Saturday, December 20, 2014

The ONLY 2014-15 College Football Bowl Guide You Need

It’s been a rapid-fire several months of life that kept us away from our civic duties here. But the GOJH are back with our annual college football bowl season preview that’s always in high demand. This year, 14 six-win teams will take the field, including a 6-7 Fresno State squad, and two bowls showcase this mediocrity in a head-bangers’ ball. Riveting. I don’t remember where I got the rankings below, and I’m not sure if they’re accurate anymore. Whatever. Doesn’t really matter. Let’s get to it! 

DEC. 20
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (New Orleans – Superdome)
Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana (8-4)

Georgia Southern tore through the Sun Belt Conference undefeated (losses at NC State and Georgia Tech by a total of five points) but they’re a provisional I-A/FBS/somethingorother member and can’t play in a bowl. If they could, they’d probably be here. Instead, we’re back to the usual suspects – Louisiana. I can’t think of anything overly exciting about this, so I’ll just stop. Prediction: Nevada

Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque – University Stadium)
Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5)

If you have children, you know those first days and months with them are burned into your brain as some of the most memorable moments of your life. A few months after our oldest son was born in 2007, I was half-watching a Texas-UTEP game on TV when they cut away to the sideline where some UTEP players were warming up. One dude snapped it to another dude who was looking out toward the field. The ball drilled the distracted dude in the nuts, and I remember looking at my wonderfully oblivious three-month-old son and telling him how funny that was. I still have that clip saved on my DVR. Go Miners. Prediction: UTEP 


Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Las Vegas – Sam Boyd Stadium)
#22 Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2)

Is it me or has Utah football disappeared since joining the Pac-12? Back in their Mountain West days, the Utes would get talking heads all whipped up about their little-guys-on-the-block toughness and beating the hell out of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and good stuff like that. It was easy to root for them. Now, they’re just another piece of a Power 5 conference, and they’re boring. Therefore, I’m going with a Mountain West school that has an underdog’s profile and attitude. Prediction: Colorado State

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise – Bronco Stadium)
Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3)

Some people say (or said at some point) Western Michigan’s head coach is a darkhorse candidate for the Michigan job. I certainly have no clue and don’t pretend to, but the fact that he’s even mentioned tells me he’s done some good work turning around a moribund WMU program. I’m a fan of service academy football and have enjoyed seeing Air Force succeed ever since option QB Dee Dowis tore up defenses in 1989. Considering all this, my primary prediction is that I will forget this game is being played or ever was played. Prediction: Air Force

Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6)

For some reason, every time I watch Bowling Green their uniforms remind me of those horrid “peanut butter” chewy things wrapped in orange wax paper that I used to get trick or treating. The only thing less palatable is this stadium-rockin’ bout. Eh, I shouldn’t be so hard on this one. The Jaguars recently started their football program from scratch, and I’m sure people will be excited about this game in Montgomery. Bowling Green won their division of the MAC, and they’re a gritty program. Still, just say this matchup out loud and take note of the emotion (or lack thereof) that follows. Prediction: Bowling Green

DEC. 22
Miami Beach Bowl
BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3)

I was ready to unload a bunch of dismissive snark about how this new bowl sounds like a game of flag football in the sand. And while it does, it’s also a pretty damn good matchup. BYU was rolling before its starting QB was hurt in the first part of the season. Memphis’ turnaround story is remarkable. Young coach, upgraded conference and they’re making strides. The Tigers used to be an automatic win for our beloved Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. This year, Memphis pounded MT, and the Tigers seem to be the mid-major Tennessee football program that’s progressing while the Blue Raiders turned in yet another 6-6 campaign. Incidentally, BYU also whacked MT this season. I’m actually going to spend a couple minutes with this one. Prediction: Memphis

DEC. 23
Boca Raton Bowl
Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2)

This is a pretty interesting matchup of great mid-major programs that thrust themselves into the national discussion every few years. Outside of the College Football Playoff, you will not find a bowl game pitting two teams with a better collective winning percentage. That’s got to count for something. Prediction: Marshall

