Two-a-Days: Bowl Season Preview Finale

One of you guys commented on Part 1:

“Not to be rude, but WHO CARES? With NU on the outside looking in for the second straight year, I for one could care less about Bowls.”

This is a fair question which deserves a full answer.  In this time, NU fans can do one of two things.  They can wallow in their misery.  Be the Ebenezer Scrooge of bowl season and shun the litany of great games because the Wildcats aren’t playing.  It’s hard to blame someone for taking this route.  Disappointment in this season will not die out any time soon.  On the other hand, NU fans can enjoy bowl season without worrying about NU’s performance.  They can be football fans, not fans of a certain team.  They can enjoy the game for the game.  It is for this group that these articles have been for.  Optimism is needed at these times, and if the men’s basketball team can’t provide it, and the women’s team’s successes don’t register, maybe this bowl slate will bring a smile to your face, and if we’re really lucky, these articles will make you smile too.  Again, sign up for BowlMania if you haven’t.  That way, when you outperform me and Megan, you can discount everything we write next year.  Earn the cred of your fellow LTPers.

Let’s get into Part 2.  We promise these games are good.  No more South Alabama vs Bowling Greens.

T-19: TicketCity Cactus Bowl

    • Jan 2, 9:15 PM (ESPN)
    • Washington (8-5, 4-5 Pac 12) vs Oklahoma State (6-6, 4-5 Big 12)
    • BG Ranking: 19
    • MOB Ranking: 19
Notice that in all the pictures of T Boone Pickens, he's wearing a Cowboy Orange tie.
Notice that in all the pictures of T Boone Pickens, he’s wearing a Cowboy Orange tie.

BG: Welcome into part 2.  We start with Pac 12 vs Big 12 with a game that promises to have a bunch of points.  I love this game because of the conference battle.  The Big 12 as a conference doesn’t believe in defense, so you gotta believe Washington has the inside track here.

MOB: You’re right about that, Ben.  The Big 12 lacks defense all around and the Pac 12 is notorious for speed.  You have to expect a high scoring game out of this one.  I agree with you on Washington, but I expect them to win by a substantial margin.

BG: OK State sneaked into this game by picking up their sixth the last game of the season.  They might not deserve it, but they’re here, so I guess get used to it.  Cowboys vs Huskies is an interesting mascot matchup though.  The real question is when does T Boone Pickens become the mascot for Oklahoma State.  The amount of money he’s sunk into this program should result in a lot more than 6 wins.

T-19: Russell Athletic Bowl

    • Dec 29, 4:30 PM (ESPN)
    • Oklahoma (8-4, 5-4 Big 12) vs Clemson (9-3, 6-2 ACC)
    • BG Ranking: 18
    • MOB Ranking: 20
This is Samaje Perine.  He set the FBS single game rushing record this year.  He's a freshman.  He's good.
This is Samaje Perine. He set the FBS single game rushing record this year. He’s a freshman. He’s good.

MOB:  The Big 12 back at it again but this time facing off against the ACC.  I really like Clemson in this matchup.  They have had a fairly successful year thus far, and I’m looking to see them cap off the year as the Russell Athletic Bowl Champions.  But, Ben, can we talk about Russell Athletics for a second?  Now, I kinda feel bad for them.  Ever since Under Armour and Nike have been leading the market in athletic apparel, you look at a company like Russell and think “What’s that?!’  But now that I am thinking about it, maybe we, the consumers are the stupid ones.  We are the ones paying $60-70 for a workout shirt, to sweat in.  Maybe we should all start buying more reasonable workout apparel like Russell if in fact, we are just going to sweat in it.

BG: Homie gotta be fresh.  Adapt or die, you can’t look at me in the eye and say “Boy, those boring shirts are really fresh.”  Back to the game though.  This is the Disappointment Bowl if you ask me.  Both of these teams have eternally high expectations and eternally underperform.

MOB: You really think it’s going to be a disappointment?  I really don’t think so!  I think both team, yes have high expectations, but I don’t think they have necessarily underperformed.  Both the ACC and the Big 12 are strong conferences, and both have finished fairly well in conference.  I think it will be interesting to see the Big 12, again as we have been saying, develop defense, if thats possible, throughout each of their bowl games.

BG:  The game will be exciting, but you feel like neither team really wants to be here.  As much as I hate the Big 12, I hate the ACC even more.  Give me Oklahoma, who will be giving maybe 50% effort.

MOB: Go Tigers!

18: Foster Farms Bowl

    • Dec 30, 9 PM (ESPN)
    • Maryland (7-5, 4-4 B1G) vs Stanford (7-5, 5-4 Pac 12)
    • BG Ranking: 20
    • MOB Ranking: 17
    • Reasons to Watch
Seriously though, how dope are Under Armour uniforms?
Seriously though, how dope are Under Armour uniforms?

BG: We’re baaack.  The B1G gets back in the action with Maryland vs Stanford in another bowl game with another ridiculous sponsor.  I’m watching this game to see what Stanford will look like in 2015 when NU plays them.  May not be a lot of points, but a lot of intrigue

MOB: I like your thinking, Ben, planning for the future.  I am surprised to that Stanford did not have a better year.  I’ll take Stanford in this one only because I am extremely jealous of every B1G school that is in a bowl game. So jealous, in fact, that I am struggling rooting for them.

