LTP’s Bowl Mania

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.

  • Al

    As always, I’m entering the bowl pick’em because I am doing my duty to raise the self-esteem of others by making their picks look good in comparison to mine.

  • NUMBalumDave

    The national championship game divides me not: Roll Tide. I can live with the conference inferiority complex. And, as pointed out in this article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2012/12/04/why-i-wont-be-cheering-for-old-notre-dame/), ND football deserves worse.

    • NUMBalumDave

      Whoops. Sorry about the my url thing above. Of course you can’t post a url to this blog! Just search for “why i won’t cheer cheer for old notre dame” and you’ll get the Washington Post article written by ND alumna Melinda Henneberger on ‘extracurricular’ activities of the criminal kind alleged, albeit credibly. Penn State’s problems may be in its past, but it appears that ND’s programs may be harboring such activities even as they play for the trophy.

  • GradCat

    K-State’s mascot is also named Willie. Go ‘Cats!

    Also, as a point of reference, I believe that attendance number is for tickets purchased, not butts in seats.

    • NU68

      The interesting point of the entire article is that the growing success of televised CFB will kill live attendance slowly but surely. So … filling NU’s stadium seems to be shoveling against the tide.

      • GradCat

        I agree. Particularly for programs like NU without the “storied” traditions of Michigan and OSU. We’re not just trying to keep getting fans to show up, but we’re trying to get many of them to come to a game or buy season tickets for the first time.

  • KY Wildcat

    So, if I win Bowl Mania…how do I claim the Barnett Jacket Trophy??

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      i ship it to you.

  • Chasmo

    Would LTP call it “an embarrassment of epic” proportions, if NU drew drew just over 43,000 at home when it, as if by wizardry, played host to the Big Ten title game played against a Big Ten team that didn’t bring along tens of thousands of its own fans to the game?
    Like NU, Stanford is an elite private school with a relatively small nation-wide alumni base that doesn’t draw many fans from the surrounding area. To expect them to be able to draw more than 45,000 for any game except “The Game” against Cal is really being unfair.
    And now for something completely different…
    It’s nice to see a kid who is being recruited by Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State and Florida to give NU a look as well. Fans can debate the merits of a kid getting “four stars” all they want but the fact that a kid who is desired by the nation’s top programs also includes NU in his list is a very good sign.

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Uhhh slight problem. They averaged 43k but the actual attendance for the pac12 title game was 50% of that regardless of what they reported.

      • CatFanSeattle

        So let me get this straight, they played for the PAC-12 championship and won the game but only ~ 20K showed up? THE HORROR! Methinks NU would sign up for that in a heartbeat…

      • Chasmo

        And you know only 21,500 were at the game because . . .?

        “Trust me. I know the real truth” is not the best way to win an argument.

  • Guest

    just wondering, why are you rooting for vanderbilt to lose?

    • ‘Catatonic Tim

      Just guessing it might have something to do with them bailing on us..

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Exactly. They pulled out of a contracted series with us without informing us. They sent a letter that Jim Phillips received after they went public with news of replacing us with some patsy.

      • wildcats meow meow

        haha oh DUH that completely slipped my mind when i was reading this.

        now whenever i see jay cutler wearing vanderbilt hats during press conferences i get annoyed. good thing we have plenty of NU representation on da bears :)

  • Fitz51

    LTP… You of all people should not be sustaining the lie that ND belongs among those schools sustaining the highest academic standards in college football. Just ask Dr. Jim or either of my offspring who worked in the ND Admissions office and handled the player apps. for admission. In short, there are no academic minimum standards for football prospects to be admitted to ND. Even mandatory minimum HS curriculum requirements have been waived for football players with 5 stars and sub 850 SATs. While ND has some fine students playing football for them. so do schools like OSU and Alabama. You would never speak of them in glowing academic terms, and the same should be true for the Irish. All 3 schools recruit virtually the same pools of HS prospects. And graduation rates are the second big lie at ND. The school requires only that the football players attend class and turn in assignments to receive a degree. There is no qualitative bar football players must pass before receiving their diplomas. That’s their key to sustaining graduation rates on which ND relies to sustain the lie that they should be discussed in the same breath with Stanford and Northwestern.

    Fitz51

    • Lake The Posts

      Yeah..lazy on my part!