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The World's Greatest College Football Report, Bowl Series Pt. 2: Stomping James Carville

RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl
Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (8-5) vs. Appalachian State Mountaineers (10-3)
December 18, 10 a.m.
Boca Raton, FL

RoofClaim.com is among the more boring sponsors this year. ("We Handle Your Roof Replacement From Start To Finish And We Will Do A Great Job Scamming Your Insurance Company!") But give the organizers credit for an awesome website. There are pictures of Appalachian State players frolicking in the surf! There is a menu! (Complete with recipes.)

A beatdown by FAU on the Akron Zips in the 2017 Cheribundi Tart Cherry edition of the Boca Raton Bowl earned the Owls a signature appetizer: the "FAU Signature Talon Sliders." The Talon Sliders recipe does double-duty because you also get instructions for making Crispy Onions and Tomato Jam. Mmm, tomato jam.

As for the game, we love the Hilltoppers. Our unabashed affection for the 'Toppers starts and ends with team mascot Big Red. For those unfamiliar, picture a bright red sporty version of Grimace. The two must share a bloodline.

Buzzkills slam Big Red for all manner of reasons. He (it?) doesn't have anything to do with football, has no relation to Western Kentucky in particular, and doesn't better our understanding of what "Hilltopper" means. These killjoys are missing the point. The pageantry and traditions of college football follow no rules. In large part, the utter chaos of team names, nicknames, mascots and battle cries stems from days long gone.

For example, look at Georgia Tech. The mascot - the Ramblin' Wreck - is an old car. Time permitting, we'll unravel the weird backstory behind the nickname and mascot. An engineering project in the 19th Century features prominently.

Our pick: Let's not overlook the landform battle Boca has teed up for us: Which is a mightier, a hill or a mountain? Or, more precisely, who is tougher, mountain climbers or people who top hills?

Here's the thing: Mountain climbers use safety gear. Topping a hill only requires shoes. And, Kentucky being Kentucky, shoes are optional. Not only for topping hills, as Louisville law firm and DUI defense specialists Suhre & Associates point out, but also for driving - there is no statute on the books in the Commonwealth State prohibiting an individual from driving while barefoot. We expect the confidence of donning both shoes and protective equipment will propel Big Red to victory.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (+2.5)

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PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl
University of Texas El Paso Miners vs. Fresno State Bulldogs (9-3)
December 18, 1:15 p.m.
Albuquerque, NM

"Player Unknown Battlegrounds" should be abbreviated PUB. Why PUBG? Our guess is trolls, sensing an opportunity to do what trolls do, would otherwise shorten Player Unknown Battlegrounds to PÜBs.

The victors in this one will claim a homemade hand-painted piece of pottery commemorating the win - a vase or jar or urn or something - which features the PUBs logo. So that's a little bit of unique flair but not enough to pique our curiosity.

Our pick: We are giving the UTEP Miners an edge because New Mexico borders Texas and the New Mexico Bowl will be played in New Mexico.

University of Texas El Paso Miners +11.5

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Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (8-4) vs. Brigham Young University (10-2)
December 18, 2:30 p.m.
Shreveport, LA

Once the infamous Weed Eater Bowl, and later the Duck Commander Bowl, the Independence Bowl has been in Shreveport since 1976, while Radiance Technologies has only been around since 1999, so score one for freedom. On the other hand, Radiance is 100% employee-owned, which is more than we can say for America. Shreveport is also a lot closer to Birmingham than BYU (though the Cougars "travel well"), so it's more of a homeish game for the Blazers (yes, Birmingham is named after a style of coat, though the school claims its mascot is a dragon named Blazer, presumably for the alliteration. (Bulls was taken.)

Our pick: Radiance Technologies features Concepts to Capabilities, which is also what BYU's offense does. Unfortunately for the Cougars, this is also what Birmingham's defense does.

Sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier is the X Factor for the Cougars and the man we're betting on to win the war for independence by not only sealing the game in the fourth quarter but declaring for the NFL draft shortly thereafter.

Brigham Young Cougars (+6.5)

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LendingTree Bowl
Eastern Michigan Eagles (7-5) vs. Liberty Flames (7-5)
December 18, 4:45 p.m.
Mobile, AL

All the jokes are taken by now, but our first instinct was to wonder if the winner of the LendingTree Bowl gets to foreclose on the loser. And foreclosing on Liberty seems apt these days, both figuratively and literally. Or vice versa. (Previous sponsors of this bowl form a nice arc of recent American economic history: GMAC, GoDaddy, and Dollar General.)

Liberty University, of course, is one of America's most noxious institutions of higher learning. It's almost impossible to root for the Flames to win anything anywhere - almost, because we're open to exploiting opportunity in the betting lines anywhere we can find it, no matter how hard Eastern Michigan makes it for us

Our pick: The Flames come into this bowl on a 3-game losing streak while the Eagles struggle to score and struggle to not get scored upon. Turnovers keep the game close, which is bad for Liberty but good for us.

Eastern Michigan Eagles -10

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Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl Presented by Stifel
Utah State Aggies (10-3) vs. Oregon State Beavers (7-5)
December 18, 6:30 p.m.
Inglewood, CA

This game sounds like fun until you find out that Stifel "is a diversified global wealth management and investment banking company." Really, Jimmy?

"The iconic image of the bull and bear shows the dedication and spirit of each member of our firm. We are individually and collectively committed to using the forces of the market to benefit our clients."

Oh, the end of that last sentence accidentally got clipped off on their website. It went "at the expense of everyone else."

Our pick: This will be a fun game to watch: Two quality teams with quality offenses, though the Beavers feature the run game of B.J. Baylor while the Aggies feature the arm of Logan Bonner. In today's game, arms beat legs.

Utah State Aggies -7.5

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R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
#23 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (12-1) vs. Marshall Thundering Herd (7-5)
December 18, 8:15 p.m.
New Orleans, LA

Ah, the good old-fashioned R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, featuring good old-fashioned Ragin' Cajuns against a Thundering Herd you can't help but hope rises up and knocks those crackers on their ass. After all, when this is your mascot, you're despicable.

Our pick: Unfortunately, the Cajuns are clearly the superior team, though the line is a surprisingly slim four points. Hold your nose and bet the house on those Cajun dudes, who come in having won 12 straight including five on the road. The Herd lost two of their last three and have a defense vulnerable to the rolling, balanced offense of Lafayette. This could get ugly.

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns (-4)

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Mike Luce is the world's greatest college football writer. Steve Rhodes is not. They welcome your comments.

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