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 bowl mania group on ESPN and it shouldn’t be a surprise who is in first place amongst the Thundercrew:
Matty D: 8-6
I am the King of Pick’em but a long way to go for this bowl season. Matty D really falling apart quick. Yikes. Let’s continue on…
Bowl Season Continues! – Editor’s Note: Started writing this post in the morning but due to post-Christmas errands, I am finishing this around 2 pm EST
MONDAY–St. Petersburg Bowl: Miami (OH) (6-6, 14.5 underdogs) vs. Mississippi State (5-7)–11:00 am on ESPN from the Trop in Tampa
The ugliest Bodeservesers the ugliest stadium: Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. MSU makes it in as there weren’t teams with six wins to make it into Bowl Season and as the line suggests, they shouldn’t have a lot of trouble taking home the W. Watch out for MSU QB Nick Fitzgerald, he’s been a great dual threat replacement for Dak. MSU wins and covers. Note: This game ended as I was writing this post. MSU won but didn’t cover. What an ending as the Bulldogs blocked a late Miami field goal attempt.
Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland (6-6, 2.0 favorite) vs. Boston College (6-6)–2:30 pm on ESPN from Ford Field in Detroit
A matchup of old ACC opponents as Maryland moved to the Big Ten in 2014. Both teams aren’t great in this one and we could be in for an UGLY bowl game here. Maryland had that great start on paper but then moved into their Big Ten schedule as they finished 3-6 in conference play. BC wasn’t much better but did play some of their opponents close including Georgia Tech. For that, I am taking Boston College to win.
Camping World Independence Bowl: NC State (6-6, 5.5 favorites) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)–5:00 pm on ESPN2 from Shreveport, LA
Another 6-6 showdown to close out the day. 5.5 is a line I think is a little high. NC State played both Clemson and Flordia State very close but Vandy did the same with Florida and Auburn. The icing on the cake for me is Vandy’s win over Tennessee to close out the regular season. They’ll carry that to the W. Vandy wins.
TUESDAY–Heart of Dallas Bowl: Army (7-5, 11.0 favorite) vs. North Texas (5-7)–Noon on ESPN from the Cotton Bowl
Army could run away with this quickly. Army wins.
Military Bowl: #24 Temple (10-3, 12.5 favorites) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)–3:30 pm on ESPN from the Naval Academy
Similarly to a lot of the second-tier ACC teams, Wake schedules a pretty straight forward non-conference schedule that accounts for most of the minimum six wins and then they beat the low-tier ACC teams to meet the minimum. Wake did win at Indiana which is impressive, but Temple is much better. Temple wins and covers.
Holiday Bowl: Minnesota (8-4, 10.5 underdogs) vs. Washington State (8-4)–7:00 pm on ESPN from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego
Minnesota’s 8-4 record is MUCH different than Washington State as the Big Ten West can inflate a good team’s record and the Pac 12 was great this year. I’ve loved QB Luke Falk all season and I think he’ll have an outstanding day in this one. Washington State wins and covers.
Cactus Bowl: Boise State (10-2, 7.5 favorites) vs. Baylor (6-6)–10:15 on ESPN from Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ
Baylor is another who barely squeaked into bowl season. The Bears have been battling the fallout from their offseason scandals whereas Boise State had another great season. Broncos win and cover big.
WEDNESDAY–Pinstripe Bowl: #23 Pitt (8-4, 5.5 favorites) vs. Northwestern (6-6)–2:00 on ESPN from Yankee Stadium
Another game that should be a layup in terms of the pick. Northwestern has had an interesting season but similarly to Minnesota, some of the Big Ten West wins are the reason why they were able to get 6-6. Pitt has beaten both Penn State and Clemson this year. The Panthers are the type of team to come right and punch you in the mouth. Pitt wins and covers.
Russell Atheltic Bowl: #16 West Virginia (10-2, 2.5 underdogs) vs. Miami (8-4)–5:30 pm on ESPN from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, FL
The issue with both teams that makes this tough to pick this that neither team has played a particularly tough schedule. WVU played Oklahoma and lost handily and Miami played all four of their losses close. The big difference comes down to if Miami wants to play the high-flying act, which has been a trend for them down the stretch. I just don’t think the Hurricanes could match a Big XII school in that type of play. West Virginia Wins.
Foster Farms Bowl: Indiana (6-6, 6.5 underdogs) vs. #19 Utah (8-4)–8:30 pm on FOX from Levi’s Stadium
I’ve said throughout this season that Indiana is a tough out when they’re at home. That thought doesn’t hold true when they’re outside of Bloomington. Utah wins and covers.
Texas Bowl: Texas A&M (8-4, 2.5 favorites) vs. Kansas State (8-4)–9:00 pm on ESPN from NRG Stadium in Houston
Two and a half points may sound low but the public isn’t sure where Trevor Knight is in returning to full form. Kansas State has had a great bounce-back season, but I don’t think they can match Texas A&M with a nearly full health Knight. Given that he’s had a month, I’m thinking Knight ready and raring to go. Texas A&M wins.
THURSDAY–Birmingham Bowl: South Florida (10-2, 10.5 favorites) vs. South Carolina (6-6)–2:00 pm on ESPN
South Florida has had a solid season only losing to Temple and Florida State. South Carolina is another 6-6 squad and the big difference in talent between these two team can be illustrated by one score: South Carolina 44, Western Carolina 31. This was USC’s 11th game and that’s enough for me: South Florida wins and covers.
Belk Bowl: Arkansas (7-5, 7.0 underdog) vs. #22 Virginia Tech (9-4)–5:30 pm on ESPN from B of A Stadium in Charlotte, NC
Here’s the thing: Arkansas LOVES being the underdog, they’ve thrived in that spot this season. They have slipped in bigger SEC games but have pulled off some upsets all year long. Tech needs to be solid in order to hold on for the win, but they certainly have the skill set to pull away. VaTech wins but doesn’t cover.
Alamo Bowl: #12 Oklahoma State (9-3, 3.0 underdog) vs. #10 Colorado (10-3)–9:00pm on ESPN from the Alamodome
The first contest between ranked opponents is our final stop for this post. Like most Big XII teams, OK State can hurl the ball but doesn’t play too much defense. Colorado is the opposite: the Buffs have a great running game and an even better defense. Colorado wins and covers.
We’re getting deep into the mix now. I want to save the really exciting stuff for the next post so I’ll be back Friday morning with the preview for the weekend’s action.Follow @geordo9