We’re into the thick of things now. Everything’s wrapped; we’re just doping ourselves with coffee and cookies and enjoying Showtime’s Dexter marathon. No? Just me, then. Anyway, the P5 schools are stepping up to bat in the next few days, so you’ll stop hearing the hipster whining shift from “meaningless bowls” to “hey bowls are kind of fun after all” before we hit New Year’s and it turns into “these bowls were so good we can’t wait for next year.”
Enjoy the now.
Texas Tech vs. USF
Saturday, 12/23 | 11 a.m. | ESPN
It's difficult to comprehend the sheer spectrum of Earth's harsh environs when you realize these two locales are less than 1500 miles apart. Tampa, Florida features all the subtropical torpor of regular Florida with the added bonus of the Gulf's cauldron of humidity storms. Lubbock, Texas combines the stark landscape and fiercely raw elements of the high plains with the added bonus of furnace-blast Texas heat. Still, a trip to the blander climes of Birmingham must be a nice break for Tech players and fans as it features green, leafy trees and water that isn't earmarked for fracking.
The two teams are similarly opposed: USF has a solid defense and run game, while Texas Tech hasn't played defense since the first Clinton administration and once accidentally ran for 80 yards against Stephen F. Austin, probably. Still, the Red Raiders usually manage to throw up enough offense to hang with most teams. All USF has to do is watch some Iowa State game film to figure it out, though.
ADDED AGGY BONUS: if you really want some in-game entertainment, just cruise over to TexAgs during the game. In a true display of "not caring," someone will no doubt be lambasting Texas because a) their ex-coach is losing to Kliff again, or b) The Longhorns lost to Texas Tech who is now losing to Charlie Strong's team. We have absolutely won that rivalry, alright.
ARMED FORCES BOWL
Run. The. Dang. Ball.
In 1876 Yale's Walter Camp attempted the first forward pass, a desperate bid to avoid a tackle that resulted in a touchdown. The touchdown stood despite the forward pass being illegal after the referee didn't know what to do and flipped a coin to decide, a move which would result in a $900MM lawsuit these days but back then just sparked some heated arguing and then reluctant giving-in. In 1905 eighteen players were killed playing American football, and under pressure from President Roosevelt the rules of American football were changed after that season. Among those changes was the decision to make the forward pass legal. The first legal forward pass (incompletion, lol) is attributed to Bradbury Robinson of the potent 1906 St. Louis offense that went 11-0 using a new-fangled "passing offense" developed by Eddie Cochems, who sounds like he is to coaching what Steak-ems are to steak, but in fact is actually Mike Leach's truest ancestor.
Here's the thing, though: Walter Camp, Bradbury Robinson, Eddie Cochems, and yes Teddy Roosevelt are all traitors. They took our beautiful sport of low pad-level (except without the pads), hat-on-a-hat (they wore hats then, like a newsie would wear), and skull contusions, and they took the first step towards the 7-on-7, targeting-riddled ballet we know today.
There's good news on the horizon though, and they call it the Armed Forces Bowl. The San Diego State Aztecs will be starting the nation's leading rusher, 2027-yard-havin' Rashaad Penny. They will be kicking off against the leading rushing team in the nation, the Army Black Knights. Army head coach Jeff Monken is a time-traveler from the 1890s who in 2017 beat an FBS team without attempting a single forward pass. When he coached Georgia Southern he did the same thing - and beat an SEC team.
So hand off the kids to grandma, grab an egg nog, and order a Papa [redacted] pizza. This bruiser of a game should be over before it arrives.
Dollar General Bowl
Toledo -6.5 vs. Appalachian State
Happy Festivus, you sonsofbitches. I’ve got a lot of problems with you people and now you’re going to hear about it. While you’re trying to fill the void in your yuppie, Nerf, discontented lives, some REAL football is being played in Mobile. I bet your sorry Louis Vuitton ass got an Apple Watch or an iPhone X. That’ll give you enough dopamine for a couple hours. Or maybe you’re one of those dickheads that got a Lexus with a bow on it. REVOLTING.
This game isn’t Texas with their $20,000 lockers. This isn’t a bunch of idiotic college football BUSINESS talk with online CEO Ags. This is Rust Belt and Coal Country squaring off in a port city that time forgot but alcoholism never left.
Watch Toledo’s power spread offense. Goddamn thing of beauty. Five offensive linemen that wouldn’t get an offer from A&M and are yet so so much tougher than the sacks of cotton candy we’ve thrown out the last couple years. And Appy State? GRITTY.
It’s a tired MEME to mock the small bowls and I won’t stand for it. I’d watch this over a World Cup title match.
A word on Dollar General. It owwwwwwwns. All Americans should shop there once a month. Get off your high horse and LIVE. I think the DG would bring us all together.
Happy Festivus. Air your grievances in the comments.
Sent from my telegram machine
Sunday, December 24th
Fresno State vs. Houston
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through college football
Not a #NoleFan was tweeting, not even @420FuckThaU69.
The Natty Lite cans were stacked ever so neatly,
In hopes that tonight's game wouldn't suck completely.
The Cougars were decked out in white and in red,
While the Bulldogs were... also decked out in white and in red.
And mama in her Snuggie, and I with my Skoal,
Had just settled down to watch the Hawaii Bowl.
When out on the field, I saw through the swirling trash,
Something big--and thick--like Magnum P.I.'s 'stache.
He chased Fresno's QB, who was attempting to pass,
Why it was Ed Oliver, and he sacked that man's ass.
While the QB lay wrecked on the turf below,
He thought to himself "This is still better than Fresno."
