My old pal Calvin Coolidge said it best:
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent."
Despite all of the work and dedication I've put in, I have endured mediocrity for nearly two full seasons. I sacrificed my social life to watch games from the MAC, the Mountain West, the Sun Belt, and the American, but didn't see the immediate benefits of winning. That's all beginning to change. After six bowl games, I'm 5-1 and preparing to take over the Internet. To all my readers in North Korea, print my bowl winners fast before the US shuts down your connection again.
In my past musings on State of the U, I would always address any winning streak with caution. I would talk about "dealing with success" and try to avoid jinxing myself. Those times are over. I've paid my dues. This is my time. I expect to win. We're moving into full overconfidence mode. After I finish the bowl season 29-10, I'll buy enough legal Cuban cigars for everyone to celebrate.
Given my early success, I'll continue to include facts from each school's Wikipedia page.
Boca Raton Bowl
MARSHALL -9.5 vs Northern Illinois 6pm - ESPN
"On June 20, 1863, Cabell County, Virginia, was one of the 50 counties separated from Virginia at the height of the American Civil War to form the State of West Virginia, and the college fell within the new state."
Marshall struggled through the last two games of the season, losing to Western Kentucky and barely beating Louisiana Tech, but the Thundering Herd have an explosive offense. QB Rakeem Cato is a senior and is returning to South Florida for this game. I expect him to play well in front of family and friends. In years past, Northern Illinois was led by Jordan Lynch and put up big numbers offensively. This season the Huskies relied more on their defense down the stretch to keep games close and force turnovers. Marshall is averaging more than 40 points a game and won't be slowed down easily. NIU doesn't have the firepower to keep pace. Marshall has better players at the skill positions and wins by two touchdowns.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
SAN DIEGO STATE -3 vs Navy 930pm - ESPN
"In 1937, Quetzal Hall, the first dormitory, opened for 40 women students and was located off campus. In 1952, 50 college youth conducted a panty raid at Quetzal Hall, causing $1,000 in damages. Police arrested 13 of the students and the dorm girls later retaliated by attacking the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house."
San Diego State has a significant advantage in this matchup with the bowl game being played in their home stadium. The Aztecs were 6-0 at home this year and just 1-5 on the road. SDSU RB Donnel Pumphrey had a breakout season and will have success against a small Navy front seven. Navy had a decent season and put up big rushing numbers like always, but the Midshipmen aren't as talented as we've seen in years past. SDSU will be ready for the triple option, having just faced Air Force on November 21st, a game the Aztecs won 30-14 by holding the Falcons to just 140 yards on the ground.
Popeyes Bahamas Bowl
WESTERN KENTUCKY -4 vs Central Michigan 12pm - ESPN
"WKU is also home to the largest American master's degree program in folklore; it is contained within the Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology. It is unique among American folklore programs for its public folklore program and is one of the few schools in Kentucky to offer a focus in historic preservation."
The biggest key to this game is how focused these players are after spending several days in paradise. I hope fans of both schools have made it down to the Bahamas and enjoy their time there. I don't expect this game to be very close. Central Michigan is a mediocre team that barely outscored opponents this season - 25 points per game, 23 allowed per game. The Chips beat just one team with a winning record in 2014, while the Hilltoppers beat BGSU, Navy, UTEP, and Marshall. Western Kentucky's offense is led by one of the nation's most underrated players, QB Brandon Doughty. He threw for 4344 yards and 44 touchdowns this season and will have a strong performance in his final collegiate appearance. Both teams have talented running backs - Leon Allen for WKU and Thomas Rawls for Central Michigan. I expect WKU to take an early lead and pull away in the second half.
RICE -2.5 vs Fresno State 8pm - ESPN
"The Rice Honor Code plays a central role in academic affairs. Almost all Rice exams are unproctored and professors give timed, closed-book exams that students take home and complete at their own convenience. Potential infractions are reported to the student Honor Council, elected by popular vote."
I wish I had known about this Honor Code in August when Rice ironically faced Notre Dame to open the season. Fresno State won three straight to finish 6-6 and make the postseason, but the Bulldogs were blown out in bowls in 2012 and 2013, even with Derek Carr. Rice QB Driphus Jackson had a nice season and WR Jordan Taylor will be the key for the Owls on offense tomorrow night. I expect this to be one of the closest games of this bowl season, but give the edge to Rice. Both teams have vulnerable defenses and all signs point to an exciting shootout.