Sunday, December 7, 2008

so many bowls

More than ever before, in fact. In an effort to saturate the three weeks between December 20 and January 8 with enough college football to make your eyes bleed, the NCAA went on a bowl-certifying binge last year, giving us 34 games, almost two per day.

So what's what in the bowl season? I'll tell you, that's what:

Best Non-Crystal-Football-Awarding BCS Game:

Texas and OSU is a very compelling matchup, but Penn State-USC in the Rose Bowl is where it's at. I kind of have this feeling that Michigan is the Big Ten team that belongs in the Rose Bowl - it's sort of a birthright and comes with the territory of being a Michigan fan - but PSU/USC matches up two storied teams playing very, very good football. And (this is the kicker here) the Fiesta Bowl is being played in a glitzy, sterile, corporate NFL stadium, while the Rose Bowl is being played in the Rose Bowl. January 1st, 4:00 Eastern, Pasadena - this is the proper date, time, and place for a college football game.

Best Five Non-BCS Games In No Particular Order:

Ball State-Tulsa in the G*** Bowl. Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my top 15? These two were the surprise teams of the year for pretty much most of the year and occupied a lofty spot in the rankings despite being in crappy conferences. This is a great matchup.

TCU-Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl. It's like the non-BCS championship.

Michigan State-Georgia in the ex-Citrus Bowl. Javon Ringer and Knowshon Moreno. I hate it when the media portrays this sort of matchup as Ringer versus Moreno, because they will never be on the field at the same time. Nevertheless it's exciting. No matter who's on the field, all eyes will be on the running back.

Clemson-Nebraska in the Gator Bowl. The implications are fascinating. Clemson was handed the world, then given up for dead. Thanks to whatever magic Dabo Swinney pulled out of a hat, they've resurfaced on New Year's Day against a team that wasn't ever supposed to be. Both started cold but finished hot. A win for either team will give some pretty restless fanbases a reason to feel all warm and fuzzy going into next year.

Nevada-Maryland in the Humanitarian Bowl. This has train-wreck appeal. Nevada has that quasi-gimmicky and quite successful pistol offense; Maryland has that penchant for sending their evil twin, Sucky Maryland, on the road instead of their actual team. Whether it's Actual Maryland or Sucky Maryland that shows up on the blue turf, I don't think it'll be a close game either way.

Most Craptacular Matchup:

Northern Illinois-Louisiana Tech in the Independence Bowl. You can't blame the IB people here. They've got these contracts in place with the Big 12 and SEC, and that usually provides a pretty decent second-tier matchup of sort-of-respectable BCS teams - and in any case, they're teams people know about. Then the BCS swallowed up two teams from each conference, leaving the bottom empty and the Independence Bowl scrambling. I'll be watching just because Louisiana Tech has been around since forever but has never actually played a televised game, except for once by accident - rumor has it the intern was supposed to hook up the feed for the Louisiana State-Virginia Tech game but got confused.

Prison Rape Waiting To Happen:

Central Michigan-Florida Atlantic in the Motor City Bowl. Adam Weber of Minnesota is 6'3, 220: a big quarterback with a good arm and a decent set of wheels. He passed for 235 yards and ran for 43 more in a 37-3 shellacking of FAU. Dan LeFevour of CMU is 6'3, 226: a bigger quarterback with a better arm and a better set of wheels. This bodes ill for the Owls.

Games I Wanted To See Instead:

Iowa-Oregon State in the Destroyers Of Dreams Bowl. Would have been a decent game, too.

Georgia Tech-Navy in the Paul Johnson Bowl. Come on. Tell me this wouldn't have been totally sweet. They might have set a modern-day record for fewest forward passes. Zero would be a distinct possibility.

Texas Tech-Tulsa in the Fuck Defense Bowl. The 2nd and 5th scoring offenses against the 69th and 84th scoring defenses. Woooooooo!

Virginia and/or Michigan against anyone at all. God damn it.

Notre Lame Hur Hur:

Notre Dame hasn't won a bowl game for freakin' ages. It's been so long ago that 88 Division I-A teams have won a bowl game since the last time the Irish did (that would be the '93 season, 1994 Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.)

I'm not going to bother listing all 88 teams; suffice to say, it's most of the ones you'd expect and quite a few you wouldn't. If Notre Dame loses to Hawaii this year, the number will go up to 89 once Western Michigan and Rice duke it out to see who gets to be added to the list. Five other teams - Northwestern, Ball State, Buffalo, Vanderbilt, and Louisiana Tech - have their shot at glory as well; the total could go as high as 94.

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