PORTIONS PREVIOUSLY APPEARING ON WTOP.COM–

Are you ready for some football?  Like it or not, you’re going to be confronted by the college football bowl season at every turn over the next few weeks.  Plenty of matchups to mull over…with a handful of games you might actually want to watch.

Saturday December 17-watchability factor: 6.  Shouldn’t one be shipping presents?

Game to Watch:  Las Vegas Bowl, Houston vs San Diego State.  The Cougars made a big splash on Labor Day weekend with an upset of Oklahoma…and Major Applewhite takes over the helm in the wake of coach Tom Perrin leaving for Texas.  But can their defense contain Aztecs running back Donnel Humphrey (2018 yards rushing in 2016)?

Dave’s Dog: R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, Southern Miss vs Louisiana-Lafayette.  Sadly this is not the only bowl matchup of 6-6 teams.  Nothing says “Go Christmas Caroling” or “put up the lights” more than a postseason clash of .500 schools.

 

Monday December 19-watchability factor: 3.  The 2:30 kickoff for the only game really doesn’t help here.

Game of the Day:  Miami Beach Bowl, Central Michigan vs Tulsa.  The Golden Hurricanes finished the fall on a 5-1 run and were two points away from taking the AAC West.  The Chippewas’ 3-0 start included a win that shouldn’t have counted at Oklahoma State, but anytime Cowboys coach Mike Gundy throws a tantrum we’re all winners.

 

Tuesday December 20-watchability factor: 8.  No NFL game to complete with and an evening kickoff between two winning teams.  What’s not to like?

Game of the Day:  Boca Raton Bowl, Memphis vs Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers won Conference USA and finished the season with seven straight victories, while the Tigers put 40+ points on the board three times in November.  Tree decorating is delayed another day.

 

Wednesday December 21-watchability factor: 5…8 if you live in the Mountain Time Zone.

Game of the Day: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, BYU vs Wyoming.  My UVA friends marvel how well the Cougars did in the first year AFTER Bronco Mendenhall departed Provo.

 

Thursday December 22-watchability factor: 7…but only because my mother is an alum of one of the schools and my Uncle Chris runs a chocolate shop in the city where the game is being played.

Game of the Day: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Idaho vs Colorado State.  Somehow the Vandals are in the Sun Belt Conference, meaning teams travel from Troy, Alabama and other points to Moscow, Idaho every other year.  My condolences…

 

Friday December 23-watchability factor: 5.  Finally more than one game…although one was getting used to Mountain Time Zone matchups.

Game to Watch: Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, #25 Navy vs Louisiana Tech.  Remember those Pittsburgh-Dallas Super Bowls where Terry Bradshaw squared off with Roger Staubach?  Their alma maters meet in Fort Worth.  Expect an offensive afternoon (the Bulldogs scored 44 points per game while the Midshipmen tallied 39 per contest).

Dave’s Dog: Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl, Eastern Michigan vs Old Dominion.  The Monarchs didn’t have a Division I program ten years ago, while Nassau didn’t have a Popeye’s until 2015.

 

Saturday December 24-watchability factor: 2.  With the NFL playing a full slate, you’ve got to give me something special or I’m watching “It’s a Wonderful Life”.  Or “Die Hard”.  Similar plots, if you ask me.

Game of the Day: Hawai’i Bowl, Hawai’i vs Middle Tennessee State.  I’ve been told that the 6-7 Rainbow Warriors will have a slight home-field advantage, as they not only play at Aloha Stadium but the school and bowl share the SAME NAME.  They couldn’t have called this the “Aloha” or “Luau” Bowl, just for giggles?  Stay away from the poi.

 

Monday December 26-watchability factor: 6…depending on gift satisfaction and if one will be returning presents that day.

Game to Watch:  Quick Lane Bowl, Maryland vs Boston College.  They’re billing this as a “showdown of former ACC Rivals”.  I have Terp friends who are still getting used to Florida State joining the league, let alone BC.  Both teams are bowling despite taking serious lumps in league play;  while the Terps lost games to Michigan & Ohio State by 56 & 59 points…the Eagles suffered defeats of 36, 38, 45 and 49 points.  And this remains the best game of the day.

Dave’s Dog:  St Petersburg Bowl, Miami (Ohio) vs Mississippi State.  The Bulldogs went 5-7. 5-7!  I’m all about the kids enjoying the rewards for working hard and appreciate the need for ESPN to force-feed us product, but seriously?  The 11 am kickoff doesn’t help matters, either.

 

Tuesday December 27-watchability factor: 7.  Finally I’m recognizing some of the bowl’s names, so that has to be a good thing.

