Bowl Games 2010: Ranking All 35 Bowl Games, Part 1 (35-11)
This particular bowl season seems rather dull.
The BCS matchups don't seem as appetizing as some of the ones in the past. The New Year's Day games don't have me drooling. My bowl favorites such as the Holiday Bowl, Alamo Bowl and Sun Bowl are just bad.
Could it be that there are now definitely too many bowl games? ABSOLUTELY. The NCAA sweated it out until the end. For a while it looked like the 70 bowl slots would not be filled. In the end, there were 72 bowl eligible teams.
Then again, my beloved Temple Owls were left out. Western Michigan was the other team not selected to a bowl.
Greed is the biggest problem.
So many entities make money from more bowl games: television networks, cities, conferences, universities and coaches. As the demand continues to climb, the bowl season will continue to become more and more diluted.
Anyway, I've ranted long enough—let's get to the games!
35. Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Toledo (8-4) Vs. Florida International (6-6)
It's the first of three MAC vs. Sun Belt showdowns.
Florida International, the Sun Belt champs, makes its first bowl appearance in school history.
Toledo wide receiver Eric Page caught 94 balls for 1,081 yards and eight touchdowns.
34. New Orleans Bowl: Ohio (8-4) Vs. Troy (7-5)
Troy is the powerhouse program of the Sun Belt. This is its third consecutive bowl appearance.
Heading into its last regular season game, Ohio had a shot to win the MAC East if it could just take care of Kent State. The Bobcats lost 28-6, snapping their seven-game winning streak.
33. GoDaddy.com Bowl: Miami (OH) (9-4) Vs. Middle Tennessee State (6-6)
Miami of Ohio had arguably the greatest turnaround of any team this season. This squad was 1-11 last year. They capped off their magical ride with a 26-21 upset win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game.
As for Middle Tennessee State, just watch quarterback Dwight Dasher. He's electrifying.
32. New Mexico Bowl: BYU (6-6) Vs. UTEP (6-6)
After six consecutive years in the Las Vegas Bowl, BYU has a new bowl destination. It was a down year for the Cougars as they steadily brought along standout freshman quarterback Jake Heaps.
UTEP stumbled down the stretch, losing five of its last six games.
31. Armed Forces Bowl: SMU (7-6) Vs. Army (7-5/6-6)
What's up with this bowl game always wanting a huge contrast in styles? The last two years, the high-powered passing attack of Houston took on the triple option attack of Air Force.
Now it's the high-powered Run N Shoot passing attack of SMU taking on the triple option attack of Army.
How about what SMU head coach June Jones has done thus far turning the Mustang program around? Incredible.
Army is ninth in the country in rushing.
30. St. Petersburg Bowl: Southern Mississippi (8-4) Vs. Louisville (6-6)
Out of all the first-year head coaches at their respective new schools, arguably the best job was done by Charlie Strong at Louisville.
The former Florida defensive coordinator has completely turned the defense around. They rank 15th in scoring defense, allowing 18.7 points a game. They gave up 371.1 yards and 26.3 points per game last season.
Hopefully for Southern Miss, wide receiver DeAndre Brown will get a chance to play. Brown has battled a leg injury all season long. This is the same receiver who suffered that brutal-looking broken leg two years ago in the 2008 New Orleans Bowl.
29. Military Bowl: Maryland (8-4) Vs. East Carolina (6-6)
Maryland, 2-10 last year, had the second biggest turnaround of any team in the FBS. Quarterback Danny O'Brien won the ACC Rookie of the Year award. He's a solid game manager.
The Terps' best weapon is wide receiver Torrey Smith. He caught 65 balls for 1,045 yards and 12 touchdowns.
East Carolina has the fourth leading passer in college football. Dominique Davis has 3,699 yards passing.
28. TicketCity Bowl: Northwestern (7-5) Vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
With Northwestern quarterback Dan Persa injuring his Achilles, the appeal to this game has drastically declined.
