2015-12-30 15:54

So 24 out of 41 bowls are over.

The major wave is still coming.

But before I do cover the next few days, let's review the past few ones.


Sat. Dec. 26 - 11:00 am ET
St. Petersburg Bowl
UConn vs. Marshall

@Tropicana Field - St. Petersburg, FL
Oh, honestly this was a boring one.
I did expect a firework on offense by Marshall and the did lead 13-7 at the half.
After the 3rd quarter it was only 13-10, because Marshall did miss a field goal in the quarter.
The Thundering Heard had 1 good drive in the 4th quarter, eating away a lot of time and capped with a successful field goal.
At 16-10 the game was still open, but with 21 ticks left did UConn not convert on 4th and 9 and therefore lost the game.
UConn 10 - Marshall 16 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 7-6

Sat. Dec. 26 - 2:00 pm ET
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Miami (Fla.) vs. Washington State

@Sun Bowl Stadium - El Paso, TX
This on the other hand was very entertaining.
It started great with a Cougars TD and a Hurricanes TD after that.
Then did Miami stop the Cougars the next drive, took the ball and went for a scoring strike, only to have the ball tipped in the endzone and get intercepted.
Worst case scenario for them, but it was not that awful, Wazzu did fumble the ball away a few plays later.
Miami got the ball back in good field position and unable to move the ball went for 4th down and turned the ball over on an complete pass shorter the 1st down marker.
That did help the Cougars, who did score a field goal and a drive later a TD.
With 20-7 at the half, this looked quite over.
The 3rd quarter was scoreless, but you saw a gambling Wazzu team, playing 4th downs on several drives, but did not make it often.
It started snowing in Texas and the Hurricanes did score a TD, shorten the Cougars lead to 6.
After some scoreless drives did Miami come near the endzone again, in fact they made it to the endzone, but an illegal blocking was called and they had to play it again, which led to a costly turnover.
Not so fast.
Miami stopped the Cougars, again very quickly and tried a trick play.
The running back took the ball and tried a deep pass, but that is a risky play call in snow.
The ball slipped away, was intercepted and Washington State was able to run down the clock to win their 1st bowl since 12 years.
Miami (Fla.) 14 - Washington State 20 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 8-6

Sat. Dec. 26 - 2:20 pm ET
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl
Washington vs. Southern Miss

@Cotton Bowl - Dallas, TX
Another great game.
Washington did play a great game, did score plenty and Southern Miss did stay in the game most of the time.
We saw a Huskies lead at the half of only 21-17.
In that half did Southern Miss successfully made a fake punt conversion deep in their own half and kept their drive alive by that.
Later they scored.
In the 3rd quarter did Southern Miss even scored a TD for the tie at 24.
But exactly 1 play after kickoff die Washington score 86 yard rushing TD for the 31-24 lead and never looked back.
The Huskies did win this with great effort.
Washington 44 - Southern Miss 31 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 9-6

Sat. Dec. 26 - 3:30 pm ET
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Indiana vs. Duke

@Yankee Stadium - Bronx, NY
And this one was also very entertaining.
Duke had not won a bowl since 1961 and came out much better than Indiana, leading 10-0 after the 1st quarter.
But Indiana came back and scored 2 unanswered TDs.
Before the break did Duke then had a great moment, when their QB just waited behind the line, saw the light and ran for a TD, through the middle for 73 yards.
Indiana did kick field goal after that and right at the half the game was tied at 17.
The Hosiers did then lead by 4 at the start of the 4th quarter and added a field goal, only to allow a 98 yard Duke kick off return TD for the tie at 34.
Indiana did not let themselves down and was able to score another pass TD later in the game for a 41-34 lead.
Duke on the other hand was not impressed and marched down the field, until their QB did score another TD right over the middle by feet.
Duke was stopped, but made the field goal.
Washington State was also stopped and kicked also a field goal. Or maybe not. The ball went higher than the upright and it's hard to judge, whether it was in or out.
The officials did rule it NO GOOD and the game was over.
Because of the high ball, the decision was also not reviewable, so Duke won this.
Those are the moments, where a bit more technology would help to determine a true winner.
Why there are no cameras on each upright to SEE the ball going right, left or right over it, I don't understand it.
Indiana 41 - Duke 44 (OT) -> Jacks BOWL Score: 9-7

Sat. Dec. 26 - 5:45 pm ET
Camping World Independence Bowl
Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech

