College Football Czar
Bowl Game Picks, Part One
Due to the unique postseason
scheduling for the 2020 season, the College Football Czar has had to issue his
bowl picks in two installments. The
reason for this is that the first bowl game (now canceled) was scheduled to
kick off on the same day as most of the conference championship games. Therefore, some bowls will be played before
the participants in others have even been determined. Ergo, the Czar now presents his picks for the
first week of bowl games, which runs through Christmas, and will follow up with
the rest of his bowl picks once we actually know who's playing the games.
In Week 16, the Czar went 6-0 in
Saturday conference championship games, but he failed to foresee a pair of
Friday night upsets, and also lost two of three non-title games to finish at
8-4. For the 2020 regular season, his
record is 136-78, for a .636 winning percentage.
Dec. 21 (Monday)
Myrtle Beach Bowl --
Conway, SC -- 2:30 (ESPN)
North Texas (4-5)
vs. Appalachian State (8-3)
With the Frisco Bowl being canceled, the bowl season
begins with this game, although few people will realize it. The reasons for this are that it is being
played on a weekday afternoon, and that, as you can see from the records, the
game is a terrible mismatch. Wins and
losses are not always a reliable indicator, but the Mountaineers have also
faced far more formidable opposition.
The Mean Green have only beaten four teams with losing records, and
they've lost to a mopey Southern Miss squad.
Since App State has become eligible for the Division
I-A postseason in 2015, they have played in five consecutive bowl games, and
recorded five consecutive victories. In
the past two years, they've twice won the New Orleans Bowl, against Conference
USA competition (Middle Tennessee and UAB) that was far superior to this UNT
Nobody's named Myrtle anymore, so why is a beach? If
the Czar went to a place called Myrtle Beach, he'd expect to see a bunch of
90-year-old ladies in striped, full-body bathing suits -- and Kellen Winslow Jr.
56, North Texas 17
Dec. 22 (Tuesday)
Famous Idaho Potato
Bowl -- Boise -- 3:30 (ESPN)
Tulane (6-5) vs. Nevada
Jay Norvell's Wolf Pack
return to the scene of last year's 30-21 loss to Ohio, in one of the most
entertaining games of last postseason.
Coach Norvell must be especially motivated to
win this year's game, after watching OU coach Frank Solich
get a Gatorade barrel full of French fries dumped on him so that he could eat
them off his hat. The thick-cut,
skins-on spuds would have made anybody envious.
The Green Wave could have gone bye-bye midway
through the season, when they were 2-4, having blown big leads against Navy and
Houston. They've gone on to win four of
their next five, however, losing only to Tulsa in double-overtime. Much of that turnaround is attributable to
the maturation of freshman quarterback Michael Pratt, whose yardage totals and
completion percentages have improved dramatically since October.
It may look like the Pack are past their peak,
having dropped two of their last three, but road trips to Hawaii are always
treacherous, and a 30-20 loss to San Jose State is really a better result than
their earlier wins against UNLV, Utah State and New Mexico. Romeo Doubs, by any other name, would no doub be one of the nation's best receivers. The junior needs just 40 more yards to reach
1,000 for this abbreviated season, in which he's averaging an even 120 yards
The Idaho Potato must be famous, otherwise we
wouldn't know that he's the babydaddy of the tater
tots. See how educational Good Morning America can be?
Nevada 35, Tulane
Boca Raton Bowl --
Rat Mouth -- 7:00 (ESPN)
(10-1)vs. Central Florida (6-3)
The Cougars say they'll play anyone, anytime,
anywhere, and they mean it, but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll win. In a desperate attempt to boost their
ranking, they took a trip to Coastal Carolina on short notice, and got tripped
up by the cocky Chanticleers, 22-17.
They should find this day at the beach a little sunnier. Not only have they had plenty of time to
prepare, but they're facing a UCF defense that has none of CCU's ferocity. The Knights are allowing 474 yards per game,
by far the most in the American Athletic Conference.
Knight quarterback Dillon Gabriel is third in the
nation in passing yards, behind the two QBs who faced off in the SEC
championship game. In the AAC, he seldom
faces a competent defense, however, and BYU's is on par with the one from
Cincinnati that held him to season lows in passing yardage and completion
This game has ended its two-year sponsorship by Cheribundi, a tart cherry juice that is marketed as some
sort of wonder tonic. The bowl committee
figured out that if the stuff cured rat mouth, they'd have no place left to
Brigham Young 38,
Central Florida 28
Dec. 23 (Wednesday)
New Orleans Bowl --
New Orleans, obviously -- 9:00 (ESPN)
Georgia Southern (7-5)
vs. Louisiana Tech (5-4)
This small-conference bowl game is played in the
same building as the Sugar Bowl, but the College Football Czar usually finds it
far more entertaining. Maybe that's
because by the end of New Year's Day, a game in a dome is numbingly
anticlimactic, especially when you have to work the next day.
A lot of coaches look at bowl games as opportunities
to recruit and get in extra practices, but there's no doubt Skip Holtz is in
them to win. His LTU teams have won
their bowl games in each of the past six seasons, including last year's 14-0
suffocation of Miami in the Independence Bowl.
