OK so the TSN schedule is finally out for all the bowl games. I am a bit shocked it took this long since the first bowl game is tomorrow. Oh well, it’s up and that’s good…I guess. Except the fact that more games are on the specialty pack than are on TSN.
Before we begin with the bowl game rankings, let’s discuss the Army-Navy game. Wasn’t that fun? I tend to forget why it has its own Saturday. I get the pageantry and the importance of it all but the logical side of me considers it a tiny bit of an annoyance to come after the College Football Playoff rankings come out. Very small bit but it’s still there. But then I remember how often the game is good. Like really exciting. This past Saturday’s affair was no different. Army breaks a fourteen game losing streak to the Midshipmen with their win, sparking a massive celebration. Is Army finally a decent team for good? We shall see. Navy and Air Force have been good for years now so there’s no reason why the Black Knights, with that frustrating-to-defend-against option offense, shouldn’t be good. Also, U.S. president-elect Donald Trump was there to shit on the quality of football played on the field. He should know a thing or two about a shitty football organization: he was a part of the USFL.
And this time around it was special for another reason: the last college football game ever called by one Verne Lundquist. No matter if you thought he was good or not is beside the point. He’s a legend in the college football broadcasting business, plain and simple. If you did a college football broadcasting Mount Rushmore, you would have him, Brent Musburger, and Keith Jackson as shoo-ins. The fourth? Who knows? Pick one. Brad Nessler perhaps (who incidentally is Verne’s replacement)? I don’t really know. That would be a tough call.
And speaking of Verne….I am bringing back the UNCLE VERNE SCALE for the bowl rankings this year. It is only fitting. Let’s not waste any time! I am also going to put times and dates and networks. I will do this in order of amount of Vernes, five being the most, one being the least.
FIVE VERNE TERRITORY! (Yes, SIR!)
This set of games are your must-see ones. So basically the College Football Playoff, New Year’s Six, and one other bowl game.
Fiesta Bowl – #2 Clemson vs. #3 Ohio State (Dec. 31, 7:00, TSN2) – Yes, the New Year’s Eve CFP games are annoying. I get it. I don’t know what I am doing for this New Year’s but I do know it will probably involve my kids. Hey why is it so difficult to find babysitters these days? When I used to babysit as a teenager there were a ton of people my age doing it. Now not so much. This game is probably the cream of the crop and is the one CFP game that seems to be in doubt. My pick: Ohio State 34-28.
Peach Bowl – #1 Alabama vs. #4 Washington (Dec. 31, 3:00, TSN2) – Remember, the World Juniors is on between Boxing Day and the first week of January. Every. Single. Game. And it takes up a whole bunch of channels. Also the Spengler Cup is still a thing. So the two most important games of the year go to one TSN channel. Not impressed. My pick: Alabama 44-23.
Rose Bowl – #5 Penn State vs. #9 USC (Jan. 2, 5:00, TSN2) – USC is the hottest team in college football not from the Dirty South. Even though the Nittany Lions are ranked higher, I can see them being in real tough here. I kind of wish the Rose Bowl (and the Sugar) went back to being on ABC. It won’t but it makes it easier for a lot of fans to not play TSN Channel Roulette to determine where the Granddaddy of Them All is on. My pick: USC 38-20.
Orange Bowl – #6 Michigan vs. #11 Florida State (Dec. 30, 8:00, TSN2) – The World Junior schedule gets mighty crowded at this time of the year. So again, only one TSN channel because god forbid we miss that hot Czech Republic-Switzerland matchup (or whatever the fuck is on this day). Also, we were denied a Harbaugh-Fleck mega-matchup but this will be quite good too. My pick: Michigan 32-24.
Cotton Bowl – #8 Wisconsin vs. #15 Western Michigan (Jan. 2, 1:00, TSN2) – I really want to pick Western Michigan. I really want the Broncos to row that damn boat all over the field. I do because I believe PJ Fleck, waiting until after bowl season is done to entertain job offers, is going to miss out on all of those job offers. And let’s be honest: this is a once-in-a-lifetime team at WMU. Will never happen again. So I am going to pick them. That makes me feel happy. My pick: Western Michigan 40-27.
