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Happy #9WINdiana Day! Gator Bowl, Birmingham Bowl Preview, Open Thread

Indiana-Tennessee and Cincinnati-Boston College are your bowl options for today, and no, you can’t have a do-over. But there’s also basketball on, and we’ve got a whole preview of the day’s action!

NCAA Basketball: Florida State at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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

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.

January 2

Bowl Games

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—

Fuck this.

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?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    (12 votes)
  • 7%
    (2 votes)
  • 46%
    (12 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now

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

  • 25%
    No :(
    (15 votes)
  • 74%
    (44 votes)
59 votes total Vote Now

Other Things on TV


Derby County vs. Barnsley

1:45pm | ESPN+

Swansea City vs. Charlton Athletic

1:45pm | ESPN+

Liverpool vs. Sheffield United

2pm | NBCSN

Soccer! Yes, soccer. It’s there, just accept it.

College Basketball

UTEP Miners at FIU Sunblazers

11am | ESPN+ | FIU -2.5 | O/U 147

Good? HELL NO.

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.

Columbia Lions at Maine Black Bears

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:

Georgia State Panthers at Appalachian State Mountaineers

6pm | ESPN+ | App -2 | O/U 142.5

Saint Louis Billikens at Duquesne Dukes

6pm | ESPN+ | Duq -3 | O/U 132

Rhode Island Rams at Brown Bears

6pm | ESPN+ | URI -7.5 | O/U 145.5

Rice Owls at Marshall Thundering Herd

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.

Right, Purdue?

Illinois Fighting Illini at #14 Michigan State Spartans

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

Oregon State Beavers at Utah Utes

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.

Montana Grizzlies at Southern Utah Thunderbirds

8pm | PlutoTV 536 | SUU -4.5 | O/U 133

Montana State Bobcats at Northern Colorado Bears

8pm | PlutoTV 541 | UNCO -8.5 | O/U 135.5

Portland State Vikings at Idaho Vandals

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.

Western Illinois Leathernecks vs. North Dakota State Bison

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.

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at South Dakota State Jackrabbits

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.)

UCLA Bruins at Washington Huskies

9pm | FS1 | Wash -7.5 | O/U 139.5

USC Trojans at Washington State Cougars

9:30pm | Pac-12 | USC -3.5 | O/U 146

California Golden Bears at Stanford Cardinal

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?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    No, but thank you for doing them.
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    Yes, but only if you stop including PlutoTV.
    (2 votes)
  • 20%
    Yes, but only if you stop including soccer.
    (13 votes)
  • 21%
    Yes, but return to DWT;WT format.
    (14 votes)
  • 21%
    Absolutely! I love bad basketball and weird bowl games!
    (14 votes)
  • 23%
    I couldn’t be bothered to read this far down the page; I just skip to the comments.
    (15 votes)
65 votes total Vote Now

Here’s your open thread for the day’s football and other random sporting events. Usual rules apply, behave yourselves. Go Hoosiers.