@Independence Stadium - Shreveport, LA
107 points were scored and Virginia Tech did win this, barely.
It was a game without defense, and VT did lead 45-31 at the HALF.
A quite low scoring 3rd quarter did extent that to 52-37 and a field goal after the start of the 4th quarter even to 55-37, when Tulsa decided to not losing here big time.
The Golden Hurricanes did score 2 TDs and with under 2 min. to play they got the ball back, trailing only by 3.
That was the time when Virginias defense decided to show up, fresh and willing to play.
They had 2 crucial sacks and did stop Tulsa on 4th and 16 for a loss of 8.
After 2 kneel downs the game was over, Frank Beamer got his 280th win overall and left on a high note.
Tulsa 52 - Virginia Tech 55 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 10-7

Sat. Dec. 26 - 9:15 pm ET
Foster Farms Bowl
UCLA vs. Nebraska

@Levi's Stadium - Santa Clara, CA
I'm really not often upset over football games, but this was one of them.
UCLA was awful on defense.
It looked like they did not even expected some kind of ground attack and Nebraska did run and run all day.
The game was tied at the half and the only team making adjustments was Nebraska, winning this big time.
I really like Jim Mora, but sometime his team just have such games I would fire him for right afterwards.
That was a BAD ending for the Bruins season and a great start for Nebraskas offseason.
UCLA 29 - Nebraska 37 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 10-8

Mon. Dec. 28 - 2:30 pm ET
Military Bowl
Pittsburgh vs. #21 Navy

@Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium - Annapolis, MD
Let's make it short here.
Navy did win this and Keenan Reynolds got his record back, at least a share if it, with 88 career TDs rushing.
He will leave a big hole in Navys offense.
Pittsburgh 28 - Navy 44 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 11-8

Mon. Dec. 28 - 5:00 pm ET
Quick Lane Bowl
Central Michigan vs. Minnesota

@Ford Field - Detroit, MI
The Gophers did play good football, but they made this closer than needed.
At the end, Central Michigan was not able to win this, but losing only by 7 is from my point of view a good game.
I did expect a much higher margin.
Central Michigan 14 - Minnesota 21 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 12-8

Tues. Dec. 29 - 2:00 pm ET
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
California vs. Air Force

@Amon G. Carter Stadium - Fort Worth, TX
Air Force did stay in the game for the 1st half, but they did not find any answer to the great passing game for the Bears on that day.
Cal did throw for 467 yards on that day and did stop Air Force rushing game good enough to win here.
California 55 - Air Force 36 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 13-8

Tues. Dec. 29 - 5:30 pm ET
Russell Athletic Bowl
#10 North Carolina vs. #17 Baylor

@Citrus Bowl - Orlando, FL
No QB for Baylor?
No problem.
Baylor did adjust very well to their injury situation and did make plays by their great gunners.
Johnny Jefferson got many direct snaps and had offs and ran for 299 yards and 3 scores.
For me, the main reason for the Tar Heels loss was their errors.
Bad tackling, bad containment and on top of that, turnovers.
Most costly was the fumble in the 3rd, trailing by 11 and knocking on the Bears endzone.
The runner did fumble while forcing his way into the endzone and Baylor did recover.
No score and Baylor ball.
ONE play later they were down by 18 after an 80 yard run by Jefferson.
Baylor did prepare great for the game, while it looked like the Tar Heels were on holiday already.
Always the problem on bowls, preparation and motivation.
North Carolina 38 - Baylor 49 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 13-9

Tues. Dec. 29 - 7:30 pm ET
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Nevada vs. Colorado State

@Arizona Stadium - Tucson, AZ
This new bowl was nice.
Even it did feature 2 MWC teams, it was entertaining and close.
Nevada was leading 19-13 at the half.
Extended it to 22-13, but Colorado State answered with a TD. 22-20.
Then came a long time lasting defense battle, until CSU did score a field goal for the 1 point lead.
Nevada went all over the field and powered themselves into the endzone for the 28-22 lead.
But the Rams were not done.
With 9 ticks to go they had not many time left.
They did pass for 9 yards to the Nevada 12 yard line, but the WR did not go out of bounce.
The time did tick down and Nevada won.
Bad execution on that last play.
Nevada 28 - Colorado State 22 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 13-10

Tues. Dec. 29 - 9:00 pm ET
AdvoCare Texas Bowl
#20 LSU vs. Texas Tech

@NRG Stadium - Houston, TX
The Tigers were not able to give their RB the 2000 yard rushing season.
He did need 260, but got only 212 and 4 TDs on the ground and another as receiving TD.
What a pity.
The Tigers did dominate Texas Tech all day long and did win this big time.
LSU 56 - Texas Tech 27 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 14-10


