Did the last preview not whet your appetite for our rambling out the various bowl games?
Good! Because we’ve moved beyond December 16th to the many adventures lurking in the week leading up to Christmas. Here we’ve got Lane Kiffin’s victory lap on FAU’s campus, a rudderless SMU looking to keep the ball moving after Chad Morris bolted for Arkansas, discussion of how the Gasparilla Bowl sponsors are more interesting than the games themselves, and why we just can’t get interested in CMU or Ohio football.
Tuesday, December 19
Boca Raton Bowl, 7 p.m. on ESPN: Florida Atlantic Owls vs. Akron Zips
Wednesday, December 20
Frisco Bowl, 8 p.m. on ESPN: SMU Mustangs vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Thursday, December 21
Gasparilla Bowl, 8 p.m. on ESPN: Florida International Golden Panthers vs. Temple Owls
Friday, December 22
Bahamas Bowl, 12:30 p.m. on ESPN: Ohio Bobcats vs. UAB Blazers
Potato Bowl, 4 p.m. on ESPN: Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Wyoming Cowboys
Boca Raton Bowl
MNW: BOCA RATON! For all my conspiracy theories that Lane Kiffin would parlay this into a Bahamas Bowl bid, his Owls are keeping the Lane Train at home for one more tour. Your C-USA champs are rewarded with the MAC runners-up, Akron, who...look, let's not put lipstick on this. FAU should blow Akron out.
JC: It’s sort of worth noting that Lane Kiffin has been a good coach this season. It’s also worth noting that he has been outstanding as the Tennessee Volunteers have put on what is literally the worst coaching search in history. What does it all mean? Well, it means that I would not be surprised to see this be more competitive than it should be. I watched a little of Terry Bowden’s Akron Zips (and note, Terry Bowden’s Akron Zips is a great line) and came away thinking that (a) they have no offensive approach, and (b) they cannot play defense.
More importantly, can we talk about the sponsor of the Boca Raton Bowl? The Cherribundi Tart Cherry company. Their ‘elixir’ claims to, “increase stamina, sleep, and muscle recovery.” I’d assume this was a MLM drink, but cannot confirm that. Anyhow, is there a more ridiculous sponsor than this? I say no, but let me know.
MNW: I thought "Terry Bowden's Akron Zips" was the sponsor and that they were an old-tyme cigarette company. Are they not?
JC: I cannot confirm or deny this report, but let’s be honest, if there were a box of “Terry Bowden’s Akron Zips”, I’d definitely smoke one and probably die.
MNW: Anyhow, the Zips may have a QB controversy, as freshman Kato Nelson guided them to the MAC championship after starter Thomas Woodson went down.
As far as I am concerned, Akron is basically Midwestern UNT. That means FAU romps in this one. Devin Singletary (tune in for him alone, kids) goes nuts on the Akron defense, runs for close to 200, and Kiffin goes out in style.
JC: Fine, Kiffin gets his win, Akron gets absolutely rocked, and we are basically switching the channel the minute SMU starts.
DXL Frisco Bowl
Which, this is timely stuff. Arkansas has a much less interesting coaching search - in comparison to its SEC brethren at least - with the get of Chad Morris who sports a gorgeous winning recor… wait. He was definitely 14-22. While there was improvement each year, how good is this SMU team actually?
MNW: What are we moving to here, the Miami Beach Bowl? OK, let's do that.
OH SHIT I LIED! THIS IS THE FRISCO BOWL NOW! They're going all LA Chargers and playing it in a soccer stadium!
First, my sincerest congratulations to Arkansas on hiring a completely normal coach. I don't know if they deserve it, but they certainly did it, and that in and of itself is surprising. If Morris can find a good retread defensive coordinator who can bring some needed discipline to the Hawgs' defense (NOTE: DO NOT HIRE BOB DIACO TO DO THIS), Arkansas could be some SEC West Fun in a couple years.
