It’s college bowl season. Feel the excitement! It’s like spring training…if spring training was after the season and took up the two weeks before the World Series. It’s basically 34 consolation games, where even the winners have to pretend to get excited. It’s the Poinsettia Bowl and the Idaho Potato Bowl and traditional powerhouses like Marshall and Utah State.
College bowls only exist for three reasons. First, they allow bowl committees to make hundreds of thousands of dollars for putting on an event that is normally less attended than your average Miley Cyrus concert. Secondly, they allow universities to keep their athletes in a state of indentured servitude for an extra four weeks. But most importantly, they allow the rest of us to gamble.
35 games in 17 days! That’s two a day. It means there’s no need to worry about losing – just double down on the next game, and you will be fine. Sure, it’s not the four-day gambling orgy that is the first two rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament. But the same rules should apply. Ask yourself: who wins your NCAA pool? The answer is simple: not you. You know basketball, and yet you never win your pool. Who wins? The dumpy secretary who picks Louisville because that’s where her favorite college roommate came from.
So, here is CalvinAyre.com’s 2013-2014 bowl preview and gambling guide, written by someone who really doesn’t know college football outside the Big 12 all that well. I know it better than the dumpy secretary, but that’s not saying much. You might take offense to some of the choices, given your superior knowledge of college football. Too bad. My picks will beat yours. Don’t believe me? Ask yourself this: how many Troll dolls did your secretary buy with her $1500 in office pool winnings?
December 21: New Mexico Bowl, Colorado State (7-6) vs. Washington State (6-6)
Line: WSU by 3.5
Here’s what we know about Washington State: that’s where Mike Leach, former Texas Tech coach, coaches. Here’s what we know about Colorado State: their nickname is the Rams, and I know somebody who got busted for dealing crystal meth while he went to school there. See how this works? We’re picking Washington State, because meth is bad. Plus, the Pac-12 is really, really good this year. What conference does Colorado State play in? I don’t know. You don’t know. First game of the year is a lock.
Washington State 58, Colorado State 24
December 21: Las Vegas Bowl, Fresno State (11-1) vs. USC (9-4)
Line: USC -6.5
This is the perfect bowl: it pits two teams against each other, neither of whom wants to be playing in the game. Fresno State was on track for a BCS bid before losing a game in which they scored 41 points in the first half. It’s unclear how Fresno State will prepare for this game, given that they apparently play in a flag football conference.
As for USC, they’re supposed to be playing for national championships, not in the Las Vegas Bowl four days before Christmas. And with all the under-the-table payoffs from boosters, you know their stars are going to be partying in Vegas that week. Plus, their coach just quit. Again, this is pretty simple.
Fresno State 38, USC 27
December 21: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, San Diego State (7-5) vs. Buffalo (8-4)
Line: Buffalo -2.5
Buffalo’s NFL team hasn’t made the playoffs in over a decade, so I’m pretty sure we’re picking San Diego State here. But that’s not the important part. Here’s the key question: why on Earth are Idaho potatoes paying money to sponsor a bowl game? What is the end-game here? I waited tables for eight years in really nice restaurants and, as snobby as those rich SOBs were, not once did someone order French fries and then ask, “Your potatoes are from Idaho, correct?” They’re potatoes, not champagne or weed. Settle down, Idaho.
San Diego State 34, Buffalo 21.
December 21: New Orleans Bowl, Tulane (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Line: Pick ’em
The fourth game of the day, and the great irony of this all-Louisiana matchup (Tulane is located in New Orleans) is that if it happened in Week 2, it wouldn’t be on television at all. Now we’re going to be watching it because nothing else is going to be on and this country is full of degenerate gamblers. (Just an observation, not a criticism.)
Anyway, we’re picking Tulane, because I’ve been to New Orleans and I’ve been to Lafayette, and my New Orleans stories were much more awesome. I stayed at a Days Inn in Lafayette, and had dinner at an Applebee’s. In New Orleans, two of my buddies got arrested. New Orleans is much more fun, at least for those of us who didn’t wind up in jail. Roll Green Wave.
