It’s that time of year again, when the big, cruel NCAA teams makes college kids miss out on valuable family time around Christmas to go play meaningless exhibition games in exciting destinations such as Boise, ID and Albequerque, NM. Rather than the bowls listed below, I’d recommend watching the NBA, the FCS playoffs, or anything else, really.
But since many of you surely are in some Office Bowl Pick ‘em, Jon and I are here to help you out with our picks, For Entertainment Purposes Only, of course. I have nothing to say about this first round of games, because they are all terrible.
It should be noted, though, that as a form of irrelevant protest against the ever-expanding list of irrelevant games, Jon and I will not be using any corporate names when identifying bowls or the stadiums in which they are played. In some cases, such as the Humanitarian Bowl, that means going back to original names, and we reserve the right to use creative liberties. You’ll figure it out.
Jon maintained his lead as we both went 3-4 during Championship Week. He’s 72-65 overall, while I fell dangerously close to .500 at 69-68.
|Saturday, 10 a.m.
NEW ORLEANS BOWL
Superdome, New Orleans LA
LT:Let’s be clear: I know absolutely nothing about either of these teams. A bit of research tells me Nevada couldn’t even manage a winning record in the Mountain West, so that puts them in a big enough hole that I don’t even care if ULL had a worse loss to their one common opponent (Boise State). Plus, the Cajuns have won 7 of their last 8. On the bright side, both of these teams like to run the ball so hopefully the game won’t last long. ULL wins.
JM: What Luke's not telling you: LaLa went 1-3 in the non-conference, although those losses were to Boise, Ole Miss, and Louisiana Tech. Nevada went 3-1, including wins over BYU and Washington State. But the kicker here for me is Nevada's non-conference loss -- a touchdown setback on the road at Arizona. And while Luke's mocking Nevada's conference record, we should probably look at who those conference losses were to.
Yes, even though Fresno State was the West Division champ, we can't ignore a 20-point loss to them at home. But the other three losses were by a combined 19 points to Boise, Colorado State, and Air Force (the latter in overtime). Nevada was outscored, in regulation, by 12 points... by a group of three teams who went 25-3 against everyone other than themselves and Nevada.
In other words... Nevada's going to cover.
|Saturday, 1:20 p.m.
NEW MEXICO BOWL
University Stadium, Albequerque NM
LT: Hey, a team I know a bit about since they got completely obliterated by Kansas State! Meanwhile, Utah State beat BYU, which is actually kind of impressive. UTEP’s best win is…Middle Tennessee? Ugh. But Utah St. seems to have given up a lot of rushing yards recently, including 229 to Boise State’s Jay Ajayi, and that Aaron Jones kid from UTEP can actually run pretty well when he’s not getting swallowed up by large groups of Wildcats. Therefore, Miners cover.
JM: Utah State just doesn't win by big margins. Aside from their destruction of San Jose State, the Aggies only had one other 20+ point win against an FBS opponent -- and that was a 21-point win at Hawai'i. The rest of the resume is basically full of 14- and 15-point wins. So I think asking them to cover 10 against a UTEP squad that's on the right track seems to be a bit much. I figure the Aggies win, but don't cover.
|Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
LAS VEGAS BOWL
Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
LT:I was pretty impressed with the Pac-12 this season, and Utah did a great job of finding ways to eke out wins. Meanwhile, Colorado State’s close wins in the Mountain West aren’t nearly as impressive, and even a 3-point win at Boston College isn’t going to turn heads unless you’re a USC fan. This one will probably be close, but the Utes cover.
JM: On the other hand. Utah lives and dies by the squeaker. They're favored by 2.5 here, and had FIVE games this year that were either decided by less or went to overtime. That said, it's probably relevant to note who those games were against. Colorado State is a good football team... but they just lost the head coach who got them there. Utes cover.
|Saturday, 4:45 p.m.
Bronco Stadium, Boise ID
LT: One of my rules in picking bowl games is never bet against the triple option, something Western Michigan has surely never dealt with before. Yeah, they've got a lot of time to prepare, but they're also a team that lost by 9 to Purdue, albeit a long time ago. Falcons cover.
JM: The line on this one has been bouncing back and forth all week. Air Force is favored by a buck and a half right now, but for all I know by the time you read this they could be dogs. With all due respect to Western Michigan, this is ridiculous. Barring some strange swing in the line pushing Air Force to touchdown favorites or something, the Falcons will cover.
|Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Cramton Bowl, Montgomery AL
LT: Both of these teams have lost six games. Why do they get to play again? South Alabama is really bad at scoring points (107th FBS). Bowling Green is really bad at preventing its opponent from scoring points (109th FBS). Good offense beats good defense in meaningless exhibitions. Falcons cover.
JM: I tend to agree with all of this right up to the last two words. Also, it is unpatriotic to fail to give one's full support to U-S-A. The Jaguars, making their first-ever post-season appearance of any kind in football (because they've only had a football team for five years) cover.
|Monday, 1 p.m.
MIAMI BEACH BOWL
Marlins Park, Miami FL
LT: I can't imagine either one of these teams will draw a huge crowd, so the stadium will probably look just like it does at Marlins games. Either way, no matter what Memphis wants to think, they’re still a basketball school and they haven’t played a team with a winning record since Oct. 11. BYU has recovered from its four-game losing streak in the middle of the season and will be ready to go. Cougars cover.
JM: BYU has no bad losses, but they also don't have any really good wins outside of their ritual drubbing of Texas back in almost-August. Memphis doesn't even have that, but they do have a couple of decent losses; losing 24-3 to Mississippi isn't shameful for an AAC school, and the game against UCLA -- the same night BYU throttled Texas -- was actually the point at which everyone put Memphis on their watch lists. Memphis opened the season with a 63-0 win over Austin Peay, which is important because if we're being honest there have been years when Memphis was Peay's best shot at a win. That's how bad the Tigers were. They're not now.
But BYU still covers.
Next: We take you to and through Christmas, and into the early Boxing Day games. Included: the most fascinating minor bowl on the schedule, and you'll need your passport to get home from the middle of the article.