This is a really fun time for fans of American football at all levels, esp. high school, college and the NFL. Let’s take a look at what’s happening with middle Tennessee’s pigskin programs.
The TSSAA (Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association) held the state championship games — the BlueCross Bowl series — last week in Tennessee Tech University’s Tucker Stadium, November 29 – December 2, 2018. Nine — count them NINE — championship game matchups were scheduled, three per day for three days (and nights), but due to a weather delay, the final game was played on a fourth day. Thursday — Peabody 17, Trousdale Co. 9; Greeneville 56, Haywood 21; and Oakland 37, Whitehaven 0. Friday — Davidson Academy 39, Friendship Christian 27; CPA 41, BGA 21; and Brentwood Academy 28, MUS 6; Saturday — Whitwell 7, Cornersville 6; and Alcoa 21, Covington 14; and on Sunday — Knoxville Central 14, Henry Co. 9.
The national championship for large colleges will be held in January following a semi-final round of playoff games on Saturday, December 29, 2018. Reigning champion Alabama (13-0) faces Oklahoma (12-1), in the Capitol One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. at 7 p.m. Notre Dame (12-0) and Clemson (13-0) fight it out in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas at 3 p.m., with both games on ESPN. The winners meet to determine the national champion in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Monday, January 7, 2019.
Locally, both Vanderbilt (in Nashville) and MTSU (in Murfreesboro) are playing in the post-season. Vanderbilt will make its second bowl trip in three years, this time to Houston for the Texas Bowl, where they will play the Baylor Bears (6-6). The Commodores (6-6) earned their trip with a decisive 38-13 home win over Tennessee on November 24, leaving the Volunteers at 5-7 and locked out (knocked out?) of the post-season. The Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl is at NRG Stadium, Houston on Thursday, December 27, kickoff at 8 p.m. CST on ESPN.
MTSU lost a heartbreaker at home, 25-22, on Saturday, December 1, yielding the Conference-USA title to UAB (University of Alabama – Birmingham). MTSU takes an 8-5 record into their bowl game, the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl which is against Appalachian State (10-2) in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Saturday, December 15, kickoff at 8 p.m., CST on ESPN.
Friday, December 28 in Nashville, the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl at Nissan Stadium matches Auburn (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6), kickoff at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN.
HBCU Bowl Game
The biggest post-season game for HBCU teams is the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The game, played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and televised live on ABC, has North Carolina A&T (9-2) of the MEAC vs. Alcorn State (9-3) of the SWAC, and kicks off at Noon Eastern / 11 a.m. Central Time on Saturday, December 15, 2018. Don’t miss this amazing matchup of college talent from two black colleges.
NFL / Titans
In the National Football League, the Titans just hosted the Jacksonville Jaguars in Nissan Stadium on Thursday Night Football, December 6. Results were unavailable at press time. Leading up to that game, the Titans had hosted the New York Jets on Sunday, December 2 and mustered a 26-22 victory after trailing 16-6 at halftime. If the Titans won again on Thursday, they will have lifted their record to 7-6 and be well placed in the hunt for a Wild Card playoff spot. Even though the Titans beat the Texans early in the season, the Texans (9-3) have now run off nine straight wins and are likely to win the AFC South title. The Colts (6-6) and Jaguars (4-8) are also in the mix. The Titans will have three more regular season games: a final road game at Noon CST Sunday, December 16 against the New York Giants (4-8 at press time) at Noon, then two home games against the Redskins (6-5 at press time) on Saturday, December 22 at 3:30 p.m. and the Colts (6-6 at press time) on Sunday, December 30 at Noon.