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2017 Bowl Game Rankings and Predictions!

Let us rejoice!  It’s bowl season!  And Christmas too.  But BOWL SEASON!  The last bunch of college football games of the season (other than the few all-star games in January).  Then we go to an EXTREMELY dry period of no college football.  It frankly sucks ass.  But what can you do right?  Maybe I will get to the 273 TV series that everyone says I have to watch.

Hey let’s talk a bit about the Army-Navy game before we get to rankings and predictions.  Could that have been one of the best Army-Navy games ever?  It was easily one of the best of this century so far.  The weather.  The old-school running attacks.  The close game.  And the fact it came down to a missed field goal with no time left.  Amazing.  Sometimes I lament why this game is on its own after the conference championships.  Then games like Saturday’s remind me why.  Just fantastic.

Alright I have done some different scales in the past for the different posts, most notably the UNCLE VERNE SCALE.  This year, I figured, since this is site that is primarily for college football television schedules in Canada, I would rank them based on the network these games would show up on if it were, say, a week in the middle of October.  Makes perfect sense for this site no?  You may have to bear with me on some of these and, in your opinion, some you may move up or down one or two slots but other than that I think this’ll work.  Famous last words.  Here we go!

10 out of 10!  This is Saturday Night on ABC kind of games

Game of the week quality.  So the College Football Playoff and the best two New Year’s Six games land here.

Sugar Bowl – Clemson vs. Alabama (Jan. 1, 8:45, TSN1/TSN3/TSN4/TSN5) – Clemson-Bama III.  Not in the championship but still the rubber match.  Clemson has reinvented itself from last season which is a remarkable feat in and of itself.  Alabama is Alabama and always has to be considered dangerous since they have no big weaknesses.  This should be close.  Watch it not be.  But I am hoping it will since I will be up quite late to watch this one.  My pick: Alabama 35-28.

Rose Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Georgia (Jan. 1, 5:00, TSN1/TSN3/TSN4/TSN5) – Thank God the College Football Playoff games are on New Year’s Day and not New Year’s Eve.  In the States, it’s because many people are out on New Year’s Eve and can’t watch it where they are.  Here in Canada we have that problem along with another “problem”: the World Juniors.  New Year’s Eve is a full slate of games including, usually, a huge Canada game late afternoon.  So this year we do not have that problem.  Oh, by the way this could be consider 1B to the Sugar Bowl’s 1A.  Both CFP games are very good this season.  My pick: Oklahoma 33-23.

Cotton Bowl – USC vs. Ohio State (Dec. 29, 8:30, TSN5 (JIP)) – I wish this was on ABC.  Why?  Because the whole “Joined in Progress” thing that TSN5 will be doing kind of worries me since doing anything other than broadcasting the whole game in the past hasn’t worked out too well.  Anyway, this is my pick for best New Year’s Six game and if it’s anything like USC’s last bowl game than saddle up…this gun be fun!  My pick: USC 44-39.

Peach Bowl – Auburn vs. UCF (Jan. 1, 12:30, TSN1/TSN3/TSN4/TSN5) – January 1st has three of the top four bowl games this season.  Just like old times.  I believe this could be one of the most anticipated bowls as it usually is.  We get to play that game of “Can the Group of Five champ hang with a really good Power Five team.”  Scott Frost’s last hurrah for the Knights is here as well.  My pick: UCF 43-42.

9 out of 10! This is the SEC on CBS quality…normally

Arguably the biggest game of the day but goes here because the SEC is never on ABC (at least as the home team).

Orange Bowl – Miami vs. Wisconsin (Dec. 30, 8:00, TSN3) – Two teams who had their chances to make the College Football Playoff and gacked them away.  Wisconsin probably came closer than Miami since the Canes already fucked up their season with an inexplicable Black Friday loss to Pitt.  But I still think they have a more talented team than the Badgers.  Why?  Call it intuition I guess.  Hey, I’m not an expert!  My pick: Miami 36-30.

Fiesta Bowl – Penn State vs. Washington (Dec. 30, 4:00, TSN3) – This is the worst New Year’s Six game.  Think about it.  That’s still damn good.  Neither team is their 2016 version but I am really looking forward to the Trace McSorley-Jake Browning showdown.  Unfortunately I think the Nittany Lions will be WAY too much for the Huskies.  My pick: Penn State 37-17.

