Let’s Go Bowling

 

Bowl Game UPDATE: I managed a bit of rally as the bowl season closed and will finish slightly above 500. Like I said, if you are putting money on bowl games, you might as well be betting on the greyhounds. Anything can happen, but I did get LSU winning the championship right. Geaux Tigers indeed.  

 

Here’s my annual Bowl Review with me just picking the winners (in bold) straight up.  I haven’t even looked at the lines yet. I say that betting on Bowl games is a fool’s errand but I guess the heart wants what the heart wants. Enjoy the seasons, Bowl and Holiday.

Makers Wanted:  Bahamas – Buffalo (7-5) vs. Charlotte (7-5) Nassau, Bahamas Fri., Dec. 20 2:00 pm ESPN

What a great bowl game for Buffalo, giving them a chance to leave the snow and cold and play in the Bahamas. If there was ever a bowl game to go to as an Alum, this is the one. I am going with the 49ers due to a higher level of concentration. LOSS. This one wasn’t even close. Buffalo rocks Charlotte 31- 0

Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco: Utah State(7-5) vs. Kent State(6-6) Frisco, TX Fri., Dec. 20 7:30 pm ESPN2

It is long way for Kent State to come and a relative easy trip for the Utah State faithful. At least they get to go to the west coast. Oh wait, this is Frisco, Texas, not San Frisco – sorry Mom and Dad. The travel, combined with a down year for the MAC, and I like Utah State. LOSS. The Golden Flashes shine with a 10 point win, 51 – 41.

Air Force Reserve Celebration: Alcorn State(9-3) vs. North Carolina A&T (8-3) Atlanta, GA Sat., Dec. 20 Noon ABC

No idea on this. Alcorn State I guess. LOSS. Almost feels like I should not count this one, but I will. N.C. A&T 64 – 44.

New Mexico: Central Michigan(8-5) vs. San Diego State(9-3) Albuquerque, NM Sat., Dec. 20 2:00 pm ESPN:

I was not impressed with Central Michigan in the MAC Championship. I like San Diego State. WIN. San Diego State rolls 48-11.

FBC Mortgage Cure: Liberty(7-5) vs. Georgia Southern(7-5) Orlando, FL Sat., Dec. 20 2:30 pm CBSSN

Didn’t Rutgers beat Liberty in the regular season? How did they make a bowl? I love that Hugh Freeze, fresh off an escort scandal at Ole Miss, became the head coach of the evangelical Liberty. I wonder how many times he had to be baptized to get that stink off? Georgia Southern wins this one. LOSS. Liberty wins 23 – 6. I think this one is more telling about Rutgers than Liberty. The psychological part of the game should not be underestimated and I have to believe the guys at Rutgers said to themselves, “I am a Power Five athlete and we may be bad, but we don’t lose to Group of Five teams.” 

Cheribundi Boca Raton: SMU(10-2) vs. Florida Atlantic(10-3) Boca Raton, FL Sat., Dec. 20 3:30 pm ABC.

FAU wins ten games and they have to stay home and host SMU.  And, they are losing their coach. I think the Ponies will run away with this one as I can’t imagine too many “Win one for Lane!” cheers coming from the Owls.LOSS. Maybe they do love Lane. FAU 52 – SMU 28

Camellia: FIU(6-6) vs. Arkansas State(7-5) Montgomery, AL Sat., Dec. 20 5:30 pm ESPN

It wasn’t too long ago that FIU was listed as my worst stadium to visit. They have certainly improved in play and in my rankings (thanks to awful experiences at Duke and UAB).  I still like the Red Wolves of Arkansas State. WIN. Whew, thank god the Red Wolves win 34 – 26.

Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas (19) Boise State(12-1) vs. Washington(7-5) Las Vegas, NV Sat., Dec. 20 7:30 pm ABC.

