Friday, December 18, 2009

MPF004 Handicaps the Bowls

Starting tomorrow, the bowl season begins. It is a nice wrap-up to the football season, even if the slate has gotten horribly bloated in the last few years. 34 bowls? 68 of 120 teams are going bowling this winter? Remember when being a "bowl team" mattered?

This expansion has a price--most of these games are going to be really boring. To save you the time and energy, I've graded out the bowl matchups so you know which ones are worth your time:
  • Yawn
  • Mild Interest
  • Moderate Interest
  • High Interest
with two additional categories:
  • the Schadenfreude games
  • the one I'll actually attend.
And I'll even give you a reason to watch, even the yawners.

YAWN: (N=15)

Dec. 19 New Mexico Wyoming (6-6) vs. Fresno State (8-4)
Reason to Watch: It's the first game of the season. Pat Hill has no fear, bordering on batshit insane (in other words, a 7 on the Zooker Scale).
MPF004 Sez: Go finish Christmas shopping.

(Notice how many of these damn bowls can't even come up with a decent title sponsor? No one in the entire Land of Enchantment wants to put their fricking name on the New Mexico Bowl? C'mon, it can't be that expensive. Dale's Bug Exterminator Bowl? Jimmy's Barber Shop? The carpet and tile store on 4th Street?)

Dec. 20 New Orleans Middle Tennessee State (9-3) vs. Southern Miss (7-5)
Reason to Watch: To find out who or what R Plus L Carriers is. You'll find out at the first commercial break, and then over, and over, and over...
MPF004 Sez: Middle Tennessee Tech Whatever beat the Turtles. Is that meaningful?

M.T.T.W. Fears Not the Turtle

Dec. 22 Maaco Las Vegas Oregon State (8-4) vs. BYU (10-2)Reason to Watch: This shapes up to be a fun matchup of strong offenses, which means a whole buncha touchdowns. And when two teams you don't give a shit about are playing before Christmas, you want to see a whole buncha touchdowns. Also: Pick Six points on the line.
MPF004 Sez: BYU, if only for the points.

Dec. 24 Hawaii Nevada (8-4) vs. SMU (7-5)
Reason to Watch: To see if anyone gives a crap this year since Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame won't be in it (answer: no).
MPF004 Sez: Spend time with your family.

Dec. 27 Music City Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-5)
Reason to Watch: C.J. Spiller is a pretty awesome running back. It's the only game on that night.
MPF004 Sez: See if there's an NFL game on.

I just know Steve, Andy and Jeremy are looking for a "bowling" reference. Here ya go.

Dec. 29 EagleBank UCLA (6-6) vs. Temple (9-3)
Reason to Watch: Pick Six points for UCLA. Okay, I know they won't make the Top 25 even with a blowout win. How about to see the inexplicable turnaround orchestrated by ex-Virginia failure Al Golden (as DC, not as head coach. That was Al Groh).
MPF004 Sez: Temple got kinda good in the MAC, but they aren't ready for the big time.

Dec. 30 Humanitarian Idaho (7-5) vs. Bowling Green (7-5)
Reason to Watch: None. This is the one played on the blue turf. Spare your eyeballs.
MPF004 Sez: Read a book.

Dec. 31 Armed Forces Air Force (7-5) vs. Houston (10-3)
Reason to Watch: Lotsa points, I guess. Houston bores me.
MPF004 Sez: Air Force, just out of spite for hearing all year how good Houston is when they are not.

Dec. 31 Texas Missouri (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)
Reason to Watch: Bowls named after entire states tend to suck. This is no exception. I guess the reason to watch is Navy's triple option; it'll be a fun challenge to watch and good practice for scouting the Yellow Jackets in the Orange Bowl.
MPF004 Sez: Mizzou.

Jan. 1 Gator West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)
Reason to Watch: Noel Devine running wild. He's a poor man's Reggie Bush (or Joe McKnight) and damn fun to watch. And yes, I don't give a crap about Bobby Bowden's formal retirement. He's been disengaged from that program for years.
MPF004 Sez: A big WVa win that smothers the whole Bowden sentimentality angle.

Jan. 2 International South Florida (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5)
Reason to Watch: Football in Canada has an extra big field (plus the end zones are 15 yards deep I think), and offensive players are allowed to get a running start before the snap. Which team will take better advantage of these foreign rules?
MPF004 Sez: Wait a couple hours for a game in America to start.

