Thursday and Friday gave us bowl action galore with tripleheaders. Today goes even further. There are five -- count 'em, five -- bowl games today. Quintupleheader Saturday! With Helicopters, Pinstripes, Fighting Hunger, The Alamo, and Buffalo Wild Wings!
Today's games also feature two of our Pac-12 brethren taking their respective bowl fields, hoping to do the Pac-12 much prouder than the UCLA Bruins did the other night in the Holiday Bowl.
The first game of the days is the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, bright and early at 8:45 am PT on ESPN. The game is not exactly a headliner in terms of its participants: both Rice and Air Force finished their regular seasons 6-6. So at stake for both teams is the avoidance of a losing season. According to ESPN's preview, Rice may have the upper hand in terms of momentum, as the Owls won five of their last six to end the regular season.
As for Air Force, it is no stranger to the Armed Forces Bowl. This is the Falcons' fourth trip to the Armed Forces Bowl, but their first since the 2009 season. We all remember the 2007 appearance by Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl, right?
The action continues in New York City, where former Big East conference foes West Virginia and Syrcause meet in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl. West Virginia's first season in the Big 12 started out great, as the Mountaineers climbed to a 5-0 start and a lofty # 5 national ranking. But West Virginia lost five straight and fell out of the BCS picture. Now they are trying to finish the season on a high note against another 7-5 team, Syracuse, which won five of its last six games, including a 45-26 upset of then-No. 9 Louisville.
ESPN will televise this one at 12:15 PT. See here for the Worldwide Leader's preview.
Next up is the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco, where the Navy Midshipmen take on the Arizona State Sun Devils at 1:00 pm PT in game that can be seen on ESPN2. The Sun Devils will try to improve the conference's 2-2 record thus far in the bowl season. To do that, Arizona State will have to win a bowl game for the first time since 2005. Earlier this week, our friends at House of Sparky gave us a detailed breakdown of today's matchup. Here's one of the keys to the game:
Will Sutton won the Pac-12 defensive player of the year for his ability to get sacks. ASU needs Sutton, Junior Onyeali, and Davon Coleman to create penetration to limit Navy's rush attack. Thankfully, penetration is a strong suit for the Devils, ranking second in the country in the ever-important tackles for loss category.
Any good run game features solid blocking up front, which can be mitigated by a solid rush. Navy's ground game can go anywhere, from the A gap to C to pay dirt, but will be stagnant with Sutton and his buddies in the backfield.
Whether it's Reynolds or RGIII, a clean pocket helps anybody's decision-making process. Logically think about it, how fast would your mind be moving with 300-pound behemoths in your face?
Proper pressure will cause turnovers and set up Taylor Kelly in prime striking range. Few like to watch the trenches (O-line/D-line) compete or block-shedding techniques, which could all turn out to be the contest's most important aspect.
Beyond the keys to the game that House of Sparky mentioned, there also is the matter of not laying an egg like UCLA did against Baylor. If the Sun Devils can use UCLA's performance as a cautionary tale, that will be a good start.
Next up is perhaps the main game of interest for us. The Valero Alamo Bowl at 3:45 pm PT (TV: ESPN) features Oregon State against Texas. The Beavers look to finish off a successful 2012 season with a nice bowl win against Texas, which, though not a great team, is certainly a formidable opponent in its home state.
Barking Carnival did a detailed breakdown of Oregon State's defenseand thinks that the Beavers present problems for the Texas offense:
The smallish OSU linebacker crew will be hard to exploit given their enormous nosetackle and Texas' struggles to impose their will on good defensive run fronts. Should Texas be able to move the ball throughout the game, OSU could be susceptible to the downhill running game and Joe Bergeron late, but Texas will have to "earn the right" to accomplish a power run game results.
Overall Oregon St.'s defense will be one of the better units Texas faces this season. Ash was brilliant in Texas' defeat of the similar Oklahoma St. squad in Stillwater, but generally Texas hasn't handled teams with strong defensive ends and athletic secondaries very well. If the Diaz defense performs predictably terrible against OSU's 2-back offensive sets and vertical passing game, it'll be important that Texas' offense grows enough in bowl practices to consistently put points on the board against Banker's defense and enable a shootout victory.
Suffice to say that preliminary scouting reveals a tough matchup for the Texas Longhorns.
An Oregon State win would be good for the Pac-12 and would remove some of the stink that is left over for the league after UCLA's loss to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. So Go Beavers, amirite?
Finally, the quintupleheader bowl day caps off with the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl at 7:15 pm PT on ESPN, featuring TCU and Michigan State. According to the Worldwide Leader's preview, this is a matchup of teams that did not live up to lofty preseason expectations. For me, the name "Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl" just makes me hungry. I happen to like Buffalo Wild Wings.
But I digress. If you know your bowl history, you know that the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl was formerly the Insight Bowl. And you remember what happened in that bowl in 2003, don't you? Some guy named Rodgers had a nice game.
Enjoy the games. This is your open thread for the whole quintuply day. Comment until your heart's content or until your eyes fall out from all the football watching, whichever comes first.