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GBH WATCHLIST: Bowl Season Opening Weekend

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Howdy. Remember that there are still actually football games to be played? Here's what's happening this weekend.

BYU fans at a Vegas sportsbook
BYU fans at a Vegas sportsbook
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Love college football but hate the agony and drama surrounding Aggieland after the last week and a half? Well, forget about all that other stuff for a bit and enjoy a nice little Saturday. Just like it used to be, but with a lot more Sun Belt and obnoxious holiday commercials. Dig in as we guide you through the bowl season.

Saturday, December 19th


New Mexico Bowl: Arizona vs. New Mexico 1:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Las Vegas Bowl: BYU vs. Utah 2:30 pm ABC / espn3
Camellia Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Ohio 4:30 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Cure BowlGeorgia State vs. San Jose State 6:00 pm CBSSN
New Orleans Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Louisiana Tech 8:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN

[click on the team matchup links below for Bill C.'s advanced stat previews]

GILDAN NEW MEXICO BOWL

DEC. 19TH, 1 P.M. | ESPN

by Chuck
In 1978 Bob Davie drove his future wife's Chevy Vega 2,000 miles to Arizona for his first coaching job as the Wildcats' LB coach. The Chevy Vega was intially hailed as a huge success and won Motor Trend Car Of The Year, but history would remember it as a clunky, unreliable jalopy that never worked when you needed it. Now it is a vehicle cherished by a very few loyal weirdos who remember it's unique style and are willing to put in the work to keep one running smoothly.

On Saturday Davie, now the head coach of the New Mexico Lobos, will drive his triple-option offense into Pac 12 country. The triple option has been hailed as a great offense when executed well by the right personnel, but modern football sees it as a clunky, unreliable scheme that never wins against a solid defense. Now it is a system engaged by a very few small, weird programs who can't recruit the talent to run a more modern spread but are willing to put in the work to make it the #8 rushing offense in the country.

The Lobos haven't been to a bowl in almost a decade, but Footbaw Bob has managed to get this disastrous program heading in a positive direction after a few years' work. New Mexico will have its work cut out trying to defend a spread attack unlike what they have seen earlier in the year. Meanwhile Arizona will need its unremarkable run defense to step up if they are going to stop that Nova from driving right through their hedges and bursting into flames in their front yard. This game will be fun to watch like seeing an illegal MMA fight between a bus boy who thinks he knows Brazilian street fighting and an accountant who took three Muay Thai classes.

Las Vegas Bowl

December 19th2:30 p.m. CST | ABC

by Shooter Flatch
Well I'll be damned, someone in the bowl business got this one right for sure.  Take two teams with a long bitter rivalry and match them up in the postseason since the regular season game is on the backburner?  What a novel idea!!  Both of these teams have played pretty damn well at times this year.  So you've got good football, a bitter rivalry, and Las Vegas.  What else?  Oh how about some pre-game trash talk to really get the pot boiling before kickoff?  Yes we have that too!!! Y'all know how much I like to talk about how college football is fun.  This game is a perfect example.  This one will be fun.  This bowl is worth watching.  Sit your ass down on Saturday to watch this game.

On a side note, why the hell has BYU become the favorite of the Las Vegas Bowl committee?  Seriously, this will be the 6th time they've played in this game in the last 11 years.  A fan base made up completely of Mormons.  Common sense would suggest this particular group of fans wouldn't really "drop" a lot of money in Vegas.  But my theory?  The BYU fans go ape-shit while out in Vegas.  Maybe they all wear non-BYU-affiliated clothes (probably Tommy Bahama gear).  And drink Jack Daniels mixed with Jolt cola, and play blackjack until 6:00 am and grope the waitresses.  And make second half NBA over-under wagers in the sports-book.  Cause that's pretty much my standard Vegas routine to be honest.  And when the game rolls around, all the BYU fans roll into the stadium hung-over as a mother fucker, but everybody just nods and mutters "Vegas".  And then they cheer on their team and pretend it all never happened.  Yeah, I bet that's what happens.