San Diego County CU Poinsettia Bowl
Navy (7-5) vs. San Diego State (7-5)

The record for most points scored by the winning team in this bowl is 55, set in 1953 when the Fort Ord Army base team defeated the Marines base team from Quantico, 55-19.  Prediction: San Diego State  

DEC. 24
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl (Nassau – Thomas Robinson Stadium)
Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5)

Christmas Eve in the Bahamas with a bucket of spicy Popeyes chicken, mashed potatoes and biscuits. OK. Thomas Robinson Stadium is the home field of the Bahamian national soccer team with capacity for 15K that can be expanded to 30K. My guess is attendance will be closer to 15K. Western Kentucky went to Marshall and handed the Herd their only loss of the season a few weeks back. They’re plucky. Prediction: Western Kentucky

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu – Aloha Stadium)
Fresno State (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5)

Even atheists believe it’s better to spend Christmas Eve celebrating Jesus than watching this game. Prediction: Rice

DEC. 26
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Uhh, Dallas - Cotton Bowl Stadium)
Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5)

Finally! We waited more than two years for the scintillating rematch of that memorable Sept. 22, 2012, game in which Tech whipped Illinois’ ass, 52-24, in Champaign. Truth be told, I like seeing Illinois do well, but Skip Holtz will not be denied!  Prediction: Louisiana Tech

Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit – Ford Field)
Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina (6-6)

Hey, Tar Heels. This is residual punishment for that massive academic fraud you’ve engaged in for nearly 20 years. Go ahead and become bowl-eligible at 6-6. Karma says your ass is gonna land in Detroit the day after Christmas. Enjoy. I wonder if Johnny Jackwagon and his buddies we met in Chapel Hill at a game a couple of years ago will be making this trek to see their beloved Heels. And Rutgers? They’re as uninspiring as anyone. Everyone knows all about the player abuse in the basketball program and all the controversy that implicated their athletic director and university president. There are multiple reasons why they suck on many levels. You know what, that’s it. Now I’m pissed that I spent this much time writing about this crap-ass football game. Prediction: Not Worth Anyone’s Time

Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl (St. Petersburg – Tropicana Field)
NC State (7-5) vs. Central Florida (9-3)

It’s impossible to generate any give-a-damn for this game. Someone check George O’Leary’s résumé in 10 years. He’ll probably reference this one as a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon. Prediction: Central Florida

DEC. 27
Military Bowl (Annapolis – Navy-Marine Corps Stadium)
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6)

Faulty logic tells us that Virginia Tech will win this by 36 points because they beat Ohio State by 14 and Cincinnati lost to Ohio State by 22. Heard some talk that Cincinnati and Memphis could bolt the American Conference for the Big 12. What does all this mean for the 2014 Military Bowl? Jack squat. It’s just chit-chat to fill a summary for an uninteresting game. Prediction: Cincinnati

Hyundai Sun Bowl (El Paso – Sun Bowl Stadium)
#15 Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3)

I don’t think I’ve watched Arizona State play football since Jake Plummer was the QB. Prediction: Duke

Duck Commander Independence Bowl (Shreveport – Independence Stadium)
Miami (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6)

The sponsor of this bowl is the duck-call manufacturing company owned by the family featured on the TV show Duck Dynasty. I didn’t know that before looking it up. That was more interesting than these two teams playing each other. All I hope for is some high-quality Steve Spurrier commentary. Prediction: South Carolina

New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx – Yankee Stadium)
Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6)

I could drive two hours to this, or I could take a train directly to Yankee Stadium. That might be a fun road trip during Christmas break with the boys. Then I saw the starting ticket price was $80 through an online outlet. I laughed for a solid 30 seconds and decided to make other plans. If tickets get down to $2 the day before the game, maybe I’ll reconsider. This game harkens back to the days of eastern Independents battling. Where is Blair Thomas? Prediction: Penn State

National University Holiday Bowl (San Diego – Qualcomm Stadium)
Nebraska (9-3) vs. #24 USC (8-4)

