New Year’s Eve has come and gone, mistakes have been made, resolutions have been made and broken, but no matter, it’s time for more football.
Well, we’ve already covered all of the bowl games being played before New Year’s Day, so now that all those unimportant games over, it’s time for the big games.
Here’s the rest:
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Northwestern
January 1, noon ET (ESPN)
Noon on New Year’s Day? That’s Rose Parade time.
Big Ten teams are underdogs in every bowl matchup for a reason.
Mascot Factor: Bulldogs seem tougher than a purple wildcat that lives in an affluent neighborhood of Chicago. Just my thinking.
Pick: Hail State.
Heart of Dallas Bowl presented by Plains Capital Bank: Purdue vs. Oklahoma State
January 1, noon ET (ESPN)
See, Big Ten underdog-ness.
Oklahoma State can score in bunches and I don’t see Purdue stopping them in any way whatsoever.
Mascot Factor: You know who robs trains? Cowboys.
Pick: Cowboys BIG.
Capital One Bowl: Georgia vs. Nebraska
January 1, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Georgia was some better clock management away from the BCS National Championship Game. Nebraska gave up 540 rushing yards against Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game. You read that right. Just think that, but with Georgia’s much better offense and dominant defense. Think back to the 2010 Capitol One Bowl and Alabama's 49-0 win over Michigan State.
Can we quit pairing Big Ten and SEC schools? It’s starting to seem unfair.
Also, Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, David Pollack and Samantha Steele are on the call for ESPN, the most underrated announcing team in college football.
Mascot Factor: What is a Cornhusker anyway? I feel like bulldogs can bite a Cornhusker, so edge to the Dawg.
Pick: Dawgs. Big.
Outback Bowl: Michigan vs. South Carolina
January 1, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Denard’s last game, though he rarely plays now.
The Ole Ball Coach will cook up something fun and Jadaveon Clowney’s Heisman campaign begins...now.
Mascot Factor: An angry, mean-looking chicken is a lot scarier than an animal that no one has actually seen.
Rose Bowl presented by Vizio: Stanford vs. Wisconsin
January 1, 5 p.m. ET (ESPN)
“The Grandaddy of Them All” is always exciting, and it will be nice to have a Pac-12 team in it for a second year in a row. (I’m looking at you, TCU).
Stanford goes into Pasadena as Pac-12 champs, playing with a newly discovered studly quarterback against a 7-5 head coach-less Wisconsin team. You do not want to play Stanford right now and Wisconsin will prove why.
Mascot Factor: Okay, what actually is Stanford’s mascot? They have a googly-eyed dancing tree that looks like the hippies in the “band” pieced it together when they got high and found some green felt, yet they’re officially called the Stanford Cardinal. Not Cardinals, the bird, Cardinal, like USC’s primary color. I guess a tree/color is good? Was the Stanford Fightin’ Nerds, or Stanford “We go pro in something other than sports” not catchy enough?
Discover Orange Bowl: Florida State vs. Northern Illinois
January 1, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Can you hear that? Listen closely. Closer. If you really listen, you can hear the sound of Kirk Herbstreit bitching about Northern Illinois.
The only problem with Kirk’s whining is that Northern Illinois qualified for this game under the current BCS rules. We’ll call it the “Boise State Clause.” NIU has a great quarterback in Jordan Lynch and had an outstanding season. No matter their resume, no matter the opinion of ESPN-ers, these are the rules, and nothing can be done about it.
Florida State is nearing Virginia Tech in terms of being constantly overrated and, with yet another Top Five recruiting class, is ranked No. 12 and shouldn’t be in a BCS game. And don’t tell me they got through the “gauntlet of the ACC.”
So this game really shows the “sad state of college football,” Kirk? NIU doesn’t belong but Wisconsin and Louisville do? The playoff is coming in a year and the rules are changing, so quit whining and go highlight your hair or something.
Pick: NIU. Shock the world.