Tulane 47, Louisiana-Lafayette 35
December 23: Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, East Carolina (9-3) vs. Ohio (7-5)
Line: ECU – 12.5
My folks live in eastern North Carolina, not far from Greenville, where ECU is located. And “picking the school near where my parents live” is the staple of every winning NCAA bracket. They couldn’t make this line high enough.
East Carolina 57, Ohio 14
December 24: Hawaii Bowl, Boise State (8-4) vs. Oregon State (6-6)
Line: Oregon State -2.5
The secretarial strategy breaks down here, as I like Boise and I like Oregon. So we’ll use a (small) dollop of football fan common sense. Boise State is not what Boise State used to be. Oregon State is probably happy to be going to any bowl game. The game is in Hawaii; motivation matters.
Oregon State 33, Boise State 21
December 26: Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (10-3)
Line: Bowling Green -5.5
I was offered a full ride to Bowling Green back in 1996, but turned it down to go to some bullshit Division III school in Connecticut where the women didn’t shave their legs and most of the men didn’t care. I obviously made the wrong choice; I could have been going to the Little Caesars Bowl! And I could have gone to a college with more than 8 decent-looking women.
On the other hand, with a full ride, I might have graduated, and gotten a real job, in which case I most likely wouldn’t have become a comedian and wouldn’t be writing football columns on the Internet. But that doesn’t make up for missing four years of college girls. I wish I had a time machine.
Bowling Green 38, Pittsburgh 28
December 26: Poinsettia Bowl, Utah State (8-5) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)
Line: Northern Illinois -1.5
The secretary would say, “Northern Illinois is 12-1, and Utah State is 8-5. So Northern Illinois is probably better.” I say, “Northern Illinois is 12-1, and Utah State is 8-5. So Northern Illinois is probably better. And I live in northern Illinois, unfortunately.” Why is this line -1.5?
Northern Illinois 39, Utah State 17
December 27: Military Bowl, Maryland (7-5) vs. Marshall (9-4)
Line: Marshall -2.5
Eight years ago, I actually tried to move to Huntington, West Virginia, where Marshall is located. Why? Houses were $40,000 and you could stare at college girls all day. Still seems like a decent plan, actually.
Marshall 31, Maryland 21
December 27: Texas Bowl, Syracuse (6-6) vs. Minnesota (8-4)
Line: Minnesota -5.5
How the f— are Syracuse and Minnesota playing in the Texas Bowl? People from Texas can’t stand people from as far north as Oklahoma; they wouldn’t go to this game if tickets were free. And I’m guessing they will be. Who will win? Well, Syracuse is a city in New York, but Minnesota is a whole state. That’s much more impressive.
Minnesota 27, Syracuse 20
December 27: Fight Hunger Bowl, Washington (8-4) vs. BYU (8-4)
Line: Washington -3.5
The secretary is not at all interested in wagering her hard-earned money on Mormons. Like most women in her fifties, she’s a little bigoted but she’d never admit it.
Washington 34, BYU 23
December 28: Pinstripe Bowl, Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Rutgers (6-6)
Line: Notre Dame -16.5
This is a tough one for me. I grew up a diehard Notre Dame fan, until they hired that scumbug Brian Kelly to coach the team after he quit on the University of Cincinnati – in the Sugar Bowl at 12-0 – to take the ND job. My buddy guilted me back onto the ND bandwagon late last year, just in time for them to get stomped by Alabama in a national championship game that looked an awful lot like a varsity versus JV scrimmage when the JV quarterback was hurt. Meanwhile, I grew up in New Jersey, and never rooted for Rutgers because they were always terrible at everything.
So what would the secretary say? She’d say, “Boy sixteen and a half points sounds like a lot.” So would anyone who saw Notre Dame’s offense play this year.
