Big Bowl Preview IV

As I’ve mentioned before on this corner of the Internet, in addition to being an enthusiastic meteorologist, I am also a big fan of sports.  For the last few years, I’ve written up a preview of all college bowl games which was read by no one outside some family and friends.  Now, by publishing it here, it can be read by almost no one outside my family and friends.

This preview, like those before it, are meant purely for fun and entertainment.  Any predictions by the author should be considered unfounded and illogical.  If you find any attempt at humorous sarcasm to be offensive, you are more than welcome to read any of the other thousands of bowl preview articles on the web.  You are welcome… nay… encouraged to print this post (or a copied portion of it) out, set it on the table next to your recliner, and use it as a reference guide during the bowl season.  If you find the bowl season to be dull, gamble.  Gambling makes all sporting events more interesting.  Now, let’s get this started…

(all times EST)

Game: Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl (Division III National Championship)
Matchup: Mount Union (14-0) vs. Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0)
Date/Time/Location: December 19, 11:00 AM, Salem, VA

For the fifth consecutive year, Mount Union and UW-Whitewater have made their way through the 32-team field to play for the D-III national championship.  You see, in Division III football, the champion is decided by what is called a “playoff.”  32 teams made up of conference champions, independent schools and at-large bids essentially play a single elimination tournament to determine the winner.  At the end of the year, most everyone can agree on who deserves the championship.  It’s really boring.

Mount Union is seeking their fourth win in the last five years, and 11th Stagg Bowl victory overall.  UW-Whitewater is trying to recapture the magic of 2007 when they defeated Mount Union 31-21 to bring home their only Stagg Bowl crown.

Game: New Mexico Bowl
Matchup: Fresno State (8-4) vs. Wyoming (6-6)
Date/Time/Location: December 19, 4:30 PM, Albuquerque, NM

After starting the year 1-3, Fresno St. went 7-1 the rest of the way, including a rather unique, last-second victory over Illinois in the season finale.  Down 52-45, Fresno St. scored the game-tying TD with just two seconds remaining.  Coach Pat Hill wasn’t really interested in a tie game, so he decided to go for two points and the win.  On the two-point conversion, Ryan Colburn, under heavy pressure, just heaved a pass toward the end zone.  The pass was deflected into the air and fell into the arms of 350-lb offensive lineman Devan Cunningham who simply used his massive frame to lean through Illinois defenders into the end zone for the two points and eventual victory.

Almost all of Wyoming’s losses came against good teams (Texas, TCU, Utah).  The problem?  Wyoming never beat any good teams.

Game: St. Petersburg Bowl presented by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
Matchup: Central Florida (8-4) vs. Rutgers (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 19, 8:00 PM, St. Petersburg, FL

In an effort to protect the tradition of the St. Petersburg Bowl, the committee has taken the Rose Bowl approach to sponsorships.  Instead of the magicjack St. Petersburg Bowl, we now have the St. Petersburg Bowl presented by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s.  They might present the bowl game, but they won’t serve as a title sponsor.

The tradition of the St. Petersburg Bowl dates all the way back to 2008 when South Florida and Memphis faced off in the first ever St. Petersburg Bowl.  (Remember when they were good?  Neither do I.)  The history of this great bowl game is trumped only by the hallowed grounds on which they are played.  Tropicana Field – home to the Tampa Bay Rays – is one of the loveliest indoor sporting facilities in all the world.  Only the Louisiana Superdome (post-Katrina, of course) could possibly rival the mystique of this shrine to expansion baseball.

And speaking of the Superdome…

Game: R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Matchup: Southern Mississippi (7-5) vs. Middle Tennessee St. (9-3)
Date/Time/Location: December 20, 8:30 PM, New Orleans, LA

Southern Miss and the New Orleans Bowl are starting to go together like Bing Crosby and Christmas.  This is the 4th appearance by Southern Miss in the 9-year history of the game.  They’ve won in each of their three previous appearances including a 30-27 overtime victory last year against Troy.

You might say this game is meaningless – and you could easily be right.  That said, past MVPs of this game include Michael Boley and Shawn Nelson, both in the NFL with the Giants and Bills, respectively.  Boley just signed a 5-year, $25 million free agent contract with the Giants.  And he once played in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.  Unfortunately, last year’s MVP, Austin Davis of Southern Miss, is hurt this year and won’t play in the game.  Davis had broken some records at Southern Miss set by something called a Brett Favre during his freshman year.

