I had a sudden moment of panic this week when I realized, "yes, Christmas is next week, and no, you are not remotely prepared." While I may be considered a bonafide adult - credentialed and everything - I still cannot help but love the whole craziness around Christmas. I mostly blame my dad who seriously will watch Christmas movies in the Summer because he can't help but love the Christmas spirit. So, to help everyone get in the Christmas mood AND to, you know, get moving on the bowl coverage, I bring you the B1G Bowl Potluck featuring your favorite holiday cookies. Note, all recipes are linked below the pictures, just in case you want to make some cookies and send them my way.
via Food Network
Round 1: The Sugar Cookie... because it's really the most Christmas cookie of all the Christmas cookies...
Okay friends, it’s been a little bit since we last talked football, but since we’re the writing team and this is what we’re supposed to be talking about, let’s get to it. The Big Ten sneaked in ten teams to bowls this year. One Playoff Team, Three in the NY6 total, a bunch in the middle, and oh, Nebraska and Minnesota got in on a technicality. Overall, give me your feeling on how things played out for the B1G to get to this point. Are there any matchups or placements that feel really out of touch to you? Are there any games you hate? Let’s talk about it.
Andrew Kraszewski: No, slots feel about right. MSU, OSU, and Iowa were the class of the conference, and that's reflected in a higher quality of bowl. Northwestern and Michigan are your second tier, and were slotted accordingly. Beyond that, who really cares besides Indiana (who I'm legitimately pleased to see back in the postseason)?
Candystripes for Breakfast: 10/14 is pretty good, regardless of how we got there. The only part of it that makes me sad is that 5-7 Minnesota took our spot in Detroit, but I guess New York is an OK town too.
87townie: Nope, in this case, I’m a B1G homer. I’m glad we have ten teams in the bowls. I’d like to see teams represent well.
MNWildcat: I mean, UCLA-UNL is really out-of-whack, but you're lying or a Nebraska fan if you don't want to watch Jim Mora, Jr., positively run a train on Mike Riley and the Huskers. I think things played out about as well for the Big Ten as they could have, perhaps save for sneaking one more team into an NY6 bowl. 10/14 teams bowling, even on technicalities, looks good, and one of the 5-7 teams probably should win their matchups. I hate Iowa-Stanford in the Rose Bowl, but that's more just personal resentment of Iowa than anything. I look forward to the two seals fighting for a tiny ice floe that will be the Rose Bowl. And I look forward to the Stanford Band, because they're amusing and even if they are a bunch of rich kids being ironic, they're funny. Anyone who says otherwise is a fun-hating wrongy mcwrongerson.
Aaron Yorke: It's a little disappointing that New York's Big Ten team isn't playing in the Pinstripe Bowl, but Indiana vs. Duke should be an exciting, high-scoring game. Minnesota vs. Central Michigan as the only B1G/MAC matchup we didn't see in September is interesting... unless these teams did play in September. Are we sure they didn't? Northwestern as a 10-point underdog is DISRESPECT. Hopefully the 'Cats at least cover against one of the SEC's most (wait is this possible?) under-the-radar teams. Michigan State is also one of the biggest dogs on the bowl slate, but that's because Alabama is really, really good.
Thomas Speth: I mean Minnesota and Nebby shouldn't be bowling but whatever NCAA. Subject us to some more Mitch Leidner if you must.
StewMonkey13: Well, Iowa went 12-0 and is in the ROSE BOWL, so I'm pretty cool with how most everything played out. As for bowl matchups and placements, I don't think there's anything too egregious. On the face of it, the UNL/UCLA game seems to be the biggest mismatch. A 3 game difference is the biggest difference in records, and UNL "shouldn't" have qualified for any bowl. But they're pretty obviously better than their record. The only game I kinda hate is OSU/ND because both of them can get fucked, but that's it.
via Taste of Home
Round 2: Spritz Cookies... because those little things are addictive as hell
So… Iowa in the Rose Bowl and Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. It seems like the right thing to have done, but we like to argue on OTE, so let’s argue. Was Iowa the aboslutely right pick for the Rose Bowl? Because honestly, I feel like there were some strong leanings for why the Buckeyes should have been there too. Then again, 12-0 regular season is still really impressive. Tell me how you feel about that position for the Hawkeyes, and then tell me who you got in both of these bowls.
AK: I think this is the correct outcome because I don't think a team should be subject to bowl selection penalization for any outcome in a CCG short of a 2014-Wisconsin-level fucksawing. I expect Stanford to beat the Hawkeyes, though, because Christian McCaffrey is the best overall player in the country. Probably more scoring than the CCG, but similar outcome. As for OSU, who can say? Notre Dame is one of the few teams that can match their talent, and losing Adolphus Washington due to...indiscretion could result in the Irish just quadruple teaming Bosa.