Tommy Tuberville gets Texas Tech to a bowl game in his first season as coach.
27. Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois (10-3) Vs. Fresno State (8-4)
After two tough consecutive bowl losses in the New Mexico Bowl, Fresno State goes back to the blue turf where it last won a bowl game in 2007.
Northern Illinois comes off a crushing loss in the MAC title game. They are led by dynamic running back Chad Spann. Spann rushed for 1,293 yards and 20 touchdowns.
26. Meineke Car Care Bowl: South Florida (7-5) Vs. Clemson (6-6)
The main reason to watch this game is to watch Da'Quan Bowers. He is a stud at defensive end for Clemson and a future first-round NFL draft pick.
South Florida won seven games just like every year, but this year they didn't start 5-0 and collapse down the stretch.
25. Hawai'i Bowl: No. 24 Hawaii (10-3) Vs. Tulsa (9-3)
Points will be scored. Both teams rank in the top 10 in total offense.
Hawaii has two wide receivers with over 1,000 yards receiving in Greg Salas (106 catches for 1,675 yards and 12 touchdowns) and Kealoha Pilares (88 catches, 1,306 yards and 15 touchdowns).
Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne has 3,307 yards passing and 28 touchdowns.
24. Music City Bowl: North Carolina (7-5) Vs. Tennessee (6-6)
North Carolina was a trendy preseason pick to win the ACC until several starters were suspended due to NCAA infractions.
Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn, Bruce Carter, Quan Sturdivant, Kendric Burney and Charles Brown were all ruled ineligible, therefore dashing any chances of an ACC crown.
Tennessee rallied to win its last four games to become bowl eligible, a nice turnaround for first-year coach Derek Dooley.
23. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: No. 15 Nevada (12-1) Vs. Boston College (7-5)
Not to take anything away from Boston College, but I would've liked to see Nevada play a more formidable opponent.
Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country. He's thrown for 2,830 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 1,184 yards and 20 touchdowns. Running back Vai Taua rushed for 1,534 yards and 19 touchdowns.
As a quarterback/running back pair, Kaepernick and Taua have rushed for the most yards in NCAA football history.
The story for Boston College is Mark Herzlich. Two years ago, he was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Last year, he fought for his life fighting cancer.
22. Pinstripe Bowl: Kansas State (7-5) Vs. Syracuse (7-5)
It's a battle of two of the more underrated running backs in the country.
Kansas State's Daniel Thomas is one of the best running backs in the country, and I'm sure many casual fans have never heard of this guy. Thomas has rushed for 1,495 yards and 16 touchdowns. He averages 5.4 yards a carry.
Syracuse's Delone Carter rushed for 1,035 yards and seven touchdowns.
21. Poinsettia Bowl: Navy (9-3/8-4) Vs. San Diego State (8-4)
This is one of the more underrated games of the bowl season.
Navy's football program just continues to get better and better each season. They've made seven consecutive bowl appearances. They're led by quarterback Ricky Dobbs.
San Diego State is in a bowl game for the first time since 1998, and they get to play the game in their home stadium. Quarterback Ryan Lindley is an NFL prospect. He's thrown for 3,554 yards and 26 touchdowns.
The Aztecs boast a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson.
20. Independence Bowl: Air Force (8-4) Vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
I feel like I'm looking forward to this game a little bit more than a normal fan. This is old school, triple option football at it's finest.
Statistically they are the two best rushing attacks in the country. Georgia Tech is first, followed by Air Force.
This game features a quarterback duel between Joshua Nesbitt of Georgia Tech and Tim Jefferson of Air Force. Nesbitt is hoping to return after breaking his arm earlier in the year against Virginia Tech.
19. BBVA Compass Bowl: Pittsburgh (7-5) Vs. Kentucky (6-6)
Pittsburgh continues to knock on the BCS door year in and year out, but ultimately it keeps coming up short.
There's a lot of solid individual talent on both teams.
