The BCS Bowl games are usually interesting and often entertaining. However, every year, it seems several of the Non-BCS Bowls are actually as intriguing as "The Big Five."
Unfortunately, many of the matchups offer little in the way of excitement and seem to be created only to satisfy local businesses, sponsors, and the travel industry, as these groups benefit from the money spent in the immediate vicinity.
While schools and their fans invariably are proud of their teams and support the chosen Bowls, it seems there is an obvious pecking order this season in a highly diversified group of 34 postseason games.
For the benefit of readers who struggle to decide which Bowls to watch if they have no personal interest, let's go through the Non-BCS Bowls and look at five that are "must see" matchups and five that, well, should be viewed only by those involved.
A) The Five Worst Non–BCS Bowls This Season
5) The Hawaii Bowl: 6–6 Notre Dame vs. 7–6 Hawaii, Christmas Eve 8 PM, ESPN
Irish fans and Irish-haters alike will watch this one, but it is likely to be the "backdrop" to present-opening and family get-togethers with this television time slot. No doubt it should be a good game since Hawaii doesn't have the athletic ability and speed to hurt Notre Dame. It is obvious why these two teams were invited to this Bowl.
4) The Motor City Bowl: 6–6 Fla Atlantic vs. 8–4 Central Michigan, Dec. 26 7:30 PM, ESPN
If you have a Bowl game in Detroit and one of the teams is from Florida, you had better invite a local team from Michigan. We present the Chippewas for the third straight year. If anyone is interested in this game, please let me know.
3) The St. Petersburg Bowl: 6–6 Memphis vs. 7–5 South Florida, Dec. 20 4:30 PM, ESPN 2
A brand new bowl, so expect some ups and downs in getting off the ground. Should be a nice trip for everyone, but to hedge their bets for a sellout, local Big East entry USF will be the host. Tommy West hopes to bring 1,500 Tiger fans. Or was that 150?
2) The Humanitarian Bowl: 7–5 Nevada vs. 7–5 Maryland, Dec. 30 4:30 PM, ESPN 2
This is usually a fascinating Bowl with Boise St. teaching someone they do play football on the blue carpet. The unbeaten Broncos checked out of here this season for the sunny shores of San Diego. WAC entry Nevada will uphold western honor against the roller coaster known as the Maryland football team. Yawn...
1) The Independence Bowl: 6–6 Northern Illinois vs. 7–5 La Tech, Dec. 28 8 PM, ESPN
Folks, let's not be mean, but this is not a real Bowl game. The SEC didn't have enough teams to fill out all of their bowls (thanks, Tennessee), and the Big 12 didn't have enough teams to fill out all of their bowls (thanks, Colorado). Local entry Louisiana Tech will take on MAC representative Northern Illinois.
B) The Five Best Non-BCS Bowls This Season
5) The Sun Bowl: 9–3 Pittsburgh vs. 8–4 Oregon State, New Year's Eve, 2 PM, CBS
El Paso wanted a great matchup for their 75th Anniversary Sun Bowl, and they got it with these two near-misses of the Rose and Orange Bowls. You like hitting? This is the game for you. Bronko Nagurski would have been proud to play for either team.
4) The Holiday Bowl: 9–3 Oregon vs. 9–3 Oklahoma State, Dec. 30, 8 PM ESPN
A well-deserved reputation as a high-scoring Bowl over the years will be put to the ultimate test when these two offenses hit the field. We could see scoring records fall by the wayside. You like offense? This is the game for you.
3) The Cotton Bowl: 11–1 Texas Tech vs. 8–4 Ole Miss, New Year's Day, 11:30 AM Fox
SEC vs. the Big 12, let's get ready to rumble. Houston Nutt has Mississippi playing at a white-hot level, and his Rebels own wins this season over the past two national champions of Florida and LSU, both on the road. Mike Leach, look out!
2) The Poinsettia Bowl: 12–0 Boise State vs. 10–2 Texas Christian, Dec. 23, 8PM ESPN
The undefeated Broncos were passed over for a BCS Bowl, and this is their chance to show what they are capable of. Boise St. even left their Blue Carpet hometown Bowl to go to San Diego for this challenge. TCU lost only at No. 1 Oklahoma and at undefeated Utah. This has the potential to be a great game.
1) The Chick-fil-A Bowl: 9–3 Ga Tech vs. 7–5 LSU, New Year's Eve, 7:30 PM ESPN
Formerly known as The Peach Bowl, Atlanta has grabbed two teams which should provide a riveting matchup for everyone except the revelers celebrating the New Year. Paul Johnson has an earth-moving machine in the Yellow Jacket ground game. They will face an ancient enemy in last year's National Champion Tigers. The BCS Bowls will be fortunate to live up to what this game can provide in the way of excitement.
So there it is. It seems each season we see teams come out of the non-BCS Bowls who make a statement that carries through until the following season. Who will be the team that does so this year?