MOTSAG TV Guide

Change is the theme for the 2014 college football season, so with that in mind, I’m changing up the TV Guide structure, packaging games in groups to help you enjoy the best of the national landscape, follow all our fellow Ohio schools and conference foes, and/or scout our remaining schedule.

BUCKEYES

Ohio State @ Navy. Noon, CBS Sports Network.

This is the moment of truth. It might have been less stressful to open the season in the Shoe against an Ohio MAC or FCS opponent with Braxton’s injury casting a shadow of doubt over the season, but a road test against a tricky opponent will tell us more about our young QBs heading into a pivotal battle against Virginia Tech next week.

Note that the game is on CBS Sports Network, not regular CBS. This should be DirecTV 221, Dish 158, Time Warner 1322, U-Verse 1643 & Verizon FiOS 594. Check to make sure you get this channel now! (If anyone knows of corrections or additions to this list, leave them in the comments!)

UPCOMING OPPONENTS

(8/28)

Eastern Illinois @ Minnesota. 7:00p, Big Ten Network.

Rutgers @ Washington State. 10:00p, Fox Sports 1.

(8/29)

Jacksonville State @ Michigan State. 7:30p, Big Ten Network.

(8/30)

Penn State vs. UCF in Ireland. 8:30a, ESPN2.

Appalachian State @ Michigan. Noon, ESPN2.

It’s unlikely that we’ll see a repeat of the 2007 game, but we can dream, can’t we? Despite being a far worse team now than back then, App State does have one thing going for them: motivation. You think these kids don’t want to do the same thing their predecessors did? You think they haven’t been hearing all about how they won’t be able to? And let’s not forget: Michigan isn’t the team they were back then either.

Indiana State @ Indiana. Noon, ESPN News.

Youngstown State @ Illinois. Noon, Big Ten Network.

James Madison @ Maryland. 3:30p, Big Ten Network.

William & Mary @ Virginia Tech. 4:00p, ESPN News.

Ohio @ Kent State. 6:00p, ESPN3 (online).

Cincinnati: no game.

OTHER BIG TEN TEAMS

(8/30)
Northern Iowa @ Iowa. Noon, Big Ten Network.

Western Michigan @ Purdue. Noon, ESPNU.

California @ Northwestern. 3:30p, ABC/ESPN2.

Florida Atlantic @ Nebraska. 3:30p, Big Ten Network.

LSU vs. Wisconsin in Houston. 9:00p, ESPN.

This is the first chance for the Big Ten to make a big statement in 2014. Both teams had solid seasons last year, with only one blowout loss (LSU’s 21-point loss to Alabama) between them. Rumor is that the Badgers will give the athletic Tanner McEvoy the nod at QB over the more experienced (and more predictable) Joel Stave. You may remember McEvoy as a safety, the position he played most of last year after switching from wide receiver due to a wrist injury. Did I mention he’s athletic?

OTHER OHIO TEAMS

(8/28)

Howard @ Akron. 7:00p, ESPN3 (online).

(8/29)

Bowling Green @ Western Kentucky. 7:30p, CBS Sports Network.

(8/30)

Marshall @ Miami (Ohio). 3:30p, ESPN3 (online).

New Hampshire @ Toledo. 7:00p, ESPN3 (online).

OTHER TOP NATIONAL GAMES

(8/28)

Texas A&M @ South Carolina. 6:00p, SEC Network.

(8/30)

Alabama vs. West Virginia in Atlanta. 3:30p, ABC/ESPN2.

Clemson @ Georgia. 5:30p, ESPN.

Despite the departures of Tahj Boyd and Aaron Murray, this should still be an entertaining and competitive game. Georgia is probably the better team this year, but that’s what most people thought last year too.

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State in Arlington. 8:00p, ABC.

(9/1)

Miami (Florida) @ Louisville. 8:00p, ESPN.

The Spread, Week One: Into The Unknown

College football is back. Or rather, something that looks kind of like college football is here. 2014 brings us a new Big Ten–now with 14 teams, reshuffled and renamed divisions, and an air of unpredictability the conference hasn’t seen in a while, thanks in part to an abrupt change that has Buckeye fans on the edges of our seats: Braxton Miller’s season-ending injury and the as-yet-unseen impact it will have on the offense.

