Rankman's 2017 Bowl Extravaganza

Close-up of a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis
Close-up of a fortune teller looking into a crystal ball --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis

Welcome to Rankman's annual harvest of bowl rankings plus comments, the culmination of a year gone wrong picking weekly games against the Las Vegas points spread. The idea is simple: We rank the bowl games, blind-draw a winner and then offer condolences to those foolish enough to use them for purposes of competitive wagering. You know that old saying: "Those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach, teach gym. And those who can't teach gym go into writing. And those can't write go into journalism. And those who can't do journalism go into sports journalism. And those who can't do sports journalism start a blog about college football. And those who can't do a blog about college football cover the Pac 12." Here's wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and fabulous experiences at the Festivus and Gasparilla bowls.

40: Cure, Georgia State (6-5) vs. Western Kentucky (6-6), Dec. 16, CBSSN

“Just Like Heaven” was a big hit for The Cure in 1987. Thirty years later comes the follow up smash: “Just Like Moonshine."

Winner: Western Kentucky 

39: Military, Navy (6-5) vs. Virginia (6-6), Dec. 28, ESPN

It’s “Thank you for your service” vs. “Thank you for your Thomas Jefferson.”

Winner: Navy

38: New Mexico, Marshall (7-5) vs. Colorado State (7-5), Dec. 16, ESPN

Under “Marshall Law” in New Mexico this game can be ended at any time by ESPN and decided in a military tribunal.

Winner: Colorado State

37: Belk, Texas A&M (7-5) vs. Wake Forest (7-5), Dec. 29, ESPN

Don’t miss halftime-show tribute to Jimbo’s new $75 million contract performed by TAMU band members begging to keep tax write off for student loans.

Winner: Wake Forest

36: Foster Farms, Purdue (6-6) vs. Arizona (7-5), Dec. 27, FOX

Former Boiler-plate QB Gary Danielson has to watch at a neighbor’s house because his TV-channel nobs locked on CBS and SEC Network.

Winner: Arizona 

35: Texas, Missouri (7-5) vs. Texas (6-6), Dec. 27, ESPN

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Former Big 12 mates meet to discuss malpractice lawsuit against chiropractor who botched up a conference realignment.

Winner: Missouri

34: Arizona, Utah State (6-6) vs. New Mexico State (6-6), Dec. 29, CBSSN

White House wants six National Parks closed in these three territories and the game clock in this bowl, between plays, reduced to 25 seconds.

Winner: New Mexico State

33: Boca Raton, Florida Atlantic (10-3) vs. Akron (7-6), Dec. 19, ESPN

Lane Kiffin’s career is backward. He should have landed THIS job 10 years ago that led to OC at Alabama and head coaching gigs at Tennessee, USC and the Oakland Raiders.

Winner: Florida Atlantic

32: Heart of Dallas, West Virginia (7-5) vs. Utah (6-6), Dec. 26, ESPN

Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham owns a 10-1 record in bowl games. West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen owns a 1-10 record against his hair line.

Winner: Utah

31: Camellia, Middle Tennessee (6-6), vs. Arkansas State (7-4), Dec. 16, ESPN

Arkansas State finished third in the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee finished T-3 in Conference USA. Bowl-state host Alabama finished second in the Civil War.

Winner: Arkansas State

30: Famous Idaho Potato, Central Michigan (8-4) vs. Wyoming (7-5), Dec. 22, ESPN

Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen says, if 100% healthy, he'll participate in the pre-game singing of "You say PotAto, I say Potato."

Winner: Central Michigan

29: Celebration, North Carolina AT&T (11-0) vs. Grambling (11-1), Dec. 16, ABC

This HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) match up will be more thrilling than many bowls featuring HWCU (Historically Weak Colleges and Universities).

Winner: North Carolina AT&T

28: Frisco, SMU (7-5) vs. Louisiana Tech (6-6), Dec. 20, ESPN

Program devastated by NCAA’s “Death Penalty” fights back to earn bowl game experience some are comparing to lethal injection.

Winner: Louisiana Tech

27: Gasparilla, Florida International (8-4) vs. Temple (6-6), Dec. 21, ESPN

Sounds less like a bowl game and more like an umbrella drink ordered during a long airport stopover connection en route to Tel Aviv.

Winner: Florida International

26: Bahamas, UAB (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4), Dec. 22, ESPN

UAB, left out on an island, football won EIGHT games after being brought back from shut-down extinction. Ohio hopes to deliver its message in a bottle.

Winner: Ohio 

25: Hawaii, Fresno State (9-4) vs. Houston (7-4), Dec. 24, ESPN

Jeff Tedford deserves major props for this year's turnaround at Fresno. Houston is coached by Major "Props" Applewhite.

Winner: Fresno State 

24: Quick Lane, Northern Illinois (8-4) vs. Duke (6-6), Dec. 26, ESPN

A day-after Christmas trip to Detroit is what every parent dreams when sending a child to Duke.

Winner: Northern Illinois

23: Cactus, Kansas State (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6), Dec. 26, ESPN


Prickly old coach for K-State meets prickly young QB for UCLA, soon to be led by prickly new coach from New Hampshire.

Winner: Kansas State

22: Independence, Southern Miss (8-4) vs. Florida State (6-6), Dec. 27, ESPN

Dreams don’t come true? FSU players luxuriate after beating La. Monroe in a make-up game, with an interim coach, to land this memory-maker in Shreveport against team from Hattiesburg.

