Big Bowl Preview VI

It’s hard to believe this is the sixth installment of the Big Bowl Preview.  You would think by now I would have a nice logo for the article, but I’m not skilled in that area.  If anyone wishes to design one, let me know.  Until then, I’ll just steal a logo from some random bowl game.

As usual, what follows is a rundown of all Division I FBS (football bowl subdivision) bowl games and one Division III bowl game.  The information presented is meant, for the most part, to be humorous, but I would also recommend using it as your single source for gambling large sums of money this holiday season.  I was in Vegas earlier this year and won the only bet I’ve ever placed in a sports book.  That’s right, I’m undefeated.

All times are Eastern Standard Time, all rankings are from the final BCS standings

Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl
Mount Union (14-0) vs. Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0)
7:00 PM, December 16, Salem, VA
ESPN2

Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater have met in each of the previous 6 Division III championship games with each team having won three times.  The games have been fairly competitive with all but one matchup being decided by 10 points or less.  The winning team has scored 31+ points in each contest with the losing team scoring 21+ points in all but one game.  So, none of this 9-6 crap.

Mount Union has also appeared in this game 14 out of the last 18 years, winning a grand total of 10 championships.  I would say that qualifies as a dynasty.  However, it appears they’ve met their match in Wisconsin-Whitewater, setting up a rivalry similar to that of North Carolina-Duke, Red Sox-Yankees, or NFL-Concussions.

Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Wyoming (8-4) vs. Temple (8-4)
2:00 PM, December 17, Albuquerque, NM
ESPN

So the first Division I bowl game of the season is presented by a company that specializes in making socks and underwear.  Well, we’re off to a good start.  Unfortunately, socks and underwear are probably more interesting than this game.

The one common opponent between the two schools this year was Bowling Green.  Wyoming beat them by one; Temple lost by three.  So, Wyoming is your winner.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)
5:30 PM, December 17, Boise, ID
ESPN

This is the old Humanitarian Bowl and it is the longest-running cold weather bowl game in the country.  So, you would think they would do anything they could to lure teams up to Boise to play a bowl game, right? Wrong. From Wikipedia:

The payout is $750,000, but teams are required to provide a corporate sponsor, purchase a minimum number of tickets, and stay at a selected hotel for a minimum stay. Because of this, 7–4 UCLA declined an invitation to the 2001 Humanitarian Bowl.

It’s not clear if these mandates are still in effect, but the fact that the conference tie-ins are with the WAC and the MAC might tell you all you need to know about the popularity of this bowl game.

On a lighter side, Famous Idaho Potatoes are excellent, especially when they are sliced up and deep fried.  Fries are awesome.

Ohio blew a 20-0 halftime lead in the MAC championship game to end up in Boise on December 17.  Otherwise, they would be playing Arkansas State on January 8 in Mobile, AL.  I’m really not sure which scenario is worse.

Utah State started 2-5 before winning their last five games by a total of 19 points.  The Aggies should’ve beat #25 Auburn in week one, but they blew a 38-28 lead with 3:38 remaining.  It appears they felt sorry for themselves for the next month as they lost four out of five games before ending the year strong.  They should have the home-field advantage here given their geographic proximity relative to Ohio.  So, Utah State wins?

R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
San Diego State (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
9:00 PM, December 17, New Orleans, LA
ESPN

This concludes the triple-header, opening day of the bowl season.  College football will give way to the NFL the next two days before returning on December 20.  This game also marks the first of three bowl games to be played in the Louisiana Superdome.  Actually, it’s now the Mercedes-Benz Superdome; because when I think of a rich and thriving community where much of the population drives a Mercedes, I think of New Orleans.

I have no idea how to sell this game.  Apparently, ESPN will try to sell it by broadcasting the game in 3D.  So, if you’re one of the few people that has a 3D television and a cable/satellite provider that offers ESPN3D, please tune in and let us know how this game turns out.  We’ll be doing something much more interesting – like sleeping, setting fantasy playoff rosters, or watching Cowboys-Bucs on the NFL Network.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg
Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)
8:00 PM, December 20, St. Petersburg, FL
ESPN

This game is played in one of the worst stadiums in the United States – Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.  Sure, the catwalks shouldn’t come into play and there’s no need to worry about the exposed bullpens, but it’s still one of the most dreary places to see a sporting event – and I was in the RCA Dome.

