You've spent the last month buying and wrapping presents, traveling, eating far too much sugar, avoiding talking politics with family and anxiously awaiting another Virginia Tech football game. Brian and I? We've been doing the same, in addition to spending WAY too much time researching mullets. Bowl Season, amiright?
On to the (fake) lines!
Rank the Mullets: Mike Gundy, Wyatt Teller, Dog the Bounty Hunter, 1990's Jaromir Jagr, Eugene from The Walking Dead, Joe Dirt.
Brian: Let's do a little picture-by-picture comparison. Here are my rankings, in order from six to one:
6. Eugene from The Walking Dead
Look, one of the most defining rankings to the world's best mullets is the out-and-out choice to have one. Though Eugene has a very luscious party in the back, he lives in a zombie wasteland. Haircare/haircut options are very limited, so he just had to go with it.
5. Joe Dirt
Meh. The most expected of mullets, Joe only beats Eugene because he technically chooses to wear his hair like that. But many scholars say that he emerged from the womb with a full mullet in tow. So was it really a choice?
4. Wyatt Teller
Look, I love Wyatt. But here's the thing about his fashion statement hairstyle: it was more for humor than it was for function. It was a hipster mullet, if you will, and hipsters never make anything better. I mean, they're the people who drink PBR because they think it's some sort of statement about the type of person they are. Hipsters will never win a mullet-off.
3. Dog the Bounty Hunter
I know Pierson and I disagree, but does this thing even count as a mullet anymore?
At some point you need to recognize both the business in the front, and party in the back. Dog has a lot of party back there. But he comes up short on the business end up front, and just looks like a roadie for White Snake.
2. Mike Gundy
I mean from the look, to his commitment, to the name (he calls it the Arkansas Waterfall) this thing is beautiful. It's different from the hipster mullet because though Gundy's doing it for attention, he's also kept it for over a year. He's beyond doing it for laughs at this point.
1. Jaromir Jagr
Pierson: Listen, Mike Gundy's mullet is spectacular. Sure, it started out as a bit of fun and now feels a bit gimmicky. But for a Power 5 football coach in 2017 to sport a 30-year old hairstyle is a bold move that has to be respected, regardless of affiliation.
There have be a ton of epic mullets over time, from Bowie and Billy Ray to the entire National Hockey League. Joe Dirt — sorry, Deer-Tay — and Dr. Eugene Porter each sport epic mullets, but they benefit from Hollywood embellishment. Personally, I feel like bonus points need to be given to those who sport such a polarizing hairstyle regardless of GQ's opinion. Teller's "Bun of Disgust" was fantastic, but almost too stylish — a modern take on the horrendous hairstyle of yore. Which brings us to Dog. Dog's hair is so over the top, even including bird feathers and beads, that it feels almost transcendent. The hairstyle is who he is, dating back to before his television fame. So where Gundy's hairstyle has taken OSU's exposure to a different level, one could argue Dog's exposure is a direct result of his Mississippi Mudflap.
My rankings are: Dog, Gundy, Jagr, Teller, Eugene and Joe Dirt.
Over/Under 369.5 passing yards for Mason Rudolph
Brian: Over. Rudolph's hit this in eight of his last ten games. I don't know how you stop him, and I bet if you asked Bud Foster in a moment of honesty, he'd tell you he doesn't really know either. But there is hope. Both Texas and West Virginia held the Cowboy quarterback to under 300 yards passing on over 30 attempts, and both teams gave Okie State a run for their money. Let's hope Bud learns from those games, the Tech offense tries to control the ball, and they keep Rudolph under this number.
Pierson: OSU is 0-2 against ranked teams (Oklahoma and TCU), yet Rudolph passed for 423 yards per game in those games (albeit against two defenses ranked #87 and #72, respectively, in pass defense). That makes plenty of sense, considering one game was a video game-style shootout, and the other was a high scoring affair where the Pokes played from behind throughout. Amazingly, TCU (at #72) is the highest ranked pass defense the Fightin' Pickens have faced all season, and only three opponents are ranked inside the Top 100. Woof.
The Tech secondary may be banged up, but you've got to believe that Bud Foster has spent the last month developing ways to neutralize Rudolph and his supporting cast. He's going to sling it all night, but I think Tech figures out a way to keep him under.
True or False: Virginia Tech will out-rush Oklahoma State
Brian: The Cowboys average 4.65 yards per carry, and running back Justice Hill has galloped for over 1,300 yards this season. But neither Hill, nor the Oklahoma State offensive line has seen anything like Ricky Walker and Tim Settle on the interior.
That combination of beef really hurts teams, even ones that are good at running the ball (remember, no Clemson back had more than 29 yards when the Tigers came to Blacksburg in September).
The Cowboys give up a paltry 131 rushing yards a game, but have also given up 21 rushing scores. Tech will try to establish their rotation of Steven Peoples, Deshawn McClease, and Jalen Holston, and I think they outrush Okie State in Orlando.
Pierson: When you think of Big XII football, two things come to mind: Gaudy passing stats and little-or-no defense. Oklahoma State has been a bit of an exception; while they lead the nation in passing yards per game, they also tout an impressive run game led by sophomore tailback Justice Hill. Opposite Hill stands the Hokies' usual committee approach that has already experienced its first round of attrition, with the loss of Travon McMillian.
Statistically, these two teams create a remarkably even matchup. The Hokies enter the Camping World Bowl with the #15 rush defense in the country (118 ypg), while Okie State (somewhat surprisingly) sports the #26 rush defense (132 ypg). Offensively, the Hokies run game is ranked #61 (167 ypg) versus the Cowboys' 46th-ranked unit (183 ypg).
