2010 Bowl Season: The Top Five Non-BCS Bowls To Watch
The season is upon us again, Bowl Season.
A chance for you to wake up on a nice December day at let's say around two o'clock, turn on ESPN to find Idaho playing Bowling Green in the Humanitarian Bowl and not even realize you are about to be stunned in a shootout where the Vandals of Idaho end up going for two to win it 43-42.
Or then again it could be a cold December night when you're sitting on your couch thinking, Oregon St. is going to crush BYU in the Las Vegas Bowl, only to watch the Cougars stomp on the Beavers 44-20.
Every year we sit around and complain about how there needs to be a playoff (which I obviously believe is true), when we end up watching all 35 Bowl Games and enjoy every last minute of them. Do we really want to lose these games? Hopefully not, but sooner or later we're going to need a playoff.
But I digress. I now bring you my second edition of the top five non-BCS Bowls to watch this glorious season.
Others Worth Watching
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I should really put all the Bowls on here, because it's the ones you don't expect to be exciting that usually are the best ones. These aren't the top five, but don't miss them.
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl ESPN2 Shreveport, LA. December 27, 5 PM
Air Force (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
Two option oriented offenses face off for a ground attack like none you have ever seen.
Champs Sports Bowl ESPN Orlando, FLA. December 28, 6:30 PM
West Virginia (9-3) vs. NC State (8-4)
Under the radar quarterbacks Russel Wilson and Geno Smith will be the key matchup in this game.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl ESPN Bronx, NY. December 30, 3:20 PM
Kansas State (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5)
It's a Bowl game in Yankee Stadium, come on now you know you're going to tune in, unless you're a Red Sox fan.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl ESPN San Diego, CA. December 30, 10 PM
Nebraska (10-3) vs. Washington (6-6)
Thanks to Stanford and Oregon's great seasons, the Huskies of UW get to play in a more high-profile bowl and get a chance for revenge against Nebraska, who made them look silly in their own stadium, crushing them 56-21 earlier this year.
Hyundai Sun Bowl CBS El Paso, TX. December 31, 2 PM
Notre Dame (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5)
An old rivalry renewed as a coach-less Miami squad takes on a hot Notre Dame team.
Outback Bowl ABC Tampa, FLA. January 1, 1 PM
Florida (7-5) vs. Penn State (7-5)
Big time programs having not so big time seasons. A chance to finish strong and get ready to come back firing next year.
Chick Fil-A Bowl ESPN Atlanta, GA. December 31st. 7:30 PM
South Carolina (9-4) vs. Florida State (9-4)
Both teams were a game away from the BCS and stunned in the conference Championship games. Now is the time to take out the frustrations.
Gator Bowl ESPN2 Jacksonville, FLA. January 1, 1:30 PM
Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Michigan (7-5)
Roller coaster seasons for both underrated teams, a chance to go out with a bang.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl ESPN San Francisco, CA. January 9, 9 PM
Nevada (12-1) vs. Boston College (7-5)
The night before the big game you can watch the team that shocked the world by beating Boise State take on just another decent ACC team. See if the Eagles can stick with them.
5. Insight Bowl: No. 12 Missouri (10-2) vs. Iowa (7-5)
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ESPN, Tempe, Arizona. December 28, 10:00 PM
Despite the Tigers being 10-2 and ranked in the top 15 of the BCS, they are only favored by one point in this game. It goes to show that Iowa still gets a lot of love despite their 7-5 season.
A very tough schedule set back the Hawkeyes this year, having played at Arizona, Penn St., Wisconsin, Michigan St., and Ohio St. But they are still a very tough team and will absolutely have a good shot at beating Missouri in the Insight Bowl.
It will be a battle of two solid quarterbacks who both look like they will be playing on Sunday in Ricky Stanzi and Blaine Gabbert. Both teams will rely on their arms as they each have thrown for over 2,500 yards and over 15 touchdowns.
Both quarterbacks will be looking at their go to guys to make big plays. For Gabbert, it's TJ Moe who has 77 catches for 893 yards. For Stanzi, with the loss of Derrell Johnson-Koulianos due to other matters, it will have to be Marvin McNutt who makes the plays, which he has been doing all year with 51 receptions 798 yards and 8 touchdowns.
I look for a back and forth game, but look for a big play on the defensive side to win the game in the end.