But things are just as uncertain on the national landscape. For the first time since 2006, the returning national champion does not hail from the SEC. The conference will have to console itself with its shiny new TV network, bolstered by ESPN’s Inception-level layers of conflict of interest.

The ACC welcomes Louisville to replace Maryland (now in the Big Ten) and hopes last year’s Seminole crystal football will be the start of a long streak of their own. Of course, there will be no more actual crystal footballs as the championship will now be decided by a four-team playoff with its own more understated trophy.

How to get into that playoff may be the biggest unknown of the upcoming season. Teams will be selected by a 13-member committee from diverse backgrounds applying vague guidelines. No one really knows what factors will end up being the most important, but suffice it to say that winning will always the best bet. And don’t think it will get any easier going forward. If we learned anything from the BCS, it’s that every season is a unique universe that produces its own unanswerable questions. What works this year might not work next year.

Buckeye fans are hoping the inverse is true: that what doesn’t work this year will work next year. Namely, Braxton Miller’s ailing shoulder. The dynamic QB has stated he’d like to return to the team in 2015–a decision that makes sense whether or not he’s able to make the jump to the NFL.

But first we have to see what this season brings. One-handed grabs, Hail Marys, crazy tip-drill interceptions–those are guaranteed. There’s sure to be a massive controversial officiating blunder or two, like the insulting end of last year’s Wisconsin/Arizona State game. Maybe we’ll get lucky and witness another did-you-see-that moment like Auburn’s “Kick Six” in the Iron Bowl.

One thing is for certain: you just never know.

2014: The (Other) B1G Coaches

This season marks the beginning of a new era for the B1G conference. There are two new member schools, a new East/West divisional structure, and of course the new College Football Playoff as a potential post-season reward. Navigating this new world are 14 coaches in various stages of their careers. We already know all about our own fearless leader, but let’s take a look at where the rest of the head honchos stand:

The Veteran

Kirk Ferentz – Iowa. I’m honestly not sure how Ferentz manages to hang on to this job, but there he is. Still. The only current B1G coach who had his job before Y2K, Cap’n Kirk has only hit 10 wins four times out of 15 seasons, and only once in the last nine.

But guess what? This year Iowa misses Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan. They play Wisconsin and Nebraska at home at the end of the season and face Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State and Pittsburgh out of conference, with only the Pitt game on the road. Nine wins should be the minimum acceptable out of that bunch, and I’d guess they snag another one in there too.

Ferentz is a lock for B1G Coach of the Year, which he won in three of those four 10-win seasons, including 2002–when Jim Tressel took Ohio State to the national championship game (the award was given out before he also won that game.)

The Newbie

James Franklin – Penn State. Franklin is in an unusual position for first-year coach. Even though he still has to deal with the fallout of NCAA sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, he is unlikely to get any of the forgiveness that coaches typically get in these cases. That’s because his predecessor Bill O’Brien managed a 15-9 record in the first two years under the harsh punishment. If Franklin can’t at least match that performance, fans will grow impatient.

Right or wrong, Franklin needs to finish above .500 right out of the gate to stay off the hot seat. Fortunately for him, he was able to that for two of his three years at Vanderbilt, and went 6-7 in his first year, which tripled the win total from the previous year.

The Safe Zone: Coaches Who Aren’t Going Anywhere Unless They Want To

Mark Dantonio – Michigan State. It’s impossible to overstate what Mark Dantonio has achieved for the Spartans. Besides being the most recent conference and Rose Bowl champion, he has won 69% of his games, including five out of seven against in-state rivals Michigan (the two losses coming by a total of six points.)

Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern. Following the shocking death of Randy Walker, Fitzgerald was named the new Wildcat head coach. He had no previous head coaching experience, having served as linebackers coach for five years at Northwestern, and for three years before that at Maryland, Colorado and Idaho.

Yet he has become perhaps the most accomplished coach in the program’s history, making five consecutive bowl games and delivering the first post-season win since the 1949 Rose Bowl. He also turned in the school’s second 10-win season in history–the first came when he was suited up at linebacker.

Bo Pelini – Nebraska. I probably could have just as easily put Pelini in the Hot Seat section, since Cornhusker fans are consistently disappointed in how their season turns out. That’s probably because Pelini has consistently lost four games a year since become head coach in 2008.

