Baker Mayfield and the Sooners will play the Georgia Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day at 3pm. Brett Deering/Getty Images
Bowl season is upon us and there are some fantastic matchups this year. Check out the slate of upcoming bowl games that you can hear on ESPN 97.5 and SportsMap 94.1. All times are in Central Standard.
First up, Boise St. faces the Oregon Ducks in the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 16 at 2pm on ESPN 97.5 radio. Enjoy this one because the next game won’t occur until after Christmas on Dec. 26 when Kansas St. plays UCLA in the Cactus Bowl at 7pm on ESPN 97.5. On Dec. 28 the Camping World Bowl features Virginia Tech and Okie St. which kicks off at 4:15pm on SportsMap 94.1. Later that evening, Stanford plays TCU in the Valero Alamo Bowl at 8pm on ESPN 97.5. Next up, Texas A&M plays Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl that has an early kickoff at 11AM on Dec. 29, and will air on both ESPN 97.5 and SportsMap 94.1. Later Friday evening, Ohio State plays USC in the Cotton Bowl at 7pm and can be heard on ESPN 97.5.
Saturday Dec 30 will be a full day of football with three bowl games on the schedule. First, the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl that features a matchup between Iowa St and Memphis which begins at noon. All three games on Saturday the 30th will be aired on ESPN 97.5. After the Liberty Bowl concludes, the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl showcases the Washington Huskies and the Penn St. Panthers. The final game of the night is a big one, and will begin right after the Fiesta Bowl. The Orange Bowl pairs Wisconsin against Miami and is the last game of the weekend.
The Peach Bowl begins early on New Year’s Day, so make sure you don't miss UCF vs. Auburn which you can hear on SportsMap 94.1 at 11AM. If the Peach Bowl for some reason doesn’t do it for you, don’t worry. The Citrus Bowl starts just thirty minutes later at 11:30AM with LSU playing Notre Dame and can be heard on ESPN 97.5. The bowl game marathon continues at 3pm when Georgia plays Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl. Directly following the game, the All-State Sugar Bowl kicks off and features a very familiar matchup. Alabama takes on the Clemson Tigers in what should be a fantastic game between two teams that know each other very well. Both the Rose Bowl and the Sugar Bowl will be aired on ESPN 97.5 and SportsMap 94.1.
Finally, it all comes down to this. The National Championship game will begin at 7pm on Jan. 8 and will air on both ESPN 97.5 and SportsMap 94.1.
Enjoy the games!
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.