Alamo Bowl – #10 Colorado vs. #12 Oklahoma State (Dec. 29, 9:00, specialty pack) – Nice to see the Buffs back in the top tier again. It feels like the 90s again! Actually, going back to the Big Eight would be a good idea I think. Bringing back the Southwest Conference would be a little less exciting considering how the last decade went for them. Ouch. My pick: Colorado 38-35.
Sugar Bowl – #7 Oklahoma vs. #14 Auburn (Jan. 2, 8:30, TSN2) – I do find it kind of funny that the worst team in the New Year’s Six is probably Auburn. From the SEC. Yeah. Let’s be honest: the SEC this season was Bama and a bunch of mediocre teams. Kind of a sad send-off to Verne dontcha think? My pick: Oklahoma 36-10.
FOUR VERNES! QUATRO VERNE-OS! (In your life have you seen anything like that???)
Just a cut below the must-see games, most of these will still be good to watch and most college football fans will try to catch most of these games (usually with a beer or four and a couple bags of nachos).
Las Vegas Bowl – Houston vs. San Diego State (Dec. 17, 3:30, ABC) – One of the very few games (nine in all) that aren’t on ESPN. The best pre-Christmas bowl, without a shadow of a doubt, is this one. Houston has already had a lot of national attention but this will be the country’s best look at Donnell Pumphrey, the best running back nobody knows. An NFL team would be smart to pick this guy up in the draft. My pick: Houston 24-20.
Citrus Bowl – #13 Louisville vs. #20 LSU (Dec. 31, 11:00, ABC/TSN2) – Morning FOOTBAW!!!!! It should be like this every week to be honest with you. Who really cares if the game starts at 11:30 or even 11? OK maybe the players and the coaching staffs but when has the NCAA cared about them in the past? Final look at one Leonard Fournette before he enters the draft. Watch him decide to sit out to avoid injury. My pick: Lamar Jackson’s Team 27-26. UPDATE: Fournette is done and will turn pro.
Sun Bowl – #18 Stanford vs. North Carolina (Dec. 30, 2:00, CBS) – Hey the Sun Bowl gets a great matchup. One of the best non-CFP/non-NY6 bowls this season. I still think it is ridiculous that the SEC does not get to be in the Sun Bowl, a game broadcast on CBS, the home of the SEC (kind of). Then again, when has the bowl tie-ins ever really made sense? My pick: North Carolina 37-28.
Russell Athletic Bowl – #16 West Virginia vs Miami (Dec. 28, 5:30, specialty pack) – It’s BIG EAST WARFARE! You know, I used to like the Big East. Then again, when you get a game almost every week in your area (whether you like it or not), you start to appreciate the nuances of the conference. Except Rutgers. I don’t think anyone really appreciates Rutgers these days. My pick: West Virginia 27 Miami 17 Drunk Uncle Dana 6 (Red Bulls)
Music City Bowl – #21 Tennessee vs. Nebraska (Dec. 30, 3:30, specialty pack) – So this would be probably the best game on the specialty pack. Means you get the best games without ordering it. That’s a good thing (for them). I would be very interested to see what happens if the Vols get blown out in this one. Do they take ol’ Butch out behind the barn or do they give him another chance? Either way can you hurry up? Les Miles is waiting. My pick: Tennessee 29-28.
Boca Raton Bowl – Memphis vs. Western Kentucky (Dec. 20, 7:00, TSN1/TSN4) – This game will have a lot of points. This is almost suited to arena football. My advice? Take the over. My pick: Western Kentucky 53-48.
Texas Bowl – Kansas State vs. Texas A&M (Dec. 28, 9:00, TSN2) – Too bad Texas hadn’t blown a gasket in at least one of their seven losses. A Texas-TAMU matchup would be huge for ratings, despite the fact the Aggies were mediocre this season and the Longhorns were below-average. Instead we get Bill Snyder, the best 108-year-old coach I know. I don’t know how he is still alive to be honest. My pick: Texas A&M 21-14.
THREE VERNES! (An answered prayer!)
These are the games where if you are a college football fan you will watch these. Many others will not though. Especially up here in Canada. And ESPECIALLY when the World Juniors are on. I mean what would you rather watch: a hot Latvia-Slovakia barnburner or the Belk Bowl? If you’re reading this I have a pretty good idea what you would pick……………….it’s the Belk Bowl right?