Speaking of what used to be the biggest jackass in sports (before a little incident in Windermere, FL arose), the Vikings and Panthers square off in professional football opposite of this game.  Just in case Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee St doesn’t quite do it for you.

Game: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
Matchup: Oregon State (8-4) vs. BYU (10-2)
Date/Time/Location: December 22, 8:00 PM, Las Vegas, NV

Honestly, that’s how it’s titled – MAACO Bowl Las Vegas.  It’s like two cars collided head on and the words got scrambled.  Oh, wait… if I get in a collision, I can take my car to MAACO.  I got it!  Well, that’s subtle advertising.  Certainly every viewer will come up with that metaphor and think of MAACO.

Vegas has experienced some tough times with the economic decline.  When people don’t have extra money to spend, they don’t gamble and chase hookers.  So why would you once again schedule BYU for your game?  Aren’t you looking for an economic boost in the city?  Invite Florida St and Miami.  They’d be all over it!

Despite their loss last year, I still stick by my theory that BYU wins due to their ability to resist temptation better than any other team outside of Utah.  (Insert joke about Beavers and Vegas here.)

Game: San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Matchup: Utah (9-3) vs. California (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 23, 8:00 PM, San Diego, CA

The SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl is near and dear to my heart.  It kicked off the bowl preview (of the D-I games, at least) the first two years.  It’s ridiculously-long name and often boring matchups allowed me to set the sarcastic tone for this tome.  The past two years, the game has moved up to December 23.  If it ever finds itself on the other side of Christmas Day, it’ll be a joyous occasion.

Last year, an undefeated Boise St. team fell to TCU, 17-16 in a tightly-contested matchup.  Those two teams will play each other again this year, but we’ll rant complain bitch about discuss that one later.  Right now, the interest in this game rests on the health of Javhid Best, the junior RB for Cal.  If he declares for the NFL, he’s projected as a last first/early second round pick.  He suffered a concussion on this play against Oregon St. earlier in the year:

Yikes.  That is just not good.  If he suits up for the bowl game, kudos to him.

Game: Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl
Matchup: Nevada (8-4) vs. Southern Methodist (7-5)
Date/Time/Location: December 24, 8:00 PM, Honolulu, HI

This game is not exciting, but it does fall on Christmas Eve, which can be quite the blessing for those celebrating Christmas.  Unlike Thanksgiving, the manner in which people celebrate Christmas can vary wildly.  Some people celebrate Christmas Eve, some Christmas Day, some do both and others find a time to get together at some convenient point around the holiday.  (Note: December 15 does not qualify as “convenient” or “around the holiday.”)

If you need to escape the rising decibels of child-like enthusiasm, there’s a game on.  If you need a child to fall asleep, you can force them to watch this game.  If you get frustrated while trying to put together a new toy, you can procrastinate by watching football.  And if someone is giving you crap for not working on putting together the new toy, you can ignore them by watching football.

You’ll never be so happy to see June Jones’ ugly mug in HD.

Game: Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Matchup: Marshall (6-6) vs. Ohio (9-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 26, 1:00 PM, Detroit, MI

It’s not often a sponsor gains the title of the bowl game and the name of the game gets better.  This used to be the Motor City Bowl.  All that does is make people think of Detroit.  Little Caesars Pizza makes people think of crazy bread and hot-n-ready pizza!!!  (Coincidentally, “Hot-N-Ready” is the title of Tiger’s new book written with Tucker Max.)

The Big Ten Conference has a tie-in with this bowl, but they do not have enough eligible teams to fill that spot.  Thus, Marshall was selected for the game.  This is probably a good time to note that Michigan yet again missed a bowl game.  They fell one win short of qualifying with a 5-7 record.  The sad thing is, that record is much worse than it looks.  They were 1-7 in the Big Ten, beating lowly Indiana in their first conference game before losing 7 in a row.  Their out-of-conference wins were against Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Delaware St (D-II), and Notre Dame.  And with that, I have fulfilled my goal to embarrass both Michigan and Notre Dame in the same sentence.