Exactly four games. Every single year.

I can see how that would get maddening, but it also means he wins nine or ten a year, and it’s tough to argue that he should be let go for that. No, it’s far more likely that Pelini will be let go for choking an official to death and then using the corpse to beat his kicker for missing an extra point.

The Hot Seat: Coaches Who Need To Get Something Done Or Get Packing

Kevin Wilson – Indiana. Indiana doesn’t ask for much from their football program. Get to a bowl game on a regular basis like Bill Mallory did in the late-80s/early-90s, and you won’t hear too many complaints from the Hoosier faithful. But that doesn’t mean IU has a long leash. Bill Lynch only got four years, sputtering for three after reaching the Insight Bowl in 2007. Gerry DiNardo got axed after three years and eight wins. While Wilson’s teams have shown some promise, he needs to make the post-season in 2014 or it’s curtains.

Brady Hoke – Michigan. You probably won’t see the coaches of Michigan and Indiana grouped together too often, but unlike Wilson, Hoke has actually been regressing each season with the Wolverines, to the point that most people now credit his stellar first season more to Rich Rodriguez than to Hoke himself. Yeah, I know.

As if atoning for all of his own failures wasn’t enough, Hoke must try to make up for Lloyd Carr’s infamous loss to Appalachian State in 2007. If the unthinkable happens again, Hoke might not make it to this year’s edition of The Game.

Up-and-Comers: Coaches Showing Promise

Jerry Kill – Minnesota. No, Kill hasn’t posted a stellar record in his first three years as Top Gopher. Yes, his multiple kidney cancer induced sideline seizures have been terrifying and lead many (myself included) to wonder if this is the best job for him. But the most important thing about Coach Kill is that his teams are steadily improving, making him more likely to become the next Glen Mason (or better) rather than the next Tim Brewster.

Randy Edsall – Maryland. Having guided the Connecticut Huskies from I-AA to perennial bowl team over the course of 12 years, Edsall was brought in to take over the Terrapins program after the severely mishandled firing of Ralph Friedgen.* While they may not be quite where Maryland fans would like to see them, Edsall’s teams have been progressing each season.

*Interesting side-note: Friedgen is now the OC at Rutgers, while his former Maryland OC James Franklin is the new head coach of Penn State. All three teams will compete in the new Big Ten East division.

Gary Andersen – Wisconsin. After just one year on the job, Andersen is the best of this bunch so far. He turned in a 9-win season last year that would have been 10 if the Arizona State game had been officiated competently. His Badgers didn’t get blown out in any game, with the worst loss coming in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina–a closely contested game that ended in a 34-24 defeat.

Too Early To Tell

Kyle Flood – Rutgers. He’s won 15 games in two years with Rutgers, but the B1G (East) is not the same thing as the Big East. If he gets time to adjust, he may end up okay. How patient will Scarlet Knights’ fans be?

Tim Beckman – Illinois. While six wins in two years isn’t great, Beckman’s team improved last year and if he keeps it up, he may prevent Illinois from becoming the go-to punchline of the B1G.

Darrell Hazell – Purdue. Last year was a complete disaster for Hazell. His lone win was a 6-point victory over Indiana State–a team that also went 1-11 last year. (Their lone win was against 2-9 Quincy. We better stop there.)

Three Storylines: The Coaching Staff

Surprisingly, after 24 wins in two years, Urban Meyer’s coaching staff remains largely the same. Tom Herman, Kerry Coombs and Luke Fickell–all three heavily rumored to be entertaining head coaching offers–return to the sidelines under Meyer, looking to snag the first College Football Playoff Championship. To fill the holes left by Mike Vrabel (Houston Texans – LB coach) and Everett Withers (James Madison University – head coach,) Meyer brought in a heavy hitter and an up-and-comer. What their impact will be remains to be seen, but we’re feeling optimistic.

Can Chris Ash become the defensive Tom Herman?

When Urban Meyer and Tom Herman showed in 2012, they took a team that had averaged 24.5 points and 318 yards per game the year before and turned it into an offensive machine, churning out an average of 37.2 points and 424 yards. Last year they kicked it up a notch, finishing with 45.5 points and 512 yards per game.