BG: Maryland is a team that is under respected because their new in their conference.  Stanford can’t score.  Stanford isn’t a real exciting team to watch, and they certainly don’t have Andrew Luck any more.  This is one of those games where the B1G isn’t favored, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they snagged this one, if for no other reason than that they need it.

MOB:  I like where you are coming from.  Maryland is not expected to win, and in this game, there is a lot of potential for them to win.  If you are looking to see the B1G shock some people flip this one on.  I’ll still take Stanford as my pick, Ben.

17: Duck Commander Independence Bowl

    • Dec 27, 2:30 PM (ABC)
    • Miami (6-6, 3-5 ACC) vs South Carolina (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
    • BG Ranking: 17
    • MOB Ranking: 16
Hand signs don't get no cooler than The U.
Hand signs don’t get no cooler than The U.

BG: WHEN I SAY MIAMI, YOU SAY U, MIAMI (U) MIAMI (U) NOW BREAK IT ON DOWN TO THE HURRICANE SOUND.  It’s been way too long since Miami has been that cool.  On the other side, it’s the Ol’ Ball Coach.  You talk about history, this matchup has it.

MOB: I just watched the Miami 30 for 30 the other day!  This bowl game has history written all over it. The Ol’ Ball Coach is a Florida native, and played for University of Florida, so I bet he was born to hate on the U.

BG:  It covers up the fact that both of these teams have been so disappointing that they playing in the freaking Duck Commander Bowl.  Ouch.  Miami is probably going to get railed in this one.

MOB:  I think one day, the U will rise again, but I don’t think that day has come yet.  I’ll take South Carolina.

BG:  So it’s not all about the U, you say it.

16: Birmingham Bowl

    • Jan 3, 12 PM (ESPN)
    • East Carolina (8-4, 5-3 American) vs Florida (6-5, 4-4 SEC)
    • BG Ranking: 14
    • MOB Ranking: 18
Shane Carden has thrown for over 4300 yards, but can he knock off the Gators?
Shane Carden has thrown for over 4300 yards, but can he knock off the Gators?

MOB: Talk about a game that is hard for a coach to hype guys up about.  If you’re East Carolina, you’re excited because you’re playing Florida, but for the Gators, “Hey guys, lets go to Birmingham, Alabama to take on East Carolina!”  Not too exciting.  I’m not saying East Carolina is particularly bad, just not much hype to them.  I think East Carolina hangs on in the first half and then Florida runs away with it.

BG: We’re on different pages.  I had this as a top 15 bowl, and I’m sticking to it.  ECU has the 5th ranked total offense, and they’re totally Texas Tech in the way they move the ball.  Plus I have a dream where Lincoln Riley becomes the OC at NU.  Florida laid an egg last year against Louisville, and I say it happens again.  Muschamp is out the door, Florida is going to be dealing with a superiority complex, and ECU will pile on points.  This will be a fun one.

MOB: Are we talking about the same ECU that lost to UCF and barely snuck by Virginia Tech?  I guess, you should all watch because this one could go either way.  Go Gators!

BG: 4408 passing yards this year for the Pirates.  They will move the ball, and Florida straight can’t score, plus a coaching change.  I promise, it’ll be interesting.

15: Belk Bowl

    • Dec 30, 5:30 PM (ESPN)
    • Georgia (9-3, 6-2 SEC) vs Louisville (9-3, 5-3 ACC)
    • BG Ranking: 15
    • MOB Ranking: 13
In Which We Answer What Belk Is
In Which We Answer What Belk Is

BG: Mark Richt.  He has a job.  I do not have a real job.  This seems unfair.  Seriously, how do you have THAT team and go 9-3.  They have so much talent, so much speed, and so much disappointment.  It’s no wonder Richt seems to be on the eternal hot seat.

MOB: Despite that win against Auburn, it was a highly underperformed season for Georgia.  Louisville, on the other hand, their first season in the ACC and they have played well. Ben, what exactly is Belk?

BG: I’m fairly certain it’s the Southern Living of department stores.  It’s a thing, I guess.  It’s an early evening game, which sets up just about perfectly for a game to order in a pizza, watch with the fam, and watch some talented teams play a competitive game.

MOB: I know that is what I will be doing.  I’m taking Louisville here

BG: SEC speed, SEC talent, plus Richt needs this one.  Georgia by double digits.  It ain’t Teddy’s Louisville.

14: Buffalo Wild WIngs Citrus Bowl

    • Jan 1, 12 PM (ABC)
    • Missouri (10-3, 7-1 SEC) vs Minnesota (8-4, 5-3 B1G)
    • BG Ranking: 16
    • MOB Ranking: 11
Mitch Leidner has some doubters to prove wrong.
Mitch Leidner has some doubters to prove wrong.

BG: Missouri found a way to get into the SEC Championship game, and were promptly wiped by Alabama.  Missouri wouldn’t finish in the top 5 in the SEC West, but won the SEC East.  Talk about a conference that needs divisional realignment.  Minnesota on the other hand was a workmanlike 8-4, not unlike the 9-3 season NU put together in 2012.  They won the games the should’ve (except Illinois, somehow), lost the ones they should’ve.  Can Minnesota compete with a team that will out-athlete them in every position?

