Bowl season is upon us with five games kicking off Saturday. Last time we had some fun and got some excellent comments from readers on how they viewed my “rules.” Perhaps those opinions have changed? Or not.
Rutgers is not in a bowl (again), but if you need to convince your spouse why you absolutely can’t run errands, wrap gifts, or cuddle by the fire because of an important football game, here is your ammunition.
Updated *general* rules like the college football playoff committee (or not):
- Whatever keeps the peace. For example, my house is in Georgia purposely near my wife’s two goddaughters. Their dad is a Tech alum and 6’5 280, so it might be a good idea not to root against the Yellow Jackets.
- Root for your conference, the B1G! Or 2B, other teams on this year’s schedule.
- Root against A. geographic, B. recruiting, and C. former conference rivals plus (new rule this year) D. opponents on upcoming schedules.
- Always root against PSU, USC, and Notre Dame. Maryland is up for debate, but they did not receive a bid so we can rehash the next time that happens (hopefully never). I removed Michigan, but am willing to re-add if someone makes a good case.
- Root for schools that also have high academic standards.
- Root against the Big 12 so they continue to be the black sheep of the power 5. Or are they still? At this point, the black sheep could be anyone other than the SEC.
Here’s a list of who I will be rooting for and why. Remember, these are not who I think will win, but who I am pulling for to do so. And why not relive some of RU’s greatest moments through the links below, Happy Holidays!
1. ROSE BOWL GAME PRESENTED BY NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL: Ohio State v Washington. The OSU-Rutgers coaching connection is gradually on the way out. I have nothing against the Huskies who beat RU fair and square twice in the Ash Era, but the Buckeyes only lost one game and it’s critical the Big Ten get more respect at the top of the league. THE VERDICT: Ohio State
2. CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL: Michigan v Florida. The Knights beat the Wolverines four years ago, still amazing. This is a huge game for the perception of the Big Ten, so we need to set aside our Michigan hate for now. I’ll probably be watching this one from the Florida panhandle, but don’t be fooled, it feels like a million miles from the Swamp in a lot of different ways. THE VERDICT: Michigan.
3. VRBO CITRUS BOWL: Penn State v Kentucky. There is absolutely no scenario I could ever root for PSU unless it directly benefited Rutgers in the standings. Rule 4 maybe should be higher up in the list? THE VERDICT: Kentucky.
4. OUTBACK BOWL: Iowa v Mississippi State. Imagine if Grant didn’t get his ankle stomped in the 2016 Big Ten opener, would we be in the same place now? RU goes to Iowa week 2 of 2019. THE VERDICT: Iowa.
5. SAN DIEGO COUNTY CREDIT UNION HOLIDAY BOWL: Northwestern v Utah. RU almost beat the Big Ten West champs, still crazy to think about in a completely disaster of a season, imagine if one more play went the Knights’ way? THE VERDICT: Northwestern.
6. REDBOX BOWL: Michigan State v Oregon. This one is super easy even though a loss for the Spartans could weaken them a bit in recruiting. At this point they are weak enough for RU to defeat though, as evidenced by a last minute loss in the season finale. THE VERDICT: Michigan State.
7. FRANKLIN AMERICAN MORTGAGE MUSIC CITY BOWL: Purdue v Auburn. Rutgers beat Purdue last year and the Boilermakers are in the Big Ten. THE VERDICT: Purdue.
8. NEW ERA PINSTRIPE BOWL: Wisconsin v Miami (FL). Again? Like Northwestern above, RU played the Badgers tough. THE VERDICT: Wisconsin.
9. QUICK LANE BOWL: Minnesota v Georgia Tech. I already mentioned I need to keep the peace on this one (Rule 1), which overrides Rule 2 on rooting for B1G. Since I am copping out, I’d like to hear opinions on whether RU fans should support P.J. Fleck. The Gophers come to Piscataway in 2019. THE VERDICT: Georgia Tech.
CAPITAL ONE ORANGE BOWL - CFP SEMIFINAL: Alabama over Oklahoma. This is a tough one, but we want to see the Big 12 take it on the chin. Alabama and the SEC aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.
GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC - CFP SEMIFINAL: Clemson over Notre Dame. As hard as the Orange is, this one is a piece of cake. Rule 4 was invented for this exact scenario.
National Championship: Clemson over Alabama? Superfight 3 was behind closed doors in the Rocky-Apollo rivalry, this one won’t be.
- Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas: Arizona State v Fresno State. So RU lost their first two bowl appearances (both to ASU) and dropped both legs of a home and home with FSU. I was about to give this to ASU after how rudely FSU fans were in 2013, but DeVera may end up at ASU? THE VERDICT: Push.
- LOCKHEED MARTIN ARMED FORCES BOWL: Houston over Army. This is a rule 3A (geographic rival) and sadly rule 3B (recruiting rival) at this point in time which overrides Army’s academic prowess (Rule 5). Plus I did marry someone from Houston, although rule 1 applies more to the Longhorns.
- SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDER BOWL: Boise State over Boston College. Well this is a grand slam as BC is a regional rival, recruiting rival, and former conference foe so it makes sense the Eagles appear on the upcoming schedule. Plus how can you not pull for the Boys from the Blue Turf even years after that upset of Oklahoma?
- WALK-ON’S INDEPENDENCE BOWL: Duke over Temple. As with Army above, Temple right now is a geographic and recruiting rival even without Greg Schiano as the potential future head coach of the Owls. Duke is a great school as well, so this is surely grounds to pull from the Blue Devils.
