Time To Bowl Again Part 1 – James Damon Blog

James DamonTime To Bowl Again Part 1

Those of you that follow my blogs, whether consistently or occasionally, know that I throw out some thoughts each year regarding the slate of bowl games.  We have finally reached the end of the toilet bowl that is the BCS system, and while not perfect, a four-team playoff seems to be moving in the right direction.This year, I realized that it would be easier to pick the games if I waited until they were concluded!  Actually, a busy broadcast schedule, the holidays, and a bout with sickness just derailed me until the games already began.  Here are/were my picks for this year.New Mexico Bowl:  Washington State vs. Colorado State
I thought for sure the Fighting Wazzu Leaches would roll past the Rams.  They did not disappoint offensively, but could not stop the Rams on the other side.  So I start off 0-1 with my picks.  Hopefully, that helps dissuade any thoughts that I’m going to lie about the outcomes of games already played (I’m also a pastor, so I’m not gonna lie about this).

Las Vegas Bowl:  USC vs. Fresno State
I read a lot of projections that this should be a great game.  I was not drinking that Kool-Aid, though.  I was not sold on the younger Carr against big game opponents in big game competition.  Whether the Trojans were playing for the memory of Coach O, the excitement that the Kiffin era was gone, or the arrival of Sarkisian, I thought they should roll, and they did.  Record now: 1-1.

Idaho Potato Bowl:  San Diego State vs. Buffalo
While Buffalo’s resurgence under Turner Gill made for a nice story a few years back, this is an average program at best.  San Diego State is consistently an under the radar solid squad.  Aztecs win big, which they did.  Record now: 2-1.

New Orleans Bowl:  Tulane vs. UL-Lafayette
If you lived outside of Louisiana, your cares might actually be diminished.  The Ragin’ Cajuns injured QB really makes me hedge a great deal on this one.  I was not impressed with Tulane, but injured QB’s are scary to deal with.  This was my waffler, but ULL was who I thought was the better team and should win.  They did.  Record now: 3-1.

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl:  Ohio vs. East Carolina
This was one of those games that you only watched if you had direct connections to one of the schools or were sentenced to some form of community service which included this game.  ECU heavy favorites, I thought; surprised they took so long to put away Ohio.  Record now: 4-1.

Hawaii Bowl:  Oregon State vs. Boise State
The Broncos were the feel-good story year in and year out in college football for the small guys.  The glimmer is fading on that star, though, and after his worst season in Idaho, Chris Petersen has fled for Pac-12 land.  I did not expect this one to be as close as it was.  Record now: 5-1.

Little Caesars Bowl:  Pittsburgh vs. Bowling Green
Pittsburgh seems to perennially be a super under-achiever.  There is always some solid talent, but they squirm around against average competition and go .500 or slightly better.  I thought the Falcons would run roughshod over the Panthers.  Maybe the shocker of the bowl season (I just thought Pitt was not very good).  Record now: 5-2.

Poinsettia Bowl:  Northern Illinois vs. Utah State
This would be a classic game you would not care about, except for seeing the finale of the tremendous Jordan Lynch.  While most bowl games never quite pan out like you expected, the results are often exactly what expectations were.  NIU would roll big, I thought, in this one.  I began typing my thoughts and the half-time score was a one-pointer.  So I figured, throw out the blowout, but  the Huskies finish strong.  It also seems like you have a day during bowl season where you miss every game.  Today is that day (hopefully, it’s the only day like it).  Record now: 5-3.

Military Bowl:  Marshall vs. Maryland
Amazing to think back on a season that the Terrapins were undefeated at one point and threatening to make some noise.  The wheels fell off, the engine dropped out of that bus, and the Terps probably don’t go bowling if there are not 312 to choose from.  Marshall wins with little difficulty.

Texas Bowl:  Syracuse vs. Minnesota
Nice season for the Golden Gophers, with the whole Jerry Kill health stuff on-going.  Syracuse seems to surprise me every year, because they always look bad, but end up winning more than they lose and making some mid-tier bowl game where I expect them to get run off the field and then they surprisingly get a win over a team that underachieved and could care less about playing in that particular game.  Not so with the Gophs; hard fought game, that Minnesota finds a way to win.

Fight Hunger Bowl:  BYU vs. Washington
People want to make a great deal out of Sarkisian leaving and the interim coach at UW.  BYU has more stability, etc. etc.  At the end of the day, though, Washington played in the very game Pac-12, and BYU has no signature wins.  The closest would be an over-ranked Texas the second week of the season before they gelled and made a run.  Every other solid opponent was a loss for BYU, as well as a couple other weak losses.  This might be closer than my gut says, but I can’t avoid taking the Huskies to win with little trouble.

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