Tag Archives: bowl season

Bowl Season’s Biggest Winner: ACC Football

If you’ve read my articles here before, then you know I am admittedly a huge SEC homer. I was raised on SEC football and would not feel the way I do about the sport of football as a whole if it weren’t for the SEC.

Last year, the SEC did pretty well overall in bowl play. I would’ve given them props for that. In fact, I probably did. This year, it was a mixed bag for the conference I love.

But, there was a conference that really did shine in the most unimportant games of the season. That conference, to most people’s surprise, was the ACC.

Earlier this year I wrote an article trying to tell people to show ACC football some respect. After all, you don’t have to like the ACC to respect it. And now those of you that did read that article back then will see that sometimes I’m right. (I’m also wrong sometimes, too.)

But instead of just bragging about being right about that call, I will walk you through exactly how the ACC proved that I was right this bowl season. As I said above, bowl games are largely unimportant. That being said, they do come with bragging rights for the teams and conferences that fare well.

So, here’s to the ACC. Enjoy your bragging rights for the next eight months, and we’ll see what happens next year.

The ACC did take 3 L’s in bowl play. One of those really wasn’t that bad, in my opinion. But Louisville’s (vs. LSU) loss and Pittsburgh’s (vs. Northwestern) loss were both inexcusable. In a somewhat comical manner, I did manage to call the outcome of that LSU game on Twitter though. #SorryNotSorry

Let’s face it: Lamar Jackson had to carry Louisville this season, and if he was shut down then the team was hopeless. LSU shut him down and the Cardinals were hopeless.

And as for Pitt, I really didn’t see that loss coming. I guess that’s what happens when you cough up the ball four times. Northwestern wasn’t bad this year, but it also wasn’t good. Even with four turnovers, I’m still surprised Pitt dropped this game.

The other ACC bowl loss, the one that I don’t think was all that bad, was North Carolina’s loss to Stanford. North Carolina had some great moments this season, including victories over both Miami and Florida State. The Stanford Cardinal had a more solid season overall so I wouldn’t have expected a win from North Carolina in this one. Keeping the game as close as the Tar Heels did was actually pretty impressive. Here’s to moral victories!

Now, let’s discuss the ACC’s wins. And as I write this, there are eight of them. There could potentially be nine after the College Football Championship game. But I won’t get into that. My SEC bias might start showing again.

Boston College beat Maryland. But who really cares? Maryland is only recognizable in the college football world because of its hideous uniforms. Not to mention, Maryland left the ACC. The joke’s on them now.

Going into the bowl game with Wake Forest, Temple had actually put together a pretty good season. The Owls finished out the season with a convincing win over Navy, which was actually doing pretty well this year. The Demon Deacons jumped out to an early lead over the Owls and managed to hold onto that lead for the remainder of the game. They also had cool shiny helmets, so that’s a win too.

I never thought I would say beating Kentucky in football is a good win, but I’m saying it now. Georgia Tech’s win over Kentucky may not be as impressive as the win over Georgia during rivalry week. But now the Yellow Jackets are on a roll against the SEC East, having won their last three games against teams in the division. As we all know, the SEC East is not exactly full of formidable opponents. It’ll be interesting to see how the Yellow Jackets fare against one of the SEC East’s better teams, the Tennessee Volunteers.

Speaking of SEC East opponents that aren’t formidable, N.C. State dominated Vanderbilt in a game that was never close. N.C. State wasn’t exactly impressive during regular season play either but it did finish the season on a high note with a big rivalry win over North Carolina on the road. With that win and this dominant performance against Vanderbilt, it seems that the Wolfpack may be gaining momentum.

Arkansas may not be in the SEC East, but the ACC did notch another win over the SEC as a whole when Virginia Tech topped Arkansas in comeback fashion. Arkansas has always been confusing under Bret Bielema, and you never know what to expect from the team. Virginia Tech under Justin Fuente has been incredibly impressive, and the win over Arkansas just solidified that.