- ACADEMY SPORTS + OUTDOORS TEXAS BOWL: Baylor over Vanderbilt. See! You can get off probation and quickly make it to a bowl game! Both schools have high academic standards so I’ll call it even on Rule 5 and override 6 with an exception unless you feel Rule 3B applies.
- CAMPING WORLD BOWL: Syracuse v West Virginia. This is a game where I may need the air sickness bag. With Rule 3C in play for both, I created rule 3D just for an example like this with the upcoming home and home series with the Orange. That trumps Rule 6, which still seems silly WVU is in the Big 12. THE VERDICT: painfully, West Virginia.
- MILITARY BOWL PRESENTED BY NORTHROP GRUMMAN: Virginia Tech v Cincinnati. Both former conference foes who factor into recruiting battles, Tech gets the edge here because of the academics, though the Hokies come to town in 2023. THE VERDICT: Virginia Tech.
- ALLSTATE SUGAR BOWL. This is the keep the peace moment that fortunately may sort itself out without anyone beating the crud out of each other during a New Year’s Day hangover to conclude the bowl season. My stepfather in law is from Georgia and the biggest Bulldogs fan I know, but lives in Austin now. My wife is from Texas, but lives in Georgia now so this is about as confusing as it gets to even keep the peace. Though I do have insurance, hopefully I’ll be in neutral New Jersey for this one and return to a house that was not burned down. And come on, Drew Mehringer is going to outsmart Kirby? THE VERDICT: Georgia.
- FCS Playoff Semifinal: Maine over Eastern Washington. I know this is not a bowl game, but this is a personal addition as I grew up with Black Bears head coach Joe Harasymiak. Hopefully Maine pulls another upset and ends up in the FCS final Jan 5 in Frisco, TX.
Consensus picks based on the “rules”.
RAYCOM MEDIA CAMELLIA BOWL: Georgia Southern over Eastern Michigan. Thank goodness a Georgia team can take out this directional Michigan ... (Loose usage of Rule 3A)
R+L CARRIERS NEW ORLEANS BOWL: Appalachian State over MTSU. That’s a true freshman taking down a Heisman candidate. Plus I have family connection. (Rule 1)
CHERIBUNDI BOCA RATON BOWL: UAB over Northern Illinois. Another opportunity for a team RU may never cross paths with to defeat a team in B1G region. (Loose usage of Rule 3A again)
DXL FRISCO BOWL: San Diego State over Ohio. With RU hunting Ohio for prospects now, go SDSU. I also told myself I’d retire in San Diego if given the chance and it hasn’t fallen into the ocean by then. (Rule 3B)
BAD BOY MOWERS GASPARILLA BOWL: Marshall over South Florida. Until Marshall becomes a recruiting rival, let’s shake up Florida. (Rule 3C)
MAKERS WANTED BAHAMAS BOWL: With RU hunting Ohio for prospects now ... wait this game is in the Bahamas? One day ... FIU over Toledo. (Rule 3B)
FAMOUS IDAHO POTATO BOWL: BYU over Western Michigan. Remnants of P.J. Fleck and the Cougars being nowhere near B1G country. (Rule 3A?)
JARED BIRMINGHAM BOWL: Memphis over Wake Forest. Memphis is on the other side of the mountains, though I could see an argument for Rule 5 in favor of Wake. (Rule 3A)
DOLLAR GENERAL BOWL: Buffalo over Troy. Ugh. (Rule 2B)
SOFI HAWAI’I BOWL: Hawaii over Louisiana Tech. The next time RU battles with Hawaii for a prospect ... (Rule 3A by process of elimination)
CHEEZ-IT BOWL: California over TCU. Met my wife in California and TCU is in the Big 12. (Rules 5 & 6)
VALERO ALAMO BOWL: Washington State over Iowa State. ISU needs another six year rebuild, right? (Rule 3A)
BELK BOWL: South Carolina over Virginia. Friends who moved to the south gave me their rationale for becoming Gamecocks fans which holds some water but proximity is good enough here. (Rule 3A/3B)
NOVA HOME LOANS ARIZONA BOWL: Nevada over Arkansas State. Lester Erb was on the Wolfpack staff where he recruited Jalen Chatman the first time ... sigh. (Rule 3A despite the long distances)
HYUNDAI SUN BOWL: Stanford over Pitt. Always root against Pitt unless they are playing Penn State, right? Plenty of memories of RU actually defeating the Panthers also. And Stanford is a pretty good school from what I’ve heard. (Rule 3A, 3B, 3C, & 5)
AUTOZONE LIBERTY BOWL: Missouri over Oklahoma State. SEC over Big 12, that’s about it. (Rule 6)
TAXSLAYER GATOR BOWL: Texas A&M over NC State. A&M is in the SEC now, not the Big 12. (Rules 5 & 6)
PLAYSTATION FIESTA BOWL: LSU over UCF. Geaux Tigers. (Rule 3C, maybe 3B)
No preference for RU.
NEW MEXICO BOWL: Utah State over North Texas. At least both teams have nine wins and deserve to be in a bowl game.
AUTONATION CURE BOWL: Louisiana over Tulane. I love that bowl season kicks off with an in-state battle. Too bad it does not involve SCLSU ...
Happy watching and from all of us at OTB, have a great holiday. Toast to the next time RU qualifies for the postseason, no matter when that is. For a complete list of dates and times for every bowl game, click here.