Citrus Bowl – LSU vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 1, 1:00, ABC) – As I said in my bowl schedule post, both teams took very different paths to get here.  Hopefully this gets Brian Kelly and Ed Orgeron (two hot seat punching bags) from even sniffing the hot seat area…you know at least until mid-season when one or both is being skewered in the media for underperforming.  My pick: Notre Dame 23-20.

Alamo Bowl – Stanford vs. TCU (Dec. 28, 9:00, TSN3) – We still haven’t hit a specialty pack game.  Good on TSN for stepping up especially with HOCKEY in the way between Christmas and New Year’s.  The Citrus and Alamo Bowls are undoubtedly the best two non-CFP/non-NY6 bowl games and should be exciting affairs.  My pick: Stanford 26-23.

8 out of 10!  I’ll call this ESPN…on Saturday…or maybe Thursday night…but not always Saturday late night

Still really good games.  Must-see for college football fans at this point.

Camping World Bowl – Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech (Dec. 28, 5:15, specialty pack) – Probably the best game on the specialty pack this season.  Again, this should be good and we get Mike Gundy’s mullet!  Bonus!  I just remembered that I am turning 40 next year (I’M A MAN!  I’M 40!)  My pick: Virginia Tech 41-35.

Liberty Bowl – Iowa State vs. Memphis (Dec. 30, 12:30, ABC) – Is this our Arena Football Bowl game of the season?  Perhaps.  Memphis usually puts up a boatload of points and ISU is a Big XII team.  Take the over.  My pick: Memphis 45-35.

Holiday Bowl – Michigan State vs. Washington State (Dec. 28, 9:00, FOX Sports One) – I smell a trend.  A bad, bad trend.  Well, for Canadians at least.  We can’t see this game.  At all.  This blows.  I won’t even bother analyzing it.  My pick: Not that it matters but Michigan State 29-23.

Las Vegas Bowl – Oregon vs. Boise State (Dec. 16, 3:30, ABC) – OK you know what?  No…THIS is the Arena Football Bowl game of the year.  Oregon might just hit the 50-burger…which will be something because I picked the Broncos.  My pick: Boise State 55-44.

7 out of 10! This is FOX territory.  You could move this up 1 if GUS JOHNSON! is calling the game

Most college football fans should watch these games but we are getting eerily close to the equivalent of a game where Kansas is involved (despite the fact they are in a Power Five conference.

Texas Bowl – Missouri vs. Texas (Dec. 27, 9:00, TSN2 (JIP at 9:30)) – Still waiting for that Texas-Texas A&M matchup.  This would be the obvious place to put it.  Can you imagine if a bowl’s organizers decided to invite those two teams?  Could be the first time since Louisiana Tech a few years back where a team declined an invitation.  Anyway, I am actually picking Texas here despite the fact Missouri is easily the most volatile team here.  They might score 60 but let up 80 for all we know.  My pick: Texas 36-35.

Armed Forces Bowl – Army vs. San Diego State (Dec. 23, 3:30, specialty pack) – Two programs that would have been interesting selections to play Power Five schools.  And I think with the offenses these two teams run it wouldn’t be easier for those big boy programs to win.  This should have at least 700 yards rushing and may be over before I even have dinner.  My pick: San Diego State 38-21.

Birmingham Bowl – Texas Tech vs. USF (Dec. 23, Noon, TSN1) – I have a feeling this game will be overlooked by many.  Why?  It’s on at Noon two days before Christmas.  At least it’s on a Saturday.  I honestly can’t see the Red Raiders being within two touchdowns of the Fighting Charlie Strongs by the time the first quarter is halfway done.  My pick: USF 55-21.

TaxSlayer Bowl – Mississippi State vs. Louisville (Dec. 30, Noon, TSN3) – This might be overshadowed by the Liberty Bowl on at the same time.  It would have been pretty even but with Nick Fitzgerald out for the season there is no bloody way Lamar Jackson will let another bowl game go the way it did last year.  My pick: Louisville 40-24.

6 out of 10.  We will put NBC here because they have to go somewhere.

Let’s be honest, NBC has very few games during a college football season.  Like seven of them.  But one or two are REALLY big games so on average, you have to put them above some other networks right?  Plus all the Notre Dame fanboys would have a shit fit if I put NBC any lower.

Outback Bowl – South Carolina vs. Michigan (Jan. 1, Noon, TSN2) – Jadeveon Clowney might as well show up for this game, strap on the pads, and recreate that hit from the bowl game against Michigan a couple years back since it will be shown and talked about approximately 100 times by the time kickoff occurs.  My pick: South Carolina 27-25.

