It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas season and Bowl season line up perfectly. So you as a (partially) rational consumer maybe wondering, “Should I watch Western Michigan play Air Force or How The Grinch Stole Christmas?” Never fear, readers! I’m here to help you make you make your mind about which bowls to watch and which to skip! I’ll start with this weekend and do more in coming editions. Let’s kick this off!
Bowl: New Orleans Bowl
Teams: Nevada vs UL- Lafayette
Time: Saturday at 11 AM
Most compelling reason to watch: Well, this is UL – Lafayette’s fourth time in a row in this bowl, and they have won the past three. But the real story here is Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo, who has amassed over 9,000 passing yards and 3,000 rushing yards in his career. The only other player to do that is Colin Kaepernick, another product of Nevada’s pistol offense. Look for a closely fought game between 2 very good offenses, and some not so great defenses.
Should you watch: It’s the first bowl game of the season, so you are kind of obligated to watch this one. This is a good matchup between two very good offenses. Also, this could be Mark Hudspeth’s last game as the coach of ULL, as he might get a call from a power-five school this offseason, as he has gone 35-16 over the last four seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns.
Bowl: New Mexico Bowl
Teams: UTEP vs Utah State
Time: Saturday at 2:20 PM
Most compelling reason to watch: Utah State’s shut-down defense has been carrying the team through a slew of injuries this year. While the Aggies fourth string quarterback, freshman Kent Meyers, is doing an admirable job, the back bone of this team is still its defense. The Aggies give up a stingy 20.8 points a game, which is the 20th best in the NCAA. They are led by the Vigil brothers (sounds more like a superhero team than a pair of brothers who have a lot of tackles). Zach and Nick have a total of 261 tackles between them this season.
Should you watch: If you like up and coming coaches, shut down defense, and running, then yes. Matt Wells the coach of USU, was reportedly on the short list for the Oregon State job before Gary Anderson, who coached at USU before Wells, took the job. This is a very lackluster bowl, so I won’t fault you for skipping it to do some wrapping, baking, or heavy drinking.
Bowl: Las Vegas Bowl
Teams: #22 Utah vs Colorado State
Time: Saturday at 330 PM
Most compelling reason to watch: It’s ranked football on the first weekend of college football! And Utah is on upset alert against a 10-2 CSU team that looks very good. Jim McElwain, who was just hired by Florida, has implemented an explosive offense for the CSU Rams, built around quarterback Garrett Grayson, wide receiver Rashard Higgins, and running back Dee Hart. This core has helped the Rams to their current rating of 12th in the FBS in offensive yards and 19th in the nation in offensive f/+. Utah’s stats aren’t as gaudy, but they have played tougher competition, with 3 of their 4 losses coming from ranked opponents. Kyle Whittington, the coach of the Utes, is just happy to be back in a bowl game. He was on the hot seat earlier this year after two disappointing seasons in a row.
Should you watch: If you can only watch one game on Saturday, make sure it is this one. These are two top-30 opponents squaring off in a game that promises to be close and exciting. Grab a warm cup of cider, stop hating yourself for having kids, and park it for a couple hours, before resuming Christmasy activities.
Bowl: Potato Bowl
Teams: Western Michigan vs Air Force
Time: Saturday at 5:45 PM
Most compelling reason to watch: Both of these schools had massive turnarounds from last year. They went a combined 3-21 last year, and a combined 17-7 this year. Watch out for the dangerous WMU offense featuring Jarvion Franklin, the running back who is tenth in the nation for rushing yards, and Zach Terrell, the quarterback who ranks third and fifth in the FBS for yards per attempt and completion percentage.
Should you watch: Unless you are a college football junkie, interested in the future prospects of WMU coach PJ Fleck, root for either team, or hate your family and want to escape, I would say no. Besides “Elf” is about to come on ABC’s 25 days of Christmas and unless you are Bennett Garland, you probably at least moderately enjoy this movie. I give “Elf” a slight edge over this game as far as entertainment, family-friendliness, and location (the potato bowl is in Idaho, ugh).
Bowl: Camellia Bowl
Teams: South Alabama vs Bowling Green
Time: 9:15 PM
Most compelling reason to qatch: *cricket noise sound effect*
Should you watch: No. There are a thousand better things you could do with your time. Name any activity, that is better than this bowl. Time with the in-laws? Better. Arguing with your neighbor about how bright your lights are? Better. Hearing your drunk uncle ramble about Obama? So much better. Find anything else to do. ANYTHING. The live action version of the Grinch is on at 8, and regardless of how you feel about Jim Carey, or live action adaptations of Dr. Suess, this movie would beat either of these teams by no less than 30 points.
Bowl: Miami Beach Bowl
Teams: Memphis vs BYU
Time: Monday at 2 PM
Most compelling reason to watch: There are 2: Can BYU be successful without Taysom Hill, and Memphis’s rock solid defense. BYU looked unstoppable in its first four games behind the leadership of veteran Taysom Hill, but everything changed when the senior broke his leg. The Cougars went into a four game tailspin, before getting back on their feet and winning their last four games. Christian Stewart, Hill’s replacement, has found his stride over the past four games averaging 320 yards and almost 4 touchdowns per game. However this Memphis defense is tough. They rank tenth in the FBS in yards allowed per play. They also rank 22nd in total yards allowed per game, 8th in rushing touchdowns allowed per game, and 30th in first downs allowed per game. Justin Fuente has turned this Memphis Tiger team from joke into legitimate AAC title contender moving forward (they shared the title this year).
Should you watch: Yeah. It’s 2 PM on a Monday, so pretty much nothing else is going on. I’d even recommend streaming it at work if you can, because good football will cure any case of the Mondays.
That’s all for now. I will be back on Monday to preview the week ahead. Happy Holidays, and Merry Bowl Season!”