Well, that was awful swell, wasn’t it?
The first half of this week’s bowl games wasn’t exactly much to write home about. The Military Bowl was rather boring, as we expected. It happened. The Belk Bowl, which featured, among other things, Tommy Tuberville in a black pleather blazer and red sweater, was a bit of a dud. That said, Cincinnati should get kudos for rallying to beat Duke in Charlotte, with just five coaches on staff. Meanwhile, the night cap saw the fireworks we expected, and wanted, in the Holiday Bowl. However, most of them were in one direction as Baylor put UCLA on blast, 49-26.
The Hawaii Bowl and Little Caesar’s Bowl also happened.
Anyways, here’s what happens next.
- Ohio v. UL-Monroe [Independence Bowl] (ESPN, 2:00pm ET). That there is no SEC representative in this game is the weakest of weak sauce. This is basically the “SEC’s Detroit”, a bowl game of last resort for the last eligible team. However, the SEC has 10 bowl tie-ins and nine eligible teams. Further, the ACC couldn’t send its representative either, since the conference has six eligible teams. This left several bowl committees scrambling. Thus, UL-Monroe plays Ohio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Want an idea of how undesirable this bowl game is? Louisiana Tech opted to sit out the postseason rather than travel an hour west and play in Shreveport.
- Rutgers v. Virginia Tech [Russell Athletic Bowl] (ESPN, 5:30pm ET). Is this another B1G TEN v. SEC bowl game? Well, not yet. It remains to be seen what the SEC does next with its conference expansion, but Rutgers doesn’t go B1G for another year. Rutgers is 9-3 and the co-champions of the Big East. Virginia Tech, meanwhile, is 6-6 after beginning the season ranked #20 in the country. A big reason? Virginia Tech’s offense, which is the Bollman Ball of the Eastern Seaboard. In particular? Virginia Tech’s wide receivers don’t feel like blocking. Ever.
- Minnesota v. Texas Tech ["Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas"] (ESPN, 9:00pm ET). Yep, the B1G TEN bowl schedule starts this evening, with Minnesota. You can’t stop it. You can only hope to contain it. Does Minnesota have a meaningful chance of winning this game? Well, it would be the first good team Minnesota would beat all season. The combined record of Minnesota’s wins over FBS teams is 21-40, with the “signature” win being over a 7-5 Syracuse team. Texas Tech is also 7-5, but Big XII stock comes a little tougher.
- Rice v. Air Force [Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl] (ESPN, 11:45am ET). Both Rice and Air Force are 6-6. It is both Rice and Air Force. You’re watching this anyways.
- West Virginia v. Syracuse [Pinstripe Bowl] (ESPN, 3:15pm ET). This is the second of three bowl games featuring two teams that were conference mates just two years ago, the first being the Poinsettia Bowl. The third, the Cotton Bowl, is yet to come. It also provides an opportunity for Dana Holgorsen to avenge last year’s conference loss at the Carrier Dome. For a team that scored 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl, Syracuse, of all teams, smoked it last year.
- Navy v. Arizona State ["Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl"] (ESPN2, 4:00pm ET). This bowl game last year, which featured a 6-6 Illinois team playing a 6-7 UCLA team, now has Navy v. Arizona State. The name of Arizona State’s game, besides its… *cough* “high octane offense”, is its proclivity to rack up sacks on the other side of the ball. Arizona State is second nationally in sacks and has two guys, Carl Bradford and Will Sutton, in the top 20 nationally in individual sacks. Hard to imagine they’ll get many opportunities for that against Navy, which may throw the ball eight times this game. Meanwhile, Arizona State is 76th nationally in rush defense. It’s not necessarily a lay-up for a more talented Arizona State team against a service academy.
- Texas v. Oregon State [Alamo Bowl] (ESPN, 6:45pm ET). It’s the Alamo Bowl and, also, Chris Spielman’s first game in the booth this bowl season. Oregon State punched above its weight to find itself in San Antonio this December. As for Texas? I’m not sure Mack Brown is getting paid $5.2 million a year to follow a Holiday Bowl season with an Alamo Bowl season.
- Michigan State v. Texas Christian ["Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl"] (ESPN, 10:15pm ET). If you care about that thing, this is really the best chance for a B1G TEN team to get a win this bowl season. Michigan State is feeble, especially on offense. Still, Texas Christian isn’t that much better and doesn’t have one of those “Big XII offenses” to dare the Spartans to score points. For those that may remember, this used to be the Insight Bowl. Buffalo Wild Wings bought the naming rights this offseason and, thus, decided to sponsor and host the team dinner. Yes, at Buffalo Wild Wings. In a wing eating contest, Michigan State crushed Texas Christian, with the Spartans players eating 33 wings per player to the Battletoads eating 20 wings per player. Yes, at Buffalo Wild Wings. Sparty, noooooo…