2018-12-14 12:46

And it is bowling season!

Again we have 40 bowls, with 37 regular Bowls just for fun, 2 regular Bowls for the Semi-finals of the College Football Playoffs and the additional Bowl serving as National Championship game, which participants are filled by the winner of the Semis.

So initially 39 Bowls with 78 teams playing.

This season there were again more teams eligible than spots available and even more than last season, instead of 3 teams of last season we now have 4 teams left behind (which is still a low number, in the past this was way more because there were way less bowls).

Not playing are Southern Miss, Miami (OH), Louisiana-Monroe and Wyoming. None of the teams had the same fate last season, so that's at least a good thing.

The Bowl Season will start with the Cure Bowl on Sat. 15th of December and will end with the National Championship game on Mon. 7th of January.

Now let's have a look at the BLOCK OF GRANITE BOWL GAMES FOR WAVE 1

Sat. Dec. 15
Tulane vs Louisiana

@Camping World Stadium - Orlando, FL
A new bowl since 2015 it is played now the 4th time this season.
It is associated with the American Athletic Conference and the Sun Belt Conference teams.
This season the scheduling did work and we got an ALL-Louisiana matchup played in Florida.
It's still hard to believe, but the payout for each team is 1.350.000$.
The matchup is not high level, Tulane does have a 6 win season and returns to a bowl first time since 2013.
Louisiana had a 7-5 season and then lost the conference championship game to have now 7-6.
The team went not to a bowl in 2017, but was a regular team playing in the New Orleans Bowl since 2011 playing 5 times in 7 seasons.
This could become at least an entertaining game.
By default Tulane should be a bit better, but my feeling is this will get close.
Tulane is 3.5 point favorite and at the end likely the more disciplined team will win.
The Green Wave did improve over the past few seasons, Louisiana did get a new coach for this season, who did bring them back into a bowl.
You can read anything out of this.
I would be a bit disappointed by a Tulane loss, so I guess my coin flip will be used on another game and I will pick Tulane by heart.
Green Wave win.

Sat. Dec. 15
North Texas vs Utah State

@ Dreamstyle Stadium - Albuquerque, NM
This is played at the University of New Mexico and is played since 2006.
Each team gets around 456.250$ in this bowl organized between the MWC and CUSA.
Utah State did win this bowl in 2014 already, North Texas never played in it.
The Aggies did almost win the Mountain division and were only stopped by Boise State.
Their record is 10-2 and they do play against a very good playing North Texas team finishing 9-3.
The Mean Green did almost win their division, too, but had some down games against later CUSA Champ UAB, Old Dominion and LT.
Still they are a good team this season and will challenge Utah State.
Vegas sees North Texas 8.0 points ahead, but my guess is Utah State will win here.
Who will come in most motivated?
Tough to say.
North Texas did lose a bit of their bite over the season, but with some time of preparation, will we see that team which did beat SMU big time on season opener or the team which did beat Arkansas? Then Utah State has a problem.
Or is only that team left to play which lost to Old Dominion? Then Utah State will win big time.
I personally think that Utah State is in a way better position.
The HC-discussion at North Texas is over, Seth Littrell, Mean Green HC, did pull himself out as candidate to get the position of Bill Snyder and Kansas State did already announce the new man with North Dakota State HC Chris Klieman.
That could boost things or not.
Overall I pick Utah State because North Texas is a rollercoaster. Up or down is hard to predict.
Aggies win.

