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Wednesday Bowl Game Open Thread, Previews, History: Pinstripe, Cheez-It, Alamo Bowl

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Plus, why the Pinstripe Bowl may truly be the B1Ggest of all the bowls. Take a little walk down memory lane with us...

Clemson roughly the color of Cheez-Its going in, Iowa State roughly the color of Cheez-Its coming out. Should I see a doctor?
Grace Raynor (Twitter)

It’s -7 outside and I’ve been humming “Baby It’s Cold Outside” to myself all morning. Not sure what that means my cat will try to do when I go to leave the house in a couple hours, but I’m watching my drink.

If you haven’t seen our previews for the upcoming Big Ten bowl games featuring Maryland and Purdue, though, I’d recommend you stop and give them a read first:

Onto our own little walk down bowl game memory lane:

New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Maryland Terrapins vs. Virginia Tech Hokies

1:15pm | ESPN | MD -3.5 | O/U 54.5

Yankee Stadium (Bronx, NY)

Larry previewed this game, and for a true Maryland perspective on the Terps’ triumphant return to a bowl, I’d suggest starting there:

MNW: This brilliant idea of a bowl game isn’t too old, having existed, from 2010 through its first four years, as a place for New York’s Big East teams, Syracuse and Rutgers, to meet disinterested Big XII teams (Syracuse-Kansas State, Rutgers-Iowa St, Syracuse-West Virginia) but also Rutgers-Notre Dame once, a game that I forgot happened but that I’m going to spent a couple seconds chuckling about.

Rutgers lost, but you know that.

In 2014 the Big Ten added the Pinstripe Bowl to its bowl tie-ins, along with a couple teams out east to really make this an enticing move. I’m sure that was well-received and not a drain on the conference’s strength of schedule, no sir.

But then...this bowl turned out to be pretty good?

The Big Ten is 5-1 in the Pinstripe Bowl and has stayed a consistently good draw for the games, whether Northwestern beating ranked Pitt in the national coming out party for Justin Jackson the Ball-Carrier on a frozen field in 2016 or Iowa, the following year, beating Boston College in a game that can charitably be described as “classically Iowa shit”:

  • It was 23 at kickoff, with a wind chill of 12.
  • The field was completely iced over and players switched from cleats to sneakers.
  • Iowa’s offense benefited from turnover luck, including an interception tipped up in the air that, of course, landed right in the hands of a Hawkeyes DB.
  • The Hawkeyes threw for 99 yards and ran for 101. Boston College had 383 yards of offense. The leading Iowa receiver caught one pass for 32 yards.

But the first two Pinstripe Bowls featured even more field goal-related drama.

First, in the inaugural Big Ten appearance in 2014, first-year HC James Franklin and Penn State held off Boston College and the Fightin’ Dudes in overtime when, after the Eagles scored the opening touchdown, the Boston College kicker did this:

Whoopsie. And because all of this game, including the Wikipedia write-up that repeatedly references the 2014 Nittany Lions’ Christian Hackenberg-led offense as “anemic,” was one big gong show, you can read their assessment of the Eagles’ kicking situation:

Boston College employed three kickers throughout the season, which confused even Murphy, who served as the holder, as the kickers did not all kick with the same foot. Although Alex Howell began the season as the starter, he ultimately made only five of 11 field goal attempts on the season; Mike Knoll made two of three field goal attempts along with 10 of 11 extra point attempts, and Joey Launceford, a walk-on, made all four of his field goal attempts, but missed four extra point attempts. Howell was the team’s punter, and he was better in that role, averaging 42.9 yards on 59 total punts during the season.

Still stuns me that Addazio flamed out at Colorado State. Seems like he really pays attention to detail.

The greatest, most batshit moment in Pinstripe Bowl history, though, belongs to the ONLY loss in the Big Ten’s prestigious time in this bowl game, and it’s the following year, when the Indiana Hoosiers met the Duke Blue Devils, went to overtime, and did this:

Anywho, like the bad writer I am, I’ve really buried my thesis here, so like the bad writers I teach in college, I’m going to bold my thesis: The Pinstripe Bowl is a great idea for the Big Ten and ought to continue.

I say that not only because the conference is 5-1, including wins like the 2018 edition when Miami Fluoride clearly wanted to be anywhere else but frigid New York playing Wisconsin, but because a cold-weather bowl game favors the Big Ten and, in a relatively apples-to-apples game of 7-5 or 6-6 teams, puts the Big Ten on the front foot. Teams like Northwestern, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan State are made to play in this shit, and even if the ACC lines up a similarly cold-weather team, I’ll take our guys over theirs most days.

As I say that, we send Maryland. So, uh, perhaps this thesis isn’t the best.

