I love ESPN’s Bowl Mania. It’s one of the great joys of bad bowl games in December. We are now up and running with the official LTP group on ESPN’s Bowl Mania. The group name is “LTP” which you can search by clicking on the “play free” off of ESPN’s game page HERE. For the first time ever, we’ll be awarding a “trophy” to the winner. Much like the Stanley Cup, this prized possession will be on loan for one year, until you must return said trophy. In case you’re wondering, it is a game-worn Northwestern jacket by Gary Barnett from the 1996 season. How cool is that? In case you haven’t played, here are the basic rules:
- You pick every bowl game winner and assign a confidence pick with 35 being the most confident (ahem, the NU pick!) and 1 being the least confident pick.
- The person with the highest point total wins.
It’s that easy. It is also THAT fun. You’ll find yourself escaping a holiday party to check in otherwise obscure bowl games like the Military Bowl to see how San Jose State is doing against Bowling Green as you wonder why you put a 30 spot on the 10-2 Spartans (that’d be the nickname of ‘ol San Jose State). With the group up and ready to go, don’t waste any more time and lock in your picks. The first bowl game kicks-off on Saturday with the New Mexico Bowl between Nevada (remember the Kafka drive!) and Arizona (remember we beat you RichRod?!!). Here’s a quick look at the bowl games that regardless of the Bowl Mania stakes that really intrigue me, with the usual categorization through the purple filter.
The Make Us Look Better Bowls
When you go 9-3 there are quite a few teams that you’ve left in your wake. However, the better the Wildcat victims do, the better it makes us look, or at least that’s my theory. With this mindset, here are the bowl games including opponents we beat, who, with a bowl win, could improve our perception:
The first bowl game featuring a Wildcat victim isn’t until 12/28 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas when Minnesota (6-6) faces the Tommy Tuberville-less Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5). Then, it gets busy in a hurry. On 12/29 the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium features resurgent Syracuse (7-5) against West Virginia (7-5). The same day Michigan State (6-6) takes on the team that always makes me think I’m looking at Coach Walk – Gary Patterson and the purple and black clothed TCU Horned Frogs (7-5). On New Year’s Eve, Vanderbilt (8-4) battles NC State (7-5) in the one game I’ll be rooting for a Wildcat victim to lose…badly.
The Make Us Feel Better Bowls
There are only two bowl participants that beat us this season – Michigan and Nebraska. We all know the Huskers are looking to rebound from their humiliating loss to Wisconsin in the B1G Championship Game. Jim Delany and Mike Slive stepped in to help them save face with a Capital One Bowl match-up with Georgia, preventing a free-fall for the Legends Division title winner in the bowl pecking order. A win here would be a huge coup for the conference, but I’m not holding my breath. Meanwhile, Michigan faces the ‘Ol Ball Coach and South Carolina in Tampa on New Year’s Day in the Outback Bowl. I hope Michigan crushes them after his remarks about NU.
The Can’t Win Bowl – National Championship – Notre Dame vs Alabama
What is the lesser of two evils here? If Notre Dame wins, we get subjected to incessant superiority complexes for years to come. If Alabama wins (AGAIN) we get to be subjected to the SEC rules/B1G sucks mentality. I’m torn here. I can’t believe I just said that.
The Most Intriguing Non-B1G Bowl, Non Title Game Bowl – Fiesta Bowl – Oregon vs Kansas State
I feel pretty confident most of us would have Oregon as a potential favorite to win a four team playoff this year. Kansas State’s one loss came after Heisman candidate Colin Klein was coming of a concussion the week before. They dropped off the radar instantly. I’d love to see K-State win, if for no other reason than their color (purple) and nickname (Wildcats).
I Can’t Believe They’re In A Bowl, Bowl – tie – Rice and Duke
Don’t call it a comeback. The smart schools are making a play for their own meme this bowl season. Stanford, Northwestern, Duke, Rice, Vanderbilt and yes, ND in the title game, cap a remarkable year for the programs with the highest academic bars. Rice (6-6) plays Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl, while Duke (6-6) plays Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl on 12/27.
The It’s Past New Year’s Day & This Is The Only Game On This Day Bowl – Compass Bowl – January 5
A 6-6 Pitt team battles a 6-6 Ole Miss team as the lone game on January 5. The next day is worse – Arkansas State plays Kent State in the old TicketCity Bowl strategy of duping fans in to thinking January games mean something.
The Stepping Stone Job Bowl – GoDaddy.com Bowl
And you thought watching awkward over-the-top selling of sex commercials was bad. Try the fact that both coaches of the respective opponents – Kent State and Arkansas State are long gone to Purdue and Auburn, respectively.
The What Will They Do For An Encore Bowl – Rose Bowl
Bret Bielema is in SEC country and Wisconsin AD is getting some serious coin for going back on the sidelines for another Badger Rose Bowl appearance. I’m fascinated to see how Matt Canada’s (Wisky OC) offensive explosion exploits get followed up in this one against a defense that is about as good as any you’ll see outside of the national title game.
What’s your take on the bowl games? We’ll be getting in to some Gator Bowl history in the coming days, but I thought the above might prime the pump to get you to sign up for the LTP Bowl Mania challenge. Spread the word.
Recruiting Quick Hit
Alan Trieu of Scout.com reported yesterday that 4-star OL Jamarco Jones, of DeLasalle High School, attended Northwestern practice and that the 6-5, 290-pounder has an offer from Fitz & Co. Jones is being recruited by NU, Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida and Illinois among others.
The Attendance Thing
It’s always a trending topic here, so here it is, the macro and the micro in one article. Overall CFB attendance is down, but Northwestern was slightly up, moving up 7% to an average of 35,697, which we all know was greatly inflated by the Nebraska invasion. To put things in perspective, just look ahead of us and you’ll see BC, Vanderbilt, Syracuse and the major head scratcher of all – Stanford, now becoming a perennial BCS team yet averaging just ove 43,000. Plus, Stanford’s Pac12 home title game was an embarassment of epic attendance performances.