In 1914 Yale University built a football stadium. It was the first bowl shaped stadium in the country and the prototype for what we take for granted as the typical stadium today. During this time there was only one college football post-season game to decide a national champion. It was played in Pasadena, CA and sponsored by the Roses Association, which had begun a New Year’s Day parade in 1890 and started the football tradition in 1902. By 1923 the game was such a huge success that a new & bigger stadium was needed. The builders used the Yale Bowl as a template and called their stadium the Rose Bowl. The game played there became known as the Rose Bowl game. In 1933 some folks in Miami, FL thought that college football could stand to have another post-season game. They decided to capitalize on the popularity of the Rose Bowl by calling their game the Orange Bowl. Soon after the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, the Sun Bowl in El Paso, TX and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas were born. The rest is history. And now you know why bowl games are called bowl games. As always I am here not only to entertain but to educate.
At any rate, I am trying something a bit different this year. I have broken down the plethora of bowl games into three tiers. Tier 3 consists of worthless games for which I can barely muster enough interest to even bother making a pick. Even as a huge football fan I doubt I’ll be watching them, and you probably won’t either. Surely there is a better way to spend one’s time, like self-mutilation or renting Mariah Carey’s Golden Raspberry award winning performance in 2001’s Glitter on DVD. Tier 2 games are largely mediocre and superfluous, but there are some decent matchups that might actually be somewhat entertaining. The Tier 3 games are the crème de la crème, the kings of the hill, the top o’ the heap. Unlike my Pigskin Picks of Profundity I will not be utilizing any point spreads. These are just straight up, win or lose, all or nothing prognostications. It is unlikely that means that’ll I’ll do any better though. As a matter of fact my picks will probably be mostly wrong as usual so as always, please, no wagering. Enjoy, and happy holidays!!
Potato Bowl – 12/15
Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2)
This used to be known as the Humanitarian Bowl and is played on the famous blue turf in Boise, Idaho, which is the game’s only redeeming quality. I’ll take the Rockets to win convincingly.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl – 12/21
UCF (9-4) vs. Ball State (9-3)
Beef O’Brady’s is a sports bar franchise in Florida and other southern states. The game itself is played in St. Petersburg (i.e. Tampa), FL. Yeah, I know…no one cares. I think Central Florida wins the game.
Las Vegas Bowl – 12/22
Boise State (10-2) vs. Washington (7-5)
Hey, atleast this game has a cool location. The Broncos are making their 3rd straight appearance after a huge Fiesta Bowl win in 2007. Since they’ve won the past two quite easily I see no reason not to believe they’ll win again.
Hawaii Bowl – Christmas Eve
SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3)
The game may not hold much interest for the casual fan, but kudos to these two teams for parlaying their mediocrity into a trip to Hawaii for Christmas. Mele Kalikimaka indeed. I’ll take the Bulldogs.
Little Caesars Bowl – 12/26
Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6)
Congratulations second-rate teams from second-rate conferences…you get to go to Detroit for Christmas!! Seriously…this is about a half step above an NAIA game. When did Western Kentucky upgrade from 1-AA?? I must have missed that. Anyway, I’ll take the Chippewas.
Military Bowl – 12/27
Bowling Green (8-4) vs. San Jose State (10-2)
Ummm…shouldn’t one of the military academies be playing in this game?? I assume Army would have been playing here…if they’d managed to attain more than 2 victories. I like the quality of football played in the MAC, so I’ll go with Bowling Green for the win.
Belk Bowl – 12/27
Duke (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3)
Belk is a Carolina based department store chain found in the southern U.S. The game itself was formerly known as the Queen City Bowl, the Continental Tire Bowl, and the Meineke Car Care Bowl. It’s a shame the Bearcats couldn’t score a more significant contest after a 9 win season. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils have all the sudden upgraded their football program from comatose to average, so good job. Even considering the fact that coach Butch Jones has bolted for Tennessee I’d be stunned if Cincinnati didn’t win by double digits.
Meineke Car Care Bowl – 12/28
Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
Just because Charlotte’s game is now called the Belk Bowl doesn’t mean the Meineke people are out of the football business. They simply changed their sponsorship to this game in Houston. I am more familiar with Hayden Fox’s fictional Minnesota St. Screaming Eagles than the real life Minnesota Golden Gophers, but I have seen the Red Raiders play a few times this season so that’s the pick.