Foster Farms Bowl – Purdue vs. Arizona (Dec. 27, 8:30, FOX) – Here’s FOX’s only bowl game on the main network this season.  They should have multiple games.  Then again, so should CBS.  And NBC should get one.  And Don Criqui should call that game.  Yeah.  Anyway, Purdue is fun again!  And Khalil Tate is a joy to watch for Arizona.  This could be a very underrated game.  My pick: Purdue 44-38.

Sun Bowl – Arizona State vs. NC State (Dec. 29, 3:00, CBS) – It’s CBS.  There should be an SEC team here.  Other than the Army-Navy game (which is usually awesome) CBS should always have games with at least one SEC team in it.  What is this, the 1980s?  Well as I said in the schedule post, at least Arizona State is here so it won’t look so empty in El Paso.  My pick: NC State 43-27.

Dollar General Bowl – Toledo vs. Appalachian State (Dec. 23, 7:00, specialty pack) – Good thing Canada doesn’t have bowl games.  Can you imagine?  The Value Village Bowl LIVE on OMNI1.  I shudder at the thought.  We have two Group of Five champs going to head-to-head in this bowl game here so it should be a good one.  My pick: Apppalachian State 43-40…hell I will even say it ends in overtime!

5 out of 10. Some hot ESPN2/ESPNU/SEC Network action right here!

These are the networks I really love to be honest with you.  They provide a shit-ton of football on the specialty pack and at least once a week you get a great game on it.  Well a great finish at least which is what we might have to hope for with this group of games.

Belk Bowl – Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest (Dec. 29, 1:00, specialty pack) – Wake Forest is in bowl games in two straight seasons.  Nice.  Dave Clawson doing some good things in Winston-Salem.  And the Aggies?  Well, the Aggies struck the mother lode by bringing in Jimbo Fisher.  This could be the first game on the Aggie SEC Redemption Tour.  My pick: Texas A&M 35-28.

Cactus Bowl – UCLA vs. Kansas State (Dec. 26, 9:00, TSN2) – I can’t see either of these teams or their fans enjoying the fact they have to head to Tempe for bowl season.  For UCLA it will feel like a conference game to be played on the Pac-12 Network.  For KSU it might feel a bit like failure since other than Kansas can they say they are truly better than any other Big XII team this season?   My pick: Kansas State 33-28.

Music City Bowl – Kentucky vs. Northwestern (Dec. 29, 4:30, specialty pack) – WILDCAT BOWL!  This feels so Canadian.  Or at least like the SEC.  Either way Northwestern should mop the floor with Kentucky in this one but that’s why you have to play the games, right?  I’m just kidding, Northwestern should crush them.  Seriously.  My pick: Northwestern 33-10.

Hawaii Bowl – Fresno State vs. Houston (Dec. 24, 8:30, specialty pack) – Nice to see Fresno State back in a bowl game.  Jeff Tedford and former Hamilton Tiger-Cat Orlondo Steinauer have done wonders for this Bulldogs team.  And Houston…well, the Cougs aren’t the Cougs of last year that is for sure.  If it wasn’t for Ed Oliver I don’t think this game would be even close.  My pick: Fresno State 27-21.

4 out of 10.  I have to grudgingly put FOX Sports One here.

If we don’t get one of these games, one of them will be an AWESOME game and we will kick ourselves for not watching it (or not being able to).  That’s how I feel with FOX Sports One and for God’s sake can we at least get the FS1 games on the specialty pack next season?  Please?

Heart of Dallas Bowl – West Virginia vs. Utah (Dec. 26, 1:30, specialty pack) – Boxing Day.  Going out to get good deals.  Eating Christmas Dinner leftovers.  And watching Drunk Uncle Dana Holgorsen go apeshit at least five times during the game.  And that’s with me picking them to win.  Fun times.  My pick: West Virginia 39-33.

New Orleans Bowl – North Texas vs. Troy (Dec. 16, 1:00, TSN2) – Some classic mid-2000s Sun Belt action!  Actually these are two pretty good teams with good offenses although the Mean Green certainly didn’t show it in the Conference USA Championship game.  Troy has all the momentum right now and should run away with this one.  My pick: Troy 48-27.

