How about them Aggies? What a great game to watch between LSU and Texas A&M. Rivalry week delivered in spades last weekend. It seemed every other game was a close one last week. The combination of my five TVs, four Roku’s, Xfinity and my digital antennae combined with the WatchESPN and Fox Sports App made for great channel hopping.
Virginia Tech’s defeat of Virginia was a classic example of the high drama that occurred last week. It should have been curtains when their QB threw a pick with less than four minutes to go deep in their own territory. UVA could neither punch the ball in nor run out the clock. A Cavalier chip shot field goal left the Hokies just enough time to drive the length of the field to score the tying touchdown with just seconds left. While the Hokie drive on the field slowly died, their prepubescent kicker was clearly doing everything possible to not launch his pre-game meal on the sidelines. He composed himself enough to kick a field goal. Virginia quickly threw a fifteen yard slant and it looked like a touchdown was a forgone conclusion. However, in classic nod to their current fifteen game losing streak to the Hokies, Virginia promptly fumbled the ball and their apparent victory away.
As mentioned, plenty of other games provided high drama. Particularly the back and forth game at Kyle Field. The Aggies are a resilient bunch for sure. It was another team I counted out but they just kept coming on Saturday night. Jimbo has them moving in the right direction.
The next pressing question is whether championship week viewing will be as rewarding. Here’s my take on the big games this week:
PAC 12: On Friday night: Washington versus Utah. Credit to the Huskies for finding their way back to the championship, but no playoff impact here. If it weren’t on a Friday night, not sure I would even give it a glance
Big 12: This is a noon kickoff? Not much respect for this game from the ratings gods. My money is that the Sooners get revenge for the Red River Shoot Out loss earlier this season.
SEC: Alabama versus George: Unless there is a SEC conspiracy to have the Tide throw the game and force the committee put into two SECs teams in the playoff, Bama wins this one going away. (Yes, Bama is in win or lose – Figure skating anyone?)
Big 10: Ohio State versus Northwestern: No surprises here. Buckeyes roll over the Wildcats
ACC: Clemson versus Pitt: Ditto here. The Tigers defensive line will be too much for Pitt, who’s running game just won’t get started.
AAC: Memphis versus UCF. This game became a lot more interesting since UCF lost their stud QB, McKenzie Milton, to injury. This one might be worth watching.
Conference USA: UAB versus Middle Tenn State. Hard not to root for the Blazers in this one. The UAB program has literally risen from the dead. This should be a game worth watching
MAC: Buffalo versus NIU. Buffalo adds a championship to an already successful season
Mountain West: Fresno State versus Boise State. Boise has already beaten Fresno State once this year. Tough night for Victory and Fresno State on the blue turf. Boise gets the win.
Sunbelt: Louisiana Lafayette versus App State. The Rock will be rocking in Boone, N.C., which spells bad news for the Ragin Cajuns. I like App State in this one.
What to do you call games with no significance, plenty of empty seats and teams barely above 500? No, not the Sun Belt; it is College Bowl season. While there will certainly be more than one terrible game among the bowls, there will undoubtedly be a game that was expected to be a dud that turns out to be a dandy. I can remember having to work an inventory on December 29th, 1990 in the middle of nowhere Ohio. This meant staying in roach motel weathering a screaming winter storm on the 28th. However, I was warmed by the hardnosed play of a plucky Air Force squad that upset an underachieving Ohio State. Such is the magic that the bowls sometime create. With that in mind, a not entirely uneducated preview of the 2013-2014 Bowl Season
Update: So there were 70 teams in the Bowls this year and I had seen 16 of them in person. I don’t know if that should have given me a better edge, but at 18-16 in my picks, I finished just better than a monkey throwing darts.
