2016 Bowl Season: What to Watch Based on CRUNK FACTOR


Editor’s note: Had to divide into two posts because 40 bowl games is about 15 too many.

Bowls were announced on Sunday! Here’s something amazing: the 13 bowls before Christmas involve exactly ZERO P5’s. I had to come back and write this blurb, because I noted myself getting carried away with optimism about matchups such as BYU/Wyoming and Memphis/Western Kentucky. As it stands now, Houston/SDSU is the most noteworthy game, and the only two SEC teams involved before December 28 are 5-7 Mississippi State and amazingly 6-6 Vanderbilt.

If you only read this for Georgia content (whoops, this season was too aggravating to write about), here’s my quick look at TCU. Otherwise, VIVA LOS BOWLS!

Saturday, December 17

Bowl season kicks off on a day where you still have a visceral urge to watch football, because Army/Navy was probably disappointing, and you’re reading this website.

New Mexico Bowl: UTSA vs. New Mexico, 2pm: And bowl season starts with a whimper. New Mexico gets a home game, and…ok, whatever. CRUNK RATING: 3/10, because its the first bowl!

Las Vegas Bowl: Houston vs. San Diego State, 3:30: Donnell Pumphrey is currently #2 in all time rushing yards in FBS, needing only 109 to pass Ron Dayne for the record. He’ll face a Houston team that, while losing Tom Herman, beat Louisville and Oklahoma, sacked Lamar Jackson 11 times, and will probably hire Lane Kiffin– meaning Lane Kiffin at a bowl game that he doesn’t REALLY care about (google search Lane Kiffin black eye if you need to know why this excites me). There are probably 2-3 G5 teams, tops, better than either of these two. CRUNK RATING: A delicious 8/10.

Cure Bowl: UCF vs. Arkansas State, 5:30: Doesn’t really matter, because you don’t get CBS Sports Network. If you’re a masochist, you’ll risk computer viruses to stream two fast-paced offenses surging right past the over/under. CRUNK RATING: 2/10 because of aforementioned issues.

Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Toledo, 5:30: Makes me wish the Cure Bowl was on an ESPN affiliate. CRUNK RATING: 2/10, because everything about this (read: Montgomery, AL) is gross.

New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss vs. UL-Lafayette, 9: Two six-win teams from middling conferences doesn’t get you hyped? Well, switch to brown liquor and enjoy A LOT OF POINTS. Cheer for Lafayette to make Georgia’s opponents look better. Did you know they used to play this game at 10am local time? In New Orleans? Some things about this sport (read: most things) don’t make much sense. CRUNK RATING: 4/10.

Monday, December 19

Miami Beach Bowl: Central Michigan vs. Tulsa, 2:30: This is where you either show your dedication to bad college football, or your dedication to your job. Do people actually work the week before Christmas? This bowl is famous for the brawl in its inaugural game, and I will attach video for posterity:

Something about CMU/Tulsa makes me think it’ll be more docile this time around, but we may get clips of the brawl. CRUNK RATING: 2/10.

Tuesday, December 20

Boca Raton Bowl: Memphis vs. Western Kentucky, 7:30pm: HEY! One of the teams from the Miami Beach Brawl, somewhat local adversaries, and ridiculously fun offenses. Jeff Brohm took the Purdue job yesterday, and quickly devolved from ‘offensive genius’ to ‘idiot’ in my brain. This should still be fun. CRUNK RATING: 6/10.

Wednesday, December 21

Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. Wyoming, 9 pm: And just like that, we get the other Miami Brawl team…and, unlike Memphis, they’re still known as the dirtiest in football. Craig Bohl has engineered a crazy turnaround for Wyoming, who is certifiably fun to watch. And…weird mountain folk in sunny Southern California. Sign me up. CRUNK RATING: 7/10

Thursday, December 22

Idaho Potato Bowl: Colorado State vs. Idaho, 7 pm: Idaho is the first team to get relegated from FBS BACK to FCS, which makes this bowl appearance downright amazing. And hey look! Mike Bobo, Georgia’s coach in 2019! CRUNK RATING: 3/10, but probably the most exciting bowl to date for Georgia fans, because some of our fanbase is sad.

