It’s a good thing my self-worth is not wrapped up in my bowl picks! My goodness, what an awful season I am having. I am glad I had Christmas activities keeping me busy and my mind off of football! Let’s take a look at the games over the holiday weekend.
The first game on Saturday had Texas Tech and South Florida meeting each other in the middle at the Birmingham Bowl. This game was super exciting for those of us offense-minded fans. After a tied first half, the Bulls and Red Raiders continued to trade punches. Like a good boxing match, the last few minutes showed a flurry of haymakers. In the last 4:30 we almost had four touchdowns! South Florida was able to stop the final attempt and hold on to win the Birmingham Bowl for the second year in a row. QB Quinton Flowers has now thrown back to back bowl game winning touchdown passes….in the same bowl. Hopefully he can get some love from the NFL scouts now that his college career is at an end.
In the next game Army used a 2-point conversion to take a 1 point lead over San Diego State and their superstar runny back, Rashaad Penny. Penny had 4 touchdowns and another incredible game, his 5th this season with over 200 yards. It is unbelievable to think that the Aztecs only ran 30 plays, had the ball for just shy of 14 minutes, and still scored 35 points. Ahmad Bradshaw, though, had 180 yards of his own for the Black Knights. It’s is also unbelievable to think a team can win a game going 1 for 4 in the passing game with a total of 6 yards trough the air. There were only 31 passing yards combined for the whole game!
The final game of the day was a total thrashing. For the second year in a row, Appalachian State beat Toledo in a bowl game. Last year was a 3 point difference. This year, a shutout. Over a team that averaged almost 40 points per game. Ouch. The Mountaineers’ defense was a huge factor in this one, allowing just 146 yards of offense for the Rockets and causing 4 turnovers. Toledo never got a chance to get something started.
Sunday played host to just one game. I know the bowl game stuff is a big deal for all these college players, but I wish they wouldn’t make them play on Christmas Eve, especially in Hawai’i. I guess if your family get to go, too, it’s not so bad. Almost everyone I know is either at a candlelight service or watching a traditional Christmas movie with family. Unless you’re an alum or a big fan of one of the teams, who’s watching?! Anyway, Fresno State won the game, finishing with double digits in the win column after having double digits in the loss column last year. Only two FBS teams have ever done that. The Bulldogs had 139 yards more offense than the Cougars and their kicker’s 12 points, 4 for 6 in field goals, was the major scoring difference.
Monday was Christmas Day, so thankfully no games. That brings us to yesterday’s games and catches us up on our competition. First up was Utah and West Virginia. With the win, Utah is now 11-1 in postseason games under their coach, Kyle Whittingham, who is now tied with Nick Saban for the most bowls wins by an active coach. Nice company. Of course, it must be said that WV was without it’s starting QB, out with a broken finger, and running back, who chose to sit out the game to protect his draft stock. Those factors always make it tough to predict who will win these bowl games. Nonetheless, Running back Zack Moss and QB Tyler Huntley had stellar games and pretty much did whatever they wanted to in this game. Both plan to return for their senior year, so look for Utah to continue their winning ways.
The middle game was a yawner, in my book. Duke had to beat Georgia Tech and Wake Forest just to get bowl eligible (6-6) and overcome a 6-game losing streak. NIU was relying on a redshirt freshman QB and running back to carry the load for them. All around, not much to see here. Duke had control of the ball game, other than a couple of possessions in the 2nd quarter when they let the Huskies score.
Last up was supposed to be the Josh Rosen show, as the UCLA Bruins took on the Kansas State Wildcats. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the potential #1 NFL draft pick play. After two concussions in November, the team doctors decided to rule him out for the bowl game. In the first half it didn’t appear to matter that Rosen was riding pine. UCLA looked dominant and took it to the lockers up 17-7 at the half. Whatever legendary coach Bill Snyder said to his team, somebody needs to bottle that and sell it. Kansas State came out in the second half and totally shut down the Bruins, outscoring them 28-0. From all the years of watching Coach Snyder and KState play my Baylor Bears, this game does not surprise me. If this is his last game at head coach, he certainly went out in style and exactly how the Wildcats have always played: determined and confident.
Sooooo, here we are. Before you look, it’s ugly for a lot of us. Me especially. I am at risk of not even finishing with double digit correct picks! I just want to hang my head in shame. I may have to revert to Sprinkles pick-the-best-mascot method. It certainly seems to be working this year.
Sprinkles: 13-5, Stride: 12-6, Scoot: 10-8, Leo and Trip: 7-11, and Rambo: 5-13
As for you pickers, here is how you shape up so far:
1st place: (14-4) Kelly Mensinger
tied with us: (13-5) Nancy Brenneman and Doug Markott
just a game behind: (12-6) Carolyn Hickerson, Rose Kinard, Kosh Fort, Nella Mitchell, Colin Kiener, Ashley Kelly, and Thomas Benson III
still in the chase: (11-7) Eric Hickerson, Abby Hickerson, Heather Godfrey, Zachary Godfrey, Sarah Pedro, Jeff Esping, Heidi Berggren, David Maggiore, Joel Miller, Buddy Brantly, and Heath Bell.
Just to be clear, I AM IN LAST PLACE OVER ALL! None of you have just 5 wins. Several of you fell pretty hard the last few days, but nothing like the streak I am in.
Today has four games. Hopefully my luck will change. We will see!