Game: Meineke Car Care Bowl
Matchup: Pittsburgh (9-3) vs. North Carolina (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 26, 4:30 PM, Charlotte, NC

Dave Wannstedt vs. Butch Davis.  Bad NFL Head Coach vs. Worse NFL Head Coach. Wanny’s ‘stache vs. Butch’s spilled guts.  It’s a matchup for the ages.

Both teams come off tough losses.  Pitt lost a barn-burner to Cincinnati (or Cincinnata, as Pitt fans would pronounce it), 45-44.  They had a chance to knock off the unbeaten team and maybe send TCU to the Sugar Bowl against Florida, but they couldn’t get it done.  UNC suffered an inexcusable loss to NC State, 28-27 to end their season.  NC State had only one conference win coming into the game while Butch’s Boys had won four in a row.  But, alas, UNC lost and setup this match between fired NFL head coaches turned college coaches.  At least it isn’t the Petrino/Saban matchup of NFL head coaches cowardly running away to once again become college coaches.

Game: Emerald Bowl
Matchup: Boston College (8-4) vs. Southern California (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 26, 8:00 PM, San Francisco, CA

I made sure to spell out Southern California for two reasons – 1) USC could also refer to South Carolina and 2) you might think it’s South Carolina when you consider it’s the Emerald Bowl.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  The Trojans had appeared in a BCS bowl game seven straight seasons until this year.  And not only did they miss the BCS games… they ended up in the Emerald Bowl.  Of course, a tie for 5th in the PAC-10 will do that to you.  I’m beginning to think Pete Carroll’s little rant about Mark Sanchez turning pro last year had more to do with securing his football team’s success than trying to help his player. Speaking of turning pro, watch for safety Taylor Mays and defensive end Everson Griffen (no relation to Peter) for USC – they are both first-round talents.

If you’re going to watch this game, please do so under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  The game itself could be quite good if Boston College shows up and plays well.  The problem lies in those Emerald Nuts commercials.  They have to use the same ad agency as Snickers because their commercials make little sense and are slightly frightening.  However, if you’re under the influence, you’ll probably understand everything they’re trying to sell you.

Game: Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl
Matchup: Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-5)
Date/Time/Location: December 27, 8:30 PM, Nashville, TN

According to the Wikipedia entry of this game (which can’t be wrong), the bowl committee originally wanted to select North Carolina.  This would setup a game between two traditional basketball powerhouses in college.  However, nobody wanted Clemson – the loser of the ACC championship game.  The Gator, Chick-Fil-A, and Champs Sports bowls all passed on the Tigers.  According to ACC Bowl Selection rules (whatever that is), the ACC title game loser can’t fall “below the Music City Bowl.”  So, they had to take Clemson, and North Carolina gets to play a virtual home game against Pitt in Charlotte.

This has to make the members of the Meineke Car Care bowl committee just peachy.  They would be the lone bowl game “below the Music City Bowl.”  (At least, as far as I can tell.)  It’s as if the ACC said, “Well, we understand some bowls might not want to take the ACC championship game loser, but we’re not going to damn them to the Meineke Car Care Bowl.”  If you didn’t think there was a bowl game hierarchy, you thought wrong.

Game: AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Matchup: Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)
Date/Time/Location: December 28, 5:00 PM, Shreveport, LA

The Independence Bowl has a long tradition of interesting sponsors.  Back in the early to mid-90s, it became one of the first bowls to take on a title sponsor becoming the Poulan Weed-Eater Independence Bowl.  That’s right, the Independence Bowl was once sponsored by a company that made weedwhackers.

If you’re not aware, AdvoCare makes nutritional supplements and energy drinks for those people that care about their well-being.  The V100 seems to refer to a multivitamin the company makes.  On the web site for the V100, the company lists the various reasons for using their product and tries to target certain audiences by asking, “Is this you?”  One of the target audiences must be college coaches because the first bullet point says:

Coaches looking for an NCAA permissible product for collegiate athletes

Now, I didn’t major in advertising, marketing, or any related field, but that doesn’t seem like the best way of asking, “Is this you?”  Do you really think there’s a coach out there struggling to find legal supplements for their players?  And if they’re using non-permissible supplements, do you think they’ll read that and say, “You know what?  That’s a swell idea!”  Call the Snickers and Emerald ad agency, they could help.