If this were the 1970s, this clash of college football bluebloods would demand everyone’s attention. But it’s not. Let’s turn this into an alumni game instead. I want to see Steve Taylor, Broderick Thomas, Todd Marinovich and Mazio Royster. Prediction: USC

DEC. 29
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis – Liberty Bowl)
Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)

Here’s some half-witted insight that I’m sure will be spoken with all sincerity in some circles, somewhere: “This is a matchup of the two best 7-5 teams in college football.” Whatever the hell that means. I predict there will be a ton of points scored here. This is a pretty good one for the Liberty Bowl. Let me know what happens. Prediction: Texas A&M

Russell Athletic Bowl (Orlando – Florida Citrus Bowl)
#17 Clemson (9-3) vs. Oklahoma (8-4)

Remember when the Sooners kicked the shit out of Alabama last year in the Sugar Bowl and everyone was high on Oklahoma? Well, injuries took their toll (at least, I think I read that somewhere) and then OU lost the Bedlam Series to a mediocre Oklahoma State team. Now they’re unranked playing in a second-tier bowl in a shitty time slot on a Monday. Clemson? Has anyone outside of South Carolina actually had faith that they’ll do anything on the national stage since the days of Danny Ford and William Perry? Here they are again playing in a nice bowl with nothing on the line. Prediction: Apathy

AdvoCare Texas Bowl (Houston – NRG Stadium)
Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6)

Man, this brings me back to the old Southwest Conference. In those days, if a 6-6 Arkansas team tried to make a case for a bowl bid, they’d be laughed out of their local BBQ joint. If a 6-6 Texas team tried it, they be laughed out and then put out of their misery. My, how times change. Still, I’ve heard that ticket demand for this old rivalry has been intense. The ripple effect has yet to be felt up here in New England. Prediction: Texas

DEC. 30
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Nashville – LP Field)
Notre Dame (7-5) vs. #23 LSU (8-4)

The Fighting Irish should be playing for a national championship. They can hang with any team in America. If not for bad officiating, they would be number 1 right now. They should be in the playoff because they easily have the toughest schedule in the country. Prediction: LSU, 70-0

Belk Bowl (Charlotte – Bank of America Stadium)
#13 Georgia (9-3) vs. #21 Louisville (9-3)

Lots of red, black and lackluster appeal. Prediction: Georgia

Foster Farms Bowl (Santa Clara – Levi’s Stadium)
Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5)

There’s got to be something better to do on a Tuesday night in Santa Clara. Prediction: Stanford

DEC. 31
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl (Atlanta – Georgia Dome)
#9 Ole Miss (9-3) vs. #6 TCU (11-1)

I had a feeling Ole Miss wouldn’t be able to hang on to its top-4 ranking from October. That’s too bad. It would’ve been nice to see some new blood playing for the highest stakes. Rebels have a kickass defense. Horned Frogs field a supersonic offense. I’m hoping TCU comes out pissed off instead of deflated by the playoff committee’s decision so we can see these two slug it out. Not that I plan on watching, but I’ll take some interest in the AP write-up after the game. This is like the Cotton Bowl for a game of opposing strengths. Prediction: TCU

Vizio Fiesta Bowl (Glendale – U. of Phoenix Stadium)
#20 Boise State (11-2) vs. #10 Arizona (10-3)

 Prediction: Arizona

Capital One Orange Bowl (Miami Gardens – Sun Life Stadium)
#7 Mississippi State (10-2) vs. #12 Georgia Tech (10-3)

On paper, I bet one could make a tremendous argument for tuning in. Personally, I’ve never been intrigued by either of these programs at any point in my life. I like Paul Johnson’s offense at Tech, but I liked it better when it was run at Navy and Georgia Southern. The game reminds of some girls I met in college. Yeah, you’re attractive, but you’re so damn boring I’m not wasting my time. Prediction: No

JAN. 1
Outback Bowl (Tampa – Raymond James Stadium)
#19 Auburn (8-4) vs. #18 Wisconsin (10-3)

