Ah, bowl season, where companies ruin the titles of rational sounding bowl games, teams that would never in their wildest dreams get to play against each other and we can complain about the BCS for one more glorious year.
Other than the BCS National Title Game, none of these games matter. But we watch them anyways because, what else is on? December basketball?
I will attempt to sell you on watching every single bowl game this year. College football is far from over, and (some of) these bowl games present some decently entertaining matchups.
I’m fine if Wizards vs. Kings in mid-December is more your style, but for the rest of us rational folk, here’s a rundown of the 2012-13 Bowl season.
These are the pre-New Year’s Day games.
Gildan New Mexico Bowl: Nevada vs. Arizona
December 15, 1:00pm ET (ESPN)
Which RichRod team shows up? The team that beat USC 39-36, or got squashed by UCLA 66-10?
This game will be #MACtion without being in the MAC. Rich Rodriguez’s Wildcats score a lot and sometimes don’t feel like playing defense. This ain’t your Colin Kaepernick’s Boise State-upsetting Nevada Wolfpack, but it should be a close game anyways.
The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Toledo vs. Utah State
December 15, 4:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Is the potato famous or the bowl game?
Utah State returns to Boise for a second year in a row, trying to avenge its 24-23 loss to Ohio University. This WAC vs. MAC matchup usually brings out the fireworks, and with Utah State’s quarterback Chuckie Keeton and running back Kerwynn Williams, this game should go down to the wire just like last year.
Plus, one last time to see the Boise State trademarked blue turf before they roll it up for winter.
Pick: Utah State.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl: BYU vs. San Diego State
December 20, 8 pm ET (ESPN)
This isn’t basketball. At least I’m pretty sure it isn’t basketball. If it were basketball, this matchup would be very exciting. Two years ago. Jimmer Fredette, hello!
SDSU’s offense is solid, while BYU’s defense is ranked fifth in the nation in points against. The matchup seems even, but the main factor is SDSU beat Boise State (the benchmark for college football’s version of a mid-major) 21-19 at Boise, and BYU lost to Boise 7-6 at Boise.
So by the transitive property, San Diego State will win. Right?
Pick: Wrong, BYU.
Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl: Central Florida vs. Ball State
December 21, 8:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Ball State is in the MAC, UCF is not. David Letterman went to Ball State, Daniel Tosh went to UCF. Ball State is fun to watch. Has anyone outside of wherever UCF is actually seen the Golden Knights play? Also, UCF is facing some hefty sanctions so this might be the last time in a while you may get to watch it play.
Beef O’ Brady’s is an adequate restaurant. Makes me kind of want to go there. Is this the goal of their bowl sponsorship? Wings sound good…
Pick: Ball State. For America, and David Letterman.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl: East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
December 22, Noon ET (ESPN)
I’ve got nothing.
Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette? Home-field advantage?
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Washington
December 22, 3:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Ok, this one will be good.
“You are looking LIVE at Las Vegas” will be uttered by “Big Game Brent” Musburger, who’s on the call.
This is a rebuilding year for the Broncos, if you can call 10-2 “a rebuilding year.” This 7-5 Washington team has stars and two signature wins over top 10 teams, Stanford and Oregon State. Boise lost to the only ranked team it played all year in the opening week of the season at Michigan State.
Also, utilizing my foolproof transitive property formula, Boise lost to San Diego State and Washington beat SDSU.
Pick: Trufant Island. UDubb wins.
Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl: Fresno State vs. SMU
December 24, 8:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Fresno State is 12th in the nation in points scored and 27th in points against. Who knew? The Bulldogs appear to be halfway decent, as far as MWC teams go.
I wasn’t born when SMU was relevant, but judging by the ESPN 30 for 30, the “Pony Excess” days would’ve been a sight to see. But at a dismal 6-6, Eric Dickerson isn’t walking through that door.
Seriously, SMU is in a bowl but Louisiana Tech isn’t?
Pick: Fresno State. SMU’s victory is the free trip to Hawai’i.
Little Caesars Bowl: Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan
December 26, 7:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Does Bobby Petrino make an appearance?
The WKU Hilltoppers make their first bowl appearance ever this year and just made a splash by hiring disgraced former Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. Who knows if he’ll coach them in the bowl game, but the storyline itself is worth watching.