Gildan: New Mexico Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State (7-6) Albuquerque, NM. Sat., Dec. 21 / 2 p.m.ESPN. I don’t know anything about these two teams. My suggestion: Put the game while you are wrapping presents on the Saturday before Christmas. It will likely only be worth your divided attention. Pick: Colorado State. Result Colorado State 48 Washington State 45. W
Royal Purple: Las Vegas Bowl Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4) – Las Vegas, NV. Sat., Dec. 21 / 3:30 p.m.ABC. This is the game to spend your football watching collateral on Saturday. I saw both these teams play and this game could turn out to be a wild one. The Bulldogs’ Derek Carr can flat out sling it. This game should be worth watching. Pick: Fresno State. Result USC 45 Fresno State 20. L
Famous Idaho Potato: Buffalo (8-4) vs. San Diego State (7-5), Boise, ID. Sat., Dec. 21 / 5:30 p.m.ESPN. I suppose if you have never stayed up to see a game on the blue turf of Bronco’s stadium, this game might be worth watching. I give the edge to the Bulls, playing in frosty Boise. Pick: Buffalo. Result SDSU 49 Buffalo 24. L
R+L Carriers: New Orleans Tulane (7-5) vs. UL Lafayette (8-4), New Orleans, LA. Sat., Dec. 21 / 9 p.m. ESPN. Congrats to Tulane and Lafayette for qualifying for a bowl. They get to play in their backyard. Check on this one at 11pm. If it is close, you can always watch it instead of the local news. Pick: La Layafette. Result UL Lafayette 24 Tulane 21 W
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s: St. Petersburg East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5).; St. Petersburg, FL. Mon., Dec. 23 / 2 p.m. ESPN. The Bobcats are swooning. I saw the Pirates give the Hokies all they could handle which isn’t saying much this year. But it should be more than enough to rout Ohio. Of course, if your boss is insisting you keep working past 2 p.m. on the 23rd, turn the game on. A bad college game is still better than a good day at work. Pick: East Carolina. Result ECU 37 Ohio 20. W
Sheraton Hawaii: Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6). Honolulu, HI. Tue., Dec. 24 / 8 p.m. ESPN. Both programs have had better years and I would imagine if you are a young college man in Hawaii, your thoughts might be on something other than football. This could be a sloppy game. On the other hand, it could be a welcome respite from all your lovely family and friends on Christmas Eve. Pick: Oregon State. Result Oregon State 38 Boise 23. W
Little Caesars Pizza: Bowling Green (10-3) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6). Detroit, MI. Thu., Dec. 26 / 6 p.m. ESPN. How’s does a conference like the MAC prove itself if their conference champion gets an also ran like Pitt to play? I saw Bowling Green in their opener and they quite frankly deserve better than this. Watch just to give the Falcons their due. Pick: Bowling Green: Result: Pitt 30 Bowling Green 27. L
San Diego County CU Poinsettia: Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Utah State (8-5). San Diego, CA. Thu., Dec. 26 / 9:30 p.m. ESPN. I saw Utah State give USC all they could handle in the Coliseum. This game would be worth watching for NIU’s QB, Jordan Lynch, alone and you probably won’t even have to fight for the TV. Pick: Northern Illinois. Result: Utah State 21 NIU 14. L
Military: Marshall (9-4) vs. Maryland (7-5) Annapolis, MD. Fri., Dec. 27 / 2:30 p.m. ESPN. I saw Marshall smack around FIU this year and Maryland has been up and down all year. Thundering Herd fans travel well and Annapolis is a stone’s throw away for the Terp fans. This game could be a sleeper so you might want to check it out. Pick: Maryland. Result: Marshall 31 Maryland 20. L
Texas: Minnesota (8-4) vs. Syracuse (6-6) Houston, TX. Fri., Dec. 27 / 6 p.m. ESPN. I am not sure the Orange are ready for the Gophers. I sense a blowout. Pick: Minnesota. Result: ‘Cuse 21 Minnesota 17. L