If you like old-school football, it’s always fun to watch Wisconsin’s offensive line pound on opponents and open holes for Melvin Gordon. But they won’t overcome Auburn’s overall speed. More than half of everyone watching this will be hung over. Prediction: Auburn

Goodyear Cotton Bowl (Arlington – AT&T Stadium)
#8 Michigan State (10-2) vs. #5 Baylor (11-1)

Michigan State’s defense is punishing. Baylor’s offense looks like a video game. I like both head coaches. I have nothing disparaging to say about this game. Prediction: Michigan State

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl (Orlando – Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium)
#25 Minnesota (8-4) vs. #16 Missouri (10-3)

I didn’t realize former Big 8/12 doormat and relative SEC newbie Mizzou has won the SEC East two consecutive years. Hey Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina, what in the hell is going on down there? My dad used to drive us six hours one-way to Columbia, Mo., to Faurot Field in the 1990s so I could see the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas A&M’s Wrecking Crew defense. The Tigers were god-awful back then, and the stands half-empty. Good for them on where they’ve landed. Minnesota Head Coach Jerry Kill continues to overcome epilepsy while coaching the Gophers through a tremendous season. He recently was named coach of the year in the Big 10. This game carries a lot of underdog tones from programs/people who wouldn’t be blamed for having chips on their shoulders. I just wrote my way into caring a little bit more about this one. I hope the Gophers prevail, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Prediction: Missouri

Rose Bowl (Pasadena – Rose Bowl)
#2 Oregon (12-1) vs. #3 Florida State (13-0)

Somehow, the Ducks manage to overcome their hideous array of garish uniforms to remain near the top of college football. And for this game, they’ll have a new, horrible creation. I have no faith in Florida State at this point. Yeah, they keep pulling out victories, but they’ve been on the ropes against teams that don’t even belong in a conversation about the best teams in 2014. And you know what? Screw Florida State. They’ve soft-pedaled this Jameis Winston case for so long just to keep him on the field that I hope they get blown out of the water. Prediction: Oregon

Allstate Sugar Bowl (New Orleans – Superdome)
#1 Alabama (12-1) vs. #4 Ohio State (12-1)

Urban Meyer gets his shot after all his whining about the injustices of college football and how no one respects the “B1G,” or however you write out that logo. Good luck, Urbie. On this stage with these stakes, I will not bet against Nick Saban and Alabama. I’d love to watch this one with Verne Lundquist and a fifth of Jack. Prediction: Alabama  

JAN. 2
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Fort Worth – Amon G. Carter Stadium)
Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)

If this were the 7-5 Astros playing the 6-6 Pirates in an old NL Central battle in April, I’d watch that before I’d watch this. I challenge any reader to give me one halfway good reason to turn on (let alone care about) this version of the Armed Forces Bowl. Prediction: Cancelled Due to Lack of Interest

Tax Slayer Bowl (Jacksonville – EverBank Field)
Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)

Look what’s docked at the Port of Jacksonville! The last Tennessee bowl game I remember watching occurred when I was in the throes of a nasty beer/bourbon/Jaegermeister hangover in 1999. I want to pick the Volunteers, but isn’t Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz still the hottest head coaching name in America waiting for that huge breakthrough ever since 2006? Prediction: Tennessee

Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio – Alamodome)
#11 Kansas State (9-3) vs. #14 UCLA (9-3)

My dad attended Kansas State. Prediction: Kansas State

TicketCity Cactus Bowl (Tempe – Sun Devil Stadium)
Washington (8-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6)

Shit sandwich. Prediction: Washington

JAN. 3
Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham – Legion Field)
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-5)

These are sad days for the “Old Gray Lady.” The Iron Bowl jilted her decades ago, and now UAB football dumped her. Demonstrators supporting UAB football are expected to ring Legion Field before, during and after this game. The Gators and Pirates should turn this into a college all-star game and invite members of the UAB Blazers football team to suit up and play, too. Overall, I think East Carolina will be more motivated for this game, certainly more than I will be. Prediction: East Carolina

