It’s “Boy Band Week” at No Coast Bias and as a contributing writer I felt it incumbent upon me to contribute to the weekly theme. My qualifications for writing on boy bands pretty much consist of being a 90s kid and owning both the “No Strings Attached” and “Millennium” CDs at one point in time. So, don’t expect some enlightening op-ed on how Hanson lyrics reflect our political climate or an introspective reflection on how One Direction puts my inner sensitivity to music. Even if I wanted to do that I’m not sure I could pull it off, but what I will do is imagine Boy Bands as presenting sponsors of each of the New Year’s Six Bowls (and our bonus bowl).
Sugar Bowl presented by *NSYNC (#1 vs. #4)- Alabama vs. TCU
As a 90s kid, the word “sweet” took on three different meanings: 1) the literal definition that describes candy and other foods 2) the kind of sweet that your grandmother used when referring to your middle school relationship and 3) essentially a synonym for cool. Using the last definition of the word, *NSYNC was the sweetest of all the boy bands and largely considered the boy band G.O.A.T. I have no arguments with that and since sugar is also sweet (first definition) *NSYNC and sugar have something in common. Justin Timberlake is also from Memphis, which has some loose similarities to New Orleans.
As for the teams in the game, Alabama re-seized the number one ranking on my unofficial ballot this weekend with a 59-0 pounding of a Vanderbilt team whose defense was getting plenty of love coming into this game after holding Kansas State to 7 points the previous week. TCU also won their way into the picture this weekend with a 13-point road stunner over Oklahoma State. The Horned Frogs had been largely overlooked by the football community at-large, despite being ranked #16 in the country, but they are on everyone’s radar now. Also, for any USC, Penn State or Michigan fans who want to complain that two Big XII teams are currently in over them I’ll quote the late Francis Costello, “No one gives it to you. You have to take it.”
Rose Bowl presented by The Jackson Five (#2 vs. #3)- Clemson vs. Oklahoma
The Rose Bowl is considered “the grandaddy of ’em all”, which makes it only fitting that the presenting sponsor should be The Jackson Five, considering that they are the archetype of the modern boy band. Another reason this fits (if you stretch hard enough at least), is that picking the #2 and #3 teams in the country was as easy as A-B-C this week. Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma have separated themselves from the field early on in the season, so once you have your #1 team you pretty much just take the other two and stick them here.
Neither of these teams won as easily as most of us expected heading into the weekend, but they did win and their prior body of work is enough for me to still think they belong in the top three. Clemson was tied at 7 with Boston College through three quarters before turning it on in the fourth for a 34-7 win. Oklahoma only managed to beat a Baylor team that had looked hapless in its first three games by eight points, but the Sooners have earned the benefit of the doubt for now.
Orange Bowl presented by The Backstreet Boys- Virginia Tech vs. Georgia
Honestly, the Backstreet Boys are from Florida and the Orange Bowl is in Florida. Boom. Simple. And if you need another reason for this decision, then I did it because I wanted it that way.
Virginia Tech hasn’t been tested since the opening week win over West Virginia, but they have handled business in games against ECU, Delaware and Old Dominion since. That ends next week though when the Hokies play host to Clemson in another clash for ACC supremacy. Georgia had their home Top 25 matchup last weekend and beat the brakes off of a Mississippi State team that was coming off of a huge win over LSU. Jake Fromm looked strong again and I think we officially have a QB battle in Athens when Jacob Eason is cleared to play. The Dawgs go to Rocky Top (you’ll never be home sweet home to me…sorry can’t help myself) next weekend where they have struggled recently, but they are the stronger team so if they can stay out of their own way they ought to return to Athens 5-0.
Fiesta Bowl presented by 98 Degrees- San Diego State vs. Washington
It’s hot in Arizona and 98 Degrees may not have been as “hot” as their name would imply, but the name fits so we’re running with it. Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson were also a “hot” celebrity couple at one point in time if you’re into that sort of thing.