I don’t like West Virginia and I never have, but watching Miami get a relatively easy victory over the Mountaineers wasn’t any fun for me as a Gator fan. Mark Richt has done pretty well in his first season with the Hurricanes, and topping that off with a bowl win over a ranked opponent was a great sign for Miami fans. Maybe they’ll finally be able to forget the dark days of Al Golden.

Floridians can be proud of the college teams in their state because Florida State also managed to get an impressive win over Michigan. Michigan was supposedly a playoff contender but after an embarrassing first half in this game, Florida State made the Wolverines look like pretenders. As much as I may dislike both teams, I have to admit that this was a great win for the Seminoles and for the ACC.

Last but not least, there’s Clemson’s College Football Playoff beatdown of Ohio State. This was a glorious moment for me as an Ohio State/Urban Meyer hater. The one team from the Big Ten that did make it to the Playoff wasn’t even able to score a single point against Clemson. Talk about pretenders! I truly have a huge smile on my face as I write this. Clemson absolutely destroyed Ohio State, just showing the rest of us how overrated the Buckeyes (and the Big Ten teams) were this season.

Here it is: Yes, the ACC had a couple bad losses and one loss that was a moral victory so to speak. Still, the ACC had numerous good wins and a few great wins this bowl season. Like I said before, maybe it’s time to finally give credit where credit is due.

You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @OGKristenB.

Photo courtesy of Ken Lund.

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Outback Bowl Preview: Go Get A Steak Instead

It took a long time to research this bowl. Not because I find the matchup overly interesting, but because I got distracted by the Outback menu. There’s a hot take for you: looking at the Outback menu is going to be more exciting than the Outback Bowl.

Throw out the garbage non-conference games at the beginning of the season and Florida and Iowa have only scored more than 20 points a combined five times. That’s five out of 19 games. If you want to get technical, Iowa did score 21 in a loss to North Dakota State which everyone saw coming. Head coach Kirk Ferentz just doesn’t believe in consistency from year to year. Play in the Big Ten Championship one year, get knocked off by an FCS school the next.

But back to those point things. See, you need a lot of them to win the game usually and scoring lots of them is what makes games exciting. Well in addition to not scoring a lot of points, both of these school have highly ranked defense. Florida ranks sixth in overall defense according to ESPN and Iowa ranks 21st. They’re actually tied for eighth in points allowed.

It’s not really Florida’s fault that the team can’t score points. The Gators were 5-1 with Luke Del Rio at quarterback but an injury to him against Arkansas has forced Purdue-transfer Austin Appleby into the starting spot. With Appleby at the helm, the Gators went 3-3 with two devastating losses to Florida State and Alabama.

Would Florida have defeated either of those teams with Del Rio? Maybe Florida State but there probably would’ve been at least a better showing by the Gators.

Iowa, on the other hand, has no excuse. The Hawkeyes are coming into the Outback Bowl after thrashing Nebraska but let’s be real here: Nebraska was a fraud and we all knew it. Starting quarterback C.J. Beathard just didn’t put up the stats like he did in the Hawkeyes undefeated 2015 regular season. He had a pair of backs that accumulated almost 2000 yards and 20 scores but he had that last year too, only with three backs instead.

The real downfall for Iowa was the loss of 2015’s leading receiver, Matt VandeBerg, for most of the season. VandeBerg only has 19 receptions this year compared to 65 the previous year. That was double the catches of the next closest receiver. He’s missed eight games this season and is still tied for third in touchdown receptions. How sad is that? He’ll be back in 2017 but for the regular season, not the bowl game.

The moral of the story? This game is probably going to be brutal to watch.

How do you make an unwatchable game watchable? With gambling!

