December 18th, 2013

Reed picks winners of the endless bowls


Billy Reed

Executive Editor

Reed picks winners of the endless bowls
Teddy Bridgewater's Louisville team is picked to beat Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl / photo from, cover photo from

The college football bowl season begins Saturday with four matchups so uninspiring that they must have been dreamed up by the National Morticians Association. Between now and Jan. 6, we will have 35 bowls foisted upon us, which is about 25 too many. If you watch more than five in their entirety, you really need to get a life.

Amazingly, the roster of 70 bowl teams does not include Western Kentucky, which has an 8-4 record, a big-name coach in Bobby Petrino and one of the nation’s best all-around backs in Antonio Andrews. Somebody will have to explain to me why the Hilltoppers were ignored while dogs like Washington State, Syracuse and Ole Miss got in.

Oh, wait. It’s the conference thing. The poor Hilltoppers don’t belong to one of the power conferences that have six or seven bowl tie-ins. It’s a lousy state of affairs when mediocre teams from the big conferences get rewarded ahead of a team that has actually proved itself to be a winner.

On that grumpy note, let us examine a bowl menu that’s guaranteed to give you indigestion if you partake too heartily.

New Mexico (2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN) – It’s 7-6 Colorado State against 6-6 Washington State. I’m picking Colorado State by three just because Tom Jurich was the AD there before he came to Louisville. This will be played at altitude in Albuquerque, where they’re still talking about the U of L-Houston basketball game in the 1983 NCAA semifinals.

Royal Purple Las Vegas (3:30 p.m. Saturday on ABC) – OK, this one might actually be worth watching. It’s 11-1 Fresno State against 9-4 Southern Cal. Once the Trojans ridded themselves of the toxic Lane Kiffin, they actually became a decent team. I like the boys from Hollywood to win by six before they hit The Strip.

Famous Idaho Potato (5:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN) – I swear, this really is the name of this bowl. It gives us that matchup we’ve all been awaiting — 7-5 San Diego State against 8-4 Buffalo. After S.D. State wins by 10, I wonder how many game stories will include words like “mashed,” “boiled” or “baked” in their lead?

New Orleans (9 p.m. Saturday on ESPN) – Quick now, where do you think this bowl is being played? But what a great trip it is for 7-5 Tulane, which is located in New Orleans, and 8-4 Louisiana-Lafayette, which is located just a crawfish pie or two up the road. I’m picking Tulane by six in honor of the late Max McGee, who was Paul Hornung’s running buddy on the Green Bay Packers. Asked what he majored in at Tulane, Max always said, “Bourbon Street.”

Beef O’Brady’s (2 p.m. Monday on ESPN) – Remember Clara Peller, the TV personality who became famous for her “Where’s the beef?” commercials for Wendy’s? Well, in this case, the beef is in St. Petersburg, and I’m going to pick 9-3 East Carolina by 10 over 7-5 Ohio on because it has 18 players who weigh at least 300 pounds to only 10 for the Bobcats.

Hawaii (8 p.m. Christmas Eve on ESPN) – If you have to be away from home on Christmas Eve, Honolulu is not a bad place to be. I like 6-6 Oregon State to hula-hoop past 8-4 Boise State, mainly because my friend Larry Swanson is a Beaver through and through.

Little Caesars Pizza (6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 26, ESPN) – I’m sure than 10-3 Bowling Green and 6-6 Pittsburgh did not begin the season dreaming of a game in Detroit the day after Christmas. Unless the young Tony Dorsett and the young Mike Ditka suddenly show up in Pitt uniforms, I expect BG to deliver a large one, extra cheese and hold the anchovies.

Poinsettia (9:30 Thursday, Dec. 26, ESPN) – Too bad this one starts so late because it might be worth watching Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. I look for Lynch to play pretty as, well a poinsettia as his 12-1 team stomps 8-5 Utah State.

Military (2:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, ESPN) – Don’t ask me how 9-4 Marshall and 7-5 Maryland ended up in this jewel. But I’m picking Marshall in honor of the late U.S. Army Gen. George Marshall, a hero of World War and architect of the Marshall Plan.