The Tech running game has been difficult to pin down this season. There is a seemingly equal number of strong showings as there are duds. One thing is certain: When Tech is successful running the football, they win. With the Cowboys' ability to fill up the scoring column, it will be imperative for Tech to control the football and keep their defense fresh. I'll say, "True" and take the Hokies.
Who finishes with more receiving yards: Okie State WR James Washington or Sean Savoy, Eric Kumah and Hezekiah Grimsley (combined)
Brian: Yo, this line's pretty disrespectful. But when you start to look at what Washington's done over his career, you get it. The dude averages nearly 20 yards a catch over his four year career in Stillwater. He has ten career games where he managed over 150 receiving yards by himself, and is capable of completely decimating opposing defenses (I think Pat Narduzzi is still recovering from the 296 and two scores Washington roasted his guys for in 2016.)
But let's look at the BC game, the last time Phillips was a complete non-factor due to injury. Savoy had nine grabs for 139 yards, and Kumah had four for 53. Grimsley didn't play, but if his 56-yard outing against Virginia was any indication, the freshman will be ready to play in Orlando.
Give me Grimsley, Savoy, and eight-yard Kumah slants to take down the award-winning, pass catching juggernaut on the other sideline.
Pierson: The absence of Cam Phillips will be felt, no doubt. The question is who steps up to keep the Hokies' passing attack alive. Thursday's matchup with the Cowboys will require the Tech offense to score points. And while defense is optional in the Big XII and the Pokes are hardly a defensive juggernaut (they're ranked #118 in passing defense), the Hokies will still need to execute for 60 minutes to hold serve against a potent Okie State offense.
Biletnikoff Award winner James Washington enters the game averaging 118 receiving yards per game for the #1 passing offense in the country. Savoy, Kumah and Grimsley are averaging just over half that figure, combined. Seems like an easy lay-up for Washington, right? Consider this: The Pokes have four pass catchers with more receiving yards this season than Savoy (the Hokies' top receiver behind Cam). So while Washington is Mason Rudolph's main dude, he has plenty of weapons to spread the ball around to. Josh Jackson, on the other hand, has the aforementioned trio plus a bevy of other guys that catch a pass here or there.
While the volume feels like it will be there for the Tech trio, I can't say that I feel supremely confident in their ability to deliver (strictly from a gambling perspective). We know that Okie State is going to chuck it, and — barring injury — Washington will almost surely get his yards against a banged up Tech secondary. I'll take Washington.
Matchup Over/Under: 63
Brian: The Cowboys have hit this over in 11 of their 12 games this season. The outlier? A 13-10 win against Texas in the middle of the schedule. Which was the only time I ever gambled on Oklahoma State to take the over (which is completely unrelated, I just wanted to complain about it again).
The Hokies, on the other hand, have only hit this number twice. Both times, Tech scored an avalanche of points (63 against ECU, 59 against North Carolina), which was obviously an outlier to any other form of production the offense showed throughout the year. Everyone has screamed to take the over since this game was announced, but I'm going to do the opposite.
I think the Cowboys will have fewer possessions than they're used to, which could slightly cap their ability to score. And I think the Hokies will be able to move the ball just enough on offense that they'll keep Rudolph on the sideline as long as possible.
Pierson: I agree with Brian here. At first blush, this game has a similar look on paper to the Independence Bowl matchup with Tulsa a few seasons ago. One of the many things that make this team different from that 2015 squad is the lack of a big play wide receiver to keep pace with a potent opposing offense. Can Sean Savoy play the game of his life? Does Josh Jackson look like a different quarterback after a month to regroup?
In order for this game to hit the over, the Tech offense needs to put points on the board and I honestly don't feel like they're equipped to beat the Cowboys in a shootout. Justin Fuente's comments over the last six weeks illustrate his agreement with that sentiment, so don't be surprised to see a balanced attack from the Hokies offense that looks to control the football and neutralize the OSU offense. They may not succeed, but I wholly expect them to try. I'll take the under.
Spread: Oklahoma State (-4)
Brian: No Cam Phillips. No Travon McMillian. An offense that hasn't looked good in over two months. How can anyone in their right mind pick the Hokies to win? As much pressure as the defense has been under over the second half of the season, they've really done their job. This isn't a nine-win team without defensive performances like the ones against UVA, Pittsburgh, and Duke. But with the margin of error so small, a single mistake can flip a potential victory to a defeat (remember Georgia Tech?).
I expect the defense to ball out a little. They'll cause some turnovers, they'll get their share of stops. Like they did against Clemson. And Miami. But it'll be the offense's job to capitalize on those opportunities, and I don't know if I trust them to do so. Give me Okie State with a 31-24 win.
Pierson: As fantastic as the Tech defense has been this season, this matchup feels like a tall task, given the injuries they've suffered over the final weeks. For the Hokies to win, they will need a defensive performance for the ages and an offensive performance that seriously bucks recent trends. Keep in mind, the Hokies haven't scored more than 24 points in any of the five games since their 59-7 drubbing of UNC in October. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, has scored 31 or more points in all but one game — the aforementioned 13-10 win over Texas in mid-October. Bowl games are always a unique animal, and you cannot dismiss the statistical impact of the abysmal defenses Okie State has faced this season. At the end of the day, I simply don't feel confident in the Hokie offense's ability to put up enough points to beat this spread. I'll take the Cowboys to cover.
Disclaimer: Some of these are real betting lines, but many of them are fake and none of this is real advice that should be taken seriously.