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Stadium and Main: It's that time of year again

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's that time of year again

When there are 5 BCS Bowls and only 2 of them are any good, you know it’s a down year for Bowl games. Could it be the worst Bowl lineup ever? Some will say that it is, but that could just be a reflection of the parity that exists in college football (now more than ever?). Regardless, there are still a few games worth watching. I’ll rank ‘em according to my interest level (not whether I think they’ll be good games or whatever).

[Side note before I get started: Check out the horrible array of announcers for the BCS games on Fox.]

5 games I won’t miss:

1 – Rose Bowl
Pasadena, CA
January 1, 2007, ABC, 5:00 p.m.
Michigan vs. USC

Tops the list for obvious reasons. As each day passes, this game becomes more and more important, in my opinion. Lose, and we finish a third consecutive season with losses to OSU and in the Bowl. People will be saying “the BCS got it right,” no matter what happens in the Championship Game. Win, and we conclude a great season (Lloyd’s second-best) on a high note, gaining some “media momentum” for next year. And I say bring it on. I want us to finally live up to the hype. I want us to start out at #1 and stay there the entire year. I’m sick of the “we’re better when we’re the underdogs” mentality. Let’s just line up and beat fools. We were able to do it this year, to some extent, and I hope it continues in 2007 (starting on January 1st).

2 – BCS Championship Game
Glendale, AZ
January 8, 2007, Fox, 8:00 p.m.
Ohio State vs. Florida

Not much to say here. The BCS left a bad taste in my mouth, so I won’t be doing much analysis of this game in the coming weeks. I don’t want to read the articles. I don’t care about Tebow, or Laurinaitis, or the other media golden boys. And that’s really a shame, because this could end up being a decent game. Florida has the Defense to keep the score manageable, considering Ohio State had to show some different looks against Michigan. And considering that Percy Harvin is one juke away from a TD every time he gets the ball, the game could be fun to watch. There won’t be a shortage of NFL talent, that’s for sure.

3 – Capital One Bowl
Orlando, FL
January 1, 2007, ABC, 1:00 p.m.
Arkansas vs. Wisconsin

Is Wisconsin really any good? Can Arkansas complete a forward pass thrown by an actual, real-life Quarterback? A second-straight year matching up strong rushing attacks from the Big Ten and SEC. Last year, Wisconsin pounded Auburn in an upset. I think they can do the same here.

4 – Sugar Bowl
New Orleans, LA
January 3, 2007, Fox, 8:00 p.m.
Notre Dame vs. LSU

Schadenfreude – “Pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.” Notre Dame hasn’t won a Bowl game since the conclusion of the 1993 season (24-21 over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl). They’ve played in eight Bowls since then, including a 27-9 loss to LSU in the 1997 Independence Bowl. Here’s to making it nine in a row.

5 – Outback Bowl
Tampa, FL
January 1, 2007, ESPN, 11:00 a.m.
Penn State vs. Tennessee

Higher on my list than it probably should be, primarily because I am hoping to see a Big Ten victory over the SEC. I don’t think it’s going to happen here. When Tennessee is healthy (which they finally will be), they are a Top 10 team.

So I lied. Here are more games I won’t miss, but that’s just because I’m a freak:

6 - Las Vegas Bowl
Las Vegas, NV
December 21, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
Oregon vs. BYU

Let the scouting for 2007 begin! Oregon is on next year’s schedule (at Michigan, September 8, 2007), so the die-hards might as well check them out. Plus, they have Ryan Leaf’s brother, so we could get a shot of Leaf on the sideline or something (I expect him to have a full beard and 40 extra pounds). Meanwhile, BYU is 10-2, took Boston College to Overtime, and almost won at Arizona. Dudes are 5 points away from an undefeated season, so I’ll watch. [Game only ranked this high because Oregon plays Michigan next season – Otherwise I’d have it in the low 20s.]

7 – Alamo Bowl
San Antonio, TX
December 30, 2006, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.
Texas vs. Iowa

Many fans are expecting a Texas blowout, so it’s probably good (for ESPN) that this isn’t the prime-time game on Saturday the 30th. This might be a decent barometer for Ferentz’s coaching skillzzz – Can he keep it close, or has he lost the team?

8 – Chick-fil-A Bowl
Atlanta, GA
December 30, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
Virginia Tech vs. Georgia

In any of the past 5 seasons or so, this would have been a much more intriguing match-up. Virginia Tech is probably better than it gets credit for, especially in terms of talent on Defense. But this is the worst Georgia team in recent memory. Wins over Auburn and Georgia Tech can’t erase a home loss to Vanderbilt, a road loss to Kentucky, and a near-loss to Colorado. I put this up at #8, then, simply because I want to see some SEC blood.

9 – Gator Bowl
Jacksonville, FL
January 1, 2007, CBS, 1:00 p.m.
Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia

Let’s call this the “You Will Hear Our Names When Lloyd Carr Retires” Bowl: Georgia Tech Defensive Coordinator Jon Tenuta tries to slow down Rich Rodriguez’s prolific rushing game. A more interesting match-up might be WVU’s 3-3-5 Defense against a Georgia Tech Offense that has struggled to get All-America WR Calvin Johnson the ball. I’m hoping GT QB Reggie Ball comes to play, because I can’t deal with the WVU hype train for another off-season.

10 – Cotton Bowl
Dallas, TX
January 1, 2007, Fox, 11:30 a.m.
Nebraska vs. Auburn

Can both teams lose? That would be the pareto optimum for the college football world, I feel. The Outback Bowl (Penn State vs. Tennessee), is on at the same time, so just avoid this one (until Tennessee goes up 24-3, that is). Insert Sun Belt Referees joke here.