Notre Dame 19, Rutgers 13
December 28: Belk Bowl, North Carolina (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Line: UNC -3.5
The “my parents live in North Carolina” card is trumped here, by the “Good Lord, Carolina fans are the biggest assholes in the world except for Miami Heat fans.” I don’t care if Carolina is 6-6 and in something called the Belk Bowl, you can’t root for Carolina. How are you supposed to enjoy your gambling winnings when you realize that Carolina winning means some trust fund dickhead in Docksiders and a button-down shirt is a little happier while doing shots of Jagermeister with his vapid blonde girlfriend? That’s blood money.
Cincinnati 28, North Carolina 24
December 28: Russell Athletic Bowl, Miami (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1)
Line: Louisville -3.5
Holy cow, a decent football game! My brother is stationed in Miami, and the comedy club in Louisville would never book me. That would appear to lean toward Miami. Of course, Miami also brings up the Carolina rule: there’s a lot of assholes in Miami, too. But at least they have fans; does anybody care about Louisville?
Miami 34, Louisville 31
December 28: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Kansas State (7-5) vs. Michigan (7-5)
Line: Kansas State -3.5
December 28th is just a murderer’s row of douchebag fans. Miami, UNC, and now Michigan? Can’t do it, Big Blue. Besides, Kansas State uniforms are purple, and secretaries love purple.
Kansas State 27, Michigan 21
December 30: Armed Forces Bowl, Middle Tennessee (8-4) vs. Navy (7-4)
Line: Navy -6.5
There’s a Military Bowl and an Armed Forces Bowl? There’s a Middle Tennessee? Either way, you don’t bet against any branch of the United States military. What are you, a Democrat?
Navy 37, Middle Tennessee 23
December 30: Music City Bowl, Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Mississippi (7-5)
Line: Mississippi -2.5
In my NFL preview I noted that teams from Atlanta always lose in the playoffs. Bowls aren’t the playoffs – not yet, anyway – but they’re still the postseason. Where is Georgia Tech? In Atlanta.
Mississippi 30, Georgia Tech 17
December 30: Alamo Bowl, Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon (10-2)
Line: Oregon -13.5
It’s Mack Brown’s last game at Texas. Meanwhile, Oregon players have already publicly admitted they weren’t thrilled about going to the Rose Bowl – now they’re playing in bleeping San Antonio. And our secretary thinks the Oregon uniforms are just ridiculously over the top. If they just asked her, she’d be happy to sew something for the university that didn’t look so ridiculous. It’s a perfect storm for the upset special.
Texas 29, Oregon 28
December 30: Holiday Bowl, Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Arizona State (10-3)
Line: Arizona State -13.5
You have got to see the women that go to Arizona State. Why am I 34 years old and why did I attend a 2,800-person college in a freezing cold valley in Connecticut? And Lubbock, Texas is a dump. Our betting strategy may be a little bit reliant on good-looking 19-year-old women, I admit. But that’s a feature, not a bug.
Arizona State 47, Texas Tech 24
December 31: AdvoCare V100 Bowl, Boston College (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)
Line: Arizona -7.5
Remember what I said about the women at Arizona State? Arizona girls make them look like day-shift strippers. My sons are going to state schools in the South. And we’re betting on a back-to-back sweep for the Arizona schools. Hopefully the co-eds left on campus will get drunk and put out.
Arizona 34, Boston College 17
December 31: Sun Bowl, Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3)
Line: UCLA -7.5
My brother went to Virginia Tech. That’s even bigger than the “parents live there” rule, by secretary standards.
Virginia Tech 21, UCLA 17
December 31: Liberty Bowl, Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6)
Line: Mississippi State -7.5
The secretary can’t understand why the team that is10-3 is a touchdown-plus underdog to the team that is 6-6. The football fan wonders if maybe, just maybe, the SEC is a bit overrated this year.
Rice 34, Mississippi State 24
December 31: Chick-fil-A Bowl, Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)
Line: Texas A&M -12.5
The secretary doesn’t like that Johnny Manziel at all. He’s a showboat, and he seems awfully pleased with himself. Back in her day, players didn’t act like that. The secretary doesn’t know that Manziel is going to get his ass kicked in the NFL next year. But she’ll be happy when it happens.
Texas A&M 41, Duke 38
Check back tomorrow for part II, covering games from January 1 through the BCS title game.