Fight Hunger: BYU (8-4) vs. Washington (8-5) San Francisco, CA. Fri., Dec. 27 / 9:30 p.m. ESPN. I haven’t seen either of these teams play this year and I don’t plan to on Friday either. I simply don’t have a clue on this one. Pick: Washington. Result: Washington 31 BYU 16. W
New Era Pinstripe: Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Rutgers (6-6) Bronx, NY. Sat., Dec. 28 / 12 p.m. ESPN. Hmm a bowl game in New York in late December, the only thing worse could be a Super Bowl in February. Oh wait. The Irish smack around a very average Rutgers team. Pick: Notre Dame. Result Notre Dame 29 Rutgers 16. W
Belk: Cincinnati (9-3) vs. North Carolina (6-6), Charlotte, NC. Sat., Dec. 28 / 3:20 p.m. ESPN. Home game for the Tar Heels, meh. Pick: North Carolina. Result NC 39 Cincy 17. W
Russell Athletic: Louisville (11-1) vs. Miami (9-3), FL Orlando, FL. Sat., Dec. 28 / 6:45 p.m. ESPN. Miami’s last chance to prove they weren’t overrated all season. The only thing that makes this game intriguing is watching Teddy B. go off and it still the best bowl game of the day. Pick: Louisville. Result: Louisville 36 Miami 9. W
Buffalo Wild Wings: Kansas State (7-5) vs. Michigan (7-5). Tempe, AZ. Sat., Dec. 28 / 10:15 p.m. ESPN. Michigan made a bowl game? Two major conference also-rans: Don’t reward mediocrity by watching. Pick: Michigan. Result K-State 31, Michigan 14. L
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces: Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4) Fort Worth, TX Mon., Dec. 30 / 11:45 a.m. ESPN. It’s Monday so there’s not much to watch on TV anyway and the triple option does make for lots of big plays. I will be watching. Pick: Navy. Result Navy 24 MTSU 6. W
Franklin Amer. Mort. Music City: Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Ole Miss (7-5) Nashville, TN Mon., Dec. 30 / 3:15 p. ESPN. Ugh – See Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Different teams, same comment. Pick: Ole Miss. Result Ole Miss 25 Georgia Tech 17. W
Valero Alamo: Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4) San Antonio, TX Mon., Dec. 30 / 6:45 p.m. ESPN. The question here is whether or not Mack Brown will still have his job at kickoff. Whoops – looks like I should have posted this earlier. Ducks are going to roll in this one. Pick: Oregon. Oregon 30 Texas 7. W
National University Holiday: Arizona State (10-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) San Diego, CA. Mon., Dec. 30 / 10:15 p.m. ESPN. This is one of those games where the primary interest is to evaluate conference strength. Pick: Sun Devils. Result Texas Tech 37 ASU 23. L
AdvoCare V100: Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5) Shreveport, LA Tue., Dec. 31 / 12:30 p.m. ESPN. Watch the best back in the country run over the Wildcats like so many duckpins. A good reason to make sure you get out of work early or set the DVR. Pick: Boston College. Result Arizona 42 BC 19. L
Hyundai Sun: UCLA (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (8-4) El Paso, TX. Tue., Dec. 31 / 2 p.m. CBS. I saw both these teams this year, but I couldn’t get much insight on UCLA when they were crushing the hapless New Mexico State Aggies. The Hokies “D” may keep them in this one as long as their QB, Logan Thomas, doesn’t turn the ball over. If Thomas starts chucking picks, the Bruins will run away with this one. Pick: UCLA. Result UCLA 42 Va Tech 12. W
AutoZone Liberty: Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Rice (10-3) Memphis, TN .Tue., Dec. 31 / 4 p.m. ESPN. Rice is the underdog in this one, but take them and the seven points they are getting. Here’s to the Owls smacking around an SEC team. Pick: Rice. Result: Mississippi State 44 Rice 7 L. So much for picking with my heart instead of my head.
