Since when do only the best 68 teams in the nation get the chance to participate in postseason play? With a whopping 34 bowl games already scheduled to hit the airwaves the next two months, why not expand the schedule to include the worst of the worst, even if it means dragging down television ratings and humiliating the teams involved?
Equal opportunity for everyone, I say.
10. The Ford Mitten State Bowl
The Teams: Eastern Michigan (2-8) vs. Michigan (3-8)
The notable sponsor and prestige of the Michigan program are more than enough to create a sufficient buzz around this matchup of northern-based conference whipping posts that will be briskly played as an informal halftime show during the Motor City Bowl, which will be played at Ford Field in Detroit.
Considering the fact that Rich Rodriguez’s horrific inaugural season put Michigan’s record bowl streak in serious jeopardy by early October, the Wolverines were a no-brainer, while bowl officials couldn’t pass up the chance to showcase Eastern Michigan’s dynamic offense in front of a hometown crowd. Through 10 games, the Eagles have scored more than 17 points just twice this season.
9. The World of Warcraft Bowl
The Teams: Alabama-Birmingham (3-7) vs. Idaho (2-9)
Mythical mascots collide in a showdown that will surely garner a strong following among fantasy-loving gamers everywhere. If WOW enthusiasts enjoy anything more than a make-believe medieval clash, it’s watching a real-life standoff from the comforts of their parents’ basements.
Played on a makeshift field on the edge of a remote forest in England, this battle between the Blazers and Vandals figures to be a three-hour chess match between the offensive coordinators of two teams that aren’t too fond of playing defense.
After losing a 70-0 heartbreaker to Arizona to open the season, Idaho has allowed nearly 40 points a game while losing seven of nine.
The fire-breathing salamanders have had defensive problems as well. In its seven losses, UAB has surrendered 30 or more points six times, including 70 to Southern Mississippi.
8. The Crayola “Colors of the Rainbow” Bowl
The Teams: Syracuse (2-8) vs. North Texas (1-9)
Marred by turmoil, both of these floundering programs can take solace in the fact that they will be participating in the bowl season’s most vibrant and aesthetically pleasing game.
With the gleaming white beaches of the Virgin Islands serving as a backdrop, both the Orange and Mean Green agree to wear some sort of solid-colored alternate uniform, resulting in a convergence of hues that is sure to make Crayola executives’ heads spin.
Head coach Greg Robinson’s tenure at Syracuse has been an absolute disaster, and anything short of a 100-point win over North Texas would force administration to begin handing out walking papers.
No such hot seat exists in Denton, Texas, where former high school coach Todd Dodge is enjoying ironclad job security, posting a 3-19 record in less than two full seasons.
7. The Weather Channel “Hazardous Atmospheric Pressure” Bowl
The Teams: Tulane (2-8) vs. Iowa State (2-9)
The cyclonic activity that characterizes the inclement weather season of the Midwest clashes with its tropical brethren of the Deep South in the first-ever sporting event to be televised on the Weather Channel.
If conditions don’t comply off the coast of Indonesia, bowl organizers may be forced to rely on the assistance of rain and wind machines to pipe in the desired effects that could act as the difference in this matchup of conference also-rans.
Dating back to 1971, the perennially cellar-dwelling Cyclones have qualified for postseason play only nine times and failed to make a bowl appearance from 1978 to 2000.
As futile as Iowa State has been covering the days of the old Big 8 and the current-day Big 12, the Green Wave has managed to be just as ineffective. Since going undefeated in 1998, Tulane has failed to finish better than fifth in the mediocre Conference USA’s West Division.
6. The Cargill Agriculture Bowl
The Teams: New Mexico State (3-7) vs. Utah State (2-9)
The industrial leader in manufacturing, processing, and distribution of agricultural commodities, Cargill is a sponsor befitting of this slobber-knocker that features conference rivals, both of which coincidentally boast rich histories in agricultural research and development.
The football programs, however, leave quite a bit to be desired.
The Aggies of Utah State seemingly haven’t fielded a winning team since NFL Hall-of-Famer Merlin Olsen left Logan in 1961. But even a player of Olsen’s caliber can’t measure up to the man who carries the best name in college football history.
Before terrorizing offenses in the Canadian Football League as a defensive tackle, Siddeeq Shabazz was part of the vaunted New Mexico State Aggies program that has had just one winning season since 1999 and a winless season (0-12) as recently as 2005.
5. The Hooters Bowl
The Teams: Florida Atlantic (5-5) vs. Temple (3-7)
Two small-time programs in the need of financial resources team up in an endorsement-laden game that’s being dubbed “The Battle of the Big-Eyed Birds.”