MOB: We can’t forget the Missouri that lost to Indiana.  Yes, they will out-athlete Minnesota in every position, but I think what has made this Gopher team successful is their ability to outplay teams that seem better than them on paper, excluding Illinois.  I really like Jerry Kill and strongly dislike Missouri. Go Gophers all the way!  Watch this one to see the Gophers turn some heads.

BG: See, here’s the thing, right.  Minnesota isn’t that good.  The B1G isn’t that good.  But Jerry Kill is a good coach. I don’t think he’s this good a coach.  This would be a huge feather in the B1G’s cap, but it’s not happening.  I think this game will open people’s eyes to how weak this conference is if a Mitch Leidner team can go 8-4.

T-12: National University Holiday Bowl

    • Dec 27, 7 PM (ESPN)
    • Nebraska (9-3, 5-3 B1G) vs USC (8-4, 6-3 Pac-12)
    • BG Ranking: 11
    • MOB Ranking: 14
The curse of FauxPelini: is it real?
The curse of FauxPelini: is it real?

MOB: Bo Pelini is gone. How will this take a toll on the Cornhuskers?  I guess watch this game to see.  Nebraska is athletic however so is USC.  I like the Trojans in this one even if Pelini didn’t get the boot.  Ben, what are you thinking?

BG:  This game might be the most chock-full of story lines of any game, and any game from here on in is a great one.  Nebraska is nothing short of a disaster area.  Pelini shouldn’t have been fired, the players seem to agree with me, and now Pelini is taking shots at the athletic department from Youngstown.  I never thought Nebraska was that good a team this year and USC just has soooo much talent.  If Sarkisian can lock down a bowl win in his first year, it could bring some serious momentum to his program, which could be really scary for the rest of the country.

MOB: USC is a very attractive school for a college athlete, add a Sarkisian bowl game win in the first season, land some more 5-star recruits, this team will do some damage in the next few years.

BG:  Cardinal and Gold is going to make a comeback soon, folks.  Nebraska might get a front row view of it when they get scrubbed in primetime.  Have I mentioned that the B1G sucks recently?

T-12: Boca Raton Bowl

    • Dec 23, 5 PM (ESPN)
    • Marshal (12-1, 7-1 Conference USA) vs Northern Illinois (11-2, 7-1 MAC)
    • BG Ranking: 10
    • MOB Ranking: 15
Do you think NIU might be on a little bit of a hot streak?
Do you think NIU might be on a little bit of a hot streak?

BG: This should be ranked in the top 10.  I ranked it in the top 10.  You did not.  Explain yourself.

MOB: I don’t think I can put into words just how much I despise Northern Illinois.  I think they are overrated year after year.  I thought nothing in the world would make me more upset than when Northern Illinois got into the Orange Bowl two years back, but then I was proven wrong when they beat Northwestern at home this year.  The team makes me mad and all kinds of angry.  I don’t think they are very good and I am just all kinds of bitter towards them.  The matchup should be close so yeah, I mean I guess it has top 10 potential, but really, Conference USA vs. the MAC?  Wake me up after halftime, please.

BG: This is the mid-major national championship game.  Marshal was one game away from being undefeated.  They put up alarming offensive numbers.  NIU has been “The” mid-major team of recent years.  They found a way to get to double-digit wins even after losing Jordan Lynch.  This is a really good game, masked by being in Boca Raton.  It’s like those games when good Boise State teams played good TCU teams.  You’re disappointed that they don’t get to test themselves against power conference teams, but the matchup itself is intriguing.

MOB: I am disappointed by the fact that these teams don’t get to square off against power conference teams, you’re right.  You can’t convince me with NIU.  I do love Jordan Lynch, and I do love Jerry Kill, who recruited him, but I just think the team is not very good.  Marshal on the other hand, I will give it to them.  12-1 and lost to Western Kentucky by just 1 point.  I just I am just a power conference snob and I am not digging this one.  Marshal wins hands down.

BG: NIU is going to win this one almost just to vex you.

MOB:  Please, don’t do that to me.

11: Capital One Orange Bowl

    • Dec 31, 7 PM (ESPN)
    • Mississippi State (10-2, 6-2 SEC) vs Georgia Tech (10-3, 6-2 ACC)
    • BG Ranking: 12
    • MOB Ranking: 10
Is there a player who looks more like a football player than Dak Prescott?
Is there a player who looks more like a football player than Dak Prescott?

MOB:  It’s Mississippi State, and I don’t think anything makes me laugh more than hearing Lou Holtz say “Mississippi State” but that’s besides the point.  Georgia Tech has had a good season, except for that loss against North Carolina.  Mississippi State is the real deal. They have only lost to Alabama and Ole Miss.  I think they are a top 5 team talent wise and will run away with this one.

BG: Which is why this game might be closer than people expect.  More so than any other team, Mississippi State has to be disappointed with where they ended up.  Couple that disappointment with the grind of preparing for a triple-option for an entire month means that Mississippi State might be the Florida of this bowl season in that they underestimate a lesser team.  Dak Prescott might drag his team to victory any way.  He’s that good.

