Sunday, December 29, 2013

Bowl Preview 6: Monday Mania

At halftime of the Oregon-Texas game, as I have mentioned already, we will officially be halfway through the 35 game bowl season, with 17 and a half down and 17 and a half to go.

As there are more and more good games on the docket, expect both guest bowl pickers, Bob of Arabia and Mike Ficher, to continue with their prognostications. A reminder that an MSC is a “Monkey Specialty Category,” which helps us determine if a bowl is legitimate or just a joke. 

Monday, December 30
8:45 am PT, ESPN
Bowl #16: Armed Forces Bowl. Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs Navy (8-4)

Speaking of jokes, a friend of mine asked me the other day, “When does Middle Tennessee play?” Imagine my surprise to actually look at the matchup for this bowl game.

Also, seriously, a game that starts before noon Eastern Time? It's a pre-11 am kickoff even in Texas and a pre-9 am kick for me on the West Coast. That's a bigger joke.

I am rather surprised that this is the 11th edition of this game. I also don't quite understand why this one's called the Armed Forces Bowl. I mean, there's already a Military Bowl in Annapolis, and that makes sense. I don't want to get all cynical here, but it feels like a way to bring attention to a game that would otherwise be a fair-to-middling game. What's neat, though, is that with Navy playing in this year's edition, it becomes the first bowl to ever host all three Divsion-one service academies- Air Force has played in it four times, Army once, and this is the Middies first appearance.

Which makes this game Middle Tennessee vs the Middies, which is very punny. What won't be punny is what the Middies do to Middle Tennessee. Or it might be, I was just trying to be humorous there.
JFK at 1962 Army-Navy game

Seriously, think about this a second: this is the 50th year of JFK's assassination. JFK was in the Navy. JFK's favorite football game was Army-Navy. JFK was assassinated in Dallas after speaking in Forth Worth. This game is in Fort Worth and Navy's in it. You need more? 

Guest picker Bob of Arabia, who is a Navy man.

Do I really need to say anything here?  Go Navy!  Beat Army....errr.....Middle Tennessee State!

12:15 pm PT, ESPN
Bowl #16: Music City Bowl. Ole Miss (7-5) vs Georgia Tech (7-5)

Using simple MSC's, this is a non-bowl game. One, the “aren't these guys in the same conference?” question, even though by now most people probably have the basic lineups of the ACC and SEC memorized. Maybe that's just me, but then, I forgot that Pitt's in the ACC now. Two, it's four hours from Oxford to Nashville and about four hours from Atlanta. Third, these teams are terrible, no matter the record. Georgia Tech might be the worst 7-5 team in a major conference this season. Oh wait, it could also be Ole Miss. The Rebels have failed to score at least ten points in each of their last two games. Georgia Tech only got to seven wins by blowing out a terrible FCS school in early November, aka, their only win that month. These teams should not be bowling. Uh, I take Ole Miss because of Archie Manning. Also, Georgia Tech is trying to get people to stop calling them “The Rambling Wreck of Georgia Tech.” Yeah, that's not gonna happen.

You want an inventor of Rock and Roll, RJ wouldn't be a bad choice.
Guest picker Bob of Arabia:

Mississippi is steeped with musical legends.  Muddy Waters, B.B King, Sam Cooke, Robert-friggin'-Johnson.  Georgia counters with Little Richard, Otis Redding, The Black Crowes, Mastodon (a personal BOA fave) and pile of Dirty South hip hop stars.  Mississippi has a deeper bench.  Guys like Willie Dixon, Albert King, and Howlin' Wolf are more than capable of giving the starters a rest while not losing any on-field production.  Luckily for Georgia, Mississippi doesn't really have an answer for the lightning and thunder attack that is Mastodon and Sevendust.  I'm taking Bobby Cremins and the Ramblin' Wreck.

3:45 pm PT, ESPN
Bowl #17, #10 Oregon (10-2) vs Texas (8-4)

See my full page Oregon preview.

Guest picker Bob of Arabia:

Lame duck Longhorn coach.  Pissed duck Oregon team.  Game named after historic site where an entire Texas army died.  Same outcome, but no Sam Houston to make Oregon pay afterwards.  Parents, do not let your children watch this game. It will not be pretty.  Send them off to score a rock and some hooker tail playing Grand Theft Auto instead.

