December 06, 2011

CFB: Bowling

Ahhhhhh.  Look forward to it every year, I do!  That great folly known as Bowl Season.  While every other sport in America determines champions on the field, college football allows nit-wit sports writers, ignorant pollsters, illogical computers, ESPN, and billionaire bowl executives to create some fantasy popularity contest which decides the number one team in the nation.  I fall for it hook, line, and sinker.  Of course, there are too many bowls (35).  Some fans love it.  Others decry it.  It's the same sort of polarizing response to the gluttony of board games in the hobby market.  For some one like me who can watch football from the first kick-offs at 11:00 am Saturday until those West Coast stragglers winding down at midnight, I can't say I see a problem.  Well, okay, so maybe that's not entirely true.  At any rate, below I present my personal entries in the worst and best offerings of this season's matches.

The Good
  1. Allstate BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 9 - LSU vs. Alabama  Not that I'm terribly pleased with the rematch (for many reasons), but you can't argue it'll be a horrible game.  Although LSU should have just been handed the trophy after destroying Georgia, it is the title game, for better or worse, and I usually prefer defensive slug-fests, anyway.
  2. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 3 - Stanford vs. Oklahoma State  This was a toss up with the Rose Bowl pitting Oregon and Wisconsin.  These two games will be fascinating match-ups of vastly contrasting styles: explosive offenses verse smash-mouth defenses.  Edge goes to the Fiesta with two Top 5 teams.
  3. AT&T Cotton Bowl, Jan. 6 - Kansas State vs. Arkansas  These two BCS-worthy contenders should put up the numbers, although via two different methods.  Opposing QB's Colin Klein (on the ground) and Tyler Wilson (through the air) will put on very different shows for a packed crowd of passionate fan bases in sparkling Jerry World.
  4. Bowl, Jan. 8 - Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State  What a stupid name for a bowl game.  However, it's the MAC champ taking on the Sun Belt champ.  These two, solid, mid-level programs fight hard and have potent offenses.  Though low on the totem pole, this bowl should be close and fun to watch.
  5. Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman, Dec. 28 - Air Force vs. Toledo  This has the potential of being the highest scoring game of this year's bowls.  Air Force's depleted secondary should get smoked by Rocket's receiver Eric Page.  But Toledo's questionable front seven will be hard pressed against a dangerous running attack.
The Bad
  1. MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 22 - Boise State vs. Arizona State  Surely, this can't be even close?  I know, don't call you "Shirley."  The Broncos are a missed field goal away from probably, as the year turned out, taking Alabama's spot in the title game.  Instead, they free-fall to here against a coach-less opponent that imploded in the second half of the season.  Yikes!
  2. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 21 - TCU vs. Louisiana Tech  Kudos to the Bulldogs for a strong finish to take the WAC crown.  But the Mountain West champs are a heavy hitter amongst the mid-tier programs and playing as well as anyone right now ranked #2-17.
  3. Valero Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29 - Baylor vs. Washington  Hopefully Bears' QB Robert Griffin III has his Heisman in hand for this game.  Even if he doesn't, he should torch an out-matched Huskies unit that should also be outnumbered by fans attending.
  4. AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31 - Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt  Vanderbilt and bowling are two words difficult to use in the same sentence.  The good news is they earned eligibility by beating another bowl team.  The bad news is that team was Wake Forest, another school rare to the environment.  Against Vandy's 2-6 record in the not-so-impressive SEC East, Cincinnati should win handily.
  5. Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl, Dec. 28 - Texas vs. California  While both teams had disappointing seasons, Texas is still better.  And since the Holiday Bowl is generally an annual blow-out, I just put two and two together.
The Ugly
  1. Allstate Sugar Bowl, Jan. 3 - Michigan vs. Virginia Tech  Exhibit A of what's wrong with the current system - the bowls only care about money.  Neither team deserves to be here, except in a business sense.  Big Blue fans should travel in droves as they are parched from years of languishing in a desert of competitive mediocrity.  Va. Tech has the brand name for television ratings, but how many fans want to travel after that shellacking in the ACC title game?
  2. Gator Bowl, Jan. 2 - Ohio State vs. Florida  Exhibit B of what's wrong with the current system - a prime game takes two after-thoughts just because they're tied to their conferences.  There is nothing impressive about either Buckeyes or Gators.  So, in that sense, I guess it could be a close game.  A good game?  Unlikely.
  3. Music City Bowl, Dec. 30 - Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State  Exhibit C of what's wrong with the current system - there are way too many bowls.  We're stuck with two .500 teams?  This is not the only such match.  I know this can be exciting for the schools and its fans, but a lot of money is invested in this.  Couldn't it be used for a better purpose elsewhere?
  4. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Dec. 31 - Illinois vs. UCLA  Exhibit D of what's wrong with the current system - special privileges are granted to the power conferences.  UCLA had a losing record and so had to apply for a waiver to even be eligible for this "reward."  A shame.  One, because this bowl supports a great cause.  Two, it meant Western Kentucky was denied their first bowl game in school history despite actually earning it.
  5. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 24 - Southern Miss vs. Nevada  Exhibit E of what's wrong with the current system - schools lose money while the bowl games and ESPN profit.  Exactly how many fans from either school will travel to this one and buy the tickets the schools are forced to eat?  With local fav Hawaii ineligible this year, there might by a few thousand in the stands.

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