1 nice sentence about all 39 bowl games

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

My parents subscribed to the “if you don’t have a nice thing to say, then don’t say anything at all” theory. So while 2018’s bowl slate isn’t all that exciting I decided to find some fun in this not-awesome postseason slate. Here is one nice thing about every bowl matchup.

New Mexico: North Texas vs. Utah State

With Graham Harrell coordinating the offense and Mason Fine at QB, the Mean Green should put up plenty of points.

Cure Bowl: Tulane vs. UL Lafayette

If you want a non-Playoff bowl where the teams involved definitely care, the second all-Louisiana bowl in NCAA history should have at least a bit of animus.

Las Vegas: Fresno State vs. Arizona State

We’re guaranteed to get a good pre-bowl presser quote from Herm Edwards, and you shoulda watched this Fresno team this season so just cheat and watch this game.

Camellia: Georgia Southern vs. EMU

Georgia Southern plays option football again, and that’s always fun.

New Orleans: Middle Tennessee vs. Appalachian State

Blue Raiders QB Brent Stockstill (yup, the head coach’s son) actually is in the race to lead the nation in completion percentage among players who will play 12 or more games, and if you’re the kind of person who cares about completion percentage leaderboards, which you really should be, because they’re great, then this might be the game for you.

Cheribundi Tart Boca Raton: UAB vs. Northern Illinois

The Blazers are the best story in FBS this season.

Frisco: San Diego State vs. Ohio

Both teams are consistently good.

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl: Marshall vs. USF

There’s a non-zero chance that, because the game has moved from Tropicana Field to Raymond James Stadium, you might see this thing ...

ESPN

... on the Buccaneers’ pirate ship:

Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images

Bahamas: FIU vs. Toledo

FIU running back Anthony Jones and offensive lineman Mershawn Miller were both shot in a drive-by in September, and both have returned to play in games this season, with Jones as a key contributor to the rushing attack.

Potato: Western Michigan vs. BYU

Cougars QB Zach Wilson took over for Tanner Mangum (who’s still at BYU, yeah) and has become a really fun dual threat.

Birmingham: Memphis vs. Wake Forest

Two words: Darrell Henderson (if he doesn’t skip the game).

Armed Forces: Houston vs. Army

We won’t be able to see what Ed Oliver could do to singlehandedly wreck the option, but that means we get to see the option working seamlessly.

Dollar General: Buffalo vs. Troy

Watch this with family and sound really smart when you point out Buffalo’s Lance Leipold and Troy’s Neal Brown are some of the must-know coaching names in the Group of 5.

Hawaii: Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii

Speaking of coaches you should know, UH’s Nick Rolovich has a delightful Twitter account, which you can scroll during the game for added entertainment.

First Responder: Boston College vs. Boise State

Boise State QB Brett Rypien’s gonna be an under-the-radar draft guy.

Quick Lane: Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech

With Paul Johnson retiring and Geoff Collins coming in, this may be the last time you’ll ever see Georgia Tech run the flexbone option, so treasure the opportunity while you have it.

Independence: Temple vs. Duke

Geoff Collins won’t be coaching him, but you better keep your eyes peeled for Temple safety Delvon Randall, who makes acrobatic picks ...

... and is generally good fun.

Cheez-It: Cal vs. TCU

Cal has the best defense in the country you might not know about.

Pinstripe: Miami vs. Wisconsin

It features a strong Wisconsin rushing attack against a strong Miami defense, and you can think of that instead of that these teams were in the Orange Bowl 12 months ago.

Texas: Baylor vs. Vanderbilt

Get yourself acquainted with Vandy running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and his 7 yards per carry.

Music City: Purdue vs. Auburn

Jeff Brohm’s still coaching Purdue, and Gus Malzahn’s still coaching Auburn, and you can debate which of those is more surprising in its own way.

Camping World: West Virginia vs. Syracuse

Syracuse defensive end Alton Robinson is worth the price of admission and offers an incredible redemption story.

Alamo: Iowa State vs. Washington State

The Cyclones weathered the offensive assault of the Big 12 all season, and now they get Mike Leach’s Wazzu.

Peach: Florida vs. Michigan

I lied earlier, because I can’t find anything nice to say about this game.

Belk: South Carolina vs. Virginia

If you like Jake Bentley’s game, you’ll like watching him go up against a UVA secondary that includes Juan Thornhill, a guy who has at least as many interceptions as all but six players.

Arizona: Arkansas State vs. Nevada

The Wolf Pack have played in five one-score games, and S&P+ projects a 1.5-point margin in this one.

Military: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech

Luke Fickell has pulled off one of the best coaching jobs of this season for 10-2 UC.

Sun: Stanford vs. Pitt

Allow yourself to relive the greatest bowl game in college football history:

In the lowest-scoring major bowl game in a half-century, No. 24 Oregon State shut down No. 18 Pittsburgh 3-0 in the Brut Sun Bowl on Justin Kahut’s 44-yard field goal late in the first half.

The defensive struggle included 20 punts and nine sacks. Pitt kicker Connor Lee tried a 58-yard field goal in the closing minutes but the ball, helped by a steady wind, dropped just short of the crossbar.

Redbox: Michigan State vs. Oregon

Oregon QB Justin Herbert is going up against an elite defense.

Liberty: Missouri vs. Oklahoma State

The over/under is currently 74, only behind the Alabama-Oklahoma Orange Bowl (81).

Holiday: Northwestern vs. Utah

It’s at 7 p.m. ET on New Year’s Eve, so it won’t get too much in the way of your festivities.

Gator: NC State vs. Texas A&M

The Aggies have quietly been one of the most solid reams in the country this season, and if they win this game by a lot, they’ll be a prime candidate for a bowl bump in the 2019 preseason news cycle.