Sacrificing pageantry for a big payday, team officials from both sides agree to let Hooters Inc., take virtual control over every aspect of the game.
Taking the place of the schools’ cheerleaders will be the nation’s most well-endowed waitresses, while the company logo, the Hooters Owl, will fill in for the schools’ mascots on the sidelines. Rounding out the agreement will be drastically altered, specially tailored uniforms for FAU and Temple.
Instead of its traditional color schemes, each school will be outfitted with bright orange pants and cut-off white jerseys, the backs of which will read “Delightfully Tacky, Yet Refined.”
But neither school should be worried about looking bad, especially when it involves appearing in a game in December. After the departure of legendary coach Glenn “Pop” Warner, Temple had only four winning seasons between 1938-63, a stretch of listlessness that was highlighted by a 21-game losing streak.
Meanwhile, FAU’s program, though only seven years old, has struggled mightily since its move to Division I in 2005.
4. The NBC “Battle of the Shitty Notre Dame Opponents” Bowl
The Teams: Purdue (3-8) vs. San Diego State (1-10)
Cupcakes collide in this duel to decipher which is most deserving of escaping a spot on the Irish’s less-than-demanding schedule for 2009.
Conditions figure to be troublesome. Adding to the adversity of a frigid northern Indiana winter will be the attentive eyes of several notable NBC executives, who will be looking on from their comfy luxury suite at Notre Dame Stadium, ready to replace the winner of this game with a Division II opponent capable of embarrassing itself on national television.
Believe it or not, the Aztecs nearly played their way off the ND schedule for good earlier this season. A week after losing to everyone’s favorite community college, California Poly San Luis Obispo, San Diego State took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter in South Bend before self-destructing its way to a 21-13 defeat.
Three weeks later, the Boilermakers cemented their spot in this tryout game with a pathetic performance in South Bend. Despite outgaining the Irish, Purdue allowed 200 yards rushing in a 17-point loss. A year ago, Notre Dame ranked dead last among 119 FBS teams in rushing.
3. The Salvation Army Bowl
The Teams: Washington State (1-10) vs. Southern Methodist (1-10)
If, indeed, it is better to give than to receive, then the Cougars and Mustangs deserve recognition for their overwhelming generosity that has known no bounds in 2008.
Like the Army volunteers who graciously donate their weekends to work the red kettle and oversized bell, Washington State and SMU have both continuously devoted their time to making opposing offenses look good.
In their quest to become the most statistically anemic assembly of players in the history of the Pac-10, the Cougars have been violated week after week, allowing 48.5 points per game—and more than 50 points on six different occasions.
Though the statistics suggest SMU has been slightly less generous than WSU, surrendering an average of 39.1 points a game, the Mustangs have been getting tore up by considerably less formidable opponents. First-year coach June Jones’ boys have given up 35+ points to the likes of Rice, UTEP, and Division I-AA Texas State.
2. The Webster’s Dictionary Bowl
The Teams: Western Kentucky (2-9) vs. Indiana (3-8)
Call it an exercise in ambiguity. What exactly is a Hilltopper? For that matter, how many people are completely comfortable in their definition of a Hoosier?
If you really don’t care, you’re not alone. Neither of these two teams has sparked much enthusiasm while languishing in a sub-.500 season.
Indiana and Western Kentucky actually met in the opening game of the season, with the Hoosiers cruising to a 31-13 victory. Since then, the two teams have combined for four wins and been outscored by an average of 10 points per game.
1. The American Historical Society “Shell of Your Former Self” Bowl
The Teams: Washington (0-10) vs. Tennessee (3-7)
Two proud programs take center stage this bowl season for all the wrong reasons.
The owners of four National Championships and seven Rose Bowls, the last of which came in 2001, the Washington Huskies have since officially receded into oblivion.
Currently enduring a string of five consecutive losing seasons for the first time in program history, the Huskies haven’t come close to symbolizing the pride that has trademarked the 16th-winningest program in all of college football.
While the slippery slope in Knoxville has been noticeably less arduous, it is the speed with which the Volunteers have stumbled from grace that has been alarming. A national champion in 1998, Tennessee has averaged nine wins a season since 2002, including a 10-win campaign a year ago that featured an appearance in the SEC Championship.
However, turmoil has settled over the Volunteers in 2008.
Ranked in the preseason Top 25, Tennessee lost its first game of the season and has yet to recover.
Several lackluster home losses later, including an inexplicable defeat at the hands of the Wyoming Cowboys on the heels of Phillip Fulmer’s resignation announcement, the Volunteers will fail to play in a bowl game for only the second time since 1987.
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