Friday, December 23

Bahamas Bowl: Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion, 1pm: Still sponsored by Popeyes? Check. Two teams who haven’t played a bowl game in my lifetime (EMU last did so in 1987)? Check. Points? Probably. CRUNK RATING: 4/10

Armed Forces Bowl: Louisiana Tech vs. Navy, 4:30pm: Two bad defenses, two hella fun offenses (I actually watched the CUSA championship between La Tech and WKU, it was delightful). Navy is what Georgia Tech wishes they were. CRUNK RATING: 6/10

Dollar General Bowl: Troy vs. Ohio, 8pm: Troy famously almost beat Clemson, and coach Neal Brown will be coming to a middling SEC program near you in the next two years (hey, Mississippi schools). MAC teams have no appeal to me, though, so… CRUNK RATING: 1/10

Saturday, December 24

Hawai’i Bowl: Hawai’i vs. Middle Tennessee, 8pm: By my count, this is the third bowl game that gets a ‘home’ team, joining New Mexico and Idaho. Those exotic Mountain West destination bowls, man. Speaking of destination bowls, Middle Tennessee fans got Bahamas last year and Hawai’i this year. That’s good living. You’ll be eggnog and bourbon drunk for this one, which automatically boosts the CRUNK RATING to like, a generous 6/10?

Monday, December 26

HEY, A COUPLE OF P5 TEAMS!

(Sees BC/Maryland matchup)

(Vomits)

St. Pete Bowl: Miami (OH) vs. Mississippi State, 11am: Worth noting only because Mississippi State was the 5-7 academic stalwart who got to go bowling this year. Read that again. CRUNK RATING: 3/10

QuickLane Bowl: Maryland vs. Boston College, 2:30pm: KILL IT WITH FIRE! Unless you want to appreciate Vine legend Steve Addazio, which you want to do. All of the dudes.

(Steve Addazio is the new mascot for this website.) CRUNK RATING: 4/10

Independence Bowl: N.C. State vs. Vanderbilt, 5:30pm: Oh, Shreveport. Your casinos are better than one would expect. CRUNK RATING: 5/10, because this is always a weird game. 

Tuesday, December 27

Dallas Bowl: Army vs. North Texas, noon: Hands-down, the worst bowl on this list. Athlon agrees with me. You need a good excuse to watch this one. CRUNK RATING: 0.5/10, unless you were in the army. 

Military Bowl: #24 Temple vs. Wake Forest, 3:30pm: The Clawfense vs. a very good Temple team? Yeah, Temple is going to roll. CRUNK RATING: 3/10 as a nod to our first ranked bowl participant.

Holiday Bowl: Minnesota vs. Washington State, 7pm: I’m here for Mike Leach stylin’ on a B1G team. CRUNK RATING: 6/10.

Cactus Bowl: Boise State vs. Baylor, 10:15pm: I’m here for Baylor losing their 7th straight game, because they went from really fun national contender to rape cover-uppers in about 9 months. And they still want Art Briles back as coach. Over/under at 3.5 coaches for Baylor, a la Georgia’s bowl game last year. CRUNK RATING: 7/10 because both teams are fun without any aforementioned context.

Summary, part 1:

This is why people say there are too many bowls. 20 games, 1 ranked team, 9 P5 teams. Yuck.

Definitely watch games: Vegas Bowl (San Diego State vs. Houston)

Maybe watch games: Anything above you have a morbid interest in viewing, or family holiday escapes.

Don’t watch games: most of them.

Let’s Hope It’s Not Like Georgia’s Last Liberty Bowl: A TCU Preview


At least its not Shreveport!

Georgia’s disappointing first season under Kirby Smart will end up in a disappointing location (Memphis) against a disappointing opponent (TCU) in a disappointing time slot (noon). Can the Dawgs salvage anything and get the way-too-real ‘bowl bump’ into next year’s preseason top 25?

MAYBE!

TCU was considered a darkhorse CFP contender before the season. Then, Gary Patterson’s defense straight up broke, Kenny Hill was Kenny Hill (decidedly NOT Kenny Trill), and the explosive offense of Trevone Boykin’s heyday seemed a distant memory.

