Big Bowl Preview V

If you would’ve told me a month ago that this would get written, I would’ve struggled to believe you.  Hell, if you told me it would get written an hour ago, I would’ve had my doubts.  Alas, I have decided if I can’t write the 5th annual Big Bowl Preview, what can I do?  Man must have his outlets – his moments of relaxation and enjoyment.  Last I checked, Ayn Rand wasn’t Supreme Ruler of the World, so I don’t think I need to seek forgiveness and mercy for taking a little time to honor my annual commitment to your entertainment.  Or, at the very least, providing you with a handy guide to watching this year’s bowl games.

For those not in the know – or those more forgetful than others – I have undertaken quite the task this year… teaching High School.  To say the 8 weeks of preparation and first 3.5 months of school have been busy/stressful, would be quite the understatement.  I’ve never known stress like this.  As I write this, I’m 8 days from Winter (read: Christmas) Break, and I’m not entirely sure I will make it.  Despite all the warnings from those more experienced than me, I’m still struggling to accept the reality of my surroundings.

But who cares about reality?  Let’s get bowling…

The following takes place between December 18, 2010 and January 10, 2011.  Events are listed in chronological order.  All times are in Eastern Standard Time.

New Mexico Bowl
Brigham Young University (6-6) vs. University of Texas –El Paso (6-6)
December 18, 2:00, ESPN

If you’re a faithful reader of the bowl preview, you might be confused right now.  No need to worry – patience is a virtue.  The first bowl game of the season pits two mediocre teams that barely qualified for a bowl game against one another.  Unfortunately, we might have to get used to that this year.  At one point, the NCAA was considering allowing 5-7 teams into bowl games because they were concerned there wouldn’t be enough 6-win teams to fill all the bowls.  Yikes.  This didn’t happen, but there are still a ton of 6-6 and 7-5 teams in bowl games – with way too many on New Year’s Day (that’s foreshadowing, kids… anyone could teach English).

Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl
Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0) vs. Mount Union (14-0)
December 18, 3:30, ESPN2

For the sixth year in a row, these two D-III powerhouses will meet in the Stagg Bowl to decide the championship.  You see, in Division III college football, they determine the season champion by playing a tournament in which each winning team advances to the next round of play until a champion is left standing.  Personally, this seems rather boring when you could determine a championship game matchup through mysterious calculations and arbitrary rankings.  Call me old fashioned.

uDrove Humanitarian Bowl
Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Fresno State (8-4)
December 18, 5:30 ESPN

What is uDrove, uAsk? I deliver…

uDrove® is a revolutionary new business and compliance management tool for the transportation industry. Using the functionality of your smart phone, uDrove replaces in-cab paperwork and delivers the data instantly to a web account – allowing you to manage your business faster, smarter and more cost effectively!

With uDrove®, you can easily track information on an iPhone®,  Android or BlackBerry® (coming soon) smart phone to record driver logs, track mileage, submit fuel and business expenses, complete vehicle inspections and more.

If Ice Road Truckers represents the type of persons working in the transportation industry today (and why wouldn’t it?), then I will be shocked to see this business thrive.  Truckers with iPhones?  Next thing you know, we’ll have projectors in classrooms.

By the way, Mike in Milwaukee would like you to know that Northern Illinois is in Dekalb.  Also, Fresno is not a state.  Northern Illinois wins by virtue of their ability to name their school sensibly.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5)
December 18, 9:00, ESPN

How ‘bout three bowl games in one day (four if you count the Stagg Bowl) a full week before Christmas?  Pretty nice, huh?  I’m frightened to think what the fine, but generally drunk, people of Athens will do in a city like New Orleans – if they can make it down there, of course.  Troy should have a decent crowd being from Alabama.  Otherwise, it’s Saturday night and you probably have something better to do.  The pros can carry you through Sunday and Monday until the amateurs return Tuesday night.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
Southern Mississippi (8-4) vs. Louisville (6-6)
December 21, 8:00, ESPN

The manner in which this name was constructed suggests the game is taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia.  (In Soviet Russia, game bowls you!)  Of course, if the game were in Russia, it would probably be a lot colder with the possibility of snow, which is the only thing that could make this game interesting.  I had no idea Louisville got to 6 wins this year.  I never saw them play.  Of course, they’re in the Big East – a great conference for basketball; a disgrace to football.  Louisville struggled to get bowl eligible, but along the way they blanked UConn 26-0.  UConn will represent the Big East in a BCS bowl game this year. Yay parity!