Chick-fil-A: Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4) Atlanta, GA. Tue., Dec. 31 / 8 p.m. ESPN. Duke’s great season has earned them the right to face the two best QBs back to back. I planning on kicking back and watching Johnny Football go off one last time. Pick: Texas A&M. Result A&M 52 Duke 48. W
TaxSlayer.com Gator: Georgia (8-4) vs. Nebraska (8-4) Jacksonville, FL Wed., Jan. 1 / 12 p.m. ESPN2. I think this game just might be worth watching. I put both the Dawgs and Huskers in the better than their record says they are category. I hope they prove me right. Pick: Georgia. Result: Nebraska 24 Georgia 19. L
Heart of Dallas: North Texas (8-4) vs. UNLV (7-5) Dallas, TX. Wed., Jan. 1 / 12 p.m.ESPNU. How does this game get played on January 1? This is the kind of game my mom would throw on the TV and be proud of herself because she put the game on. Sorry mom, I gotta turn the channel. Pick: North Texas. Result North Texas 36 UNLV 14 W
Capital One: South Carolina (10-2) vs. Wisconsin (9-3) Orlando, FL Wed., Jan. 1 / 1 p.m. ABC. So make sure you sober up in time for this one. I know the punters think the Gamecocks will run away with this, but I think they are just inconsistent enough to let the Badgers hang around. However, I don’t have enough confidence to get up early to shower for this one. If it’s a blowout, shower at halftime. If it goes down to the wire, shower right before the Rose Bowl. Pick: South Carolina. Result SC 34 Wisconsin 24. W
Outback: Iowa (8-4) vs. LSU (9-3) Tampa, FL Wed., Jan. 1 / 1 p.m. ESPN. My guess is that at the beginning of the season neither team thought they would be here. Iowa ecstatic just to be in a bowl and LSU disappointed they aren’t in a BCS bowl. This is one of those games that’s either going to be very close upset or total domination by the Tigers. I am rooting for the underdog Hawkeyes. Pick: LSU. Result LSU 21 Iowa 14. W
Rose Bowl: Game Michigan State (12-1) vs. Stanford (11-2) Pasadena, CA Wed., Jan. 1 / 5 p.m. ESPN. If you like good old fashioned smash mouth football, which I do, this is a must see game. I give the edge to a hot Spartan team. Pick: MSU. Result: MSU 24 Stanford 20. W
Tostitos Fiesta: Baylor (11-1) vs. UCF (11-1) Glendale, AZ Wed., Jan. 1 / 8:30 p.m. ESPN. I know everyone thinks UCF is going to get blown out, but the Knights can play, especially their QB Bortles. I saw UCF crush Rutgers this year and will be pulling for them. I can see Baylor blowing out UCF but not the other way around. However, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if UCF wins this game. Pick: Baylor. Result: UCF 52, Baylor 42 L but my analysis was spot on.
Allstate Sugar: Alabama (11-1) vs. Oklahoma (10-2) New Orleans, LA Thu., Jan. 2 / 8:30 p.m. ESPN. The only game on so I will be tuning in but I may able to go to bed early if ‘Bama comes in with their heads screwed on straight. The Tide rolls in this one. Pick: Alabama. Result Oklahoma 45 Alabama 31. L
AT&T Cotton: Missouri (11-2) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2), Arlington, TX Fri., Jan. 3 / 8 p.m. FOX Former Big 12 matchup should be a good one. If the Cowboys light up the Tigers, the SEC will need to tone down their rhetoric. Pick: Oklahoma State. Result Mizzou 41 Ok State 31. L
Discover Orange: Clemson (10-2) vs. Ohio State (12-1) Miami Gardens, FL Fri., Jan. 3 / 8 p.m. ESPN. After the “Debacle in Death Valley”, I have no faith in Clemson whatsoever. Of course, this is a game with no pressure so Clemson will probably shine. Still, I look for the Buckeyes to win in a close one. Pick: Ohio State. Result: Clemson 40, OSU 35. L once again Clemson gives me the shaft.
BBVA Compass: Houston (8-4) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4) Birmingham, AL Sat., Jan. 4 / 1 p.m. ESPN. Not much appeal on this one. I give it to Vandy with the near home field advantage. Someone will have to tell me who won, because I won’t be watching. Pick: Vanderbilt. Result: Vandy 41 Houston 24. W
GoDaddy: Arkansas State (7-5) vs. Ball State (10-2) Mobile, AL Sun., Jan. 5 / 9 p.m. ESPN. Don’t sleep on the MAC. Pick: Arkansas State. Result: Arkansas State 23 Ball State 20. W. I think it was a mistake that I had picked Arkansas State but I will take the win anyway since that was the post.
BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn Pasadena, CA Mon., Jan. 6 / 8:30 p.m. ESPN. This should be a great game. I would really like FSU to win just to end this SEC streak, but it strikes me that FSU really has not been tested at all this year. If Auburn can keep it tight, I think they will win it because they’ve been playing tight games all year long. So my heart says FSU, but my head and my money will be on Auburn. Pick: Auburn. Result: FSU 34, Auburn 31: L
While I am a big fan of the bowls, their time has come and passed. When teams are whining because they didn’t get to a bowl when they were 6 – 6, a change is in order. I long for the day of an eight team tournament and honestly, I can’t see why a sixteen team bracket couldn’t happen. There’s really only one game in December and I don’t see Army or Navy making the top sixteen anytime soon. Imagine a sixteen team tournament starting the first week in December and rolling through to Jan 1: I can’t wait to chase those games.