Marshall needed overtime in their final game to beat East Carolina and become bowl-eligible.  To their credit, they played three ranked teams this year – West Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Houston – and beat Conference USA champion, Southern Miss, early in the season.  Florida International played zero ranked teams and lost to Duke.  At home.  The Thundering Herd look like the pick here.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
#18 TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
8:00 PM, December 21, San Diego, CA
ESPN

This is how you name a bowl, children.

TCU lost a heart-breaker to #12 Baylor in their first game, 50-48.  Their only other loss was in overtime to Southern Methodist at home.  If they had won that game, they would’ve likely finished in the top-16 of the BCS standings and, by virtue of their conference title (thanks to a win over #7 Boise State in Boise), made a BCS bowl and brought $17 million to their conference.  Alas, that loss to SMU – and it is a bad loss – likely cost their conference some serious money.  Of course, they aren’t the only team to cost their conference BCS cash this year, but we’ll get to that later.

Louisiana Tech lost four of their first five games with their only win coming in overtime against something called Central Arkansas.  They then rattled off seven in a row to finish 8-4 and win the WAC.  So, maybe this game will be more entertaining then it looks.  What else are you going to watch on a Tuesday night anyway?

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas
Arizona State (6-6) vs. #7 Boise State (11-1)
8:00 PM, December 22, Las Vegas, NV
ESPN

You read that right.  The 7th-ranked team in the country will be playing a 6-6 team in a pre-Christmas bowl game.  Why?  Well, they didn’t win their conference thanks to a one-point loss at home to TCU.  Otherwise, they’ve won every game they played by double digits.  However, if a non-AQ (automatic qualifying) school doesn’t win their conference, they do not have to be selected by a BCS bowl.  Since Boise State has a much smaller fan base then, say, Michigan, they end up playing in Vegas on December 22nd.

Again, I’d like to reiterate that Boise State is not in a BCS bowl because they DID NOT WIN THEIR CONFERENCE.

It appears this [sponsor] Bowl [city name] format is becoming more popular.  I wonder how much more money is needed to ensure the sponsor is the title of the bowl game with the city name coming after “bowl.”  I probably shouldn’t wonder about such things.

Fun fact: the Las Vegas Bowl was once sponsored by SEGA.  I owned NHL 96 on that thing.

Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl
Nevada (7-5) vs. #21 Southern Mississippi (11-2)
8:00 PM, December 24, Honolulu, HI
ESPN

If you have nothing better to do on Christmas Eve (maybe because you don’t celebrate Christmas), here’s something to do on a Saturday night when a lot of businesses will be closed.

Southern Miss is another school that cost their non-AQ conference BCS money, but they may have cost them twice.  They shocked the world by beating #6 Houston in the Conference USA championship game.  However, since they finished outside the top-16, they could not be selected to a BCS bowl.  Two weeks earlier, the Golden Eagles lost on the road to lowly UAB (3-9), which dropped them from #20 in the country to outside the top-25.  Had they won that game and finished the season as they did, it’s possible they would’ve finished in the top-16 and earned a BCS berth.

By the way, if you’re wondering why the top-16 is so magical (and I know you aren’t), it’s all thanks to West Virginia and the terrible Big East conference.  Normally, non-AQ conference champions must finish in the top-12 in order to receive an automatic berth.  However, if such a team is ranked in the top-16 and finishes ahead of an AQ conference champion in the final BCS standings, they receive an automatic berth.  Big East champion, West Virginia, finished ranked #23 in the BCS standings.

As their record might suggest, Nevada is not that good.  But that loss to UAB makes one hesitate about picking Southern Miss.  That, and the fact that Brett Favre went to Southern Miss.  You just never know which direction they could go.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5)
5:00 PM, December 26, Shreveport, LA
ESPN2

This game will serve as the appetizer to the Falcons/Saints Monday Night Football matchup across the state at 8:30 PM.  The mothership has thrown this game on the deuce since they need to run their 90-minute pre-game show.

