Two little girls dressed up in Halloween costumes
Meet my party-sized sharps

College Bowl Pick'em: Me Versus My Toddlers

How does a lifelong college football fan fare against his toddler daughters in CFB pick'em? Unsurprisingly... not great.

Nicky G
Nicky G

We live in a college football house.

In my younger days, I was lucky enough to attend two storied football schools: West Virginia University (which might not seem blueblood enough for some, but it's the winningest FBS program without a championship in college football history so a “Country Roads" to you haters) and then also grad school at University of Michigan. Which is, as we know, loaded with football history, drama, hardships, and hard-fought victories.

My wife went to Duke (which is mostly a laugh riot during football season, but not so funny at college basketball time) and then law school at Notre Dame.

I’ve been to more than 40 college football stadiums over the course of my life. I've seen in-person the best of times — WVU's Steve Slaton overtaking Louisville in 3 OTs — and the worst of times — Michigan losing on that famed blocked punt to MSU.

Now, at my house, two flagpoles stand outside. One flies the American flag year-round. The other pole is reserved for the flag of whichever college won the last time my teams played my wife's. (Michigan flies proudly right now, as UM beat the shamrocks out of the Irish in 2019, 45-14).

Above, you'll see a photo of my girls at Halloween this year. Mae went as a Wolverine, Cora as a Fightin' Irishman. In fact, every year they've been around, they've dressed up as our mascots — a tradition we'll continue until they get old enough to fight us on it and we finally yield to their obsession with Disney princesses.

So let me repeat myself: We live in a college football house.

One that would rival Nissan's Heisman House. At least in cuteness.

So this college football season was a big one for us. We finally got the chance to include both of our daughters in a family tradition: CFB pick’em.

This is how we did it.

I printed off the logos of every bowl-game-playing football team (all 86). (My wife: "Did you have to use all the printer ink?")

After wrangling the girls, I laid the photos down on our dining table. The first team either girl smacked her little hand? That’s the one they picked.

Ultimately, they were great sports. We had to break up the picks into two days because of bedtime.

Mom's rules.

Now, after the first 9 games, Cora and Mae are beating the ever-living crap out of us.

I’m 2-7. My wife isn't doing much better at 3-6.

The girls are 6-3. (Update: 7-3 as of 12/21 at 10:00 a.m. CST) (I'm 2-8 and wife is 3-7)

Here are their picks:

I'm fairly sure they selected WVU, Michigan (as national champion!), and Notre Dame because their little days are jammed full of those logos. My car has all the decals, as does my wife's. I don't know if they've ever seen me not wearing a Michigan hat.

I'm also suspicious of the Maryland pick because we had a turtle in our backyard last month and they've been on a bit of a turtle kick lately. But that's beside the point.

I can only assume their early success is the result of them being naturally fantastic little college football sharps. I have no other reason not to think that.

Now, between the usual hours-long Youtube marathons of Frozen's "Let It Go" and 8-minute episodes of Bluey, we're all watching the bowl games on the couch, the girls munching on Cheerios as they root for their picks to score "tuffdowns." It's been the perfect way to spend the holiday season and a tradition I know they'll continue with their families (after they get a world-class education at the University of Michigan).

Ultimately, I know it's these inter-generational traditions that make college football so special.  They're what imbue each game with meaning, with history, with love, and with fun — and frankly, I couldn't be prouder to see my little girls whip my butt.

In fact, I hope they do.

And, of course, I wouldn't mind if they were also right about Michigan bringing home a National Championship.


Nicky G

Dad of 3. WVian by birth. ATX for now.