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What? You didn’t think that a college football season utterly upended by the pandemic would be enough to keep me from undertaking this annual bit of nonsense, did you? That’s right – for the umpteenth year in a row, I am embarking on my lunatic quest to pick the winners of each and every college bowl game.

Now, 2020 being 2020, this is going to be a significantly different feature than it has been in the past. First of all, we’re starting later than we have in past years because the bowl selection process took place later in the year. This means that a few bowl games will have already taken place before this story sees print – we’ll be looking at games starting on December 23 and going forward. This means that you won’t see predictions for the Myrtle Beach Bowl, the Boca Raton Bowl and annual favorite the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

Secondly, a number of the usual games have already been cancelled due to the pandemic. Those bowls are as follows:

Birmingham Bowl; Frisco Bowl; Guaranteed Rate Bowl; Bahamas Bowl; Celebration Bowl; Fenway Bowl; Hawaii Bowl; Independence Bowl; Las Vegas Bowl; Los Angeles Bowl; Military Bowl; Pinstripe Bowl; Quick Lane Bowl; Redbox Bowl; and Sun Bowl.

In addition, a number of programs have already opted out of bowl season participation. These schools include:

Arizona State; Boise State; Boston College; Florida State; Georgia Tech; Kansas State; Louisville; Maryland; Michigan State; Penn State; Pitt; San Diego State; SMU; Stanford; UCLA; USC; Utah; Virginia; Virginia Tech; Washington; and Washington State.

(Note: There exists a very real possibility that more games will be canceled and more schools will opt out. The preceding information is accurate as of press time.)

On top of all of that, the NCAA has done away with restrictions on bowl participants with regard to win-loss records. Basically, this means that every single FBS program is bowl-eligible this year, though again, many programs have and/or will opt out.

So what does this mean for Going Bowling?

Well, it means that I have fewer games about which to have unfounded opinions. And it means that I know even less about what is going on than usual. How much less, you ask? Well, would you believe that I have yet to watch any college football at all this season?

That’s right, friends. I am going to attempt to predict the outcome of each of these bowl matchups despite not having watched a single snap by any of the teams involved. Some of my predictions will be informed by research, but some will be simple wild guesses based on zero information. It’s up to you to determine which is which. Suffice it to say, I wouldn’t place any bets based on these picks. You wouldn’t think I would be able to make this exercise even more absurd after all these years, but here we are.

Let’s go bowling.

Published in Cover Story
Monday, 14 December 2020 15:31

‘Safety’ a feel-good football film

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for an inspirational sports movie. No matter the sport, no matter the story – I’m in. Give me athletes overcoming obstacles and coming together as a team in the course of that overcoming. Heck and yes.

All of this is to say that I was always going to enjoy “Safety,” the new film from Disney now streaming on Disney+. Based on the true story of football player Ray McElrathbey and his little brother Fahmarr, it’s a tale of perseverance in the face of adversity, as well as of the different ways people can be (or become) family.

Now, this is a Disney production, so the grittier aspects of the story have definitely had those rough edges sanded down. Still, for the most part, director Reginald Hudlin manages to keep the proceedings from moving beyond the sentimental into the saccharine. The beats will ring familiar to anyone who watches this sort of film, but the emotions still resonate. And make no mistake – this is a movie that is both aware of which buttons to push and unafraid to push them.

Published in Sports

Can you believe I’m doing this again?

Once more, college football’s bowl season is upon us. And once again I, glutton for punishment that I am, embark on my annual Quixotic quest of picking the winners of every single bowl game. You’d think I’d get sick of tilting at this particular windmill, but no one ever accused me of being sensible.

As always, this feature comes with the standard caveat: while I've had some success in the past, I absolutely do not have any real idea what I'm doing.

But bowl season can be fun regardless of your level of knowledgeability. It's an opportunity to watch a bunch of college football teams about which you know nothing. It’s a wonderful dice roll; you never know if you might happen upon a game where something unprecedented takes place. I personally have a bit of a history of stumbling onto wild and unexpectedly entertaining bowl matchups. I’m hoping that tradition continues this year.