I think Boise has a chip on their shoulder. I like them to make a statement for the Mountain West and beat the Huskies of Washington. LOSS. Turns out this was a statement game, but it was the Huskies making all the comments. See my Rutgers – Liberty comments for my analysis on this on. Washington 38 – 7.

R+L Carriers New Orleans: (20) Appalachian State(12-1) vs. UAB(9-4) New Orleans, LA Sat., Dec. 20 9:00 pm ESPN.

At least there is some consolation for App. State not getting a New Year’s Day bowl by getting a trip to New Orleans. I have no love for UAB and look for the Mountaineers to roll over the Blazers. WIN. The Mountaineers had me grumbling early in this one, but came back to win strong, 31-7.

Bad Boy Mowers: Gasparilla UCF(9-3) vs. Marshall Tampa(8-4), FL Mon., Dec. 23 2:30 pm ESPN.

This should be a good game to watch. UCF is still awfully good and Marshall had some tough non-conference games against Cincinnati and Boise State. UCF in a close one. WIN. The Knights win 48-25 in a game not as close as I thought.

SoFi Hawai’i Hawaii(9-5) vs. BYU(7-5) Honolulu, HI Tue., Dec. 24 8:00 pm ESPN

It would be interesting to know how the Rainbows feel about this game. You would think there is some glamour in playing a mainland bowl game. However, they may just think it is a pain in the neck. With this game, they can play the game and still have Christmas at home (if they are local). I saw Hawaii this year and they impressed me their pluck and grit. Rainbows to win this one. WIN. The Rainbow Warriors win in dramatic fashion.

Walk-On’s Independence: Louisiana Tech(9-3) vs. Miami(6-6) (FL) Shreveport, LA Thu., Dec. 26 4:00 pm ESPN

Miami is pretty awful and the Dawgs do not lose bowl games. It is a mortal lock that the Louisiana Tech wins this one. WIN. The Dawgs shut out Miami, as expected.

Quick Lane: Pitt(7-5) vs. Eastern Michigan(6-6) Detroit, MI Thu., Dec. 26 8:00 pm ESPN

Is Eastern Michigan just happy to be here or will they come to play? The same could be said for Pitt. I still like the Panthers in this one. WIN. Pitt by four

Military North Carolina(6-6) vs. Temple(8-4) Annapolis, MD Fri., Dec. 27 Noon ESPN

This is an interesting game. Temple is pretty good this year and UNC has been exciting, if not consistent. I like the Owls in a tight one. LOSS. Ha, I couldn’t have been more wrong as UNC cruised past the Owls 55 -13.

New Era Pinstripe Michigan State(6-6) vs. Wake Forest(8-4) Bronx, NY Fri., Dec. 27 3:20 pm ESPN

I saw this game, and thought this is only a game an alum could love. I guess freezing your butt off is compensated by having a holiday in NYC. Wake Forest, I guess…but really who cares about this dog? LOSS. Michigan State wins a close one, 27-21.

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas: (25) Oklahoma State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (7-5) Houston, TX Fri., Dec. 27 6:45 pm ESPN.

This game should be a great atmosphere. Both schools are a reasonable drive to Houston so I would guess NRG Stadium will be packed. In addition, these teams are pretty reasonably matched. I think Jimbo Fisher would like to quiet the “Former Students” of A&M. So I am going with the Aggies, but with little confidence after their shellacking at the hands of LSU. WIN. Aggies by 3.

SDCCU Holiday (22) USC(8-4) vs. (16) Iowa(9-3) San Diego, CA Fri., Dec. 27 8:00 pm FS1

It was surprising to see USC right the ship as the season progressed. This game strikes me as a pick ‘em. Given Ferentz’s streaky bowl record, I am going to roll the dice with the Trojans. LOSS. Iowa handles USC easily. 49- 24

Cheez-It Air Force(10-2) vs. Washington State(6-6) Phoenix, AZ Fri., Dec. 27 10:15 pm ESPN

I completely slept on Air Force this year. I had no idea they were having such a good year. At a minimum this should be a good game because Mike Leach always seems to make it interesting with the Cougars. Like I said, I know nothing about the Falcons but I am going to go with them. WIN. Air Force wins by 10.