The sacrifice for all that output seems to have been on the other side of the ball, particularly in the passing game. The traditionally stout Silver Bullet defense turned into a predictably exploitable sieve, culminating in 268 passing yards given up per game in 2013. You remember.

Enter Chris Ash, managing to escape the hot-sauce-soaked clutches of Bret Bielema the way no chicken wing or Busch Light ever could. Ash had some success as DB coach and defensive coordinator at Wisconsin, but is still largely unproven.

Not unproven however is Urban Meyer’s eye for coaching talent, so if he thinks Ash can help right this ship, I believe him. Critics may point to last year’s dismal showing at Arkansas, when Ash and the Hogs turned in the #73 pass defense. I’m not going to make excuses for that; I’ll just point out that it’s still 39 spots higher than Ohio State finished. Yeah.

What does Larry Johnson Sr. bring to the table?

Johnson was a mind-blowing hire, and to this day I’m not sure how Meyer convinced him to leave Penn State–literally the only other college he has ever worked for, and where his two sons played football. As well as taking over the D-Line from Vrabel, he also snagged Withers’ Assistant Head Coach title.

I’ll admit that I initially thought this was a primarily recruiting-oriented hire, but after taking a look at Johnson’s accomplishments, that may have been naive of me. His D-Lines at Penn State were top-notch and he produced more conference defensive Players of the Year (5) than any other position coach since 1996.

He seems to be in sync with Meyer when it comes to overall philosophy, focusing on personal relationships with players and placing a high value on fast, relentless play. I have no doubt he’ll be able to pick up where Vrabel left off and then some.

Can Urban Meyer bounce back from the disappointing end of last season?

Meyer hasn’t had many disappointments in his coaching career, from his successful spread experiments at Bowling Green to his world-shocking run at Utah to those jaw-dropping Florida teams. His worst season ever was the 8-5 stumble in his last year with the Gators–a year he was begged to coach by Florida’s AD. That season still ended with a bowl win over… somebody… who can remember these things?

And to call 12-2 a disappointment is kind of absurd, but the back-to-back losses to Michigan State and Clemson in the biggest games of the year were, frankly, disappointing. So, how does Meyer respond?

If history is any indication, pretty well. Meyer’s teams have never trended downward two consecutive seasons. Of course, Ohio State is only the second team he’s gone to Year Three with, but still, BGSU and Utah both improved greatly while he was there.

At Florida he went from 9 wins in 2005 to 13 and a national title in 2006. After another 9-win campaign in 2007, he tore off two consecutive 13-win years and won another championship, before finishing with that 8-win snoozer.

Meyer is a master motivator, and I have no doubt that he is using those two final games as fodder for Buckeye fire this season. Armed with that, a sideline full of play-makers, and one of the greatest coaching staffs ever assembled, watch out for the Urban Meyer Redemption Tour in 2014.

MotSaG Bowl Guide 5: Assignment Miami Beach

Well, this is it. These last few days of bowl action bring us not only the National Championship, but also some other pretty intriguing match ups that don’t mean anything as well as two games trying to leech some of that NFL playoff audience.

Thursday
8:30p

Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Alabama. While the Crimson Tide hasn’t beaten the Sooners in over 50 years, Nick Saban has beaten Bob Stoops, in the Sugar Bowl. That game was for a national title, though, and Saban is far better in title games than he is in other BCS bowls. Then again, Stoops has been notoriously bad in BCS bowls of nearly every variety, with at least one loss in the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and BCS National Championship games. (ESPN)

Friday
8:00p

Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Missouri. As former conference-mates in the old Big Twelve, these two have played each other more often than probably any other pair of bowl opponents this year. The Tigers lead the overall series 28-23, but the Cowboys have won four of the last five. Obligatory Program Cover Art. (Fox)

8:30p

Orange Bowl: Ohio State vs. Clemson. The only other time these two played was 35 years ago. You know what happened. Since then, each team has had five head coaches. Ohio State has gone 14-16 in bowls. Clemson has gone 12-14. Ohio State is 18-16-1 against arch-rivals Michigan and has won 14 conference titles. Clemson is 21-13-1 against arch-rivals South Carolina and has won 7 conference titles. This year, both teams feature high-powered offenses and suspect defenses. That said, both teams rank in the top 21 in scoring defense in the country. This is going to be interesting. (ESPN)

