2019-12-23 09:48

Nice 1st few games so far.
We already have some upsets and I hope this continues.

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

Fr. Dec. 20
Buffalo vs Charlotte

This was quite clear.
Charlotte did not score in the 1st half and was not able to stop Buffalo, trailing already 17:0 at the half.
The 2nd half was a bit closer, but overall did Buffalo win every quarter.
Again around 13.500 in the stands and they saw the 1st Bowl-win for the Bulls, ever.
Really a nice finish for the Bulls and for me they are already a contender for next years MAC-championship.
Buffalo 31 vs Charlotte 9 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 1-0

Kent State vs Utah State

Another 1st bowl in ever here, and that with a great upset by Kent State.
Defense was no option, obviously and that way did Kent State was most of the time leading, but not much and Utah State did more than once tie the score or even took the lead by a few points for a few minutes.
At the end did Utah State just lost a step or 2 and Kent State had some aggressive play calling to not letting the Aggies back into the game.
This looks good for the Golden Flash for next season, but also Utah State might become better next year.
Kent State 51 vs Utah State 41 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 1-1

Sat. Dec. 21
Central Michigan vs San Diego State

Central Michigan did look really not good, were unable to stop the Aztecs and were also unable to score.
San Diego did eventually play out their frustration over the lost 1st place in the division and did trash CMU for good.
But ... CMU did develop good over the season under their new HC, so they might become better next year.
SDSU is for me also a contender for next season.
Central Michigan 11 vs San Diego State 48 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 2-1

Liberty vs Georgia Southern

Quite close game here and a perfect ending for the Flames. That’s another 1st Bowl win for a program.
Maybe Liberty will have a great season next year, they seemed to have reacted well to their next HC.
Georgia Southern might rebound next season, but their season was not that good overall and can't be the kind of quality the fans want to see.
I hope Liberty will have a more interesting schedule so, they can make some noise.
Liberty 23 vs Georgia Southern 16 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 2-2

SMU vs Florida Atlantic

I was soooooooooooooooooo disappointed by SMU.
They did start good this season and had some problems later, but I did not expect them to lose THIS bad.
SMU did score 28, but FAU did score 52! Under interims coaching.
I hope they can keep this up next season, now under a new HC.
SMU will have to rebound, they have a good potential, but only if they can stay in games for the whole season.
SMU 28 vs Florida Atlantic 52 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 2-3

Florida International vs Arkansas State

Man, I did pick FIU (as the only one in the pick'em), but Arkansas State was a bit better through out the game.
FIU was unable to gain control over every quarter and at the end, Arkansas States defense was just better.
That's why Bowls are so interesting, because the momentum is sometimes different and the settings are different, so a compare is not really possible and the results are ... special.
Both teams do look like the indicators do point upwards, so we might see them again a bowls (and more) next season.
Florida International 26 vs Arkansas State 34 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 2-4

#19 Boise State vs Washington

This was ALL Washington and likely we saw a TEAM effort to give their leaving coach, who retires, a win as last game, against his former team.
Boise State was totally unable to score for almost the whole game, scored only 7 points and that was just not enough against this strong team.
Washington will have a smooth transition to the new HC and I hope they will contend again next season.
The PAC12 needs strong teams, otherwise the power 5 conference will be a power 4 over they next few seasons.
#19 Boise State 7 vs Washington 38 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 3-4

#20 Appalachian State vs UAB

The Mountaineers were favored by 16.5 points and did win by ... 14 points.
So UAB did play a bit better than anticipated I you want, but overall was Appalachian State just much better.
I have the feeling that both teams will be contenders next season inside their conferences and honestly I think Appalachian State should change the conference at some point.
But the conference changes seemed to be off the map for most teams right now, why I don't know.
There are some open spots in the stronger conferences, so maybe in the next 2 to 5 seasons we will see some movement again, and Appalachian State should be one of the teams to watch.
#20 Appalachian State 31 vs UAB 17 -> Jacks BOWL Score: 4-4

And that was the 1st wave until Saturday.

I did decide to put only the next bowls in, until Friday, not Saturday, but those are plenty.


Mon. Dec. 23
UCF vs Marshall

@Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, FL
It's played since last season 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 1.125.000$.
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.
Marshall was again selected to play here, like last year, 2015 and 2011 (3-0 record so far)
UCF is also a returning team, played here in 2014, 2012 and 2009 (1-2 record so far)
The teams did not play against each other so far.
Marshall is 8-4 this season, but missed the C-USA final with 2 conferences losses, while they even won against now-champ FAU on the road during the season.
UCF did finish 9-3 after 2 great seasons undefeated. They lost to later finalist Cincinnati and low-win-team Tulsa.
At least Vegas don't see Marshall here with a big chance, betting line is UCF -16.0.
That's something.
When I read the matchup I did not think Marshall will win, but 17 points difference .... Not sure.
Luckily we just pick winner and UCF is much better suited to play here.
A Marshall win would be epic for the program and the bowl series, so hopefully we will see a close game, the rest is up to the players and coaches.
But I will not ignore the fact that UCF is from my point of view a better team.
Knights win.