Goodyear Cotton (17) Memphis(12-1) vs. (10) Penn State(10-2) Arlington, TX Sat., Dec. 28 Noon ESPN

While I wanted App State to get the New Year’s Day bid, it is hard to argue with Memphis getting the game. The Nittany Lions seem to think they are better than they really are.  I think this will be a really entertaining game. I am going with PSU, but grudgingly. WIN. Memphis hung with them for awhile, but PSU eventually took care of business, 53-39.

Camping World (15) Notre Dame (10-2) vs. Iowa State(7-5) Orlando, FL Sat., Dec. 28 Noon ABC

Notre Dame is another team that thinks they are better than what they are. The Irish are a bit dicey and Iowa State has lost a ton of close games this year. I am going to go with the sentimental pick and take Iowa State. Here’s to Purdy playing his ass off. LOSS. All Irish in this one, 33 – 9. 

Chick-fil-A Peach: (4) Oklahoma(12-1) vs. (1) LSU (13-0)  Atlanta, GA Sat., Dec. 28 4:00 pm ESPN

Oklahoma is good but LSU is great. Tigers are going to roll in this one. WIN. Yep Tigers all the way.

PlayStation Fiesta: (3) Clemson(13-0) vs. (2) Ohio State (13-0) Glendale, AZ Sat., Dec. 28 8:00 pm ESPN

This one should be a dandy. I am going with the Buckeyes only because they have played a tougher schedule. LOSS. Clemson in a great one.

SERVPRO First Responder: WKU(8-4) vs. Western Michigan(7-5) Fort Worth, TX Mon., Dec. 30 12:30 pm ESPN.

Hmmm. Nothing to say here. I guess I will go with the Hilltoppers. WIN. Hilltoppers by three.

Franklin Amer. Mort. Music City: Mississippi State(6-6) vs. Louisville(7-5) Nashville, TN Mon., Dec. 30 4:00 pm ESPN

Mississippi State is another middling SEC team. Louisville isn’t much better. The Cardinals in a toss up. WIN. Louisville by ten.

Redbox California(7-5) vs. Illinois(6-6) Santa Clara, CA Mon., Dec. 30 4:00 pm FOX

I guess I might bounce over to this game if the Peach Bowl gets out of hand. I saw Illinois nearly lose to UConn. I will go with the Bears. WIN. This was one I thought was a lock. The Illini were just too inconsistent.

Capital One Orange (9) Florida(10-2) vs. (24) Virginia(9-4) Miami Gardens, FL Mon., Dec. 30 8:00 pm ESPN

The ACC is hoping Virginia makes this a statement game. I am not sure they have enough to beat Florida. My money is on the Gators, but my heart is with the Hoos. LOSS. The Gators do their part for the SEC.

Belk: Virginia Tech(8-4) vs. Kentucky(7-5) Charlotte, NC Tue., Dec. 31 Noon ESPN

Unless they revert back to early season form, the Hokies should take care of the Wildcats. Virginia Tech gets the win. LOSS. Another frustrating loss for the Hokie faithful.

Tony the Tiger Sun:  Florida State(6-6) vs. Arizona State(7-5) El Paso, TX Tue., Dec. 31 2:00 pm CBS

How did Florida State manage to make it to a bowl game? ASU was hot and cold this season. I am going with the Sun Devils in this one. WIN. Herm Edwards for the win.

AutoZone Liberty (23) Navy(9-2) vs. Kansas State(8-4) Memphis, TN Tue., Dec. 31 3:45 pm ESPN

Navy could go from ten losses to ten wins if they beat Army this weekend. What a turnaround for the Midshipmen. K-State is pretty good but I am going with Navy in a sentimental pick. WIN. Boy did Navy have a good year or what?