Pittsburgh features running back Dion Lewis, wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin and defensive end Jabaal Sheard. Lewis comes off an outstanding game against Cincinnati. He carried the ball 42 times for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
Kentucky has one of the most versatile players in the country in Randall Cobb.
18. Texas Bowl: Baylor (7-5) Vs Illinois (6-6)
Baylor will try to right the ship after starting the season 7-2 and earning a Top 25 ranking.
Bears quarterback Robert Griffin III is the Big 12's version of Cam Newton. He's one of the most exciting players to watch in the country.
Illinois has an exciting player in its own right in running back Mikel LeShoure. He rushed for an astounding 330 yards in the Wrigley Field Classic against Northwestern.
17. Liberty Bowl: No. 25 Central Florida (10-3) Vs. Georgia (6-6)
It's amazing that Central Florida's first bowl appearance in school history was only five years ago in 2005.
The Knights, led by wide receiver Brandon Marshall, lost to Nevada in overtime 49-48 in the Hawaii Bowl. Kicker Matt Prater, now with the Denver Broncos, missed an extra point in overtime to give Nevada the win.
For the second consecutive season, Georgia had a down year. They destroyed Texas A&M 44-20 in last year's Independence Bowl, so don't expect the Dawgs to have a letdown in the bowl game. Mark Richt won't let that happen.
In all likelihood, this will be the last game for Georgia junior wide receiver A.J. Green. If he comes out, he's projected to be the No. 1 wide receiver taken in the NFL draft.
16. Las Vegas Bowl: No. 11 Boise State (11-1) Vs. No. 19 Utah (10-2)
I'd rank this a bit higher if Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn was playing.
It will be interesting to see how Boise State comes out in this one after its heartbreaking loss to Nevada.
All in all, this game matches two of the best non-AQ teams of the past decade.
15. Holiday Bowl: No. 18 Nebraska (10-3) Vs. Washington (6-6)
If these two teams wouldn't have met already, I think I'd be a little bit more excited about this one. I'd want to see how Jake Locker would fare against, in my opinion, the best secondary in college football.
On September 18th, the Huskers dominated the Huskies 56-21. Locker was just 4-of-20 for 71 yards.
14. Sun Bowl: Miami (FL) (7-5) Vs. Notre Dame (7-5)
These are two of the most storied programs in college football. It will be interesting to see what a win in this game will do moving forward into next season.
Miami crumbled down the stretch, and head coach Randy Shannon was fired. Quarterback Jacory Harris never lived up to lofty expectations, as he continually turned the ball over until getting injured.
Notre Dame played better down the stretch after a home loss to Tulsa. They won their final three games of the season.
13. Alamo Bowl: No. 14 Oklahoma State (10-2) Vs. Arizona (7-5)
Mike Gundy is starting to build something special at Oklahoma State.
After the departures of quarterback Zac Robinson and wide receiver Dez Bryant, the Cowboys just shrugged that off and plugged in Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. All Blackmon's done is catch 102 balls for 1,665 yards and 18 touchdowns so far this season.
What in the heck happened to Arizona? After starting the year 7-1, the Wildcats lost their final four games of the season.
12. Gator Bowl: No. 21 Mississippi State (7-5) Vs. Michigan (7-5)
It's a battle of the spread offenses as quarterbacks Chris Relf of Mississippi State and Denard Robinson of Michigan square off.
The difference in this one will be the defenses. The Bulldogs have one—the Wolverines don't.
11. Champs Sports Bowl: No. 22 West Virginia (9-3) Vs. North Carolina St. (8-4)
These are two teams who could easily be playing in the BCS.
West Virginia came on hot a little bit too late in the year. They won their last four games when they needed to win their last five.
If North Carolina State would've beaten Maryland in their season finale, they would've played Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship Game.
I hope to get part two of my rankings done later tonight or tomorrow morning.
I also plan on making my predictions for all the games later on this week.
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