Before we get started today, let's take a pop quiz. Which of the following are not real college football bowl games?
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl
Tropical Smoothie Cafe Frisco Bowl
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
TicketSmarter Birmingham Bowl
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl
Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl
FBC Mortgage Cure Bowl
Poulan Weed Eater Independence Bowl
The correct answer is that they are all real bowl games this year, except for the last one, which was a real bowl game from 1991 - 1997.
And then of course there was the unofficial Stay Healthy Bowl game that the Houston Texans held on Sunday. Heading into the game the Texans had nothing to play for after the Chiefs won in the early game. The Titans were playing to win, however since both the Steelers and Colts subsequently lost, they would have been in whether they won or not. But they did not know that at kickoff. The Texans main goal was to give a bye week to as many of the walking wounded as possible. Will Fuller, Kenny Stills, Laremy Tunsil, Benardrick McKinney, Bradley Roby, Jacob Martin and D.J. Reader were all inactive. Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins were only active as in they were on the sidelines with shoulder pads on, but in every other way they were not going to step on the field unless there was an emergency.
The game played out kind of like one of those 4th games of the exhibition season. The longer it went on the less interest there was in it.
So, did we learn anything from this game that counted for nothing for the Texans other than their 6th loss of the season?
We learned that maybe the Texans should come out of the locker room for the 1st and 3rd quarters and have AJ McCarron at the controls. After all he did lead them to their first opening drive TD of the season and then steered them to another TD on their first drive of the 3rd quarter grinding up 31 plays between the two drives. (Please note ....the other 8 Texan drives took up only 34 plays, ran off less than 2 minutes of average possession time each and resulted in 0 points).(Also note that my tongue is in my cheek).
We learned that if we are going to play without Watson, Fuller, Stills, Tunsil and Hopkins on the offensive side we sure better have Reader, McKinney, Martin, Roby (and please Lord) Watt on the defensive side.
We learned that if we are going to play without Reader, McKinney, Martin, Roby and Watt on the defensive side we sure better have.....oh you get the idea
We learned that when Titans QB Ryan Tannehill is happy and beaming that big smile, he sure looks a lot like a young Terry Bradshaw (at least with his helmet on).
We learned that the defense two weeks ago did a pretty damned good job holding Derek Henry to 86 yards on 21 carries after watching him toast this version of the defense for 211 yards (and a rushing title) over 32 carries.
We learned it is pretty hard to keep an opponent close in this type of game when you force 0 turnovers and have 0 sacks. Heck, the Texans only had 2 QB hits, both by Barkevious Mingo (who must win Texans' name of the year).
We learned that Tannehill's 13 of 20 for 198 yards sure looked more impressive than that as he totally "managed" this game. (Truth in advertising - a QB can look really good when his running game is putting up 245 yds).
We learned that Taiwan Jones looked usable with his 9 carries for 40 yds.
We learned there is a reason that some players are on the first team and others are on the second and third team and that it is not because the coach's are picking the wrong guys to start.