Tue. Dec. 24
Hawai'i vs BYU

@Aloha Stadium - Honolulu, HI
The Hawai'i Bowl is played since 2002 and each team gets around 750.000$.
It does team up MWC teams against an American team, but at the end this year BYU got the call.
Hawai'i is of cause the 1st team to play from the MWC if eligable and not selected from a BIG bowl from New Year.
The Warriors did play also last season here and lost, the team is 4-4 overall in this bowl.
The did play great this season, but lost some steam over the season, finished still 9-5 and played for the Championship, but lost.
BYU did play a mixed schedule as independent and finished 7-5, which is not the best the team did in the past.
Still Kalani Sitake was prolonged until 2023, his record so far is 27-24.
The Cougars are favored by 1.0 point here, which is not much.
Hawai'i is capable to upset BYU for sure, they did play with a lot of heart and did wins some close games against bigger teams, like Arizona at season start.
BYU did also record some good wins, but also lost against some mid-level teams.
I say, everything is possible, which is the best a bowl can have.
Don't underestimate the home factor, Hawai'i might show some pride here and get it done.
The key factor is the BYU defense vs the fast-scoring Hawai'i offense.
In doubt for the home team, right?
Warriors win.

Thur. Dec. 26
Louisiana Tech vs Miami

@Independence Stadium - Shreveport, LA
Since 2014 it's again the Independence Bowl, played since 1976.
It was named totally different 2013 and some seasons before.
Because of the 200-year celebration of independence at 1976, this Bowl had his original name.
The SEC 10th team should face an ACC team (7th).
But the SEC did not have a 10th team this season, thanks to Missouris bowl ban.
So the bowl invited C-USA Louisiana Tech, which looks like a pity matchup.
But LT is 9-5 and did play quite well, while Miami did play under expectations and finished with 6-6.
Vegas gave Miami a line of -6.0, so it seems they expect a closer game.
If Miami can revitalize their defense, then the talent and the strength of Miami should be more than enough to overpower the Bulldogs.
But if that defense does still play as worse as over the season, the team will lose.
I think Miami, with the time until the bowl given, should be ready.
If they are not, the coaches team has to rethink their strategy for next season.
Hurricanes win.

Pittsburgh vs Eastern Michigan

@Ford Field - Detroit, MI
The Bowl is backed from the Detroit Lions and therefore played on their home field. It's new since 2014.
This is a Big10 vs ACC Bowl. A MAC team can be selected as secondary.
Last season was the payout for each team 2.000.000$.
The Big10 did not send a team here, instead we have the MAC team.
So a ACC team with 7-5 vs a 6-6 MAC team, not the best matchup.
Eastern Michigan did struggle a bit this season, did get the bowl eligibility basically at the end of the season, which is of cause still big for EMU, but did lead to a -11.0 line for Pitt.
I doubt Eastern Michigan can shred the Pittsburgh defense often enough to outscore the Panthers.
So I expect a one-sided game and a Pitt win.
Panthers win.

Fri. Dec. 27
North Carolina vs Temple

@Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium - Annapolis, MD
Since 2008 this Bowl is played.
For the next 3 years it will feature teams from the ACC vs AAC.
Each team gets around 2.000.000$.
North Carolina is ne win this bowl, Temple did already play in this 2 times and lost all games.
UNC under new HC and former Longhorns HC Mack Brown did play with a lot of heart from my point of view and if this trend continues UNC might become a contender in a very short period.
I wonder what went wrong in Texas when Brown was basically not getting the results he wanted (and of cause the University and the fans expected) and was forced out of town, if you see the results here, Texas should have been much better.
But maybe the environment fits now better, or the break did re-energize Brown, who knows.
Fact is, UNC got the bowl spot as 6-6 team in the 1st season of Browns 2nd stint with the team and are now favored by 5.0 points against a 8-2 Temple team.
Temple had a good season this year, but did crash in their ambitions against Cincinnati, UCF and SMU. But they won against now champ Memphis during the season.
The Owls can play, but will face likely a very motivated Tar Heels team under a HC in his 2nd wind.
I think Temple has a good chance to win here, but that extra effort in the 4th quarter, which did help UNC in many games, might be the deciding factor to see UNC winning this.
Brown is for me the matchmaker here and I think the team will prevail.
Tar Heels win.

