Friday Bowl Tripleheader Open Thread

Rob Carr

Tyler Tettleton hopes to lead his Ohio Bobcats to a bowl victory in the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, one of three bowl games on the schedule for your Friday enjoyment

Are you ready for some more college football? If you liked the Thursday tripleheader of bowl action, the bowl schedule makers have another three way for you today. Ohio! UL-Monroe! Hokie Hokie Hokie Hy! The State University of New Jersey! Red Raiders! Golden Gophers! Oh my!

ESPN
AdvoCare V100 INDEPENDENCE BOWL
Dec. 28, 2012 | 2:00 PM ET

Ohio

(8-4, 4-4 MAC)

UL-Monroe

(8-4, 6-2 Sun Belt)

Today's bowl action starts with the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, LA. The odd sidebar to this game is who is NOT playing in it. Cal Coach Sonny Dykes guided the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs to a 9-3 record and an invitation to the Independence Bowl. But before Coach Dykes bolted for Berkeley to lead Cal football to future glory, Louisiana Tech's athletic director turned down the invitation, purportedly to hold out for a better offer. The more handsome suitor never arrived, however, and the 9-3 Bulldogs' season was done.

Louisiana Tech's loss was Ohio University's gain. The Bobcats scooped up the Independence Bowl bid and ventures into Louisiana to play a UL-Monroe team that is playing only 100 miles away from its campus. ESPN will televise this one and gives us a preview:

Louisiana-Monroe, averaging 35.5 points, will try to take advantage of an Ohio defense that allowed 80 points and 965 yards in the last two games.

"They've played some high-caliber opponents," Bobcats coach Frank Solich said of the Warhawks. "It shows you the capability of Louisiana-Monroe and what they're all about. It'll be a tremendous challenge, but certainly one we look forward to."

Like Louisiana-Monroe, Ohio (8-4) opened the season with a road upset, knocking off Penn State 24-14 on Sept. 1. The Bobcats won their first seven games for their best start since 1968 and became bowl eligible for the fifth time in six years.

Ohio defeated Utah State 24-23 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last season.

"It's exciting for all of us," Solich said. "I think it's great for our program to be able to go to four (bowl) games in a row."

Ohio climbed as high as 23rd in the Top 25, but it was outscored 106-47 during a three-game losing streak to end the regular season.

The Bobcats will try to close 2012 with a victory behind second-team all-MAC pick Beau Blankenship, 10th in the nation with 125.0 rushing yards per game.

The junior has run for a school-record 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also has 177 receiving yards and is 15th nationally with 139.8 total yards per game.

Junior Tyler Tettleton directs the passing attack, having completed 62.0 percent of his attempts for 2,513 yards, 16 touchdowns and three interceptions.

And yes, if you are wondering about the familiar name: Ohio's quarterback is the son of Mickey Tettleton, the former major league catcher with the A's, Orioles, Tigers, and Rangers.

RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL
Dec. 28, 2012 | 5:30 PM ET

Rutgers

(9-3, 5-2 Big East)

Virginia Tech

(6-6, 4-4 ACC)

In game two of the tripleheader, it's the Russell Athletic Bowl in beautiful Orlando, FL. In this one, Rutgers takes on Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech will be sporting special helmets for this one, remembering and honoring the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy from earlier this month and the Virginia Tech tragedy from 2007.

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via pbs.twimg.com

As for the game, Virginia Tech is trying to finish off an otherwise disappointing season with a bowl win to avoid a losing season. To do so, the Hokies will have to beat Rutgers, which has the longest active bowl winning streak in FBS. No, really, they do. At least that's what the Worldwide Leader says:

No program has a longer active bowl winning streak than Rutgers, a run it can extend by recording the third 10-win season in school history.

Those goals pale in comparison to what the Scarlet Knights nearly had at stake.

A golden opportunity to reach a BCS game went by the wayside, so they're relegated to playing in the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando on Friday against Virginia Tech, a team just happy to be in the postseason.

Rutgers (9-3) shared the Big East crown but didn't receive the league's automatic BCS bid -- the school has never earned one -- because it blew a chance to win the outright title in the regular-season finale. Despite leading 14-3 late in the third quarter, the Scarlet Knights would lose 20-17 to Louisville on Nov. 29.

That gave the Big East's BCS spot to the Cardinals, who will play fourth-ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl. A big-time bowl against a perennial power would have brought more money, recognition and possible recruiting help to Rutgers, not to mention the program's first crack at a Top 25 opponent in postseason play.

"You always feel like your heart is ripped out when you lose a game no matter what," receiver Mark Harrison said. "It feels the same way with every loss, but (the Louisville) one had a lot on the line and we let it slip."

The Scarlet Knights are in their seventh bowl game in eight years and have not lost one since 2005, a year before their breakout 11-2 season under former coach Greg Schiano. That's the last time they reached double digits in wins -- the only other one came in 1976.

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL OF TEXAS
Dec. 28, 2012 | 9:00 PM ET

Minnesota

(6-6, 2-6 Big Ten)

Texas Tech

(7-5, 4-5 Big 12)

The nightcap of your Friday tripleheader is a game of interest to Cal fans. At least, it should be. Texas Tech is poised to embark on the Kliff Kingsbury era after coach Tommy Tuberville bolted Lubbock for Cincinnati, reportedly even ditching some Tech recruits at dinner the night before taking the Cincinnati job. But before the Kingsbury era begins, offensive line coach Chris Thomsen is the interim head coach in charge of the Red Raiders for tonight's bowl game. Kingsbury did not retain Thomsen for his staff and Thomsen is reportedly Sonny Dykes' choice to become Cal's offensive line coach after Thomsen's duties with Texas Tech are complete.

The Thomsen angle is my viewing interest in this game. I can't really give you a reason why you should watch a Minnesota team that was 2-6 in the Big Ten, but the Worldwide Leader tries its best to make you interested;

Minnesota (6-6) is still hoping Jerry Kill is the best fit for a program that's looking for its first bowl win since after the 2004 season, and it's at least taken a step in the right direction by making its first postseason appearance since 2009 after going 3-9 in Kill's first season.

"We've been through some hard times," senior defensive back Troy Stoudermire said. "Coach Kill did a great job getting us back bowl eligible."

Still, the Gophers went 2-6 in the Big Ten after opening with four non-conference wins. Only in a 44-28 victory over Purdue on Oct. 27 did Minnesota score more than 17 points in a conference game.

The personnel and coaching staffs of the Red Raiders and Golden Gophers have certainly changed since these teams met in the 2006 Insight Bowl, but their records are the same and the Meineke Car Care Bowl has to be hoping they get a show as good as the one those teams put on in Tempe.

The Golden Gophers held a 38-7 third-quarter lead before allowing the Red Raiders to rally and win 44-41 in overtime, surpassing Marshall's 30-point comeback in the 2001 GMAC Bowl as the biggest in Division I history.

There you go. Another day of tripleheader action. Use this as your open thread. Enjoy the action and comment until your heart's content.

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