Four of Missouri’s five losses were against teams that finished in the top-14 of the final BCS standings.  The other loss was on the road in overtime against Arizona State.  North Carolina lost four of five late in the season before having the honor of playing Duke in their last game.  The smart money is on Missouri, but you can’t rule out a surprise appearance by Butch Davis to give the pre-game speech to his former Tar Heel team.  In that case, tremendous gut-spilling will ensue and all bets are off.

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
4:30 PM, December 27, Detroit, MI
ESPN

Despite some sketchy matchups in recent years, this bowl game has produced.  The last four games have been decided by four points or less.  Last year’s game was quite the thriller with Florida International kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired.  This came after a hook-and-lateral on 4th-and-17 gave them a first down.  That came after Toledo scored a touchdown to tie the game, pending the extra point.  Instead, Toledo went for two in an attempt to take the lead.  They were successful, setting up FIU’s furious comeback with a minute remaining.

By the way, kudos to Toledo for going for two and taking the lead.  No need to play for overtime in what amounts to an exhibition game.

Despite the tie-in with the Big Ten, this bowl hasn’t had a Big Ten team play in the game since 2007 – when Purdue beat Central Michigan, 51-48.  The lack of Big Ten teams is due to the lack of bowl eligible teams from the conference in recent years.  So Purdue is back, and on their resume are quality wins over… umm… Illinois and Ohio State – two schools that finished with the same record as Purdue.  Western Michigan boasts wins over… umm… well, no one.  In fact, neither team beat anyone that finished the season with a winning record.  So, I guess we got another great game on our hands!

Belk Bowl
Louisville (7-5) vs. North Carolina State (7-5)
8:00 PM, December 27, Charlotte, NC
ESPN

I don’t spend a lot of time shopping, but I think I’ve been to enough malls/shopping centers to know most of the department stores.  I can’t say I’ve heard of Belk.  I’m sure they have the same crap as all the other department stores.

I sincerely hope Belk isn’t like Macy’s where there is no true checkout counter.  You know what I’m talking about – they call them “service centers” and they’re hidden throughout the store.  Do you think you’re keeping me there by making me wind through aisles to find a checkout desk?  You’re wrong,  You’re just making me not want to return to your store.  Ever.

Those two paragraphs are more entertaining than this game.  About the only thing I can find to favor one team over the other is NC State’s win over Clemson, 37-13.  It’s not surprising they scored 37 points, but somehow they held Clemson to 13.  I guess I’ll favor NC State.

Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman
Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5)
4:30 PM, December 28, Washington, DC
ESPN

I think someone at this bowl game could help me with my problem at department stores.  The use of deadly force is authorized.

Give credit where credit is due – Toledo went after it this year.  After playing a Division I-AA team to begin the year (New Hampshire – no slouch in I-AA), the Rockets went to Ohio State, hosted Boise State, and went to Syracuse.  They lost all three, but they had a chance at Ohio State, and we’re screwed by the refs at Syracuse.  The Orange missed an extra point, but it was called good on the field.  It was even reviewed, but the call was upheld.  The Big East conveniently admitted it was the wrong call the next day.  Toledo drove back down the field and kicked a field goal as time expired to tie the game.  They eventually lost in overtime.  Had the extra point been correctly called no good, that game-tying kick would’ve won the game for the Rockets in regulation.

If you don’t watch college football, you may be surprised to learn that the Air Force has one of the worst aerial attacks in the nation.  They are, however, excellent on the ground – ranking 2nd in rushing yards per game.  This game will come down to which defense can get a couple of stops against the opposition.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
California (7-5) vs. #24 Texas (7-5)
8:00 PM, December 28, San Diego, CA
ESPN

I would like to tell you why Texas finished #24 in the standings, but I don’t have a logical explanation.  I guess someone had to finish #24, but, as you’ll see below, there were plenty of 8-4 or 9-3 teams that could’ve finished there.  Texas lost three of their last four games, which usually doesn’t lend itself to being ranked in the top-25, especially when your record falls to 7-5.  Cal, on the other hand, won three of their last four and their only loss was a 31-28 defeat at the hands of #4 Stanford.  Maybe they should be #24.  Maybe Cal will win.

I wrote the following about last year’s Washington-Nebraska matchup in this bowl: “Nebraska should win this going away, even if Martinez isn’t 100% behind center.”  Nebraska lost 19-7.  Like I said above, this should be your single source for gambling massive amounts of money this holiday season.

