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The Demon Deacons, Aggies (times three), Wolfpack, Sun Devils, Wildcats (twice), Trojans, and Buckeyes are in action today.
Sidebar: the Wolfpack are among 13 NCAA Division I football teams with a nickname that does not end in 's.' Quiz yourself on the remaining 11* here.
Sidebar's sidebar: Depending on how you split hairs, only one college team has an individual nickname. The Wolfpack, for instance, does not end in 's' yet refers to a pack of more than one wolf. If you gave up on the quiz above or decided seeing the results wasn't worth handing over your e-mail address, take a look at the list here and decide for yourself.
Sidebar to the sidebar's sidebar: The Editorial Guidelines page provided by North Carolina State puts in plainly: Wolfpack is a singular noun that takes a singular verb and pronoun. Here's a conundrum that has bugged us: what do you call a lone Wolfpack? A one-man wolfpack, if you will. Take the following example of how this question is easily resolved for other teams:
Kentucky's Benny Snell ranks among the nation's top rushers yet garners little attention outside the SEC. The Wildcat running back doesn't appear on many lists of premier players despite posting 18 TDs, good for #5 nationally.
Straight forward, no?
The Belk Bowl
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (-3.5) vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Noon, ESPN (Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC)
Hard to have a strong feeling about this one. Wake Forest never makes our radar. Texas A&M plays in the Southeastern Conference and can't get past the likes of Alabama, LSU and Auburn in the SEC West. That the two teams in this year's Belk Bowl have never met previously is the only mildly interesting tidbit we can offer about this game
CFR pick: The Aggies, we guess?
The Chicken: Wake Forest by 31
The Hyundai Sun Bowl
#24 NC State Wolfpack (-7) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
2 p.m. ESPN (Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX)
North Carolina State fields a competent passing attack (#35 overall in passing YPG), led by QB Ryan Finley. The junior Wolfpa . . . Wolfpacker? Wolfpackee? Pack person? Finley can't be a wolf, as the team is a Wolfpack, not the Wolves. What is he? What, we ask you!
This dilemma would be a non-issue had NC State stuck with the "Farmers and Mechanics," the Aggies, the Techs, or the Red Terrors, all historical nicknames of other school sports squads. The latter was held as the nickname for all other sports (other than football, which switched to the Wolfpack early on) from 1925 to 1948. The Red Terrors would be hands-down the sweetest nickname in sports. But no, the student body, blind to the predicament such a decision would present to future commentators, opted to call all university teams "Wolfpack" in 1948. One of the few remnants of Red Terror appears ingloriously as the name of the school's gameday bus service.
CFR pick: We're calling for a standout performance by a Sun Devil - see how easy that is? - to tilt the game in ASU's favor. Perhaps junior linebacker Christian Sam (#3 in FBS in solo tackles) can slow down Finley and his fellow pack members.
The Chicken: Arizona State by 12
The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Northwestern Wildcats (-8)
3:30 p.m. ESPN (Nissan Stadium in Nashville, TN)
As someone famous once said, "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand." We prefer the simplified version by some other guy: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." In this case, the Reporter's Residence is split down the middle: one half for the Wildcats of the Kentucky persuasion and another for Northwestern.
CFR pick: We like the Wildcats.
The Chicken: Northwestern by 2
The Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl
New Mexico State Aggies vs. Utah State Aggies (-4.5)
4:30 p.m. CBSSN (Arizona Stadium in Tucson, AZ)
The Aggies take on the . . . Aggies, this afternoon on CBS! The Aggies squared, if you will. Aggies to the second power. What is Aggies times Aggies? Aggies.
CFR pick: Go Aggies.
The Chicken: Aggies by 14
The Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
#8 USC Trojans vs. #5 Ohio State Buckeyes (-7.5)
7:30 p.m. ESPN (AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX)
This year the Cotton Bowl has the questionable fortune of hosting the Also-Ran Classic matching up two would-be contenders for the College Football Playoff. Despite lobbying from the likes of Michigan HC Jim Harbaugh, the playoff system has yet to expand past four teams, so for now the qualifying criteria are simple: You have to win games. Ohio State dropped an excusable early game to another top-ranked team (#2 Oklahoma on September 9) yet was still in the hunt as OSU reeled off six wins including a thrilling squeaker over #9 Penn State before traipsing into Iowa City for a 55-24 shredding by the Hawkeyes. Voters couldn't let it go, and despite wins later in the year over #18 Michigan State, rival Michigan and #6 Wisconsin to close out the season, the Buckeyes ended up in Arlington.
USC couldn't get over two losses of their own. The Trojans lost by a FG to #21 Washington State in early September and took a licking from #14 Notre Dame, 49-14. Wipe out either loss and, considering USC rounded out the season defeating #15 Stanford 31-28, Southern Cal could have had an argument to place in the top four.
The Cotton Bowl is nothing to sneeze at, mind, however this type of game tends to favor whichever team can get "up" for the occasion, making predictions difficult as otherwise reliable lines of analysis (offense vs. defense, turnover tendencies, performance against similar or like opponents) can go out the window if one squad decides playing a premier primetime match-up just isn't worth the energy.
CFR pick: This one comes down to which team has the best haircut. There's no question about this angle. Southern Cal QB Sam Darnold wins hands down. Look at that finely coiffed mane.
The Chicken: Ohio State by 11
* "Wolfpack" appears on the list twice for NC State and Nevada.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Preview Part 1. Keywords: AutoNation, Dreamstyle Remodeling, Las Vegas, Mountain Dew Mouth, North Texas Mean Green, Raycom, Troy Trojans.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Preview Part 2. Executives at Cheribundi no doubt would have preferred a more competitive game. Having signed on as the bowl sponsor until 2019, Cheribundi needed the contest to attract at least some marginal attention to bolster the awareness of its tart cherry beverages nationwide.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Game Preview Part 3. In this world of uncertainty, the Potato Bowl remains our rock.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report's Bowl Game Preview Part 4. Overlapping with the NFL schedule this weekend provides a gift to bettors: putting action on pro/bowl teasers.
* The World's Greatest College Football Report Bowl Game Preview Part 5: Introducing The Fourth Down Stupidity Index, starring Northern Illinois University. Oh, Huskies!
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