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
Utah (10-2) vs. Boise State (11-1)
December 22, 8:00 ESPN

In each of the four previous installments of the preview, BYU has played in this game.  I have picked BYU to win each game.  My logic was always that BYU, given the religious nature of their school, would not be tempted by the sins of Vegas prior to the game and, subsequently, come out on top.  Well, they won 3 out of the 4 years.

So, does the same logic hold true for the University of Utah?  One could assume that the public university is for those non-Mormons or less-than-strict religious – but it’s still Utah.  Can they follow the path of cleanliness that their mission-loving brethren have in the past?  Or are they doomed by the temptation of Celine Dion shows and endless steak buffets?  (Those are the big sins of Vegas, right?)

Maybe a more legitimate question is how Boise State will play after losing an opportunity at a BCS bowl with a loss at Nevada.  My mother has always been the type to feel bad for kickers in a game.  I look at it like they have one job to do and, when asked to do it, they need to execute.  That being said, I think you have to feel a little for the kicker from Boise.  He missed two easy field goals that could’ve won the game for Boise and kept them undefeated.  In reality, the Broncos defense should never have allowed 30+ points to a Nevada team, putting the kicker in that situation.

This could be a really good game, especially if Boise State sees it as a major letdown after not making a BCS bowl.  It’s really a shame that this game is so early in the bowl season while teams like Michigan get New Year’s Day games.  (I wish I were joking.)  This will be a nice mid-week game before all the business of Christmas sets in.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
Navy (8-3) vs. San Diego State (8-4)
December 23, 8:00, ESPN

Ahh, the annual bowl game to entertain you while wrapping presents.  If you’re 60+ years old and miss option football, you’ll love the attack of the Midshipmen.  I sincerely hope our actual Navy has progressed at a much faster rate than their football team’s offensive attack.  Well, I guess it has, otherwise we’d be under the rule of those freeloading Canadians.

What? Canada sucks.

Sheraton Hawai’I Bowl
Hawai’I (10-3) vs. Tulsa (9-3)
December 24, 8:00, ESPN

Sitting around on a cold Christmas Eve longing for the warmth of Summer?  Well, watch this game in Honolulu and long for the beaches of our 50th state.  Otherwise, enjoy a high scoring affair as both teams love to put up points while taking a more laissez-faire approach on defense.  As a last resort, you can spend time with family.

Little Caesars Bowl
Florida International (6-6) vs. Toledo (8-4)
December 26, 8:30, ESPN

If you’re a football fan, you’ll likely spend most of this day watching the NFL.  But, hey, if that Sunday night game is no good, hop on over to ESPN and check out this game in Ford Field.  (Normally, I would make some sort of crack on how this is better than watching the Lions, but they might be getting better.  At least it appears most of their games are entertaining.  I guess that’s something.)

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Air Force (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
December 27, 5:00, ESPN2

Congratulations to the football teams representing our military academies.  All three (Navy, Air Force, and Army) were bowl eligible this year and made a bowl game.  Oddly enough, none of them were selected to play in the Military Bowl being held in our nation’s capital.  It would seem to me that the Military Bowl might involve teams that represent our military, but that’s just me.

The only real purpose of this game is to entertain the masses until the Monday Night Football game comes on at 8:30.  And, right now, that looks like a good matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.

Champs Sports Bowl
West Virginia (9-3) vs. NC State (8-4)
December 28, 6:30 PM, ESPN

Have you ever been flipping through channels one Saturday morning and stopped on a movie that wasn’t all that good, yet you watched it through to the end anyway?  This game is like that.  These are two established programs that didn’t have their best season, but it was still solid and respectable.  It’s like Denzel Washington in The Taking of Pelham 123.  Yeah, you’ve seen this character before in pretty much every movie Denzel Washington has ever been in, but it still draws you in because there’s nothing else on TV and it’s 20 degrees outside.

(I think that was the most Simmons-esque paragraph I’ve ever written.)