Allstate Sugar Bowl: Louisville vs. Florida
January 2, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Will Muschamp will blow a gasket while leading 35-9. Mark my words.
There will be blood.
Mascot Factor: An alligator versus a cardinal (the bird this time, not the color, stupid Stanford). Do I really have to explain this?
Fiesta Bowl: Oregon vs. Kansas State
January 3, 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
This may be the last time we see Chip Kelly on a college sideline for a while. The Oregon coach has been linked to the NFL for two years now and many believe he would have left last year if the proper personnel were in place at Oregon to take over for him.
After this game Kelly will trade in his neon yellow, or whatever color Oregon’s uniforms are that particular day, for a visor from the Bills, Chargers, Eagles, Cowboys, Titans, Jets...hell, anywhere that’s hiring.
This will also be Collin Klein’s final collegiate game. He’ll be on the punt protection team for the Jaguars next year, (That’s a Tebow joke), blocking for Bryan Anger. #PuntersArePeopleToo.
Also, this could possibly be the best non-BCS title game bowl matchup of the year.
Mascot Factor: Here we are, back to purple wildcats again, but this time it’s against ducks. Ducks can fly, the edge goes to anything that can fly.
Pick: Speed kills. Quack.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma
January 4, 8:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Johnny Football vs. Bobby “Big Game” Stoops! While Texas A&M have lost their innovative, ingenious offensive coordinator, and my personal style idol, Kliff Kingsbury, to Texas Tech, Johnny Manziel is still Johnny Manziel. No amount of Bob Stoops-ness can stop the Heisman trophy winner.
Mascot Factor: A game of uncertain mascots! Are they both human mascots? What is an Aggie really? For that matter, what is a Sooner? All I know is that A&M’s Lassie-esque collie mascot Reveille is adorable and she should win no matter what.
Pick: Gig ‘em. A&M.
BBVA Compass Bowl: Pitt vs. Ole Miss
January 5, 1 p.m. ET (ESPN)
This will be Pitt’s third consecutive year playing in this bowl game. It’s being played in Birmingham's Legion Field for the third consecutive year.
Much time has passed since Bear Bryant used to beat Auburn there all those years ago. Much time has passed since they played the Iron Bowl there every year. Legion Field is a shell of what it once was.
No one wants to go to Legion Field. People who live next to Legion Field board up that window in their house to refrain from looking at it. They’ve closed down the upper deck due to safety hazards. The inside of it looks like a rusted, sunken battleship that deep-sea divers are examining to see where they went wrong.
But hey, you can still get 2,000 unfortunate Ole Miss fans to pay some dude $50 to park in his front yard in the worst possible part of Birmingham. Basically, if your car still has rims and the GPS system you mistakenly left on the dashboard when you leave the game, it was a successful outing.
They even moved Alabama’s high school state football championship out of Legion Field and down to Auburn. When 16-year-olds refuse to play in your stadium, you have a problem.
Also, I grew up in Birmingham, so saying this stuff is okay, right?
Mascot Factor: Panthers are ferocious, and I’m not sure if Ole Miss is still the Rebels. They have a “Rebel Black Bear” on the sidelines. And if I know anything about bears, it’s that rebellious black bears are the most ferocious.
Pick: Hoddy Toddy. Ole Miss. Quick, win and get the hell out of there. At least the teams get to stay at the Wynfrey.
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Kent State vs. Arkansas State
January 6, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
This game sounds like a December 23 kind of game. Can we call this the “Coach-less Bowl?”
Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn has come back to coach Auburn and Darrell Hazell has left for Purdue. So interim coaches will have free reign and we better see some fake field goals, surprise onside kicks and flea-flickers. I demand flea-flickers.
Seriously, what do they have to lose?
Mascot Factor: Kent State Golden Flashes. Explain this to me.
Pick: Arkansas State.