Champs Sports Bowl
Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)
5:30 PM, December 29, Orlando, FL
ESPN

I’m stunned to see Notre Dame is 8-4 and unranked, given there are two teams with a 7-5 record ranked in the top-25.  Oh, how the might have fallen.  The funny thing is, you can probably make an argument for Notre Dame being ranked.  After turning the ball over 5 times in their first game (a 23-20 loss at home to South Florida), the Irish lost only to BCS bowl teams.  (Well, USC isn’t in any bowl game because of their NCAA postseason ban, but at 10-2, they may have gotten into a BCS game.)  Unfortunately, the only team they beat that was worth anything was Michigan State.  They should’ve beaten Michigan, but Denard Robinson’s heave-it-up throws kept finding wide receivers at the end of that game.

Florida State beat no team that is worth a damn, so I guess Notre Dame is the favorite, except for the fact that this game is played in Orlando, where I’m sure there will be plenty of Seminole fans.

Fun fact: This game’s first sponsor was Blockbuster.  Boy, they’re doing well.

Valero Alamo Bowl
Washington (7-5) vs. #12 Baylor (9-3)
9:00 PM, December 29, San Antonio, TX
ESPN

The Alamo Bowl has produced eight of the top-20 most-watched bowl games in ESPN history.  Of course, that history will be altered now that ESPN has the BCS games.  Still, I expect this game to have a strong viewership with Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III at QB for Baylor.  Andrew Luck got a lot of attention coming into this season and throughout most of the Fall, but RGIII, as he’s known to the kids, stole the spotlight with some excellent late-season performances.  Yes, he’s fast, athletic, and can run the ball.  He can also throw it pretty well.  Notice how accurate he is with some of the deep passes in this highlight reel.  Also, notice how he can throw his receiver open for the game-winning TD against Oklahoma.

For the record, RGIII completed over 72% of his passes for nearly 4,000 yards and 36 TD passes.  He also ran for 9 TDs.  Both Tim Tebow and Cam Newton had significantly fewer passing yards and more rushing TDs in their last year in college.

At one point, Washington was 5-1 before finishing 7-5.  At one point, Baylor was 4-3 before finishing 9-3.  Baylor’s trending in the right direction and they’re playing in Texas.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Brigham Young (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4)
Noon, December 30, Dallas, TX
ESPN

Well, our troops didn’t do so well on the football field this year.  Only one academy (Air Force) managed to finish with at least 6 wins and qualify for a bowl.  They’re in the Military Bowl.  This leaves us with BYU and Tulsa to battle it out in the Armed Forces Bowl.

All four of Tulsa’s losses came against BCS top-20 teams and they won seven of their last eight games.  BYU’s only loss in their last nine games came against #18 TCU.  This is a pretty evenly-matched game to start a long day of college football.  It would still be made more entertaining if each team could use a Bell Helicopter.

This will be an easy day for those wanting to watch bowl games. Turn on ESPN at Noon and leave it there until 1:30 AM.  You’ll see nothing but bowl games all day.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
3:20 PM, December 30, New York, NY
ESPN

Dear Mother Nature,

I will give you $100 to stir up a Nor’Easter and dump about 12 inches of snow on New York during the day on December 30, 2011.

Sincerely,
A man that wants to be entertained

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)
6:40 PM, December 30, Nashville, TN
ESPN

I had no words for this game, so I turned to some friends that had spent time in Nashville.  My buddy, Joe, was kind enough to help out, although you’ll swear Robert Evans wrote this.  Ladies and gentlemen, the first ever Big Bowl Preview guest post…

Oh the Music City Bowl! Oh the Music City! Sounds like the selection committee passed out after a wild night drinking then at the next day’s meeting realized “Oh shit! Who’s wants to play here this year!?”. So after taking their grand ‘ole time the only two teams left were sadly Wake Forest and Mississippi State. Folks please don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining! The ACC is a basketball conference. Always has been, always will be. Wake Forest is still reeling from Skip Prosser’s sudden, premature death- trying to put together their basketball program. Sadly Dino Gaudio could not keep the program afloat. His 129-155 head coaching record isn’t exactly knocking down the door to the Basketball Hall of Fame. But boy the man could dress! He was a true Italian in every sense and you know what? That’s almost more entertaining than this years Music City Bowl!

