And here we are, staring down the onset of one of our favorite weeks of the year. Let’s dive right in.
Technically not a Booger Bowl, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl – AKA the Div III championship game – is unfolding as I type in Salem, VA. Once again, as they have for most of the last decade, Mount Union (OH) and Wisconsin-Whitewater are meeting to decide who bears off the trophy. Mount Union holds it at the moment, but Wisconsin-Whitewater took it home for three years straight running, 2009-2011.
It’s on ESPNU right now, and if you’re not watching, we think you’re a sissy.
We’ll go ahead and wrap up Other Ranks play before proceeding to the FBS bowls. The Div II championship game will be played tomorrow (Saturday the 21st) in Florence, AL. Lenoir-Rhyne University of Hickory, NC (motto: “ἡ ἀλήθεια ἐλευθερώσει ὑμᾶς”) will meet Northwest Missouri State in what should be a regular barn-burner. We are excited to report that the team mascots – Joe and Josie Bear for Lenoir-Rhyne, and Bobby the Bearcat for NW Missouri State – will be there in full regalia. The Bearcats have perennially been a better team than the Cinderella Bears, but, of course, on any given Saturday, you know what can happen.
In FCS ball, #1 North Dakota State meets New Hampshire in one of the semi-finals tonight, and is likely to continue its winning career. Eastern Washington and Towson will collide tomorrow afternoon. The championship game will be 4 January in Frisco, TX.
On to the Booger Bowls. They start in fine style with the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque on Saturday, at noon Mountain (2 PM Eastern). Washington State and Colorado State headline this one, with the Cougars giving 5. The Rams, of course, could certainly take this one. We’re not fans of taking points in most Booger Bowls.
The Whatever Bowl in Las Vegas always has a really silly name, but at least this year the modifiers are in the right place relative to the subject noun. Ladies and gentlemen, we present the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl, live from Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday, featuring (hah) the USC Trojans and the Bulldogs of Fresno State. Heh. Take that, Trojans. Scoff. Just call them the Bitty Bowl team. OK, OK, I’ll stop. They give 6 in the line, and we’re not so high on the Bulldogs that we don’t think the Trojans could make it more.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, which is our kind of bowl, offers an interesting match-up between Buffalo and San Diego State. Talk about two teams that come from a different place. The oddsquad doesn’t seem to know quite what to make of it; the Aztecs are giving 2, but we’d call this a pick-em. A high of 31 in Boise, and snow showers, will make this as much of a weather bowl as anything else. Kickoff at 3:30 PM Mountain, 5:30 Eastern on the Smurf Turf.
The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl is bringing it home on Saturday evening, featuring a clash between Louisiana-Lafayette and Tulane in the Superdome. If anything, the oddsdudes are even more conflicted about this one, with the Green Wave giving 1-ish. Frankly, we think that’s silly, and the Ragin’ Cajuns are likely to win this one, possibly by double digits.
The next bowl day is Monday, the 23rd, when the Beef O’Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl bursts upon us, from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL. Monday’s the only day showing rain showers in the near-term forecast, and wouldn’t you know it, the game kicks off at 2 PM, which is prime shower time in Central Florida. But we know Ohio and East Carolina will take that in stride. The 7-5 Bobcats were kind of alarmingly bad this year, and even in an off-year, the Purple Pirates are better (9-3, incidentally), and seem likely to requite bettors who take the 14 points.
The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl won’t disappoint on Christmas Eve. Kicking off at 8 PM Eastern (and we think that’s 2 PM in Hawaii), it will feature Boise State and Oregon State, neither of which had a particularly stellar season, but both of which always put up some great football. The oddsbubbas have the Beavers giving 3. We’re not so sure. Don’t need no stinking points on this one.
Pro football will rule Christmas day, of course. But on the 26th, the Booger Bowl schedule will kick back in with some quality viewing. The Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl, coming to us from Ford Field in Detroit, will match Pittsburgh with Bowling Green, and the game ought frankly to be pretty darn good. The line shows the Falcons giving 4. They haven’t been half-bad this year, and we’d go with that.
The late game on the 26th will be an all-time classic, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (motto: “Never abbreviated”), featuring Utah State versus Northern Illinois. Who’d-a thunk the Huskies would have fallen the farthest in the rankings before the bowl this year? Oddsquad has this one close to a pick-em, with NIU giving 1. Sure, why not. 6:30 PM Pacific kickoff time in Qualcomm.
Friday the 27th will be a red-letter day for Booger Nation, starting with the Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman at 2:30 PM Eastern, coming to us from Annapolis, MD. Marshall and home crowd favorite Maryland will square off in this one, with the Thundering Herd giving 2. It’s a long way off to be giving credence to weather forecasts, but right now, the rain/sleet mix is supposed to have ended, and this one will kick off under sunny skies with temps in the 30s.
We are a little embarrassed to report that the Texas Bowl, marching into the next kickoff slot on the 27th, has lost its sponsor, which was Meineke Car Care in 2011 and 2012. It’s weird and just a mite strange in these well-sponsored days to have a bowl name you don’t have to dig out from under layers and layers of sponsor-speak. At any rate, Syracuse and Minnesota will be slugging it out in Reliant Stadium in Houston, with a respectable 5 PM kickoff. The Golden Gophers give 4.
Darned, meanwhile, if the Fight Hunger Bowl hasn’t lost its big-name sponsor too, in the 2013 season of Booger dramas. One of our all-time favorite bowls, this one was the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, it’s just the Fight Hunger Bowl, and quite honestly is the poorer for it. No telling what people will be fighting hunger with now. This one needs visions of Velveeta dancing in a viewer’s head.
It will showcase BYU and Washington, only one of whose head coaches has been poached by USC, and only one of which has hired Chris Petersen away from Boise State (and for that matter, only one of which is under investigation for – horrors! – possibly having paid for tutoring for a football recruit). It’s a regular As the World Turns out there. We’re calling it the Fight Nausea Bowl here at your TOC Football Commentary Service.
In the Fight Hunger Bowl proper, kicking off on the 27th at 6:30 PM Pacific at A&T Park (San Francisco), the Huskies give 3, in spite of (because of?) their higher melodrama index. We report, you decide.
Sufficient unto the week, as always, are the Booger Bowls thereof. We’ll start the next round in a week. In the meantime, we’re in the 3Q in Salem, and Wisconsin-Whitewater is up 28-14 on Mount Union. New Hampshire drew first blood in the FCS semi-final, but ND State came back swinging, as usual, to tie it up 7-7 in the 1Q.