Camellia Bowl – Appalachian State vs. Toledo (Dec. 17, 5:30, TSN2) – Two teams that probably would have been fun to watch against a mid-card Power Five team. Either way, one of the best G-5-on-G-5 matchups during bowl season. Oh and is Appalachian State going to evolve into the next Boise State? The way they have played their last two seasons it kinda feels that way. My pick: Appalachian State 30-13.
Belk Bowl – #22 Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas (Dec. 29, 5:30, specialty pack) – I am hoping for at least one shot of Bret Bielema’s hot wife during the telecast. It will make up for the fact that we have no clue which Arkansas will be showing up. Let’s hope for the “good” Arkansas. Oh, and got to give Justin Fuente credit for what he did in Blacksburg. Let’s see how he follows this up. My pick: Virginia Tech 42-23.
TaxSlayer Bowl – Georgia Tech vs. Kentucky (Dec. 31, 11:00, specialty pack) – I feel this game is not getting its due. Probably because of the fact it’s New Year’s Eve and the other two games are WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more important than this one. But the Wildcats are competing once again in the SEC and the Fighting Option Offense of Georgia Tech is back after an awful season last year. I still don’t think it will be amazing but it should entertaining leading into the College Football Playoff. My pick: Kentucky 39-34.
Outback Bowl – #17 Florida vs. Iowa (Jan. 2, 1:00, ABC) – If you take the over in this game you are a fucking fool! I was about to knock this down a star but I was reminded that despite the fact this game will be a nightmare to people who love scoring, the game could very well be close and it’s still two Power Five teams. A close game between 2 P-5 teams should always be watched. My pick: Florida 12-9.
Holiday Bowl – Minnesota vs. Washington State (Dec. 27, 7:00, specialty pack) – Member when the Holiday Bowl always had good teams playing? I member. Not saying neither of these teams are good but the cache isn’t there this time around. Wazzu is fun to watch on offense but their defense makes people cry. Minnesota is just…well….Minnesota. And they may not even play. If they truly boycott the game and Northern Illinois has to take the red eye in to San Diego to play this will go to 5 Verne territory just for the media shitstorm. My pick: Washington State 41-22.
Armed Forces Bowl – #25 Navy vs. Louisiana Tech (Dec. 23, 4:30, TSN1) – Before the Army-Navy game I would have favoured Navy by a ton. Not so much anymore. They’ll still win but it will be close for at least a quarter-and-a-half. Still surprised Ken Niumatalolo didn’t get any play for the head coaching vacancies. My pick: Navy 39-23.
Dollar General Bowl – Ohio vs. Troy (Dec. 23, 8:00, specialty pack) – Is Dollar General like the Dollarama up here? If so, how the hell do they afford sponsoring a bowl game? I think we are going backwards with this. Soon enough very few bowl games will have sponsors in the name. Maybe it will lead to less bowl games. Not a bad trade-off if they can space them out properly. My pick: Troy 29-28.
Military Bowl – #24 Temple vs. Wake Forest (Dec. 27, 3:30, TSN2) – Can you believe this Wakeyleaks stuff? Ridiculous. And totally glossed over because it’s Wake Forest. If this was at Florida State, the entire program would be shuttered because it would be a COLLEGE FOOTBALL TRAGEDY or some shit like that. That radio guy is a dick though. My pick: Wake Forest 38-35 (even without the Owls getting any “help”).
Poinsettia Bowl – BYU vs Wyoming (Dec. 21, 9:00, specialty pack) – I feel like half the bowl games are in San Diego or Orlando. It’s actually six but that’s still nuts. Especially since Qualcomm (or the Murph as it is somewhat affectionately called) is a bit of a shithole. Anyway, Craig Bohl has done great things with Wyoming this season. Winning a bowl game won’t be one of them. My pick: BYU 35-15.
Two Vernes (Nope. No Awesome Verne call here.)
Now we are getting into the games that you would have to be a real college football fan to watch. I will watch most of these but may not like myself after doing so.
