Berry’s college football buffet: OSU’s Alan Bowman says even portal guys should play in bowls

Berry’s college football buffet: OSU’s Alan Bowman says even portal guys should play in bowls

Players with the freedom to leave and play elsewhere next season are foregoing bowl games, leaving some teams shells of their former selves.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Dec 15, 2023, 11:00am CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Dec 15, 2023, 11:00am CST

STILLWATER — Quarterback Alan Bowman is the old man of OSU football. He’s less than three months away from his 24th birthday. He’s at his third university. He’s seen a lot.

So naturally, Bowman gets asked for advice. Including inquiries from teammates wondering about the transfer portal.

And Bowman has a couple of pat answers.

1. “Grass isn’t always greener on the other side, for sure,” Bowman said, of leaving Texas Tech for Michigan after the 2020 season. He barely played for the Wolverines in two years.

2. Even if you enter the portal, you don’t have to bolt on a bowl game.

Here-here, say coaches and bowl executives coast to coast.

Alas, that’s not the norm. Players with the freedom to leave and play elsewhere next season are foregoing bowl games, leaving some teams shells of their former selves.

Like Texas A&M, OSU’s opponent in the December 27 Texas Bowl. The Aggies are without their head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator from the regular season, and a bevy of Aggies have hit the portal and will miss the game.

Meanwhile, no OSU starter has entered the portal, and the Cowboys figure to have about as close to a full squad as possible, which is not the bowl norm in 2023.

“I think we’ve stayed intact as an offense and as a team,” Bowman said. “We know what we have. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re moving on forward. Some other programs are kind of scrambling to figure out how to put 11 out there. We know what’s going to be out there.”

Not so a year ago, when the Cowboys lost to Wisconsin 24-17 in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl and played without a variety of key players, including quarterback Spencer Sanders, who eventually transferred to Ole Miss.

Bowman said he’s mystified why players leave the team before a bowl game.

“I personally think if you’re going to enter the portal, might as well stay in the portal and still play in the game,” Bowman said.

“Practice and get better. The guys that kind of just leave, you’re missing out on 12, 15 practices, plus bowl gifts, plus some money, plus a trip. You can still do all those same things. Maybe not travel to a school (for a recruiting visit).”

Bowman stayed with the Wolverines last December even after he decided to transfer. Michigan played Texas Christian in the national semifinal Fiesta Bowl. Bowman was Michigan’s backup quarterback for that game.

“I was in the portal, but I still wanted to be part of the team, finish out the year, potentially win a national championship game,” Bowman said. “So just to get better as a player, stay on the team, keep practicing.”

Bowl week predictions

Here are the 10 bowls being played from Saturday through Friday, with predictions, their ranking in order of importance and the quarterback outlook for each game:

LA Bowl: UCLA vs. Boise State, 6:30 p.m., ABC. Broncos 23-17. Call this the upset special. UCLA is a four-point favorite, but that seems dubious. The Bruins lost quarterback Dante Moore in the portal. The Broncos lost their quarterback, Taylen Green, to the portal, but Boise State can ride tailback Ashton Jeanty.

Gasparilla Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. Central Florida, 5:30 p.m. Friday, ESPN. Knights 31-24. UCF has a big quarterback edge with John Rhys Plumlee.

Independence Bowl: California vs. Texas Tech, 8:15 p.m. Saturday, ESPN. Red Raiders 25-21. Both teams have their quarterbacks — Tech’s Behren Morton, Cal’s Fernando Mendoza — but both teams have been otherwise hit hard by the portal.

New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico State vs. Fresno State, 4:45 p.m. Saturday, ESPN. Aggies 28-27. New Mexico State has quarterback Diego Pavia, but Fresno State doesn’t even have its coach. Jeff Tedford, is not making the trip for medical reasons.

Boca Raton Bowl: Syracuse vs. South Florida, 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN. Orange 34-14. Both teams have their QBs, but Syracuse’s Garrett Shrader is a lot better than USF’s Byrum Brown.

Cure Bowl: Appalachian State vs. Miami-Ohio, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC. Mountaineers 41-10. Appalachian State will have QB Joey Aguilar, but the Redhawks must turn to Henry Hesson, whose five career passes came on September 10, 2022.

Frisco Bowl: Marshall vs. Texas-San Antonio, 8 p.m. Tuesday, ESPN. Roadrunners 48-12. Massive quarterback edge for UTSA, with veteran Frank Harris. Marshall lost QB Cam Fancher to the portal and will turn to Cole Pennington, son of Marshall legend Chad Pennington.

Myrtle Beach Bowl: Georgia Southern vs. Ohio, 10 a.m. Saturday, ESPN. Eagles 27-17. Ohio quarterback Kurtis Rourke is expected to miss the game. Meanwhile, Southern QB Davis Brin, a transfer from Tulsa, should be a go.

New Orleans Bowl: Jacksonville State vs. Louisiana, 1:15 p.m. Saturday, ESPN. Gamecocks 31-16. Both teams are expected to have their quarterbacks, but Jacksonville State — coached by Rich Rodriguez — has the better team.

Famous Toastery Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Old Dominion, 1:30 p.m. Monday. Monarchs 27-10. Both quarterbacks figure to be available, but Western’s offensive line has been wiped out by the portal.

Coach on the hot seat: Georgia Southern’s Clay Helton

Helton was head coach at Southern Cal for six-plus seasons; his Trojan record was 46-24. Helton was fired in September 2022 to make way for Lincoln Riley, so Helton landed in the Sun Belt Conference.

The Eagles went 6-7 a year ago after a Camellia Bowl loss to Buffalo.

Now the Eagles are 6-6 and face Ohio U. on Saturday in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. Georgia Southern is favored, but a loss would drop the Eagles to a second straight losing season.

Georgia Southern has a solid mid-major history. But Helton could be history if he doesn’t start winning bigger at Georgia Southern.

Share with your crowd
Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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