Wed. Dec. 30 - 12:00 pm ET
Birmingham Bowl
Auburn vs. Memphis

@Legion Field - Birmingham, AL
Since 2006 is this Bowl played and is fielded at the (former) home of the UAB Blazers (team was canceled after 2014 season and will play again 2016).
It's an American vs SEC game.
The teams get around 900.000$.
Hell, this is a strange match.
Auburn barely made it to the Bowl, finishing 6-6 and lost their last game against Alabama.
Memphis did play great at the start, but lost 3 in a row at the end of the season and finished 9-3 after a win on season final against weak SMU.
They also lost their HC Justin Fuente to Virginia Tech as successor for long coaching Hokies Frank Beamer and Memphis OC Darrell Dickey will coach the Bowl.
It's Tigers vs. Tigers and honestly, I don't think Memphis will win here.
I'm always happy for a competitive football game, but I'm pretty sure the Auburn Tigers will be much better than the Memphis Tigers under given conditions.
I'm not even expecting a close game.
Yes, Memphis did beat Ole Miss during the season, under Fuente, and they will now face an Auburn team getting ready several weeks and that should be more than enough to be ready.
Auburn is still an SEC team and Memphis is a rising AAC team, but not on the same level as Auburn.
Memphis will not go down lightly, for sure, but I'm expecting a stronger Auburn defense keeping the Memphis offense in check and the Auburn offense will do the hard work and win the game.
(Auburn) Tigers win.

Wed. Dec. 30 - 3:30 pm ET
Belk Bowl
North Carolina State vs. Mississippi State

@Bank of America Stadium - Charlotte, NC
This is played the home of the Carolina Panthers and the bowl is played since 2002.
The ACC should face up against a SEC team.
Each team gets around 1.700.000$.
I think NC State with a 7-5 record will get their butts handed to them by a 8-4 Bulldogs team.
The Wolfpack did win not a single game against a really tough opponent.
Mississippi State did beat Arkansas, Auburn and if you like, Southern Miss.
NC State will not get a 70-0 package here, but if they would stay in the game and would lose by a close margin, I would be surprised. If they would win, I would be even more surprised.
My pick is, the Bulldogs will win by double figure margin.
Bulldogs win.

Wed. Dec. 30 - 7:00 pm ET
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Texas A&M vs. Louisville

@Nissan Stadium - Nashville, TN
Since 1998 is this Bowl played and they field it at the home of the Tennessee Titans.
The SEC send a team versus an ACC team (or BIG10, but not this year).
Each team gets around 2.750.000$.
I have to say, I don't like the game.
Texas A&M (8-4) was playing bad offense the last few games and Louisville (7-5) did underperform most of the season.
I'm not sure whether A&M will fix their team until the bowl game is due, or if we will see another let-down against the Cardinals.
The Cardinals did win their rivalry game against SEC team Kentucky, but A&M did not play the Wildcats, so a direct compare (if even useful) is not possible.
My take on this is, we have a shaky SEC team and a decent ACC team facing off against each other, with lots of time to prepare.
I pick Texas A&M in that matchup.
Don't get me wrong, I think Louisville has every chance to win this, but at the end it does not matter that I think in 10 meetings Louisville might win 4.
I have to pick that game and my pick is a binary one, win or lose.
Aggies win.

Wed. Dec. 30 - 10:30 pm ET
Holiday Bowl
#25 USC vs. Wisconsin

@Qualcomm Stadium - San Diego, CA
This is played at the home of the San Diego Chargers.
It's played since 1978 and they managed to get the regular PAC12 vs. BIG10 matchup going.
Each team gets around 2.825.000$.
USC was also in last yearÂ’s version of this bowl and won (against Nebraska).
This season they will face a reloading team from Wisconsin.
USC had a rough season with their HC getting fired during the season over alcohol problems (he now sues the school for millions of dollars) and a following reinvention as PAC competitor, winning the division, but losing the championship game.
With 8-5 the season was not bad, but could have been way better.
Wisconsin had also a rough start losing to Alabama on season opener, but came together and lost only 2 times more over the season, against later division winner Iowa and against Northwestern.
With 9-3, it's a very good start under a new HC.
Now we will see both teams in California.
USC had a big problem with a good rushing attack in the PAC12 Championship game, but they did for sure face one of the best backs there.
Wisconsin is not the powerhouse on the ground they were known for, so this will get interesting.
The key will very likely be Wisconsins defense.
If they can keep the USC offense in check, I think the Wisconsin offense will score often enough to win this.
USC will have to play their best to crack this defense.
It did not give up many points over the season.
My guess is, the Badgers will play hard football and USC will lose the battle of field position.
Badgers win.

