Good morning, Dawg fans! I hope everyone had a great Christmas Day yesterday filled with good cheer and family. (No, those two things aren't mutually exclusive. Well, ok, sometimes they are. So let's talk about football instead!)
Spears and Macondawg have taken us through the early slate of games thus far in bowl season, and Macondawg will be back again on Tuesday to review the first portion of the New Year's Day bowl slate that lies in wait for us. Today, however, I'll be reviewing the remaining game on December 30 that we haven't covered and the bowls that we'll be watching on New Year's Eve. Read our takes on the games and let us know if we're right or if you think we're full of it, but either way... Don't Bet On It!
(All times listed are Eastern time)
Foster Farms Bowl - Dec. 30, Santa Clara, CA, 10:00 PM (ESPN)
Ah, the grand old
San Francisco Diamond Walnut Emerald Kraft Fight Hunger Foster Farms Bowl, now boasting more than 10 years of storied tradition! At least they decided to move it this year from San Francisco's baseball stadium to an actual, you know, stadium designed to host football games. (At the baseball stadium, the margins were so narrow that both teams had to stand on the same side of the field.) And in spite of my snarking about the bowl's history, at least the ACC is getting a chance to play a Pac-12 team, which is something no SEC team will be able to do with the current bowl tie-ins (unless they meet in a playoff game).
Oh, wait... what's that, you say? The Big Ten? No, Stanford's not in the Big Ten, you ninny. What?? MARYLAND is in the Big Ten now?? Hang on, I'll need to go to Wikipedia to verity this.
Ok! So! We're getting a classic B1G-Pac 12 matchup in this game! Just like the Rose Bowl, except this game actually has both a Pac 12 and a B1G opponent this year! Maryland probably overachieved this season, managing to best Penn State and Michigan while earning a 7-5 record in their first year in the B1G, while Stanford limped their way to an identical 7-5 record in a season where their initial expectations were much higher.
I don't think there's any question that the Pac 12 is a better conference than the B1G in 2014, and Maryland was absolutely gobsmacked by all 3 of the good teams they played (Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State). Stanford, on the other hand, only really got blown out by Oregon and Arizona State, and kept all of their other losses very close, including a 2OT game against a scrappy Utah team that they really should have won.
Stanford is correctly the heavy favorite in this game, and although their overall record was a disappointment, their season ended on a high note with a 31-10 demolition of Pac 12 South favorite UCLA. I don't normally like laying 2 full touchdowns in bowl games, which are notoriously unpredictable, but I think the Cardinal is the right choice here. Final Score Prediction: Stanford 35, Maryland 17
Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl - Dec. 31, Atlanta, GA, 12:30 PM (ESPN)
Thanks to the invention of the college football playoff and its rules against having bowls solely named for corporations, the Peach Bowl is once again officially called the Peach Bowl! I don't know about you, but that accomplishment alone is worth moving to the 4-team playoff format. This game will undoubtedly be one of the most-watched non-playoff bowls this year, since it pits a top-tier SEC team against a TCU team from the Big XII that was vociferously vocal about the fact that they felt they deserved one of the 4 playoff slots. In fact, this is only the second time that the Peach Bowl will pair off two teams ranked in the top 10, with the first being #9 Miami (FL) vs. #10 LSU in the 2005 edition of the game. (The bowl officials undoubtedly hope this game will be far more competitive than that game, though, which ended in a 40-3 Bayou Bengal blowout.)
As with most bowl games between more-or-less evenly matched teams, part of this game will depend on whether or not both teams show up motivated and ready to go. One would assume that the Rebears would be excited about this game, since it's the first "BCS level" game to which their program has ever been. TCU, on the other hand, is in a classic letdown situation, since they really wanted to be in the playoff, and this game is merely a consolation prize. Still, though, it's a game against strong SEC competition, so they have no reason not to find some motivation for this game.
On paper, it looks to be a compelling matchup. Ole Miss will undoubtedly still greatly miss Laquon Treadwell, but their defense will be as strong as it was all year. TCU, on the other hand, hasn't scored less than 30 points in any game this year, and scored 58 in their only loss (to Baylor). Ultimately, Bo Wallace returned to having his "Dr. Bo moments" towards the end of the regular season, and I think Dr. Bo will once again be Dr. Bo in the Dome, with his patient not really liking (or surviving) the result. I'm laying the chalk here. Final score prediction: TCU 31, Ole Miss 24
Vizio Fiesta Bowl - Dec. 31, Glendale, AZ, 4:00 PM (ESPN)
Boise State once again returns to the site of their greatest victory (and greatest on-screen marriage proposal), but this ain't that 2007 Boise State team. Fortunately for them, though, they're playing the weakest team of all the other Playoff-Committee-Bowl teams.
RichRod has done a great job of rebuilding the Arizona program from practically the ground up, but a surprising number of Zona's wins this year have come in incredibly close games. First of all, they should have lost to UT San Antonio in Week 2 in the Alamodome, but they managed to survive that near-debacle. They then scraped by a mediocre Nevada team and a crappy Cal team before somehow upsetting mighty Oregon in Autzen Stadium. (Don't ask me how they did that. I have no idea, and after seeing the rematch in the Pac 12 Championship Game, clearly they don't, either.) They do have Scooby Wright III, who is a great player whose nickname is Scooby, and that's a big mark in their favor. A Bronco is quite a bit larger than a Scooby snack, though.
Boise hasn't been incredibly impressive this year, though they gave Ole Miss a good game in the Dome in week 1 and beat a Colorado State team that would go on to get 10 wins in week 2. Against any other team, I would say that Arizona's biggest asset would be the massive home field advantage that they will have. But Boise State is very accustomed to playing (and winning) big games in stadiums where their fans are in the vast minority. I think the Broncos are well positioned to spring the upset here. Final Score Prediction: Boise State 48, Arizona 46
Capital One Orange Bowl - Dec. 31, Miami, FL, 8:00 PM (ESPN)
#7 Mississippi State Bulldogs (-7) vs. #12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
This is another matchup that looks compelling on paper, as Dan Mullen brings Dak Prescott and the suddenly
resurgent MSU program to their first BCS-level game to play a Georgia Tech team that lost the last Orange Bowl they played to a team coached by Kirk Ferentz. Tech's problem is the same problem it has in every bowl game it's played under : it's really hard to prepare for Tech's unique triple-option attack on just one week's notice, but when you have nearly a month to get ready for them, you're far more able to get in the practice time you really need to stop the Jackets and keep them out of the offensive rhythm that is so crucial to their success. Tech also doesn't historically perform that well against really good teams. I mean, heck, they haven't beaten a top 10 team since... hmm, well, let's just not dwell on that point.
But come on, I ain't never picking the Yellow Jackets to beat any team named the Bulldogs. I'm taking the Magnolia State Mongrels to cover. Final Score Prediction: Mississippi State 31, Georgia Tech 21
That's all for now! Have a great Boxing Day, Don't Bet On It!, and...