The Meineke Car Care Bowl on 12/31 is Clemson vs. South Florida. This game can be compared to a carry-out order from Steak Out. The sandwich is sometimes okay if it’s properly prepared, but it seldom is, and you’ll still get soggy French fries and wonder why you wasted your time. Culinary grade is 1.5 stars out of 5.
The Hyundai Sun Bowl also on 12/31 is Notre Dame vs. Miami. This one will be like cold pizza and warm beer. You’ll swear you’ll not eat that crap again no matter how hungry you get, but you always do. You might try justifying consumption by saying it’s better than nothing but there are many that would argue that ‘nothing’ is actually better. Culinary grade is 2 stars out of 5.
The AutoZone Liberty Bowl, again on 12/31, is Central Florida vs. Georgia. Compare this bowl to an under-cooked hotdog without chili and a side order of something you can’t recognize. The hotdogs could be good if the chef was better, and he keeps promising to get better next year, but the side order is a concoction of something you’ve never seen and will likely never see again. Culinary grade is 2 stars out of 5.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl is also a New Year's Eve Bowl pairing Florida State against South Carolina. This game will be like a meal from a well known local restaurant that gets by more on its reputation than anything else. You’ll seem to remember the entrée as being better than it actually tastes, and the side order of potato salad is passable at most even though the chef has a great (but fading) reputation as one of the best in his chosen profession. Culinary grade is 2.5 stars out of 5.
The Ticket City Bowl on New Year's Day is Northwestern vs. Texas Tech. This one is four cheese Krystals and a watered-down iced tea. You’ll eat the Krystals because you’re hungry for anything and drink the tea because you can’t eat the Krystals by themselves, but you’ll still get heartburn no matter what and curse at yourself for being so gullible. Culinary grade is 1 star out of 5.
The Outback Bowl on New Year's Day is Penn State vs. Florida. You can compare this bowl to a rare bad meal from Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse. As you’re eating, in the back of your mind you’ll know that the food tasted better in bygone days but you’ll enjoy it anyway because it came from Ruth Chris’ and you can live on the memory of the great food with hope it becomes great once again. Culinary grade is 3 stars out of 5.
The Capital One Bowl, also on January 1st, is Michigan State vs. Alabama. Compare this game to a nice T-Bone steak with a side order of onion rings. The steak is good but it isn’t prepared as well as you remember, and the onion rings are just like most onion rings—sometimes they’re good but most times they’re just greasy and make you burp. Culinary grade 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Progressive Gator Bowl on New Year's Day is Michigan vs. Mississippi State. This game is just a bucket of original recipe chicken from an old-style KFC restaurant with strawberry shortcake and whipped cream topping for dessert. The chicken isn’t as good as it was when the restaurant first opened years ago, but they’ve been remodeling and you can only hope, this time, that they’ve rediscovered the right combination of herbs and spices. But, they haven’t. The strawberry shortcake is really okay but you know the pastry chef will likely move on to another restaurant soon. Culinary grade 2 stars out of 5.
The Rose Bowl presented by Vizio on January 1st is Wisconsin vs. TCU. This game is actually just an aged-cheese appetizer with jalapeno-flavored Wheat Thins. It doesn’t take long for you to get your fill of the cheese and, while the Wheat Thins are okay and different than the regular ones, you know next year they’ll be replaced with another flavor that ESPN swears will be as just as good as any other wafer on any given day. However, they rarely are. Culinary grade 1.5 stars out of 5
The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, also on New Year's Day, is Oklahoma vs. Connecticut. This bowl is like an open-faced ham sandwich that you’ll eat even though it’s been dropped on the floor a couple of times, paired with an order of previously frozen crab legs. The ham sandwich will be pretty good and you’ll know how good it could have been but the crab legs won’t be very good at all. The ham sandwich/crab leg combination is a little strange to begin with. Culinary grade 2.5 stars out of 5.
The Orange Bowl on January 3rd is Virginia Tech vs. Stanford. This one is easy—it's like three-day old chili and stale oyster crackers. Like all chili, this one wasn’t very good at first but it has gotten better over time; the oyster crackers are something you’ll eat because that was the only cracker available. You’ll likely not want them again. Culinary grade 2 stars out of 5.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 4th is Arkansas vs. Ohio State. Compare this game to an average meal from an average restaurant that claims to be "new and improved." You’ll eat it and find out that it’s okay but you don’t know why you keep falling for the "new and improved" slogan when they’ve been using it for almost a decade. Culinary grade is 3.5 stars out of 5.
The GoDaddy.com Bowl on January 6th is Miami (Ohio) vs. M. Tennessee State. This games is nothing but a meal at the new fast food restaurant that opened up in the old Kenny Rogers Roast Beef location. You’ll find out before you’re halfway done that it’s not any good, that you’ve wasted your time and money, and then you’ll dump it in the garbage and watch reruns of Seinfeld. Culinary grade is 1 star out of 5
The AT&T Cotton Bowl on January 7th is Texas A&M vs. LSU. This bowl is like a Chef’s Surprise. You’ll eat it because it sounds interesting and you never know just what the chef might come up with, but most of the time it’s not nearly as good as you want it to be. Even with a surprise dessert of double-chocolate reverse three seconds before closing time, it’s hardly worth the effort it takes to eat. Still, it’s the best so far. Culinary grade is 4 stars out of 5.
The BBVA/Birmingham Bowl on January 8th is Pitt vs. Kentucky. This what-are-we-playing-for game can be compared to a greasy barbeque sandwich and a Coca-Cola that’s lost its fizz. You’ll take a few bites, wonder why in the heck you waited so long for something so bad, and swear you’ll complain to the management. You never do, of course, so you can expect the same thing next year. Culinary grade is 2 stars out of 5.
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on January 9th is Boston College vs. Nevada. Compare this bowl to a chicken-fried steak you got at a seafood restaurant late on a Sunday night. It won’t be good at all but they were all out everything else except bread and butter. You'll wish you'd asked for toast. Culinary grade 2 stars out of 5.
The Tostitos BCS National Championship Game on January 10th is Auburn vs. Oregon. The BCS National Championship game is like a potluck dinner. It could be pretty good depending on a couple of factors but you’ll soon realize that there are only side orders and deserts and there’s no real entree—just a bunch of hoopla and fancy dinnerware. Halfway through you’ll get tired of watching it on your big screen and retire to the table to finish watching it on a laptop that you bought with money your father gave you. In the back of your mind you’ll wonder where your dad got the money since he’s never had any before but you won’t really care. When it comes to laptops and found money, what you don’t know won’t hurt you. Culinary grade is 4.5 stars out of 5.
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