The Aztecs keep their spot reserved here for at least another week, but Air Force gave them all they wanted last weekend in a game that did feature a lengthy weather delay. Air Force actually took a 9-0 lead into the delay and were outscored 28-15 afterwards, making the second weekend in a row that San Diego State has gone into a delay trailing and gone on to win after the delay ended. Coincidence? Probably so, or maybe Rocky Long is just great at making adjustments at unexpected delays.
Washington finally cracks the mock New Year’s Six as we expected them too all along, but they took their sweet time. The Huskies took care of business in a Pac-12 Title game re-match in Boulder on Saturday night and left no doubt that they belong in the conversation for top team in the conference. Jake Browning and Myles Gaskin finally have the offense clicking.
Cotton Bowl presented by Hanson- USC vs. Michigan
Hanson and the Cotton Bowl are arguably the most underrated members of their respective categories. Plus, the Hanson brothers are from Oklahoma which is relatively close to Dallas, and the brothers all have flaxen locks that at least somewhat resemble bolls of cotton.
Speaking of soft, USC is exceptionally talented and has the best quarterback in their country, but their toughness has been exposed a little bit over the first few weeks of the season. They ran wild on Stanford, who it turns out doesn’t have a good run defense. As long as they have Darnold, USC is going to be fine but I’m not sure if they are a legitimate title contender right now.
Michigan also hasn’t exactly looked like a title contender to this point, despite having won all of their games by double digits. Maybe I’m underselling them, but it seems like they have just coasted against mediocre competition to this point. Florida was ranked when they played on opening weekend, but everything the Gators have done this season indicates that they were never that good.
Peach Bowl presented by The Jonas Brothers- Duke vs. Penn State
Come on this one was almost too easy. Chick-fil-a is the actual presenting of the sponsor and is well known as a company dedicated to sticking to their religious roots. The Jonas Brothers, in a similar vein, are well known for purity rings and donating things to children.
Penn State nearly let one slip away from them in Iowa on Saturday night, but Trace McSorley came through in the clutch with a 4th and goal TD pass as time expired. Saquon Barkley’s Heisman campaign is off to a strong start and it continued on Saturday when he set a Penn State record with 358 all-purpose yards. Duke doesn’t have the same firepower that the Nittany Lions have, but they have been steady so far this year with three of their four wins over Power Five teams.
**Bonus Bowl** Alamo Bowl presented by Boyz II Men- Texas Tech vs. Washington State
The Alamo is a place where many boys became men defending a cause that mattered. Ok poll time: Which presenting sponsor gimmick was the biggest stretch? I think I’m going to roll with this one.
Texas Tech and Washington State actually have several things in common. For starters, they both have high-powered offenses. They both have 3-point wins over teams that were considered contenders for the Group of Five automatic bid to the New Year’s Six. They are also both undefeated and kind of flying under the radar right now. The last thing they have in common is that both have a real chance to make a leap in the polls this weekend with the Cougars taking on USC on Friday night and Texas Tech hosting an Oklahoma State team fresh off of an upset loss and looking for a bounceback game.
1. Luke Falk needs to have a big game on Friday night for Washington State to have any chance of beating USC, because I’m not sure they have the defense to beat them if he doesn’t.
2. Kyle Davis needs to step up in the passing game for Auburn and soon. The Tigers will need to be able to throw the ball to keep Mississippi State’s defense honest this weekend, otherwise the running game will struggle to get things going.
3. Yosuah Nijman becomes the first ever offensive lineman to make my “Pick Six”. The Virginia Tech left tackle will need to protect Josh Jackson’s blindside from a nasty Clemson pass rush on Saturday night. His fellow hogmollies will also need to do their part.
4. Malik Rosier is off to a strong start as the starter in Miami, but has yet to face a true test. Can he keep it going against a solid Duke defense on a short week?
5. Jordyn Brooks leads Texas Tech in tackles and will need to anchor the defense again on Saturday against the high-powered Pokes. It would also be immensely helpful if the Red Raiders could force a few turnovers.
6. Justin Jackson hasn’t been the reason Northwestern has struggled this season, but he will almost certainly be the reason if they can somehow pull off a win against Wisconsin next Saturday. Jackson is one of the best backs in the Big Ten and he will need to be a bell cow and allow the Wildcats to control the time of possession if they have any hope of pulling off an upset.