Time to Bowl Again Part 2 – James Damon Blog

James DamonTime to Bowl Again Part 2 – Here’s part two of the on-going bowl saga….. Pinstripe Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers How different this year might have been for the Irish had Everett Golson remained eligible to play. A far tumble from the title game tilt a year ago, but that game was not remotely winnable for the Golden Domers. This game should not be remotely lose-able, even if Tommy Rees throws four zany interceptions. Notre Dame should win by three or four scores. Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina Some of these bowls pit match-ups of teams that should have been or could have been more than they were. UNC and Cincy is definition of that game. There is more talk about former coaches from these schools than actual current situations. That is probably never good. North Carolina should have enough talent, though, to roll to a Belk Bowl title. Russell Athletic Bowl: Miami vs. Louisville Teddy Bridgewater is considered the top offensive talent for the NFL draft, though some reports suggest he wants to come back for another year. This is his chance to cement that status by rolling over a spiraling downward Miami team after injuries derailed a solid start to the season. Miami has more overall talent, but Louisville has Teddy. Cardinals win. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Kansas State vs. Michigan Michigan’s starting QB has not played much in a couple years, and his style completely differs from Devin Gardner, the former Wolverine QB. Much is made of K-State’s win-less bowl streak the last several years, but Snyder treats many of the games more like a stage for the program, alumni, etc. to have fun to cap the year, rather than often winning the game. That’s not the case as much this year; K-State finished strong and improved throughout the season. Michigan has been average all year, playing out of their mind against Ohio State. I don’t see how they have much to play for. I like K-State to win here. Armed Forces Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy Navy QB Keenan Reynolds is name to watch as he rolled into the record books. The triple option is usually very difficult for teams to prepare for if they don’t see it much. I think Middle Tennessee can score some points against Navy, but I cannot begin to imagine a scenario where they stop the Middies from moving the ball and scoring. Big score, Navy win. Music City Bowl: Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech Generally middling teams who had some larger prospects for the season, but for one team they will finish losing to an FBS opponent and a barely winning record at 7-6. Nothing exciting about this game. SEC is much tougher competition, so Ole Miss should be favored, though the score will be close. Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. Texas The over/under may be greater for speculation on the new Texas coach. The real question will be can they propose a new possibility quicker than the Ducks score when they touch the ball. Oregon should play inspired with defensive coordinator Nick Aliotti retiring, and the Ducks have too much dynamism on the offensive side of the ball for Texas to keep up with. Holiday Bowl: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech This should be a prolific scoring bowl game. Who knows if Todd Graham has already found another destination job to jump to, but he does have a history of teams dropping 60 in bowl games. Texas Tech’s defense is game for that. Over/under bets on celebrity potential dates for Kliff Kingsbury is 7. Triple that if you want to think about the score, with the Sun Devils in favor. AdvoCare V100 Bowl: Arizona vs. Boston College Under the radar game with the top two backs in the nation doing battle. If either team throws the ball ten times, the coach should be fired immediately. Keep feeding the horses, in this case, ‘Zona’s Ka’Deem Carey, and BC’s Andre Williams. First one to three hundred yards rushing wins. Arizona is the better team and gets the victory. Sun Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. UCLA The first non-ESPN broadcasted bowl game is between an up-and-down Hokie squad and an up-and-comer UCLA squad. Myles Jack playing both sides of the ball for the Bruins is an entertaining sidebar as well. Beamer ball is nothing to get excited about this year. Bruins roll in a romp. Liberty Bowl: Rice vs. Mississippi State Another mostly “whatever” bowl game between two middling teams. This is why you either LOVE the bowl system or HATE it. Rice can run the football pretty well; MSU plays in the SEC. As much as many want to fuss about the SEC dominance, etc., it’s true most of the time. Middling teams from power conferences (this year: that’s the SEC and the Pac-12) generally maul teams from lower tier conferences. MSU wins, though it’s probably a close game. Chick-fil-A Bowl: Texas A & M vs. Duke What a great year for Duke, and if not for the amazing story of Gus Malzahn, David Cutcliffe wins a coach of the year in a landslide. You just don’t go to conference title games if you play football in Durham; in fact, you don’t really go to bowl games, let alone games close to New Year’s Day. That’s a great storyline, but maybe overshadowed by the phenom that is Johnny Football. What will be greater? His potential final performance in college, or what happens during the night life with him on New Year’s Eve? A & M cruises to a huge win. Heart of Dallas Bowl: UNLV vs. North Texas I’m surprised at how many pundits I’ve read picking the Mean Green to take out the Rebels in this game. And maybe they will. This is yet another middling bowl that you likely won’t watch unless you attended one of the schools or have specified rooting interest. I’m taking UNLV in a close win. Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia We called this game the Capital One Bowl game last year. Georgia has oodles of talent and even more injuries this year. Nebraska has a coach that might curse himself out. That’s entertaining TV, eh? Nebraska had trouble slowing down the Mighty Gophers, who average offensively about a yard every thirteen plays. That’s exaggerated, but they ranked around 100 in the nation in that category. Todd Gurley plays for Georgia and he’s a beast that Nebraska will not be able to stop, even with Aaron Murray shelved. Murray’s injury brings this back to a close game, but UGA prevails. Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina Jadaveon Clowney just picked up three more speeding tickets in the parking lot after practice. What should have been a monster season has been more off-field jabber than on-field hammer. But Clowney is a beast, the top defensive prospect for the NFL draft, and could live off the rep the huge hit against Michigan in last year’s bowl game got him. I won’t be shocked if Wisconsin RB’s enjoy similar fates. Close game, good one to watch, but SC wins. Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. LSU These two squads have met before in entertaining football games. This one should not be another similar output. LSU has too much NFL talent, and Iowa seemed to overachieve late to make a run for a nicer bowl. That sentiment gets crushed by the Bayou Bengals quickly. Rose Bowl: Stanford vs. Michigan State I don’t care about the pageantry and all that schmaltz. I love football and I watch poor games from time to time, but I want good match-ups. This is the best of the bowl season, in my opinion. It is either 1A or 1B, based solely on the defensive vs. offensive perspectives. These are two teams that just play football the good-old fashioned hard way. MSU loses a key defensive leader for the bowl and has far travel to the coast. Oh yeah, their conference stunk this year. Stanford was a pre-season fave for national title talk. The Cardinal win this one. Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. UCF One of the largest margins on the betting lines in the entirety of bowl season. While I don’t bet and I encourage you not to, those guys usually know what they are talking about because the lines are set to push money from both sides. This is an OK UCF team, but OK teams usually get plowed really hard in BCS games. Think NIU last year. Plus, extra incentive is Baylor’s shot to break the overall bowl record for most points by a team in a single game (70). Ralph Russo from the AP points out the Bears broke that total four times this season. I don’t think they set the record, but they give it a push in a game that’s well over before the half. Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Oklahoma Two blue bloods meet on the gridiron in a classic duel of collegiate superpowers. Trouble is this Alabama team is mad after losing to Auburn (and the way they lost to Auburn), and this Oklahoma team is not that good. Bama should win by four TD’s. Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson From the MO HS perspective, watch this game to see if EZ Elliott gets in for the Buckeyes. From the college football perspective, it’s two teams littered with super athletes and high end NFL talent. Should be a great game. One team is superbly coached, but I don’t think that team is nearly as good as the other team. The question is if the superior talent of the Tigers can build a large enough lead and overcome the great coaching of the Urban legend. I say Clemson is hungry enough today. Huge winning streak to start the Buckeye tenure becomes a two-game losing streak. Cotton Bowl: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State This is game 1A or 1B, in my opinion, to watch. If you like defense, check out that Rose Bowl. If you like offense, this is the game for you. MU seems to find a way to NOT win the really big games they play. That’s been a bit of a knock against the Cowboys as well. Two old foes that know each other pretty well. Offenses are likely comparable, but MU’s defense should be better than OSU’s on that side of the ball. Tigers are a slight favorite. BBVA Compass Bowl: Vanderbilt vs. Houston Vandy has a dynamite wideout and considering the off-season turmoil, what a great job coaching by James Franklin. If he stays, he’s crazy, because this has to be a huge jump year, and the Texas job is open. Houston wants to throw the ball 100 times in a game and call it the “Wilt of Football”. I think Vandy is better, but I don’t think they can keep up with the Houston pace and scoring. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Ball State I know the reason why most people watch this game is to see the zany, almost racy ads the title sponsors will throw out, but a great side story is the carousel of Arkansas State coaches the last three years. All were like Kentucky basketball players: one and dones. That is more intrigue than this game. I really want to run with ASU, but I think Ball State wins. BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn I love Malzahn and I’m cheering for Auburn, otherwise something I would never do, because of that. But I don’t think they have the firepower to keep Winston and company from smoking. I have major problems with teams allowing guys to play despite the maelstrom that surrounded Famous Jameis this season (we’re not talking minor issues here; evidence seemed very strong regarding the situation and it appears to have been botched). Now, before somebody claims the garbage about false allegations and accusations, why don’t we actually hold these kids to a higher standard? Why don’t we suggest they NOT have sex non-stop with co-eds and wait until marriage? Why don’t we suggest they DON’T smoke pot and try all they can in college? That’s all non-football stuff, though. On the field, the Seminoles have not played a close game all season, including some good competition against Clemson. Winston has not had remotely close to a bad game either. So, does that mean FSU and he are due for a letdown? Probably, but I think this team is still strong enough to ground the Tigers and win. SEC title streak snaps, but a new one starts back in 365!

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