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl

Ohio vs. Appalachian St.
Saturday December 19th 4:30 ESPN

by oscarwildecat
Things learned while researching this bowl:

1. A camellia is a flower found in the plant family theaceae. They are generally found in eastern and southeastern Asia, which makes sense because when I think of Montgomery, Alabama, boy do I get excited for some spicy Indonesian rendang.

2. Appalachian St. is in fact an FBS team and their school motto is 'Esse quam videri', which means 'To be, rather than to seem', and also serves as the Sun Belt Conference's unofficial slogan.

3. Frank Solich is not only alive, he's still coaching in his 10th year at Ohio! His teams have reached bowl eligibility 6 out of the last 7 years, including trips to the Little Caesars Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and Beef 'O Brady Bowl. This is the most MAC thing ever.

4. In its first bowl game in 50 years, Appalachian St. is a 7.5 point favorite over the Bobcats. The Mountaineers will attempt to avenge their 7-0 loss to East Tennessee State in the Burley Bowl on November 19, 1955. Players will be frothing at the mouth.

5. The Montgomery Craigslist Ticket section currently contains 11 Cotton Bowl Playoff ticket listings (#rolltide), 2 Bassnectar New Year's Eve tickets (a STEAL at $200/ea), an offer for a Party Bus to said Bassnectar show (questionable value at $150), and 4 tickets at $10 each to the Camellia Bowl (must pick up in person).

6. I will watch the entire game, and casually hope the teams combine to score more than 55 points. LET'S GO BOWL SEASON.

The Cure Bowl

December 19th 6:00 pm CST CBS Sports Network

by Shooter Flatch
This is the first of 37 bowl games to be played in Orlando this year.  It features Georgia State's first ever bowl game in the six year history of the program.  A team coached by Trent Miles, which is Les Miles little brother.  Maybe.  San Jose State got here with big wins over New Hampshire, Fresno State, UNLV, New Mexico, and Hawaii.  And...that's it.  They won five games against shitty teams but in 2015, that's enough for a trip to Orlando.  And I'm cool with that because anything that gives us extra college football is a good thing.  Remember, in June you'd drown your neighbor's cat to watch this matchup live.  But really the most interesting part of this game is that it's sponsored by the great British new-wave band of the 80's, The Cure.

sanjosecure

Listen kiddos. This is the music that could be created before all popular music just became an amalgamation of Nashville pop, white people rapping, and synthetic-reality-TV-bullshit. When Johnny Fucking Football declared he was leaving A&M for the draft, I went home, poured an adult size gin & tonic, thought about all the JFF highlights, and listened to this song. Does that make me weird?  Yes, but that's not the point.  A song like that has some fucking emotion behind it.  Between now and Saturday night, download the Disintegration album.  Then pour yourself a drink, put on some red lipstick and white blush, kick back in the recliner, and watch two random ass teams play a silly bowl game in Florida.  The offseason will be here too soon.

New Orleans Bowl

Saturday, Dec. 19th 8 PM | ESPN

by Rush
There's much ado this year about the 5-7 teams making bowl games, so here's a little history lesson: the very first New Orleans Bowl back in 2001 boasted a 5-6 North Texas team. This was before there were "too many bowls" and North Texas got in because they actually "won their conference" and were the first team to ever go to a bowl after starting the season 0-5. That's like the opposite of the Aggie Football trend: tank early in the year and then plow through the conference slate. It was ugly as hell, but they won the Fun Beast. Unfortunately they would ultimately lose to Colorado State (w00t Jimbo) to get to 5-7. Full circle.

This year's teams are not 5-7. How the Sun Belt has changed, as these guys have combined for 17 wins this year. They've got a bit of a history together, perhaps a dormant rivalry that ESPN's dream team New Orleans Bowl announcer squad will pistol whip us with for three hours. Between 1956 and 1998 they played 37 times (makes sense, since they're 300 miles apart), with Tech holding the decisive advantage in the series. This might be the Red Wolves' chance at revenge: after a 1-4 start they scorched through the Sun Belt undefeated, a worthy tribute to the '01 Mean Green. Now the only thing standing in the way of ten wins is QB journeyman Jeff Driskel. Oh, hey! He's played a bowl game in this building before and threw two bad interceptions and lost to Charlie Strong.

Advantage: Arkansas State. This should be a tasty nightcap with plenty of points.