It was a strange day for bowl games in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex Wednesday.
Dallas was set to host No. 23 Boise State and Boston College the annual Servpro First Responders Bowl at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. TCU was set to play against California in the Cheez-It Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona.
Two very different bowl games set to draw national attention for different reasons. That was the plan, at least.
SERVPRO FIRST RESPONDERS BOWL: NO CONTEST
Severe thunderstorms marred life in DFW on Wednesday, and the Cotton Bowl was no exception.
Boise State and Boston College kicked off at 12:30 central time in front of a sparse crowd at the historic venue. The weather in the morning and at kickoff was relatively clear.
Boston College star running back A.J. Dillon opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run in the first. With 5:08 remaining in the first quarter, the game was delayed by lightning in the area
Standard protocol for NCAA Football weather delays is 30 minutes per lightning strike, with a 10-minute warm up period to follow. After three of these delays, a heavy squall of rain around 2:30, and more to come in the evening, officials from the game, broadcaster ESPN, and both schools decided to cancel the game outright.
“All parties were concerned about player safety first and foremost,” Pete Derzis, ESPN senior vice president of Events and programming told ESPN.com. “And with that being the primary concern, as well as the fans in attendance, it was a unanimous decision to cancel the game.”
Even with the Eagles leading 7-0 at the time of delay, the game was ruled a “No Contest” and no stats will be kept from the game.
“In my career, this is a first,” Boston College head coach Steve Addazio told ESPN.com. “I don’t second-guess anything about it. The decision was made for the right reasons, and that’s the welfare of both teams’ players.”
The bowl is believed to be the first ever cancelled due to weather. Many fans were not pleased with the decision, considering those who traveled the long distance from both schools, and players who sacrificed energy and time away from families to prepare for the game.
Both schools offered some compensation. BC athletic director Martin Jarmond took to Twitter to announce full refunds and reimbursements, and Boise State also said it will refund tickets purchased by its fans.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>To our fans who purchased tickets through BC, you will get a full refund by Jan. 2nd. Also, pick any home athletic event between now and next December and get free tickets for the number of bowl tickets purchased compliments of <a href=”https://twitter.com/BCEagles?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@BCEagles</a> . Thank you for your support! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WeAreBC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WeAreBC</a></p>— Martin Jarmond (@MartinJarmond) <a href=”https://twitter.com/MartinJarmond/status/1078047089433681922?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 26, 2018</a></blockquote>
CHEEZ-IT BOWL: TCU 10, CAL 7
Set to play at Chase Field, the indoor home to Major League Baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks, the third bowl game of the day didn’t have to worry about weather.
Competent offense? That was a different story.
Two highly touted defenses flexed its muscle in an ugly 10-7 win for Texas Christian over California.
Calling the game ugly is doing it a favor. The quarterback play was horrendous- there were nine interceptions between the two teams.
To be fair, neither team had a stable situation at QB. Just a week after star Ross Bowers announced his transfer, freshman Chase Garbers got the start for the Golden Bears, and showed his inexperience with three first-half picks.
TCU didn’t take advantage by any means; senior QB Greyson Muehlstein also threw three first-half INT’s, on the way to an atrocious state line of 7-20, 27 yards, and 4 INT.
He entered the season third on TCU’s depth chart behind Shawn Robinson, who transferred to Missouri, and Michael Collins, who started down the stretch missed the game with a foot injury. Even fourth-string QB and prized recruit Justin Rogers made his debut when Muehlstein left for a drive in the fourth quarter due to injury.
A first-quarter rushing TD for Garbers meant the total points in the game narrowly led its interceptions; a 7-0 Cal lead despite six interceptions.
TCU scored the second half’s only points on a Sewo Olonilua touchdown run, who was one of the game’s few bright spots. He carried the Horned Frog offense, rushing 32 times for 194 yards and the game-tying score.
TCU actually had a chance to win in regulation. With the clock ticking down in Cal’s red-zone, Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson let the clock run down to three seconds instead of before using his final timeout, instead of trying one more play.
Initially, Patterson sent kicker Cole Bunce onto the field, but after the Golden Bears called a timeout to ice the junior, TCU sent junior Jonathan Song onto the field, only to immediately substitute in Bunce, who missed a 44-yard field goal that would’ve sealed a win.
By this point, Twitter was locked on the contest, and a sloppy, mid-tier bowl game was the darling of the college football world, and many fans stayed up for overtime.
<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>This should be framed <a href=”https://t.co/yVXSSCnZS5″>pic.twitter.com/yVXSSCnZS5</a></p>— Morgan Moriarty (@Morgan_Moriarty) <a href=”https://twitter.com/Morgan_Moriarty/status/1078157561436741632?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>December 27, 2018</a></blockquote>
California got the ball to start OT, and senior QB Chase Forest, in for the struggling Garbers, fittingly threw an interception that was nearly returned for a touchdown by TCU’s Jawaun Johnson.
Song eventually settled the chaos and nailed a 27-yard field goal for all the Cheez-It’s; a fitting end to a wild day of college football. Both teams finish 7-6, especially impressive for TCU, who wins its last three games despite significant injuries to starters this season.
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