Insight Bowl
Missouri (10-2) vs. Iowa (7-5)
December 28, 10:00 PM, ESPN

This is one of those games that used to be on the NFL Network just to tick off those cable subscribers whose provider didn’t have the NFL Network (read: Time Warner).  So, either they’ve given up on getting a deal done with TW or they realized no one was watching their games anyway.  Or maybe ESPN bought the entire slate of bowl games and no one else is allowed to show them…

By my quick count, there are 35 bowl games this year.  Exactly two of them will not be shown on the ESPN/ABC family of Disney-owned networks.  Of the 33 games on the ESPN/ABC family of networks, only four of them will be televised on a station other than ESPN – two on ESPN2 and one each on ESPNU and ABC.  This tells me two things: 1) ESPN owns the world and 2) no one cares about the NBA and college basketball like they do about football.  ESPN will basically slide college basketball and the NBA to ESPN2 or non-primetime slots beginning December 18 for about 3 weeks to accommodate their Hitler-like ownership of football.  I guess I’m not really complaining, but I find it a little unnerving that they own the broadcast rights for so many bowl games.

As for the Insight Bowl, it will be quite the confusing matchup as both teams have similar color schemes.  I feel like Missouri is not as good as their record while Iowa isn’t as bad as 7-5, so maybe this will be a good game.  I usually pull for the Big Ten in all bowl games and, as much as I like Kirk Ferentz, I gotta go with the Tigers here.  You’re welcome, cousin.

Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
East Carolina (6-6) vs. Maryland (8-4)
December 29, 2:30 PM, ESPN

The world’s leading defense contractor sponsors the Military Bowl?  Now that actually makes some sense.  This used to be the EagleBank Bowl, which lasted all of two years before, presumably, EagleBank realized they weren’t at the same level as Citi, Capital One, or Discover, and got out before there was a run on the bank.  (No, I’m not watching It’s a Wonderful Life as I write this.)

As mentioned earlier, it’s a little perplexing to see none of the military academies get into this bowl.  However, according to Wikipedia – which never lies – Navy and Army are supposed get a chance in this game in the coming years.  I’m not sure how that works if they finish 3-9.  Maybe Northrop Grumman can “control” that in some way.

I believe most prognosticators – who themselves are never wrong – predicted Maryland to finish at or near dead last in the ACC this year.  Instead, the Terps were a win against Florida State away from going to the ACC championship game.  The Pirates of ECU lost 4 of their last 5 to finish 6-6.  During that stretch, they averaged 40 points per game.  Unfortunately, they were not very good at preventing the other team from scoring and allowed nearly 55 points per game to the opposition.  I suppose what I’m saying is that Maryland really should win this game.

Texas Bowl
Illinois (6-6) vs. Baylor (7-5)
December 29, 6:00 PM, ESPN

Similar to Maryland, I’m not sure many people would’ve seen Illinois as a bowl eligible team at this juncture.  They’ve lost some good talent to the NFL in the past couple years and it looked like the Zooker might be on his way out.  If you look at their schedule, though, they were in just about every game they lost and had some pretty convincing wins, such as the 33-13 drubbing of Penn State in Happy Valley.

On the flip side, what looked to be a potential breakout year for Baylor came crashing down as they got smoked by OK State, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in the last three weeks of the season to fall to 7-5.  Something tells me Illinois will want this game more than Baylor.  So that probably means that Baylor will win.  (After all, they are the team from Texas playing in the Texas Bowl.)

Valero Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)
December 29, 9:15 PM, ESPN

OK State is really the better team in this matchup and they should win.  Meanwhile, Valero will raise their prices to $4.00 per gallon so they can continue to sponsor this bowl.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Army (6-5) vs. SMU (7-6)
December 30, Noon, ESPN

If the teams can use helicopters while playing, this game might be interesting. Might.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Kansas State (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5)
December 30, 3:20 PM, ESPN

There’s a brand new bowl! (Yay!) And it’s in Yankee Stadium! (Boo!)  Want to know how much baseball is hurting? Their richest team is hosting it’s second college game to generate extra revenue while the company that makes their caps sponsors the game.

At the very least, this is one of the few games that will be hosted outdoors in a cold weather city, so hope and pray for a Nor’Easter to make this game awesome.  Otherwise, the teams themselves are not so awesome.  But they are equally not as awesome, so maybe it can be a good game?  I’m grasping for anything at this point.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
University of North Carolina (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)
December 30, 6:40 PM, ESPN

What are the odds that two teams mired in turmoil and drama meet in a bowl game and Bobby Bowden isn’t involved?  ZING!  Butch Davis’ band of gut-spilling Tar Heels were apparently too busy taking money from agents or not honestly completing their academic work (shocking, I know).  In the end, 16 players had to sit out at least a game and an assistant coach lost his job.   Meanwhile, Tennessee has had to deal with the fall out from Lane Kiffin’s less-than-kind departure.  Maybe this should be renamed the Futility Bowl, which is fitting when you consider it’s sponsored by a mortgage lending company.  DOUBLE ZING!!