In 2014, the Horned Frogs made a surprise run to CFP contention, likely missing out only because the Big XII failed to declare them or Baylor champions. Their scoring margin was a ridiculous 46.5-19.0. After slight regression in 2015, they collapsed to 31.7-27.8 this year. They had two ‘complete’ performances, both in November: a 62-22 cathartic rout at Baylor, and a Charlie Strong-killing 31-9 win at Texas. Each win was followed with a home loss in which the Horned Frogs scored exactly 6 points.

To say this team is bipolar is a stretch– they’re just not very good. They gave up 41 points to South Dakota St., lost to Texas Tech, only beat Kansas by 1, and suffered three blowout losses (WVU, Oklahoma St., Kansas St.). The losses of Boykin and Josh Dotcson slowed what was a devastating offense, and Patterson’s 3-3-5 defense finally succumbed to being a Big XII defense.

Offense

Doug Meachem and Sonny Cumbie are co-OC’s, and come from the now-cliche Baylor coaching tree. TCU likes to spread it out and create mismatches in space, pretty much the M.O. for any Baylor coaching tree Big XII offense. Their iteration relies on a dual-threat quarterback who is accurate and efficient, which Kenny Hill is not. The ex-Texas A&M Heisman candidate completed 61% of his passes–decent, not great– but threw 13 interceptions to 15 TD’s. Dominick Sanders and the secondary should be able to turn him over a couple of times.

He was better on the ground, averaging right at 5 yards per carry in tandem with Kyle Hicks, who wasn’t super-explosive compared to backs past. He also averaged 5 yards per carry, but wasn’t particularly efficient or explosive. The Frogs do have four other backs who will get touches, including freshmen Darius Anderson and Sino Oloniula, both of whom averaged at least 8 (!) yards per touch.

The receiving corps is also just a bunch of dudes, as only Hicks and leading receiver Taj Williams averaged over 3 catches per game. True to Baylor offense form, they spread the ball out a ton, just not very effectively.

The advantage here goes to Georgia, as they should be able to condense the field against a not-very-vertical passing offense with the most talented D TCU has faced this year.

Defense

Like I said, probably Patterson’s worst. There are some names that I recognize from years past still roaming the field, notably DE Josh Carraway (12 TFL, 8 sacks), LB Travin Howard (125 tackles), and DB’s Nick Orr and Denzel Johnson. Carraway is an NFL talent, Johnson is a box safety who helped TCUs run D not fall off the map– they only gave up 4.1 yards per carry.

Opponent passer rating has crept up since an anomalous 2011 season (130+). Besides that year, 2016 represents Patterson’s WORST pass defense, as they recovered from ’11 to go 115, 108, 106, 112…and up to 127 this year. If Jacob Eason can find intermediate routes early, it will open room for Chubb and the boys to do work on the ground, and Riley Ridley et al to find holes downfield. Actually, I’ll go ahead and call that the key to making this a Georgia blowout versus a close win: the intermediate passing game early.

Advantage Georgia here, again. Think a North Carolina or Missouri-level defense, with a month to prepare.

Special Teams

I’m not breaking this down. Instead, I will give you the biggest joy to watch in this matchup, college football’s sweatiest man Gary Patterson.

Recall, if you will, the magic of Gary’s immaculate sweat. In last year’s Alamo Bowl, Patterson changed shirts out of necessity (or maybe superstition, but that’s a hindsight call and thus not applicable) down 31-0 against Oregon. In what was the best comeback I’ve ever seen, TCU stormed back behind Gary’s purple shirt and beat Oregon 45-38 in OT.


So, yeah. This is a blah matchup to cap off a blah season. As long as it doesn’t resemble Georgia’s last Liberty Bowl, we’re good right?

What The Committee Blew: Nov. 15 Edition


This is completely biased by my guess at their rankings.

What’s the most confusing thing the CFP committee did this week? Hard to say, we didn’t get to watch Kirby Hocutt move the goalposts on what they were evaluating for the (x) consecutive week of this group’s existence.

What we do know: “Louisville is a very talented team and 2 through 6 is interchangeable”, well…okay. Except you have to justify teams jumping teams without a loss at some point in the future if you haven’t done so already.