C4B: Iowa damn near ran the table, and the only team that beat them is in the playoff. You could say the same for OSU, I suppose, but they looked a lot more vulnerable at times. I think the matchups are fine, mostly because both of them could (should?) end up as B1G wins.
87townie: Iowa in the Rose is the right choice. OSU had its shot and lost a game. You can bitch and moan about the east being tougher…OSU’s road was tougher. That’s all crap. If you want a shot, win the games. Iowa has the better record, they go.
MNW: Iowa was the correct pick. They went 12-0, lost a great championship game, and deserved to be the higher-ranked B1G team. Plus, the enthusiasm with which Iowa fans are selling the double-wide to get to Pasadena will produce a great atmosphere. I'm taking Stanford to win, though, probably by a field goal. Ohio State had better fucking boatrace Notre Dame. I don't care what they have to do. Burn it down and salt the fucking earth.
AY: Yes, Ohio State has a better chance of beating Stanford, but we can't go punishing Iowa for losing in the conference title game, especially when it was close and exciting and awesome. If you're trying to book the best matchups, Iowa vs. Notre Dame and Ohio State vs. Stanford would be a slightly better fit, but Iowa deserves to be in Pasadena. The Hawkeyes lose another heartbreaker, but the Buckeyes punish the Irish.
TS: I have no problem with Iowa in the Rise Bowl beyond the fact they're Iowa. The match ups are good for the B1G and I'd love to see us go 2-0 there. I'm about 900% sure OSU will beat ND. I think Iowa's in for a brawl but they have a puncher's chance.
SM: WOO!!!! ROSE BOWL, MOTHERFUCKERS!! SUCK IT!! GET FUCKED, URBAN MEYTER! GET FUCKED, OHIO STATE!
via Martha Stewart
Round 3: Thumbprint Cookies... because you really don't need reasons to eat cookies and these give you chocolate or jam, which is a reason to eat cookies
Northwestern had a great run this year. Seriously. So did Wisconsin if you stop and think about it. They were rewarded with the Outback and Holiday bowls respectively, which really fits them in strength vs. strength matchups, in that… their specific defenses will do great against really good offenses we hope. Of these two, who do you see winning? Both, neither, one? Also, which offense looks better? My money is on Wisconsin, but that’s because the Wildcat’s offense is LOL bad.
AK: I'm going FULL HOMERB1G and declaring wins for both of these middle-class squads. And then, of course, Chryst gets hired away by the Packers.
C4B: I think both teams have a good shot at winning. If forced to make a more concrete prediction, let's say Wisconsin loses late, and Northwestern wins something like 27-10.
87townie: I think Northwestern wins this game because Tennessee hasn’t seen this kind of football this year. Northwestern’s offense is good enough. It’s defense is great. I want a big dose of superback for Christmas this year. Wisconsin’s game…I’m on the fence. I think they can win it, but it... [ed note: apparently townie got abducted mid sentence and didn't finish this thought. I like to imagine he was watching TV and typing and just was all like, "oh yeah and..." and then trailed off. you can give him hell for that as a slight to your team somehow because that's what we do here on OTE - jc]
MNW: I don't see either team winning. Wisconsin's offense is better because they have a trash quarterback that is at least a veteran and has an established history of being trash for most of the game but occasionally doing a couple positive things. Northwestern will win if they can establish the run and Clayton Thorson rips off a long run or two. I just don't have faith that it'll happen. Still traveling to Tampa and drinking/sunning/cheering my ass off, though.
AY: Odds are both Northwestern and Wisconsin will lose their bowl games, but I have the Badgers with a better chance of losing even though their spread is tighter. They have but one victory over a bowl-bound team this season, and that's only because the football deities treated Minnesota with mercy. Northwestern has a potentially dominating defense that can give it a chance... just like the Florida team that Tennessee lost to earlier this year.
TS: Wisconsin beat nobody good and I will consider this season a failure if they don't win the bowl game so I'm not sure about great run. USC is hard to figure out because they have a ton of underachieving talent. Call me a homer but I think Wisconsin wins. Northwestern loses just because I need to pick some B1G losses, but we've seen them win games they shouldn't have already this season, so just maybe...
SM: I don't think either is likely to win, really. But I think WI is more likely because USC is dealing with massive coaching changes for their defense. TN is still a pretty young team, and has a pretty massive pure talent advantage over Northwestern. Also, I swear I've seen Stave actually complete a forward pass to his own team before. Honest to god. Is Clement going to play? Chryst going to pull a Mike Dantonio? Fitzy seems content to keep fuckin' that chicken with his offense.