Saturday
1:00p

BBVA Compass Bowl: Houston vs. Vanderbilt. This is last year that BBVA Compass will sponsor the Birmingham Bowl, so I thought I’d look them up and see who they are, since it’s not exactly obvious unless they make compasses. They don’t. (ESPN)

Sunday
9:00p

Go Daddy Bowl: Arkansas State vs. Ball State. Look: I’m tired, you’re tired. Neither one of us is watching this game. Let’s just move on with our lives. (ESPN)

Monday
8:30p

BCS National Championship: Florida State vs. Auburn. It’s the final game of the BCS Era, and I couldn’t be happier to see it go. As much as I hate to cheer for the Seminoles, it would be a fitting end for the convoluted championship system if FSU could beat an SEC team, simultaneously ending that conference’s (and the state of Alabama’s) streak of titles and avenging their own loss to the SEC’s Tennessee in the first BCS title game. (ESPN)

MotSaG Bowl Guide, Episode IV: A New Hope

Happy New Year! It’s time once again for the Big Ten/SEC football challenge. Since the mid-90s, both Capital One Bowl and the Outback Bowl have matched up the two conferences, and the Gator Bowl joined in the fun with their 2011 game. The overall record is SEC 25, Big Ten 17. Last year, the SEC went 2-1 in these games, with a combined score of 98-93. All three of the Big Ten representatives this year won their most recent appearance in their bowl.

So far this bowl season, the Big Ten is 0-2 (0-4 if you count incoming B1GGIES Rutgers and Maryland) so the conference could use some good fortune today.

Wednesday
Noon

Gator Bowl: Nebraska vs. Georgia. Interestingly, this is a rematch of last year’s Capital One Bowl, which Georgia won by 14 points. In each of the past five seasons, Nebraska has lost exactly 4 games. Since they’ve already lost 4 this year, they are scientifically required to win this game. Congrats, Huskers! (ESPN2)

Heart of Dallas Bowl: North Texas vs. UNLV. In three attempts, North Texas has been unable to beat UNLV. However, they’ve never played in a bowl and their last game was in the year 2000. (ESPNU)

1:00p

Capital One Bowl: Wisconsin vs. South Carolina. Wisconsin’s three losses are by a combined 16 points to teams who have lost an average of 3 games each. South Carolina’s two losses are by a combined 13 points to teams who have lost an average of 5.5 games each. Wisconsin also has the clear advantage on paper, and is a slight favorite in the game. South Carolina is ranked #9. Wisconsin is ranked #19. There is no SEC bias though. (ABC)

Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. LSU. The Hawkeyes beat the Tigers 30-25 in the 2005 Capital One Bowl. Obligatory Program Cover Art (with fish). (ESPN)

5:00p

Rose Bowl: Michigan State vs. Stanford. In the past seven years, the Rose Bowl has featured either Wisconsin or USC six times. The Big Ten lost all six of those games. But in the one game that featured neither of those teams, the Big Ten won! You can’t argue with that! Sparty YES! (ESPN)

8:30p

Fiesta Bowl: Baylor vs. UCF. In keeping with this year’s tradition of finishing the night with a stinker of a game, here’s this thing. It’s almost physically impossible for this game to be intriguing. Even if it is competitive, it’s still not that interesting. This drawing of a bear fighting a knight is pretty cool though. (ESPN)

MotSaG Bowl Guide 3-D

Well, we’ve finally made it to the end of the year! We’re almost to the bowls that people actually care about, but first we’ve got to wade through a couple days of games that all sound the same, featuring match-ups we wouldn’t watch if the end of the college football season weren’t so frighteningly imminent.