The In N’ Out Burger Bowl of Los Angeles presented by Lexus: Louisiana Tech vs. Ohio State
January 6, 8 p.m. ET (Blacked out in your area)
Okay, to be honest, I made this game up. This isn’t a real bowl game, but it should be.
Ohio State went 12-0 this season but self-imposed a bowl ban last season (great decision, guys). Urban Meyer’s first year in Columbus was perfect and in a horribly down year for the Big Ten, this hypothetical bowl matchup would do wonders for the conference's morale.
Louisiana Tech isn’t banned from a bowl game. They went 9-3 and had the nation’s highest scoring offense. The reason they aren’t playing in a bowl game is that when they were offered the Independence Bowl, the athletic department of LA Tech told the Independence Bowl committee that they needed more time to fully vet their other postseason options.
The Independence Bowl wanted an immediate decision and chose Ohio University to take Tech’s place while LA Tech was waiting to receive offers from the Liberty Bowl and the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Those offers never came. This was a comedy of errors in which the athletic department of Louisiana Tech screwed a nine-win team out of playing in a bowl game. 6-7 Georgia Tech is in a bowl game.
Ohio State’s 2013 Heisman candidate quarterback Braxton Miller along with Urban Meyer’s elite coaching would be a fantastic matchup for a fiery offense like Louisiana Tech, even without their head coach Sonny Dykes, who left for Cal.
So let’s get the teams together today, give ‘em a week to prepare, go to Los Angeles or a warm place where the city’s NFL team is out of playoff contention and play ball. We have exhibition, or “friendlies,” in high-profile professional soccer, why can’t we have that in college football? Give two senior classes the perks of having a great season and reward them for it instead of punishing them for a prior class’ transgressions or the ineptitude of athletic departments and bowl committees.
Mascot Factor: The Ohio State University’s Buckeyes are a seedpod from the state tree of Ohio, the buckeye tree. They’re also delicious peanut butter and chocolate treats. Louisiana Tech has the most common mascot in college football, the Bulldog. I’m sick of bulldogs, go, you mighty seedpods.
Pick: Ohio State. Big. Winner gets In N’ Out burgers.
Discover BCS National Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama
January 7, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
This game has the makings of a 1957 grudge match. Alabama is 1-5 all-time against Notre Dame. Alabama could reach full dynasty status with a win. Back-to-back Alabama national titles and three championships in four years will start getting annoying to people in the rest of the country.
It will be interesting to see how many people who normally despise Notre Dame actually cheer for them to prevent 'Bama’s continued stranglehold of college football, let alone the SEC’s seventh straight national championship. Just be glad it isn’t Alabama vs. Florida, SEC haters.
Alabama is right where they should be and Notre Dame is where no one but Lou Holtz thought they’d be. Alabama played a legitimately weaker SEC schedule than normal, avoiding South Carolina and Florida, but did what they had to do. Notre Dame won every game by either a miracle, a blown call (Stanford game) or a sheer will, but hey, a win’s a win.
Alabama fans say that Notre Dame hasn’t faced a team as physically strong or fast this season. Notre Dame fans say that they always find a way to win and have the players to do so against Alabama. Both of these statements are true.
Both fanbases are insanely passionate and well-traveled. Both schools have the highest of college football pedigree and tradition. Both have at least a dozen or so “claimed” national titles. Notre Dame has a superiority complex, Alabama has one too. Alabama has a theme song performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Notre Dame needs to work on that. Both claim that the media “hates their team” and loves the other one.
Mascot Factor: Both have silly mascots.
Pick: Alabama. Closer than people think.
This game was by far the toughest of any bowl game to call. Notre Dame reminds me of Jim Tressel’s 2001-2002 championship-winning Ohio State team that won seven games by seven points or less and eventually beat the heavily favored defending champion Miami Hurricanes. Alabama just has every ingredient of a championship team, and this team isn’t even close to being as good as their team last year. If Notre Dame wins, I won’t be shocked, but I can’t see them being able to stop 'Bama’s brutal run game and lightning fast defense.