It's a bittersweet day here at BotC, as Luke and Jon conclude the 2014 football season with their final set of picks, which (thankfully, given our performance this year) are For Entertainment Purposes Only. Just seven more games (well, eight if you include the FCS championship game, for which we're not going to do a pick) remain before the long dark cold winter of No Football begins.
This is, of course, less of a problem for Luke because he likes basketball a whole lot more than Jon does.
Luke and I agreed on all seven picks in part five, and went 4-3, which is pretty much an unqualified success by our dismal Bowl FEPO standards. That gets me back to .500 at 83-83, while Luke sits at 82-84. We're just playing for pride now, yo.
A reminder: we are, as a form of protest, eschewing all corporate sponsorship references.
|Friday, 11:00 a.m.
ARMED FORCES BOWL
Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth TX
JM: We have an actual bowl game pitting a team which lost to UTSA and Tulane against a team which lost to Akron and Virginia, and man, I just don't know what we're doing with our lives. The highlight of Pitt's season: beating Miami in their final regular season game to squeak into bowl eligibility. Houston's? They beat Memphis, which is an actual team. So I'll take Houston to cover, which will make TB happy anyway.
LT: Quick response to the intro: I like basketball a lot less when K-State, Mizzou and even the Thunder are all struggling. Anyway, this is just an awful football game that no one should watch. In lieu of actually thinking about this game, I'm going to go with my gut and pick against the American Conference, even if it means picking the ACC team. Plus, I need to gain ground somewhere. Panthers cover.
|Friday, 2:20 p.m.
Jacksonville Stadium, Jacksonville FL
JM: This is one of the most boring imaginable bowl pairings one can come up with. Let's revisit our formula from one pick ago: The highlight of Iowa's season: being outscored in the two losses which ended their regular season by a total of two points in regulation. Tennessee's? They get to say their only losses were to major big-time college football programs. You know, all six of their losses.
God, this is awful. These teams are the very definition of banal mediocrity. I'll take the Vols to cover, because, well, Iowa.
LT: Tennessee actually improved quite a bit as the season went on, largely because of the decision to switch to athletic sophomore quarterback Joshua Dobbs. He carried the Vols to wins over South Carolina, Kentucky and Vandy, which isn't exactly impressive, but it's certainly better than anything Iowa did, especially as they lost 3 of their last 4 games. Vols cover.
|Friday, 5:45 p.m.
Alamodome, San Antonio TX
JM: We normally don't pick the K-State game in this space, but bowl season is different. This game opened with K-State at -3.5, and now it's swung the other way for no apparent reason at all. Since I think K-State's going to win this one outright, I will gladly take the point and be on my merry way. Cats cover.
LT: Ha. Like I'm actually going to pick against Kansas State on this blog. Cats cover.
|Friday, 9:15 p.m.
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe AZ
JM: We know all too well what sort of horrible team we're getting on one side of this equation, so we need to take a deeper look at the Huskies to figure this out. Washington lost -- often badly -- to every team they played this year which possessed a pulse. They barely escaped Hawai'i and Eastern Washington to start the year before finally figuring out how to dispatch clearly inferior teams. That, in the Pac-12, actually has value; unlike even most Pac-12 contenders, Washington had absolutely no difficulty with Colorado, California, Oregon State, or Washington State. Throw in their one-point loss at Arizona in November, and it's obvious that Washington grew over the season. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, regressed badly, with only an emotional Bedlam victory to salvage the campaign. Huskies cover.
LT: If Tyreek Hill were playing in this game, I'd pick the Cowboys to win, no question. But because he made an awful, stupid decision and might even be a terrible human being, OSU will be playing its final game without the guy who was basically its only weapon on offense and beat the Sooners by himself. Washington may have struggled against good teams, but they also easily dispatched every team they played as bad as Oklahoma State after that slow start. That spread should probably be higher. Huskies cover.
|Saturday, 11:00 a.m.
Legion Field, Birmingham AL
JM: I'm not even going to get into this one. Florida stinks. Pirates cover.
LT: Yeah, and we know East Carolina doesn't stink because they beat....um....Virginia Tech? No, Urban Meyer, that's not impressive. Meanwhile, Florida's worst loss was a 23-20 overtime game against South Carolina. I think the Gators are the better team here and they'll probably win, but that's an awfully large spread and it's tough to know how a team will react in the wake of losing its coach. So, reluctantly, I'm agreeing with Jon and taking ECU to cover.
|Sunday, 8:00 p.m.
MOBILE ALABAMA BOWL
Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile AL
JM: The most impressive thing either of these teams did is a toss-up. Arkansas State beat Utah State in overtime. Toledo lost to Northern Illinois by a field goal. Both teams have balanced offenses and a penchant for close games against opponents in the same figurative area code, and that's a signal to take the underdog. A-State covers.
LT: This is terrible. No one really knows or cares what's going to happen, so I'm taking Toledo to cover just to be contrarian.
|Monday, 1/12, 7:30 p.m.
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington TX
JM: And so it comes down to this. Finally, after what seems like a lifetime, there is no SEC team playing for the national championship. Let that sink in.
We have been dismissive of Ohio State, to our chagrin. Turns out that loss to Virginia Tech was an anomaly. (Well, you know, usually when a team gets to game 15 with one loss, the loss is an anomaly. Something we should all try harder to remember.) The Buckeyes, when the chips were on the table, took down -- in order, with a break in the very middle for a tuneup against Indiana -- Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. And then they handled Alabama to send the SEC home from the ball.
And yet, I still can't pick them here, because of the absolute devastation Oregon visited upon Florida State. It was the most emphatic statement of the post-season, even moreso than TCU's dismantling of Mississippi. Oregon beat Florida State in every way they weren't supposed to. They out-muscled them, they out-toughed them, and ultimately it was Oregon's defense that salted the earth and destroyed the Seminoles. The sequence of six drives to open the second half -- fumble, touchdown, fumble, fumble, interception, fumble -- was a blistering assault on the Florida State offense, and was probably illegal in 37 states.
And Oregon can do the one thing Alabama could not last night: tackle. Ducks win their first title ever, and cover.
LT: Ohio State showed a lot of heart in that semifinal game and made some incredible athletic plays, particularly that touchdown catch by Michael Thomas just before halftime. We all know Urban Meyer is a hell of a coach, and he'll probably be able to figure something out to make this game interesting, at least for a while. But let's not forget there were times last night when Cardale Jones — who is basically Byron Leftwich — often looked like a third-string quarterback and made several mistakes. The Buckeyes needed several mistakes from Lane Kiffin and Blake Sims to get back into this game and eventually hold on for the win, in spite of Meyer's hubris in the final two minutes.
That's not going to happen against Oregon. Marcus Mariota has only thrown three interceptions all season, and this offense is as efficient as any in the country. Sure, the Ducks also took advantage of some awful and hilarious derps by Jameis Winston, but that only made it into a blowout. It didn't win them the game. Oregon doesn't need to play perfect to win this. Ohio State does. I don't think it happens. Ducks cover..
Next: Sobbing. Weeping. Desperately waiting for September since basketball is a black hole of misery.