2018-12-17 06:55

Yeah, perfect start on bowl weekend! At least for me in my pick'em.
Overall I would say that the games were great to start, but most do lack some excitement.

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

Sat. Dec. 15
Tulane vs Louisiana

The Green Wave did start strong and never looked back.
After a 21-7 1st quarter did the team only lose the 3rd quarter by points with 7-3, but at that time they were already far away and did also finish the game with a 14-7 4th quarter for a final score of 41-24.
I have to say that Louisiana still has some hope for next season, since they did from my point of view improve and might become a force next season inside the Sun Belt.
For Tulane it looks great right now, if they can carry that over to next season, they might become the real contender.
Tulane 41 - Louisiana 24 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 1-0

Sat. Dec. 15
North Texas vs Utah State

Well, this was definitely a down game for North Texas.
Utah State did play like they do punish a weak FCA opponent and not a contender for the CUSA.
The Mean Green was almost unable to do anything, while Utah State did lead 38-7 already at the half.
The 2nd half did slow down on the points, both teams had a lot of stopped drives, overall did Utah State still dominate and won 2nd half 14-6 for final score of 52-13.
With Gary Andersen, a very successful coach at Utah State before he did became a not so successful coach elsewhere, returning to the Aggies (the Aggies HC Matt Wells was hired by Texas Tech) this program will change for next season.
Likely it will stay at the same level of eventually improve, but it could also go down, you never know.
North Texas has to improve from this season, the potential is there.
North Texas 13 - Utah State 52 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 2-0

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

A close game, and likely the most entertaining one.
Fresno State had some issues at the start stopping ASU and if the Sun Devils wouldn't have played worse than in some games of the season, this might have gone the other way.
The game was tied at halftime, and then did Fresno State slowly stop ASU and kept scoring whenever possible which resulted in a win with 31-20.
I hope ASU can improve from this season and we will see a tough and strong Sun Devils squad next season.
Fresno State has peaked this season, we will see, whether they can repeat.
Arizona State 20 - Fresno State 31 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 3-0

Sat. Dec. 15
Georgia Southern vs Eastern Michigan

The closest game of this weekend, won by a Georgia Southern Field Goal with time running out.
So likely the most exciting game of the weekend.
Georgia Southern did lead at the half 17-7, then did Eastern Michigan improve but needed basically the whole game to take the lead with 21-20 at 3:30 in the 4th left.
Georgia Southern did even had to play a 4th and 10 on their own 41 to get a new 1st down and made it with a great run.
It's hard to pinch that loss of Eastern Michigan in that play, but of cause that was crucial.
In total I think Eastern Michigan did improve over the past 3 seasons and is now in a way better state than before that.
We will see, whether they can improve further.
Georgia Southern will try to compete again next season in the Sun Belt and the potential is there.
Georgia Southern 23 - Eastern Michigan 21 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 4-0

Sat. Dec. 15
Middle Tennessee vs Appalachian State

That was totally not as I expected it.
I expected a close game, maybe even an upset, but the Mountaineers did punch the Blue Raiders into oblivion.
Final score 45-13.
The 1st quarter started slow and MTSU did take a 3-0 lead, but then ... all Appalachian State.
Looks like the future is bright for the Mountaineers, while Middle Tennessee will have to regroup.
Still, both teams had great seasons, so don't weep too long, Blue Raiders fans.
Middle Tennessee 13 - Appalachian State 45 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 5-0

And that was the 1st wave, on the weekend.
The 2nd bowl wave will cover all bowls until the upcoming Friday.


Tues. Dec. 18
UAB vs Northern Illinois

@FAU Football Stadium - Boca Raton, FL
This bowl is in his 5th season, founded 2014 with a payout of 400.000$.
It belongs basically to the MAC and ties into the American Athletic Conference.
Like last season we don't get a mid-level AAC team, instead we get the CUSA champ.
I like the matchup, it is promising regarding the quality.
Last season this was a slaughterhouse when FAU did kill Akron, but this season we have a CUSA champ with teeth and a MAC champ who had some ups and down, but did prevail against the favorite.
UAB has a 10-3 record, while FIU finished 8-5.
The Blazers are 2.5 point favorites in this and that might be OK, if there would not be the fact that UAB did basically play in a bubble and their real strength is hard to anticipate. They did only play against Texas A&M as challenging team and lost by 21 on the road.
NIU did play Iowa, Utah and Florida State and did also lose those, but only the season opener against Iowa was with 21+ points lost.
In all other games they stood their ground a bit better.
I love they way UAB did reanimate their program and I was happy when they really made it through their Cinderella season, but my feeling is, that NIU is a bit better.
I expect a close one, no doubt.
Huskies win.