Pinstripe Bowl – Iowa vs. Boston College (Dec. 27, 5:15, specialty pack) – I’m gonna be honest: this game doesn’t really float my boat.  I will watch it and I wouldn’t be surprised if either team put up a bunch of points but it just seems like a meh matchup between two Power Five mid-carders.  The only thing that keeps from being lower on my list is that I think it will be a close game (and Yankee Stadium is kind of a cool backdrop for a college football bowl game in December).  My pick: BC 29-28.

Bahamas Bowl – UAB vs. Ohio (Dec. 22, 12:30, TSN2) – There may not be a better story in college football than UAB this season.  Two years not playing football at all.  First year back and they go bowling.  And it wasn’t any 6-6 kind of thing.  They became bowl-eligible with a few weeks left in the season.  Impressive.  How Bill Clark wasn’t named Coach of the Year I will never know.  My pick: UAB 35-31.

3 out of 10. CBS Sports Network or Big Ten Network type games.  The whole “it’s about quantity, not quality” rule.

OK maybe I am a little down on BTN because I don’t get that network but how often do you see quality games on there?  Same goes for CBSSN.  OK full disclosure, I would watch the shit out of BTN games if I was able to get BTN because I watch way too much college football and that’s not a problem right?  RIGHT?

Military Bowl – Virginia vs. Navy (Dec. 28, 1:30, specialty pack) – A home game for the Midshipmen that for some reason doesn’t feel like as much of a home game.  Navy is on a down year this season, only finishing 6-6.  Bronco Mendenhall has done a masterful job in Charlottesville this year and I think will pull this one out.  My pick: Virginia 27-17.

Boca Raton Bowl – Akron vs. Florida Atlantic (Dec. 19, 7:00, TSN1) – It’s the Lane Kiffin Show!  Starring Laaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaane…KIFFIN!  Don’t get me wrong, I think the guy is hilarious on Twitter and an underrated coach with, sometimes, a bit of an attitude problem.  What I do not enjoy is when the media (ESPN) talks about it 563,741 times before, during and even after the game is done.  We get it: he’s a polarizing figure.  Can you please talk about something else?  Like the fact Devin Singletary will probably run for 2 bills in this one and that FAU should mop the floor with Terry Bowden’s squad?  Please?  My pick: Florida Atlantic 58-28.

Frisco Bowl – SMU vs. Louisiana Tech (Dec. 20, 8:00, TSN2) – The Miami Beach Bowl bit the dust.  ESPN bought it from whomever and moved it to Frisco.  I kind of like this move.  The FCS Championship is played there and it’s a fun little venue that is the perfect size for the smaller bowl games with G-5 teams like this one.  I just don’t think the game itself will be that good beyond like the 10 minute mark of the second quarter.  My pick: SMU 43-20.

Independence Bowl – Southern Miss vs. Florida State (Dec. 27, 1:30, TSN2) – Florida State in Shreveport.  If you told me this would happen a few months ago I would have thought you were crazy.  But here we are.  And on top of that, Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M and Willie Taggart is in.  Crazy times in Tallahassee.  In the end though it doesn’t matter since the Noles should (SHOULD!) mop the floor with Southern Miss.  My pick: Florida State 39-13.

2 out of 10. This is some ACC Network dreck over here.

Once the ACC Network is actually like the SEC Network this should move up the chain.  This is the first year I haven’t had access to ACC Network games and unlike the BTN issue I talked about above, I can’t see me going out of my way to get any of these games.  Until further notice lower-level Big Ten games > lower-level ACC games.

Arizona Bowl – Utah State vs. New Mexico State (Dec. 29, 5:30, CBS Sports Network) – This bowl game would honestly be in the lowest tier if it wasn’t for the story of the New Mexico State Aggies.  First bowl game in 57 years.  FIFTY-SEVEN!  That is insane.  And they’ve been in FBS/Division 1-A/Division 1 all that time.  You’d have a better chance of winning Lotto 6/49 twice than doing that.  So for that reason I have to pick the Aggies.  For sentimental reasons.  And that’s why my picks sometimes suck.  My pick: New Mexico State 30-27.

Quick Lane Bowl – Northern Illinois vs. Duke (Dec. 26, 5:15, TSN2) – Full disclosure (and I have said it before): I really wanted Florida Atlantic here.  Quick Lane.  Lane Kiffin.  The jokes would write themselves.  Instead we have two teams that aren’t from Michigan in a bowl game in Detroit.  We know how that usually goes in terms of attendance, especially with a MAC team here instead of two Power Five squads.  My pick: Duke 26.  Northern Illinois 20.  Attendance <15,000.

