And we’re back for week 2 of the Bowls! Lots of movement in the coaching department this past week/weekend but most notably we’ve heard that some select, elite players are skipping their bowl games in order to prepare themselves for the draft. What does it say about them as individuals to ditch their teammates in their final collegiate games? Anyway, no time to worry about that, we have games to watch, including our first High game of the Bowl season!
Friday, December 23rd
1:00PM EST – Bahamas Bowl (Nassau, NP) – Eastern Michigan (7-5) vs Old Dominion (9-3); ESPN. Low. This is the first ever bowl game for Old Dominion, and the best season for Eastern Michigan since 1989.
4:30PM EST – Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth, TX) – Louisiana Tech (8-5) vs #25 Navy (9-4); ESPN. Medium. Navy was on its way to a very impressive season when they seemed to run off the rails being routed in the American Championship game at home vs Temple then losing to arch rival Army for the first time in 14 years. LA Tech made the C-USA Championship game, and is looking for their second straight 9-win season under HC Skip Holtz.
8:00PM EST – Dollar General Bowl (Mobile, AL) – Ohio (8-5) vs Troy (9-3); ESPN. Low. The Ohio Bobcats are in their 8th bowl game under HC Frank Solich, who arrived in Athens in 2003. Prior to Solich, the Bobcats had only been bowling once. Troy should have a decided advantage in the fan attendance with their school being only 2.5 hours away compared to Ohio being just under 13 hours away.
Saturday, December 24th
8:00PM EST – Hawai’i Bowl (Honolulu, HI) – Hawai’i (6-7) vs Middle Tennessee State (8-4); ESPN. Low. If you’re watching this game, seek help, you have a football addiction.
Monday, December 26th
11:00AM EST – St. Petersburg Bowl (Saint Petersburg, FL) – Miami (OH) (6-6) vs Mississippi State (5-7); ESPN. Low. This bowl game marks a school record seven straight bowl games for Mississippi State. The Red Hawks of Miami started the season 0-6 and won 6-straight to become bowl eligible. Impressive run!
2:30PM EST – Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, MI) – Maryland (6-6) vs Boston College (6-6); ESPN. Low. These two schools used to be division rivals (2005-2013) in the ACC before Maryland bolted for the BigTen following the 2013 football season. Boston College has won the last three matchups.
5:00PM EST – Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA) – NC State (6-6) vs Vanderbilt (6-6); ESPN2 Low. Both teams needed to win two of their last three ball games to make bowls. They have accomplished that and now are due to face off.
Tuesday, December 27th
12:00PM EST – Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas, TX) – Army (7-5) vs North Texas (5-7); ESPN. Low. Army’s dramatic win over Navy, which ended 14 years of torment for the Black Knights, also allowed them to go bowling for the first time since 2010. The Mean Green of North Texas were 1-11 last year and are now bowling – huge accomplishment for them.
3:30PM EST – Military Bowl (Annapolis, MD) – #24 Temple (10-3) vs Wake Forest (6-6); ESPN. Medium. Wake Forest hasn’t had the easiest bowl prep, and it’s pretty wild that they are in a bowl considering the controversy of former coach, player, and now former announcer giving game plans to opposing teams prior to games vs the Demon Deacons. Temple, on the other hand, is looking to win this game to secure their best season in program history as they return to the site of their American Conference Championship game victory over Navy earlier this season. But, they will be without HC Matt Rhule, who took the Baylor HC gig.
7:00PM EST – Holiday Bowl (San Diego, CA) – Minnesota (8-4) vs Washington State (8-4); ESPN. Medium. Minnesota players boycotted their participation in this bowl game following the school’s suspension of 10 players due to an internal investigation. Meanwhile, Washington State started the season losing their first two, to then win their next eight, to follow that up with losing their next two. Will this be first of the next eight W’s?
10:15PM EST – Cactus Bowl (Phoenix, AZ) – Boise State (10-2) vs Baylor (6-6); ESPN. Low. Baylor RB Shock Linwood is sitting out his final game as a Baylor Bear to prepare for the draft, a new trend this year. Baylor also started the year 6-0 following the off-season scandal that got then-HC Art Briles fired, then promptly lost their next six to limp to 6-6 overall this year.
Wednesday December 28th
2:00PM EST Pinstripe Bowl (New York, NY) – #23 Pittsburgh (8-4) vs Northwestern (6-6); ESPN. Low. Pittsburgh has had a great year that included wins over #5 Penn State, and #2 Clemson. They’ve also had an innovative and creative offense, which enabled then-OC Matt Canada to land the same job at LSU. But let’s not forget this is also Pitt RB James Conner‘s last game. Conner, who in 2014 was the ACC’s offensive player of the year, overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma last year and now is poised for the NFL. What an inspiration! Northwestern is looking for only their second bowl win in 50 years.
5:30PM EST – Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando, FL) – #16 West Virginia (10-2) vs Miami (8-4); ESPN. Medium. WVU HC Dana Holgorsen won a new contract following his best year since his first year in Morgantown in 2003. Miami HC Mark Richt has led his Alma Mater to a bowl game in his first year as HC.
8:30PM EST – Farms Bowl (Santa Clara, CA) – Indiana (6-6) vs #19 Utah (8-4); FOX. Low. Indiana made a bowl game! Then promptly fires their HC…
9:00PM EST – Texas Bowl (Houston, TX) – Texas A&M (8-4) vs Kansas State (8-4); ESPN. Medium. These two schools are heading in opposite directions. A&M started out on fire this year going 6-0 and struggled to finish 8-4 this season. Meanwhile, Kansas State has won five of it’s last 6 to finish 8-4. These two schools also have some history, including a super important (and wacky) football game in 1998 for the BigXII championship that allowed my Vols to play in the first BCS title game (and win it). Interesting game for sure.
Thursday, December 29th
2:00PM EST – Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL) – South Florida (10-2) vs South Carolina (6-6); ESPN. Low. I always feel bad for those schools that have great seasons then promptly lose their coach to some other bigger job. That’s the case with USF, who’s having their best season in program history but have now lost their HC Willie Taggart, who took the HC job at Oregon. Gotta feel bad for those kids.
5:30PM EST – Belk Bowl (Charlotte, NC) – Arkansas (7-5) vs #22 Virginia Tech (9-4); ESPN. Medium. VA Tech has looked exciting and explosive all year since new HC Justin Fuente arrived; they even gave CFB Playoff participant Clemson a run for their money in the ACC Championship game. Although the last time the Hokies faced an SEC team it wasn’t pretty, as they lost to Tennessee in Bristol Motor Speedway 45-24.
9:00PM EST – Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX) – #12 Oklahoma State (9-3) vs #10 Colorado (10-3); ESPN. High. Our first High game of the Bowl season! It’s a battle of Power-5 conference runner-ups with Oklahoma State losing their defacto championship game to Oklahoma this season and Colorado, who lost to CFB bound Washington in the Pac12 Championship game. Colorado will be missing their DC Jim Leavitt, who took the DC job at Oregon last week and who had a major impact in Colorado turning around their fortunes from last year’s 4-9 to this years 10-3. This is also the sending off for Colorado’s HC Mike MacIntyre’s first recruiting class at Colorado, who came to Boulder and went 4-9, 2-10, 4-9 before this year’s miraculous 10-3 campaign. Way to go Buffs!