NOVA Home Loans Arizona: Wyoming(7-5) vs. Georgia State(7-5) Tucson, AZ Tue., Dec. 31 4:30 pm CBSSN.

Ouch, this game has about as much appeal as a wide awake colonoscopy.  Wyoming I guess. WIN. Wyoming wins big.

Valero Alamo (11) Utah(11-2) vs. Texas(7-5) San Antonio, TX Tue., Dec. 31 7:30 pm ESPN

This is practically a home game for UT and they will need all the help they can get against the Utes.  The inconsistency of the Longhorns gets them again. Utah wins. LOSS. This one hurt. I can’t believe that Utah didn’t even show up for this game.

Outback (18) Minnesota(10-2) vs. (12) Auburn(9-3) Tampa, FL Wed., Jan. 1 1:00 pm ESPN

I was going to go with Auburn just on their SEC credentials but then I thought about the Gophers stingy DBs and Bo Nix’s tendency to throw the ball all over the field. This is a pick ‘em, but I am going with the Gophers. WIN. I don’t know what Minnesota has coming back, but they will be on my radar next preseason.

Vrbo Citrus (14) Michigan(9-3) vs. (13) Alabama(10-2) Orlando, FL Wed., Jan. 1 1:00 pm ABC

So apparently Saban is less than thrilled with this game while Harbaugh sees it as a way to save his job. No need for a fifth quarter for the JV’s in this one, half of them will be starting in this one. Roll Damn Tide. WIN. Michigan thumped again. Not much of a surprise here.

Rose Bowl Game (6) Oregon(11-2) vs. (8) Wisconsin(10-3) Pasadena, CA Wed., Jan. 1 5:00 pm ESPN

This should be a game worth watching. My guess is the Badgers wear down the Ducks with a heavy dose of a punishing ground game. LOSS. The one point win by Oregon was as great a game as predicted.

Allstate Sugar (5) Georgia(11-2) vs. (7) Baylor (11-2) New Orleans, LA Wed., Jan. 1 8:45 pm ESPN

I am going with the Bulldogs because even I can’t escape the SEC bias. The Bears had a nice run, but I don’t they are going to have a good time at the Sugar Bowl. WIN. Georgia wins in a game closer than I thought it was going to be.

TicketSmarter Birmingham: Boston College(6-6) vs. (21) Cincinnati(10-3) Birmingham, AL Thu., Jan. 2 3:00 pm ESPN.

It is another crime that Boston College gets a Bowl Game. Cincinnati is going to crush them. WIN. As predicted, the Bear Cats crush the Eagles, 38 – 6.

TaxSlayer Gator Indiana (8-4) vs. Tennessee (7-5) Jacksonville, FL Thu., Jan. 2 7:00 pm ESPN

I stopped watching Tennessee after they lost to Georgia State. They managed to feast on the weak sisters of the SEC to climb back to a bowl.  I think the Hoosiers are better and will win. LOSS. Thanks alot Indiana. This win goes a long way to supporting the claims of SEC dominance because no one will remember it was a one point game.

Famous Idaho Potato: Ohio (6-6) vs. Nevada (7-5) Boise, ID Fri., Jan. 3 3:30 pm ESPN

I guess Ohio and Nevada are lucky that folks are probably taking Friday off, otherwise there would be no one to watch this dreck. Nevada wins on the basis of a shorter trip to the game. LOSS. Well congrats to the Bobcats or something.

Lockheed Martin Armed Forces: Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Tulane (6-6) Fort Worth, TX Sat., Jan. 4 11:30 am ESPN.

Boy, Tulane really fell apart as the season came to the end. I am going with Conference USA in this one. Fly Eagles fly. LOSS. Grrr. What the hell, Southern Miss? This game wasn’t even close.

