Why to Genuinely Care About Every Bowl Game (Part Two)

Dan RubensteinCollege Football Lead WriterDecember 19, 2011

WACO, TX - NOVEMBER 19:  Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Last week, I unveiled rudimentary, superficial and occasionally relevant reasons to genuinely care about tuning in to the exhibition season’s first 10 bowl games. After three games, I realized that I neglected to point out a hot pepper logo apostrophe, predict chaos as it relates to notorious SEC referee Penn Wagers’s involvement in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl,and consider how drastically the 437 New Mexico Bowl ticket-holders would sway the outcome in Temple’s favor. I promise just as much, if not more, effort in part two:  

 

Military Bowl presented by Northrup Grumman

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 22:  Tim Jefferson Jr. #7 of the Air Force Falcons looks for a receiver against the Boise State Broncos at Bronco Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

Toledo finished their season of MACtion winning seven of eight, but they’re down a head coach, who saw a prime opportunity in stepping into Ron Zook’s itty bitty shoes. In their last five games, the Rockets (weird number font and all) never scored fewer than 44 points.

The triple-optioning Air Force was pretty much better than who they should’ve been better than and worse than who they should’ve been worse than.

The fun of this game is, Toledo beat Temple and Air Force lost to Wyoming, so if you look at the Gildan New Mexico Bowl as your lone bowl barometer…well, you’re unique and should commended as a visionary. And you should bet Toledo.

 

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 03: Case McCoy #6 of the Texas Longhorns runs during a game against the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Waco, Texas.  (Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images

This game was the perennial Who’s More Excited to be Here Bowl, but between Cal and Texas, it’s pretty much a coin flip. If I were to describe a team as “without a clear offensive direction and an example of how to waste the eligibility of superior players,” you’re pretty much guessing as to which team I’m alluding to. I’m not sure even I know.

Also, there’s a very good chance Rece Davis (I’m just assuming it’ll be him) will have to apologize after ESPN accidentally shows an un-screened replay of a particularly violent Texas hit on Cal QB Zach Maynard, so, you know, there’s that.

 

Champs Sports

TALLAHASSEE, FL - NOVEMBER 12:  EJ Manuel #3 of the Florida State Seminoles passes during a game against against the Miami Hurricanes at Doak Campbell Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Tallahassee, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

One of these teams is inflating their 2012 preseason stock in Orlando, only we’re not positive which yet.

Florida State has a young, swarming defensive front, and Notre Dame isn’t positive, after 12 games, who their best QB is. Well, they know it’s not Dayne Crist, and I’m pretty sure Crist also knows it’s not Dayne Crist, which is probably fortunate given the first seven words of this sentence.

The Irish finished the season winning eight of their last 10, and went undefeated on their current and future ACC part of the schedule. This, of course, means very little, and the main reason to watch is still to see if young Seminole DT Timmy Jernigan gives Irish QB Andrew Hendrix enough time to find all of the pieces of his ruptured spleen.

 

Valero Alamo Bowl

STILLWATER, OK - OCTOBER 29:  Quarterback Robert Griffin III #10 of the Baylor Bears looks to throw in the first half against the Oklahoma State Cowboys on October 29, 2011 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  Oklahoma State defeated Baylor
Brett Deering/Getty Images

Let’s just assume the smiling Robert Griffin III has been doing these past couple weeks is due in part to the whole Heisman thing, but also the news that he’d get the opportunity to throw footballs over and by the Washington Husky secondary on indoor turf.

Bonus: Angry Washington defensive coordinator Nick Holt cutaways are one of the few simple joys in an increasingly complicated college football landscape.

 

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

TULSA, OK - NOVEMBER 25:  Quarterback G.J. Kinne  #4 of the Tulsa Hurricanes looks to throw in the first half against the Houston Cougars on November 25, 2011 at H.A. Chapman Stadium in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Houston defeated Tulsa 48-16.  (Photo by Brett Deer
Brett Deering/Getty Images

More often that not, it seems like BYU is genuinely excited to go to bowl games, even though, more often than not, they seem to end up in Las Vegas. This year should be the test, not because Tulsa’s particularly daunting (they might be), but because the consistently t-shirted Bronco Mendenhall needs a find a way to get the Cougars excited for a holiday trip to…Houston.