Poll

For all the Pinstripes:

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Maryland
    (21 votes)
  • 16%
    Virginia Tech
    (4 votes)
25 votes total Vote Now

Cheez-It Bowl
#19 Clemson Tigers vs. Iowa State Cyclones

4:45pm | ESPN | Clemson -2.5 | O/U 44.5

Camping World Stadium (Orlando, FL)

Kind of...: I won’t waste time on Clemson, but you should know that once upon a time Iowa State was such a bad program, and the bowl slate small enough, that they went from 1979-1999 without a bowl appearance.

Their lone bowl game vs. B1G opposition was a truly scintillating 14-13 victory over Minnesota in the 2009 Insight Bowl. Yes, despite over 800 yards of offense, these twin 6-6 combatants mustered 27 total points. Given that the year before Minnesota had lost the Insight Bowl by 21 to Kansas, I do believe that, despite the loss, the 2009 Insight Bowl technically counts as the peak of the Tim Brewster years. Fortunately, Minnesota just won the Guaranteed Rate Bowl (f/k/a Insight) last night, so they’re now 1-3 in this august event.

Oh yeah, Iowa State. Anyway, these two teams started the season #3 and #7, and here we are at lovely Camping World Stadium on Dec. 29. Is anybody happy to be here? Did Matt Campbell miss his window to make a move? Did this season lessen the likelihood that Dabo Swinney gets the ‘Bama gig? Whose absence will matter more, Breece Hall or Brent Venables?

If you pretend to have answers, I’ll pretend to listen,

Poll

Hell, you can even pretend to pick this game!

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Clemson
    (13 votes)
  • 31%
    Iowa State
    (15 votes)
  • 40%
    Have you seen the picture of those two schmuck coaches in color rush track suits?
    (19 votes)
47 votes total Vote Now

Valero Alamo Bowl

#14 Oregon Ducks vs. #16 Oklahoma Sooners

8:15pm | ESPN | Oklahoma -6.5 | O/U 60

Alamodome (San Antonio, TX)

Kind of...: Oklahoma has played in 55 bowls, but only two vs. B1G opponents, beating Michigan in the 1976 Orange Bowl and Iowa in the 2011 Insight Bowl. But, I’m sure Oklahoma considers having to play in the Insight Bowl a loss, so there’s that.

Oregon is 4-4 all-time vs. B1G opposition, including two really exciting, but painful, Rose Bowls vs. UW (2012, 2020). Ohio State is 3-0 (1958 Rose, 2010 Rose, 2015 natty), and Minnesota split two Sun Bowls, both pretty entertaining, with the Gophers losing in 1999 and winning in 2003. Honestly, looking over this list, when a B1G team plays Oregon in bowl season, it’s usually pretty damn good action.

Oh, wait, I forgot the eighth Oregon/B1G matchup...

Around these parts, there’s a tendency to hold the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl (TCU 10, Cal 7, in OT) out as Exhibit 1 of recent bowl futility. Fine, I get that. Nine turnovers really call attention to some shitty play.

But, and work with me here, isn’t it even MORE, um, impressive to have a bowl game where FEWER points were scored despite there only being ONE turnover? And it occurred only five days after that TCU/Cal Cheez-It Classic?

Have we forgotten already about Oregon 7, Michigan State 6???

MNW: I’ll only mention that Northwestern has two Alamo Bowls to its name, and the one where they stupidly let Stefan Demos punt to Jeremy Maclin is the more positive of the two.

See, Nebraska fans? There’s a treat if you read all the way to the bottom of the article.

I’m gonna go watch the 2000 Wisconsin-Northwestern game to get that taste out of my mouth. Speaking of a guy who looked bad in track suits, it’s Barry Alvarez!

The play-by-play guy screams “MUFF!” in the first 15 seconds of that video, and it ends with a wonderful and classically Alvarez drive-by handshake.

Poll

For all the Alamos:

This poll is closed

  • 53%
    Ducks
    (25 votes)
  • 46%
    Sooners
    (22 votes)
47 votes total Vote Now

Poll

More importantly, does the Over hit?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Yep, more than 60 points total
    (29 votes)
  • 29%
    No :(
    (12 votes)
41 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How are you enjoying these previews?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Love them—keep the history coming, I don’t need to learn about teams’ second-string quarterbacks.
    (42 votes)
  • 14%
    Love them, but a little info on the teams’ second-string quarterbacks would be great.
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    Eh, Kind of... is good looking, but I could do without MNW.
    (4 votes)
  • 14%
    I’m just here for the open thread, but the history’s nice if it makes you freaks happy.
    (9 votes)
64 votes total Vote Now

Here’s your open thread for the day’s games. Behave and try not to burn the place down. I’m off to Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub for lunch. Tell me what I should get for lunch and for beers in the comments.