Liberty Bowl – Georgia vs. TCU (Dec. 30, Noon, specialty pack) – A year ago if you had said Georgia-TCU many ears would have perked up. Not so much this season. Not that either team is bad. They are just both a shell of their former selves. I’m not worried about the Horned Frogs since Gary Patterson is that the helm there. The jury is still out on Kirby Smart (and Alabama assistants moving into head coaching positions in general…I think). My pick: TCU 24-16.
Pinstripe Bowl – #23 Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern (Dec. 28, 2:00, specialty pack) – James Conner has been the inspiration for the Pitt Panthers this season. I sincerely hope he does well at the next level. Also, by the way this team plays offense (see their game against Syracuse for example), this could be over quickly. My pick: Pitt 43-7.
Independence Bowl – NC State vs. Vanderbilt (Dec. 26, 5:00, specialty pack) – To the chagrin of all Wolfpack fans, NC State has decided to retain Dave Doeren as head coach for next season. It’s not like he’s bad; he just hasn’t helped the team progress really at all. Vandy on the other hand is fun to watch and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them give Derek Mason an extension. Also, bonus points if he starts dancing on the sidelines. My pick: Vandy 28-17.
Cactus Bowl – Baylor vs. Boise State (Dec. 27, 10:15, specialty pack) – Baylor has gone through a rough season. Starting 6-0 and giving everyone hope and then they go 0-6 to finish the season. Brutal. Plus with all the issues with some of the players and Art Briles and Art throwing the assistants under the bus. Such a mess. Good luck to Matt Rhule as he has to try to make chicken salad out of rotten chicken shit. This shouldn’t be close. My pick: Boise State 44-16.
Foster Farms Bowl – #19 Utah vs. Indiana (Dec. 28, 8:30, FOX) – How FOX got this game of all games is beyond me. Well, not beyond me. I understand it’s a Pac-12 vs. Big Ten showdown. But the calibre of this game…ugh. The Utes should mop the floor with them. Should. Who knows now that the Hoosiers have a new head coach. No, the Utes should blow them out of the water. My pick: Utah 42-17.
Idaho Potato Bowl – Colorado State vs. Idaho (Dec. 22, 7:00, specialty pack) – I can see the Vandals (that’s Idaho’s team name if you didn’t know since we never see Idaho on TV here) playing some inspired ball in a bowl game in their much, much more talented state brethren’s stadium. I think the Fighting Petrinos of the Middle of Nowhere end their penultimate FBS season with a win. Kind of looks good on the NCAA as a whole that this program is moving down to FCS but could win a bowl game in their second last season. My pick: Idaho 39 (potatoes) – Colorado State 28.
Bahamas Bowl – Eastern Michigan vs. Old Dominion (Dec. 23, 1:00, specialty pack) – 1:00 on the specialty pack before Christmas. How in the hell can anyone watch this game? It will go to my PVR but I can’t promise I will watch most of it. I am interested in seeing a game between a first-time bowl team and a team that hasn’t bowled in thirty years. I can see it being a very jittery first quarter. My pick: Old Dominion 42-31.
New Mexico Bowl – New Mexico vs. UTSA (Dec. 17, 2:00, TSN1/TSN3) – The first bowl game of the season has been the New Mexico Bowl in the past few years. And usually we have a pretty exciting game. I can see this one being pretty good. New Mexico’s underrated option offense against first-time bowlers UTSA. Going to be close, but I see the Roadrunners pulling this one out. Meep Meep! My pick: UTSA 31-23.
Birmingham Bowl – South Carolina vs. USF (Dec. 29, 2:00, specialty pack) – This is my fourth season (I believe) imploring the Birmingham Bowl to just cease to exist. They play in a shitty field that either needs major renovations or to be set on fire and usually it’s between two teams that no one really wants to see. I am very interested to see how USF does with Willie Taggart now gone to Oregon but I can’t foresee South Carolina winning this (although next year will be VERY interesting in the SEC East). My pick: USF 45-24.
Quick Lane Bowl – Boston College vs. Maryland (Dec. 26, 2:30, TSN2) – OK. First off, it is going to sound like everything is echoing inside Ford Field. There is no chance that the stadium will be even half full with these two teams playing. Secondly, of all the games TSN could pick up (and it was only 16 this year), they choose this one? This is what the World Juniors does to us. Makes TSN pick up bowl games that probably even they don’t want. Ugh. My pick: Does it matter? OK fine it’s Maryland 31-13.