MOB: I just think it is unfair that Mississippi State doesn’t end up in the top 5, and Ole Miss for that matter.  I understand how it happened, but when three of the best teams are in the same conference in the same division, you can’t go by record.  If Mississippi State is sleeping on Georgia Tech they could get beat, but if they come out and play the way they have played all year, its an easy win.

BG: Triple option games are snooze fests, even if they’re close.  If Georgia Tech was a normal team, this would be a top 10 game, but they’re not, so it’s not.  Watch it for Prescott though.  Dude’s a tank.

10: Valero Alamo Bowl

    • Jan 2, 5:45 PM (ESPN)
    • Kansas State (9-3, 7-2 Big 12) vs UCLA (9-3, 6-3 Pac 12)
    • BG Ranking: 13
    • MOB Ranking: 8
Will Brett Hundley and his Bruins be laughing at the end of the Alamo Bowl?
Will Brett Hundley and his Bruins be laughing at the end of the Alamo Bowl?

BG:  WELCOME TO THE TOP 10.  Great venue.  Anyone who went to either of NU’s appearances in the Alamo Bowl would know this, but it’s worth saying just how much the entire city of San Antonio gets behind this game.  It’s also a great game.  Two teams that have playoff caliber talent that couldn’t get it done in the big games.  Offense galore in this one.

MOB: “Remember the Alamo…”  Well, there will be so much scoring that I am not sure you will remember every scoring play, but you will remember the game because it will be exciting.  I like UCLA in this one.

BG: Brett Hundley should be disappointed with his play this year.  People were hyping him as a dark horse Heisman kind of year, and it just never came together.  If the Pac 12 wants to make any claim to the crown of Best Conference, they need this one.  I think this is a complete toss up.  For BowlMania, this is like a confidence 2.  These teams are that even.

MOB: Yes, I agree both at even, but Ben, you mentioned before how you hate the Big 12… sooo… UCLA?

BG: Sure.  But I’m not putting money on it.

9: Autozone Liberty Bowl

    • Dec 29, 1 PM (ESPN)
    • Texas A&M (7-5, 3-5 SEC) vs West Virginia (7-5, 5-4 Big 12)
    • BG Ranking: 7
    • MOB Ranking: 12
Admit it, you miss him.
Admit it, you miss him.

MOB: A HIGHLY disappointing year for Texas A&M after they started the season with such hype of Kenny Hill, the season just wasn’t there this year.  However, the matchup in itself is what lands this one in the top 10.  Can the Almighty SEC take down another Big 12 team?  West Virginia hasn’t been good, but they have held their own.  I mean, they lost to TCU by just 1 and while A&M was shutout by Alabama, West Virgina fell by only 10.

BG: Points.  This game is in our top 10 because of points.  West Virginia is the 11th ranked offense.  A&M is 31, but remember they play SEC West defenses every single week.  Looking at A&M’s admittedly weak non-con schedule and they average 47.5 points a game.  West Virginia puts up 40 easy.  This might be a game where the first team to 50 wins.  If you like defense, look away.  If you like shootouts, this one is for you.

MOB: I’ve got West Virginia in this one.  Who ya taking?

BG: Mountaineers.  A&M is so young and the future is bright, but they have too many freshmen on that defense to win a bowl game.  I guess Aggie fans can watch Johnny Manziel tear up the NFL–oh wait…

8: Hyundai Sun Bowl

    • Dec 27, 1 PM (CBS)
    • Arizona State (9-3, 6-3 Pac 12) vs Duke (9-3, 5-3 ACC)
    • BG Ranking: 8
    • MOB Ranking: 9
Mike Bercovici splits time at QB, but when he plays, he piles up yardage, like the 488 yard explosion against UCLA.
Mike Bercovici splits time at QB, but when he plays, he piles up yardage, like the 488 yard explosion against UCLA.

BG: Another bowl game that NU has experience with.  Can’t say I’ve heard of another game with two onside kick return touchdowns other than NU vs UCLA.  No way there’s another game where THE SAME FREAKING GUY TOOK 2 ONSIDE KICKS BACK FOR TOUCHDOWNS.  But enough of my meltdown.  Arizona State chucks the ball around the yard.  Duke is on NU’s schedule next year.  For NU purposes and general college football purposes, this game should be on your TV.

MOB: CBS broadcast too.  I am always in the mood to listen to Verne Lundquist, and he should be on call for this one. I like that Duke is good at football now.  Watch this one not only for Northwestern’s sake, but so come March, when Duke is knocked out of the tournament early again, we can laugh about how their football team outdid the basketball team once again.

BG: I don’t think Jahlil Okafor is letting that happen again.  Duke is good, and they will definitely be favored when NU heads into Raleigh next year, but for this one, they’re looking up at a much more talented offense.  This team was 7 points away from playing in the Pac-12 Championship, but Rich Rod and Arizona just edged them out.  This is going to be a hungry Sun Devil team looking to grab win number 10.  Edge Pac 12.  Again.

MOB: Yeah, I know, Arizona State is a better team, but I think Duke is ready for the upset, and I’m taking them regardless!  Go Blue Devils!