Game: EagleBank Bowl
Matchup: UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3)
Date/Time/Location: December 29, 4:30 PM, Washington, DC

As shocking as it is to see Southern Cal in the Emerald Bowl, it’s probably more shocking to see Temple in any bowl game.  After losing their first two games to Villanova (Division I-AA) and Penn State, they ripped off 9 straight for the first time in school history before losing the season finale to Ohio.  With the 9 wins, they were rewarded with their first bowl appearance in 30 years.

The EagleBank Bowl is not high on the bowl priority list.  It was scheduled to pit Army against an ACC team.  If Army doesn’t qualify for a bowl, which they didn’t, the bowl then looks to Conference USA.  Neither the ACC nor Conference USA had any eligible teams remaining after filling the other bowl with tie-ins.  Thus, we’re left with Temple and another Rick Neuheisel experiment, this time in UCLA.  Luckily, there’s another game on this day.

Game: Champs Sports Bowl
Matchup: Wisconsin (9-3) vs. Miami (9-3)
Date/Time/Location: December 29, 8:00 PM, Orlando, FL

This could actually be a good matchup.  Miami was the up-and-coming team for about 5 minutes early in the season when they went 3-1 against Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech (L), and Oklahoma in their first four games.  All four teams were ranked in the top 20 at the time.  Wisconsin got through a pretty easy schedule relatively unharmed.  They lost to Iowa and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks – both pretty good teams.  Their one blemish was a loss to Northwestern in their conference finale.

If I could play in a bowl game this year, I wouldn’t mind the Champs Sports bowl.  Orlando would certainly be nice, but it’s the gifts that count.  You see, all bowl participants can receive up to $500 worth of gifts by playing in a bowl game.  This year, both Wisconsin and Miami players will get $420 shopping sprees to Best Buy.  I could do some serious damage with this gift.

Game: Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl
Matchup: Bowling Green (7-5) vs. Idaho (7-5)
Date/Time/Location: December 30, 4:30 PM, Boise, ID

Do you know the Idaho nickname/mascot?  Vandals.  That’s badass… and it accurately represents the most fun one can have in the state of Idaho.  Actually, the nickname was given to the men’s basketball team back in the early 20th century for their stifling defensive play.  Apparently, the name stuck.

Idaho had a good season starting out 6-1 before failing in four of their last five efforts.  On the flip side, Bowling Green stumbled out of the gate at 1-4 before winning six of seven and becoming bowl eligible.  Idaho is playing a virtual home game on the blue turf of Bronco Stadium.  There is always the chance that weather plays a factor in this game as the Humanitarian Bowl is one of the few remaining bowl games held outdoors in a cold winter climate.  For this reason, part of the gift package includes a “winter gloves and hand warmers” option.

Game: Pacific Life Holiday Bowl
Matchup: Arizona (8-4) vs. Nebraska (9-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 30, 8:00 PM, San Diego, CA

Nebraska was going to a BCS bowl when the refs decided to put one second back on the clock in the Big 12 Championship Game and allow Texas an opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal.  They made it, and will now play for the BCS championship.  Nebraska’s consolation prize is a Holiday Bowl berth against Arizona, who finished their season by beating USC.

The #1 reason to watch this game is Ndamukong Suh – the defensive tackle for Nebraska.  Right now, he is expected by many to be taken #1 overall in next year’s NFL draft.  If you have seen him play, it’s hard to argue against that.  Suh was a Heisman finalist (and should’ve won, if you ask me) – a rarity amongst defensive players in college football.  Check this game out, if you get the opportunity.

Game: Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Matchup: Air Force (7-5) vs. Houston (10-3)
Date/Time/Location: December 31, Noon, Fort Worth, TX

This is a repeat of last year’s matchup when Houston out-scored Air Force 34-28 for the victory.  Houston’s offense is even better this year, so they should win.  Then again, Air Force can probably gain access to a Bell Helicopter and use it move the ball through the air for a touchdown.  Get it?  Move the ball through the air… helicopters… Air Force?

You know what?  It’s probably not worth watching anyway.

Game: Brut Sun Bowl
Matchup: Oklahoma (7-5) vs. Stanford (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 31, 2:00, El Paso, TX
TV: ESP…. no wait.. it’s actually on CBS!