One measly Verne
This would be like if they decided to replace Uncle Verne with Pam Ward or had Teddy Atlas do “analysis” on college football games on CBS from now on. It would be a big disaster and CBS would lose their SEC contract to ESPN and then everyone would hate both networks a lot more.
I don’t know how much of these games I will watch but I can safely say that unless I have NOTHING else going on (which probably won’t happen), I won’t watch the whole thing. I will just keep checking the ticker on my phone and if it’s close in the second half I’ll turn it on (or at least leave it on PVR until I can watch it).
Cure Bowl – Arkansas State vs. UCF (Dec. 17, 5:30, CBS Sports Network) – I actually ended up getting CBSSN again recently as part of a package. I wasn’t paying no $7 a month for this channel. But $2 a month I can handle…I think. So I get to see this bowl now. I am not that excited. UCF is essentially playing at home and has to feel lucky that Scott Frost wasn’t lured back to Oregon. I don’t think the home advantage will help but I can see this being a close game which is the only thing that keeps it from being named Worst Bowl Game of the Year. My pick: Arkansas State 39-35.
Miami Beach Bowl – Central Michigan vs. Tulsa (Dec. 19, 2:30, specialty pack) – Oklahoma State fans are STILL stewing over that loss to Central Michigan. And I STILL think it’s hilarious that they even allowed that play to happen, never mind that the game should have been over before then. But don’t worry Pokes fans, CMU will lose and probably lose big to the juggernaut Tulsa offense. My pick: Tulsa 52-20.
Hawaii Bowl – Hawaii vs. Middle Tennessee (Dec. 24, 8:00, specialty pack) – My Christmas Eve tradition has become having this game on in the background while I do the finishing touches on wrapping presents. So yeah I don’t pay a ton of attention, at least through the first half. And why should I? It’s a sparsely attended bowl game that is usually shit. I hope with the Fighting Rainbow Warrior Roloviches playing that they get a good crowd. If not, scuttle this bowl. Even if it is a destination that the players will love. My pick: Hawaii 47-37.
New Orleans Bowl – Southern Miss vs. UL-Lafayette (Dec. 17, 9:00, TSN2) – Isn’t UL-Lafayette sick of going to this bowl? Don’t get me wrong, I know going to a bowl game is a big deal to the players but when you go to the same one almost every time it has to get old. I can’t see the magic of that first time the Ragin Cajuns went there. And it was an awesome game with a game-winning field goal with no time left from 50 yards out. That’s the college football I love. This, not so much. My pick: UL-Lafayette 31-14.
Arizona Bowl – Air Force vs. South Alabama (Dec. 30, 5:30, MyTV) – This bowl game finally gets its own timeslot (kind of). I know Air Force is there to give this newer bowl game some street cred but South Alabama being there is not moving the needle at all. This should be over relatively early. My pick: Air Force 37-7.
Heart of Dallas Bowl – Army vs. North Texas (Dec. 27, Noon, specialty pack) – I had this at the very bottom of my list for a while but after the Black Knights’ performance in the Army-Navy game I moved them up a spot. But only one spot. This still will be a tough game to watch from start to finish. And to be honest, I don’t know if I will. If I have my kids then it goes to the PVR to an uncertain viewing future. My pick: Army 33-20.
St. Petersburg Bowl – Miami-OH vs. Mississippi State (Dec. 26, 11:00, specialty pack) – This is the dirt worst. The field sucks. The Trop is a shithole. They never have decent teams. I like morning football but not this. I mean Miami-OH is a nice story. Started 0-6 and won six straight to go bowling. Good for them. And Mississippi State was in the SEC which made the mediocre this year because every team not named Alabama was average. This shouldn’t be even close though. This is the bowl game that should tell the college football world that they’ve gone too far with the postseason. My pick: Mississippi State 54-14.
Done. The bowl schedule is set. We have a lot of college football to watch between tomorrow and the day after New Year’s Day. Savour it. Drink it in because come January 10th there will be no football for seven-and-a-half months. I am starting to get queasy just thinking about it. Either that or I am getting the flu. Anyway, enjoy the games everyone!