Monthly Archives: December 2016
Georgia returns to the ghosts of UCF losses past, and today’s bowl lineup is sexy.
My colleague and good friend Daniel Palmer says the 2010 Liberty Bowl didn’t happen. I tend to agree, so…
Sixth Annual Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. TCU, noon: Objectively, this is a complete non-starter for me. Its two bad teams from two bad conferences (where the SEC East is a standalone entity). BUT. I’m excited because:
- Georgia used their full allotment of bowl practices. I’m interested to see the progress of Jacob Eason, the health of our future senior running backs (!), and the continued development of what will, in the near future, be a thrilling defense.
- That’s really about it.
Watchability Factor: 2/10 if you have no rooting interest, 8/10 if you want to compare Georgia’s bowl success to Miami’s 31-14 victory over a much-better-than-TCU West Virginia squad.
Sun Bowl: #18 Stanford vs. North Carolina, 2:30: A bowl location so deplorable that Verne Lunquist refuses to end his career here. That’s amazing. Christian McAffrey is not playing. Neither is Elijah Hood. UNC QB Mitch Trubisky (remember how bad he was against Georgia?) is playing to determine if he’ll be the first QB taken in May (or June, or whenever the draft is now in the NFL’s 365-day cycle)…or return to school.
This has some appeal to me, but its not sexy outside of possible continuation of the ACC’s bowl dominance to this point. Watchability Factor: 4/10.
Music City Bowl: Nebraska vs. #21 Tennessee, 3:30: Your gentle reminder that Tennessee, Champions of Life, is still ranked by the CFP committee. Fresh hell.
Watch at your own risk. Watchability Factor: 3.5/10.
Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl: South Alabama vs. Air Force, 5:30: As a real estate broker, I suggest not using Nova Home Loans because your rate is going up 1/8 of a point because they decided to sponsor this bowl game. Watchability Factor: dude, do literally anything else.
Orange Bowl: #6 Michigan vs. #11 Florida State, 8: ALL OF THE FIRE EMOJIS. Dalvin Cook is playing his last game, and he’s the most fun player in America. Michigan is inexplicably salty– not because they messed around and lost to Iowa– but because they STILL think they should be in the playoff after losing to Ohio State.
Watchability Factor: 9/10, I cannot emphasize enough how fun this game is, theoretically (and don’t look up the games I’ve rated highly to this point).
My mother complained that her generation may not know what crunk factor is. Mom, it was a made-up term to describe the likelihood one of these otherwise-boring games goes haywire.
Also, drawing these up for 20 games at a time seemed unwieldy and irrelevant. Writing about the Idaho Potato Bowl 11 days before it took place was the wake-up call there.
What’s happening in bowl action today, December 29th? Three moderately compelling games!
Birmingham Bowl, South Florida vs. South Carolina, 2pm: A month ago, this game was SO much more fun. Willie Taggart had USF playing well and running the #1 offense in the country…but he bolted for Oregon. Quinton Flowers is still a joy to watch, and hopefully we don’t get the dreaded ‘coach left letdown.’
South Carolina inexplicably made a bowl with a coach who once failed to do that at FLORIDA. I’m kinda cheering for a Cocks win so they can be crushed under the darkhorse SEC East contender expectations that will surely follow from winning a meaningless bowl game in Birmingham.
CRUNK FACTOR/Watchability Index: 5/10… I’m feeling generous this morning, and its SEC vs. fun AAC. I can dig it.
Belk Bowl, #22 Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas, 5:30: First things first: its the bowl game named after a regional department store. Second, I was making customary Christmas exchanges in one of the Charlotte-area Belks yesterday, and ran into some Virginia Tech players on their bowl gift ‘shopping spree’. That bowl gift ranked in the mid-30’s on most lists, because it was the whole bowl gift.
Anyway, this game has weird fun written all over it. Rawleigh Williams (did not know it was RAWleigh until checking his stats) had an insane November for Arkansas. Jerod Evans is the ACC’s 5th-best QB, and that makes him the nation’s 10th-best QB. Bret Bieliema is a delight, and Justin Fuente exceeded expectations in year 1.
This game means nothing, as all do, but is worth excessive hype for the ACC Coastal if Virginia Tech piggybacks Miami’s impressive win. CRUNK FACTOR/Watchability Index: 6.5/10, something goofy will happen. Guaranteed.