I think this SMU team is exactly what we want in a G5 football team: lots of offense (8th in S&P+), only a whiff of defense (121st), and Ben Hicks just huckin' it around the park (or pitch or whatever prissy soccer twats want me to call it) to build on his 32 TD campaign. Trey Quinn is a legit WR threat (he was a Biletnikoff semifinalist). This could be fun if SMU's go-go-go tendencies bring out the best (read: the most offense and the least defense) in Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs have three rushers who have carried the ball over 100 times, and both Boston Scott and Jarred Craft should have ample running room. I think this is the game I'm tuning in to. (edited)
JC: THIS GAME IS SPONSORED BY DXL.
MNW: LIKE, THE CLOTHES FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME?
JC: Also, apparently the Frisco Bowl is managed by ESPN Events which is a thing I didn’t know that existed until right now. They manage 18 CFB events - mostly awful bowls in places like Frisco - and this all makes so much sense now.
MNW: Yeah that's why the New Mexico Bowl is still a thing, even in years the Lobos don't muster 6 wins.
JC: As for Chad Morris, I do agree on the fun aspect. His credibility seems to be wrapped up mainly in the idea that he has amazing offense and can materialize a defensive coordinator to make things work. I do wonder if that’s actually a winning formula, but for this game, I am 100% behind the chaos of #alloffenseeverything and will definitely watch this event. I checked. SMU averages over 40 points a game. That’s all sorts of fun.
Also, they average 35.5 points allowed per game.
MNW: I'll take LaTech to pull out a shootout (absent Morris, I assume, SMU will stumble without the offensive playcalling), 55-52.
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
With that, we head back to the state of Florida, and rather than hop right into a preview of Temple vs. FIU, a game that will definitely happen, I'd like you to choose your favorite sponsor of the St. Petersburg-turned-Gasparilla Bowl: do you take whatever MagicJack is? Are you a Beef'o'Brady's guy? BitCoin? Bad Boy Mowers?
JC: Oh man, MagicJack is the perfect late 2000's “we have too much money” sponsor and so it definitely tops the list for me, but in reading up on this bowl on Wikipedia, I found out there used to be a Cigar Bowl in Tampa which prompted me to run the sponsor name before “Cigar Bowl” for all of the aforementioned, and I think we need a Cigar Bowl, like, yesterday.
That in mind, I guess I need to actually talk about football. Butch Davis has done well at FIU, leading them to a record 8 wins this season. They seem to be okay at offense and defense, and I guess that’s fun? I don’t know. Their star WR - Thomas Owens - got hurt so I don’t really have a lot to talk about here. On the other side, you have the Owls, who are 6-6 and boast an almost identical S&P profile. I Temple beat Villanova by 3 and UMass by 8. Just give me FIU and the points whatever that line may be.
MNW: A record 8 wins? A RECORD 8 wins? Good God. That man would've made a great Arkansas coach...but maybe he'll be at North Carolina or something in a couple years.
I'll be honest. I don't care about Temple. They play lowish-scoring games, right?
I don't know much about FIU, save that they had baffling wins, like a 24-point win over WKU and a win at Marshall, but then they lost to Old Dominion at home. I wish they could have played their game against Indiana, because it would've prompted me to know something about them.
JC: As I see it, FIU is a poor man’s Butch Davis North Carolina. Decent enough defense, okay offense, and an ability to lose games they have no business losing.
Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl
With no apparent segue here, it’s time for the bowl we’ve all been waiting for… THE BAHAMAS BOWL!!!
I was talking about this at work yesterday - seriously, not as a literary device even - and decided that the Bahamas Bowl has to be the best thing that has ever happened. So long as you are stuck going to a bowl that holds no meaning or special sentiment, this is where you want to go, right? Just think about all of the bowls we’ve discussed to this point. Frisco, Tampa, Boca Raton…. BOCA. RATON. I would kill for Nebraska to make the Bahama’s Bowl so I could parlay that into an overpriced vacation, a few days on the beach, and an excuse to buy Popeye’s because #brands. As for the game, I’m a fan of it. UAB and Ohio offer an interesting matchup. Frank Solich and the Bobcats should have been playing in the MAC Championship instead of Akron, but a late season slump sent them here. UAB wasn’t playing football for the past two years and yet won 8 games. There are just super wonderful things going on here.