USC is in the Emerald Bowl and Oklahoma is in the Brut Sun Bowl.  Not a good year for these powerhouse programs.  In both cases, look at the QB position.  In Oklahoma’s case, they haven’t been able to do much since losing Sam Bradford to a shoulder injury in the first game of the season.  Stanford, on the other hand, has been on the rise.  QB Andrew Luck and Heisman runner-up RB Toby Gerhardt have led the Cardinal to an excellent year considering Stanford actually has academic standards.

At the very least, you have to like halftime show.  Someone called David Archuleta will be performing.  I’m not aware if he’s related to Adam Archuleta but I’m sure he’s just as terrible.

Game: Texas Bowl
Matchup: Missouri (8-4) vs. Navy (9-4)
Date/Time/Location: December 31, 3:30 PM, Houston, TX

Apparently, December 31 is National Have a Bowl Game in Texas Day.  The third game on the docket is also the third game to be broadcast in Texas.  Of course, since Texas is like it’s own country, it’s really not that big of a deal.  If you were to drive from Fort Worth to El Paso to Houston, you would cover 1,355 miles according to Google Maps.  You could drive from New York, NY to Kansas City, MO and still not cover that distance.  Texas is a big state.

The paragraph above is actually more interesting than the game.

Game: Insight Bowl
Matchup: Iowa State (6-6) vs. Minnesota (6-6)
Date/Time/Location: December 31, 6:00 PM, Tempe, AZ
TV: NFL Network*

Here’s a prime example of a fixed bowl game site making no sense.  These two schools are 3.5 hours away from one another, yet they’re traveling over 1,000 miles to Phoenix to play what will likely be a terrible game on a network too many people don’t receive.  Put the game in, say, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Omaha, or Milwaukee and you’ll get a huge crowd packed with fans of the teams actually playing on the field.  It’ll still be a terrible game that few people watch, but at least you’ll sell all the tickets and make money on concessions.

*NFL Network is not available anywhere… err… everywhere.  Check local listings for availability in your area.  This is a nice way of saying you can’t watch the game.  Try going to a bar.  They shouldn’t be too packed on December 31st.

Game: Chick-fil-A Bowl
Matchup: Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
Date/Time/Location: December 31, 7:30 PM, Atlanta, GA

Virginia Tech should win this game, but Tennessee is playing much better than most anticipated under first-year coach Lane Kiffin.  They also have the best player on the field in safety Eric Berry.  Berry is likely to be a top-10 – if not top-5 – pick in the upcoming NFL Draft.  So, that may make this game worth watching.  Also, it’s a good way to kill some time before Midnight arrives.

People start New Year’s Eve parties way too early and you often sit around getting bored/yawning before Ryan Seacrest even begins to invade your living room.  New Year’s parties should begin no earlier than 10 and should really start between 10:30 and 11:00.  If you start too early, people are more relieved than anything to see that damn ball drop and light up the new year.  The party clears out by 12:30 and your asleep by 1:00.  You’re not celebrating the new year… your just happy to get the last one over with.

Speaking of New Year’s, when we lived in Texas (Central Time), they simply tape-delayed Dick Clark’s show an hour and had the ball drop at Midnight CST.  Are you kidding me?  That’s the best you can do?  There has to be something going on live in central time that you can show.  Chicago, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas… they must have something.  Pathetic.

Game: Outback Bowl
Matchup: Auburn (7-5) vs. Northwestern (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: January 1, 2010, 11:00 AM, Tampa, FL

Just called it The Hangover Bowl and get it over with.  I was unable to find where the Outback Bowl is in the pecking order for the SEC and Big Ten, but it must be down the list.  (Note: by saying “I was unable to find…,” I meant “Wikipedia didn’t specify…”)  This game routinely matches up some terrible SEC and Big Ten squads.  Northwestern finished 5th in the Big Ten while Auburn finished 5th in the West Division of the SEC (and in a big tie for 6th in the SEC as a whole).

No one cares about this game.  You want evidence? Check out the Wikipedia page for the game.  There’s two paragraphs and the first one contains all the information posted above in boldface just spelled out in sentence form.

