Oh my, what a New Year’s Day. Starting with the Minnesota Golden Gophers—really we mean Tyler Johnson, because holy shit, what a game—laying waste to the Iron Bowl Champion Auburn Tigers, the conference rang in 2020 with a series of generally unobjectionable results.
Add to that Michigan acquitting themselves well—but, of course, falling short—against Alabama and wisconsin suffering some poorly-timed and uncharacteristically-undisciplined play against Oregon in the Rose Bowl...wow.
We’ll see if we can’t add to that excitement today. Big Ten basketball tips off again tonight, but in the meantime, we’ve got a couple great bowl games to keep us busy—including Indiana’s shot at its first bowl win since a 24-0 shutout of Baylor in the 1991 Copper Bowl.
Can you imagine? A team going almost 30 years between bowl wins? Shameful.
Birmingham Bowl: Boston College Eagles vs. #21 Cincinnati Bearcats
Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
2pm | ESPN | Cincy -7.5 | O/U 53
One of these schools has two consecutive 10-win seasons in which they cracked the AP Top 20 and got some Cotton Bowl love.
The other fired Steve Addazio and hired an Ohio State defensive coordinator in his place.
Leading BC rusher AJ Dillon is out of this one to prepare for the NFL Draft, leading BC passer Anthony Brown was lost for the season with a knee injury, and now it’s basically backup QB Dennis Grosel, back up RB David Bailey, and a big shrug emoji. No BC receiver has caught over 30 passes. That’s something Northwestern-level shit. But at least the ‘Cats have taken steps to fix their OC problems—
Anyways, the Bearcats’ Michael Warren II is a dynamic runner who will set the tone early and often, Desmond Ridder is a solid dual-threat QB with and a talented bevy of WRs led by Josiah Deguara, and hybrid DE/LB Bryan Wright should be in the BC backfield early and often. A nice laugher with some “BC backups with a chip on their shoulder” potential to keep it close early. Plus, it’s football.
My Pick: Cincinnati (36 pts)
Birmingham Bowl! Thoughts?
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Gator Bowl: Indiana Hoosiers vs. Tennessee Volunteers
TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, FL
6pm | ESPN | Tenn -3 | O/U 55
Unfortunately, Tennessee’s got a nice little history of rolling up on some overrated Big Ten teams in bowl games—see 2014 Iowa, 2015 Northwestern, and 2016 Nebraska if you were uncertain. That’s approximately 4 head coaches and two failed coaching searches back, though, and #9WINdiana has become one of the best stories of the Big Ten in 2019.
But enough about me, what does our actual Indiana writer think?
I want to share Candy’s optimism for this one—and, to be honest, I can’t blame any writer picking their own team in a bowl game. I’d love to see the Hoosiers lock down Jauan Jennings when he returns in the second half (he’s suspended for the first half—typical Vol) and keep Jarrett Guarantano in check, get a little lead and control the clock with Stevie Scott (assuming he’s healthy), and see where this one goes.
My Pick: Tennessee (23 pts), but nothing would make me happier than to see this be wrong.
Gator Bowl! Indiana! First bowl win in almost 30 years?
This poll is closed
#9WINDIANA WE DID IT
Other Things on TV
Derby County vs. Barnsley
1:45pm | ESPN+
1:45pm | ESPN+
2pm | NBCSN
Soccer! Yes, soccer. It’s there, just accept it.
11am | ESPN+ | FIU -2.5 | O/U 147
Good? HELL NO.
On? HELL YES.
Look, basketball coverage here is organized around the idea that if it is on, you should watch it. This is how you wind up watching Central Connecticut upset Dartmouth on the Big Green’s home court in Hanover. You need that in your life.
4pm | ESPN+
This is a “it’s halftime in the Birmingham Bowl” watcher.