Also, Central Michigan is a MAC team, and by now you should realize how I feel about them. Something always happens if the MAC is involved.
Pick: WKU Hilltoppers, and whatever the hell their mascot is, win.
Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman: San Jose State vs. Bowling Green
December 27, 3:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Now this is how you sponsor a bowl game. Keep the original title, and put your company’s name in the end of it. Solid.
Anyway, San Jose State only lost to Stanford by three and put together a very respectable 10-2 season.
Unfortunately, the Spartans may have 12 fans at the game. It’s being played in Washington, D.C. There aren’t too many legendary stories of the hoards of well-traveled SJSU Spartans. Step up your game Spartan Nation.
BGSU is a MAC team. Eight in the nation in points allowed…They unfortunately share colors with the Cleveland Browns. Don’t sleep on the Browns, I mean the Falcons.
Both teams get Apple iPad minis; it’s a win-win.
Pick: MAC is involved but Spartans win.
Belk Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Duke
December 27, 6:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Like San Diego State vs. BYU, this isn’t basketball, and we should all be disappointed.
Cincinnati had a fine season, but the Bearcats were recently jilted by their coach Butch Jones. Butch found greener pastures in Knoxville, Tennessee to coach the Volunteers. Cincinnati nabbed Tommy Tuberville from Texas Tech. He might make an appearance – try some onside kicks, go for it on fourth down a couple times, slap a few assistant coaches.
All of Cincy’s losses are justifiable – all to ranked teams and a good Toledo team. Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux has one of the best/hilarious names in college football. He hasn’t lived up to his full potential but is exciting enough to justify watching.
Duke with a 6-6 record is just happy to be here. While it’s nice for the Blue Devils to play in a bowl game, they should really stick to basketball, or lacrosse.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl: UCLA vs. Baylor
December 27, 9:45 pm ET (ESPN)
Ladies and gentleman, we have an exciting bowl game. On paper, this game has “shootout” written all over it. This could possibly the most exciting pre-New Year’s Day bowl game.
Quarterback Nick Florence and Baylor’s insane fifth-ranked scoring offense (that didn’t score less than 35 all season) vs. UCLA’s front 7 and its Matt Barkley-injuring linebacker Anthony Barr.
Baylor’s Nick Florence threw for 31 TDs and 4000 yards. Terrance Williams, a Biletnikoff Award runner-up, caught 12 touchdowns and 1700 yards worth of passes.
UCLA’s Brett Hundley threw 26 touchdown passes and ran in nine. UCLA also has future NFL-er and Doak Walker Award runner-up Johnathan Franklin, with his 1700 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, at running back.
Baylor also beat No. 1 Kansas State. The Bears are no slouches. UCLA plays hard and can run the ball whenever it wants.
Mark it down, watch this game.
Pick: UCLA in a shootout.
AdvoCare v100 Independence Bowl: Ohio University vs. Louisiana-Monroe
December 28, 2:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Could be the dumbest name for a bowl game this year.
I won’t brag, but I picked Ohio U to beat Penn State in this season’s opener. What did Ohio U do after that landmark win for its program? Not a whole lot.
Frank Solich has done wonders with the Ohio Bobcats and should lead them to a bowl victory.
Don’t sleep on Ohio QB Tyler Tettleton.
Pick: Bobcats. MAC don’t lie.
Russell Athletic Bowl: Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech
December 28 5:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Rutgers lost Greg Schiano last year to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the Scarlet Knights didn’t lose his players or his attitude. Their defense is serious and Virginia Tech continues to be the most perennially overrated team in college football.
Bigger question, should 6-6 teams play in bowl games? Shouldn’t you have at least a winning record?
Players get $420 shopping trip to a local Best Buy. You can buy almost three things for that much at Best Buy.
Pick: Rutgers all day.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Minnesota vs. Texas Tech
December 28, 9:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Texas Tech lost Tuberville but won in the bowl draw. It’s in Texas and it’s against Minnesota. Texas Tech just hired its former quarterback, Johnny Manziel mentor and biggest hipster in college football, Kliff Kingsbury. Be afraid Minnesota, be very afraid.