Then there’s MSU… Mississippi State is still trying to fight off those bitter Southern fans still angry the South lost the war (News flash: THE SOUTH WILL NOT RISE AGAIN) and hired an African American coach! Plain and simple, Sylvester Croom was not a good hire like Pat Shurmur, Eric Mangini, Romeo Crennel, Butch Dav… OK you get the picture! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has absolutely nothing to say about this University and it’s football program. As I type this it took me about 10 minutes to even think of MSU’s mascot!… Um… Um… GO BULLDOGS!!

Regardless of this horrible match-up, Nashville is an AWESOME city. Just go there to hang out. Screw this game! Hit up the bars downtown that all pretty much have live music and hot chicks! Vanderbilt University is in Nashville- go tour campus! You can look at their ridiculously undersized SEC football stadium or visit the Vandy Marriott- where the Erin Andrews peep hole incident began!! Also eat breakfast at Noshville! (editor’s note: another buddy, Kevin, adds that “if you go to Noshville for breakfast then you have to go to Arnold’s for lunch!” Well, then, it’s settled.)

MSU is in the SEC! Alabama is in the SEC! ROLL TIDE! MSU by 7!

On second thought, there’s not enough “baby!” for Robert Evans to have written this piece.  But you can feel it in there.

Insight Bowl
Iowa (7-5) vs. #14 Oklahoma (9-3)
10:00 PM, December 30, Tempe, AZ
ESPN

Teams from Iowa have won the last two games.  I’m not sure a team from Iowa is going to win this game.  However, if there’s any team that can lose a game they’re heavily favored in, it’s Oklahoma.

Of course, if Oklahoma blows them out, you’ll get to bed nice and early.

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
Noon, December 31, Houston, TX
ESPN

This title seems to work better, grammatically speaking.

Is it me or are the games getting worse as we near New Year’s Day?  I know these two teams are from big conferences, but their records are just terrible.  Northwestern won four of five down the stretch to get into a bowl game.  Texas A&M lost four of five down the stretch (including a quadruple overtime game against Kansas State) to fall out of BCS contention and into this lovely spot.  At least they’re close to home in Houston.

I highly recommend sleeping in to prepare for a late night on New Year’s Eve.

Hyundai Sun Bowl
Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)
2:00 PM, December 31, El Paso, TX
CBS

What would be worse: being seen driving a Hyundai or being seen watching this game?

AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
3:30 PM, December 31, Memphis, TN
ABC

There’s another game on…

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7)
3:30 PM, December 31, San Francisco, CA
ESPN

This is the third bowl game played in a baseball stadium.  That’s how desperate MLB teams are for revenue – they give up their stadiums for football and hockey games.

Worse than that – the game is between two teams that have fired their coaches.  I’m actually not sure who’s coaching either team in this game.  I could look it up, but I don’t care.

UCLA has a losing record.  Illinois has lost 6 games in succession.  Could you have picked a worse ratings-generating matchup for a game that’s trying to help starving people around the world?  No. You could not.

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Virginia (8-4) vs. #25 Auburn (7-5)
7:30 PM, December 31, Atlanta, GA
ESPN

Wikipedia notes that the average margin of victory in this bowl game is 8.6 points over the last 20 years.  I don’t find that to be a selling point for increased ratings.

If you’re watching this game at a bar on New Year’s Eve, good luck trying to figure out which team is which.  They have practically the same color scheme, so without audio and clear vision, it’s going to be tough.  As a better alternative, you can simply go to Chick-fil-A and enjoy a hearty chicken sandwich.

TicketCity Bowl
#19 Houston (12-1) vs. #22 Penn State (9-3)
Noon, January 2, 2012 Dallas, TX
ESPNU

Note: due to January 1st being a Sunday, the regular New Year’s Day bowl schedule will be played on Monday, January 2nd.  Roger Goodell owns your life.  Just deal with it.

This game is played in the Cotton Bowl, but it’s not the Cotton Bowl.  That’s played later in the week in Cowboys Stadium. Got it?

Some rough finishes to the year for both of these teams.  Penn State controlled their own destiny to get into the Big-10-with-12-teams title game, but lost two of their last three games after losing the only head coach they’ve had since the American Revolution.  (Little known fact: Joe Paterno was the oldest man to fight in the American Revolution.)