7: Outback Bowl

    • Jan 1, 11 AM (ESPN 2)
    • Auburn (8-4, 4-4 SEC) vs Wisconsin (10-3, 7-1 B1G)
    • BG Ranking: 9
    • MOB Ranking: 5
Melvin Gordon and his dreads will be trying to recoup draft stock he lost in the B1G Championship.
Melvin Gordon and his dreads will be trying to recoup draft stock he lost in the B1G Championship.

MOB:  Like Ben has been saying all along, the B1G isn’t that good.  Is Wisconsin good?  They were shutout in their last game against Ohio State, Northwestern beat them (that was fun), their other loss was to LSU and that was a pretty good game so I’ll give it to them.  I just think the SEC is too much for the B1G, especially this Wisconsin team to handle.  If Melvin is on point, the Badgers have a chance to win, but if he’s not, forget it!

BG: Wisconsin is in a weird place.  First they get embarrassed in such an INCREDIBLE fashion that Ohio State hops TCU and Baylor to find their way into the College Football Playoff.  They gave up nigh 60 points to a 3rd string QB.  Then, their coach leaves to go to Oregon State of all places.  Their new coach was a good hire (his press conference was awesome) and they’ll have Barry Alvarez as their coach, but boy is Auburn talented and boy does Wisconsin have a lot to overcome in a very, very short time.

MOB: Totally agree with you on Alvarez.  If you like mysteries and college football for that matter this game better be on, because who really knows what is going to happen with Wisconsin.  I’ll take Auburn.

BG: Before we wrap this one, we’d be doing a disservice if we overlooked the tragedy that was the shooting death of Jakell Mitchell, the redshirting freshman tight end.  Auburn is going to be playing with heavy hearts and a lot of emotion.  Somehow, Melvin Gordon playing for a lottery draft pick pales in comparison.  One of those games where the game itself isn’t important.

6: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

    • Dec 30, 2 PM (ESPN)
    • Notre Dame (7-5 Independent/ACC Kinda) vs LSU (8-4, 4-4 SEC)
    • BG Ranking: 6
    • MOB Ranking: 7
Jamarcus Russell went for 360 total yards and 3 total TDs last time LSU and ND met in a bowl game.  Will we see something similar?
Jamarcus Russell went for 360 total yards and 3 total TDs last time LSU and ND met in a bowl game. Will we see something similar?

BG: I’m going to be straight here: this game itself is not a top 10 game.  It may not be a top 15 game.  But we both have it in the top 10, for what I assume are VERY different reasons.  I’m pumped to see Notre Dame just get wrecked.  Remember when Jamarcus Russell became a top pick by lighting up Notre Dame?  Something like that will happen this year.  Notre Dame is a train wreck.  Sure LSU can’t score, but if you set the over-under for Everett Golson turnovers at 5.5, I might still take the over.  This is going to be a bloodbath.  But you’re a recovering Irish fan, so your top 6 ranking must be for a different reason.

MOB: I do agree with you.  Notre Dame is a train wreck at the moment, but they play the game for a reason, and Notre Dame could end up on top… stranger things have happened.  Anyways, I like this game because it brings a lot of excitement to the table.  Notre Dame has a large fan base that travels well and LSU is similar in that respect.  I know there’s a 100 percent chance there is A LOT of yelling in the O’Brien household whether it be good yelling or bad yelling, and I can play both side, either as Notre Dame fan, or agitating my sister by reminding her of the time Northwestern beat Notre Dame.  It’s gonna be loads of fun!

BG: After Notre Dame lost to FSU, they’ve given up an average of 43.4 points a game.  Remember, that’s against Navy, Northwestern, Louisville, and USC.  LSU’s offense is as stagnant as stagnant gets, but it’s hard to imagine them scoring less than 30.  Remember when Irish fans were complaining about not being in the top 4?  I do.  I make it a point to remind them of it.  Hey Megan, remember when Irish fans were complaining about not being in the top 4?

MOB:  I come from a family of Irish fans, and I am (sometimes) an Irish fan, but let me ask you this, when was the last time Irish fans weren’t complaining about something?  Sorry, Dad!

T-4: Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

    • Jan 1, 11:30 AM (ESPN)
    • Michigan State (10-2, 7-1 B1G) vs Baylor (11-1, 8-1 Big 12)
    • BG Ranking: 3
    • MOB Ranking: 6
Bryce Petty's stat line is out of a video game.  But can he lead the Bears past the Spartans?
Bryce Petty’s stat line is out of a video game. But can he lead the Bears past the Spartans?

BG: So I actually had this game ranked 3.  You had it ranked 6.

MOB:  There’s a lot of excitement at the top.  I had to put the TCU game up top because one week they are ranked third, they do everything right the next week and suddenly drop to 6th.  I agree with the decision, but I feel for the Horned Frogs.  I digress, I think this is a great game, I just prioritized other games over it.

BG: There are games that are highly ranked because of pomp, of storylines, of hype.  This game could be played at 8 in the morning in a high school stadium in Montana, and this game wouldn’t be any worse.  This a pure football fan’s kind of game.  Baylor’s offense might be the defining offense of this era of college football.  Michigan State’s defense is about as good as it gets outside the SEC.  Connor Cook just gave up being a locked-up 1st round draft pick to come play another year at MSU.  This game is going to be an epic.