Michigan State vs Wake Forest

@Yankee Stadium - New York, NY
Operated since 2010, it does field an ACC team against a Big10 Team.
Each team gets around 2.200.000$.
This looks a bit weak this season with the 6-6 Spartans facing the 8-4 Demon Deacons.
MSU is not having good seasons in the past 2 years, with 7-5 last year and 6-6 so far this year.
Mark Dantorio is good coach and his balance is so far very good, so it is strange he has 2 seasons in the row with such results.
Wake Forest under Dave Clawson is having a good time and at least 7 wins since 4 years, with 2 3 wins seasons before that to turn the team around.
I wonder why he did not get hired away from other teams, since Wake Forest with a lifetime record at round .410 is not really the best place to win and still he did.
So he should be able to win even more at other places.
But he is prolonged before this season until 2026, so the price to get him would be high.
The Spartans are favored by 3.5 points to win here.
They lost all important games this season, but that's also true for Wake Forest, who did also fail in big games.
If the Spartans can bring in their best defense, Wake Forest will have a hard time.
On the other hand is Wake Forest capable to score fast and a lot, so given the opportunity, this should help the Demon Deacons a lot.
I'm torn between the tradition of the Spartans and the undeniable momentum the Wake Forest program has in total.
I flip a coin and it is ....
Spartans win.

#25 Oklahoma State vs Texas A&M

@NRG Stadium - Houston, TX
This is played at the home of the Houston Texans.
It's played since 2006.
The Big 12 should face up against a SEC Team here.
Each team gets around 3.200.000$.
This season we have the always surprising (in good and bad ways) Oklahoma Cowboys, finishing 8-4, against the formerly Big12 rivals Texas A&M Aggies from the SEC, finishing the season 7-5.
It could become an interesting bowl, but overall this is hard to predict, since both teams did play very good and very bad games.
Negative highlight for the Cowboys is likely the loss against Texas Tech, on the road, while they did play great against Iowa State and West Virginia, both on the road.
Texas A&M did not play well against Clemson, but did almost win against Georgia and overall the losses don't look too bad, given the final results of those teams.
A&M did already play here 2 times, 1-1 overall, OSU does play the 1st time.
The betting line is clearly in favor of the Aggies with 7.0 points as favorites.
I think OSU can win here, if the Aggies do play bad defense, again.
If all things do come together for the Aggies, I can see them winning with a higher margin than those 7.0 points.
Their passing game should make the difference and pending some turnovers, the Aggies should win.
Aggies win.

#22 USC vs #16 Iowa

@SDCCU Stadium - San Diego, CA
This is played at the former home of the San Diego Chargers. Only the San Diego State Aztecs do still play here.
It's played since 1978 and they managed to get the regular PAC12 vs. BIG10 matchup going.
Each team gets around 3.500.000$.
We have a strong Big10 team against a strong PAC12 team, but both with asterisks.
Iowa did play strong, but lost the big games against Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin, which did cost them the division title.
USC did play strong, but lost to Washington and Oregon (and Notre Dame and worse BYU) to lose the division race against Utah.
So ... both teams with ambitions, but failure when it counted most.
That's not important for this game here, but it give a peak on the setting.
Iowa is a lot of defense, while USC did play well on both sides, but I would say they are more offense then defense.
The betting line is Iowa -2.5, which is almost as close as it can get and the ESPN calculator (based on their team strength rankings) is basically at 50% each.
So we have an open game as it seems.
The weather could be a factor, Iowa as cold weather team might have some trouble with the warm dry Southern California conditions, but I think that will be less important.
The USC HC change did not happen so this distraction is also off the table and we can sit back and can enjoy a clash.
My guess is, that USC is a bit better in this (almost) home game and will win by some inch.
I could imagine that this might come down to some opportunities and Iowas scoring is not the best.
So I see USC a bit ahead, ergo ...
Trojans win.

Air Force vs Washington State

@Chase Field - Phoenix, Ariz.
This does operate since 1989.
It's played at the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a baseball team in MLB.
It does usually field a PAC12 Team facing a Big 12 team, but this season we got no Big12 team, but a MWC team.
Each team gets around 1.600.000$.
Air Force is good this season, finishing 10-2, but failed to overpower Boise State inside their division and did therefore not play for the MWC championship.
Washington State did finish barely 6-6 and had a big down season under coach Leach, the worst since 2014.
Air Force is favored by 3.0 points, I think this might come down to who scores last and the margin might be higher or lower.
Both teams can score, even the Cougars do have some problems on offense compared to last season, but should be able to score.
Is Air Force strong enough to take down a PAC12 team?
Yes they are, they won against Colorado during the season, but as did Washington State.
The talent should be on the side of the Cougars, the heart ... I don't know.
I hope for the best and a close game, a shootout and one team will win, eventually in OT.
Since I have to pick a team, I take Washington State enjoying a day in the desert without rain and cold winning by a late score.
Cougars win.

Don't forget your Pick'em picks.

'Til next time

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