Alamo Bowl: #12 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Colorado, 9: FINALLY our first ranked matchup of bowl season, after 26 other games will likely have finished. And who isn’t a sucker for Big XII exes grudge-matching each other? Texas A&M/K-State was fun.
Colorado, dubbed by many ‘America’s team’, is suffering the fate of blowing expectations out of the water. They lost all-world DC Jim Leavitt to Oregon, QB Sefo Liufau is hobbled and may not play. On the other hand, this team lost three games: at Michigan, USC, Washington. Most teams are going 0-3 in those, and most aren’t winning the other 10.
Oklahoma State has Mason Rudolph (good), Mike Gundy’s mullet (exceptional), and announced the return of Rudolph and leading wideout James Washington for 2017.
CRUNK/Watchability: 8.5/10. Evenly-matched, latenight, and high quality. We’ll drink every time someone mentions their loss to Central Michigan not being a loss, and we’ll enjoy this one.
There are previously-unaccounted-for games starting today.
Hey, it has come to my attention from experience in my actual job that nobody is working at all this week! Let’s watch more pointless bowl games instead as we round into the fun ones on Saturday.
Today, at time of posting
Pinstripe Bowl: #23 Pitt vs. Northwestern, 2: Pitt is the most bizarre team in college football, as they have two top-5 wins (Penn State and Clemson), a trash secondary (Pat Narduzzi was hired on the strength of his Michigan State secondaries, and a top-5 offense (OC Matt Canada, fired from N.C. State last year, took the same position at LSU).
I know nothing about Northwestern, because GOOD B1G football is unwatchable enough. The game is in a baseball stadium, though, which is befitting of this matchup CRUNK FACTOR: 4/10, for James Connor and Pitt weirdness.
Russell Athletic Bowl: #16 West Virginia vs Miami, 5:30: Dana Holgorson is the most interesting coach every bowl season, because most games take place in drinking and gambling destinations. No reports of him being bailed out of jail at the time of publication. Mark Richt is a familiar name to Georgia fans, and finished his first season at Miami at an unacceptable-by-Georgia-standards 8-4.
There was pre-bowl festivity saltiness, a sure-fire upping of the ante for an exhibition game.
CRUNK FACTOR: 7/10, this should actually be a fun game.
Foster Farms: #19 Utah vs. Indiana, 8:30: Only the Western Michigan/Wisconsin Cotton Bowl (lol) has a lower lowest-priced ticket in Stubhub than this one. I can’t see anything to get too fired up about, as Indiana becomes the second B1G team in 18 months to fire a coach due to player abuse…and Utah just seems abusive by nature. CRUNK FACTOR: 2/10 only because its on FOX which means possible Gus Johnson-ery.
Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs. K-State, 9: As a general rule, you can always sign me up for a late K-State game, because their slow offense will still get me to bed at a reasonable hour A&M once ranked 4th in the country…remember that?
Also, more old Big XII bitterness, so I’ve got high hopes. CRUNK FACTOR 6/10.
Still escaping the doldrums of Christmas, I’ll get tomorrow and into the weekend on another post.
Let’s go into a time capsule. The 2018 SEC regular season has just wrapped up, the current cycle of ‘new’ head coaches in the league have either established themselves or failed miserably, and there’ll be one name on the market that exceeds all others: 44-year old FAU head coach Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin, in southern Florida head coaching purgatory, has led the Owls to…something better than their 3-9 records of 2014-16, and has overachieved in recruiting even while going against Butch Davis, Charlie Strong, and Scott Frost for third-tier Florida recruits. Having spent three years in the Nick Saban school for coaches who can’t coach good and want to learn to do other stuff good too, he’s got the stink of failed stints in Oakland, Knoxville, and Los Angeles pretty much worn off, and will be sold to an SEC fanbase with a write-up stating something like the following:
Kiffin, 44, has matured from early failed coaching opportunities, as he rehabilitated his image leading Alabama’s offense to heights unseen under Nick Saban. At FAU, he has gone 15-11 with a Bahamas Bowl victory and an average recruiting class ranking in the 60’s, unheard of for the Owls.
This is a home run hire for (insert SEC team) no doubt, as he is young, experienced, a dynamic recruiter, and an offensive genius. Expect (insert SEC team) to see immediate results in recruiting and become a more compelling team on the field from day 1.