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Nebraska (10-3) vs. Washington (6-6)
December 30, 10:00 PM, ESPN

Nebraska should win this going away, even if Martinez isn’t 100% behind center.  So let’s discuss this Bridgepoint Education company, shall we?

Bridgepoint Education offers innovative approaches to the challenges faced in higher education. Bridgepoint subsidiaries tackle issues such as affordability, transferability of credits and online convenience, without sacrificing overall academic quality. By providing both online and campus-based programs at Ashford University and University of the Rockies, Bridgepoint offers access to both traditional and adult learners seeking high quality, convenient higher education degree

Because when I think of a quality education, I think Ashford University and University of the Rockies.  Hey Butch, I found somewhere your kids can transfer.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
South Florida (7-5) vs. Clemson (6-6)
December 31, 12 Noon, ESPN

Let’s just hope you have something better to do to start your New Year’s Eve Day.

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Notre Dame (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5)
December 31, 2:00 PM, ESP… no wait, it’s actually on CBS!

Two once proud teams meet in a battle of mediocrity under the bright sunlight in El Paso, TX.  Feel the excitement!  Those Notre Dame fans have a big decision to make – 15, 30, 40, or 50 SPF.  That’s a lot of pasty-ness for a border town.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Georgia (6-6) vs. Central Florida (10-3)
December 31, 3:30 PM, ESPN

Five years of ignoring this game hasn’t resulted in the title sponsor going away.  Well, can you pull a spark plug out of your ear?  No, you can’t.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
South Carolina (9-4) vs. Florida State (9-4)
December 31, 7:30 PM, ESPN

A battle of conference championship game losers rounds out the 2010 portion of the bowl schedule.  South Carolina is coming of a not-too-surprising loss to Auburn in the SEC championship game while Florida State looks to rebound from a loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC championship game.  Spurrier knows something about beating Florida State from his days at Florida.  What he might not know is how to beat them by running the football.  Freshman Marcus Lattimore rushed for nearly 1200 yards this season as South Carolina surprised a few people with their run-first offense.  It appears Spurrier finally accepted the fact that if his best player is a running back, it might be useful to run the ball every once in a while.

By the way, is it me or is Marcus Lattimore destined to fail in the NFL?  He racked up 250 carries in his Freshman year and will need to wait at least two more seasons before entering the NFL draft.  There’s a good chance his annual carries will improve each year as he himself improves.  If that’s the case, he’ll have a lot of mileage on him when he enters the draft, a la Kevin Smith of the Lions.  The Lions felt so good about Smith, they drafted Jahvid Best this past year to lessen the load on Smith.

TicketCity Bowl
Northwestern (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
January 1, 2011, 12 Noon, ESPNU

If you wake up a little bleary-eyed on New Year’s Day, you might need to search a while before finding ESPNU on your cable or satellite provider.  However, if you can find the channel, this could be an entertaining game.  Both offenses love to spread the field and throw the ball, which lends itself to a high-scoring affair.

If you’re wondering, this is a new bowl game – kind of.  It actually replaces the Cotton Bowl Classic at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.  The Cotton Bowl game has not gone away, it’s just moved to the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, where you can purchase a $60 cheese pizza in your luxury suite.  So, this game simply brings a new bowl to the Cotton Bowl – but it’s not the Cotton Bowl.  Got it? Nope? Welcome to the college bowl season!

Outback Bowl
Florida (7-5) vs. Penn State (7-5)
January 1, 1:00 PM, ABC

Here’s another game between two teams that really disappointed this year.  Urban Meyer, the coach of Florida, has retired, but he will still coach the team in this game.  Joe Paterno, who is 83 years old, is not retiring and is somehow still alive.  Get ready for the announcers to point out how ironic this is about 140 times during the game.

Capital One Bowl
Alabama (9-3) vs. Michigan State (11-1)
January 1, 1:00 PM, ESPN

This is clearly the best non-BCS bowl game and it may turn out to be the best game of the bowl season.  Alabama came storming out of the gate ready to defend their title from last year before they somehow lost to South Carolina.  Then, with the opportunity to really mess up the BCS standings, they managed to blow a 24-0 lead against Auburn – at home.  That’s the last game they played.