Offensively, BYU has continued to air it out, and Tulsa has continued to show enough balance to win every winnable game on their schedule. This feels like a game that someone on your Twitter feed will be watching and say, “Quick, turn to BYU-Tulsa, it’s 45-40 with six minutes left.”

 

New Era Pinstripe

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - NOVEMBER 19:  Members of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights celebrate after defeating the Cincinnati Bearcats 20-3 at Rutgers Stadium on November 19, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

My favorite part of conference expansion talks was always when Rutgers was thrown around as a possible mover because of the coveted New York City market, even though one thing has nothing to do with the other. Well, this game is being played at Yankee Stadium, so we should all expect this to be an impossible ticket, right? Right? Hello?

The Scarlet Knights were a thoroughly typical Big East team—they lost to seemingly better and worse teams at will, but at least boast a know-where-he-is-at-all-times WR in Mohamed Sanu.

I find it impossible to root against Paul Rhoads and Iowa State, especially as they make their way to the Big Apple to take on those fancy city slickers (I imagine this word is tossed around freely in Ames) in the coveted New York City market.

 

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

LITTLE ROCK, AR - NOVEMBER 19:   Head Coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs talks into his headset during a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks at War Memorial Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated th
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

This one is really testing my will. Very few non-Wake or non-MSU fans tuned into a Demon Deacon or Bulldog game this season and blocked off time on future Saturdays to do more of the same. And now, they’re playing each other.

Wake is in the midst of an upperclassmen cycle and generally has enough fight to stay in games against teams like, well, Mississippi State. The combo of QB Tanner Price and WR Chris Givens was a quietly pleasant (and prolific) ACC surprise, and yes, I know I may have just described a passing duo like I would an art house movie.

The Bulldogs beat precisely zero quality SEC teams, which really isn’t all that fair of a statement considering the alarming small number of quality SEC teams this season. In any case, this was the year that the backfield combo of Chris Relf and Vick Ballard were supposed to become as household-y as any backfield combo based in Starkville, MS can expect to ever become.

Tune in for the combos; stay for the uncomfortable mortgage commercials.

 

Insight Bowl

LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 15:  Kenny Stills #4 of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after scoring the game's first touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks during the game on October 15, 2011 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Oklahoma started the year as the No. 1 team in the country, but through a series of carefully (read: annually) coordinated steps, ended up playing a bowl in a stadium that’s been replaced by another stadium a half hour away for more important bowls. Yeah.

On the plus side, Sooner WR Kenny Stills is the second best college football player with a dyed blonde mohawk (Honey Badger retains the throne), and DE Frank Alexander is about as destructive and fun to watch as any single defensive end in the country.

The Iowa Hawkeyes have also been invited to participate.

 

Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Kain Colter #2 of the Northwestern Wildcats looks to pass against the Boston College Eagles on September 3, 2011 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.The Northwestern Wildcats defeated the Boston College Eag
Elsa/Getty Images

Whenever you pit two teams who have turned blowing second-half leads from occasional occurrences to consistent art form AND put them in the stadium together, well, we could have our first college football black hole.

Seriously, I have no idea what happens when two teams who almost beat a number of very good teams play each other. The city of Houston may very well collapse upon itself on New Years Eve.

 

Hyundai Sun Bowl

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 05:  Runningback John White IV #15 of the Utah Utes scores a 11 yard rushing touchdown against the Arizona Wildcats during the college football game at Arizona Stadium on November 5, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona.  The Utes defeated the Wi
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Yellow Jackets lost five of seven to finish the season, and Utah had a chance to go to the Pac-12 championship game with a win over Colorado at home and blew it.

The lesson? Never ask why teams end up in El Paso unless you're prepared to hear things you can’t unheard.

The two teams will run and then run some more. Utah RB John White (the most Utah name possible) carried much of the Ute offensive load on the ground, while Georgia Tech continued their triple option/flexbone (part-time) assault on the ACC.

This can only mean that the game may be over in two hours, which, of course, could be the most positive thing to come out of bowl season after all.

Dan Rubenstein co-hosts The Solid Verbal college football podcast and can be followed on Twitter here.