the program into 2024 and beyond. Sumrall was the DC of Kentucky before his 2 seasons with Troy, in which he did win 2 Sun Belt Championships.

San Diego State has hired as new HC the former Kent State HC Sean Lewis, who left Kent State after 2022 to become the OC of Colorado State. His record with Kent State was mixed, but he did lead the team also to a division title in 2021 but lost to NIU in the Championship game. He did also lead Kent State to 2 bowls in 5 seasons with that team, which is not known for winning.

New Mexico found their next HC in Bronco Mendenhall. Mendenhall is one of the most successful former HC of BYU, where he was for 11 seasons. He then went to Virginia and did lift the limping Cavaliers to new heights in 6 seasons, including a division title in 2019, but lost the ACC Championship game to Clemson, who later lost only in the National Championship game. He did step down from Virginia after the 2021 season on his one wish, did take 2 seasons off and seems to be ready for a new task now. This could be a big splash for the Lobos, but sometimes such dream hirings do backfire, because the chemistry is not right. We will see.

UTEP did hire Scotty Walden as new HC. Walden was the HC of Austin Peay (FCS) and for a very short period also the interims HC of Southern Miss. At Austin Peay he did guide the team to 2 consecutive Conference titles in 2022 and 2023.

Louisiana-Monroe got their man in Bryant Vincent, former interims HC of UAB and this season he was the OC of New Mexico.

Middle Tennessee did decide to give the program in the hands of former Vanderbilt HC Derek Mason. Mason was the Commodores HC from 2014 to 2020 and did bring in OK numbers for a team, which is usually the bottom team in the SEC. Just the corona year 2020 was really bad with 0-8, which did led to his firing. He then became the Auburn DC (2021) and Oklahoma State DC (2022), which were mixed from my point of view. But maybe he is the right HC for the program.

Oregon State did promote Trent Bray from DC to HC to lead the program in a strange future. More of that a bit later. Bray was the DC for the past 2 seasons and did shape the Beavers defense in one of the best defenses in the PAC-12.

Nevada hired Jeff Choate, the past 3 seasons the DC of Texas. He will have to raise Nevada back from the bottom of the Mountain West.

And a change at Wyoming. For the past 10 seasons was Craig Bohl the HC of Wyoming and made the team a winning team, even though he was unable to win a Championship with them. He come from the FCS (where he won 3 National Championships in a row) to the Cowboys to lift the program from the pit of the Mountain West to a division title and several winning seasons and 6 bowls (including the coming one).
He will retire after the bowl and the DC Jay Sawvel, since 2020 with the team in that position, will take over. It's Sawvels 1st HC gig.

James Madison did make some sort of splash move to get a new HC, they hired long time Holy Cross (FCS) HC Bob Chesney. He did coach Holy Cross for 6 seasons, winning the last 5 times the conference title.

Duke hired Many Diaz as new HC. Diaz was the HC for Miami in 2019 to 2021, but failed the expectations there with only a 21–15 record. He then became the DC of Penn State the past 2 seasons. He will take over a team, which was well coached and lifted to new heights by the leaving HC, so big shoes to fill.

As another info I have, that the PAC-12 for 2024 did find an agreement with the Mountain West to build up a schedule.
To remind you, in 2024 the PAC-12 will feature only Oregon State and Washington State, way too few to feature enough teams for conference status.
I'm not sure, there will be an exception for 2024, since this season both teams did get a lot of legal roadblocks thrown against them by the leaving teams, so they were unable to find a solution for the conference, or whether this is OK in general. As far as I understood, the PAC-12 is looking for options and it might be that the Mountain West will have a big part in those options. For now, the MWC will just play a few games against the Cougars and the Beavers next season.

Which brings me to the upcoming bowl.
We have 41 bowls on FBS level already set, a 42nd bowl will then feature the winners of the semi-finales.

The FIRST SET OF BOWLs from next Saturday, 16th to Tuesday, 19th of December.

Saturday, December 16
Myrtle Beach Bowl
Georgia Southern vs Ohio Bobcats

@Brooks Stadium , Conway, South Carolina
This is played the 4th time now, since it was founded in 2020.
They play in the stadium of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers football team.
The bowl is owned by ESPN and has conference tie ins with the Group of 5 conferences.
So far, the Sun Belt has won all their matchups (2) and the American also (1) and CUSA and an Indy-team did lose so far.
This season we have a mediocre Sun Belt Team with Georgia Southern at 6-6 against a 1st-time-here MAC-team, Ohio at 9-3.
Until end of October did Georgia Southern look like they could get the Championship spot for their division.
They had beaten their rival Georgia State and were on top. But then they lost 4 in a row, which was way too many losses to get into that damn game.
Still, that Georgia State win did give them a shot for a bowl and here they are, as 3.5-point favorite.
Ohio on the other hand did play good this season, but lost 2 crucial games inside their conference to be left out of the championship game, too.
Anyway, the team did win even against Iowa State in September, so why are they the underdogs against a 4-game-losing-streak-team?
Likely because they did not play too good against a more pass heavy attack?
I think Ohio has a chance here, but I expect a close game.
If they can slow down the Eagles passing game, they will win.
Bobcats win.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Jacksonville State vs Louisiana

@Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
This exists since 2001 and is a Sun Belt vs Conference USA game.
Played in the Superdome, home of the New Orleans Saints.
The Sun Belt has a record of 12-8 in this bowl, the CUSA 7-11.
Last season the CUSA did win over the Sun Belt here, but keep in mind, that not always the tied-in-conferences do play here.
This season we got the matchup as wanted, regarding the conferences, but having a special setup, since one team was not even supposed to be here.
Jacksonville State has their 1st season this year inside the FBS. By rule such a transitioning team is not allowed to play in a postseason game for 2 years.
But the 8-4 Gamecocks (and JMU) were given a waiver on that, since when the dust did settle after last weekend (actually after the weekend before already) 3 teams were missing for the planned bowls.
Of course, an already planned bowl can't be scrapped, so which teams could be selected? Ah, there are 2 teams qualified by record, but not by status. So, let's waive the status for this season and we have 2 of the 3 spots set.
Maybe not fair to Navy (who had the chance to get 6 wins, when that decision was made), but OK ... the marketing had to be done and Navy was unable to get 6 wins prior that deadline and insist to play that national wide traditional game ... pffff, let's take Jacksonville State. I'm happy for them, but sorry for Navy or any other team not invited.
On one hand rules are rules and the NCAA does often insist to them, like they did when JMU ask for a waiver twice this season, because they dominated the Sun Belt, but on the other hand, the NCAA does throw the rules away, when in need for some commercial issue. Hmmmm.
Anyway, Jacksonville State was close to be on a spot inside the CUSA which would grant them a spot in the Championship game, if they would have been eligible.
But they did lose to New Mexico State on last gameday, which did leave them on third place.
Louisiana on the other hand is 6-6 this season and the Cajuns do not look like the team we had seasons ago, when they were contenders.
They finished on 5th place of 7 inside their division, which they did win regularly between 2018 and 2021 every season.
No wonder the Gamecocks are favored by 3.0 points.
I'm leaning towards the Gamecocks also, they did show some great team spirit in their 1st season, while Louisiana had a mixed season and did only snap their losing streak against their low-level-rival.
So ...
Gamecocks win.

Duluth Trading Cure Bowl
Miami (OH) vs Appalachian State

@Exploria Stadium, Orlando, Florida
The stadium is usually used for soccer games here, for example for Orlando City, the MLS team.
The bowl exists since 2015 and is now open for all group of 5 teams.
So far, the Sun Belt did send a team to this bowl on every game (8) and has a record of 4-4 and did win last year.
This season we have the Sun Belt Championship losing team here at 8-5 against the new MAC Champion at 11-2.
Appalachian State is favored by 5.5 points here to win this, which makes sense from my point of view.
Miami has one quality win, if you like to say that, which is against BIG-12-team Cincinnati (3-9) on the road in OT.
The Mountaineers on the other hand have not such a win against a power 5 team (lost to UNC in 2OT as closest thing), but did play overall a much tougher season, including a win against JMU to GET into the Championship game.
I don't expect Miami to lay back and let Appalachian State just walk over them, but I expect a close game in which the Mountaineers come up with the deciding points.
Mountaineers win.

New Mexico Bowl
New Mexico State vs Fresno State

@University Stadium , Albuquerque, New Mexico
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.
Some sources did declare this even a MWC vs group of 5 bowl.
The MWC did send a team in 16 of 17 games so far and did record 11 win and 5 losses, including last season.
Well, we were lucky and got our matchup between the MWC and CUSA.
The teams ...
Fresno State is 8-4 and started great, won against Purdue and Arizona State from power 5 conferences, but finished with 3 losses inside the MWC to miss out on the Championship game.
New Mexico State did finish 10-4, including the loss in the CUSA Championship game in a shoutout against Liberty.
The Aggies are not a bad team, inside that quite weak conference.
In fact, Vegas has them in such high regard that they put them in as favorite by 3.5 points.
I find this hard to pick, since it's always tough to value those inter-conference matchups, but since NMSU was able to beat Auburn late in the season, they should be able to win here, if all comes together.
Aggies win.

LA Bowl Hosted by Gronk
UCLA vs Boise State

@SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California
And quite new bowl here, since 2021 and with tie-ins to Mountain West and PAC-12.
So far the naming of the bowl was bad, got a bit better this season with (for whatever reason) Rob Gronkowski, the former NFL Tight End, taking over as main sponsor.
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.
So far the Mountain West teams did win both games played.
But I don't like the matchup this season.
We have UCLA, dreaming of becoming a football force inside the PAC-12 (and now leaving for the BIG10 for 2024) by hiring the former very successful Chip Kelly to build up a Oregon-of-South-California. Since 3 seasons the team does field a winning season, but way too less to challenge the better teams, including Oregon by the way. This season they did finish 7-5, losing a big bunch of games they were supposed to win.
And we have Boise State, finishing as Mountain West Champ after firing their HC after a win at 5-5, and then winning all remaining games, got voted into the Championship game to win this also. Record now, 8-5.
UCLA is favored here by 2.0 points, which is of course not much.
Almost a home game, this will come down to preparation and how lightly the Bruins take the Broncos.
They better take them seriously, since the new HC is motivated and DID actually change something on the team, so they became that much better.
I do lean toward the Broncos, since I don't see the Bruins playing in best shape.
I don't know what's wrong in LA, but they are not clicking.
Broncos win.

Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
California vs Texas Tech

@Independence Stadium, Shreveport, Louisiana
Played since 1976 and current tie-ins are Big 12 vs PAC 12.
The alignment does change from time to time and honestly, I think they grab what's available, leaning maybe towards some teams more than some other.
The stadium is usually only used for this bowl on sports, beside some event games.
Record holder on this is the SEC, but their last game here was 2016.
PAC-12 did only play 4 times here, winning 3, BIG-12 did play 12 times here winning 4.
Last year it was all group of 5, so some might see this season as upgrade, having Cal from the PAC-12 (6-6) against Texas Tech from the BIG-12 (6-6).
For me, I don't know which team to pity more.
Cal did play not really good, had a 4 game losing streak during the season, only to win the last 3 to get into a bowl.
Under the current HC did the team play better in the past, did sink in hole 3 seasons ago and is now climbing out of this, slowly.
And Texas Tech, they were bound to become a bit better than last year, but did drop 2 wins, compared to last season, so the hopes to become a contender did vanish fast.
I would have guessed Cal would have the Vegas favorite status, but it's Texas Tech with 3.0 points.
The ESPN community things almost 60% the Red Raiders will win, I'm not sure, having the winning streak of Cal in mind.
Bottom line, this is almost a dice throw, I just stick with my gut feeling on Cal being a bit more likely a winner.
Golden Bears win.

Monday, December 18
Famous Toastery Bowl
Western Kentucky vs Old Dominion

@Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
What a mess. When I started to prepare the bowl, this season very early in beginning of November, this was still the Bahamas Bowl planned on a certain date and in the Thomas Robinson Stadium on the Bahamas, as it was over the past few seasons.
But at that point the stadium was already closed for renovation, and it was clear a different location has to be selected.
Then the date was shifted, when the new location was announced.
It was still the Bahamas Bowl, regarding the naming, for several days.
Then, when I did continue with the preparations, when I thought I had this bowl already aligned in the schedule and all dates I wanted prior a matchup setting possible written down, I did see the new name.
Because of the temporal shift of the location 'someone' did decide to rename the bowl for this season to this joke of a name.
Last year the attendance went down a bit to roughly 12.000, which is 1.500 short the usual amount of spectators and now 3.000 short of being sold out.
The new selected stadium is the home field of the Charlotte 49er from the CUSA and has also only 15.000 seats. Maybe they will be able to set a record in attendance.
It's a CUSA vs MAC Bowl and we had so far 8 matchups, the current one will be the ninth.
Last season the CUSA team (UAB) won (1st time back-to-back win of the same conference) and CUSA is now leading the bowl results 5-3.
WKU is 7-5 this season, going a bit down from the 9 wins last year.
Old Dominion did become better under the current coach, going to 6-6, while they had only 3 wins last year.
I'm not sure why Old Dominion is favored here by 2.5 points, I would have said WKU has a small edge.
I think both teams were quite competitive inside their conferences, but failed often to win a close game, so every team winning here would not surprise me.
It's just the gut feeling that WKU is a bit more capable, but granted the progress on Old Dominion is there.
So, I'm undecided and go with my gut feeling (which fits with the ESPN community this time, which is 60% WKU).
Hilltoppers win.

Tuesday, December 19
Frisco Bowl
UTSA vs Marshall

@Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas
Founded in 2017 as American Conference Bowl against an at-large-team, the bowl did strip down since last year and does seek any matchup between Group of 5 teams.
Even it was planned to an American Team each season, only on the 1st year, 2017, a team from the American did participate, since then it did change, but most of the time a team from the Mountain West was in it. They have a record of 2-2.
The stadium is a soccer stadium for a MLS team from Dallas.
This year really a team from the American did get into this bowl again, UTSA with a 8-4 record.
Their opponent is from the Sun Belt, with a 6-6 record.
By default, this is UTSAs game to lose.
The betting line is UTSA -9.5, which almost reflects my first thought on this, landslide win for the Roadrunners.
But Marshall actually did beat Virginia Tech from the ACC this season, so there is something in the team, which, if somehow brought to the surface, might give them the strength to win against UTSA.
But to be fair, AFTER that win against VT did Marshall win against Old Dominion and then lost 5 in a row. Most of those losses were against stronger teams from the Sun Belt.
And UTSA? They did play a good season, but their results do almost perfectly mirror their place inside the American. Good, but not a competitor.
Will Marshall come out at top strength, prepared and motivated? That's always the problem with bowls and the time between the last games and the bowl.
You never know.
Based on the results I still favor UTSA.
Roadrunners win.

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

'Til next time

Rating (3 users):

Tags: Block of GraniteNews

 Share on Facebook  Share on Twitter