It’s bowl season!!!
Ok, perhaps I should temper my excitement. You see, instead of a national championship game, we are being given an SEC championship game, and instead of the most deserving teams reaching the best bowls, we are being forced to watch mediocre teams because they have large fan bases. This should come as no surprise to anyone that is at all familiar with a bowl selection process. Bowls select schools as a “product,” not a team, and a product that attracts more eyeballs is always going to be picked over a team that is slightly more deserving.
For my part, this may be the least excited I have been for the bowl season ever, and that’s with my Purdue Boilermakers finally making it back to the postseason after three consecutive losing campaigns. Perhaps Purdue’s situation is really what is irking me since they beat Illinois and Ohio State head-to-head, finished ahead of them in the conference and are still facing a MAC team in Detroit. Meanwhile, scandal riddled Ohio State faces Florida in the Sunshine State and the Illini get to spend New Year’s Eve in San Francisco. Oh, and Northwestern, who also finished behind Purdue, gets a January 2nd bowl in Houston.
So, in the spirit of me being peeved(because I’m sure as hell not going to Detroit), here is a quick preview of all the bowl games and a look at why they are worth watching/suck.
New Mexico Bowl: Wyoming vs Temple
Of course you gotta open bowl season in an exotic locale like Albuquerque! If you’re watching this game and didn’t attend one of these schools, what are you doing man? Kidding aside, Temple is a program on the rise, but you may need to get them a map to show them they don’t belong in the MAC.
Idaho Potato Bowl: Utah State vs Ohio
We stay in America’s more obscure states for this clash. Utah State is a distant third in their own state and so is Ohio. This game will prove, once and for all, which state has better fifth-tier recruits. It’s all about depth baby.
New Orleans Bowl: Louisiana-Lafayette vs San Diego State
Grab yo self a Po Boy and watch the Rajin’ Cajuns whoop that Aztec!
Beef O’Brady’s Bowl: Florida International vs Marshall
T.Y Hilton of FIU is one of the more explosive players in the country, so just watch him. Keep up with the Kardashians when Marshall has the ball.
Poinsettia Bowl: TCU vs Louisiana Tech
TCU is a ranked team that is forced to play in these low-tier bowls every time they don’t make the BCS. So why watch? Louisiana Tech won the WAC, which basically makes them as good as Boise State.
Las Vegas Bowl: Boise State vs Arizona State
Oh, just kidding Boise. The Broncos also got the shaft as they finished No. 7 in the country but were not chosen by a BCS bowl game. It should be fun to watch Boise senior quarterback Kellen Moore end his career thrashing an Arizona State team that has quit on this season and will probably be hitting Ghost Bar pretty hard the week of the game.
Hawaii: Southern Miss vs Nevada
Southern Miss knocked Houston out of the BCS, and now have a pretty intriguing matchup with another high-powered offense. This has the makings of a really fun game.
Independence Bowl: North Carolina vs Missouri
Both teams underachieved this season and are really missing quarterbacks they lost to the NFL. But, who would’ve thought that T.J. Yates would be playing better than Blaine Gabbert right now?
Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl: Purdue vs Western Michigan
Oh God! Why does Detroit have a bowl game, why?!?!?!
Belk Bowl: NC State vs Louisville
This used to be the Meineke Car Care Bowl, but now that game is in Texas. That fact is about as interesting as watching these two teams play.
Military Bowl: Air Force vs Toledo
Toledo comes in with a potent offense but, like the rest of the MAC, very little defense. This one should be a shoot-out.
Holiday Bowl: Texas vs Cal
Seriously, how is Texas ranked? I feel like they’re sitting just inside the top-25 every week, lose to fall out, then beat some also-ran and jump back in the next week. What gives?
Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State vs Notre Dame
I hear Lou Holtz and Bobby Bowden also don’t care about this game. Still, a win here would give either program some momentum heading into next season after pretty lukewarm 2011 campaigns.
Alamo Bowl: Baylor vs Washington
Fun quarterback matchup between Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III and Washington up-and-comer Keith Price. As an added bonus, neither team plays any defense. Man, I feel like I’m saying that about every game.
Armed Forces Bowl: BYU vs Tulsa
BYU’s first season as an independent was decent, but uninspiring. Tulsa’s four losses all came to teams that were ranked in the top-10 at the time. What does this mean? It means I don’t know nearly enough about these two teams to write anything entertaining.
Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa State vs Rutgers
Rutgers, I swear, you better beat those jerks from Iowa State that stuck us with an all-SEC title game!
Music City Bowl: Wake Forest vs Mississippi State
Wake Forest was surprisingly good in the ACC this year, while Miss State was surprisingly bad in the SEC. So, you’re still taking that SEC team aren’t you? Dammit, you’re part of the problem! Just kidding, Vandy smacked Wake last week, I’m going with the Dogs.
Insight Bowl: Oklahoma vs Iowa
This has the makings of a blow out as a highly talented Oklahoma team takes on a remarkably average Iowa squad. Still, Bob Stoops has an excellent track record for not getting his team ready to play for bowl games, and Iowa receiver Marvin McNutt is almost as good at football as his name is fun to say.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Northwestern vs Texas A&M
Dan Persa gives the Wildcats a chance to win any game they’re in, but A&M has the better athletes across the board. Should be fun to watch Northwestern try to pull this one out in Houston.
Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech vs Utah
The Yellow Jackets’ triple option is tough to prepare for on a week-to-week basis, but teams have been much more successful slowing it down with the extra preparation time a bowl game affords. The Utes have a top-20 defense nationally, but struggle to score points. Could be a slug fest.
Liberty Bowl: Vanderbilt vs Cincinnati
Did you know that Aaron Rodgers’ little brother is Vanderbilt’s quarterback? I mean, he can’t throw, but they are related.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Illinois vs UCLA
This one should be called the “No Coach Bowl” after the firings of Ron Zook at Illinois and Rick Neuheisel at UCLA.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: Virginia vs Auburn
Another case of an overachieving ACC team facing a disappointing SEC team. Neither is particularly explosive, and Virginia really struggled against the one good defense they faced all year in Virginia Tech.
Ticketcity Bowl: Houston vs Penn State
Neither team is happy to be here. The Nittany Lions finished 6-2 in the Big Ten, but the Jerry Sandusky scandal made them radioactive to upper-level bowl committees. Houston, on the other hand, fell from the top-10 to national afterthought after losing to Southern Miss in the Conference-USA championship game. Who shows up? My guess is the mid-major team that is out to prove they weren’t a fraud and the product of a soft schedule. Still, Penn State will bring the best defense star quarterback Case Keenum has seen all season. I’m actually salivating about this game as I write this.
Outback Bowl: Georgia vs Michigan State
Georgia was red-hot heading into the SEC title game, but failed to cash in on some early opportunities against LSU. Michigan State played Wisconsin to the wire twice this year, winning one, and was able to smack around Michigan. Georgia is more talented, but the Spartans just have a way of hanging around.
Capital One Bowl: South Carolina vs Nebraska
I never really got a good read on Nebraska this year. They got walloped by Wisconsin, then were up-and-down the rest of the Big Ten season. South Carolina is missing its opening day starters at quarterback and running back. This looks like it’s gonna be one of those bowls where whichever team shows up first wins.
Gator Bowl: Florida vs Ohio State
Oh, the “Urban Bowl.” I really think Urban Meyer needs to walk the sidelines in a reversible sweater-vest for this game as we all tune in for the sub-plots instead of the football. You will never see a more exciting matchup of 6-6 teams in your life.
Cotton Bowl: Arkansas vs Kansas State
Arkansas’ only two losses are to the teams playing in the championship game, while Kansas State fell to both Oklahoma teams. There’s not a “bad” loss on either teams resume, but the Wildcats were absolutely stomped by Oklahoma 58-17. In the process, we learned that if you can load up against K-State’s option run game, they really can’t beat you through the air. With a ton of time and impressive athleticism in its front, look for Arkansas to rail the Wildcats in a game that looks good on paper, but could become a laugher.
Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh vs SMU
The Pitt Panthers are making a return trip to Birmingham, and you can best believe they aren’t happy about it. A 6-6 season in the worst major conference in college football doesn’t exactly inspire support, and Heinz Field has been nearly empty for Pitt games in 2011. SMU is an average C-USA team, but I still wouldn’t bet against them here.
GoDaddy.com Bowl: Northern Illinois vs Arkansas State
This is another late Alabama bowl game. Like the Compass Bowl, you will probably stumble upon this game the day before the title game and be like “there’s an Arkansas STATE?”
Rose Bowl: Wisconsin vs Oregon
Midwestern power against Northwest speed! This, like last year’s Wisconsin-TCU thriller, is gonna be a great one.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Stanford
All respect to the Rose Bowl, but this is the game I am most looking forward to. Okie State has weapons galore and a solid trigger-man in Brandon Weeden, but Stanford has Andrew Luck and a dominant ground game. Both teams will be able to score points, but will Stanford be able to keep up with Cowboy receivers enough to get a few stops? On the other side, can Oklahoma State slow down a Stanford running game that appears to have them overmatched on paper? Oh, and then that Luck guy is still pretty good. I’m going against the grain here and liking Stanford.
Orange Bowl: Clemson vs West Virginia
Wow, I don’t think I have ever cared about a BCS game less, and these two teams actually won their conference titles.
Sugar Bowl: Michigan vs Virginia Tech
Neither of these teams deserve to be in the BCS, but at least this game features Denard Robinson and the suddenly creative Michigan play-calling. I actually don’t have as much of a problem with a two-loss UM team that has solid wins over Nebraska, Michigan State and Notre Dame. Virginia Tech, however, only has one good win to their name, and that came against Georgia Tech just before the bottom fell out of their season.
Title Game: LSU vs Alabama
9-6 LSU in OT, bank it! Oh wait, that was on my DVR. I’m not going to be one of those people who says they won’t watch the game because they hate the rematch, because I will. In all honesty, football national championships are pretty much fictitious in any given year. But this year, while I do believe Alabama is probably the No. 2 team in the country, I don’t know that for sure. For this reason, I just hate that the BCS made the first meeting between these teams meaningless and made every conference championship and rivalry game meaningless over the last week of the season. All this from an entity that still exists because it claims that “every game matters.” Eh, it just makes you borderline not care, it takes a lot for me to only sorta care about a football game.