It's finally here, meaningless exhibition season (for most) where the SEC goes out and shows teams from other conferences what for. All the chanting of "S-E-C, S-E-C, etc." will ring out from such wild and wonderful places as Houston, Birmingham and Tampa.
As a brief reminder in this space, kristina and I pick the winners of each game, rate them on a scale of watchability and then provide some commentary to back up our thoughts.
During the regular season, kristina gave me a beating and I'm sure she won't be letting me forget it anytime soon. Thankfully there was no wine bet, so all she has is bragging rights!
For bowl season we're going to do the same, so without further ado, let's get to this. Thanks to Mizzou for not taking the sorry 5-7 record to a game, it's for the best. And someone please bet with me! How else do I keep the wine cabinet stocked?
To the Bowls!
|Advocare V100 Texas Bowl||Texas Tech vs #20 LSU||Tuesday, December 29||8:00 PM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
Hello Houston! And no we don't have a problem to speak of at all. It's the nightcap of Bowl Night in America (my name for each bowl night), so you know it's gonna be a good one. It's SEC vs Big 12 in a game that is sponsored by something to do with marketing, with a slogan that has something to do with building champions. Though I think we all know champions aren't built on a Tuesday in late December...
Scale of Watchability: Bowl Defcon 3! It's a bowl game in which a current conference mate will attempt to beat up on a former conference mate. Listen your option is this or the Mizzou game, and even if it is Arkansas-Pine Bluff, this is the better pull.
kristina: I really, really want to say Texas Tech, but I'll go LSU. Just haven't watched enough of either lately to feel very confident either way.
Chris: Remember when Leonard Fournette was a big deal? Yeah, I do too. Poor guy. Quit school and just work out next season, save yourself the possibility of getting hurt. Because if you do, people like Clay Travis won't shut up about it. Honestly, I'm taking LSU, and I hope Les Miles coaches while giving the middle finger to the boosters that tried to actively get rid of him.
|Birmingham Bowl||Memphis vs Auburn||Wednesday, December 30||11:00 AM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
Once known as the papajohns.com bowl, and let's be glad that got the boot, 'cause we all know chain pizza is awful. All of it. Even the one(s) that try to make the finest STL-style pies. So far, Malzahn has yet to name a starter, shockingly, SEC QB drama transfers well to bowl season. With an 80% chance of rain in Birmingham (where is it not raining?!?) Memphis players didn't mind a couple drizzly practices while Auburn I guess figured why get wet ahead of time and moved their practice indoors. With Fuente off to Virginia Tech, Memphis will be coached by the interim HC Darrell Dickey
Scale of Watchability: Let's set this to DefCon 2. What else are you going to watch this early, and it's only a 2.5 spread at last check. Memphis is dealing without their normal head coach but Lynch is projected as a top five or so draft pick. Plus, if it does rain as projected, that's always fun to watch.
kristina: I still can't have too much faith in Auburn, so Memphis it is. Plus, might as well have a few we don't agree on (you know, so I can win again, or something like that. Pride comes before the fall, right?)
Chris: A morning bowl game you say, or for us East Coasters, an early lunch time bowl game. Listen this is a home game for Auburn, and Memphis is breaking in a new coach that is not Barry Odom, so what chance do they have? None. I do hope Memphis brings their real Tiger however, because he deserves a field trip as much as the players do. But in this Tiger on Tiger battle, I'm taking Auburn purely for geographical purposes.
|Belk Bowl||Mississippi State vs NC State||Wednesday, December 30||2:30 PM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
It's a state school matchup between two schools that are not as big a deal as the other state schools in their state and that probably chaps a little bit I imagine. I'm betting this is what Missouri State University would feel if they were anything worth thinking about. Anyway, after the Noon game, you can roll right into the mid afternoon bowl game, what a country! It's like the NCAA tournament but not nearly as good, interesting or important...so not at all similar.