Game to Watch:  Motel 6 Cactus Bowl, Boise State vs Baylor.  The Broncos and the Bears have been two of the more notorious “outsiders” to challenge college football royalty over the last decade…and Baylor has a new coach in place after hiring Temple’s Matt Rhule.  Even with the 10:15 kickoff, we’ll leave the light on for you.

Dave’s Dog:  Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl, Army West Point vs North Texas.  The Mean Green may be 5-7, but one of their wins came against Army by 17 on the road.  Rematches from the regular season are always tricky during the bowl season.

 

Wednesday December 28-watchability factor: 8.  Three ranked teams play…with an old school Big XII showdown in the nightcap.

Game to Watch:  Russell Athletic Bowl, #16 West Virginia vs Miami.  Call this the “behavior bowl”, from the Mountaineer fans in the stands to the Hurricane players on the field and the sideline.  Mark Richt’s team finished the regular season with four straight wins, all by double-digits.  Matthew McConaughey’s look-alike led WVU to a 10-0 mark against schools outside the state of Oklahoma.

Dave’s Dog:  Foster Farms Bowl, #19 Utah vs Indiana.  Not a horrible game, but the weakest of a slate that includes Pitt’s James Conner playing his final game and Texas A&M-Kansas State.  And shouldn’t the Hoosiers be focused on defense and rebounding?

 

Thursday December 29-watchability factor: 8.  Our first ranked matchup of the bowl season (it took long enough).

Game to Watch:  Valero Alamo Bowl, #10 Colorado vs #12 Oklahoma State.  Both schools could have made cases for spots in the College Football Playoff had they won games the first weekend of December.  While the Cowboys possess a high-octane offense behind quarterback Mason Rudolph (his 3777 passing yards rank 8th in FBS), the Buffaloes three losses have all come to teams currently in the top 10.

Dave’s Dog:  Birmingham Bowl, South Florida vs South Carolina.  Can’t they get a little creative and name the game after something instead of the city?  USF quarterback Quinton Flowers blew threw Navy’s defense like a blowtorch through butter during the regular season…and the Gamecocks are fresh off allowing 56 points to Clemson.  Gulp.

 

Friday December 30-watchability factor: 9.  More than enough name schools and interesting players to keep you glued to the TV.

Game to Watch:  Capital One Orange Bowl, #6 Michigan vs #11 Florida State.  Both teams had Novembers to remember…but while the Seminoles went 4-0 and blasted in-state rival Florida, the Wolverines lost two of their last three games by a combined four points.  And then there’s the halftime show.

Dave’s Dog: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, #21 Tennessee vs Nebraska.  All the ingredients for a bad bowl are in place.  Underwhelming teams from name conference?  It’s tough to figure who had a worse November…as the Volunteers’ loss to Vanderbilt rivaled a 2-3 month for the Cornhuskers that ended with a 30-point defeat to Iowa.  Add a cumbersome sponsor name and you have a blah bowl, my friends.

 

Saturday December 31-watchability factor:  do we count the semifinals in the equation?  If so, it’s a 10.

Games to Watch:  Peach & Fiesta, #1 Alabama-#4 Washington & #2 Clemson-#3 Ohio State.  Relevant games that mean something in the national title picture…I almost forgot what you looked like.

Dave’s Dog:  Everbank Bowl, Georgia Tech vs Kentucky.  Sorry, I want to call this the Gator.  And it starts at 11 on a Saturday morning.  The only sporting event that should be viewed before noon on a Saturday is the former NBC show “Hangtime!”, and only the Dick Butkus seasons.

 

Monday January 2-watchability factor:  5.  Two days after the semifinals, one day after the NFL regular season ends.  What was an 11 in the pre-BCS era suffers by comparison.  Which NHL teams are in the Winter Classic?

Game to Watch:  The Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual, #5 Penn State vs #9 USC.  The Nittany Lions have a case for playoff inclusion with nine straight wins and a Big Ten championship while the Trojans won eight straight after finding their quarterback.  And even though it’s the 21st century, nothing beats the sunset in Pasadena when the Trojans are playing and their marching band is playing Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk”.

Dave’s Dog:  Outback Bowl, #17 Florida vs Iowa.  Tough to compete with cinderella Western Michigan against Wisconsin in the Cotton and Auburn-Oklahoma in the Sugar.  While the Hawkeyes salvaged their season by upsetting Michigan and Nebraska, the Gators lost three of their last five games by 20+ points.  Finally, after three weeks of feasting on football can you even look at a blooming onion?

 

 

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