Game: Capital One Bowl
Matchup: Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3)
Date/Time/Location: January 1, 1:00 PM, Orlando, FL

You may not know it by the title, but what is currently called the Capital One Bowl has been in existence for over 60 years.  Starting in 1947 as the Tangerine Bowl, the game is one of the oldest bowls still in existence today.  It’s so old… how old is it?… it’s so old, it has its own history of racism.  Yyyyeeeeaaa…. wait, what?

In 1958, the University of Buffalo refused to play in the game when bowl officials would not allow their black athletes to play.  Buffalo did not reach a bowl game again until last year when they played in the International Bowl.  There are other stories of teams refusing to play because of these circumstances.  I wonder if these athletes and coaches ever though they’d see the day a black man was elected President.

Yes, I thought I’d live to see this day… Stop asking us when we’re going to die. – Tim Meadows as P.K. Winston on The Colbert Report following Barack Obama’s inauguration.  Video here.

Game: Konica Minolta Gator Bowl
Matchup: West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)
Date/Time/Location: January 1, 1:00 PM, Jacksonville, FL

If Bobby Bowden doesn’t announce he’s being pushed out the door stepping down, they’re probably playing a week prior to this game.  Meanwhile, give some credit to the man coaching on the opposite sideline – Bill Stewart.  When he took over following Rich Rodriguez’s bolt to Michigan, no one gave him a shot.  He managed to lead the team to a rather stunning 48-28 victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.  His West Virginia teams have won 9 games each of the past two years.  Rodriguez has managed a total of 8 wins and no bowl appearances during that same time at Michigan.  Remember, West Virginia lost both Pat White and Steve Slaton to the NFL last year.  So they aren’t still doing this with Rodriguez’s big recruits.

Game: Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi
Matchup: Oregon (10-2) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
Date/Time/Location: January 1, 4:30 PM (Kickoff around 5:10 PM), Pasadena, CA

Once again, Ohio State is matched up against a team that likes to spread the field and win with speed.  This has caused matchup problems for the Buckeyes in previous BCS bowl games, primarily their BCS championship game losses to Florida and LSU.  Oregon is favored in this matchup.

If you’re not familiar, the Ducks like to show off a different uniform in each game they play.  Given their history of this, it is best to lower the brightness setting on your TV before turning to this game.  Your eyes could bleed as a result of what you see.

Interesting side note: this is the last year ABC will broadcast the Rose Bowl, ending a 22-year span of covering the event.  Cable sister station ESPN will begin broadcasting the game next year.  That’s right, the Rose Bowl is moving to cable television.  Is nothing sacred anymore?

Game: Allstate Sugar Bowl
Matchup: Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)
Date/Time/Location: January 1, 8:30 PM (probably closer to 9:15 PM), New Orleans, LA

Since we got screwed out of the nearly-annual David vs. Goliath matchup, this will have to do.  Cincinnati is in a BCS conference (Big East), but the conference has been down the past couple years.  Also, Cincinnati is not exactly a powerhouse of football (basketball, maybe, but not football).  Their coach thought so highly of Cincinnati that as soon as the Notre Dame job opened, he skipped town for South Bend, IN.

Despite Florida getting trounced in the SEC championship game, they’ll likely be the favorites to win against Cincy.  Of course, the past few years have shown us that teams who settle for non-championship BCS games can come out flat and get beat by less-talented, but hungrier teams.  Of course, given Tim Tebow’s reputation, I’d be surprised if he let this happen to his team.

I would like to point out that I’ve been pretty nice to Tebow in the past three bowl previews.  I had a little fun at his expense a couple years ago, but it was just that – fun.  He’s a great guy that does wonderful things around the globe.  I just want to make that clear in case The Rapture begins anytime soon.

Game: International Bowl
Matchup: South Florida (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5)
Date/Time/Location: January 2, Noon, Toronto, Canada

The International Bowl?  In Toronto?  Wow, how international of you.  You could find more culture in Hawai’i, Alaska, or North Dakota.  In fact, they should host a bowl game in Fairbanks, AK or Fargo, ND.  In an outdoor stadium.  Do you like the -3F temperature South Florida?  No?  Well, maybe you’ll play better next year.