Texas (6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 27, ESPN) – You have a bowl in Houston and you name it after the Lone Star State, so naturally you expect 6-6 Syracuse and 8-4 Minnesota to be the participants, right? Well, let’s see. When President Lyndon Baines Johnson of Texas declined to run for re-election in 1968, the Democratic nomination went to Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota. That’s good enough for me. Golden Gophers by seven.

Fight Hunger (9:30 p.m., Friday, Dec. 27, ESPN) – I’m all in favor of fighting hunger, but what a lousy name for a lousy bowl game. I think we all should do our part by giving up all snacks while 8-4 BYU drills 8-4 Washington by 14.

Pinstripe (Noon, Saturday, Dec. 28, ESPN) – This is actually a good name for a game held in the Bronx, home of baseball’s New York Yankees. It’s also good that 8-4 Notre Dame will get to play before all its “Subway Alumni” in New York City. Although 6-6 Rutgers is just across the river, Notre Dame will be the home team in this one. Make it the Irish by 13.

Belk (3:20 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28, ESPN) – There was a Belk-Simpson department store in my hometown of Mt. Sterling, Ky., when I was growing up and I assume it was a part of the chain that came to be known as Belk. This is another aptly named bowl because 6-6 North Carolina and 9-3 Cincinnati are not top-of-the-line merchandise. Cincinnati by one.

Russell Athletic (6:45 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28, ESPN) – This game between 11-1 Louisville and 9-3 Miami should be renamed in honor of Howard Schnellenberger, at least for this year, because he built both programs. But the Hurricanes are only a shadow of his 1983 national champions and the Cardinals are better than any of his U of L teams. Cards by nine.

Buffalo Wild Wings (10:15 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 28, ESPN) – You can stay up to watch this snoozer between 7-5 Michigan and 7-5 Kansas State, but not even the ghost of Bo Schembechler could make me stay up that late for a game that means zero to both programs.

Armed Forces (11:45 a.m., Monday, Dec. 30, ESPN) – Please get this straight. The Military Bowl is being played in Annapolis, home of the Naval Academy, but the 7-4 Midshipmen will be in Fort Worth to play 8-4 Middle Tennessee, which has no shot to beat a military academy in the Armed Forces Bowl. Navy by 20.

Music City (3:15 p.m., Monday, Dec. 30, ESPN) – This game matches a couple of programs that had their best days in the 1950s and ‘60s. Both Georgia Tech and Mississippi are 7-5. But since Conway Twitty and Faith Hill are both from Mississippi, I’m picking the Rebels by three.

Alamo (6:40 p.m., Monday, Dec. 30, ESPN) – What a perfect bowl for Mack Brown to make his last stand. I can’t see the 8-4 Longhorns letting their longtime coach lose in his final game, even if 10-2 Oregon is the formidable opponent. The Horns will hook ‘em by three.

Holiday (10:15 p.m., Monday, Dec. 30, ESPN) – If I were in San Diego at this time, I would find something to do besides watching 7-5 Texas Tech slug it out against 10-3 Arizona State. I’d rather go to Del Mar, even if the horses aren’t running. I’ll take Texas Tech by six just because my man Tubby Smith is coaching basketball there now.

AdvoCare V100 (12:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 31, ESPN) – Give me a break. This is the worst name in the history of bowls. It deserves 7-5 Boston College against 7-5 Arizona. I will hold my nose and pick Boston College because of running back Andre Williams, a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

Sun (2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 31, CBS) – With 8-4 Virginia Tech going against 9-3 UCLA, this could be one of the better games. I’ve always liked UCLA because Jackie Robinson played football there. Give me the Bruins by three.

Liberty (4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, ESPN) – For trivia fans, Paul “Bear” Bryant coached his last game in the Liberty Bowl. You could look it up. This time I think 6-6 Mississippi State will devour 10-3 Rice. It’s the SEC factor, of course.

Chick-fil-A (8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, ESPN) – This is the bowl that a lot of fans will slip away from New Year’s Eve parties to watch. My daughter Amy and son-in-law Rob both graduated from Duke, so you’re crazy if you think I’m going to pick against the Blue Devils and I don’t care if they’re playing the Denver Broncos. So give me the 10-3 Blue Devils over the 8-4 Johnny Footballs (Texas A&M, to some of you) in a game that might be worth watching.

