This week, the bowl season starts, so I have gone with a non-BCS bowls theme for the musings.
1. Proving Ground. The Cotton Bowl provides more than an intriguing match up. It will be a proving ground. Texas A&M was surging to end the year. The Aggies were actively seeking an invitation to the SEC last summer. Beat LSU and they strengthen their cause. LSU got tripped up on it way to an at-large BCS bid. Each team has a chance to stake its claim for best team left out.
2. Make or Break. The Gator Bowl will go a long way to making or breaking each teams’ seasons. Rich Rodriguez could secure his job with a solid win number 8 over an SEC opponent. Or, the Michigan coaching staff could be broken up with Rich Rod getting fired. Mississippi State would move to 9 wins in their breakout year. It would be the most wins by Mississippi State since 1999.
3. No Business Playing. I bet you are thinking of the 6-6 teams. Well, that is not what I am referring to. The four bowl games from January 6-9 have no business being played so late. They should be moved back to January 1 or earlier. None of these four are BCS bowls. All you get is more rust on the players waiting so long to play. The fun and excitement of the bowls dies significantly after New Year's Day.
4. The Bowl Apologists Dream. The New Mexico Bowl is the perfect pairing of 6-6 teams for those who love to argue for bowls being a reward for the players and all the other rhetoric. UTEP is in a bowl for the first time in 5 years. Do you think they are excited? Do you think they won’t be playing their hearts out for the first winning season ever for 100% of the players on the roster? BYU was 1-4 and desperate for signs of life, to say nothing for a win. The Cougars have finished the season hot and want to have a winning season as well, especially after giving away the final game of the season to nationally ranked Utah.
5. Trains passing in the night. Boise State and Utah meet in the Las Vegas Bowl like two trains passing in the night. Boise State is joining the MWC next year while Utah is leaving that conference for the new Pac-12. It is a preview of what might have been.
6. No Fly Zone. The Independence Bowl has been grounded. With two option offenses squaring off (Air Force and Georgia Tech), be sure to keep your eyes at ground level. Both teams are sure to keep the ball on the ground. We just might have our first sub two hour game in ages.
7. Playing with the big boys now. Central Florida (Liberty Bowl vs. Georgia), Nevada (Kraft Fight Hunger vs. Boston College), Air Force (Independence vs. Georgia Tech), Southern Mississippi (St. Petersburg vs. Louisville), and East Carolina (Military vs. Maryland) all have one more opportunity to play against a member of one of the BCS AQ conferences. Interestingly, all of these bowl games look winnable by the non-AQ team.
8. What were they thinking? The Holiday Bowl picked a rematch of one of the ugliest games this season. Nebraska vs. Washington. Add to it that Nebraska blew out Arizona 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl last year. Not exactly what we are told bowl execs look for when making match ups. This does not have any interest to fans outside these two teams. It doesn’t promise to be an exciting game that goes down to the wire.
9. Staying home for the holidays. Usually the bowls represent a holiday get away. The opposite is true this year for several bowl participants. San Diego State, Maryland, Hawaii, Toledo, SMU, Tennessee, and Florida are all playing in their home stadium or very, very close to their campuses.
10. Redemption. The Iowa Hawkeyes took a trip out to Arizona in September, and it was a disaster. Iowa lost its first game of the season. They rebounded following that game, but they ended the season on a three game losing skid. They can redeem themselves, a little, with a win on their second trip to Arizona for the Insight Bowl. They face a good Missouri team. Of course, being without running backs Jewel Hampton and Adam Robinson will make it much more difficult.