Camellia Bowl – Middle Tennessee vs. Arkansas State (Dec. 16, 8:00, TSN2) – The Camellia Bowl might suffer from bowl fatigue.  Hear me out.  The first day of bowl season is exciting.  Fun.  It’s college football on Saturday with multiple games again.  But once the nightcap comes around and it’s only one game and it’s this one, it better be good or many people will tune out.  And with the NFL on at the same time, this might be tough sledding for ratings and viewership.  My pick: Arkansas State 45-31.

New Mexico Bowl – Colorado State vs. Marshall (Dec. 16, 4:30, TSN2) – I hate to say it but if it wasn’t on the opening day of bowl season it might go into the bottom rung.  Again, they are going up against the NFL so it will be interesting to see the ratings it gets.  At least this game, like my previous section (Camellia) will have a lot of offense.  Maybe the only thing that will save this from being close to unwatchable.  My pick: Colorado State 48-32.

1 out of 10.  Or zero.  I don’t care.  It’s football.  I might watch.  That’s the best I can do.  This is the FSN regional or ESPN3 game that, for some odd reason, magically appears on the specialty pack.  Most of the time you didn’t need or ask for this game.

There is a good chance I am putting these games on the PVR.  If they aren’t close I might watch about five minutes of them.  There is only so much I can take.  I love college football and even I have a limit.  I mean natrually I will pine for these games in May but for now, no.

Idaho Potato Bowl – Wyoming vs. Central Michigan (Dec. 22, 4:00, TSN2) – Mid-afternoon on the Friday before Christmas?  Talk about the timeslot of death.  I guess they decided, after last year’s icy skating rink of a field, to move this game up a few hours.  Thing is, last year’s Idaho Potato Bowl was one of the best bowl games.  This will not be.  And the timeslot makes it worse.  This goes to PVR City.  My pick: Wyoming 39-28.

Gasparilla Bowl – FIU vs. Temple (Dec. 21, 8:00, TSN1) – This should be in the bottom tier every year.  Why?  Because of the shitty field they play in and the shitty stadium that field is in.  Tropicana Field is a joke.  Are you telling me they couldn’t figure out a way to play this game at Raymond James Stadium?  Outdoors in nice weather?  No?  I don’t believe it.  This bowl is sparsely attended, looks terrible on TV, and never has good teams and rarely has a good game.  This will be no exception I think (unfortunately)  My pick: FIU 33-21.

Cure Bowl – Western Kentucky vs. Georgia State (Dec. 16, 2:30, CBS Sports Network) – The worst bowl game of the bunch.  This is almost universally accepted this season.  It’s on opening day, yes; but it’s in the middle of other games on other networks so it doesn’t truly get the national platform it could get.  Being on CBS Sports Network doesn’t help (although it is nice to see games not on ESPN).  Either way, I will watch this because I have the opportunity to but still…ugh.  My pick: Western Kentucky 45-14.

So there you go!  The bowl schedule and rankings are done.  So now you can enjoy the games!

As for other college football games going on in lower divisions, I honestly don’t know what is going on there.  Last weekend we were supposed to get two of FCS semi-final games and we didn’t.  No reason given.  They just never appeared.  This Friday/Saturday, based on previous years and the fact that the specialty pack is supposed to show college football from ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU regardless of what division it is, should (SHOULD!) look like this for these other games on the specialty pack:

  • NCAA Division III Championship: Mary Hardin-Baylor vs. Mount Union (Friday, 7:00, ESPNU)
  • FCS Semi-Final #1: Sam Houston State at North Dakota State (Friday, 8:00, ESPN2)
  • FCS Semi-Final #2: South Dakota State at James Madison (Saturday, 4:30, ESPNU)
  • NCAA Division II Championship: Texas A&M-Commerce vs. West Florida (Saturday, 6:00, ESPN2)

UPDATE: So the Friday night games never showed but right now the SDSU-JMU game is showing on the specialty pack.  Go figure.

UPDATE #2: I feel tricked.  They showed the first few minutes of the SDSU-JMU game and then it went off the air.  Ugh.

I get that it’s not bowl games or NFL games but it’s still football and we could see a great game or two among these four.  Whether they will actually appear on the specialty pack is another story.  I am not convinced it will happen.  Makes no sense but then again, when do a lot of what the telcos do with these specialty packs make sense?

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