Monday
11:45a

Armed Forces Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Navy. The Armed Forces Bowl is different from the Military Bowl, I guess. I mean, it at least has an actual service academy playing in it, even though that’s not a requirement. I’m so confused. (ESPN)

3:15p

Music City Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Mississippi. Keep an eye on whoever takes home MVP honors in this game. They’ll most likely end up playing for a terrible NFL team, like former winners Jason Campbell, Zac Stacy, C.J. Spiller, and William Green. (ESPN)

6:45p

Alamo Bowl: Oregon vs. Texas. The first time these two played was early December, 1941. The Longhorns thrashed the Ducks 71-7. Texas kicked Oregon around a few more times in the mid-twentieth century, before dropping the 2000 Holiday Bowl to the boys from Eugene. Can the ducks keep their mediocre mid-tier magic alive this year? Obligatory Program Cover Art. (ESPN)

10:15p

Holiday Bowl: Arizona State vs. Texas Tech. Head coaches Todd Graham and Kliff Kingsbury have faced off before. As an offensive assistant at Houston, Kingsbury had a hand in the 70-30 beatdown of Graham’s 2008 Tulsa team. They split the next two meetings (both razor-close) before their coaching paths diverged. Tonight, they meet again. Will Graham finally avenge that humiliating defeat or will he be out-handsomed once more? (ESPN)

Tuesday
12:30p

Independence Bowl: Arizona vs. Boston College. When the Wildcats and Eagles face off, you know it’s Arizona and Boston College getting together. Or Kentucky and Eastern Michigan. Or Northwestern and Southern Mississippi. Or Kansas State and Eastern Washington. Or Bethune-Cookman and Georgia Southern. Or Villanova and Morehead State. (ESPN)

2:00p

Sun Bowl: UCLA vs. Virginia Tech. A Bruin is a bear. A Hokie is a made up word, but apparently they’ve decided it’s some kind of turkey. So here you go: Turkey Bear. (CBS)

4:00p

Liberty Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Rice. No, the Liberty Bowl is not the Independence Bowl. Nor is it the Freedom Bowl, which existed for a little while in the ’90s, before folding into the Holiday Bowl. Nor is it the Emancipation Bowl, the Autonomy Bowl or the Sovereignty Bowl. Seriously, how many bowls are there? (ESPN)

8:00p

Peach Bowl: Duke vs. Texas A&M. It’s the last hurrah for Johnny Football, who is probably going to put up about a zillion yards on the Blue Devils’ 71st-ranked pass defense in what is essentially his Pro Day. (ESPN)

MotSaG Bowl Guide, Part II: For a Few Dollars More

You might notice a common thread in our second batch of post-season offerings: they’re all on ESPN. In fact, all but 2 of the 36 total bowl games are on an ABC/ESPN network and the Worldwide Leader in Conflicts of Interest owns eight bowls outright, with another two on the way next year. It means whatever you think you means.

Thursday
6:00p

Little Caesars Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh notched a pair of wins over the Falcons in 1999/2000, while Bowling Green won the most recent matchup in 2008. Obligatory Program Cover Art. (ESPN)

9:30p

Poinsettia Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Utah State. These two teams played in 1995, with Utah State winning 42-7. Ingesting a poinsettia could cause vomiting and diarr–oh wait, I think this part was for the Little Caesars Bowl. (ESPN)

Friday
2:30

Military Bowl: Marshall vs. Maryland. MARSHALL! MARYLAND! MILITARY! That’s my pitch for the ad campaign for this game, starring Terry Crews as a turtle and Zach Galifianakis as the buffalo or whatever it’s a herd of that’s thundering. They would both be dressed in fatigues. Give me money. (ESPN)

6:00p

Texas Bowl: Minnesota vs. Syracuse. Nothing says “Texas” like Minnesota and Syracuse. The Gophers hold the 3-1 all-time edge over the Orange, and this is an orange tie with gophers on it. (ESPN)

9:30p

Fight Hunger Bowl: BYU vs. Washington. Washington is 65-34 all-time vs. teams named “Cougars,” while BYU is 4-4 against teams named “Huskies,” all eight of those games being against Washington. What does it all mean? NO MORE HUNGER! (ESPN)

Saturday
Noon

Pinstripe Bowl: Notre Dame vs. Rutgers. These two teams have played four times, and Rutgers only scored in one of those games. When I searched for “Irish Knight,” I got this. Someone get Nolan on the phone! (ESPN)

3:20p

Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. North Carolina. The Bearcats haven’t had much luck against the Tarheels, losing by 21 and 35 in their previous two meetings (1979 & 1991). There are no Belk stores in Ohio, but if you like unnecessary z’s, you can buy a pair of these online. They were literally the only product that came up when I searched for “Ohio.” (ESPN)

