Bowl Blitz — Quarter #3

12/28 — Music City Bowl: Purdue vs. Auburn

Debut trophy concept — a Carrie Underwood figurine musically extolling the virtues of Friday Afternoon Football

The game itself — the school that helped assure a second-straight season of Big Ten exclusion from the CFP meets the squad that helped ensure rival Alabama of claiming a fifth-consecutive playoff bid. Purdue’s 49–20 thrashing of league champ Ohio State kept the Buckeyes out of the semifinals. Auburn’s 52–21 loss to ‘Bama kept the Tide rising.

The Pick: Auburn

12/28 — Camping World Bowl: Syracuse vs. West Virginia

Debut trophy concept — a tent-like trinket capable of weathering Wild, Wonderful West Virginia or surviving the snows of Syracuse

The game itself — a reboot of an old Big East rivalry will be missing a key component. For the second-straight postseason, the Mountaineers will be without the services of QB Will Grier; the driving force behind the team’s third-rated passing offense. The Orange can create their own opportunities, with a +14 turnover margin that ranks third nationally.

The Pick: West Virginia

12/28 — Alamo Bowl: Iowa State vs. Washington State

Debut trophy concept — a Cy-Apple; an unnatural abomination of an award created as a genetic hybrid of the State of Iowa’s Cy-Hawk Trophy and the State of Washington’s Apple Cup

The game itself — the Cougars, owners of the nation’s most prolific passing attack, will set their sights on a Cyclone squad that placed 103rdin total offense. But despite Wazzu coach Mike Leach’s aversion to the idea of ‘balance’, there’s no way to sugarcoat a backfield that placed next-to-last in FBS with fewer than 1,000 rushing yards on the year.

The Pick: Iowa State

12/29 — Peach Bowl: Florida vs. Michigan

Debut trophy concept — an Urban Meyer inflatable punching bag, with interchangeable Florida/Ohio State accessories

The game itself — Michigan will send its top-rated defense to Atlanta to face a Florida offense that will seem strikingly familiar. The Wolverines and Gators nearly mirrored one another’s output in total plays from scrimmage (829–826), yards gained (5,127–5120) and offensive touchdowns (49–47).

The Pick: Florida

12/29 — Belk Bowl: South Carolina vs. Virginia

Debut trophy concept — bilk-free Belk in bulk (that’s department store merchandise, to be clear)

The game itself — the Gamecocks yo-yo season, during which losses followed wins in every week but one, will conclude with a matchup against a Virginia squad that dropped three of its last four games. The Cavaliers led the ACC in kickoff returns, averaging more than 25 yards per attempt.

The Pick: South Carolina

12/29 — Arizona Bowl: Nevada vs. Arkansas State

Debut trophy concept — to the victor of the Wolf Pack vs. Red Wolves, we present Little Red Riding Hood

The game itself — the Mountain West’s second-rated red zone defense meets the Sun Belt’s second-stingiest pass defense. Nevada will challenge the Red Wolves staunch secondary with a top-20 passing attack that averaged more than 285 yards per game. ASU can play the field-position game with its top-15 punting unit (40.2 yard net rate).

The Pick: Arkansas State

12/31 — Military Bowl: Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Debut trophy concept — a ‘tur-bear-cat’: a Gobbler, stuffed into a Bear, stuffed into a cat, or vice-versa, depending on the outcome of the contest. Goooood eatin’

The game itself — a postseason rematch on the 10-year anniversary of the Orange Bowl pairing of these two schools. The 2008 result put a temporary crimp in Brian Kelly’s Cincy renaissance, with VT claiming a 20–7 victory. This year, the Hokies needed a win in a hastily-arranged end-of-season meeting with Marshall just to attain bowl eligibility.

The Pick: Cincinnati

12/31 — Sun Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Stanford

Debut trophy concept — a bountiful, heaping container of greenhouse gas, which will be delivered to and released in the environs of the losing school

The game itself — call it the Sum Bowl, where the number tallies don’t exactly reflect a winning formula on either side. Pitt’s 120th-ranked passing offense put the squad just four spots ahead of legendarily ground-based Air Force, while the Cardinal’s 122nd-rated rushing attack placed behind perpetually pass-happy Hawaii.

The Pick: Pittsburgh

12/31 — Redbox Bowl: Oregon vs. Michigan State

Debut trophy concept — a campus-suitable Redbox vending machine, pre-filled with copies of Howard the Duck, The Mighty Ducks and the selected Police Academy works of late, great Michigan State alum Bubba Smith

The game itself — these two recent CFP participants will attempt to lay the groundwork for returning to that competitive level on the same field that will host this season’s title game. UO will test the Pac-12’s second-rated scoring offense (37.2 points per game) against Sparty’s top-ranked rush defense, allowing fewer than 82 yards per contest.

The Pick: Michigan State

12/31 — Holiday Bowl: Northwestern vs. Utah

Debut trophy concept — a postgame Price Is Right-style Showcase, with the winning team awarded either a Chicago getaway weekend or a Park City ski package, as circumstances dictate

The game itself — Utah’s fourth-ranked rush defense can probably afford a few blitzes against a Wildcat offense whose ground attack placed 117th in the country; less potent than those of 1–11 UTEP and Central Michigan. NU’s rushing woes may become a glaring liability against a Ute squad that led the country in red zone defense.

The Pick: Utah



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