I should also note the rare TV viewing opportunity presented this year.  New Year’s Day is a Friday.  Sunday, January 3rd is the last regular season date for the NFL which means no Thursday, Saturday, or Monday night games.  All games are played during the day on Sunday with one Sunday night game.  This created a unique opportunity for a number of bowl games to be played on Saturday, January 2nd.  Between the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl beginning at Noon on December 31 and the Valero Alamo Bowl the night of January 2nd, 15 different bowl games will be played – 5 each day.  Couple this with the busy NFL Sunday schedule and you have a solid four-day stretch of football to get you started in the new year.

It’s still not as good as the old days when 10 or so different bowl games were played on January 1 alone, but it’s a good alternative I suppose.  And if you’re thinking it would be awesome to have January 1 on a Sunday and be able to flip between the NFL and college games, think again.  This happened on January 1, 2006 and most of the notable college games were simply pushed to January 2nd.  The NFL will not allow competition.

Game: Bowl
Matchup: Connecticut (7-5) vs. South Carolina (7-5)
Date/Time/Location: January 2, 2:00 PM, Birmingham, AL

Again, I must profess my love of ordering pizza online.  You don’t have to talk to anyone and you almost ensure an accurate order.  Certainly more accurate than talking to someone.  Most other major pizza delivery companies have developed this service for their customers, but Papa John’s was among the first, if not the first.

UConn is another Big East school known more for their basketball team.  Their football program has slowly improved and will make their 3rd straight bowl appearance this year.  Of course, their season will be marked by the stabbing death of cornerback Jasper Howard on October 18.  On October 17, UConn defeated Louisville 38-25 in the Homecoming game.  Howard was stabbed to death outside an on-campus dance following the game.  In a sad twist of irony, Howard was quoted after the game as saying, “You gotta play every play like it’s the last play you’ll ever play.”

Game: AT&T Cotton Bowl
Matchup: Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Mississippi (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: January 2, 2:00 PM, Arlington, TX

Do you like crazy, whack-job coaches?  This is your game!  Mike Gundy and Houston Nutt are two of the more colorful coaches in the college game today.  Gundy is well-known for his “I’m a man! I’m 40!” speech.  Nutt is not as well known nationally, although the book and movie The Blind Side may have shed some light on his rascally persona.  (I haven’t seen the movie, but the book did discuss Nutt to some extent.)

This game will be played in the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium, a $1.3 billion venue with a giant hole in the roof.  (Actually, the hole can be covered up with the retractable roof now.)  The stadium is probably best known for the massive HD televsions/scoreboard hanging over the center of the field.  The screens running parallel to the field measure over 50 yards in length.  Good luck fitting that in your living room.

Game: AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Matchup: East Carolina (9-4) vs. Arkansas (7-5)
Date/Time/Location: January 2, 5:30 PM, Memphis, TN

(I normally don’t preview this game due to AutoZone being a direct competitor of my father’s business.  However, my dog took over my computer when I stepped away, wrote the following preview, and then programed the computer to not allow a deletion of the text.  My sincere apologies.)

We can eat chocolate.  Seriously, it’s OK.  Unless you own one of those little, tiny things that I hate because they run circles around me and have way too much energy, chocolate is fine.  I once ate almost half a bag of chocolate chips.  Nothing.  Some interesting output in the yard, but otherwise no problem.  It’s the holidays people, get in the spirit.

I’ve heard Steve talk about this Ryan Mallet kid from Arkansas.  Says he’d be a high draft pick if he came out.  You know I was drafted once.  I was staying at this place with all these other dogs when this idiot guy and his wife showed up and decided they wanted to take me home.  Suckers.  Now they’re stuck feeding me everyday and cleaning up my crap.  I got it made, I know, but I’ll never let it show.  Gotta keep them thinking I’ve been scarred for life by the whole “stray” experience.

Sounds like Steve’s coming back. I’m gonna go stand by the door to make it seem like I need to go outside.  I don’t, but he’ll let me out anyway because he doesn’t want to deal with the potential alternative.  Humans are so dumb.

(Help control the pet population.  Have your pets spayed or neutered.)