Houston went undefeated in the regular season.  All they needed to do was win their conference title game against Southern Mississippi and $17 million would be awarded to their conference when they were granted a BCS bowl bid.  They lost to Southern Miss, 49-28.  Yikes.  Of course, Southern Miss had the ultimate motivation.  There were people basically telling them to lay down and let Houston win for the good of the conference.  Kudos to those kids for playing their asses off and beating one of the best teams in the country.

Houston averages 50.8 points per game and 443.8 passing yards per game.  Both those stats lead Division I football.  Penn State allows 15.7 points per game – 5th best in the nation.  Unstoppable force, meet immovable object.  Is Houston out for revenge or have they lost the will to live?

Outback Bowl
#17 Michigan State (10-3) vs. #16 Georgia (10-3)
1:00 PM, January 2, Tampa, FL
ABC

I hope you like the Big Ten and SEC because you’re going to see a lot of their teams today.  Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to have to work.

This is the battle of conference championship game losers.  Michigan State went down to Wisconsin in a tight, entertaining game.  Georgia made it interesting for a half before LSU outscored them 35-0 in the half that matters.  Both teams are strong defensively, so it will hopefully be a close contest.  Get your Bloomin’ Onion ready!

Capital One Bowl
#20 Nebraska (9-3) vs. #9 South Carolina (10-2)
1:00 PM, January 2, Orlando, FL
ESPN

Like I said, Big Ten and SEC. Let’s settle this once and for all!! (Or until next year.)

As mentioned earlier, I predicted Nebraska to roll last year and they lost.  I SHALL NOT BE MADE A FOOL AGAIN!  Unfortunately, this is the perfect game for the Old Ball Coach to just mail in and lose.  If Spurrier looks like he’s working off a three-day hangover to start the game, the Huskers may just pull this one out.

Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl
Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)
1:00 PM, January 2, Jacksonville, FL
ESPN2

Now that’s a sponsor. SLAYER!!!

Are you wondering why two 6-6 teams are playing on the New Year’s Day-after slate?  Just look at the names of the schools.  A lot of people make a big deal about the money paid out to these schools for accepting a bowl invitation, but, as mentioned in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl preview, these schools also agree to certain demands from the bowl committee.  One of the biggest demands is selling a minimum number of tickets.  That’s why Ohio State and Florida are playing in the Gator Bowl despite being 6-6.  I did a quick check and confirmed that the Gator Bowl hasn’t had two .500 teams match up in the 21st century.  Only once since then has a single 6-6 team been in the game – Florida State in January 2010, who won 33-21.

I’m going to set the over/under on Urban Meyer mentions during the game at 50.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
#10 Wisconsin (10-2) vs. #5 Oregon (10-2)
5:00 PM, January 2, Pasadena, CA
ESPN

Wisconsin returns to the Rose Bowl Game for the second year in a row.  Last year, they lost to TCU 21-19 after failing to convert a two-point conversion late in the game.  Oregon returns to the bowl game they participated in two years ago when they lost to Ohio State 26-17.  Wisconsin is 4th in the nation in points scored per game.  Oregon is 3rd.  Wisconsin is 6th in points against, while Oregon is 48th, suggesting an advantage to Wisconsin.  That said, the Badgers surrendered 76 points to Michigan State in the two games they played this year and the Ducks’ offense is significantly better.  Don’t blink when Oregon is on offense.  It seems they challenge their offense to leave as much time on the play clock as possible when they snap the ball.  This means they never need to use timeouts – even if it could result in the difference between winning and losing.  (see: USC vs. Oregon from this season)

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
#4 Stanford (11-1) vs. #3 Oklahoma State (11-1)
8:30 PM, January 2, Glendale, AZ
ESPN

Want to know which teams book-end the 3rd- and 4th-ranked offenses in the Rose Bowl Game?  Oklahoma State (2nd) and Stanford (5th).  So, if you like points, you should enjoy these two games back-to-back.

The Cardinal will showcase Heisman finalist and consensus number one pick in the NFL draft, Andrew Luck.  One of the many reasons Luck has seemingly slotted in at number one is that he runs a pro-style offense in college – a very rare thing in these days.  If you’re primarily an NFL fan, you should be able to appreciate and relate to the Stanford style of play.