Russell Athletic Bowl – 12/28
Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3)
This is the former Blockbuster Bowl, CarQuest Bowl, and MicronPC Bowl. The folks in Orlando change bowl sponsorships more often than Taylor Swift changes boyfriends. At any rate, the big question to me here is what in the world happened to Virginia Tech this year?? From 2004-2011 they won 10 or 11 games every season. They haven’t been this mediocre since a two win season in 1992. Meanwhile, Rutgers is preparing to move to The Big Ten and exiting The Big East on a high note. In any other year the Hokies would be an easy choice, but it seems like the two teams have reversed roles this year, so I’ll take the Scarlet Knights.
Armed Forces Bowl – 12/29
Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6)
It doesn’t get any more mediocre than two 6-6 teams that, if I were in charge, would not even be playing a post-season game. Teams shouldn’t be rewarded for simply breaking even. I honestly know next to nothing about either of these clubs, and I am tempted to pick Rice in honor of my friend The Owl, but I think I’ll go with Air Force.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl – 12/29
Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (7-4)
Hey…atleast these two teams both won 7 games and have winning records, so that’s an improvement, right?? I’d love nothing more than to support our military academies, but in this case I just think that the Sun Devils have played a tougher schedule and shouldn’t have any problems with the Midshipmen.
Music City Bowl – New Year’s Eve
North Carolina State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4)
I think most people have better things to do on New Year’s Eve than watch these two middle-of-the-road teams play in a middle-of-the-road bowl game. I do like NC St.’s QB Mike Glennon, who a lot of “experts” are saying has a decent shot to be a good NFL quarterback. That’s enough for me to give the Wolfpack the nod.
Liberty Bowl – New Year’s Eve
Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3)
The records are probably a little misleading. Tulsa won 10 games but plays in C-USA. Iowa St. plays in the much tougher Big 12. I’ll take the Cyclones in what I guess would be considered an upset.
Sun Bowl – New Year’s Eve
Georgia Tech (6-7) vs. USC (7-5)
Can someone please explain to me why in the world a team with a LOSING record is being allowed to play in a bowl game?? This is especially aggravating when one considers the fact that a 9-3 Louisiana Tech team did not receive any kind of bowl invite and will be home for the holidays. That is insane and it’s just plain wrong. I know this season hasn’t exactly turned out the way the folks at Southern Cal had hoped (they were pre-season #1 in many polls), and the final insult is being forced to play an opponent with such an atrocious record. The only thing that can make this right is the Trojans winning this game in a h-u-g-e way.
Compass Bowl – 1/5
Pitt (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6)
Let me restate my annual joke about this bowl: Shouldn’t the game pit two directional schools against one another?? Anyway, as a lifelong WV Mountaineer fan I cannot in good conscience cheer for the hated Pitt Panthers, which works out just fine since they suck anyway. I’ll take Ole Miss in this one.
GoDaddy.com Bowl – 1/6
Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3)
I hate this bowl game on a multitude of levels, not the least of which is the fact that it usually (and this year is no exception) features two teams that absolutely no one gives a damn about nearly a week after the season should have been over and all anyone is concentrating on is the following day’s National Championship Game. That being said, I suppose the smart play is to pick Kent to win handily.
Poinsettia Bowl – 12/20
BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)
The Cougars acquitted themselves quite nicely as an independent, with victories over…well, okay…they didn’t actually beat anyone of note, but they did garner 7 victories. The Aztecs defeated both Boise St. and Nevada, which is impressive. However, I am nothing if not loyal, and since I had BYU in my pre-season Top 25 I am going to stick with them here.
New Orleans Bowl – 12/22
Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) vs. East Carolina (8-4)
Here we have two teams that don’t receive much recognition because of the subpar conferences in which they play and the mostly weak schedules they have, but two teams that I guarantee you few schools would want to face as out-of-conference opponents. This should be a high scoring, fun game. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and something wacky will happen like they’ll go into 5 overtimes. The Pirates were another one of my pre-season Top 25 picks that didn’t quite go as well as I’d hoped, but I’ll pick them anyway.
New Mexico Bowl – 12/15
Nevada (7-5) vs. Arizona (7-5)
Now this should be a fun game to watch. It seems like both of these teams are better than their records would indicate, they’ve just been inconsistent. I don’t really want to cheer for a team coached by that assclown Rich Fraudriguez, but as much as I like the Wolfpack the Wildcats have a better resume and have been battle tested in a better conference. Arizona is the pick.
