Last bowl season, I correctly picked the outcome of 21 of the 34 bowls (62%)…not bad…but not good enough. My fiancee, Susan, went 24 of 34 (71%), to win our in-house wager, requiring me to pay up by cooking stuffed pork chops.
Cooking is no big deal. What is? Being on the receiving end of mostly good-natured ribbing. For the better part of the last twelve months, I’ve heard a variation of this comment: “I kicked your a** picking bowl games!”
I’ve taken it like a man, waiting patiently for my next opportunity to gloat…not to mention my chance to sit around while she pays up on our next wager by cooking her specialty: Swedish meatballs.
The time has finally arrived: Bowl Season 2010-2011! Without further adieu, here are our picks for the bowls:
NEW MEXICO BOWL: BYU vs. UTEP
Both of us are picking BYU, in a bowl that has regional appeal, and one that the organizers made sure to keep travel costs reasonable for the schools involved. This is not the norm for most bowls…
uDROVE HUMANITARIAN BOWL: Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State
Susan: Northern Illinois, Bob: Fresno State. Last I checked, the Huskies don’t have a true head coach. Jerry Kill left to become the head Gopher, while Dave Doeren won’t begin his duties at NIU until after the Badgers play in the Rose Bowl. That’s not good for a team needing direction after blowing a big lead in the MAC Championship.
Jerry Kill (photo courtesy Gophersports.com)
Fresno’s Pat Hill has had a good run coaching the Bulldogs, but when he developed his “any team, any time, anywhere” philosophy of scheduling opponents, I don’t think he was thinking about a trip to Boise in mid-December for a very minor bowl appearance vs. Northern Illinois.
Pat Hill (photo courtesyGoBulldogs.com)
This could have been a Kill-Hill coaching matchup. It doesn’t get any better than that.
R & L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL: Ohio vs. Troy
Both of us are picking Troy to win in one of the Google bowl matchups. What is a Google bowl matchup, you ask? It’s one that requires you to do a Google search to learn something about the bowl sponsor. In this case, I’ve gleaned that R & L Carriers bills itself as “Your Global Transportation Solution.” Also, R & L now offers “Load & Protect Service,” and has expanded nationwide. Sadly, the office nearest to Eau Claire is at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. But at least, now I know…also, if you’re wondering, uDrove is “a revolutionary new business and compliance management tool for the transportation industry.”
BEEF O’BRADY’S BOWL ST. PETERSBURG: Southern Miss vs. Louisville
We are both backing Louisville in another Google bowl matchup. Beef O’Brady’s, for those uninformed, was established in 1985, and is based in Tampa, Florida…so their corporate types should have a fairly easy time traveling across the bay to St. Pete. Folks in the Eau Claire metroplex will have to travel across the Minnesota border to find the nearest Beef O’Brady’s, which are located in Andover, Monticello, and Northfield (strategically situated between St. Olaf College & my alma mater, Carleton College).
On my next trip to Northfield, I may just have to try the “Buffalo Half And Half,” which is billed as the appetizer of choice for those who can’t decide: 3 buffalo chicken tenders and 1⁄4 pound of buffalo shrimp served with bleu cheese and celery.
MAACO BOWL LAS VEGAS: Utah vs. Boise State
Both of us are going with the Broncos in this one, but I wonder whether kicker Kyle Brotzman is part of Boise’s official traveling party. You may recall Brotzman missing two crucial kicks in the Broncos’ crushing, late-season loss at Nevada, which likely kept Boise State out of the Rose Bowl.
Photo courtesy: kmvt.com
Brotzman may need round-the-clock security for this game, since there may have been a Vegas gambler who lost money thanks to the kicker’s shanks. Brotzman may also need protection from his own teammates, should his lack of accuracy persist.
SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION POINSETTIA BOWL: Navy vs. San Diego State
Our second dissension special: Susan is sticking with her back the military philsophy, while I can’t pick against a team playing at home–even if there is a huge Navy presence in San Diego. There’s a big difference between military grunts and military brass…much like there’s a difference between the Poway Branch of the San Diego County Credit Union
Photo courtesy: sdccu.com
and the Oceanside Branch.
Photo courtesy: sdccu.com
SHERATON HAWAII BOWL: Hawaii vs. Tulsa
Since Tulsa is not a branch of the military, the home field philosophy prevails, so we’re both picking Hawaii…hoping, of course, the boredom factor is not in play; i.e., the home team is bummed about not being able to travel for a bowl so they simply go through the motions, pick up their swag bags, and move on with their lives. More than likely, the fine folks from Tulsa will find themselves just a little bit distracted by scenery that’s slightly different from what they’re used to seeing.