Meanwhile, Michigan State is left without a BCS bowl despite having beaten Wisconsin (Big Ten champ) and never having the opportunity to play Ohio State (the other Big Ten team in the BCS), who happened to lose to Wisconsin.  Unfortunately, Michigan State got trounced by Iowa in Iowa City 37-6 before the Hawkeyes fell apart down the stretch.  So, that loss looks pretty bad and it certainly kept Michigan State from a Big Ten title, BCS bowl, and possible a shot at the National Championship – although that seems a little unlikely.

The Big Ten has beaten the SEC opponent in this game 6 out of the last 7 meetings.  The one loss?  Well, that was Michigan State, who lost to Georgia 24-12 two years ago.  It should be a good game.

Gator Bowl
Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Michigan (7-5)
January 1, 1:30 PM, ESPN2

If you’re keeping track at home, you might have noticed that four bowl games will be going on at one time during the early afternoon on New Year’s Day.  This is a rare occurrence in this BCS/ESPN-driven world we live in.  In fact, only December 31 and January 1 afford the opportunity to watch more than one bowl game at the same time, and there are only two simultaneous games early in the day on December 31.  Otherwise, all the bowl games are spread out to allow each game zero competition for viewers of college football.  Welcome to Hell.

Hey, isn’t that the title of Rich Rodriguez’s new book?

Rose Bowl Game Presented By VIZIO
Wisconsin (11-1) vs. TCU (12-0)
January 1, 5:00 PM, ESPN

Nothing is sacred anymore.  First, the Rose Bowl Game needed a sponsor.  Then, because of their alliance with the BCS, they started having matchups that weren’t between the Big Ten and Pac-10.  Now, the game will be broadcast on ESPN instead of network television (NBC from 1952-88 and ABC from 1989-2010).  The Rose Bowl actually managed to avoid a FOX broadcast during their reign over BCS broadcasting from 2007-2010.  And, in reality, ESPN broadcasting the game is not much different than ABC.  Still, it’s cable television.  At what point will I have to order the Sunday Ticket version of bowl games to see this contest?

This is normally where I cry about the BCS and it’s inequities as it pertains to smaller schools and conferences.  However, TCU has recently agreed to join the Big East (geography anyone?) in 2012, so they took care of the problem themselves.  Also, I don’t think it would be shocking to see TCU beat Wisconsin.  In fact, TCU is favored by 3 points as of the writing of this preview.  So, there’s no upset special in the making here.  Of course, if Wisconsin were to win, the BCS faithful (seriously, who is that?) would likely applaud behind closed doors.  Who cares?  TCU is a couple years away from an automatic qualifying bid.  Too bad Boise State lost.  I might actually have something to yell about if they were still undefeated.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Connecticut (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (11-2)
January 1, 8:30 PM, ESPN

Well, someone had to not lose the Big East and Connecticut was that team.  Enjoy getting stomped by Oklahoma.  Here’s a good question… knowing what we know now, is a Connecticut win over Oklahoma more impressive than the Boise State trick-riddled win from the 2007 Fiesta Bowl?  That Boise State team was undefeated and has only lost 5 total games in the four years that followed.  Think about it.

Discover Orange Bowl
Stanford (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)
January 3, 8:30 PM, ESPN

Virginia Tech was supposed to be here in a BCS game.  Then they weren’t.  After losing a tough, close contest to Boise State the start their year, Virginia Tech returned home to face the lower division James Madison Dukes.  They proceeded to lose, 21-16, in what might be the worst hangover loss in the history of football.  The Hokies, clearly deflated from their early season loss, took JMU too lightly and paid the price.  They went from ACC favorite to a joke in two weeks.

Then, they got very, very mad.  Virginia Tech won 11 straight, including an ACC championship game victory over Florida State.  Only one of those 11 wins was by single digits.  Granted, they weren’t playing the most difficult schedule, but given what happened in weeks one and two, it was an impressive rebound.

Stanford was also supposed to be here and never did much to hurt their chances.  Granted, a road loss to Oregon prevented them from playing for the national title, but they managed to win all the other games and qualify for a BCS bowl game.  Like Va. Tech, Stanford really didn’t play an impressive schedule outside of Oregon.  I’m not sure what that means for this game, but there were a number of people that said if Oregon lost in the last week of the regular season, Stanford should leapfrog TCU (no pun intended) and play for the national title.  Why? They played one team ranked in the top 5 and lost.  TCU played one team in the top 5 and won – on the road.