JAN. 4
GoDaddy Bowl (Mobile – Ladd-Pebbles Stadium)
Toledo (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (7-5)

Arkansas State has no problem grooming head coaches for bigger things: see Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn and Bryan Harsin the past three years. Former UNC O-coordinator Blake Anderson led ASU to a bowl bid at 7-5 in his first year. I respect that continued success while the Red Wolves remain stuck in the Sun Belt Conference. This is the fourth consecutive GoDaddy Bowl bid for Arkansas State, and they’ve won the last two. You know what that tells me? Intangibles win out. Arkansas State understands the pressure that comes with a game of this magnitude and they’re a mature team that knows how to avoid the glitz and glitter of Mobile. You don’t know media pressure, paparazzi and distractions until you know Mobile. Prediction: Arkansas State

JAN. 12
College Football Championship Game (Arlington – AT&T Stadium)

For some people, the build-up to this game will be intensely exciting. For me, I’m thinking that by January 12th, it’s been almost six months since college football season started and I’m ready to move on. Nevertheless, I have two predictions for this game. One, Oregon will unveil a bile-and-slime colored uniform that is somehow more ridiculous than anything we’ve ever seen, and then, #2, the Crimson Tide will lock them down wearing the same unflashy uniforms they’ve had probably since the program started. Prediction: Substance over style  

Friday, July 25, 2014

Travelogue. July 2014.

Greetings. I’m not near you. I’m up in the mountains. Sometimes I do things like this. I pack my car with stuff I need and drive far away to a place where I don’t know anyone. But I bring along my family because I know them and it’s fun.

Special thanks to that person who transcribed my handwritten letter into this digital form. I hope my letter arrived in a timely manner. I gave it to a man riding a horse. He was pushing aggressively southward and was supposed to be passing through the area sometime this week to drop off the letter.

Here’s a rundown of what has happened up here.

Woke up and ate tree bark. Drank a quart of molasses. Ready to go. Went to the Jacklacken Market down the road and the lady talked me into buying a dream catcher with purple feathers. Waved it around aimlessly and caught a moth. Hooked the moth on my fishing line and cast it into the shallow river. Snagged a dreamfish (Sarpa salpa), which causes days-long hallucinations when ingested and was used as a recreational drug in ancient Rome. That dream catcher has a sense of humor.

Went to Santa’s Village. Rode the Peppermint Twist. Should’ve waited a little longer to let my corndog and ice cream settle. Vomited violently at the ride’s crescendo when we were really spinning around. Was like that Bonzai Wiggling Octopus Sprinkler except I sprayed puke on everyone instead of refreshing water on a hot day. Crying children. Hallucinations coming on strong. Meeting elves. Eating peanut shells off the ground. Santa is driving a train.

Saw a moose. Talked to it. No response.

I don’t know what day it is. I am wearing Dutch shoes and floating in water. Or urine. No. It’s too cool to be urine. Unless it’s from last night. I fell off the bench at the Whistle Stop Ice Cream shack and the EMT was the pirate who sailed me around the lagoon. The grandfather tree told me it would be OK. I am lost and desperate to survive. I smeared goose poop on my face to blend in with my surroundings. Mustn’t be found by Pinocchio and Señor Munchéro. Took a wrong turn near the Cuckoo Clockenspiel and ended up at granny’s cottage. “You’re on next! You’re on next!” they shouted into my tangled brain.

They dress me like Curious George with a large cartoon head. I am dehydrated and wilting inside this heavy suit of monkey fur. My languid limbs move like drunken noodles on the hot asphalt. Children are shouting, “More, more, more, Curious George!” I attempt a pirouette near the potted begonias and face plant in front of horrified parents.

Then I get my picture taken at the DMV with an animated ear of corn and a butternut squash. I think I can legally drive the antique cars. They just keep going around and around and nowhere.  Leave me here for eternity and float my euphoric body down Dr. Geyser’s Raft Ride, O Captain, my Captain!