MNW: I don't want to throw water on all of this, because I agree with your sentiment that BAHAMAS BOWL is one of the greatest things about college football. HOW-EV-UH
Ohio? Really, MAC? Ohio? The wisconsin of the MAC?
A.J. Erdely is an exciting QB for UAB, but I want POINTS, damnit. Ohio doesn't give me points, Ohio gives me A.J. Ouelette (seriously, how much fucking eligibility does this dude have?) and Nathan Rourke running a good, proper read-option over and over and over before throwing a few play-action passes. BORING. You are MACtion, Ohio. Go 5-wide and run 11 trick plays in the first half. It's the BAHAMAS BOWL.
But yeah, Ohio wins, 27-25 (because there's gotta be a goofy score in BAHAMAS BOWL).
I feel like this is the requisite question, though, when we talk about Ohio, @JC: What are your feelings on Frank Solich?
JC: I mean, I have always wanted him to do well. It’s funny, though. In light of bringing in Scott Frost, I was thinking about what Frank Solich represents to a Nebraska fan. On one hand, he was the guy who followed Tom Osborne. We all knew it would blow up spectacularly, and while he did well enough, he also had a 7-7 season with blowout losses to every school that ended in “State” and then the 9-3 year in which the losses somehow outweighed the wins. Was it a good idea to do that? Hell no, but it’s done so whatever. Would Solich probably have gotten fired without success at Nebraska? Also yes. He runs a fairly clean program, isn’t super bad at his job, doesn’t really move the needle, and is welcome to come home and say hello in Lincoln anytime he wants. I guess that’s all I have on that.
MNW: Well this got depressing in a hurry. I blame myself.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
ANYWAYS! The Bahamas Bowl gives way to the other exciting pre-Christmas niche bowl, and this one's for ALL THE POTATOES! Yep, it's Wyoming and Central Michigan on the Smurf Turf. And speaking of coaches wronged by Nebraska, that IS Craig Bohl, whose Cowboys are bowling for the second straight year in Year Four of his tenure in Laramie.
JC: I love the jilted Nebraska coach. Craig Bohl had his name thrown around Nebraska’s opening a few times, but that was never going to happen. Wyoming is actually a really good spot for him. He gets to raid Nebraska for the ‘also-ran’ kids who he convinces he connects with. He then gets to play in the MWC and take advantage of that altitude, and get his praises sung for bowling. It’s a good gig, and not quite unlike Frankie, I wish Bohl the best. I also don’t want him to be the coach at Nebraska as that did not go so well last time. I’m happy he had success in his life, but there’s a difference between being a fit at NDSU and Wyoming and Nebraska (or any high P5 school).
Anyhow, potatoes… The Smurf Turf is still really hard for me to deal with, but I generally like they do something different. I do not know enough about Central Michigan, but they better have a defense because we can laugh at the Josh Allen hype, but he’s a good one and should be healthy for the bowl game. This season has been a ‘bust’ by all accounts, but I would not be surprised to see him drag this team to a victory. (edited)
MNW: I'll be honest: I watched a non-zero number of CMU football games this year! And I still can't tell you a single thing about them except for the Wolverines transfer QB [Shane Morris] they are starting!
So maybe they're fling it around a bit. Maybe Josh Allen will be given the Nick Stevens treatment and allowed to just let it rip all game. Maybe it's NOT 31 degrees and snowing for this one! But if it is, it could turn into the glorious trainwreck that a Wyoming-Central Michigan game should.
Really, is there any other way this game should be played? Could the start of Potato Bowl be moved around to coincide with a snowstorm? Because John Bonamego and Craig Bohl are the two perfect G5, red-assed coaches to be grumpily shouting orders in the snow as their halfway decent quarterbacks hopelessly fling it about 40 times apiece.
I want to go to the most remote metropolis in the US now. I've talked myself into it. Graham, buy me tickets to Boise and I will be the SBNation correspondent, LIVE FROM THE POTATO BOWL!