6:45p

Russell Athletic Bowl: Louisville vs. Miami. Back in mid-October, you could have made an argument for these two teams to play for the national title. Oh well, lots of teams don’t get to play for the title. Enjoy your lousy bowl, jerks. (ESPN)

10:15p

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Kansas State vs. Michigan. While it’s unclear whether or not Brady Hoke realizes that his team has not been invited to play in an enormous bowl of actual buffalo wings, we do know that he has expertly executed his five-year plan so far by landing the Wolverines in three consecutive food-related bowls. (ESPN)

MotSaG Bowl Guide, Part I

Bowl Season starts this Saturday, and I know you’re all psyched to pretend you might watch Louisiana-Lafayette play Tulane. But be honest, if I told you they’ve played twice already this year, you wouldn’t know for sure if that’s true or not.

Saturday
2:00p

New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State vs. Washington State. The Rams take on the Cougars for the first time ever. I don’t know if this is the cover of the game program, but it should be. Combined, these two teams give up nearly 900 yards per game. Bowls! (ESPN)

3:30p

Las Vegas Bowl: Fresno State vs. USC. Believe it or not, this game will serve as the rubber match for a series that includes a 1992 Bulldog win in the Freedom Bowl and a 2005 Trojan win. Here is a picture of a Trojan Bulldog (or, if the file name is to be believed, a Spartan Bulldog). Why? (ABC)

5:30p

Idaho Potato Bowl: Buffalo vs. San Diego State. The Bulls and the Aztecs have never played each other, but they did both play Ohio State this year. Watch our first two opponents battle it out for a trophy that I hope is shaped like this. Yum! (ESPN)

9:00p

New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Tulane. At least the Ragin’ Cajuns and Green Wave know how to come up with original team names. No tigers or wildcats here. But that also means no weird mashup pic from Google Image Search. I did, however, find that Cajun Wave is a defunct barbecue restaurant in Stowell, Texas, just down the street from Winnie Church of Christ, which probably doesn’t have anything to do with these folks, but I’m pretending it does. (ESPN)

Monday
2:00p

St. Petersburg Bowl: East Carolina vs. Ohio. The Pirates already have two victories over the Bobcats from the late ’90s when the school was transitioning from independence to Conference USA. If you’re going to the game, print out this handy map of Metro routes and don’t get Volkovskaya confused with Moskovskaya. (ESPN)

Tuesday
8:00p

Hawaii Bowl: Boise State vs. Oregon State. The Broncos lead this series 3-2, but all of those games happened in September in that weird northwestern part of the United States. This is in Hawaii, in what would be December if they had that in Hawaii. (ESPN)

The Spread: Prediction Clearinghouse

As you know, I like to predict things–often with little to no substantiation. I get away with this baseless speculation because I do it for free. If I were some professional working for, say, ESPN, I would be held accountable for my prog–what? No one holds them to any sort of standard either? Huh.

But I’m not one to sweep my failures under the rug, so let’s take a look at some things I predicted this year, and how they turned out (so far):

B1G Newbies:

Back in February, I took a shot at guessing how the two new conference head coaches would fare in their opening season. I thought Wisconsin would take a small step back under Gary Andersen and go 6-6. Instead, they went 9-3 and one of those was the Arizona State loss where what should have been a last-second Badger field goal attempt disintegrated into mass confusion thanks to probably the worst performance by officials ever. That was one of the losses I picked, though, so there’s that. I also correctly picked the Ohio State and Penn State losses.

On the other side of that coin is Purdue’s Darrell Hazell, who I thought would go 4-8. Instead, the Boilermakers won a single game, against Indiana State. Obviously, I had them winning that game too, but also thought they’d handle Northern Illinois, Regular Illinois and Indiana–games they lost by a combined 55 points.

Fraud Teams:

Faring much better was my annual Fraud list of teams that were undefeated after five weeks only to lose at least five games the rest of the season. Missouri and Houston managed to get themselves off the list by the Week 11 update, and of the six remaining teams, four have already lost their fifth game and Washington needs to beat BYU next Friday to avoid going full Fraud this year. The only team that won’t hit five losses is UCLA, who was almost left off the update. All in all, a pretty successful year for the Fraud List.