I'm bearish on the Bulls.

Jan. 2 Liberty East Carolina (9-4) vs. Arkansas (7-5)
Reason to Watch: Honestly, I got nothing. Skip Holtz? No. Louisville reject Bobby Petrino and Michigan reject Ryan Mallett? Passing the time between the Cotton Bowl and the Alamo Bowl? Elvis impersonators?
MPF004 Sez: Take a nap.

The best Elvis sighting of all time.

Jan. 2 Cotton Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Mississippi (8-4)
Reason to Watch: The Diminished Expectations Bowl: Which program will be more crushed by the deflation of their preseason hopes?
MPF004 Sez: Go with Jevan Snead and crazy Houston Nutt over a crippled Zac Robinson and crazy Mike Gundy.

Jan. 4 Fiesta TCU (12-0) vs. Boise State (13-0)
Reason to Watch: For the same reason you look at the circus guy who bites the heads off chickens, or the beared lady at the midway.
MPF004 Sez: TCU is a far less shitty, far less illegitimate midmajor than the Smurf Turf.

Jan. 6 GMAC Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)
Reason to Watch: Your last chance to see Dan "The Fever" LaFever, the MAC version of Tim Tebow except he doesn't cry like a sissy girl when he loses the conference championship game, cause he doesn't lose his conference championship game as Bobcat fans can attest.
MPF004 Sez: Dan "The Fever" and all his teammates vs. one guy named Troy? I'll take the Fever.


Dec. 19 St. Petersburg Rutgers (8-4) vs. UCF (8-4)
Reason to Watch: Rrrrrutgers!! started out slow, but cranked it up late. Bowl games are usually fun when a team enters on a hot streak.
MPF004 Sez: Rutgers, I guess. I don't know a thing about Central Florida, or than it is actually located in Central Florida, unlike South Florida which is in Central Florida.

Dec. 23 Poinsettia Utah (9-3) vs. California (8-4)
Reason to Watch: This game lost a little luster when studly tailback Jahvid Best decided it would be Best (hah!) to sit this one out, due to a pesky concussion. But both these teams put in solid seasons and appear evenly matched.
MPF004 Sez: Without Best, I gotta think Utah has the edge.

Dec. 28 Independence Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)
Reason to Watch: To see two once-proud teams wish it was 2001-ish all over again.
MPF004 Sez: Georgia, I guess.

Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
Reason to Watch: The Chick-Fil-A commercials are pretty funny. We saw the Vols live at Neyland. We are friends with Miller. When the Vols win, he's happy.
MPF004 Sez: Sorry Miller. Tech tears apart a beleageured Tennessee team.

Oldtimers like me remember this used to be called the Peach Bowl.

Jan. 1 Outback Northwestern (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5)
Reason to Watch: a mini-Schadenfreude: a school coached by a guy that has hated Iowa since his playing days vs. a coach from a school that hates Iowa. It's something to soothe your hangover on New Year's Day.
MPF004 Sez: I'm torn between supporting the Big 10, and rooting for the meteor. Ahh, fuck that. Whoa Damn Eagle.

Jan. 1 Sugar Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)
Reason to Watch: None I can think of.
MPF004 Sez: Tebow will crush the Kelly-less Bearcats.

Jan. 2 Alamo Texas Tech (8-4) vs. Michigan State (6-6)
Reason to Watch: Pirate lunatic Mike Leach. An MSU team that lost painfully to my two teams in the final minute.
MPF004 Sez: Several Spartan players will be suspended due to a fight on campus. That tends to not bode well for teams.

Jan. 2 Connecticut (7-5) vs. South Carolina (7-5)
Reason to Watch: It's named after a web site. A web site for pizza. Also, we saw the Cocks last year vs. Iowa, and saw UConn vs. ND this year. It's hard not to feel for UConn after Jasper Howard was stabbed to death earlier this season. Jim Leavitt is a Hayden Fry guy and recently was accused of beating up a player.
MPF004 Sez: Root for UConn.


Dec. 31 Sun Stanford (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (7-5)
Reason to Watch: Two teams (programs even?) going in opposite directions. Oklahoma started out with national championship aspirations and fell spectacularly when Sam Bradford's right shoulder got crunched. Stanford ended up beating three ranked teams, helped get Charlie Weis fired and nearly got Toby Gerhart the Heisman.
Reason Not to Watch: Being on an airplane to Phoenix.
MPF004 Sez: Gerhart > Bradford's replacement.