Holiday Bowl – 12/27
Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4)
This is the game that West Virginia fans were hoping the Mountaineers would land in. Instead the powers-that-be chose Baylor. Ah well…c’est la vie. I think the Bruins are clearly the better team, and I’d be surprised if they didn’t win.
Independence Bowl – 12/28
Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4)
At first glance this looks like a completely forgettable matchup. However, I have seen both of these teams play a couple of times this season and something tells me this’ll be a really fun game. It isn’t as if these are two teams that just broke even and barely got into the post-season…they are both 8 win teams. I really like what coach Frank Solich has done with the Bobcats, although I am concerned that they come into this contest in the midst of a 3 game losing streak. Conversely, not only are the Warhawks riding a 2 game winning streak, but they have an impressive resume, having played both Auburn & Baylor extremely tough in close losses. It’s a real toss-up, but I’ll go with Ohio U.
Pinstripe Bowl – 12/29
Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5)
Most Mountaineer fans aren’t the least bit excited about this game. It was bad enough that a potential national championship run and a legitimate Heisman candidacy for QB Geno Smith were derailed by a 5 game midseason swoon due to an atrocious defense, but once things got back on track rumors had the Eers headed to either the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. Then this game entered the picture and the rumor became a possible revival of The Backyard Brawl against Pitt. Unfortunately Panther fans don’t even bother to fill Heinz Field during the season let alone travel to a bowl game, so now a season once filled with so much promise for WVU ends against Syracuse in New York in December. Most of the time I’d rather receive a Brazilian wax from a blind transvestite than watch any game involving Syracuse. Geno, offensive spark plug Tavon Austin, & WR Stedman Bailey deserved so much better than this. I’ll be disappointed if West Virginia doesn’t hang damn near 100 points on the Orange and win by 50 points.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl – 12/29
Michigan State (6-6) vs. TCU (7-5)
Ehhh…more mediocrity from two teams who have certainly had better years. This is the old Copper Bowl, which then became the Insight Bowl. It is played in Arizona, which means TCU will probably have more fans there. So I guess I’ll go with the Horned Frogs.
Chick-fil-A Bowl – New Year’s Eve
LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2)
I like Chick-fil-A a lot, but being a traditionalist I would prefer that this game go back to being known as the Peach Bowl. Anyway, these are two solid teams and we should be treated to a great game. I think LSU is the better club though since they are battle tested in the ultra tough SEC, while Clemson plays in the somewhat less impressive ACC.
Heart of Dallas – New Year’s Day
Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5)
This is the new kid on the bowl block, having first been played in 2011. It was known then as the TicketCity Bowl. When I was a kid New Year’s Day games were reserved for the very best teams. I guess those days are gone. Anyway, I don’t think the Cowboys should have any problem winning this game.
Gator Bowl – New Year’s Day
Northwestern (9-3) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)
Two solid teams that were battled tested in good conferences. This might be a real sleeper insofar as it’ll probably be overlooked amid all the other games with bigger names, but it has the potential to steal the show. I’ll go with the Wildcats to get the victory.
Sugar Bowl – 1/2
Florida (11-1) vs. Louisville (10-2)
This is going to be a better game than most people think, but as much as I like Louisville there is no doubt that the Gators play a much tougher schedule and have a lot more talent. Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong was the leading candidate for the Tennessee coaching position but decided to stay put, which is commendable. I am very tempted to pick an upset, but I just can’t pull the trigger. I don’t think it will be a blowout, but I do expect Florida to win.
Orange Bowl – New Year’s Day
Florida St. (11-2) vs. Northern Illinois (12-1)
Lots of talking heads have had their knickers in a twist about this game. They tend to view college football as an exclusive club where the only teams that count are Notre Dame, the SEC, the Big Ten, the Pac 12, and maybe half the teams from the ACC & Big 12. Northern Illinois is looked at as an outsider that doesn’t belong in the club. Are the Seminoles bigger, faster, stronger, and more athletic?? To a large degree yes they are. But I do think that the Huskies deserve a little more respect than they are getting. Having said that, I think Florida St wins & wins big.