Photo courtesy: Sheraton-Waikiki.com
LITTLE CAESARS BOWL: Florida International vs. Toledo
Both of us are picking Toledo…it won’t be a true home game for the Rockets, but for a long-suffering fan base, it’s a short trip up the interstate from Toledo to Detroit. The same can’t be said for the fans from FIU, who are not long-suffering because the program itself hasn’t been around for that long. Beyond that, FIU has only sold a few hundred tickets to its fan base–evidently, the folks from the greater Miami metro see no reason to leave the warmth of South Florida for downtown Detroit on the day after Christmas. Also, once I confirmed that Rockets standout Eric Page (1,081 receiving yards, 8 TD catches, 3 kick return TD’s, 3 TD passes)
Photo courtesy: utrockets.com
was not the same Eric Page who was once the Leader-Telegram’s sports editor,
Toledo was the clear pick–although the LT’s Eric Page could hoop. Not only that, he was a 2nd-team all Big Rivers Conference defensive back out of River Falls H.S. in 1998.
ADVOCARE V100 INDEPENDENCE BOWL: Air Force vs. Georgia Tech
Susan: Air Force, Bob: Georgia Tech. For the record, AdvoCare is promoting its new Bowl Game Berry Slam drink, complete with acai berry, to foster “sustained energy and and sharpened mental focus.” I may need a 12-pack of the stuff to keep me interested in this bowl matchup…let me know if Bowl Game Berry Slam ever makes the menu at Beef O’Brady’s.
CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL: West Virginia vs. North Carolina State
Neither of us thinks West Virginia is almost heaven, but we both believe the Mountaineers will win this game. Besides, in the holiday season, you have to pick the team that has Noel on the roster…and that’s WVU’s Noel Devine.
Photo courtesy: msnsportsnet.com
INSIGHT BOWL: Missouri vs. Iowa
Both of are are going with Mizzou. However, if this was the LACK OF INSIGHT BOWL, I may be swayed toward the Hawkeyes. Guys, just to review, the goal during bowl preparation is to stay eligible…getting suspended or arrested does not help the team, and it also causes your NFL stock to plummet. At least Derrell Johnson-Koulianos had the insight to hire Iowa super-lawyer Alfredo Parrish…can AP keep DJK out of jail? Can DJK re-hab his image in time for the NFL Draft?
DJK’s recent court appearance (Photo courtesy: kcrg.com)
To me, these are more interesting questions than this one: can the Hawkeyes who actually remain on the bowl roster beat a border rival that’s really not a border rival since the teams never play?
MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHRUP GRUMMAN: East Carolina vs. Maryland
It’s taken a long, long time, but we finally have a bowl that doesn’t seek to conceal the link between the Pentagon and major defense contractors. I expect a really good flyover for this one…I’m talking squadrons of jets and helicopters, all shapes and sizes, enough to shake the foundations of aging, decrepit RFK Stadium.
Photo courtesy: Detik.com
For the record, we’re both picking Maryland (close to home field advantage theory trumps close to home field boredom ).
TEXAS BOWL: Illinois vs. Baylor
Bob: Illinois, Susan: Baylor. Even though her grandfather Dutch Sternaman suited up for the University of Illinois from 1918-20,
Edward “Dutch” Sternaman (Photo courtesy: Sportsecyclopedia.com)
Susan’s going against the Illini and sticking with the close to home field advantage theory. I’m going with the “Ron Zook Is Bound To Win A Bowl Game At Some Point In His Career” theory (he is 0-2 at Florida & 0-1 with the Illini). Honestly, Illinois vs. Baylor would make a much better NCAA basketball tournament matchup than a bowl game.
VALERO ALAMO BOWL: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona
Both of us are picking Oklahoma State. We remember visiting the Alamo in 2007,
and while we thought it was interesting, there’s frankly not much there, and you wind up spending more time in line than you actually do on the tour. I also remember Arizona beating Iowa early in the season, in a game that at the time seemed monumental. It doesn’t seem that way now, does it? Arizona, like it has in many games this season, will keep it close (for whatever reason, the Alamo Bowl tends to be entertaining), but the Wildcats won’t win.
BELL HELICOPTER ARMED FORCES BOWL: Army vs. Southern Methodist
There’s no question that we’re both backing Army in this matchup…I may be swayed if a well-heeled SMU booster puts Eric Dickerson and Craig James in a time machine, and pays them big money to suit up for the Mustangs. Speaking of big money and machines, did Bell Helicopter
Photo courtesy: museumofflight.com
decide to sponsor a bowl game before or after Northrup Grumman? Was there collusion? Is this in the Pentagon Papers?
NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL: Kansas State vs. Syracuse
Bob: Syracuse, Susan: Kansas State. Much like Illinois-Baylor, this is a better matchup on the court rather than on the field. Still, this field will be at Yankee Stadium, so there’s a novelty factor to the game, much like when Northwestern hosted Illinois at Wrigley Field. Will Derek Jeter do something dramatic to win the game? (hold on…he’s a baseball player for the Yankees) Will Frank Martin scream and cajole the Wildcats to a win?
Photo courtesy: thesportsbank.net
(wait…he’s the basketball coach at KSU…sorry) Will their be a Pinstripe Ball prior to the game, and will a player make an entrance in a backless tuxedo? Too many questions, too many bowls…this is probably one we can do without. But, I may still watch, just because of the novelty factor.
FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL: North Carolina vs. Tennessee
Susan: UNC, Bob: UT. I find the link between mortgages and music interesting, because if you were to associate any music with the morgtage crisis in the country, it would be sad music. At the very least, and unlike Iowa, UNC got its player suspensions out of the way very early in the season. Again, here’s another matchup that’s probably better in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament (although you wonder whether Bruce Pearl would be suspended)…or for that matter, the NCAA women’s basketball tourney. Will the Vols have Pat Summitt on the sidelines?
Bruce Pearl & Pat Summitt (photo courtesy: daylife.com)
Will UNC men’s hoops coach Roy Williams cry if the Tar Heels lose in this bowl? Again, too many questions….
BRIDGEPOINT EDUCATION HOLIDAY BOWL: Nebraska vs. Washington
…too many bowls. If you’re thinking, “Haven’t we seen this matchup before?,” you are absolutely correct. In fact, the Huskers walloped the Huskies 56-21, on September 18, 2010…at Husky Stadium in Seattle! Does anyone think a change of venue will change this verdict? The Holday Bowl parameters state that the matchup is to be between the 3rd Big 12 team and match it with the 2nd Pac 10 team (UW is 2nd, after Stanford, because Oregon is in the BCS Championship Game)…but maybe it’s time to tweak those parameters.
Herbie Husker may be smiling here, but he can’t be happy about this bowl matchup…(photo courtesy: huskermax.com)
After all, Bridgepoint Education helps students gain on-line access to Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa, as well as the University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado, so how hard can it be to get two decent college football teams who haven’t played in the regular season to a bowl game in San Diego? In case you’re wondering (and at this point, you shouldn’t be), both Susan and I are picking Nebraska.
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL: South Florida vs. Clemson
Susan: South Florida, Bob: Clemson. The game is in Charlotte, North Carolina, fairly close to Clemson, South Carolina, so once again, I’m figuring close to home field advantage prevails. Here’s a question: if a fan buys a ticket, drives to the game, but his or her car breaks down on the way,
Meineke Car Care Center, Charlotte, NC (Photo courtesy: meineke.com)
will Meineke Car Care provide a discount for repairs?
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL: Notre Dame vs. Miami (FL)
Susan: Notre Dame, Bob: Miami. Hyundai is a appropriate sponsor for a game between two programs that were once considered the Cadillacs of college football. If the well-heeled SMU booster hasn’t broken the time machine, then I say we throw Lou Holtz and Jimmy Johnson in it, and travel back to October 15, 1988, when this matchup was billed as
Photo courtesy: NCAA Fanhouse
Speaking of coaches, I’m a little concerned that the Hurricanes will have former offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland taking over on an interim basis, but I think talent prevails in this one…and Miami has more talent.
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL: Georgia vs. UCF
Bob & Susan: Georgia. Here’s a little known fact about the Bulldogs: The team played its first six games this season with an interim mascot, a Bulldog known as “Russ.” Then, the school announced that “Big Bad Bruce,” a decendant of the previous Uga mascots, would be the next official mascot, and hence named “Uga VIII.”
Photo courtesy: AP/John Bazemore
That’s Uga VIII on the left, and Russ on the right.