LendingTree Louisiana (10-3) vs. Miami (Ohio) (8-5) Mobile, AL Mon., Jan. 6 7:30 pm ESPN

I can’t believe that Miami won the MAC. Talk about winning with smoke and mirrors. As I noted in my review of South Alabama, Mobile is a pretty cool place. I hope the Bobcat faithful have a good weekend, because the Ragin’ Cajuns are going to run away with the game on Monday night. WIN. They did not exactly run away with it, but the Cajuns hung on to win.

CFP National Championship Semifinal Winners New Orleans, LA Mon., Jan. 13 8:00 pm ESPN:

Geaux Tigers. WIN. At least Clemson kept it close for a while.

“We’d love to take you to a game”

Not surprisingly, blogging about college football stadiums isn’t my day job. I work at a large, global firm providing in-house consulting to various businesses. Most of my experience is financial and managerial, but I did put in a couple of years in the field on the sales side. I have also had plenty of opportunities to sit on the other side of the table as the customer. Given that and the seventy plus games under my belt, I have a pretty good handle on what makes for effective customer entertaining on autumn Saturdays. As the college football season approaches, it may appear to be a great opportunity to  host a client or potential customer at a game. However, before you do, consider the following:

  • Know your audience. Hard to believe, but not everyone enjoys football. If your guests are international, I’d make sure they are genuinely interested. Foreigners often find the game confusing and live games, especially with TV timeouts, can seem interminable to the uninterested. I also wouldn’t classify by gender either. I know plenty of men who could care less about football and a bunch of women, well a bunch of women from SEC schools that is, that love college football.

 

  • Know the objective. Tailgating and college football games are best for low key, informal interactions. Most tailgating environments don’t involve sitting around a table even if they are provided. There’s unlikely to be a deal brokered in a crowded tent or standing around in the parking lot. Even during the game, the venue’s probably going to be too crowded for any substantive discussion. Unless, of course, you are at a dog of a game, which will probably leave your customer wondering why you dragged him/her to Florida International in the first place. (ok, that’s a cheap shot – the Panthers appear to be much improved from when I last visited them). But you get the point; this is relationship building not negotiations.

  • Know your budget. At one point in my varied career, I was in sales in Washington, D.C. and had access to the company box for the Nationals, Capitals and Wizards. We had gotten rid of the Redskins box by the time I got there. This was a blessing because Fedex Field is easily one of the worst venues I have ever been to. The traffic alone will crush any and all enthusiasm you might have had to watch a middling NFL franchise with woeful ownership. However, Nats and Caps experiences tend to be very good to great. Wizards’ games were and still appear to be a crap shoot. The point of this digression is that I often used the facilities to entertain customers and have some experience in such matters. Having a loge/box/suite is not cheap but assuming corporate takes care of that issue, there’s still the question of refreshments. Even with a generous budget, it is easy to hit $100/person for food and drink in the box. It’s not that it isn’t plentiful or tasty, but it is still basically dogs, nachos and the like. There’s usually no craft beers or top shelf liquor either. One of the issues in my mind is that you will likely have a tailgate prior to the game with a full spread. The food in the box then often gets wasted. Catering for the tailgate can often be done at similar prices to a stadium suite and nearly every BCS football program either offers it themselves or through a third party. If you are or know a dedicated alum, you/they may likely already tailgate during the season and have a better set up than what you can get from a third party. This assumes the parking spot is already secured. Alternatively, you can go on aftermarket sites like StubHub and Vividseats and buy your own parking pass. For the Power Five conferences, those are going to run $150 – $300 per space. Smaller conferences can be more problematic as there’s often not a market for the spaces and they may be only available for alums. On the plus side, if you are doing the catering yourself, it becomes much more affordable. I would consider getting some help if you plan on doing it on your own. One should not underestimate the difficulty of manning the grill, keeping the cooler stocked and schmoozing with the guests simultaneously.
  • Know the venue: Not all college football programs are created alike. Some have great tailgating, but a weak team – hello Ole’ Miss. Others play an exciting brand of football, but the location is in the middle of nowhere – go Red Wolves of Arkansas State. In other instances, the venue is pure football. This is great if your companions love sitting crammed on the bleachers and enjoy non-stop noise, but not so much if they don’t.