The Eagles have been nothing if not exciting this
season, although that hasn't always translated into success. Nine of their twelve games have been decided
by eight points or fewer, with GSU having a record of 5-4 in those close
contests. Senior scrambler Shai Werts could stand to be a bit more inhibited, having become
far more reckless with the ball than a year ago. In 2019, he had nine TDs and only one
interception for the season. This year,
that ratio is 7-6.
Why is a 56-year-old man named Skip, anyway? Is it just so he doesn't have to change his
last name to Holtzjr?
Louisiana Tech 23,
Georgia Southern 19
Montgomery Bowl --
Montgomery, AL (sensing a pattern here?) -- 7:00 (ESPN)
(5-3) vs. Memphis (7-3)
Not to be confused with the Camellia Bowl, which is
also played in Montgomery, this is a replacement for the inaugural Fenway Bowl,
which has been canceled. ESPN slapped
this game together on short notice, partly to salvage a bowl berth for the ACC,
which was in danger of being canceled out of the postseason almost
entirely. Having gone through the
trouble of doing that, what must the network have thought when Boston College,
Pitt and Virginia opted out of the bowl season?
Nevertheless, they've got a pretty good matchup,
with Willie Taggart's Burrowing Owls out of Conference USA trying to become an
underground success against the more ballyhooed bunch from the "power six"
American Athletic Conference. FAU has
had a rough late-season transition, though, from dual-threat QB Javion Posey to
pocket passer Nick Tronti, and should have trouble
taking advantage of a justly maligned MU defense.
Memphis was fortunate to find wide receiver Calvin Austiniii within its own city limits. The hometown talent has more than tripled his
output from a year ago, pulling down 60 catches for 1,025 yards and ten
touchdowns. As a matter of fact, last
season he was only Calvin Austini.
Memphis 42, Florida
Dec. 24 (Thursday)
New Mexico Bowl --
Frisco, TX.-- No, really! -- 3:30 (ESPN)
Hawaii (4-4) vs.
You read that right.
This is not the Frisco Bowl, but the New Mexico Bowl, being played in
Frisco. Coronavirus restrictions have
been stifling in the Land of Enchantment, but rather than cancel the game, the
bowl committee decided to flee the state.
However, the game in the same stadium that debuted last year as the
Frisco Bowl has been canceled, so there is one and only one bowl game in Frisco,
and it is the New Mexico Bowl. If that's
too confusing to follow, just pretend the game is an episode of Gilligan's Island, and New Mexico has
hit its head and now thinks it is Frisco.
In a tough season-ending 30-27 loss to Memphis to
finish the regular season, Cougar quarterback Clayton Tune hit a sour note,
completing 30 passes for a meager total of 270 yards. He and his coaches must attack the Hawaiian
defense more aggressively downfield, or else it will compress around the line
of scrimmage and take away the running game, much like it did against a
nibbling Nevada team that never did go deep.
As long as the Texas town is accepting vagabonds,
the Rainbow Warriors might want to pack their bags. Aloha Stadium has abruptly evicted them for
next season, on the basis that hosting events in an empty stadium is a bad
business model. UH will be playing in a
new 35,000-seat facility in 2023, but until then, they're at a loss. The Czar suspects the decision will be
reversed, assuming the lockdown, which has been especially brutal in our
fiftieth state, is ever lifted.
Otherwise, the Warriors could find themselves sharing a sandlot with
TC's little league team.
Eric Clapton once sang about mean old Frisco and
that low-down Santa Fe. Who but he knew
those two unsavory characters were really in cahoots?
Okay, so the New Mexico Bowl is usually played in
Albuquerque, not Santa Fe. So who are
you, the geography police?
Houston 30, Hawaii
Dec. 25 (Friday)
Camellia Bowl --
Montgomery, AL -- 5:30 (ESPN)
Buffalo (5-1) vs. Marshall (7-2)
The participants in this contest were not announced
until it was almost too late for the Czar to include it in this installment of
picks, but at long last he heard it through the bovine that the Bulls would
clash with the Thundering Herd in this encownter.
The Crampton Bowl may feel a little crampt, what with that stadium hosting two bowl games in
three days, the one-time-only Montgomery Bowl having been played the previous
Wednesday. That's Crampton, and not Cramden, although this game has involved plenty of pow and
zoom during its six-year existence.
Among the previous five games, two have been decided by last-second
field goals, and the greatest margin of victory has been last year's 34-26 win
by Arkansas State over Florida International.
UB got away from its ground game in a 38-28 loss to
Ball State for the MAC championship. It
was the first time this season they attempted more passes than running plays,
by a count of 42 to 29. Over their
previous three wins those numbers had gone the other way by better than a
4-to-1 ratio. This time, they've got to
keep pounding away with Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marksjr,
even if the Herd has a handle on them in the first half.
MU had a disappointing conference final itself, a
22-13 beating by a UAB team that outgained them by exactly 200 yards. If the moo-men offense is to remain this
anemic for a third game in a row, it might just turn into veal.
Please, oh please don't let this game be canceled on
short notice. There hasn't been a
Christmas Day bowl game since the final Aloha Bowl was played in 2000. Ever since, sports fans have been left with
nothing but the National Bolshevik Association.
Spending the day with a bunch of pampered blowhards who hate us and our
country is no way to have a merry Christmas.
The College Football Czar would sooner eat chestnuts and drink eggnog.
a sports publication from The