Funvee Tailgate: 2016 Bowl Madness (Part 1)

Welcome to the Funvee Tailgate! It’s time for the holiday season rush. Frantic shoppers flood retailers, food lovers eat their body weight in cookies, and college football teams move to exotic locales for their final showdown of the season. That’s right, it’s time to go bowling! Once again, we here at the THUNDERBLOG will be hosting our bowlmania group on ESPN (link right here) and will putting out our pick’em polls on Twitter again. I’m going to be covering every bowl in groups and we’ll start with tomorrow’s action through Tuesday night.

Bowl Season Madness!

SATURDAY–Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl: NC Central (9-2, MEAC Champ) vs. Grambling (11-1 SWAC Champ)–Noon on ABC from the Georgia Dome
Admittedly, I know nothing about either school as both are FCS teams but after doing a little research, I can make a semi-estimated pick. Both schools played FBS schools at the beginning of the season: NC Central lost to cross-town foe Duke while Grambling lost to Arizona by merely 10 points. That tight score is enough for me to make a pick: Grambling wins.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico (8-4, 7.5 favorite) vs. UT-San Antonio (6-6)–2:00pm on ESPN from UNM Stadium in Albuquerque, NM
This is a home game for the Lobos. UTSA would be one the “Last Four In” if we used basketball tourney lingo for bowl games. New Mexico wins and covers.

Las Vegas Bowl: Houston (9-3, 4.0 favorite) vs. San Diego State (10-3)–3:30pm on ABC from UNLV’s Stadium in Las Vegas, NV
This game quickly boils down to Houston QB Greg Ward, Jr. vs. SDSU RB Donnel Pumphrey. Pumphrey rushed for over 2,000 yards in 13 games while Ward was one of the most dynamic dual-threat QBs in the nation (behind that Louisville QB who was NYC last week for some reason). Without coach Herman, Houston may be missing that extra piece. San Diego State wins.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State (9-3, Even) vs. Toledo (9-3)–5:30pm on ESPN from UAB’s Stadium in Birmingham, AL
Toledo has been sneaky good this season. We didn’t hear too much of them compared to last season because the Rockets weren’t undefeated heading in the final weeks as they were in 2015. The Rocket offense lives up to the “Rocket” nickname but their defense can be suspect. App State is a more well-rounded squad and runs the ball better, which should pay off in the projected forecast of rain. App State wins.

Autonation Cure Bowl: UCF (6-6, 6.5 favorite) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)–5:30pm on CBSSN from Orlando
Another home bowl game here. Don’t let UCF’s record fool you, they could put away Ark State quick. UCF wins and covers.

New Orleans Bowl: Southern Mississippi (6-6, 6.0 favorite) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (6-6)–9:00pm on ESPN from the Superdome
Yikes. A battle of “Last Four In’s” here but one is clearly better than the other. Southern Miss has a solid offensive attack that took down Kentucky at the start of the season. Expect the QB/WR duo of Nick Mullens and Allenzae Staggers to light up the Cajuns. USM wins and covers.

MONDAY–Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan (6-6) vs. Tulsa (9-3, 12.5 favorite)–2:30pm on ESPN from Marlins Park
CMU shouldn’t even be bowling given that ending to the Oklahoma State game but that doesn’t mean they won’t give Tulsa trouble. CMU QB Cooper Rush can sling it and his name sounds like either the protagonist to the sequel of The Replacements or is the name of some SEC coach’s dog. Tulsa has a player with a fantastic name as well: RB James Flanders. He’ll make CMU feel like they’re playing with nothin’ at all. Stupid sexy Flanders. Tulsa wins but doesn’t cover.

TUESDAY–Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (10-3, 5.0 favorite)–7:00pm on ESPN from FAU Stadium in Boca Raton
Memphis had a good season in the post-Paxton Lynch era that includes their most recent win over Houston and an October win against Temple. However, Western Kentucky has a high flying offense that Memphis will struggle against. Sure, Memphis can also score and will here, but WKU sports the 2nd-highest scoring offense in the nation. Take the over and WKU to win and cover. Possibly the biggest LOCK of the bowl season.

Wetting the beak just a little bit here. Because I’ll be flying to and from Chicago on Thursday and Friday, I’m going to continue our Bowl Week coverage on Wednesday. Make sure to join the Bowl Mania group (here’s the link again) and let us know who you’ve got in each matchup.

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