  • Know your associates / staff: Any time you mix colleagues and alcohol, there’s a risk something can go wrong. Add in passions of dedicated alums and ardent fans and boorish or downright bad behavior can rear its ugly head. The last thing you need is your Miami Hurricane Sales manager screaming at a potential new client who happens to be a Golden Domer. At least you can presumably limit  the likelihood of that occurring. What you can’t control is the eighteen year old freshman who has just finished his first Jaeger bomb and is suddenly learning that what goes down often comes up. Some folks don’t react to well to getting vomit on their shoes and/or clothes. Or, it could be that your rather genteel work colleague is easily offended by those of a more “free-wheeling” personality/wardrobe.

 

  • Know what can go wrong: I have already covered some of the issues but there are other things to consider. These are outdoor events. I am a hard core fan but even when I am wearing the right all-weather gear, I don’t really enjoy a game in a driving rainstorm. Additionally, you can’t control the traffic or other spectators. Perhaps, you encounter the leather-lunged fan who decides to pick a fight with someone in your party because he is wearing ‘Bama crimson instead of LSU purple. Finally, there’s no guarantee the game is going to be a good one. If you need proof of a sure thing gone bad, see my review of Clemson.

The intent here is not to discourage you from entertaining business clients at college football games. On the contrary, it can be a great experience, often times at a reasonable cost. However, as with all things, the key is to assess the risks and plan accordingly. Who knows, there’s always the chance the weather’s perfect, the venue is sublime and Navy upsets Notre Dame at South Bend. Cheer on my friends.

2013 – 2014 College Bowl Game Preview

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.

Week of 11/25/2013

Wrap up of Last Week:

Week:Tree expanded both his and his team’s lead by completing a rare triple weekend. That was unfortunately thing rare about the weekend. All games were blowouts as expected. However, he was very impressed with University of Central Florida, both the team and the overall experience. FAU also looked good, but how could they not when they are playing the hapless Aggies of New Mexico State in sunny Boca Raton, FL? The last game was a real stinker. He and the other 1,000 or so fans at FIU should have asked for their money back.

Where we are this Week:

Nobody is on the road this week. Tree had big aspirations to pick up two games in the midwest, but winter storm Boreas ruined that plan. Best to just sit at home, eat turkey and watch football where it safe and warm.

Happy Thanksgiving from Everyone here at SoManyStadiums.com!

Week of 11/18/2013

Wrap up of previous week:

Tree was the only one out last week. He hit Delaware in a preemptive strike in hopes the Blue Hens some day make the jump from FCS to FBS. He was treated to a barn burner for his troubles. The game wasn’t decided until the final seconds of the game. Read his review to get the full story.

As Tree watched ESPN’s College Football Final, it occurred to him that he’s had a good year, seeing some of the biggest players of the year. The list includes Clowney from Clemson, BC’s stud running back Andre Williams, Stud QB Derek Carr from Fresno State, UCLA Linebacker Miles Jack, and FSU QB Jameis Winston. We are sure there are more, but not a bad roster in the base case.

Where we are this Week:

Tree is the only one on the road this week and he’s taking a big bird to get there. He is off to get some fun and sun in Florida. On Thursday night, he will be watching Rutgers take on UCF. On Saturday, it is a tight doubleheader: New Mex State vs FAU and Marshall at FIU. Clearly he won’t be able to see all of both games, but the rules say you only get a half. Being a true fan, Tree says he hopes the Owls pound the Aggies so he can duck out of there at halftime with a clear conscience. Having seen New Mexico State get pounded by UCLA earlier this year, he know’s this is a distinct possibility.