Yes. It’s that time, sports fans, and what a line-up we have in the coming week, Navy having edged Army in a classic Game on the 8th. Trent Steelman is so gonna get a nickname when he gets to that first duty station.
Here in the early hours of the bowl-fest, it’s all Booger Bowls, as far as the eye can see. And what Booger Bowls they are! As previously mentioned – because we just can’t help ourselves – the NCAA FBS Bowl Season kicks off tomorrow, Saturday, 15 December, with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque, featuring crowd favorite Nevada versus the Wildcats of Arizona. The game starts at 11 AM Mountain, which means a dark, rain-soaked 10 AM here, and don’t think there won’t be a brunch to go with all of this.
The weather in University Stadium looks to be football-ish: low 40s and cloudy at game time. Both teams come in 7-5, with defensive challenges and zesty, if uneven, offenses. We’re unsurprised to see that the oddsquad has Arizona giving about 8, but clearly, the Wolf Pack has a good chance at walking off with this one. A lot of scoring is likely, which is always fun.
In the human interest category, it turns out I have a T-shirt made by Gildan. I may have more than one, but I found this shirt while going through some old clothes early in the week. It’s a commemorative shirt from BALTOPS-96, a NATO naval exercise held in the Baltic Sea. That was the first year Russian ships participated in BALTOPS, under the aegis of the Partnership for Peace. Great libs in Sweden, Germany, Poland, and Denmark. (Followed by a once-in-a-lifetime port call in Dublin, Ireland on the USS John F Kennedy (CV-67).)
Sadly, there’s no TOC human-interest angle to the next bowl game in the hopper: the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, where it will be a real gyp if they’re not serving potatoes. This one unfolds on the Smurf Turf in Boise, and the contestants will be Toledo, coming in at 9-3 from the Mid-American, and the 10-2 Aggies of Utah State, who finished first in the WAC and are #22 in the BCS. The game obviously has the strong potential to be lopsided; the oddscritters have the Aggies giving 10 (and it would be more if the Rocket fans weren’t clearly some true believers. An appreciative Okie head-bop to Ohioans, who most definitely love ‘em their football).
Fans and teams will enjoy a balmy 38F and partly cloudy on Saturday at 2:30 PM Mountain.
After Saturday, it will be five whole days to the next game. On Thursday the 20th, BYU will meet San Diego State in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, one of our very most favorite bowls. Kickoff is 5:00 PM Pacific in Qualcomm Stadium.
The Cougar faithful have 7-5 BYU giving a couple, but the 9-3 Aztecs have been pretty darn good this year – neck and neck with Boise State and Fresno State at the top of the Mountain West – and we here at the TOC Football Commentary Service think SDSU is going to take this one. Their motivation level couldn’t be higher, and sophomore QB Adam Dingwell, who led the Aztecs in their November upset over Boise State, is running hot. Low 60s and stadium lights for the 5 PM kickoff.
On Friday, 21 December, the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl will kick off in St. Petersburg, FL, featuring Ball State and the University of Central Florida, which Tulsa beat twice this season. (Heh.) Ball State, at 9-3, finished second in the West Division of the Mid-American, but their powerhouse junior QB, Keith Wenning, was injured in November, and his status for the bowl game on the 21st is uncertain.
UCF, 9-4, is the East Division champion in C-USA, and lost only to Tulsa, Ohio State, and Missouri. The Knights are always a tough opponent in C-USA, and overall they’re the better team going into Friday’s game. The oddsdudes like them by about 7. Fans at Tropicana Field will have to suffer with temps in the mid-60s and clear skies, at the kickoff time of 7:30 PM Eastern.
Sufficient unto the week are the bowls thereof. There will be more starting next Saturday, but we’ll preview them next week. Just a bit of a hint, though: Russell Athletic Bowl, 28 December, Orlando, FL – Rutgers and Virginia Tech. Huh? Huh?
FCS will be rocking the semi-finals this weekend. Georgia Southern, which finally slogged past Old Dominion in an offensive duel last week, will meet North Dakota State tonight at 8:00. NDSU is the #1 seed in the FCS hunt this year. Tomorrow, Sam Houston State will meet Eastern Washington, which clocks in at #2 in the FCS. The winners go to the Div II national championship game in Frisco, TX on 5 January.
In Division II, Saturday the 15th sees the national championship game, in a 1:00 PM bout between Winston-Salem State and Valdosta State in Florence, AL. Winston-Salem State is the Cinderella this year, coming in 14-0 but playing perennial Div II powerhouse Valdosta State, which has two national championships (2004 and 2007) to its credit, if a less stellar 11-2 record for the 2012 season. Mid-60s and cloudy, with a chance of isolated showers, at game time in Braly Stadium.
In Division III, Mount Union topped Mary Hardin-Baylor 48-35 last week, and will meet St. Thomas (MN) in the national championship game – the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl – in Salem, VA, in about 15 minutes. Temp in Salem Football Stadium – Salem is just off I-81 northeast of Blacksburg – is a breezy 48 and falling. Both teams are 14-0 with a history of Div III dominance, so it should be a good game, and we wish everyone well.
Hey, how about that Johnny Manziel kid? First freshman to win the Heisman. Congrats to him, and to Texas A&M on a pretty darn good first year in the SEC. According to Wikipedia, Manziel “has a sister and two dogs.” Blessings.