God bless Kind of... for doing the heavy lifting on this one. I’ll just give you a rundown of the bowl news you probably already know:
- Wednesday’s Fenway Bowl between SMU and Virginia was canceled due to COVID in the UVA program. It means Bronco Mendenhall won’t get a sendoff for the ‘Hoos and that the Fenway Bowl has been canceled for two straight years.
- The Arizona Bowl, featuring Central Michigan and Boise State, similarly fell to COVID in the Broncos program. But...
- Thanks to Miami Fluoride dropping out of the Sun Bowl, the Chippewas are headed east on I-10 to take on Washington State in El Paso.
It sucks for all the players involved, many of whom are seniors who won’t get a chance to play in one final game. Hopefully all those affected have a speedy recovery and avoid lingering symptoms.
It’s worth noting that it doesn’t suck for the misogynistic shitbag company in charge of the Arizona Bowl. They can get dicked.
Bowl Game Previews: Tuesday, Dec. 28
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
#20 Houston Cougars vs. Auburn Tigers
11am | ESPN | Auburn -2.5 | O/U 51.5
Protective Stadium (Birmingham, AL)
Kind of...: When running the Veer under Bill Yeoman—and definitely NOT when bags of money were being exchanged throughout the SWC—Houston made the Cotton Bowl three times in four years, beating both pre-B1G Nebraska and pre-B1G Maryland. Those victories were sandwiched around the famous “Chicken Soup” game where an ailing Joe Montana led Notre Dame back from a 34-12 fourth quarter deficit.
I fucking hate Notre Dame, like all reasonable people should, but that’s impressive and Joe Montana was the shit.
The only time Houston played a team that was, at the time, a B1G member was the 2012 Ticket City Bowl (now the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl, see below), when, with the Sandusky scandal not even two months old, PSU decided “yeah, we still deserve our bowl game,” and gave up 532 passing yards to Case Keenum in a desultory 30-14 Cougar victory. Great.
From 1981-2007, Houston lost eight straight bowl games. They’ve also lost their last four, including that jaw-dropping 70-14 loss to Army a few years back. Perhaps MNW has heard some conspiracy theories that explain this while spending so much time in Houston?
MNW: Matter of fact, Kind of..., I do! A UH alumnus told me the Coogs felt they were above an Army matchup, had most of their NFL Draft-eligible players opt out or decline some of the cut-blockiest matchups, and didn’t take bowl games seriously under then-HC Major Applewhite (who lost his job as a result of that Army ass-whoopin).
Kind of...: As for Auburn, I don’t care. But here are some quick numbers. Auburn has played nine different B1G schools (not counting a couple of games against the Big 8 version of Nebraska), missing only MD, Rutgers, Nebraska, Illinois, and, somewhat improbably, Iowa. Auburn is 8-6* in their 14 bowl games against B1G schools. Only Wisconsin (2-1) and Minnesota (1-0) having winning records against the Tigers. Do better, everybody else.
*Purdue fans assure me that this number is actually 7-6, and that Auburn and Purdue have actually never played a bowl game against each other.
MNW: Please acknowledge that Northwestern is 1-1 against Auburn.
Who tickets smarter?
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SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Air Force Falcons vs. Louisville Cardinals
2:15pm | ESPN | Lhvl -1.5 | O/U 55
Gerald J. Ford Stadium (Dallas, TX)
MNW: Two things I want to note about the Artist Formerly Known as the TicketCity Bowl:
- I actually marched in the first-ever TicketCity Bowl, a disgusting 45-38 loss to Texas Tech where Northwestern rolled out Evan Watkins unironically as its starting QB (#WatkinsTall) while also peppering in a harbinger of its success in 2012, QB Kain Colter. The bowl-hosted events were awful, the Cotton Bowl was a dump, and Northwestern took a defense-optional approach to stopping Tech QB Taylor Potts.
- Remember when this game got canceled in 2018 because of lightning?