Thurs. Dec. 31 - 12:00 pm ET
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
#18 Houston vs. #9 Florida State

@Georgia Dome - Atlanta, GA
Since 1968 is this Bowl played and is now fielded in the home of the Atlanta Falcons.
It's part of the College Football Playoff system, which includes the semi-finals and final, but also a list of Bowl for at-large-teams.
Because of this, the old Peach Bowl naming was reinstated last season.
The payout is part of the College Football Playoffs system and is hard to tackle.
I found an article which stated that each Power 5 conference gets 50 mio. regardless of CFP-participation.
Around 6 mio will get each team for a playoff spot, 4 mio for each team in the Big 6 bowls, which this is one of them.
Non power 5 conferences will get 18 mio, Notre Dame 3.75 and other independents only 1.85.
So a huge payout from the system itself, and a nice bonus from this one in addition.
The Bowl features the non-power 5 best team in Houston, which did win the AAC (12-1) and got the big bowl ticket.
Florida State (10-2) did on the other hand got the ticket as one of the best ACC teams, losing only to Clemson (expected) and Georgia Tech (which did hurt them in the rankings big time).
This is the place where Houston as representation of the non power 5 conference teams can show the nation they are competitive.
In the past those teams were named BCS busters, they did not get a catchy name for the CFP-time so far.
The BCS Busters had not a bad record, winning 5 of 8 appearances.
Last season the CFP-team was Boise State (MWC winner of 2014), winning against the Arizona Wildcats (PAC12 South winner of 2014).
I think Houston has a very decent chance to win this one.
I do expect an open game with many points.
Main question will be, whether Houston will be able keep calm.
FSU is way more experienced in this kind of games and that might be the edge needed.
Remember, they did play in the semis last season and won the national championship 2 seasons ago.
Some players did play in both games.
Houstons advantage in this game will be their status as non power 5.
If FSU does take them not serious enough, they will lose.
My pick?
A risky one.
Cougars win.

Thurs. Dec. 31 - 4:00 pm ET
#4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Clemson

@Sun Life Stadium - Miami, FL
This is played since 1935 and is fielded at the home of the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Hurricanes.
It's also a part of the CFP-Bowls, fielding this season one of the two semi-finals for the college football playoffs.
The payout is part of the CFP-system.
Clemson did finish perfect (13-0), claimed the division and then the conference. Now they are only 1 game away to get to the national championship game.
Hard to believe, but many do see them as the underdog here.
Oklahoma had 1 loss this season, against Texas. That happened early enough in the season to get them a fine winning streak at the end and were surprisingly the only sure team in the playoffs prior the championship games.
They won the BIG12 with their 11-1 record and were ranked high enough to wait and see, whether some of the championship games playing teams will win or lose, knowing that in basically no scenario they would drop out of the top 4.
Now they are suddenly even handled as one of the favorites to win it ALL.
Can happen.
Might not.
Clemson did play smart throughout the season.
I do expect a clash of good teams here and the ending is open.
My pick in this is that Clemson wins here in a close game.
Oklahoma is beatable, for sure, as is Clemson.
The thing is, I don't think Clemson will let this chance go.
Oklahoma did fight through to win the BIG12, but Clemson did cruise through that season without any fault.
Now give both teams 3 weeks time to prepare.
I see a clear advantage for Clemson in terms of momentum and motivation.
Doesn't mean Oklahoma can't win, but I think Clemson will find a way to score that last time to secure the win.
Tigers win.

Thurs. Dec. 31 - 8:00 pm ET
#3 Michigan State vs. #2 Alabama

@AT&T Stadium - Arlington, TX
This one exists since 1937.
It was named one of the 6 CFP-Bowls.
The payout is part of the CFP-system.
Some do see this as small finale.
Alabama had another great season, but stumbled over Ole Miss during the season, again, finishing 12-1 as SEC champ.
Michigan State had also a great season, but did also lose 1 game (against Nebraska in a wild finish), winning the BIG10 with a 12-1 record.
The Crimson Tide is the favorite here and it will be tough for both teams to win.
I'm not expecting a blowout in any way, fielding 2 good defenses.
The game changer might be, that a Nick Saban team given 3 weeks of preparation is a very good one.
Not sure whether the Spartans can match this.
Last year it did happen that Alabama lost, so Sabans team is not unbeatable.
My pick is more or less a coin toss.
We have 2 teams which did fight through the season and did play tough games, winning close ones and losing 1 game each.
Advantage is more or less not given.
I think overall did Michigan State escape a bit too often in the past in close games, which can be a sign for a lucky team, or a team with strong will.
Combined with a strong opponent, I think they will get into trouble.
Alabama is too strong to be sloppy.
I'm leaning towards Alabama, because of this.
Crimson Tide win.

'Til next time

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