Here’s how I (and more importantly, them) stacked up:

Chad Committee
Alabama Alabama
Ohio State Ohio State
Louisville Michigan
Michigan Clemson
Clemson Louisville
Washington Washington
Wisconsin Wisconsin
Penn State Penn State
Oklahoma Oklahoma
West Virginia Colorado
Colorado Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State Utah
USC USC
Auburn West Virginia
LSU Auburn
Utah LSU
Florida State Florida State
Washington State Nebraska
Nebraska Tennessee
Western Michigan Boise State
Texas A&M Western Michigan
Florida Washington State
Boise State Florida
San Diego State Stanford
Virginia Tech Texas A&M

Chad’s total error: 38, for 25 spots!! That’s not bad, as I counted Tennessee and Stanford as #26 and #27 to not cloud my math with any more bias.

Here’s where I’ve got beef:

  • What has West Virginia done to rank behind three multi-loss Pac-12 teams? And, for that matter, an Oklahoma State team (their only loss) who lost to Central Michigan? This week’s tilt with Oklahoma is probably their chance to make a jump, but I don’t have faith that it would pull them into the single-digit ranking territory.
    • (This means you can now bury the Big XII without a complete s***show in the next three weeks)
  • Ten…Tenna…Tennesssssuhhh… Tennessee?!?!?! THE HELL DID THEY DO TO GET BACK IN THE TOP 25?!?! If a win over Kentucky is worth a jump from the abyss to 19, Georgia should be in the top 20. I’m only sortof kidding. Let’s recap: Tennessee should’ve lost to App State, sleepwalked through Ohio, had a great half against Florida, should’ve lost to Georgia, DID lose to South Carolina…19? Sweet mercy.
  • GLARINGLY evident that the G5 will never have a realistic shot to play in the CFP, regardless of the chaos out in front. There are at least 4 teams ranked ahead of Western Michigan that would lose to Western Michigan, and probably 8 that Boise would beat. And my pick for #24, San Diego State, is probably better than both.
    • Where does a hypothetically-undefeated Houston rank on this list? At 10-0, you’d have to have them above Oklahoma, whom they beat on a neutral field. I’d be okay with them at 7 right now, with Louisville coming up on Thursday. Realistically though? 12? 15?
  • SEC getting that love: Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M have more or less exposed themselves as frauds by this point, no? Auburn and LSU were either underpenalized or overrewarded, right? Or are we just blindly shuffling convenient SEC teams into these spots when we need to rank 25?

As it stands, it does bear acknowledgement that I’m okay with the only rankings that matter (call it the top…8-11?)

  • Michigan at 3 is something I should’ve seen coming, because a) they lost on the road; b) the B1G love affair in this thing (as mentioned Monday) is absurd; and c) they’ve been flat-out better than Clemson.
  • Washington/Wisconsin/Penn State/Oklahoma 6-9 is appropriate-ish (would argue that Oklahoma is stronger than Wisky or the PedoBears, but common opponents), and allows the committee to uphold its “conference championships matter” meme.
    • I say that, but an 11-1 Ohio State bucks that trend as “Big Ten Barry” gets them and Penn State into the CFP. Yes, I’m adopting that as my own conspiracy theory. Get on board!

Upshot of all this? Georgia wins out and they finish in the top 25, according to precedent.

Georgia Football: Black Jerseys Return vs. Louisiana Lafayette


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I mean…why not. Noon games against the Sun Belt need every bit of extra juice they can get.

The Playoff Race Is Interesting and Fun Right Now, So Let’s Talk About It


Saturday was a historic day in college football, as two of last week’s playoff teams lost to unranked opponents, and another lost to a left-for-dead-and-revived USC.

We got so much chaos, that…things should hardly change from where we were a week ago. Clemson, Michigan, and Washington’s losses don’t actually HELP the two reasonable teams we could’ve slotted into the playoffs in their stead, because they’re no closer to division championships.

If anything, the race only got more interesting because there’s a lot less room for error. Let’s handicap teams with a shot by conference:

SEC: Alabama.

That’s it. They’ve clinched the West, everyone else has a loss, and they’re unequivocally the best team in college football. Even if you’re dumb enough to think Auburn and Florida can BOTH beat them, that’s too bad because they’re still probably in and coming for your cookies.

ACC: Clemson and Louisville.

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You could’ve come up with a scenario whereby North Carolina and Virginia Tech both had outside shots. North Carolina lost to Duke, and Virginia Tech lost to Georgia Tech. Despite my best efforts in pumping up the ACC Coastal on this website and my Twitter account, the Coastal done Coastal’d.