The line has actually dropped to Florida being a 2.5 point favorite depending on where you look, but for all intents and purposes, we’re going to call it three since that’s what most sites and bowl challenges have it listed at. That’s probably a fair line since there’s bound to be mostly field goals kicked in this game. I’ve also learned that if it starts dropping, Vegas is trying to get you to pick the underdog. I’m onto you, Vegas.

What you’ve got to watch out for is the defensive scores, though. Florida has 13 interceptions and eight fumbles that have been converted into three touchdowns, tying them for ninth in the nation. Iowa has recovered one more fumble but only seven interceptions for one score. The Outback Bowl is going to come down to one team turning it over in the other’s territory. My money’s on Florida to create that turnover so I’m going saying to take Florida and the points.

For some hilarious reason, the over/under has been set at 21. I don’t think we need to spend a lot of time on this. If you’ve gotten to this point, you already know I’m not expecting a lot of points to be scored. You can take the under with confidence in the Outback Bowl.

That’s all the official bets for you but if you need some other things to make wagers on with your friends, enjoy these prop bets I just made up and have fun watching the Outback Bowl:

  • Times Jim Harbaugh is mentioned: over/under, 3
  • Someone picks Alabama to win it all: over/under, 6.5
  • Higher total: touchdowns or turnovers
  • Higher total: Appleby passing yards or LeShaun Daniels rushing yards
E-mail Tim at .

Image courtesy YouTube via Creative Commons

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Popeyes Bahamas Bowl: Points For Everyone

I’m a little more excited for the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl than I probably should be. No, I won’t be there, although that’d be nice since it was like six degrees out yesterday.

I graduated from Eastern Michigan University and quite frankly, we haven’t been very good at sports in a long time. When I was there, the Eagles were good at sports like track and swimming. You know, the sports that people don’t watch on TV or know that the school is good at unless you go there. Our football team was the one that other schools paid a lot of money to in order to crush us in their season openers.

Not any more, suckers!

Sure, Eastern Michigan isn’t 12-0 or anything but hey, 7-5 is pretty good considering we only won one game last season. Baby steps, ok?  

There’s another team in the Bahamas Bowl too: the Old Dominion Monarchs. Their logo is a lion which I don’t get but we’ll roll with it. The Monarchs went 9-3 but don’t have any wins over teams that your average college football fan would say is any good. But hey, 9-3 is still 9-3. The Monarchs like to score points too. With the exception of the loss to Appalachian State, Old Dominion scored at least 22 points in every game, including three games with more than 50.

You know who else likes to score points? Eastern Michigan. The Eagles lowest scoring output for the season was 15 points in a loss to Miami of Ohio. The rest of their games they scored at least 20 points including the time they dropped 48 on Ball State and 61 on Mississippi Valley State.

That bodes well for this game because, for whatever reason, the Bahamas Bowl has been an epic shootout in the last two years. When the losing teams score 31 and 48, you know you’re having fun. Unless you’re one of those people that don’t like fun, in which case you can just get out.

Speaking of fun, who likes gambling?

Let’s start off with the easy one. The over/under is set at 65. I actually got a bit of a chuckle out of that. Both of these teams like to score and although the defenses are better, they still aren’t great. They’re going to score and score a lot. You can take the over with confidence on this one.

Going against the spread is going to be a little more interesting. Old Dominion is a four-point favorite which doesn’t seem like much after I just spent four paragraphs telling you how much these teams like to score points. Old Dominion gets the edge because they don’t commit mistakes and they don’t commit turnovers. They committed nine turnovers and three of them came in the season finale, which is kind of absurd.

Look, I want to tell you to take Eastern Michigan. I’m wearing my Eastern Michigan hoodie as I write this actually, and no matter what anyone I’ve ever played a bowl picking game with says I’m awesome at going against the spread. But you’ve got to take Old Dominion here. They’ve got a senior quarterback in David Washington with a 28:4 touchdown: interception ratio.

So if you want to win your bet, you should go with Old Dominion. I’m going to be over here rooting for my Eagles, though.