Guest picker Mike Ficher, briefly emerging from his Christmas food coma:

So the Dude wondered aloud about the number of bowl games played in baseball stadiums.  Well, do that in front of a recipient of the Look It Up Club charter membership--long before the Internet was at everyone's fingertips--and you learn that three bowl games are played in facilities primarily used by major league baseball teams.

Two of those stadiums--AT&T Park in San Francisco, host of the Fight Hunger Bowl, and Yankee Stadium, host of the Wardrobe Bowl--were built for baseball teams (Giants and Yankees, just in case).  The third?  Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, which is home to the Tampa Bay Rays, was primarily built for--take your pick--tractor pulls, demolition derbies or sporting goods clearance sales.  Certainly, the originally named Suncoast Dome could not have been built for baseball--or football, for that matter.

Which leads us to the Alamodome. Built in 1993, the San Antonio facility has yet to house a major league baseball or NFL team. Ouch, that spec build did not work out quite as planned.
I don't ever remember seeing the outside of the AlamoDome. That looks, uh, weird.

The 65,000 domed stadium did host the NBA's Spurs from 1993-2002, but has since become home to University of Texas San Antonio--which commenced its football program in 2011---an Arena Football League team, the Talons, some aggregation in something called the Tamaqua Football League (which,according to a league wiki has a "fierce" rivalry with something called the Odessa Force), and, of course, the AlamoBowl.

Huh. That's weird, too.
Ever been to the Alamo? You walk along a primarily business/shopping district and, boom, suddenly, you are confronted with the doors to the Alamo--right next to trendy coffee and clothing boutiques!  You walk inside and the place is covered--don't quite remember that in the movie--and within five minutes you are, that's right, in the Alamo gift shop.  Yup, five minutes, dear, check, we've done the Alamo!

Which makes the AlamoDome an appropriate place for this year's game.  See Mack Brown, the long-time and occasionally beleaguered Longhorn coach is stepping down/retiring/moving on/accepting gentle prodding after this contest.  Like Davy Crockett and company, who were basically defending Texas' right to continue slavery (John Quincy Adams, two months after the Alamo, argued on the floor of the U.S. House that "the war now raging in Texas is a Mexican civil war and a war for the re-establishment of slavery where it was abolished."), this is Mack's last stand.
A JQA reference in a bowl preview, only at

After 16 seasons, one national championship and 158 victories, Mack will coach his final game for the Longhorns. Which could/should inspire his team. Which may meet an uninspired Oregon team, that may be sulking in disappointment that they are not in a national championship game or even the Rose Bowl.  Which may not make a difference--no Ducks were at the Alamo.

By the way, facility distribution for bowl games: 15 primary college stadiums, 12 NFL-based stadiums, 3 MLB stadiums, 1 other, Aloha Stadium. (Football? Minor League baseball? Flea market?).  Three stadiums this year host two bowls--Qualcomm, SuperDome and the Rose Bowl.

Oregon 45, Texas 24

Enjoy the game!

7:15 pm PT, ESPN
Bowl #18: Holiday Bowl. #12 Arizona State (10-3) vs Texas Tech (7-5)

This is a joke, right? Arizona State should destroy this team. The Red Raiders were ranked 10th in October, but they come in having lost four straight and their team in disarray. A four game losing streak isn't good, but their starting quarterback basically won the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year Award and turned around and told his head coach he was transferring. That's not good.

This Arizona State team is pretty doggone good, and it'll be a fine swan song for Todd Graham before he bolts for Texas. You know the athletic director who hired him in Tempe is now the Longhorns athletic director, right? You know that with a win the Sun Devils will have 11 wins for just the 6th time in school history, right? So now you know why I figure he'll end up in Austin. But not after ensuring Texas Tech that the Kliff Kingsbury head coaching experiment isn't working out so well. 

Guest picker Bob of Arabia:

Historically, the Holiday Bowl has been a fun one to watch.  I believe it is in the contract that both teams must play their practice squad defense.  Two pass happy offenses, practice squad defenses.  Hmmm....light bulb (ya, it's a blatant Despicable Me steal.  Call it left over Disney residue from last week's visit).  They should call this the Tecmo Bowl Holiday Bowl as it will seem that both teams have that one unstoppable guaranteed play.  I'm not a fan of teams that have to use colors in there nickname, so give me Sparky's guaranteed play.  Besides, no way the devil loses two games on the same day (see Robert Johnson for reference).

No, not THAT kind of "Holiday Bowl"

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