Round 4: Peanut Butter Blossoms... because this shouldn't be only a Christmas cookie, but if you insist on making them around Christmas, we're going to feature them
INDIANA IS BOWLING! Discuss. No serious, discuss. This is a big deal.
AK: That's neat. No, really. And the dozen of Hoosier football faithful have been rewarded for their patience with a pretty cool venue, a proper basketball-school matchup, and a prediction of FULL HOMERB1G victory from this guy. Maybe if you strike at Duke football, Coach K will feel it in his dark, empty heart.
C4B: Probably the most up and down season of IU football that I can remember, but we're bowling, so EVERYTHING IS AWESOMEEEEEEEEE! Also, we got a matchup in a stadium full of history, on national TV, against a totally beatable Duke team. Yeah, this might very well be the last time Indiana ever goes bowling now that we're going to have a 9 game conference schedule, but that's a problem for next year's team to worry about. WE BOWLING, Y'ALLLLLLL!
87townie: Indiana had a solid season. I thought they could’ve eked out a few more wins (cough**RUTGERS**cough, cough). I’m excited for them to go bowling and I think they can win.
MNW: I am excited for the Hoosier fanbase. No, seriously. I am. And we get the added bonus of them playing Duke, which means it's an easy root for most of us. I will be tuning in to this game on the 26th to see just how many points they can score.
An added anecdote: My physical therapist is an IU grad from Warsaw, IN (in Milwaukee...I know, right?), and he is a diehard Hoosier basketball fan. When I asked him about the Pinstripe Bowl, his response was "Yeah! That'll be...fun! I'll probably tune in for a little bit." This guy sets his fucking DVR to watch IU-Alcorn State but can't be bothered to grab a beer and sit down for Indiana-Duke in a bowl game. I don't get Indiana fans.
TS: Indiana blows Duke the fuck out. Nobody realizes Indiana was actually good despite being a 6-6 B1G team, we use this as B1G>SEC ammunition despite Duke being an ACC team.
AY: 6-6 has been on the table for Indiana for the past few years. It's nice to see that the Hoosiers finally got there, but now I just want to see if they can build on it. A win over Duke would be a nice start on that.
SM: #CHAOSTEAM is so fun to watch. It would really be a shame not to see Sudfeld and Howard do crazy awesome shit again. While also wondering what new hijinks the defense will get up to. I really don't think Sudfeld got the credit he deserved, and Howard has been electric when healthy.
via Food Network
Round 5: Gingerbread Cookies... because you all know you snapped the heads off and ate them first when you were a kid
Two 5-7 teams bowling… I haven’t asked how everyone really feels about this, but I did say that I’m on team let everyone bowl, so I don’t really count. Do you all think this is a trend that will keep getting worse? Do we have too many bowls? Is this a bad thing? Is this really all that much worse than a 6-6 or 7-5 team bowling? Probably?
And if we're talking about those 7-5 teams bowling, is there a more non-descrip season than Penn State’s season? I literally have no gauge on what to expect from them in the TaxSlayer Bowl. I guess that means things were neither good or bad? Somebody give me a read on this game.
AK: Meh...good for the teams who get to go and get the extra practice and all, but the proliferation of bowls has undoubtedly watered down the value of getting to one. One presumes, for example, that IU could have gotten into one at 5-7 as well. Would it really have meant as much? Should we write a 2500-word think piece on how sending all these millennial players to bowls is just teaching them that mediocrity is ok?
C4B: I am way on #TeamLet5-7TeamsBowl.
87townie: Losing records shouldn’t make a bowl game. Period. I was on the fence about PSU making it to the Pin Stripe bowl at 6-6. But there’s no way losing seasons merit post season trips.
Penn State is a great defense with a suck offense. The mystery to me is why the offense sucked so badly. Unlike last year, the offensive line wasn’t a sieve this year. We have an absolutely lights out running back in Barkley. We have competent wideouts and one of the better quarterbacks in PSU history. So why does the offense suck? Lots of the blame falls on (former) offensive coordinator John Donovan’s scheme and play calling. It was inexplicable. Getting into a nice rhythm? Let’s run a double reverse for a 15 yard loss. Your defense puts 9 guys in the box? Great, let’s run off tackle. It was so glaringly bad that James Franklin fired the guy about 15 minutes after the last game. I’ll be interested to see what Franklin does differently for UGA.