Sat. Dec. 15
Arizona State vs #21 Fresno State

@Sam Boyd Stadium - Las Vegas, NV
Again a great matchup in Las Vegas.
This year this could become the all defense bowl after last seasons all offense bowl.
It's played in the home of the UNLV Rebels.
It is played since 1992 and each team gets around 1.350.000 $.
Fresno State is favored by 4.0 points to take this home.
They did win the Mountain West conference by keeping Boise State at 16 points on the smurf turf. The Bulldogs finished 11-2, losing only to Minnesota and Boise State during regular season.
But Arizona State is also not that bad as the 7-5 record might suggest.
They did lose most game by only a score or less, most of them on the road, and that all with a new HC who did not coach for the last decade.
It's a matter of believe here.
Do you believe that ASU plays tough and strong for the whole game?
They did do that in many games, but did lack consistency.
Do you believe that Fresno State can overcome the difference in conference strength and play as a Champion?
ASU did lose one of their best WR, who decided to enter the draft and skip the bowl.
That's not a good sign, regarding team chemistry.
But it could also fuel a 'now it's just us' feeling and make Arizona State even more dangerous.
I think no team did like to play the Sun Devils, once they did show their willing to play and some teams did lose by that spirit, some did not.
For me, the Bulldogs are the harder part to predict.
They won the conference, they do meet a 7-5 PAC12 team and now how will they react?
Underestimate them? Overestimate them?
My gut says, this will be close and ASU will make a stand, but my head says, take the Bulldogs, they will come to play.
Bulldogs win.

Sat. Dec. 15
Georgia Southern vs Eastern Michigan

@Crampton Bowl - Montgomery, AL
A new bowl since 2014.
The bowl was played under the same name in the past (1948 and 1961-1980) but this new version is played since 2014.
It ties into the SBC and the MAC.
As far as it can be found, the payout for this bowl seems to be only 100.000 $, which is the worst of all bowls.
Since this is a quite new bowl, both teams did never play here.
Georgia Southern had a 9-3 season, but was unable to win their division even if they won against later Sun Belt Champ Appalachian State.
They lost to Troy, Clemson and at worst, Louisiana Monroe.
Last bowl trip for them was at 2015.
Eastern Michigan made a nice begging plea to get a bowl spot and really got one, despite being one of the most uninteresting teams in the past decade.
They became a bit interesting (at least for me) in the past 3 years, with 2 Bowl appearances, but a 7-5 record this season is far from an eye catcher.
Georgia Southern is only 1.0 point favorite here, so Vegas expects a close game.
I'm torn between a nice Eagles team, which seems to get stable over the past few seasons and a hungry Eagles teams which was not good enough to secure the division by losing to a 6-6 Sun Belt team.
One of the Eagles will win, but which?
I pick here Georgia Southern with 2 factors.
The 1st is, that a cold weather team will come to Alabama and a Georgia teams comes to Alabama. If we ignore that eventually every piece of soil of Alabama will bite any Georgia player (I think that's a myth), the Georgia players should be a bit more comfortable.
The 2nd factor is, that Georgia Southern does have from my point of view a bit better offense potential, which will give them an edge.
Eagles win (Georgia Southern).

Sat. Dec. 15
Middle Tennessee vs Appalachian State

@Mercedes-Benz Superdome - New Orleans, LA
This is played since 2001 and each team gets around 500.000$.
The teams are chosen from the CUSA and the SBC.
Both teams had good, if not great, seasons.
Appalachian State won the Sun Belt with a 10-2 record, but lost their HC to Louisville.
Middle Tennessee did get into the CUSA Championship game with a late winning streak inside the conference, but lost to UAB to finish 8-5.
The Blue Raiders won this bowl in 2009 and went to a bowl every season since 2015.
The Mountaineers did get also into a bowl every season since 2015, but did also win every bowl since then.
They are also favorite to win this season with a line of -7.0.
That quite a lot and if the HC wouldn't be gone, I would pick them without any hesitation.
Mark Ivey will be the interims HC for the bowl, he was the DL-coach and served also as assistant HC.
I think the team will play the best they can, the main question is, whether that's the same level as with Satterfield at the helm?
We can only wait to see this.
I believe that the Mountaineers organization is well build, so they will likely respond well to that chance.
Mountaineers win.

Don't forget your Pick'em picks.

‘Til next time

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