There are seven B1G Ten teams in bowl games this year, and none of them are favored to win. They could go 0-7. Other than Ohio State, the conference was awful. Thank God Maryland and Rutgers are joining soon!
Pick: Red Raiders.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force vs. Rice
December 30, 11:45 am ET (ESPN)
The teams have the same colors, are both 6-6, and Air Force runs the triple option. That’s about it. It’s only fair for the actual armed forces team to win this bowl, so…
Pick: Air Force.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: West Virginia vs. Syracuse
December 30, 3:15 pm ET (ESPN)
Remember when West Virginia was going to win the national championship and Geno Smith was the shoe-in for the Heisman trophy? That ended quickly.
The Mountaineers’ Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey are still freakishly good on offense and can torch teams when they’re firing on all cylinders. This is Geno’s NFL Showcase game, so head coach Dana Holgorsen will be calling a “bombs away” offense.
Solid crew of Chris Fowler, Jesse Palmer and Tom Rinaldi on the call, and I assume free New Era hats are included.
Pick: WVU ‘eers.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Navy vs. Arizona State
December 30, 4:00 pm ET (ESPN)
Navy will run all over ASU faster than you can say Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. The Sun Devils have had a drastic disciplinary turnaround under Todd Graham, so this should be fun.
Pick: Upset special, Midshipmen.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. Oregon State
Saturday, December 29 6:45 pm ET (ESPN)
Sneaky good game here. I don’t think Texas knows which team will show up, but Mike Riley and Oregon State will come ready to play.
PAC-12 should represent well this bowl season, trying to be the outright No. 2 conference in football.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State vs. TCU
December 29 10:15 pm ET (ESPN)
I’ll take a Juicy Steak Burger please. Oh, this isn’t a delicious restaurant; it’s a boring bowl game.
Two decent defenses, Michigan State’s running back LeVeon Bell is entertaining. But at least it’s on at a time that warrants watching if you’re east of the Mississippi. This game isn’t worth staying up for those in the Eastern Time zone.
Dan Patrick is contractually obligated to be there through his show’s sponsorship deal with Buffalo Wild Wings, so there’s that.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt
December 31, 12:00 pm ET (ESPN)
NC St. just got Dave Doeren from Northern Illinois, but who knows if he’ll coach in the bowl game. The coaching carousel is frustrating! Maybe he can turn Mike Glennon into Jordan Lynch in two weeks.
Vandy is sneaky good, so this game may actually amount to something. It’s also basically a home game for the Commodores.
Pick: Go ‘Dores.
Hyundai Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech vs. USC
December 31, 2:00 pm ET (CBS)
Over/under of Alabama references by Gary Danielson is 4.5. Leave your wagers in the comment section.
Being an unapologetic USC fan, being in this bowl game is almost bad as being ineligible. Maybe worse.
This game gives us one last chance to see Monte Kiffin’s defense try to stop an offense that he has apparently never seen before.
One last chance to see Lane Kiffin run a draw play on 3rd-and-18.
One last chance to see 13 penalties committed by one team in one game.
One last chance for USC’s offensive linemen to “miss an assignment” during their 13th game of the season.
One last chance in 2012 to see Marqise Lee play Georgia Tech like he’s playing against eighth graders.
One last chance (*weeping*) to try and have Matt Barkley go out a winner, if he even plays.
This season needs to end, soon. Don’t make it worse on us, Kiffins. There’s always next year, I guess, but I’m not bitter.
Pick: USC, but probably 42-39.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. Tulsa
December 31, 3:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Know what Tulsa spelled backwards is?
Chick Fil-A Bowl: LSU vs. Clemson
December 31 7:30 pm ET (ESPN)
Two 10-2 teams, well-traveled fanbases, similar styles of play. Should be fun but the “y’all cain’t hang with the SEC” adage will prove to be true, as usual.
Les Miles wins big games. Especially after last year’s BCS Title game “effort,” he has to make an example out of Clemson. Not to mention the Mad-Hatter just signed a massive contract extension with LSU. Coach for that money!
Pick: Bayou Bengals.
Whew, done. Those are all the pre-New Year’s Day bowl games. Part 2 coming soon.