Scale of Watchability: Bowl Defcon 2! I give this one high marks because Dak Prescott is good and a joy to watch. Somehow he's been under the radar this season (probably because his team isn't 12-0) so watch this game for him alone. Also, Star Wars and the best Twitter feed of any bowl game.
kristina: Yeah, NC State's football team, I know nothing about. Um, so SEC solidarity or something, go fighting cowbells! (I think?) If it weren't for Walken, that skit wouldn't be amusing at all.
Chris: Here's a prediction: State will wear those stupid pants that have the giant "M" across the side of them that are a disaster. Sometimes I think Addidas is just trolling their schools to see what they can make them do or not do. I'm gonna pick State however because of the aforementioned Dak factor. Also, I've not seen an NC State game all year, unless you count that basketball game from two Saturdays ago.
|Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl||Louisville vs Texas A&M||Wednesday, December 30||6:00 PM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
The ever-changing sponsors bowl, we suppose. At least this one is shorter than the 2004-09's "Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl Presented by Bridgestone." Jake Hubenak gets the start for the Aggies as the Kyle/rs decided to find greener grass somewhere else. At least A&M gets to practice at Vanderbilt, Louisville gets a local high school. Then again, Chris may hate Vandy's football field as well, you never know with that one. Wouldn't be a game unless there was some uniform discussion. "Goes country" is putting things, well, mildly.
Scale of Watchability: Let's set this one to DefCon 3, the line is pretty small, but who knows what to expect from A&M having to throw out their third-string QB. And who knows, maybe all the hot chicken the Louisville players ate comes back to haunt them? (Um, does hot chicken cause digestive issues, we've yet to try it, and we know, 'tis a sad fact. Editors Note - Chris has had hot chicken while in Nashville and it's a delight!)
kristina: Guess I'll pick Louisville. Just sounds like too much going on with A&M with QB transfers and WR suspensions.
Chris: Man, we're just rolling in bowl games on Wednesday aren't we? This bowl game's name is far too long. There should be a cap on the amount of sponsorship/name there can be, like characters in a Tweet. Bowl games you get three words and that's it. Let's be real for a second, there's a chance Texas A&M won't have a real QB for this game, so take Louisville and let's take a joyride with Bobby P.
|College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic||#2 Alabama vs #3 Michigan State||Thursday, December 31||7:00 PM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
It's college football playoff time!!! After weeks of shows where teams are ranked we finally get to see who will play in the college football playoff final, year two style. Many people will complain that they don't want to watch football on New Year's Eve, and to them I say, that's why you get that DVR humming and shut down your social media.
Scale of Watchability: Bowl Defcon 1/5! It's Big 10 vs SEC for the chance to play for all of the marbles some other time. It's also New Year's Eve so you're probably out not watching TV. So this is either a great game to watch live or on DVR on New Year's Day (or VHS if you're kicking it old school) while nursing a hangover.
kristina: I guess I'll go 'Bama, as I'm not much of a State fan as their basketball team routinely tries to mess up my bracket. (We never said logic plays a factor here, right? Silly readers for thinking that's the case.) Boring can be a good thing, I mean, try and get too fancy and you end up with pizza toppings that should never exist. Sushi pizza, it's the next best thing?
Chris: Wow, the College Football Playoff is taking back New Year's Eve. And that's great. You won't hear me complaining about the date and time of this game because if Mizzou were in it, I'd watch it either from the bar/restaurant/party/hot tub (where I'll be this year) I was sitting in. In this case, I'll be aware but not in front of it. Either way, I'm taking Michigan State because I think they're better and 'Bama is boring.
|Outback Bowl||#23 Tennessee vs #13 Northwestern||Friday, January 1||11:00 AM||ESPN2 / Watch ESPN
It's the 30th Outback Bowl! Enjoy a bloomin' onion or something like that. But let's be honest, a properly prepared rémoulade is good stuff, well, at least the Louisiana variant. The mayors have a friendly booze bet on this one, as Knoxville's mayor summed it up with "may the best team and whiskey" win. The only other time these two met was in the '97 Citrus bowl, where Vols' QB (and game MVP) Peyton Manning led them to victory. Northwestern did manage the actual bowling match-up between the teams.