Dec. 30 Holiday Nebraska (9-4) vs. Arizona (8-4)
Reason to Watch: The Holiday Bowl traditionally has been one of the best, if not THE best, December bowl. It usually pairs solid teams that probably deserve to play in January. Here we've got a Husker team that was one second away from the BCS and Arizona that figured it out after losing to Iowa.
MPF004 Sez: I like Pelini.

For Kelly.

Dec. 26 Meineke Car Care North Carolina (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (9-3)
Reason to Watch: The Wannstache was within seconds of a BCS bid. Will the Panthers come out flat, or try to prove they are better than this bowl? It's also a matchup of 2008 and 2009 ND opponents, so you know these teams.
MPF004 Sez: the 'Stache.

Last chance of the year to run this picture.

Dec. 29 Champs Sports Miami (Fla.) (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
Reason to Watch: To see Wisky take out its aggression at being passed over by nerds for a Jan. 1 bowl. To support the Big 10.
MPF004 Sez: I'm supporting the Big 10 here.

Jan. 1 Capital One Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3)
Reason to Watch: Big 10 pride (even if it is the Johnny Come Lately of the conference) vs. Esss-Eeee-Seee speed.
MPF004 Sez: Should be fun to watch. Penn St. has been damn good against non-Iowa teams on its schedule the past two years. LSU has ballsy/batshit Les Miles (6.5 on the Zooker Scale). I'll take PSU in a mild upset.


Dec. 26 Emerald Boston College (8-4) vs. Southern California (8-4)
Reason to Watch: The possibility of a meteor wiping out both teams that hate Notre Dame with the passion of a thousand suns. Barring the meteor thing, someone you hate will lose a football game in a baseball park.
MPF004 Sez: Root for the meteor.

Dec. 31 Insight Minnesota (6-6) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
Reason to Watch: The possibility of a meteor wiping out both teams that hate Iowa with the passion of a thousand suns. Barring the meteor thing, someone you hate will lose a football game in a bowl formerly played in a baseball park.
MPF004 Sez: Root for the meteor.

He was inconsolable.

Dec. 26 Little Caesars Ohio (9-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)
Reason to Watch: Cause I'll be in the stands.
MPF004 Sez: Marshall picked bad-ass named Doc Holiday as their new coach. But I still like Frank and the Cats despite their being 0-2 when I'm present (I guess I'm the opposite luck of TM at Iowa games?)


Jan. 1 Rose Oregon (10-2) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
Reason to Watch: It's the Rose Bowl! Beyond tradition, if you need a reason to care about the game, you've got The Ohio State carrying the banner of the Big Ten against the new standard bearer of the Pac 10. LaGarrett Blount, the dude who punched a guy in the face and yet was reinstated to the team, will play for the Ducks. Pick Six points on the line.
MPF004 Sez: At risk of being a homer, I think TOSU wins.

Jan. 5 Orange Georgia Tech (11-2) vs. Iowa (10-2)
Reason to Watch: The oh-so-close-to-being Big Ten Champions vs. the oh-so-close-to-not-being Almost Competent Conference Champions. The triple option vs. the Angerer. Stanzi being the Manzi, Johnathan Dwyer being whatever the hell he is that doesn't rhyme with his last name. Easily the most exciting non-championship bowl of the season. Unfortunately, I do have Georgia Tech in the Pick Six.

Jan. 7 BCS Title Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0)
Reason to Watch: I'm really excited about this game. Some people think Texas lucked out, or that Bama is so supremely dominant. I think that Texas is better than people think. Also: Pick Six points.
MPF004 Sez: Back in August, I picked Texas as my top Pick Six team because I thought Colt McCoy would win the Heisman and Texas would win the national championship. Ironically, I was very tempted to pick Bama, because I felt they were best suited to win the championship, but couldn't do it for ethical reasons. So I'm with Texas.

For Paulette.


Scott Mortimer said...

This is one of the few football related articles that I enjoyed. MPF-penned or otherwise. Well done!

Just what is the Zooker Scale?

And that MSU Spartan photo...was taken at a minor league baseball game. The West Michigan Whitecaps.

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