Game: Valero Alamo Bowl
Matchup: Michigan State (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (8-4)
Date/Time/Location: January 2, 9:00 PM, San Antonio, TX

This is another one of those games with two very different styles of football teams.  Texas Tech runs a quick-strike, spread offense.  Michigan State runs the more traditional/boring Big Ten style of offense where they mix the run and pass and do their damnedest to not score too quickly or easily.  By this point, you’ll probably be completely drained from watching so much football or doing something more mundane like seeing family.  The good news?  It’s only Saturday!  You still have tomorrow off work!

Game: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Matchup: Boise State (13-0) vs. Texas Christian (12-0)
Date/Time/Location: January 4, 8:00 PM (nice wish), Glendale, AZ

So, the BCS had a little problem.  After much whining and complaining, they finally started letting some of the non-BCS teams in the bowl games.  They did this four times.  On three occasions, the non-BCS team had the nerve to win.  On two occasions, the non-BCS team (Utah in both cases) destroyed the BCS opponent.  The other win was so shocking (Boise State over Oklahoma), it didn’t matter if they won by going for two in OT.

To take care of this problem in a year where two non-BCS schools were undefeated and highly ranked, the BCS said, “OK, we’ll just have them play each other.”  And don’t give me any lectures about the BCS bowl “draft.”  I won’t believe it for a second.  This is absolutely fixed.  Why would the Fiesta Bowl want two non-BCS schools playing in their game?  They wouldn’t.

Think of the alternative.  TCU plays Florida in the Sugar Bowl while Boise State plays Iowa in the Fiesta Bowl.  Boise State might even be favored in their game and would have a great chance to win.  Another BCS embarrassment.  If TCU pulls it out against Florida – which, considering their tough loss to Alabama isn’t out of the question – we would have two embarrassments.  In the same year.  Not good if you’re the BCS brass.

So now you have a solution.  Maybe no one will watch the game, but at least you avoided any additional embarrassment.  Die.

Game: FedEx Orange Bowl
Matchup: Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2)
Date/Time/Location: January 5, 8:00 PM (HA!), Miami, FL

Wow, the Orange Bowl is awesome at creating matchups no one is interested in.  Remember last year’s Virginia Tech/Cincinnati game?  Me neither.

Game: GMAC Bowl
Matchup: Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)
Date/Time/Location: January 6, 7:00 PM, Mobile, AL

Apparently, Wednesday is not a good day to host the BCS championship.  So, we get this stellar matchup thrown in to delay the game to Thursday night.  Actually, it might be better than the Orange Bowl, but it’s still a little funny that we have to wait the extra night.  Well, at least there isn’t anything else on Thursday night to compete.

Nope… no competition.

Game: Citi BCS National Championship Game
Matchup: Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0)
Date/Time/Location: January 7, 8:00 PM (maybe Central time), Pasadena, CA

Given the current system, these are probably the two most-deserving teams to be in the game.  It’s hard to argue that.  It’s just a shame the other three undefeated teams don’t have a chance to prove their worth.

On the surface, I like Alabama by a slight margin in this matchup.  They have a Heisman winner in RB Mark Ingram and he’s played well in big games this year.  Colt McCoy of Texas finished third in the Heisman, which isn’t too bad at all, but he hasn’t played as well in big games. Heck, he nearly choked away the Big 12 championship when the clock nearly (should have?) expired.  If the Texas defense can stop Ingram and the Alabama running game, they will give their team a good chance to win.  Like a lot of championships, it will likely depend on which defense steps up.

Well, that’s the preview.  Enjoy the bowl games everyone!  Happy Holidays!

I have added and archived the previews written in the past, if you’re really bored.

Big Bowl Preview I

Big Bowl Preview II

Big Bowl Preview III

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2 Responses to Big Bowl Preview IV

  1. Jerry W says:

    Hi Steve,

    I am Dave’s friend who pointed you toward a few golf courses in Arizona earlier this year.

    I love your blog, it’s classic. If you don’t mind, I am going to forward it to my sons.

    I will watch the Fiesta Bowl and cheer for Boise State. They deserved a better fate than this and have proven that they can beat the “big boys” when given the opportunity.

    Take care and stay out of the snow. I am in Arizona now and it is 56 this morning.

    Jerry W

    • Steve J says:

      Hey Jerry! Thanks for the kind words and thanks again for the assistance in AZ! Pass it along to as many people as you want. Enjoy your AZ Winter. The shoveling didn’t start to lose its luster ’til after the 20th inch here.

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