Scale of Watchability: Defcon 2, only because we'll assume some of you aren't quite up and moving yet after all the NYE festivities. For those who are, this is your only bowl option for an hour.
kristina: Um, Vols? I only watched one Northwestern game. So really just guessing here. Plus, we need some more disagreement for the records. And, this is an interesting bowling technique. Too bad it didn't pay off so well.
Chris: HAPPY F'ING NEW YEAR! First things first, go read my SEC Power Rankings before watching this game. Now, this game features two teams that are ranked and should be a nice way to open your day with. Crack that ginger ale, down some crackers and set in and watch Northwestern beat the stupid smile off of Butch Jones dumb face. Journalism over Conference Mates! Also, my dad loves the Outback Steakhouse and was really sad the NYC location closed...RIP bloomin' onion.
|Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl||#19 Florida vs #14 Michigan||Friday, January 1||12:00 PM||ABC / Watch ESPN
Remember when Mizzou played in this game last year...things were so much different. Maty Mauk wasn't making as many stupid decisions, Gary was making awkward post bowl win speeches (one of the GP things I'll miss the most) and Mizzou was going to keep doing what they do. Now, it's a schedule and PED aided Florida team taking on a Harbaugh led Michigan team that play the game the right way...ugh.
Scale of Watchability: Bowl Defcon 4. If you had a bit of an evening the night before and are feeling the effects on this New Year's Day, don't watch this game. The thing Florida calls an offense will make sure everything you put in your system the night before will come back up...
kristina: Aw, the BWW bowl, such fond memories. Um, Florida can not be trusted, just like people in masks, so guess I have to pick Michigan.
Chris: Florida, you're an absentee landlord!!! Enjoy your moment in the sun, because falling ass backwards into the SEC title game via SEC East championship is our thing, and we're taking it back! Listen Florida can't move the ball forward to save their lives, so Michigan is gonna win and let us never speak of this again.
|Allstate Sugar Bowl||#12 Ole Miss vs #16 Oklahoma State||Friday, January 1||7:30 PM||ESPN2 / Watch ESPN
Ole Miss looks to avenge a 42-3 drubbing in last year's Peach bowl, but will do so without Nkemdiche, who is both suspended for this game and declaring for the draft. Ole Miss beat OSU in their last two bowl match-ups, both Cotton Bowl victories. Last time Ole Miss was in the Sugar bowl, Archie Manning was the QB and they were victorious over Arkansas. (Yes, we had to include that little tidbit) There's some question (at posting time) whether OSU's QB will start for sure coming off a foot injury, but most practice notes mentioned no big setbacks.
Scale of Watchability: We'll set this one to DefCon 1, it's New Year's night and it's a Friday! Time to party, if you didn't do too much of that the night before. Freeze didn't think his team was as well-prepared and locked in last year as he wanted, insert "respect your opponent" meme here? Hmmm, when was the last time Okie State lost in a bowl game? I just have no clue, honestly.
kristina: Ole Miss. They haven't let me down lately, so guess we'll run with the hot hand. Plus, got to go SEC over Big-12. Or something like that.
Chris: There's cache to this bowl game in name alone, but really with the college football playoff, some of the bloom is off this rose. Mike Gundy is still a man, it doesn't appear that any Nkemdiches will be coming, so I'm going to put my fake money on Oklahoma State. The Pokes never really bothered me in my Mizzou time (WE WILL NOT SPEAK OF 2008 or Chase's stupid haircut in that game), so go OSU I guess. Still love that Barry Sanders rookie card from Pro Set...
|TaxSlayer Bowl||Penn State vs Georgia||Saturday, January 2||11:00 AM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
If this game were taking place in the mid to late 90s and 2000s this would really move the meter, but it's not. And that's why it's relegated to the Saturday after Bowl Season is pretty much over and that's kind of sad. But hey, Kirby Smart vs James Franklin, awesome.