Outback: Mississippi State vs. Iowa

This will be Iowa’s sixth Outback Bowl berth since the 2003 season hahaha.

Citrus: Penn State vs. Kentucky

It’s your last chance to watch Trace McSorley play college football.

Fiesta: LSU vs. UCF

Remember, if UCF wins this game, it’s because LSU didn’t care.

Rose: Ohio State vs. Washington

It’s Urban Meyer’s last game, for now.

Sugar: Georgia vs. Texas

Sometimes bowl matchups are just excuses to geek out over two historic programs going at it.

Cotton: Clemson vs. Notre Dame

The Irish beat a cakewalk of a schedule that included five meh ACC teams, so the football gods gave ‘em the only good ACC team in a Playoff game.

Orange: Alabama vs. Oklahoma

The Tide have vowed revenge for Kyler Murray beating Tua Tagovailoa for the Heisman.

Comments

"Remember, if UCF doesn’t win this game, it’s because LSU didn’t care."

The SEC: It just means more! (Unless in postseason games where a premier school loses. Then it means nothing)

I think there have been times when a team (not just SEC) came in deflated after just missing out on a conference championship and/or playoff appearance

and faced an underdog running off the high of a dream season with something still left to prove. The result still counts, but you can’t pretend both teams had equal focus and motivation.

I don’t think LSU quite has that argument this year. The Fiesta Bowl is a pretty good reward for the season they had, and they never had serious playoff aspirations. The 7OT game against A&M was surely exhausting, but they’ve got plenty of time to recover and it really didn’t change much for them (OK, maybe they’d have gotten the Peach Bowl instead, big deal). They also know what UCF did against Auburn last year, so there’s no claiming surprise.

LSU’s defense better come to play early. LSU is not a team built to come back from a deficit (despite what they did against Auburn, grumble grumble). I think LSU is rightly favored, though the line being over 7 is too high for me.

Quick question, though: if LSU wins, do they get to claim a national title?

Was LSU undefeated? No...

See that only works for undefeated teams… and I should say in years when you are the only undefeated team in the nation… say like 2008.

Also helps when you are undefeated vs Alabama… 1-0 baby.

I would buy that argument if it wasn't a uniquely SEC excuse

It’s not like SEC teams are the only ones with motivation problems, Ohio State and Wisconsin did just fine last year in their bowl games against marquee opponents despite barely missing out on the playoffs. Nobody made that argument for Oklahoma against Boise State in 2006 or Wisconsin against TCU in 2010 either, but Alabama getting boat-raced by Utah in 2008? Nope, they were just too sad to play well! They even used that excuse against Oklahoma in the 2014 Sugar Bowl and that was against a fellow blueblood program that was 10-2 and won their conference. But I guess they were so bummed about the kick-six that they forgot to cover Sterling Shepard.

This excuse is only used to prop up SEC schools that fail in the postseason, no other P5 teams get that narrative laid out for them.

After #1 Ohio St and #2 Michigan played in 2006, I distinctly remember excuses being made for Michigan's loss to USC in the Rose Bowl.

tOSU-UM was "Game of the Century," touted by many before and for a month after as a de facto national championship game. Lots of people argued they should have gotten a rematch in the BCSNCG; even before the game, lots of people were saying this. It wasn’t just pundits. Lots of poll voters kept Michigan over Florida (and 1-loss USC) even after the loss, and the computers had it close as well. Michigan actually led Florida in the BCS standings going into the SECCG (with UF playing relatively close game against Arkansas, while UM and tOSU were already done).

So when both Michigan and USC came out sloppy, they were both excused for the hangover. (USC had their own reasons to be let down, having also blown a own shot at the BCSNCG by losing to UCLA at the end.) UM stayed hungover after halftime, while USC woke up.

But lots of people still defended the idea of a rematch, saying UM’s performance was a letdown after narrowly missing out on the BCSNCG. Had Ohio St beaten Florida like most expected, you might still hear that argument. Instead it all got quiet after a week later, because tOSU lost by 4 touchdowns.

Life Pro Tip: Do not ever listen to what ESPN thinks about Michigan.

FIFY

Life Pro Tip: Do not ever listen to what ESPN thinks about Michigan.

ESPN thinks?

To be more specific ...

It’s an excuse that SEC teams from the state of Alabama use. Maybe it is a reflection of the "championship or bust" attitude some fans of these teams have? Maybe Auburn was just trying to copy big brother by using their "championship or bust" attitude? Regardless, the "it’s an SEC excuse" explanation is a little too broad a brush stroke. It’s a Bama excuse that was used last year by another SEC program from the state of Alabama whose relevance is largely dependent on Bama…

I've heard it about a lot of programs from other conferences, not just SEC teams

The SEC has what, one or two bowl seasons under .500 in the last decade?

But every year we have to hear all the teeth gnashing when one or two SEC teams loses a marquee matchup because of the B1G’s massive inferiority complex

I mean shit anybody can just roll out of bed and beat LSU in a bowl game these days.

This is probably due to the fact that the south now cares more about soccer than football, as evidenced by Peachtree Palace FC’s victory on Saturday.

I used to look forward to bowl season…….now……..ugh……fans should boycott these games. If the players dont care why should we? Then and only then would we get a real playoff……because the $$$$$would dry up….until then what is the incentive?

The incentive on my end is I’ve got nothing better to watch

I agree on the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl comment

That is a nice lawn mower.

I thought this was supposed to be NICE things

that game was NOT the greatest game ever

Your correct...

The 2005 Fiesta Bowl was much better.

so i should start flagging your comments for harassment right?

not that the higher ups will actually do anything.

Honestly I only respond out of love...

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