4. Valero Alamo Bowl: No. 14 Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)
Missouri Tigers Football
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
ESPN, San Antonio, Texas. December 29, 9:15 PM
A very similar game to the Insight Bowl. A higher ranked team with a better record takes on a tough team who had a rough season due to a difficult schedule. But that is why we have the bowls—for teams like Arizona at 7-5 to go out strong and show the world just how good it is.
The Cowboys are the favorite and have a passing attack unlike any other in the nation. Quarterback Brandon Weeden is third in the nation in passing yardage with over 4,000 and fifth in the nation in touchdowns with 32. Their star receiver, Justin Blackmon, is the second leading receiver in the nation with over 1,600 yards and first in the nation in touchdowns with 18.
But enough about them, what about Arizona? Well, a rough finish for the Wildcats as two missed extra points doomed them against their arch rival Arizona State certainly never helps going into Bowl Season—or maybe it will. Maybe Nick Foles and Arizona's passing attack can match the Cowboys point for point, or maybe the Wildcats will fall hard like they did a year ago losing to Nebraska 33-0 in the Holiday Bowl. Either way, Arizona will fight and I look for a high scoring shootout.
3. Capital One Bowl: No. 16 Alabama (9-3) vs. No. 9 Michigan State (11-1)
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ESPN, Orlando, Florida. January 1, 1:00 PM
This bowl made my list a year ago, as it always provides for a great battle between a solid SEC team and a pretty good Big Ten team. A year ago it was Penn State surprisingly coming away with the victory over LSU. This year is a very good and angry Alabama team. And a very good Michigan State team that probably feels snubbed.
The Spartans are coming off a three-game win streak against three below average Big Ten teams. While Alabama lost two of it's last three SEC games—one in which it gave up a 24-7 lead to fall to National Championship contender Auburn.
Neither team was hoping for the Capital One Bowl, but they will be playing hard and will look to show the college football world why there needs to be a playoff.
Look for Alabama to come out hot but cool down as the Spartans make this a game.
2. AT&T Cotton Bowl: No. 11 LSU (10-2) vs. No. 17 Texas A&M (9-3)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
FOX, Arlington, Texas. January 7, 8:00 PM
We all know the Mad Hatter is going to pull out all the stops in this game, so what other reasons do you need to watch? The game is on a turf field so he won't be able to chew on his grass.
For the Tigers, they will be sticking with their hard nosed defense and their two quarterback offense to try and come out victorious in this game.
Mike Sherman coach of the Aggies has had similar quarterback issues. After Jerrod Johnson started the year things went south and receiver Ryan Tannehill took over and sparked a win streak including wins over Nebraska and Texas.
The quarterbacks are going to be a big part of this game, but it will be the running games from both teams that will be the deciding factor. Stevan Ridley had his coming out party this year for LSU, rushing for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns after rushing for just 180 yards in 2009. For the Aggies, Cyrus Gray has emerged as the workhorse, rushing for over 1,000 yards with 12 touchdowns.
The team that can mix the run and the pass, with a few tricks up its sleeves as well, will have the edge in this one.
1. MAACO Las Vegas Bowl: No. 10 Boise State (11-1) vs. No. 19 Utah (10-2)
ESPN, Las Vegas, Nevada. December 22, 8:00 PM
This may be a questionable number one game to watch, as many may think Boise State will blow them out of the stadium just like TCU did. But I don't think that will be the case. The Utes had their little two game skid, but after winning two in a row they look pretty solid heading into this game.
It will be a battle of two teams that could have shaken up the BCS had the gone undefeated, but didn't quite get it done this year. Both squads have had two BCS Bowls in their school's history and had a little more in mind than the Las Vegas Bowl this year, but it will make for a great game.
Utah will be without quarterback Jordan Wynn due to shoulder surgery, but with a few weeks to prepare and some game experience here and there, backup Terrance Cain will do just fine as he is 9-1 as Utah's starter. I think the Utes have a very good chance considering the Broncos were hoping for a BCS Bowl this year and may take Utah lightly. Although with Coach Chris Petersen, I don't think that has ever been the case with anyone they have faced—ask him about Nevada.
Kellen Moore should be firing on all cylinders and will most likely be playing without a Heisman Trophy under his belt. But that won't slow him down, the only thing that can is Utah's defense. If the Utes can throw off Moore's groove and if Cain can get it done on the other side, this should be one of the most entertaining bowls of the post-season. The game is early on in Bowl Season, so don't let it slip your mind.