Mr. NFL fan will not appreciate the Oklahoma State offense.  Like Oregon, they run the spread offense in lightning fashion, which is why they rack up nearly 50 points per game.  Their defense doesn’t get much rest on the sideline, which may be why they allow 25 points per game.  Then again, what’s 25 points when your offense can score 50?

Between the Rose Bowl Game and the Fiesta Bowl, we’ll see two matchups of high-powered offenses with very different designs.  Stanford and Wisconsin run a style similar to that of the pros.  Oregon and Oklahoma State run the new school spread offense.  Should be an entertaining evening of football.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
#13 Michigan (10-2) vs. #11 Virginia Tech (11-2)
8:30 PM, January 3, New Orleans, LA
ESPN

Virginia Tech loses their conference championship game to a school (Clemson) that is still ranked below them, but they make a BCS bowl.  Michigan doesn’t even qualify for their conference championship game, but jumps the loser (Michigan State), who they lost to earlier in the year, and make a BCS bowl.  PUKE.  I mean, there are two Big Ten and two ACC teams in the BCS bowls.  Those conferences are TERRIBLE!  Yet Houston has one bad game in their conference championship game and they’re sentenced to the TicketCity Bowl.  Boise State loses by three to a ranked team and is playing before Christmas!

Michigan’s other loss came against unranked Iowa and they never played Wisconsin or Penn State.  Virginia Tech lost twice (TWICE!!!!) to Clemson – by a combined total of 61-13 – and they’re still ranked ahead of Clemson.

In case it isn’t clear, I really hate this matchup.

Discover Orange Bowl
#23 West Virginia (9-3) vs. #15 Clemson (10-3)
8:30 PM, January 4, Miami, FL
ESPN

West Virginia is in this game because they finished as the highest-ranked Big East team in the BCS at the end of the season.  That’s what was used to break the 3-way tie atop the conference.  Fun fact: West Virginia provided Syracuse (5-7, 1-6 in the Big East) their only conference win of the season by a margin of 26 points.  I’m glad the Big East is dying.

There are two reasons to watch this game:

  1. There will be a lot of points scored, if that’s your thing.
  2. Sammy Watkins, Freshman WR for Clemson.  In 12 games (he missed one with a shoulder injury), he caught 77 passes for 1153 yards and 11 TDs.  He also returned a kick for a TD.  He’s good.

AT&T Cotton Bowl
#8 Kansas State (10-2) vs. #6 Arkansas (10-2)
8:00 PM, January 6, Arlington, TX
FOX

Here’s the Cotton Bowl played at Cowboys Stadium.  It features two teams that, at one point during the year, were thought to be potential surprise BCS teams.  Instead they both lost to some of the better teams in their conference and came up short.  Jerry Jones is an Arkansas grad, so I’ll assume he’ll fix this game in their favor.  There is no word yet on whether or not the fans will be able to watch the game in 5-D on the big screen using a special body suit and glasses.

BBVA Compass Bowl
Southern Methodist (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)
1:00 PM, January 7, Birmingham, AL
ESPN

I suppose this serves as the warm-up to Wild Card weekend in the NFL.  Something tells me the quality of play will be slightly better in the NFL games.

Pitt comes into this game with their 5th head coach in the last year.  That’s right – 5th.  How, you say?  Allow me to explain:

  1. Last December, Dave Wannstedt was fired.
  2. Assistant Phil Bennett coaches the team in this very same bowl game (a 27-10 victory over Kentucky).
  3. Meanwhile, Pitt hires Michael Haywood from Miami (OH) to coach their team permanently in 2011.  Unfortunately, Haywood was incarcerated in the state of Indiana following a domestic violence charge.  So, he lost his job.  (This isn’t Florida State.)
  4. Instead, Pitt hires Todd Graham away from Tulsa to become their permanent head coach.  He decided he wants to look at other jobs after his first season at Pitt, but Pitt doesn’t grant permission for him to do so.  Thus, Graham resigns to accept the job at Arizona State and informs the university, via text message no less, that he is gone.
  5. Enter assistant Keith Patterson to coach in this year’s BBVA Compass Bowl.