While the Coastal was doing Coastal things, Clemson reverted back to Clemsoning. Failing to run out the clock needing just a yard on third and fourth down, the Tigers allowed Pitt to drive the field and kick a walkoff field goal, losing 43-42 at home.

And it doesn’t really matter, unless you think Wake Forest is beating Clemson this week. They still hold the tiebreaker over Louisville. Assuming Clemson takes care of Wake, South Carolina, and probably still Virginia Tech (ugh), they’re solidly in.

Louisville is an interesting case study without precedent, as the first two CFP’s were fairly clean with deserving conference champs. Saturday broke perfectly for them, as an 11-1 Louisville probably gets in if Michigan can keep the B1G fairly clean (thus eliminating Ohio State and Wisconsin in the process), and Washington drops one more (suddenly feasible).

So, the ACC still stands as the league with the best case to get two in the playoff for the first time, like we all saw coming three years ago. Clemson is basically 2014 Florida State and will lose the semifinal. Louisville is fascinating.

B1G: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State

This is where things get wonky, because Barry Alvarez has too much influence. In order of simplicity, this is how these teams make it:

  • Michigan wins out, thus eliminating Ohio State (2 losses), Penn State (head-to-head), and Wisconsin (title game).
  • Wisconsin wins out, and gets in with two close losses to Michigan and Ohio State.
  • Penn State wins out and Ohio State beats Michigan, giving us by FAR the weakest CFP team in its short history. This is a team that got DRUG by Michigan and lost to Pitt (playoff team-killer Pitt, apparently). They hold the tiebreaker over OSU, and the B1G will have a representative.
  • Ohio State beats Michigan, Rutgers or Michigan State beats Penn State (lolyeahright).

I said above that the ACC has a clear path to two teams. The B1G may have a better case. Ohio State is likely #2 in this week’s rankings, so they’ll already have a leg up on Louisville. Win out, don’t participate in a silly 13th game, and set up a Saban/Urban rematch in the 1/4 game.

Pac-12: Washington, Washington State (?), Colorado (?)

Washington’s hold is now tenuous, but a bump from a win over a smoking hot Wazzu and a Pac-12 Championship probably puts them back in the 4 spot. Based on what I saw the other night, I wouldn’t give them even odds to get through the next three weeks alive.

Washington State and Colorado are fascinating. Wazzu lost to Eastern Washington and Boise early on, but has swept the Pac-12. An 11-2 Wazzu is probably Rose Bowl-bound, so they’d need all of the 1-loss non-champs to lose. Same goes for Colorado…but Colorado has super-quality losses to Michigan and USC.

No, Washington State and Colorado don’t have a shot unless we’re looking at UT-Chattanooga starting Alabama on a three-game losing streak and eliminating the SEC. Or Virginia Tech winning the ACC while Louisville drops one to Houston or Kentucky.

XII: West Virginia, Oklahoma

Thank God we don’t have to talk about Baylor anymore (this is a week late, but even more so now).

WVU and Oklahoma conveniently play this Saturday– assuming WVU wins out, their case really is pretty compelling. 11-1, the all-important “scheduling intent” with wins over Mizzou and BYU– there would have to be some committee mental gymnastics taking place, but a 1-loss WVU SHOULD be in over a 2-loss Washington, and probably a one-loss Ohio State or Louisville…right?

Probably not.

But maybe.

Oklahoma, meanwhile, lost to Houston and Ohio State, so their ‘scheduling intent’ game is SKRONG. A 9-0 finish would push them over a 2-loss Washington, I suppose.

I think both would need help from the B1G’s #2 and Louisville, but they’re not dead yet.

My Playoff Ranking Guess, Because I Love Being Wrong

  1. Alabama
  2. Ohio State
  3. Louisville
  4. Michigan
  5. Clemson
  6. Washington
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Penn State
  9. Oklahoma
  10. West Virginia
  11. Colorado
  12. Oklahoma State
  13. USC (highest 3-loss team)
  14. Auburn
  15. LSU
  16. Utah
  17. Florida State
  18. Washington State
  19. Nebraska
  20. Western Michigan
  21. Texas A&M (somehow)
  22. Florida
  23. Boise State
  24. San Diego State
  25. Virginia Tech
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