Winter Wonders + Portal SZN

We’re thrilled to be running our big bowl pool again, and this time it’s entirely free. Invite friends, family, co-workers, prodigious pets… whoever! Details below…

In today’s college football newsletter:

  • How to sign up for the best bowl pool on the web

  • The 4 names that will define this Transfer Portal cycle

  • What’s new in the Verballerhood


How to enter our Winter Wonders Bowl Pool

Every year, we take great pride in running the best college football bowl pool on the internet. Now, it’s also free for everyone. How does it work? There are two very simple rules:

  1. Pick the winners of every bowl game

  2. Rank your picks based on how confident you are in each

That’s pretty much it! In the end, we’ll tally up the winners and give out prizes to the top 11 finishers! Our grand prize winner gets a $250 credit from our friends at Pristine Auction, a limited edition (one-of-a-kind) Winter Wonders championship sweatshirt, a congratulatory video message from TV referee Dean Blandino, and more! To get you started, we recorded a 90-minute crash course on this year’s bowl games.

Again, this pool is entirely free, but you’ve only got one week until the games start up, so sign up now! Please forward this to other college football fans and feel free to invite your friends. A lot of college football fans run bowl pools this time of year, why not just join ours?


The Four Big Names That Will Define This Portal Cycle (For Now)

CORVALLIS, OREGON - OCTOBER 14: Quarterback Dante Moore #3 of the UCLA Bruins warms up against the Oregon State Beavers during the first half at Reser Stadium on October 14, 2023 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Another year, another tidal wave of names in the Transfer Portal! More than 1,500 players have signed up to play for new teams with more likely on the way. Love it or hate it, the Portal is its own season altogether. Our Tuesday episode went into more detail on the winners, losers and rumors thus far.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of covering the Transfer Portal is the domino effect of big names switching schools. It’s exciting to consider the possibilities of [INSERT YOUR SCHOOL HERE] upgrading at a key position; it’s more nuanced to consider what each transfer means to the larger game of musical chairs.

Here are the four most intriguing names I’m watching this cycle, and why:

🔥 Walter Nolen (DL, Texas A&M)

Nolen, formerly the No. 1 defensive lineman and No. 2 overall prospect in the 2022 class, was the jewel of Texas A&M’s historic recruiting class two cycles ago. With A&M’s coaching turnover, Nolen threw his name in the portal and is currently ranked as the top available player this cycle. There is a chance he returns to Texas A&M to play for Mike Elko, who helped recruit him to College Station. However, Nolen leaving could be a strong signal that others in A&M’s historic 2022 class could also be headed for the exits. Either way, whoever lands his services gets a stud tackle who can immediately elevate a defensive front.

🔥 Kyle McCord (QB, Ohio State)

McCord had a very good season for Ohio State with over 3100 passing yards and the eighth best QBR in college football. Still, he was haunted by the Ghost of Buckeyes Past, as his production was constantly compared to quarterbacks like CJ Stroud and Justin Fields. McCord threw his name in the Portal almost immediately on Monday morning, setting up a unique scenario: We have no idea who’s playing quarterback for the Buckeyes next season. The momentum seems to be on Washington State’s Cam Ward as the top target for Ryan Day, but there are a million rumors. Meanwhile, McCord reportedly has interest from a number of suitors including Nebraska and Miami, and figures to be an immediate starter for a big team.

🔥 Dillon Gabriel (QB, Oklahoma)

Towards the end of the season, there were persistent rumors that Gabriel might take a second trip into the Transfer Portal. Earlier this week, he made it official after offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby left Oklahoma to take the head job at Mississippi State. Gabriel is a plug-and-play starter for a high level Power 5 team and presumably entered the portal to sign on with another Playoff contender. The upside is obvious: He’s thrown for at least 3100 yards and 25 TDs in each of his four full seasons as a college quarterback. The downside carries significant risk: Gabriel has a slighter build and has proven somewhat injury prone. Oregon and USC have emerged as the top two landing spots for Gabriel, and his transfer may be the one of most consequence going into 2024.

🔥 Dante Moore (QB, UCLA)

Moore was the No. 4 overall recruit in the class of 2023 and recruited heavily by nearly every big program in college football. After initially leaning towards Notre Dame, Moore committed to Oregon after a trip to Eugene and, eventually, flipped to UCLA very late in the process. Now, he’s back on the market and makes for one of the more interesting stories this cycle. Moore showed flashes this season for the Bruins and has at least three years of eligibility left. Could Oregon bring Moore back to Eugene? Or might Moore go back home to Michigan and take the baton from J.J. McCarthy, who figures to be a first round NFL pick?


Get caught up

Thanks for reading. Until next week, stay solid!

-Ty Hildenbrandt