MOB: Pure football, Pure Michigan. Ha, I am sorry, I could not resist. I don’t think it will be purely anyones game, which is exactly why you should watch.  I like Baylor to win this one, but I’m just excited to see this one come down to the wire.

BG: Bryce Petty gets stats, but is he a system QB benefitting by playing terrible defenses? Can MSU shut down a team that doesn’t play in the B1G?  It’s strength on strength.  I wanna say MSU.  I really do.  You know what, I’ll take them.  I think they can circle the wagons and reenergize for this one, even if their preseason goal of College Football Playoff were dashed by Ohio State, which brings us to…

T-4: Allstate Sugar Bowl

    • Jan 1, 7:30 PM (ESPN)
    • Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC) vs Ohio State (12-1, 8-0 B1G)
    • BG Ranking: 5
    • MOB Ranking: 4
Two coaching giants square off in the CFP semifinal.
Two coaching giants square off in the CFP semifinal.

MOB: Can Ohio State compete with Alabama? Their 3rd string quarterback was on against Wisconsin and the team itself is deep, but it’s Alabama we are talking about here, not a B1G team.  I don’t know who I dislike more, Saban or Meyer, but I am interested to see how close Ohio State can get.

BG: Plotlines on plot lines, plus any excuse to link this video (  This game is pure hype.  Urban Meyer, the guy who started SEC dominance, versus the guy who’s taken it to Bear Bryant levels.  A team that has dealt with not one, but two Heisman quarterbacks going down in 1 season.  A team that has defined college football for the last half decade.  A coach who’s looking to be the second coach to win National Championships at multiple schools.  A coach who’s already done it.  Saban.  Meyer.  OSU.  Bama.  Get. Your. Popcorn. Ready.

MOB: As jealous of I am of other B1G schools, I have to take Ohio State because of the way they have come back after two quarterbacks going down.

BG: I highly encourage NU and for that matter B1G fans to recalculate how they look at Ohio State.  This is a team I straight hated 5 years ago.  But let’s look at them.  They’ve gone through so much adversity this year and they are putting the entire conference on their backs.  They’re fun to watch.  They score.  They’re just good.  The more I look at this game, the more I see Ohio State being able to win.  I’ll pick Alabama because it’s the safe pick, but OSU can do some things.  Cardale Jones might not have come to OSU to play school, but he can throw a deep ball that JT Barrett couldn’t, and it’s opened up OSU’s offense.

3: Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

    • Dec 31, 11:30 AM (ESPN)
    • Ole Miss (9-3, 5-3 SEC) vs TCU (11-1, 8-1 Big 12)
    • BG Ranking: 4
    • MOB Ranking: 3
Colonel Reb has gone the way of Chief Illiniwek, but something tells me he'll always be in Ole Miss fans' hearts.
Colonel Reb has gone the way of Chief Illiniwek, but something tells me he’ll always be in Ole Miss fans’ hearts.

BG: Let’s pour some out for TCU.  They’re ranked 3, they win by more than 50, they get bounced out of the playoff the next week.  Hey Big 12, there’s a reason why conferences got to 12 teams.  It’s to have a championship game so stuff like this doesn’t happen to you.

MOB: I feel for TCU though.  I don’t think the wrong decision was made, but it is a tough pill to swallow going from 3rd to 6th without messing up even a little bit.  Throw TCU a bone for the way they handled it though.  Art Briles let the world know how he felt when Baylor was moved, but TCU handled it with class.  I think this game is surrounded with hype because its two teams that most definitely could play in the playoff.  I like Ole Miss in this one.

BG:  The playoff committee, but mostly ESPN in their search for ratings, made a mistake by announcing “Who’s In” every Tuesday.  If they handled the playoff the way basketball handles the Big Dance and only announced the field when the season was over, TCU fans wouldn’t be whining the way they are right now.  Ole Miss on the other hand has some SMU in them.  Out of nowhere, their recruiting goes gangbusters and they become a national power.  I don’t want to accuse Ole Miss of cheating, but the sudden rise is enough to raise some eyebrows.  Nobody scores on Ole Miss as they bring in the #1 scoring defense in the country.  TCU hasn’t played anyone with this much defensive talent, and it will show.  Gimme the Rebs.  Is singing “Dixie” appropriate?

MOB: Sing away, Ben!  The Rebs are taking this one!

2: Rose Bowl Game Presented By Northwestern Mutual (CFP Playoff Semifinal)

    • Jan 1, 4 PM (ESPN)
    • Oregon (12-1, 8-1 Pac 12) vs Florida State (13-0, 8-0 ACC)
    • BG Ranking: 2
    • MOB Ranking: 2
It's the Granddaddy of them all.
It’s the Granddaddy of them all.

MOB: Florida State has the chance to make it a full two seasons without losing once.  I know, I know, they haven’t looked the greatest on the field, but when you’re the defending national champion and come out the next year and go 13-0 that is saying something.  What I like about Florida State is how they compete.  Florida State hasn’t played anyone that good, but they have done what they needed to do (barely) to win, and at the end of the day, a win is a win.  I think the team is going to have to make a big jump in performance to beat a team like Oregon.  I am excited to see if the Seminoles will rise to the challenge.