I have no thoughts on Air Force or Louisville.
Kind of...: Air Force has played only one bowl game against a B1G foe. In 1990, Ohio State entered the showdown with Michigan 5-1-1 in conference play, knowing a win coupled with an Iowa loss would send the Buckeyes to Pasadena. However, Michigan beat OSU (16-13), as they would almost every year during the Cooper era, which meant that when Iowa shit the bed against Minnesota, it created a four-way tie for the B1G title and Iowa went to the Rose Bowl anyway (I’m sure that went fine...).
So, instead of Pasadena, Ohio State went to Memphis to play Air Force in the Liberty Bowl (see below). This was not a vintage Falcon team. They went 6-5 in the regular season (3-4 in the WAC) and had three different losses by 30+ points.
No matter. They beat OSU 23-11.
Three years later, an actually decent Louisville squad played the only bowl game in their history that included a B1G opponent. It was also at the Liberty Bowl, and Howard Schnellenberger’s (RIP) Cardinals beat George Perles’ Spartans 18-7.
As for the bowl itself, back in 2012, when it was known as the Heart of Dallas Bowl, Oklahoma State stomped Purdue into paste 58-14. Just to remind you, this is NOT Purdue’s worst bowl performance in the last ten years. I need a drink.
MNW: I’ll be at Elm Creek Brewing in Champlin for this one, so...uh...have a good time for me, guys and gals.
For all the first responders:
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AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
5:45pm | ESPN | MSSt -9.5 | O/U 58.5
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis, TN)
If you were a fan of the B1G’s 7-M performance during the 2017 bowl season, you should know that the B1G’s bowl record vs. Clanga is 2-M. Northwestern ended their nine-game bowl losing streak by beating the Bulldogs in the 2013 Gator Bowl, and Iowa won a pretty weird 2019 Outback Bowl. The Hawkeyes scored 27 points despite 199 yards of offense (75 of which came on one play) and negative rushing yards. Most unbelievably, however, was that Iowa won despite Colten Rastetter only averaging 34.4 yds/punt.
Oh yeah, the loss! 2011 Gator Bowl. Mississippi State 52, Michigan 14. Wolverines led 14-10 after the first quarter. Thus endeth the RichRod era in Ann Arbor.
Texas Tech is 4-2 all-time vs. B1G opponents in bowl games, and both losses were in the Alamo Bowl to Iowa (2001 and 1996). Since then, the Red Raiders have knocked off Northwestern, Michigan State, and Minnesota (twice). The signature victory for Texas Tech, of course, was the 2006 Insight Bowl, where Glen Mason decided to end his Gopher coaching career by overseeing the disappearance of a 38-7 lead halfway through the third quarter. Because it’s the Christmas season, my gift to Gopher fans is not embedding a video of that be-shitting.
MNW: That game featured the high-flying offense of one Mike Leach, too! Worth noting a good deal of that Tech success owes to the Mad Pirate himself.
I celebrated their Detroit Bowl exploits yesterday—I’ll embed the video today, since I watched that entire shitshow as a Gopher fan.
Good ol’ Grinnin’ Glen.
I could only choose between the Leach picture and the Mason picture for the header, so you get the Grinnin’ Glen picture here. LOOK AT THOSE TEETH. Wonder where we got ‘em from.
who loves liberty more
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the ones with guns, duh
the ones with bells, duh
both probably played an active role in january 6, so
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl
UCLA Bruins vs. #18 NC State Wolfpack
7pm | FOX | NCSU -2 | O/U 60
Petco Park (San Diego, CA)
MNW: I honestly have no recollection of NC State in 2021. Are we sure they played football?
Kind of...: If you’re old like me, your early memory of UCLA in bowl games is probably Terry Donahue’s Bruins beating up B1G champions in the Rose Bowl in the early 80s. But, actually, the B1G is 10-7 vs. the Bruins in bowl games, including 6-5 in the Rose Bowl.