The lesson here?  DO NOT ACCEPT A BOWL BID FROM THE BBVA COMPASS BOWL COMMITTEE!  IT’S A CURSE!

GoDaddy.com Bowl
Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3)
9:00 PM, January 8, Mobile, AL
ESPN

And here’s the cool-down coming off of wild card weekend.  It should help you go to sleep Sunday night.

These two teams combined for only one loss in their respective conferences.  Arkansas State only lost to Illinois (at the beginning of the year, when they were good) and Virginia Tech (who can beat anyone not named Clemson).  Neither team has lost a game since October 1st.  Maybe it will be surprisingly entertaining.

Allstate BCS National Championship Game
#1 Louisiana State (13-0) vs. #2 Alabama (11-1)
8:30 PM, January 9, New Orleans, LA
ESPN

On December 8, 2003, Nick Saban, then the head coach at LSU, stated, “Anyone who doesn’t win their conference has no business playing in the national championship game.”  Alabama did not win their conference this year.  They did not even win their division in the conference.  Then again, on December 21, 2006, Nick Saban, then the head coach of the Miami Dolphins, stated, “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach.”  He was hired by Alabama on January 3, 2007 to be their coach.  So, I suppose listening to anything Nick Saban has to say is a complete waste of time.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, this game was already played.  LSU won 9-6 at Alabama in overtime on November 5, 2011.  (Switch the BCS rankings and you have their defensive points-against rankings.  LSU allows 10.5 per game; Alabama an inconceivable 8.8.)  If you hate the BCS as much as I do, you want Alabama to win by that same score in this national championship game.  In that case, can you really award the national championship to Alabama?  If both games are close, with each team winning once, don’t we need a third game to determine the champion?  I understand that, in the event of a playoff, these two teams could very well play in the national championship game.  At least they would’ve earned it in that scenario instead of being awarded it by voters.  (In case you don’t know, the average of the BCS computers have Alabama at #3 in the country – Oklahoma State is #2.  Only polls with human voters have Alabama at #2.)

It’s ironic, really.  The BCS was created to ensure #1 and #2 played each other at the end of the year, thereby eliminating any controversy about who is the champion.  This year, it could help the BCS to have LSU playing some lesser team in the Sugar Bowl.  Assuming they win, there would be no controversy about the champion.  LSU would be the unanimous winner.  By pitting them against the only team that came within 4 touchdowns of beating them in the Autumn season (seriously, they were that dominate), you’ve opened up the possibility of controversy with a close Alabama victory.

Congratulations, BCS… you’ve done it again.

HAPPY BOWLING!!!

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10 Responses to Big Bowl Preview VI

  1. Dave says:

    Great job as usual, Steve. The Allstate (what, sponoring the National Championship game wasn’t sufficient to spend all the money from insurance premiums?) Sugar Bowl is the perfect microcosm for all that’s wrong with the BCS.

  2. davisnn says:

    Belk is everything you describe of Macy’s, but at least they haven’t gone around the country gobbling up other department stores. They were huge in the NC.

  3. John H says:

    I am surprised this bowl preview is not yet trending on twitter #stevebowlpreviewswagger. Michael Reghi would be proud, you definitely brought it strong.

    • Steve J says:

      If I tell the people of Twitter I’m dying and my only wish is to trend on Twitter, maybe we can make that happen.

      Reghi told me I “brought it strong to the bowl preview aspect of this college football season on the internet right there on your laptop that you purchased from a store or maybe online web site and a lot of other words that I want to use in this run-on sentence so I can finish listening to what my producer is saying in my ear and get us to the proper commercial break, young man.”

  4. Andrea says:

    Glad to see after six years, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl is still going strong!

  5. stipanovich says:

    best bowl preview in that last few years…Steve, want to move to New Orleans??? they love you there

  6. Robert Evans says:

    Baby, that Joe Garvey surely can write! You know who he reminds me of!? Me, baby! A young Robert Evans! He’s got it all! He’s my MVP, baby!

    • Steve J says:

      Hey! I remember you and Nicholson on that shoot in Thailand! Champagne? You bet! Hookers? By the dozen!! Nicky gave ’em the old Faye Dunaway treatment. Is that legal in Thailand? Absolutely!

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