BG:  No doubt.  This ain’t Boston College.  I’ve been saying all year that Oregon was going to choke, and they just didn’t.  By now everyone knows that Oregon puts up points.  By now everyone knows Famous Jameis.  There won’t be a better QB battle this year.  There may not be a better QB battle the next 10 years.  Todd McShay had Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston going 1-2 in the NFL Draft.  It’ll be a show.  FSU will be the underdog, and deservingly so.  But if there’s one thing that nearly losing every game you play gets you, it’s experience.  No matter how fast Oregon starts, FSU will know that they can come back because they’ve done it all year.

MOB: I’m taking the Noles!  I am expecting a come back and a landslide victory per usual.  This team knows how to win, and they will defy the odds and do what they do best: Win.

BG: It ain’t happening.  Mariota is going to show everyone why he’s getting drafted 1, and Oregon is going to let everyone know they’re a lot more than just sweet jerseys.

1: College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T

    • Jan 12, TBD (ESPN)
    • TBD vs TBD
    • BG Ranking: 1
    • MOB Ranking: 1
It all comes down to this.
It all comes down to this.

BG:  38 down, just 1 to go, and y’all already knew what #1 was going to be.  We don’t know who’s playing.  We don’t even know what time they’re playing.  We don’t care.  It’s the freakin championship.  Is it played way too late into January?  Yeah.  Could FSU vs Alabama be the worst championship since Bama vs LSU?  Absolutely.  But it’s the first time a college team will play 15 games in a season, and did I mention IT’S THE FREAKIN CHAMPIONSHIP?  I don’t even gotta tell you to put it on.

MOB: Put it on right now!  Cancel all plans for the day to prepare yourself because this is big.  Ben, predictions on who’s in this one?

BG: Oregon vs Alabama is the safe pick.  FSU vs Bama is the “Championship Pedigree” pick.  Oregon vs Ohio State is the “I Still Wish the Rose Bowl Decided the National Championship And Was Pac 10 vs Big 10” pick.  FSU vs Ohio State is the “I Put A Cheeky $5 Bet On This To Get A $500 Payoff” Pick.  I’m taking the safe pick.  And, as much as it pains me, Alabama and Nick Saban know how to scheme for weird offenses.  Sure they got lit up by Auburn, but give Saban 11 games to get a gameplan together, and he’s gonna lock it down.  The Evil Empire wins again.  I need a drink.

MOB: No, Ben!  Don’t settle for safety!  Take a risk.  The Evil Empire will not win. Ok, maybe it will, but I like to take a risk with picks because cheering for the unexpected is fun!  I’m thinking Ohio State vs. Florida State.  Laugh away everyone, I know it won’t happen, but I am picking it anyways.  Florida State wins in their typical comeback with a sprinkle of luck matter and are two-time national champions.  Go Noles!

BG: And Jameis has his apotheosis and ascends into college football heaven, flanked by crab legs, and Bobby Bowden’s cheering echoes across the void while Miami fans watch on as one, lonely tear falls down their cheeks.  Fund it.

MOB:  And when it is all over, ESPN can make a 30 for 30 out of it.  But for now, all the fun lies ahead!  Ben, always a pleasure!  Happy Bowl Season everyone!

BG: What if I told you a story could be too good to be untrue?  ESPN’s 30 for 30 Presents: January Madness: The Story of the College Football Playoff.  Hey, if they can make Straight Outta LA a 30 for 30, this one shouldn’t even be a stretch.  Until next time, Megan.  Sign up for BowlMania people.  Then you can all laugh at me when I come in last.  Or, you know, win and earn cred.


  • Shane Falco

    USC colors are cardinal and gold, not crimson and gold

  • JimB7368

    Without NU in a bowl and the future looking like a low tier bowl being the only realistic possibility, it is hard to be excited for bowl season. Every big 10 team is an underdog!! We have made no changes, none, to our staff to give us a reason to believe next year will not be like the last 2. NU has become more and more about the money, so I will vote with my money. I’m not buying a parking pass next year. I’m not going to renew my season tickets after what would have been 20 years. I still follow them but I will not go through what we went thru the last 2 years again without some reason to believe things will be different. I was at the Gator Bowl and up til that time the direction of the program was pointed up. Since then it has been pointed down. Something has to change and I don’t think they recognize the need for change so I will change my actions and see if that works.
    If they got the reaction your bowl mania has gotten it would get their attention and they would make changes.

    • lakingltp

      I still believe Morty wants a winner.

      Unfortunately, it looks like next season is a give them enough rope and see if they hang themselves again year.

      So, like you, I will follow on TV, but will not be invested in going until changes are made.

      • DT

        Maybe if Morty leaves milk out and The Good Doctor Phillips bakes cookies, Santa will bring them a winner for being so nice the last year? Maybe, the Jolly Saint Nick has not heard of the Wildcat Fund and heaven help him if he tries to land his sleigh on the West Lot..

        • lakingltp

          So that’s one vote in the Morty doesn’t care either column I guess.

          His time at Williams and some of his comments have me hoping otherwise, but you may be right.

          Btw, Santa is just like alot of folks, he is not contributing to the Wildcat Fund until changes are made.

