It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Bowl season is finally here and in a few short weeks it will come and go, and for anyone who has paid a modicum of attention the number of games has consistently grown every year. Some people say we have too many bowl games now…those are the kids who raised their hand in school when the teacher asked if the class wanted homework. Here’s a quick rule to where we should draw the line for bowl games: 1. they should start the Saturday after Army-Navy, 2. they should end with the National Championship Game, and 3. every game should be nationally televised. As long as they can fulfill those three requirements, I say the more football the better. Anyway, so this bowl season I’m going to attempt to give you ten reasons why every bowl game this season is worth your attention, so here we go with number one.
10. It’s Football
Look I know not everybody can get up for every college football game. I’m right there with you. But I can also be the first to tell you that come April and May, you will be kicking yourself for now watching every game you could. Jackson State and North Carolina A&T may not do it for you personally, but if you are taking the time to read this then football probably does. My advice to you is to just go ahead and do your not-so-distant future self a favor and watch.
9. First Bowl Game of the Season
Strictly speaking, this is tied for the first game of the season with the Cure Bowl, but at 4 Down we always encourage flipping games and maximizing your football intake. The game’s being played in the Georgia Dome, which for some reason always makes uniforms show up really well on television adding to the aesthetics of the game (“The Dome”, “The Superdome”, and “Jerry World” all have the effect of making jerseys look better).
8. Russell Athletic Uniforms
Russell Athletic is one of the many apparel companies that has basically been run out of the team apparel game by the Nike explosion. However, both the Aggies and the Braves will be sporting the “R” on Saturday and if you love an old school feel. Let’s just go ahead and pour one out for Champion, Starter and even Reebok here. We miss you outdated apparel companies fallen victim to the Phil Knight Empire.
7. Khris Gardin’s Punt Returns
Sophomore Khris Gardin is the FCS First Team All-American punt returner and for good reason. Gardin may only be listed at 5’7, but he has already housed two punt returns this season. He has returned seven punts for 40+ yards and could potentially have an electrifying play anytime Alcorn State lines up to punt. Also, as long as he has more than two punt return yards on Saturday, he will set an FCS record for punt return yards in a season.
6. Halftime Show
So I’m honestly not positive that this will be shown on television or not, but let’s hope so. I have to confess that I’ve never been one to get excited for halftime performances, but both of these bands are must-see T.V. The grace, rhythm, and energy with which the Blue & Gold Marching Machine and the Sounds of Dyn-O-Mite Marching Band will play at halftime will definitely not disappoint and if they do show it on ESPN around 1:30 Eastern time then it’s worth twenty minutes of your time.
5. Jay Hopson may be coaching in the FBS Next Year
Alcorn State head coach Jay Hopson is no stranger to coaching in the FBS, having previously coached at eight different FBS programs including Ole Miss, Michigan, LSU, and Florida. UL Monroe has shown interest in hiring Hopson after deciding to move on from Todd Berry. Coach Hopson hasn’t said much about the possibility of coaching the Warhawks, but he did meet with ULM officials in Shreveport apparently to interview for the vacancy. Time will tell, but this may be Hopson’s first shot at showing the national stage he has the chops to be an FBS head coach.
4. The Braves’ Rushing Attack Led by Darryan Ragsdale
One of the beauties of a game like this, and really all of the bowl games involving Group of Five teams too, is that it gives players opportunities on a national stage that they haven’t had this season, or in Darryan Ragsdale’s case his career. A senior from Brandon, Mississippi, Ragsdale will have a chance in his last college game to showcase his talents on ESPN. On the season, he has 1,144 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 140 rush attempts. That’s a whopping 8.2 yards per carry. Alcorn State has the third best rushing offense in the FCS and Ragsdale is a major reason why.
3. ASU’s Two-QB System
John Gibbs and Lenorris Footman have both seen time at quarterback for the Braves this season. Gibbs, the starter to begin the season, has missed the last few games because of an injury, but it’s hoped that he will be available for the game on Saturday. Footman made a statement against Southern that will make it be pretty difficult to not play him. He rushed for 274 yards and four touchdowns coming off of the bench in a 48-7 drumming of the Jaguars.
2. Classic Strength-on-Strength Matchup
We’ve already discussed the Braves’ rushing attack and how it is one of the strongest in the FCS, but what about the guys they’ll be trying to run it against? North Carolina A&T has the second ranked run defense in the FCS and are holding opponents to a meager 84.5 rushing yards per game currently. The Aggies are led by the big guys up front: Marquis Ragland, Angelo Keyes (a redshirt freshman), and Michael Neal; as well as linebacker Denzel Jones. All four of these guys were named to an All-MEAC team, with Ragland getting a 1st team nod. So if you are a big fan of quality matchups be sure to tune in when Alcorn State has the ball to see what the ground game looks like in this battle in the trenches.
1. 5th QuarterPost-Game Battle of the Bands
Have you ever seen Drumline? What am I talking about of course you’ve seen Drumline, well the live sequel will be occurring after the game on Saturday. I would elaborate but it just doesn’t seem necessary…just watch.