Gator (Noon, New Year’s Day, ESPN2) – This one should be called the Hot Seat Bowl because both Mark Richt of 8-4 Georgia and Bo Pellini of 8-4 Nebraska have more than their share of detractors. I like the Junkyard Dawgs by seven.

Heart of Dallas (Noon, New Year’s Day, ESPNU) – In what should be renamed the Bloody Mary Hangover Bowl, 7-5 UNLV will be 8-4 North Texas by seven. Not that anybody in Dallas will notice. I’ll be shocked if the stadium is more than half full.

Capital One (1 p.m., New Year’s Day, ABC) – The Ol’ Ball Coach at South Carolina isn’t about to lose to a bunch of damn Yankees in Florida. I like Steve Spurrier’s 10-2 Gamecocks to shred 9-3 Wisconsin by 10. I’m assuming, of course, that Jadeveon Clowney, the Gamecocks’ all-world 6-foot-6, 274-pound defensive end, decides to show up and play instead of hanging out with some of the guys who are clawing to represent him.

Outback (1 p.m., New Year’s Day, ESPN) – I love 9-3 LSU over 8-4 Iowa. The SEC is just that much better than the Big Ten. Give me the Tigers by 14 and give Les Miles a new contract before Texas comes sniffing around.

Rose (5 p.m., New Year’s Day, ESPN) – The first of the five BCS games pits 12-1 Michigan State against 11-2 Stanford. I figure this one for a toss-up, but I’m going to pick the Spartans’ superb defense to stop the Stanford offense just enough for a three-point win.

Fiesta (8:30 p.m., New Year’s Day, ESPN) – This is where Teddy Bridgewater and U of L were hoping to play before that unfortunate meltdown against Central Florida at home. In a matchup of 11-1 teams, I have to think Baylor will handle Central Florida, but by only six points.

Sugar (8:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 2, ESPN) – I feel sorry for 10-2 Oklahoma. Still smarting from that historic loss to Auburn, where coach Nick Saban snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, this will be a statement game for the 11-1 Crimson Tide — and the statement will be a 24-point win.

Orange (3:30 p.m., Friday, Jan. 3, ESPN) – Ohio State and Clemson last met in the 1979 Gator Bowl, which is mainly remembered as the game when Woody Hayes finally lost it. After Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman intercepted a pass, he was knocked down by Hayes, who came off the sideline to deliver the blow that ended his career. This time I expect Urban Meyer to stay in place and guide his 12-1 Buckeyes to a seven-point win over the 10-2 Tigers. Much will be made before the game of the “duel” between QBs Tajh Boyd of Clemson and Braxton Miller of OSU.

Cotton (8 p.m., Friday, Jan. 3, Fox) – It’s 10-2 Oklahoma State against 11-2 Missouri in what should be an outstanding game. Everybody in Big 12 Country will be pulling for the Cowboys to punish the Tigers for dumping that league in favor of the SEC. All I can do is quote Lee Corso: “Not so fast, my friends.” Give me Mizzou by three.

BBVA Compass (1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4, ESPN) – I like 8-4 Vanderbilt to beat 8-4 Houston by a touchdown. The big story won’t be the game as much as speculation about whether coach James Franklin will stay put in Music City or follow the money to a big-name program. The game will be played at Birmingham’s ancient Legion Field, once the Mecca of Southern football.

GoDaddy (9 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 5, ESPN) – GoDaddy, indeed. Go away, please, because who needs 10-2 Ball State against 7-5 Arkansas State on the week’s best TV night. I challenge Ball State alum David Letterman to come up with a top 10 list of why anybody except alums should watch this one, which will turn out to be a two-TD Ball State victory.

BCS Title (8:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 6, ESPN) – Florida State hasn’t even been challenged on its way to a 13-0 record while Auburn needed some incredible breaks to beat both Georgia and Alabama. The oddsmakers like the Seminoles and Jameis Winston, their Heisman-winning QB, by eight or nine. But the SEC owns this game and I like Auburn’s true grit. The War Eagles pull it off by three, in overtime.



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