James Madison Dukes at UNC-Wilmington Seahawks
5:30pm | CBSSN | JM -2.5 | O/U 154
Minnesota Golden Gophers at Purdue Boilermakers
6pm | BTN | Purdue -7.5 | O/U 129.5
Hey! We have previews for this one! Check them out:
6pm | ESPN+ | App -2 | O/U 142.5
6pm | ESPN+ | Duq -3 | O/U 132
Rhode Island Rams at Brown Bears
6pm | ESPN+ | URI -7.5 | O/U 145.5
6pm | ESPN+ | Marshall -9 | O/U 156
Four cromulent, possibly-exciting games if Indiana-Tennessee is over by the first quarter. Funny things have happened to teams from Indiana against orange also-rans from the SEC.
7pm | FS1 | MSU -10.5 | O/U 147
Oh well, another Big Ten game! We previewed this one, too!
Utah Valley Wolverines at Chicago State Cougars
7:05pm | WAC Digital | UVU -14 | O/U 149
This is part of my grand vision to maximize clicks and profit revenue margins (definitely a thing) by turning Off Tackle Empire into an all-podcast, all-pivot-to-video, all-Chicago State blog. Go Cougars!
#20 Dayton Flyers at La Salle Explorers
7:30pm | CBSSN | Dayton -10.5 | O/U 137
7:30pm | Pac12 | Utah -2 | O/U 144
#4 Oregon Ducks at Colorado Buffaloes
8pm | ESPN2 | Ore -1.5 | O/U 138
Colorado was ranked at one point this year. Pac-12 basketball is a mystery.
8pm | PlutoTV 536 | SUU -4.5 | O/U 133
8pm | PlutoTV 541 | UNCO -8.5 | O/U 135.5
8:30pm | PlutoTV 542 | PRSt -6 | O/U 146.5
Am I shamelessly shilling for PlutoTV (not the worst way to watch free college basketball I’ve ever experienced!) in the hopes that they become a sponsor of Off Tackle Empire? POSSIBLY! But you can also watch weird and silly basketball at odd hours, and again, it’s free.
8pm | ESPN+ | NDSU -12.5 | O/U 147
Having (1) remembered the Jim Molinari years at WIU, and (2) spent appreciable time in Macomb, IL, I can appreciate the grind of trying to keep the Leathernecks relevant in the world. It is a sad place. There was one bar (Sports Corner @ 124) where I met four old men who were super passionate about Leatherneck football, too. Then one offered me a shot and wanted to talk about Trump and I ran.
8:15pm | ESPN+ | SDSt -2 | O/U 147.5
I’ve also spent appreciable time in Brookings. Please, no further questions.
(But Wooden Legs Brewing is v good, and a drive to Hendricks, MN, for Bank Brewing is totally worth it as long as you’re ready to drink a 10% maple porter out of a pint glass for $5 and watch totally adorable dogs walk around and visit the patrons.)
9pm | FS1 | Wash -7.5 | O/U 139.5
9:30pm | Pac-12 | USC -3.5 | O/U 146
10pm | ESPN2 | Stan -11 | O/U 127.5
St. Mary’s Gaels at San Francisco Dons
10pm | ESPNU | SMC -3 | O/U 148
That is a ridiculously good late slate after Indiana-Tennessee has devolved into BigVolDaddy69 posting “SEE AH TOLD Y’ALL YANKEES VOLNASHUN WOULD WIN” videos to YouTube and VolTwitter has posted Candystripes’ Social Security number online. For my money, I’ll take SMC-USF and work my way up that slate of games.
Gonna burn a Christmas tree tonight, too, and drink a lot of beer while standing in the snow. That’ll keep me away from the in-laws for a little while.
Are these watch guides helpful?
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No, but thank you for doing them.
Yes, but only if you stop including PlutoTV.
Yes, but only if you stop including soccer.
Yes, but return to DWT;WT format.
Absolutely! I love bad basketball and weird bowl games!
I couldn’t be bothered to read this far down the page; I just skip to the comments.
Here’s your open thread for the day’s football and other random sporting events. Usual rules apply, behave yourselves. Go Hoosiers.