When, what to my wondering ears should report,
But Rod Gilmore calling for a punt on 4th and short.
Coach Tedford wouldn't go for something so controversial.
He once coached the guy in those State Farm commercials.
Coach Applewhite's more stubborn and less subject to whims,
But really he's famous for not being Chris Simms.
While Houston has a climate more suitable for roaches,
It has recently become quite the cradle of coaches.
Now Briles, now Sumlin, now Herman--not so fast, Levine...
Neither you nor Major will be coaching a P5 team.
As the game wore on, and I grew more aloof,
I swore I heard Santa making noise on the roof.
With the playoff now only a week away,
I hoped Santa had better games tucked in his sleigh.
Instead down the chimney fell Bama-Clemson III.
I guess Santa'd run out of good gift ideas for me.
But I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"DO YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN WIN THIS FIGHT TONIGHT?"
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl
Tuesday, December 26th
Utah vs West Virginia (+6.5) : 12:30 pm CST | ESPN
Before I delve into a hard hitting matchup breakdown, I'd like to share a few words of wisdom with some of our younger readers. As you enter the workplace, no doubt you will gravitate to try and use vacation time around the holidays. Naturally, people like to take off in the days leading up to Christmas. This is a mistake. Some of the slowest, useless working days on the calendar occur on the days leading up to Christmas. The majority of the staff (especially senior management) will be on vacation. Which means you can save those vacation days, come in to work, and have very little to do other than read things online (GBH is here for you), and enjoy a much more relaxed atmosphere at the office. The real pros take vacation AFTER Christmas and leading up to New Year's. And even though that's year end, management will allow you to do it, because you sacrificed and were willing to work before Christmas so that everyone else could enjoy the holidays.
But here's the real kicker. The week after Christmas is far superior to the week before anyway. All of the lights, trees, decorations will still be up at home and everywhere else around town. All of the stress from pre-Christmas has washed away, and everyone is free to actually enjoy themselves. But most importantly, College Football Bowl Week is in full swing at that point. Every day you'll have 3-4 games lasting from noon into the night. The good Power 5 matchups really get cranking that week. The kids are out of school, the wife is free to do whatever, you have no chores and you can just park yourself in front of the TV, next to the fireplace, to drink bourbon, graze on holiday treats, and take random naps between games. It truly is the best time of the year to be away from work.
The Quick Lane Bowl
by Lucas Jackson
IT’S BOXING DAY! And what better way to appreciate the most celebrated of Canadian holidays than watching the bowl game played closest to America’s Hat? Need to escape from your family for a few hours to recover you strength after Christmas Day revelry? The Quick Lane Bowl is perfect. Just collapse into that Lazy Boy and finish the last of that egg nog and pretend to watch this contest between two underdog teams that really just enjoy playing football. It’s ok if you nap in the middle. You’ve earned it, big guy. Just make sure you’re awake for the MACTION in the 4th quarter.
THE TEAMS: University of Northern Illinois v. Duke University - first matchup all time.
I admit, I have a soft spot for Duke. David Cutcliffe has built a very tough and solid football team over the years, but has caught some very tough breaks. From having to face Super Saiyan Manziel in the 2013 Chick Fil A Bowl, to having a victory against Miami practically stolen in 2015, they’ve had their moments…..just mostly moments more fondly remembered by their opponents. This year, despite winning their final two games to become bowl eligible, the Independence Bowl passed them up for Florida State. Just another example the brass ring eluding the Blue Devil’s grasp. Hopefully someday those Duke students will catch a break.
The Blue Devis will be facing the MAC powerhouse Northern Illinois Huskies. The Huskies have enjoyed some sustained football success this decade, and the Quick Lane Bowl marks their 11th bowl game in 14 years. In 2013 they went to the Orange Bowl with Heisman Finalist Jordan Lynch. After that season Dave Doehren went on to North Carolina State and to turn down the Tennessee job, but Rod Carey has gone 44-23 in five seasons, with 3 division titles and 1 conference crown.
I won’t pretend to know anything about the actual players, but Blue/White v. Cardinal/Black is a pleasing combination to the eye. Both teams are excited to be there. Both want a win. Neither team is playing with an interim coach or without players headed to the NFL. It’s Detroit, Rock City! Let’s lose our minds, and if not, we can at least be distracted for a few hours.
RELEVANT A&M CONNECTION: Detroit has a “professional” football team, the Loins, who are coached by former Wake Forest head coach Jim Caldwell.
Tuesday, December 26th
Kansas St. (-3) vs. UCLA | 8:00p.m. ESPN
DID YOU KNOW:
Since 1996, this game has featured SEVEN different names (Copper, Insight, Insight.com, Buffalo Wild Wings, Ticket City Motel 6), FIVE conference tie ins (Big 12, Pac 12, WAC, Big 10, Big East), FOUR different locations (Arizona Stadium, Chase Field, Sun Devil Stadium, Bank One Ballpark), THREE broadcast partners (TBS, ESPN, the NFL Network, and ONE instance of Phil Bennett claiming on national television that Art Briles is "as fine a man as I've been around in 40 years of coaching." (after the 2016 game.)
Kansas St. and UCLA will matchup this year and that's fine, as much as any post-Christmas day hangover needs to be nursed gently with Kansas St. reminding you that huddles don't hurt. These two teams last played in the 2015 Alamo Bowl, a simpler time when Bill Snyder was only 75.
Tune in for Josh Rosen, stay for a #gritty Wildcat team #grinding against a Jim Mora-departed UCLA squad that probably doesn't give a shit, and hold a thought for Jedd Fisch, a man who is extremely excited to be coaching football for a living.