E-mail Tim at .

Image courtesy Creative Commons

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Iowa vs. LSU and Why Every Bowl Game is Worth Watching

In 2005, the Capital One Bowl was a pseudo time-filling bowl on New Year’s Day.  This status hasn’t really changed.  As I scanned through the channels to find something to watch, I stumbled upon this game and used it to fill time until the better games began. However, it turned out to be the most dramatic game of the day.

As I did some research for this article, I went back to look at the box score.  I remember watching the game, but didn’t recall all the nuances of who was in it.  For example, the 2005 LSU team featured future NFL standouts Dwayne Bowe, JaMarcus Russell (actually, not really a standout), and Joseph Addai.  Meanwhile, the most successful NFLer on the Iowa team at that time, at least on offense was Scott Chandler.  But this isn’t about where various people in a random Capital One Bowl went after graduation.

Like most high schoolers, determining what colleges to apply to was something that occurred between my junior and senior year.  I used a strategy that, at least at that time, was widely ridiculed mocked by all the “experts” who gave advice about how to choose a college.  Recently, my strategy has been somewhat vindicated and has become more popular.  My college-selection strategy involved wanting to go to a school that had all the major sports.  It also involved eliminating schools that I didn’t cheer for when I watched them on TV as I felt that if I didn’t like watching a team play on TV, there was a good chance I wouldn’t like it if I was physically there.

Prior to applying to schools in the Midwest, my father and I visited three schools: Wisconsin, Illinois, and Iowa, not necessarily in that order.  When we visited Iowa, we met with some guy who was in admissions.  After the prerequisite discussions about majors, facilities, campus size, and student body, the topic shifted to football.  Being from Hawaii, it was apparent that he had very low expectations about my Iowa football knowledge.  He pointed to a picture on the wall that showed Warren Holloway breaking a Travis Daniels’ tackle in the 2005 Capital One Bowl and asked if I knew what the picture was about.  I surprised him by not only knowing the play, but also knowing all the drives leading up to the play.  In short, my knowledge of that particular bowl game resulted in me being offered a partial scholarship.  More importantly, it led to my mother never telling me to stop watching “useless college football games.”

While I ultimately did not attend Iowa, the events of that day serve as a reminder during bowl season that every game, even the ones that don’t seem very “good,” is worth watching.  Getting offered a scholarship based on a discussion of a Hail Mary play is memorable and demonstrates the power of college football.  In the lead up to the “main event” bowls on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and the National Championship, I encourage everyone to turn on random bowl games.  You never know what might happen or where it might lead.

 

Photo credit: JOPHIELsmiles/Flickr

The College Quickie: NCAA Makes Right Choice, Expands College Football Bowl Season

The college football landscape is changing, again. This spring, NCAA officials certified three new bowl games to implement into next year’s postseason. With the newfound bowls, there will be 42 postseason games including the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Among the new bowl game locations are Austin, Texas, Tucson, Arizona, and Orlando, Florida. The addition of these new matchups will create six slots for teams to fill. These games will increase the total number of teams in the postseason to 82 out of 127 Division I programs. For those who like ratios, approximately 64% of NCAA Division I teams will now be allowed into the postseason. Should 64% of teams get to participate in the postseason? That seems like a lot.

The controversy between these new add-ons doesn’t come from money, but rather the idea that the modifying will never stop. Bowl games will continue being added by the NCAA in order to maximize their profit values, but what the NCAA fails to realize is that the saturation of the college football postseason could ruin the game as a whole. Will this come to a point where bowl spots are given out like trophies at a youth t-ball banquet? I sure hope not, because the most vital aspect of college football is the dichotomy between winning and losing. In college football, winning means moving on while losing could end a player’s entire career. Players’ livelihoods are at stake in college football, and taking away those high stakes would reduce the College Football wow factor. If there’s one thing we have learned from the evolution of the college football fan it’s that fans want exciting, nail-biting match-ups that mean something, not a winter full of games that have losing teams participating.