And with that - let's go bowling.

Published in Cover Story

ORONO - What do you do for an encore if you’re the University of Maine football team, coming off the most successful season in school history? “Elevate The Standard.”

That’s the message that new boss Nick Charlton has preached since he got the job after the departure of Joe Harasymiak to the University of Minnesota.

Published in Sports

The ride is officially over for the University of Maine football team.

A storybook season – in many respects the greatest season in program history – came to an end with a 50-19 loss against Eastern Washington in the FCS semifinals.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 12 December 2018 16:26

UMaine football defeats Weber State 23-18

The 2018 Black Bears are boldly going where no UMaine football team has gone before – the FCS semifinals.

They are doing so courtesy of a 23-18 victory over Weber State. The seventh-ranked Black Bears took down the second-ranked Wildcats, thanks in large part to a phenomenal defensive effort and a few opportunistic plays by the offense. The win means that they’ll be heading to the West Coast for another showdown, this time on the red turf (also known as “The Inferno”) of the Eastern Washington Eagles in Cheney, Washington.

The Black Bears won their seventh game in a row with this one; it also marked their seventh consecutive victory when facing a ranked opponent. This UMaine team is one that has no fear and believes that it can play with any team in the country – because they can.

That was certainly the case with Weber State, an excellent team that was handled quite efficiently by the Black Bears.

Published in Sports

Here we are again. Once more, college football’s bowl season is upon us. And once again, I embark on my annual Quixotic quest of picking the winners of every single bowl game. You’d think I’d get sick of tilting at this particular windmill, but no one ever accused me of being sensible

While I've had some success in the past, make no mistake - I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's an opportunity to watch a bunch of college football teams about which you know nothing. It’s a wonderful dice roll; you never know if you might happen upon a game where something unprecedented takes place. In fact, I have a long history of stumbling onto the wildest, most unexpectedly entertaining bowl matchups of each season. I expect more of the same this year.

And with that - let's go bowling.

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 05 December 2018 15:18

Black Bears continue history-making run

ORONO – It was an historic afternoon for the University of Maine Black Bears last week.

UMaine won its first-ever home playoff game and its first playoff game of any kind since 2011 when the Black Bears knocked off the Gamecocks of Jacksonville State 55-27 in the second round of college football’s FCS playoffs.

The Black Bears – seeded seventh overall in FCS - now sit at 9-3 and head to Ogden, Utah next, where they will take on the second-seeded Weber State Wildcats.

Published in Sports
Tuesday, 16 October 2018 18:16

Another clutch kick from Kenny

If you were to just look at the numbers, you might not be that impressed with the season that University of Maine kicker Kenny Doak is having. Doak currently sits seventh in the Colonial Athletic Association in field goals made, having converted five of his eight attempts on the season to go with a 13-for-15 conversion rate on extra points. It’s a perfectly fine season, but nothing to write home about.

Yet it’s a safe bet that these days, head coach Joe Harasymiak wouldn’t trade him for any kicker in the country. Because in this case, it’s not about quantity, but quality. And let’s be clear – Kenny Doak is giving UMaine QUALITY.

The placekicker from Perkaskie, Pennsylvania has drilled game-winning kicks as time expired in the last two Black Bear victories.

Published in Sports
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 13:01

Going Bowling 2017

It's that time of year again - that time when I use every bit of knowledge I have accumulated in another season of college football semi-fandom in a Quixotic attempt to predict the winners of every bowl game.

I've had some success in the past, but make no mistake - I have no idea what I'm doing.

It's a chance to see some college football teams that you know nothing about. You never know if you might stumble upon a game where something unprecedented takes place – in fact, I (along with my good friend Jason Preble) have a long history of stumbling onto the wildest, most unexpectedly entertaining bowl matchups of each season. I expect more of the same this year.

And with that - let's go bowling.

Published in Cover Story
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