Winner: Florida State

21: Armed Forces, Army (9-3) vs. San Diego State (10-2), Dec. 23, ESPN

Nation’s leading rush team (Army) faces nation’s rush leader (Rashaad Penny) in a Fort Worth game billed as “Three yards and a cloud of habanero.”

Winner: San Diego State 

20: Pinstripe, Boston College (7-5) vs. Iowa (7-5), Dec. 27, ESPN

In a reworking of “Green Acres,” couple from Iowa with a pig named “Arnold” struggle to adjust to glamorous life in New York City.

Winner: Boston College

19: Birmingham, South Florida (9-2) vs. Texas Tech (6-6), Dec. 23, ESPN

Texas Tech coach requests game be fought under “Marquis of Kingsbury” rule No. 11, which states “no shoes or boots with spikes or springs be allowed.”

Winner: South Florida

18: Holiday, Michigan State (9-3), vs. Washington State (7-5), Dec. 28, FS1


MSU players most excited to visit “Cave of Lost Sports Civilizations” to witness rock etchings of early-epoch Clippers and Chargers.

Winner: Michigan State

17: Sun, North Carolina State (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5), Dec. 29, CBS

ASU’s new “NFL model” lacks only a player payroll and a “franchise tag” to keep head coach Herm Edwards from leaving.

Winner: North Carolina State

16: Music City, Northwestern (9-3) vs. Kentucky (7-5), Dec. 29, ESPN

This game in Nashville offers Northwestern players the rare chance, in the key of G, to unionize and harmonize against the NCAA.

Winner: Northwestern

15: New Orleans, Troy (10-2) vs. North Texas (9-4), Dec. 16, ESPN

Schools went 1-2 vs former USC coaches this year. Troy beat Ed Orgeron (LSU) while NT lost twice to Lane Kiffin (FAU)

Winner: Troy

14: Las Vegas, Boise State (10-3) vs. Oregon (7-5), Dec. 16, ABC

Rankman likes Oregon by a point or two but it’s not like he can predict the future by rubbing a Mario Cristobal.

Winner: Oregon 

13: TaxSlayer, Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Louisville (8-4), Dec. 30, ESPN

If Louisville QB Lamar Jackson and four others sit Florida game out to protect their NFL futures, they'll forever be known as the “Jacksonville Five.”

Winner: Louisville

12: Liberty, Memphis (10-2) vs. Iowa State (7-5), Dec. 30, ABC

Iowa State players interested in spending extra time with family after Christmas can be shipped overnight by FedEx, at no extra charge, one day prior to game.

Winner: Memphis

11: Camping World, Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (9-3), Dec. 28, ESPN

On this week’s “The Profit,” Camping World owner Marcus Lemonis offers T. Boone Pickens “$300,000” for full control of the Oklahoma State booster program.

Winner: Oklahoma State[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

10: Alamo, Texas Christian (10-3) vs. Stanford (9-4), Dec. 28, ESPN


San Antonio serves chicken fingers in hand-made tortillas to celebrate this battle of Horned Frog legs vs. Bryce Love’s ankle.

Winner: Stanford

9: Orange, Wisconsin (12-1) vs. Miami (10-2), Dec. 30, ESPN

Schools riding a combined three-game losing streak warned by compliance to steer clear of local dog-racing tracks.

Winner: Wisconsin

8: Outback, South Carolina (8-4) vs. Michigan (8-4), Jan. 1, ESPN2

Also-rans from the SEC and Big Ten meet in Tampa to frolic in the sun and discuss their big 2017 wins over the University of Florida.

Winner: Michigan 

7: Dollar General, Toledo (11-2) vs. Appalachian State (8-4), Dec. 23, ESPN

Christmas comes two-days early for fans who love to spend holiday in Las Vegas betting on Santa to deliver the “over.”

Winner: Toledo

6: Citrus, LSU (9-3) vs. Notre Dame (9-3), Jan. 1, ABC


Coach O’s Cajun dictionary translates this as “Red Stick” versus “Our Mother” in the devil’s game of “Foosball.”

Winner: LSU 

5: Peach, Central Florida (12-0) vs. Auburn (10-3), Jan. 1, ESPN

Frost and peaches are usually bad news for the peaches but Scott Frost’s last game for Central Florida puts plenty of fuzz on this major bowl.

Winner: Auburn

4: Fiesta, Washington (10-2) vs. Penn State (10-2), Dec. 30, Dec. 30, ESPN

ESPN will open with a “cupcake” segment on Washington’s schedule then pivot immediately to why Saquan Barkley was robbed of the Heisman.

Winner: Washington

3: Sugar, Clemson (12-1) vs. Alabama (11-1), Jan. 1, ESPN


You again? Schools that split last two national title games meet in part three of the trilogy: “Who Reigns on Lake Pontchartrain?”

Winner: Clemson

2: Cotton, USC (11-2) vs. Ohio State (11-2), Dec. 29, ESPN

World-class Rose Bowl gets hijacked by a lineman on the 1964 Arkansas team who strikes oil, buys the Dallas Cowboys and builds an oversized stadium with platforms for pole dancers but otherwise devoid of aesthetics, history and purpled-mountain sunsets.

Winner: USC 

1: Rose, Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Georgia (12-1), Jan. 1, ESPN

Hard to believe Oklahoma and Georgia have never met. Hard to believe this is Oklahoma’s second Rose Bowl since UCLA played its last. Georgia last appeared in 1943, when it claimed a national championship with a 9-0 win over UCLA.

Winner: Oklahoma

National Championship: Oklahoma 42, Clemson 40[/membership]