MNW: I don't think it'll get too much worse from here. Stinkers like SJSU-Georgia State will remind us that there are too many bowls, I predict that at least one (maybe the Arizona Bowl) will fold, and we'll go back to having the right number of 6-6 teams go bowling while maybe one or two mid-majors gets left out. Regardless, I am excited as fuck for bowl season. I watch bowls whenever I can. I love watching Directional Michigan take on Vague Southeastern State University and having that game put up at least 100 combined points as two gimmicky offenses and scrappy undersized players fly around and make Whitey McStiffington look like he could be an NFL QB. Couple that with awkward commercials wherein I learn what a Belk is or get a huge hankerin' for Popeyes and you've got appointment fucking television.
Also I don't give a shit about Penn State-Georgia. I hope James Franklin gets his teeth metaphorically kicked in by the smoking remnants of Georgia.
AY: Just let everyone bowl. It's more football to watch. More picks to make. More stuff to talk about. More free swag for student athletes that are risking their bodies for a free education. This should be celebrated. As for Penn State, its season went kind of like Wisconsin's. Zero wins against teams with winning records... except for San Diego State. It would have been nice to have that road win in Evanston so that the Lions could hang their hat on something, but the Wildcats made all the big plays in that one. Georgia has been winning ugly lately, but it has had a solid season with no glaringly bad losses. The Dawgs win 17-13. Oh and if you're gambling on this one, Georgia doesn't have an explosive enough offense to cover a spread larger than six points.
TS: There's too many bowls but I don't really care because I probably won't watch any of them before Christmas anyway. I mean I definitely won't watch any of the bowls because I don't watch sports /OTE writer'd
SM: I'm all for MOAR FOOTBALL. But I kinda also think there should be some sort of reward for having a winning record in the regular season. I'm not positive exactly how to balance that, though, so I'm not getting all up in arms about MN and UNL going bowling. Plus it'll be funny when they both end up 5-8.
As for PSU, they seem aggressively mediocre. Like they're desperately trying to keep the Paterno era alive by wasting a quality offense with whatever it is they put out on the other side. As for this bowl, it's really hard to know what to expect from two schools without head coaches.
insertname: Indiana beat Maryland and Purdue in conference to make a bowl, Minnesota beat Purdue and Illinois, Nebraska beat Minnesota, Rutgers, and Michigan State. If Minnesota had dumped TCU for an FCS team, say Southern Illinois, they would also be 6-6 and no one would bat an eye at them making a bowl. I fear that if Minnesota had been left out, they would never schedule tough OOC teams again to avoid missing bowls. The TCU game was one of the most fun games I have been to and would not want to see those tyoes of games stop.
Instead of griping about two 5-7 teams making bowls, let's focus on how the B1G had snagged two of the three openings due to great APR scores.
via All Recipes
Round 6: Lebkuchen... because a German cookie feels like the right way to end this thing
Ohio State was the B1G Bully in the playoffs last year. Can Michigan State repeat that? Will they get past Alabama? Is this really a bowl or are playoffs their own thing?
AK: Of course. Y'all are about to live in a world of the National Champion Spartans, so deal with it. Yes, I know Alabama is a death machine and Derrick Henry is scary and their entire front seven is mutant swamp monsters but nothing stops the Team Of Destiny(c). I do still regard the playoff semifinals as bowls, just with a bit of extra pizzazz.
C4B: ROLL DAMN SPARTY
87townie: Michigan State can beat Alabama. I watched a few Bama games this season. This isn’t the world beating Alabama teams we’ve seen in the past. This team is vulnerable to a stout defense (which Sparty has). The tough matchup for Sparty will be on offense. But they’ve played three great defenses in UM, OSU, and PSU. Cook’s experienced. He’s poised to have a huge sendoff to the NFL…I think MSU plays for the championship.
MNW: No. They will not beat Alabama.
This is also definitely a bowl, I guess. I don't know. Being a fan of Northwestern I don't really #gethype over the playoffs vs. bowls, etc. I want to see my team play at the Rose Bowl someday, I want to travel to Texas or Florida or Arizona, and I want to win.
AY: Well we didn't see Ohio State coming last year, so anything can happen, but... It's not like Sparty blew out Iowa in the conference title game the way the Buckeyes destroyed Wisconsin in 2014. Alabama will win 27-20. Yes, we can still call it a bowl. Bowl ALL THE THINGS.
TS: MSU can but I don't think they will. I hope they do. Because I love my woman and my woman loves MSU. I don't see it happen but "GO GREEN, GO WHITE" /vomits into a bucket... I consider the semifinals a bowl but I don't consider the NCG a bowl if that makes sense. The title game is an entity in and of itself.
SM: I think MSU is capable, but I wouldn't call it likely. About the playoffs vs. bowls, I'm on record preferring bowls. I think some of the venues that the playoffs will use can still feel like bowls (specifically the ROSE BOWL, Sugar Bowl, and the Orange Bowl), but I don't think any game played in Atlanta, Phoenix, or Jerryworld is going to have that feel.