National Championship Game – 1/7
Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1)
99% of football fans in America are beyond excited about this game. For probably the only time in my life I am actually in the 1%. You see, I am an underdog kind of guy. I need a little guy, a lovable loser type to root for. There is no such animal in this matchup. These are two of the elite programs in the history of college football, with something like 27 national championships between them. This is the Tide’s 3rd title game in 4 years. Notre Dame is back on top for the first time since 1988-89. I have searched deeply for something to cheer about here, and the two things that I’ve come up with are…stunningly…in Notre Dame’s favor. First of all, I have been truly impressed with Irish linebacker Manti Te’o. He seems like a genuinely good guy and someone very deserving of his accolades. Secondly, as most citizens of the Manoverse know, I am a big fan of ESPN’s Mike & Mike in the Morning (back to back Sammy Award winner for Best TV Show). Mike Golic’s two sons Mike Jr. & Jake are both seniors for Notre Dame. It doesn’t seem likely that either will follow their father’s or their uncle Bob Golic’s footsteps into the NFL, so this is it for them. Knowing how great it’d be for the Golics to win this game makes me smile ever so slightly, enough to…for probably the first & last time in my life…pull for the Irish.
Alamo Bowl – 12/29
Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3)
I wish West Virginia were playing in this game, but I have to admit that they ended up with quite a good matchup. Both of these teams showed flashes during the season but were just inconsistent. I think this’ll be a shootout with the Beavers coming out on top.
Capital One Bowl – New Year’s Day
Georgia (11-2) vs. Nebraska (10-3)
This is the old Tangerine Bowl which then became the Florida Citrus Bowl. I am loathe to comment on a game actually named after a credit card, but I’ll ignore the sudden tics I am experiencing a forge ahead. Georgia was THIS close to beating Alabama and making it to the title game, but had an inexplicable brain fart. Nebraska got pasted in the Big Ten championship by Wisconsin and lost out on an opportunity to go to The Rose Bowl. So neither team is playing where they’d really prefer to be playing. This isn’t necessarily a bad consolation prize though, and fans should be the big winners. I think Nebraska is a decent team, but they were exposed on several fronts by Wisconsin. Georgia might have an eye on a pre-season 2013 Top 5 ranking if they win this game, so I’ll go with the Bulldogs.
Outback Bowl – New Year’s Day
South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4)
I really thought these teams would have better seasons. I had both in my pre-season top 3. There is no doubt in my mind that this will be an extremely entertaining game to watch, chockfull of big plays and touchdowns. On paper the Gamecocks clearly look like the better team, but the vibes are speaking to me again and saying to pick Michigan. And of course I always listen to The Voices.
Cotton Bowl – 1/4
Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (10-2)
The Aggies acquitted themselves quite nicely in their inaugural SEC season, even beating then #1 ‘Bama. Freshman QB Johnny Manziel has taken the college football world by storm. Meanwhile, the Sooners actually had higher hopes. There are very few teams in America for whom a 10 win season is a disappointment, but Oklahoma is one of them. It’ll be interesting to see how Johnny Football does against the Sooner defense. Can he duplicate the results he produced against the Tide?? I’d love to see that, and I think it just might happen. I’m going with A&M in a squeaker.
Rose Bowl – New Year’s Day
Stanford (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (8-5)
Yikes…has an 8 win team ever played in The Granddaddy?? Thanks to the…indiscretions…at Penn St. & Ohio St. the Badgers got the opportunity to play in the Big Ten title game and took full advantage by blasting Nebraska. Meanwhile Stanford plugged right along with another stellar season even after losing QB Andrew Luck to the NFL. I suppose Wisconsin can’t be completely discounted given what they accomplished to get here, but I don’t think they can do that two games in a row, especially since their head coach just bolted to Arkansas. Stanford should win easily.
Fiesta Bowl – 1/3
Kansas St. (11-1) vs. Oregon (11-1)
This should have been the national championship game. These are two of the most exciting teams on the college football landscape, and if not for the Wildcats shocking stumble against Baylor and Oregon’s overtime loss to Stanford they’d be playing for the big trophy. If the 4 team playoff that begins in a couple of years were already in place one or both teams would almost certainly be in it. Alas, there is no use looking ahead or crying over spilled milk. The winner here will probably finish #2 in the final poll, which is a fine accomplishment. I expect a high scoring affair so if you’re the betting kind the over is probably a safe pick. At the end of the day I think Oregon’s speed will be just a bit too much for K-St., and I expect the Ducks to have the edge in special teams as well. Oregon will win, but it’ll be close and loads of fun.