Scale of Watchability: Bowl Defcon 3. I'm guessing at this point you may be a little "bowl'ed out", so watch this if you must but there's no pressure. This game could be good, but probably boring with the announcers saying how great the defenses are without acknowledging that both offenses are just awful.
kristina: Georgia, go SEC, right? No more sad Uga in the rain. I have no idea if the forecast shows rain, one day it'll stop raining, we think. Jealous, Penn State gets to stay on Amelia Island. It's been far too long since I've been next to the ocean. (Yes, I will accept funds to change that fact.)
Chris: I mean, I've seen Georgia and I've not seen Penn State, but I am surrounded by their fans in my area of the country and they were not too braggy this season. So I'll take Georgia and watch as their fans get far too excited about what this win means for Kirby Smart and the future.
|Autozone Liberty Bowl||Arkansas vs Kansas State||Saturday, January 2||2:20 PM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
Snyder and Bielema meet once again, this time on opposite sides. (Bielema was the Wildcats' DC and linebackers coach from 2002-03. K-State managed a 97-yard kickoff return (remember those?) to overcome West Virginia and snag that sixth win to become "for sure" bowl eligible, none of that "should we take a bowl at 5-7" talk. If only.........oh well, we're going to be awesome next year, right?
Scale of Watchability: DefCon 4, mostly because do you really want to watch Arkansas possibly win? Though the odds suggest they will, so find something else maybe. Or start drinking early, though mid-afternoon on a Saturday might not be all that early. We'll check with BST!
kristina: Is this the "can we pick the meteor" game? Um, well, I can't pick Arky so let's go with K-State. No more of this devil Razorback magic, that still is the silliest play I've seen in a long time.
Chris: Man, again, no real idea. I know Bill Snyder is old, Bert is big and that neither team were particularly impressive this year. Lots of Big 12 vs SEC bowl games this year...seems almost done on purpose...I'm onto you scheduling people. Anyway, let's take K-State because I bet if they win Bill hands out some grandfatherly wisdom and werther's originals to his team afterwards.
Bonus College Football Playoff Game #2 Pick!
|College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl||#1 Clemson vs #4 Oklahoma||Thursday, December 31||3:00 PM||ESPN / Watch ESPN
Because we can't leave this big game just sitting out there without picking it, we shall select our winners of the other College Football Playoff at a Bowl Game. Congrats Big 12 for not screwing this whole thing and actually having a participant this season. And remember when people thought the Pac 12 was going to be awesome this year?
Scale of Watchability: Bowl Defcon 1/5. Again, it's New Year's Eve and in the afternoon, so this may be difficult or uninteresting for you. HOW CAN PEOPLE BE ASKED TO WATCH GAMES ON A WEEKDAY IN THE AFTERNOON?!!!! I mean, it's done for the World Cup, NCAA tournament, this summer for the Euro Cup and other bowl games. But yeah, watch it if you can, DVR it if you can't.
kristina: Clemson, get the Big 12 out of there and who really wants to watch a 'Bama-OU matchup outside of the respective fan bases? (Um, well I don't, but anyway) But remember, save the orange juice for the kids, drink your bubbly straight up. And don't listen to Chris about that champagne nonsense, prosecco works just fine.
Chris: I am gonna pick Clemson because I want to see the Big 12 go out early in the playoff, and also because back in 2007 some guy who looked a great deal like John Tesh was really being a pain during the Mizzou-OU Big 12 championship game...and by being a pain I mean cheering on his team at a bar I was in...I was not very reasonable back then. Anyway I'm taking Clemson, and please don't wear that Purple, you're not Prince..but seriously, game, blouses.
|Picker||Bowl Winners||Bowl Losers|
|kristina||LSU, Memphis, Mississippi State, Louisville, Alabama, Tennessee, Michigan, Ole Miss, Georgia, Kansas State, Clemson||Texas Tech, Auburn, NC State, Texas A&M, Michigan State, Northwestern, Florida, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Arkansas, Oklahoma|
|Chris||LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State, Louisville, Michigan State, Northwestern, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Georgia, Kansas State, Clemson||Texas Tech, Memphis, NC State, Texas A&M, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, Penn State, Arkansas, Oklahoma|
And that will wrap it up! Enjoy the Bowls everyone!