CHICK-FIL-A BOWL: South Carolina vs. Florida State
Bob: South Carolina, Susan: FSU. There are precious few characters remaining in the college coaching profession, and one fewer this season since FSU nudged long-time head coach Bobby Bowden out the door. Fortunately for us, Steve Spurrier remains on the USC sideline, and his antics alone make this bowl worth watching. Beyond that, Spurrier’s comments are often priceless, such as the time he referred to FSU as “Free Shoes University,” after it was discovered that Seminoles players in the early 1990′s would go on after-hours shoe binges at a Talahassee-area Foot Locker–excursions funded by player agents. However, Spurrier is not so clever when it comes to motivating his current quarterback, Stephen Garcia, who has been on the receiving end of so many Spurrier tirades over the years that the poor QB looks like he is ready to quit the game on the spot.
Photo courtesy: mrsec.com
If that happens, my USC pick may not be a wise one.
TICKETCITY BOWL: Northwestern vs. Texas Tech
Bob & Susan: Texas Tech. Northwestern ended its season by giving up 118 points…IN ITS LAST TWO GAMES!!!! I’d be concerned about the Wildcats’ defense if they were playing the Wisconsin Rapids H.S. Red Raiders in this bowl game.
Wisconsin Rapids takes the field (Photo courtesy: gomediasports.wordpress.com)
Texas Tech has a potent offense and close to home field advantage, so we expect Northwestern to extend its bowl-winning drought another season. The ‘Cats haven’t won a bowl since 1949.
CAPITAL ONE BOWL: Alabama vs. Michigan State
Bob: Bama, Susan: Michigan State. This is an interesting coaching matchup between Nick Saban of the Crimson Tide, and the Spartans’ Mark Dantonio, neither of which has cracked a smile in this century. Saban was once the head coach at MSU from 1995-99, and in that time, may have smirked–once.
Photo courtesy: fcsports.com
It’s also an interesting matchup of quarterbacks: Kirk Cousins of the Spartans vs. Greg McElroy of the Tide, each of which will be facing a very solid defense. Who gets tripped up in this game? It’s hard to say just yet, but based on field conditions in past Capital One Bowls,
Photo courtesy: orlandosentinel.com
the turf will likely be the culprit.
OUTBACK BOWL: Florida vs. Penn State
Bob: Penn State, Susan: Florida. If Nick Saban and Mark Dantonio are twin sons of different mothers, then Joe Paterno and Urban Meyer are from different planets. Paterno is wrapping up his 45th season as Nittany Lions head coach and looking ahead to a 46th, while Meyer is stepping down after six seasons with the Gators.
30 years ago, Paterno may not have been joking around…(Photo courtesy: baynews9.com)
How has one guy avoided burnout so long while the other is fried so soon? Most years, I’d go with the Gators in this matchup. But while neither team had a great season, at least there’s a semblance of stability at Penn State…which is why I’m going with the Lions.
GATOR BOWL: Mississippi State vs. Michigan
Bob: Mississippi State, Susan: Michigan. Teams have plenty of time to prepare for a bowl game, but even six weeks isn’t enough for the Wolverines to find guys to play defense. Michigan does have one of college football’s most electrifying players in Dennard Robinson, but Robinson’s penchant for keeping his shoelaces untied may be a problem if field conditions deteriorate.
Photo courtesy: mvictors.com
ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY VIZIO: Wisconsin vs. TCU
Bob & Susan: Wisconsin. As I pointed out last season, we’re both big Badgers fans, so it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever pick against the UW. Barry Alvarez went 3-0 in Rose Bowls; now, his hand-picked protege, Bret Bielema, gets a chance. The difference between this Badgers team and those previous Rose Bowl squads is the 2010 team’s prolific offense. Wisconsin’s scored 520 points this season; 201 in the last three games. That’s a lot of pushups for Bucky Badger…
Photo courtesy: abcnews.go.com
…and despite the fact that TCU’s defense is the nation’s #1 ranked team in points allowed, I expect Bucky to get a workout. On Wisconsin!
TOSTITOS FIESTA BOWL: Connecticut vs. Oklahoma
Bob & Susan: Oklahoma. Assuming the Sooners don’t gorge on Tostitos right before kickoff, and assuming OU doesn’t approach this Fiesta Bowl like they did when they lost to Boise State, this may be the biggest bowl blowout of them all. But, if UConn somehow pulls the upset, you can bet the OU tears will be flowing all the way to the Red River.
Don’t cry for me, Oklahoma (Photo courtesy: crimsonandcreammachine.com)
DISCOVER ORANGE BOWL: Stanford vs. Virginia Tech
Bob & Susan: Stanford. The Hokies may be on an 11-game win streak, but I can’t get over the fact that streak started after a loss to James Madison. James Madison! JMU went on to lose to FCS powerhouses Delaware, New Hampshire, Villanova, UMass, and Richmond. Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh
Photo courtesy: coacheshotseat.com
will spend this game yelling, screaming, grimacing, and occasionally laughing, but there will be no crying on the Stanford sideline.
ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL: Ohio State vs. Arkansas
Bob & Susan: The Ohio State University. Illogical reasoning why OSU will win: Jim Tressel never loses to Michigan. Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett was once on the Michigan roster. Therefore, the Buckeyes beat the Razorbacks. Still, if you’re going by mascots, a feral pig or wild boar
Photo courtesy: thundertrain.com
is to be feared much more than a smooth, glossy brown nut
Photo courtesy: pineknotfarmandlab.com
although, Buckeye nuts are “slightly poisonous and shouldn’t be eaten unless heated & leached” (Source: ohio-nature.com)
GODADDY.com BOWL: Middle Tennessee vs. Miami (OH)
Bob & Susan: Miami (OH). Can someone, without going to the godaddy.com website, please tell me why this bowl is being played on January 6? This matchup doesn’t even deserve a picture…
AT&T COTTON BOWL: LSU vs. Texas A & M
Bob & Susan: LSU. If you want coaching contrasts, Les Miles vs. Mike Sherman is a classic.
Mike Sherman & Les Miles (Photo courtesy: dallasnews.com)
Sherman may have his share of quirks, but Miles eats grass as a game-time tradition. There’s an entire website (thequoteablelesmiles.com) devoted to Miles-isms, almost all of which are unintentionally very funny in a Yogi Berra way; e.g., “I don’t know that I’ll forget that memory.”
Unfortunately, this game is set for Friday evening, January 7, which means I won’t see it, because I’ll be out of the office covering high school sports. However, I’ll make sure to find webcasts of each coach’s postgame news conference, to see how many more gems come out of Miles’ mouth, and how many times Sherman clears his throat.
BBVA COMPASS BOWL: Pittsburgh vs. Kentucky
Bob: Kentucky, Susan: Pittsburgh. With Dave Wannstedt no longer coaching the Panthers, my fiancee thinks they have a much better chance of winning. I disagree. However, we’re in complete agreement that this is another bowl matchup that should have been in December.
It’s also a Google Bowl… thanks to a couple of mouse clicks on my computer, I now know BBVA Compass is the “15th largest U.S. commercial bank based on deposit market share.” (source: bbvacompass.com)
So, players in this bowl should not expect this
Photo courtesy: a1scubagear.com
in their swag bag.
KRAFT FIGHT HUNGER BOWL: Nevada vs. Boston College
Bob & Susan: Nevada. We’re all for fighting hunger, and we think it’s admirable that a bowl sponsor is trying to have a social conscience. We’re not so thrilled about this matchup, especially the fact that it’s scheduled for Saturday, January 8…this is a mid-to-late December bowl, at best. The Wolfpack has a signature win over Boise State this season, although they have the aforementioned and aforepictured Kyle Brotzman to thank for that. BC has wins over bowl teams Clemson and Syracuse, along with losses to bowl teams Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, NC State, Florida State, and Maryland.
Still, being that this is the only college football game scheduled for January 8, the telecast will get some eyeballs. Two of those may be mine, if only for the novelty of a football game in a baseball stadium–and a really nice baseball stadium, at that.
Diagram courtesy: kraftbowl.org
TOSTITOS BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Oregon vs. Auburn
Bob: Oregon, Susan: Auburn. Every once in a while, I have a strange feeling about a game’s outcome, and that feeling flies in the face of logic. Last season, I watched Oregon’s defense get pushed around by Ohio State–and with Cam Newton at the controls, Auburn has a much more explosive offense than the Buckeyes do with Terrelle Prior. Still, if we’re going to talk about people who have the “it factor,” there’s something about Ducks coach Chip Kelly that makes me think he’s five steps ahead of every other college coach out there. Late in the season, Oregon’s offense was not as potent as it was early in the season, but now, Kelly has some six weeks to scheme for a Tigers defense that has given up points to teams a lot less dynamic than the Ducks. Whether six weeks is enough for UO defensive coordinator Nick Alioti to game plan for Newton remains to be seen. You may recall, Alioti was UCLA’s defensive coordinator when the Bruins had no answer for Ron Dayne in the 1999 Rose Bowl.
Auburn vs. Oregon may well be the deciding factor in stuffed pork chops
Photo courtesy: mccormick.com
vs. Swedish meatballs.
Photo courtesy: thefoodaddicts.com
Either way, we win. Here’s wishing you a great bowl season, and an even better holiday season.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on December 18, 2010