Wed. Dec. 19
San Diego State vs Ohio

@Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX
A new bowl since 2017, taking the place of the Miami Beach Bowl, which was sold to ESPN Events, renamed and relocated to become that new bowl.
The payout is 200.000$
It's still an American Athletic Conference bowl, with the opponent planned to be from the MAC this season and from the Sun Belt in 2019.
Now we have a Mountain West team against a MAC team, but OK, we take what we get.
Last season we had a very one-dimensional game with LT topping SMU by 40+ points and this season ...
Unfortunately I don't have hope for Ohio.
They did finish 8-4, which is quite good and they are a good program in the MAC, but they will face a 7-5 Mountain West team which does have a down season, no question about that, but still was able to win against Arizona State.
The only hope for Ohio is, that SDSU did finish with 3 games losing and they might want to bottle the season up fast, so they might play without motivation.
But on the other hand they want to make one last ride and get this done, for good.
I think the last version will fit better.
Vegas does see this different, having Ohio favored by 3.0 points.
So it seems I'm the only one expecting a blowout by SDSU, but OK.
Aztecs win.

Thur. Dec. 20
Marshall vs South Florida

@Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, FL
No longer played in the dome of the Tampa Bay Rays, it's now in the Buccaneers stadium which is also the home stadium of the South Florida Bulls.
The Bowl is played since 2008 and each team gets around 500.00$.
It's a Bowl organized between the AAC and the CUSA or ACC. If none is available from those conferences, the SBC or the MAC can send a team.
This season they have CUSA team Marshall, which finished 8-4 with that horrible game against Virginia Tech, which was unnecessary, so hopefully they did paid well for that, and they got AAC team South Florida finishing 7-5 on a down season.
The Bulls had a 7-0 start and lost then 5 in a row.
The Thundering Herd had some ups and down during the season and beside the last game it looks OK.
Is that enough against the Bulls playing basically at home?
Vegas says yes, by 2.5 points.
I'm not so convinced.
Beside the home factor there is the talent factor and the time factor.
The talent is there in Florida, no doubt and the Bulls should have an edge there.
But all talent means nothing if the coordination is bad.
Which brings me to the time factor.
They have a lot of time to prepare, as also Marshall of cause.
With that time, usually they should be better than during the season and with that talent they should play better, much better.
Which brings me to the bowl x-factor, the motivation.
This looks perfectly as a bowl which will be driven by motivation and I hope that the home field will motivate the Bulls enough to show what they are made off.
I expect a close, defense driven game, with South Florida winning.
Bulls win.

Fri. Dec. 21
Florida Intl vs Toledo

@Thomas Robinson Stadium - Nassau, Bahamas
And it's another season on the Bahamas.
A new Bowl since 2014 for FBS-Football, it's played on the Bahamas in a 15.000 seat multipurpose stadium, which is mainly used for soccer matches.
So far it was never sold out, all 4 seasons so far.
The payout is 450.000$.
The matchup is better than in the last few years as it seems with 8-4 CUSA Florida International team and a 7-5 Toledo team from the MAC.
FIU did look like a lock for the division win for almost the complete season but did lose the games against FAU and Marshall and suddenly they were out of the race.
Toledo did play a down season after last seasons conference title year and was unable to win against the better teams in their conference, except their game against Western Michigan (who finished with the same record).
Toledo is a 6.0 point favorite and has a very explosive offense.
But same is valid for FIU.
This game is a coin flip, because it's totally open whether the teams will come out 100% or not.
The environment, the special game, the break.
Those factors will count here and the team which can use this for their advantage will win.
Which coaches will do their best here?
I have a bit more faith in Jason Candle, so Toledo gets the nod here.
Rockets win.

Fri. Dec. 21
Western Michigan vs BYU

@Albertsons Stadium - Boise, ID
This was known as the Humanitarian Bowl.
It is played at the University of Boise in Idaho and is worth around 325.000$ for each team.
This Bowl is played since 1997 and it is played at the moment between teams from the MWC and the MAC.
Looks like a Mountain West team was not wanted or available and BYU got the gig.
On paper this now looks like a bit of a mismatch.
BYU had a 6-6 season but with challenging opponents.
Still they lost games which they shouldn't, like against NIU at home (6-7, yes, that's the score) and against Utah State also at home (20-45).
Western Michigan 7-5 in the MAC but lost not only against the power 5 teams on their schedule, but also against Ball State, Toledo and Ohio.
BYU should be favored by some points, and Vegas actually gives them -13.0 points as line, which is the biggest line so far.
Needless to say that played on the smuf turf, this could become a high scoring game.
Biggest question mark is, whether BYUs defense will stop the Broncos enough or for good.
I have (almost) no doubt that BYU will win here, either with a blowout or a close one.
I just want to mention that the Broncos in the past were able to score fast and if they can come up with that in THIS game, it would be a good sign for the future.
Still, Cougars win.

Don't forget your Pick'em picks.

'Til next time

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