          • DT

            Truth be known, I’m not that person.. I think Morty cares.. Just is not committed to do what is necessary to keep NU competitive as FBS football is evolving in 2015… Like many associated with the program, once every 4-5 years is “enough” to keep things relevant in the minds of the admin and trustees he represents.. Just not enough for fans and boosters, and certainly not enough to attract new, non alumni fans at any critical mass..
            Finally, I’ll break ranks with Santa, having made a Wildcat Fund contribution this year.. The fact it was demanded still does not sit well.. Not what this program was built on, nor will it grow with that heavy handed approach.. I’d still advise Santa to be careful on that West Lot..

    • Chasmo

      Why did you renew your season tickets for the 2003 season after NU went 4-7 (2-6 in Big Ten) in 2001 and 3-9 (1-7 Big Ten) in 2002? Those results were worse than they were in 2013-14 but the conditions under which Walker and Fitz operated remained the same — same facilities, same stadium, same recruiting restrictions, same small fan base, etc. Before NU went into the ditch in 2001-02, it had just won its third Big Ten title in six years. Yet you renewed your season tickets for 2003 despite those two bad years. What is so different about the last two years that would make you walk away from a 20-year Cat commitment?
      Could it be it that Fitz is a victim of his own success in that because he has done so much better than Walker that you expect more from Fitz (for some reason) than you did of Walker?

      • PBRCat

        Walker did not take in wild publicity campaigns that exaggerated the quality of the football program. A significant factor in the disappointment of the Fitzgerald era is tied to the relentless hyping of the football team as being better than what the W/L column has shown.

  • PBRCat

    Interestingly, for all of the positive press and recognition that Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern football program, received following the 2013 bowl win, the Gator Bowl was ranked #28 out of all of the college bowl games. While this may be a reflection of the current 2015 match up, it seems as if this particular bowl is not currently considered even a middle tier bowl. It makes me wonder if we were overly euphoric about winning the 2013 bowl game.

    • lakingltp

      Yes. The stadium was half full at best, more empty on our side and they were giving tickets away. But the weather was nice and a win is a win even against what was then a mediocre SEC team

    • Ben Goren

      TaxSlayer Bowl came in at #22 on our list, which was in Part 1.

      • Steve

        The key detail being that they upped the bowl payout by dropping the Gator Bowl name.

      • PBRCat

        Missed out on that post after being out of circulation for several days.

  • DT

    MOB- Wow, talk about some sour grapes, eh? After reading your scathing commentary about NIU, C-USA, The MAC et al, allow me to agree that you are indeed a power conference snob or more fittingly, an ego maniac with an inferiority complex..
    All the best in your efforts to wake up after halftime of The Boca Bowl.. Clearly, you are asleep during a ton of quality FBS Football given your ridiculous rhetoric or are you and Goren trying to do a kinda Jane Curtain-Chevy Chase thing? Either way, a lump of coal in your stocking young lady..

    • DT

      In the interest of accuracy, Jane CURTIN and Dan Aykroyd..
      My bad..

    • Johnny Utah

      Lighten up. These are two students having some fun in an otherwise dreary time period where there is no NU football news to speak of. Yes, they probably have missed a ton of good FBS games; they’ve been busy with classes, mid-terms, finals,
      Where’s your commentary on the 39 bowl games and your picks so we can ridicule your opinions?
      A ton of coal In your stocking, sir.

      • DT

        Not dreary at all, Utah.. Plenty of great college football to be had including ISU in the FCS Semi’s- tomorrow, the before mentioned Huskies at Boca and many others over the next few weeks.. Cry in your beer or defend the “Students” sour grapes, but football rolls on without NU.. I might remind you good sir, a comments section exists to offer rebuttal and different perspective.. But who cares about that, right, Johnny?
        Two tons of coal in your stocking, Utah..

        • Johnny Utah

          “power conference snob”
          “ego maniac with an inferiority complex”
          “you are asleep”
          “your ridiculous rhetoric”
          “young lady”
          These are your idea of rebuttal and different perspective?
          You just don’t get it.

          • DT

            And you are just the guy to point it out, eh, Utah? I get it..
            A few points to think about O’ Defender of Student Bloggers..
            I agreed with MOB in saying she was a Power Conference Snob.. Her words…
            In that she claims to be sleeping through the first half of the Boca Raton Bowl, that she is critiquing on this blog no less, more than appropriate in my mind to suggest she might indeed be sleeping through other FBS games, given her seeming dismal of all things not power conference..
            Young lady? What’s wrong with that? Seems appropriate… If she is above 50, maybe I’ll offer an apology, whereupon that being the case the woman might thank me! Maybe, when you stop getting carded at bars or stopped at the Velvet Rope, you will understand..
            Net/net, read what the woman said, good sir..
            Three ton’s of coal in your stocking, Johnny U!

          • Ben Goren

            Come on guys, let’s just simmer down a little bit.

          • Steve


          • Johnny Utah

            I know your father, casually. Will you be at the WMU game tomorrow? I’d like to meet you.

          • Ben Goren

            I try to keep personal stuff off the blog, but yes, I believe I’ll be running LTP’s twitter feed at the minimum tomorrow.