The fun part of this thought exercise? Its feasible that he could end up at literally ANY SEC program. Hires of Will Muschamp (twice), Jim McIlwain, and Kirby Smart are obvious indications that ANY ties to Alabama are worth their weight in Nick Saban-bronze statues to SEC AD’s.
Auburn (4:1): Leading off with the most obnoxious little brother-syndrome fanbase seems an obvious pick, and this timeline works perfectly. Gus Malzahn bought himself another year with a resurgent two months in 2016– but has no quarterbacks in the pipeline, so patience should be running pretty thin by this time next year. A slow start in 2018 and he’s toast.
In Kiffin, Auburn is tangentially, but not directly, tied to Saban after Kiffin’s departure. The hype around his ability to find a QB and playmakers will resonate on the plains, and Prince Lane returns to Alabama to restore the glory of the Auburn Tigers.
Ole Miss (5:1): Hugh Freeze may not survive this offseason, and that’s the only justification I have for putting the odds that low. Shea Patterson is on a three-year plan to leave Oxford (not gonna happen) and Kiffin will be seen as the savior who can right Patterson’s career. And the NCAA mess Freeze will inevitably leave behind.
LSU (8:1): Coach O has a low buyout, no quarterback, and no success as a full-time head coach.
I’d say his leash is about two years.
Kiffin fulfills his destiny, after being rumored to be O’s choice for OC this offseason.
Florida (10:1): Bolstered, no doubt, by his presence in the state, Kiffin will steal one under-the-radar recruit from the Gators and make him his offensive bellcow– putting up 90 catches for 1,400 yards in 2018 while Florida’s offense continues to be among the worst in the country.
Even on the heels of back-to-back SEC East titles, McIlwain has done nothing to show he’s a long-term fit in Gainesville. He was linked to the Oregon job this offseason, and seems savvy enough to pull the “I’m gonna be fired in a year, so let me get a new contract now” move of Houston Nutt and others before him.
McIlwain was an offensive hire, but the Gators have maintained their strong defenses from the Muschamp era…and the offense is still broken.
Kiffin with Florida talent! Unbelievable hire!
Arkansas (13:1): My thought is that, after two years of success at FAU, this won’t be sexy enough for Lane. If he peels back the curtains for a minute though, he’ll see that there is no sexier job in CFB. His two predecessors:
- Bobby Petrino, motorcycle accident with a young staffer. (8/10 sexy rating)
- Bret Bieliema, of “borderline erotic” fame. (8/10 sexy rating)
Bieliema has low-key sucked at Arkansas, overall, and his window to break through is probably the best fit for this timeline.
Alabama (15:1): Someday sooner than we realize, Nick Saban will retire or move on. Why not after his fourth-straight national championship? Steve Sarkisian will still have too many alcohol-related red flags to make the jump. Jeremy Pruitt is too unstable a human.
Why not keep Saban’s coordinators in place and rehire his right-hand man?
Georgia (25:1): (*note: this won’t happen with Greg McGarity at AD, and they likely won’t fire a “Georgia man” after three years, but say Kirby Smart is .500 after three years and Mark Richt has at least one ACC Coastal title*)
Yeah, it doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?
Georgia has the pro-style personnel in place to take immediate strides, and Smart’s recruiting will lend itself to an immediate turnaround to eke out another 2-3 wins based on talent and decent coaching alone.
RIP, “Kirby Dumb” memes.
South Carolina (30:1): A retread hire at South Carolina? Surely you jest. Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier, and Will Muschamp have all found varying degrees of success doing just this, and I’m hedging on Coach Boom riding Jake Bentley and the young Cocks to two excellent seasons before he takes a better job (not gonna happen, but 30:1 seems safe).
Or, Boom flames out, or has a heart attack on the field, or something.
Off the board, but let’s try it:
Tennessee: Please god, yes.
Vanderbilt: For the complete opposite reason of above, please.
Mississippi State: Arkansas’ lack of sexy combined with an even less sexy history and Starkville.
Kentucky/Missouri: probably should’ve attached odds to both, but honestly forgot about these programs. Not a high enough ceiling for Lane, anyway.
Texas A&M: Tom Herman year 1 hysteria forces Kevin Sumlin out after 2017, Kiffin campaigns but does not get it.
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)
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.