- Sparty went 2-1 in three Rose Bowls all played over 50 years ago, though the loss, in the 1966 game, cost MSU a national title.
- UCLA also cost Ohio State a national title, knocking off undefeated and #1 OSU in the 1976 Rose Bowl, ending Archie Griffin’s college career, and launching Dick Vermeil to the NFL.
- Illinois is 2-2 vs. UCLA, splitting two Rose Bowls (victory in 1947, loss in 1984), and two lesser bowls (a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl win, and a riveting 6-3 loss in the 1991 Sun Bowl).
MNW note: Yes, we are absolutely going to talk about the 2011 Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, where Illinois won 20-14 in a game that featured two interim coaches (both Rick Neuheisel and Ron Zook had been fired, the latter after the Illini turned a 6-0 start into a 6-6 finish).
- Minnesota beat the Bruins in the 1962 Rose Bowl.
- Michigan lost the 1983 Rose Bowl to UCLA, which more than offset the Wolverines’ victory over the Bruins in the 1981 Bluebonnet Bowl.
- Hayden Fry’s best Iowa team lost to UCLA 45-28 in the 1986 Rose Bowl.
MNW note: Ron Harmon have anything to do with that one?
- Nebraska’s only bowl game showdown with UCLA was the 2015 Foster Farms Bowl, a 37-29 Husker win. Yes, Nebraska’s LAST victory in a bowl game was 6 years ago. Following a 5-7 regular season.
- Northwestern lost a very entertaining 2005 Sun Bowl to UCLA, 50-38. Despite being a significant underdog, the Wildcats jumped out to 22-0 lead behind two pick-sixes of Drew Olson. But what makes this game the epitome of what a bowl game should be is that late in the fourth quarter Northwestern scored a TD to cut the Bruin lead to five, then saw UCLA return the ONSIDE kick for a TD. Twice.
- But it is Wisconsin who has best represented the B1G against UCLA, going 3-0 vs. the Bruins, with wins in the 1994 Rose Bowl, 1999 Rose Bowl, and 2000 Sun Bowl. The second Rose Bowl win saw Ron Dayne run for 245 yards and 4 TDs in a vintage B1G smashmouth effort after some dipshit (Craig James) called UW the worst team in Rose Bowl history.
As for NC State, besides pre-B1G Rutgers knocking off the Wolfpack in the 2008 PapaJohn’s dot com bowl (I wonder whatever happened to that guy?), the B1G is 1-2 against NC State in bowl games. Michigan overwhelmed an overmatched Wolfpack squad 42-7 in the 1994 Hall of Fame Bowl (now the Outback Bowl), NC State’s wins were over Minnesota in the 2000 Micron PC Bowl, and Iowa in the 1988 Peach Bowl. The latter game featured rain throughout and saw 14 turnovers between the two teams.
I repeat: 14 combined turnovers in a bowl game. Good work everybody.
/"holiday" guitar riff
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Guaranteed Rate Bowl
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers
9:15pm | ESPN | Minn -5 | O/U 45
Chase Field (Phoenix, AZ)
Just as I was running out of steam, sweet relief. This will be West Virginia’s first bowl game against B1G opposition (though Terp fans would want me to mention their pre-B1G 41-7 beatdown of the Mountaineers in the 2004 Gator Bowl).
MNW: West Virginia lost to Maryland. So if you want an indication of how shitty they are...
...WSR’s got your full preview here:
I’ll remind you that this game is the sponsored successor note only to the Insight Bowl—which we covered at length above—but also the Cheez-It Bowl, where in 2018 TCU and Cal combined to create the stuff of legends:
We can only hope for a repeat.
This game was also originally the Copper Bowl, site of Indiana’s last bowl victory, a 24-0 win over Baylor in 1991. Trent Green, man.
whose rate will we guarantee
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iron ore miners
We’ll get you an open thread for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl later, but in the meantime—here’s your open thread for the day’s bowl games. Don’t burn the place down.