Stanford QB Andrew Luck is expected by many “experts” to be the first QB taken in next year’s NFL draft.  So, his stock will in all likelihood drop between this game on January 3 and the draft in April despite the fact that he won’t play in a game.  If you’re a Panthers, Cardinals, Broncos, or 49ers fan, this game is probably worth watching considering your team’s needs and their likely draft slot next year.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
Ohio State (11-1) vs. Arkansas (10-2)
January 4, 8:30 PM, ESPN

Another potential first round QB suits up in this game – Ryan Mallett of Arkansas.  (Please tell me you didn’t think I would write Terrelle Pryor’s name there.)  Mallett transferred away from Michigan when Rich Rodriguez took over, so right there you know he’s a smart kid.  He’s 6-6, 240 with a rocket arm, so some NFL team will undoubtedly fall in love with him and probably draft him higher than he should go.  Then again, can you draft a player just to lock him out?

Ohio State’s success in this game will depend on their ability to run the ball and prevent Terrelle Pryor from having to make plays on 3rd and long.  I’ll admit I’m not a big fan of Pryor.  Yes, he can run and break some tackles here and there, but he doesn’t seem to make the best decisions and his throwing mechanics seem off.  A couple of passes will fly nicely off his hand and then one will just sail or try to drill itself into the ground.  To borrow a horrible cliché, he doesn’t pass the eye test as a QB. Bowl
Middle Tennessee State (6-6) vs. Miami (OH) (9-4)
January 6, 8:00 PM, ESPN

You know that hand signal producers give to tell the anchor or host to stretch for time?  That’s pretty much what this game is as we approach the National Championship Game.

AT&T Cotton Bowl
LSU (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (9-3)
January 7, 8:00 PM, ESPN

Les Miles (LSU’s coach) loves to make it interesting regardless of which team they play.  So, don’t be surprised if this game comes down to the very end or overtime.  Regardless, both teams had better-than-expected seasons and would love to cap it off with a win in the house that Jerry Jones and $1 billion built.  Hey, Jerry, how is that dream to host the Cowboys in the Super Bowl working out?

(That question is so important that 60 minutes interviewed Jerry Jones to ask him.  60 minutes must be struggling to maintain their relevance.  By the way, does anyone laugh when the CBS announcer lets you know that 60 minutes will be shown in its’ entirety at the conclusion of the game?  I think regular 60 minute viewers have figured this out by now.)

BBVA Compass Bowl
Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Kentucky (6-6)
January 8, 12 Noon, ESPN

The sole purpose of this game is to entertain you until the NFL playoffs begin that afternoon.  Why else would you watch Pittsburgh play Kentucky in football?  Basketball?  Sure.  Football?  Meh.

But there is an NFL connection.  Dave Wannstedt served as Pitt’s head coach for 6 years before stepping down under pressure at the end of this season.  Wannstedt spent most of his career in the NFL, living off the legacy of Jimmy Johnson.  He followed Johnson from the University of Miami to the Dallas Cowboys before being offered a head coaching job with the Chicago Bears.  He got canned from that job, but lucky for him, Johnson had resurfaced in Miami where Wannstedt joined him as Defensive Coordinator.  When Johnson retired, Wannstedt took over and eventually ran the team into the ground, retiring in 2004 with the Dolphins record standing at 1-8.  He then went home to Pitt where he managed to make a bowl game in his last three years, but none of those appearances were in a BCS bowl.

I was really hoping BBVA was a company that made either magnetic compasses or geometric compasses.  Sadly Compass is a subsidiary to the Spain-based bank BBVA.  I guess they’re doing well enough to sponsor a bowl.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Nevada (12-1) vs. Boston College (7-5)
January 9, 9:00 PM, ESPN

The sole purpose of this game is to entertain you after the NFL playoffs first weekend has concluded.  Kraft may argue that the game has another purpose – to push their new hunger relief program.  Frankly, I don’t need my college bowl games getting preachy.  I recognize that hunger is a problem worldwide, but all I want is some Mac N Cheese when I see that title sponsor.  My mother used to make Mac N Cheese with applesauce on the side.  I took those two dishes and mixed them together to create one awesome concoction.  Man, I miss those meals.

Oh yeah… people are starving… help if you can and all that.

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game
Oregon (12-0) vs. Auburn (13-0)
January 10, 8:30 PM, ESPN

Auburn is the favorite as of this writing, and it’s for one reason – Cam Newton.  If he were to go down a la Colt McCoy in last year’s contest, all bets are off.  Both teams can score and neither team is all that great at stopping the opposition.  For that reason, the over/under in this game is set at 74 points as of this writing.  No other bowl game has a higher over/under.  So, at the very least it should be an entertaining game and a solid conclusion to another wonderful bowl season.


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