Surprisingly, I fully support this year’s changes to the bowl season. Because the three new bowls will be filled by non-power 5 conferences, I have no problem with the new postseason. If you’re outside the big conferences, teams have a moderate to slim chance of making a bowl game, much less the College Football Playoff. This is mostly due to the schedule they play, and lack of competition throughout many of the less popular leagues. But what types of teams do these non-powerhouse schools schedule? They schedule power 5 teams, which usually end in a blowout. Yeah, these small schools get floated a fairly large amount of money to play these power 5 teams, but is that really enough? The new bowl games give mid-major conferences a chance to put teams in the postseason who have had good years, but a tough record due to the amount of higher echelon teams they play during the regular season. Give the little guy a chance to make a name for himself on national TV.

Now, I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings. I am NOT in favor of expanding the bowl landscape any larger than the NCAA has already chosen to do so this year. Teams with losing records should not be allowed to participate in the postseason, no matter what conference you play in. The bar should still be set at 6-6 in order to qualify. In every sport, the postseason is a privilege to be earned by winning. I know these bowl games are mostly about the money made, but no team should be rewarded for losing games. We have sacrificed the game of football enough already. We don’t need devalue the college football postseason in the name of money or appeasement.

42-45 Loss to USC Marks End of Bipolar Husker Season

Lay off the Xanax, Husker fans, the season of crazy ups and downs came to an end last Saturday. The Nebraska bowl game against USC was no less full of craziness and I am certain it left many feeling rather drained.

Let’s recap. After the 1st quarter, the score was 17-10, Nebraska. Big Red promptly laid an egg in the 2nd quarter while USC put up 14, putting the score at 17-24 at halftime. The 3rd quarter saw its share of points as both teams combined scored 38 (defense, I am looking at you here). Nebraska was down 34-45 at the start of the 4th quarter. In most exciting fashion, Big Red got a touchdown and the needed 2 point conversion and there was finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Alas, the impressive efforts did not outgain USC and the final score was 42-45.

The Huskers fought tooth and nail for every point against a very good USC team. They even paid attention to a couple of my keys to victory (the kicking game and get the ball to DPE were vital!). The crazy season ended, and I was proud of the effort and the comeback. Not only did the team almost win, there was no predicted blowout, proving that Nebraska can perform against good teams. May not be to the point that the Ls turn into Ws but as everyone knows this is a continuing work in progress. At the end of the game I was indeed disappointed that the comeback fell short, but I was more disappointed by the fan base reaction on Twitter. Now maybe I should not read much into a bunch of uninformed fair weather fans running their mouths, but it was hard not to shake my fist at them in disgust. There were the people who mocked that at least the Huskers weren’t losing 55-0. There were the people who were so glad to see this season end and so on and so on. There were doomsday and naysayers all around, the “us against the world” mentality was strong.

It is my firm belief that the people who will turn on you first are your least supporters – this belief applies to all types of situations, not just college football. These are the fakers, the fair weather “I want to bask in the glory” turning into “I’m embarrassed to be a Husker football fan” after a struggle. If this person is you, I will simply unfollow you on Twitter, so by all means, continue your bitchfest – but consider very hard what exactly it is you think it means to be a Nebraska football fan. If it means winning and that is it, you may as well pack your red things away.

As for the rest of Big Red Nation who hold their heads high and KEEP THE FAITH, I truly salute you and your fandom speaks volumes. This program isn’t one that I will ever trash, not the players, not the coaches. I will constructively and intelligently analyze what information is readily available and what my own eyes can see. Y’all wanna go Skip Bayless and be a laughing-stock, go ahead. The rest of us know better.

Relax, Big Red. Focus on the future. Keep expectations reasonable. Stay calm and stay respectful. Wear your red in the sun and wear more of it in the rain.

GBR!