11 – Holiday Bowl
San Diego, CA
December 28, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
California vs. Texas A&M

I always love how announcers claim, every year, that the Holiday Bowl will be a great game because “it’s always been high-scoring and wild in past.” They’re independent events, people! That being said, this is gonna be a great game!!! Or not.

12 – Fiesta Bowl
Glendale, AZ
January 1, 2007, Fox, 8:00 p.m.
Oklahoma vs. Boise State

Don’t feel too bad for Oklahoma – They’re going to finish in the Top 10 (maybe even the Top 5, if things fall right). Just don’t try to console Sooner fans, because they were robbed at Oregon, and they gave away the Texas game. A frustrating year ends with a frustrating Bowl opponent. It’s a no-win situation for the Sooners (who should win by a comfortable margin), but they can take solace in the fact that they have a great Head Coach. They’re going to finish with only 2 losses with the equivalent of me at QB.

13 – Orange Bowl
Miami, FL
January 2, 2007, Fox, 8:00 p.m.
Wake Forest vs. Louisville

Should be fun to watch, with lots of big plays and some unconventional Offenses (watch Wake’s RB draws and their weird mis-direction “counter” type of plays). I’m ashamed of myself for having this ranked so low, because these teams are actually good, but come on – it’s Wake Forest and Louisville!

14 – Emerald Bowl
San Francisco, CA
December 27, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
UCLA vs. Florida State

Two programs heading in opposite directions? Retire Coach Bowden thinks so, at least regarding the FSU stinks part.

15 – Texas Bowl
Houston, TX
December 28, 2006, NFL Network, 8:00 p.m.
Kansas State vs. Rutgers

You have your greatest season of all time, and you get relegated to a TV station that many people don’t have (NFL Network). Isn’t it a little ironic that James Gandolfini stars in what some have called the greatest TV show of all time (The Sopranos), on a TV station that many people don’t have (HBO), and he graduated from… Rutgers! I smell a conspiracy.

College Football fans might enjoy these games. Most other people won’t:

16 – Champs Sports Bowl
Orlando, FL
December 29, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
Purdue vs. Maryland

Is Maryland the Purdue of the ACC? I see some similarities. Discuss amongst yourselves.

17 – Hawaii Bowl
Honolulu, HI
December 24, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
Arizona State vs. Hawaii

18 – Sun Bowl
El Paso, TX
December 29, 2006, CBS, 2:00 p.m.
Missouri vs. Oregon State

19 – Independence Bowl
Shreveport, LA
December 27, 2006, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.
Oklahoma State vs. Alabama

20 – Insight Bowl
Phoenix, AZ
December 29, 2006, NFL Network, 8:00 p.m.
Minnesota vs. Texas Tech

21 – Meineke Car Care Bowl
Charlotte, NC
December 30, 2006, ESPN2, 1:00 p.m.
Boston College vs. Navy

22 – Music City Bowl
Nashville, TN
December 29, 2006, ESPN, 1:00 p.m.
Kentucky vs. Clemson

23 – Liberty Bowl
Memphis, TN
December 29, 2006, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.
Houston vs. South Carolina

I’m only gonna watch if there’s nothing else on:

24 – San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
San Diego, CA
December 19, 2006, ESPN2, 8:00 p.m.
TCU vs. Northern Illinois

TCU’s coach, Gary Patterson, could end up in Ann Arbor one day (unlikely, but possible). Might as well tune in to see the deal.

25 – MPC Computers Bowl
Boise, ID
December 30, 2006, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.
Nevada vs. Miami

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. And we thought the Alamo Bowl was bad. The “experts” are thinking that Nevada could pull the upset (would it even be an upset this year?) due to its high-powered, quirky Offense.

8 completely unwatchable Bowls. Not sure why I’m even listing the broadcast info. Please avoid:

26 – Motor City Bowl
Detroit, MI
December 26, 2006, ESPN, 7:30 p.m.
Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee

Sorry, CMU. You had a good year, but nobody wants to watch a game involving Middle Tennessee, ever.

27 – Bowl
Birmingham, AL
December 23, 2006, ESPN2, 1:00 p.m.
East Carolina vs. South Florida

28 – New Orleans Bowl
New Orleans, LA
December 22, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
Troy vs. Rice

Rice made a Bowl (sounds funny, on a few levels)! Avoided the lowest possible ranking because both teams are one-syllable schools. How nuts is that?!

29 – International Bowl
Toronto, Canada
January 6, 2007, ESPN, 12:00 p.m.
Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati

30 – Armed Forces Bowl
Fort Worth, TX
December 23, 2006, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
Utah vs. Tulsa

31 – GMAC Bowl
Mobile, AL
January 7, 2007, ESPN, 8:00 p.m.
Southern Miss vs. Ohio

32 – New Mexico Bowl
Albuquerque, NM
December 23, 2006, ESPN, 4:30 p.m.
New Mexico vs. San Jose State

* All times are Eastern


Blogger Jill said...

Who are you trying to kid...I know better than anyone that you are going to watch at LEAST 5 minutes of all 32 bowls :) Go Blue!

9:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny that a Yankee mentions something about no one wanting to watch a game involving Middle Tennessee, ever, because it's likely that no one in the South would ever want to watch a game involving Central Michigan, EVER!

9:40 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

I just got called a Yankee!

I agree with the basis of your point, but at least CMU is from a conference (the MAC) that puts talent in the NFL on a much more regular basis than whatever conference Middle Tennessee is from. So I'd argue that NFL scouts are much more likely to watch a CMU game than a Middle Tennessee game, on average. So there!...

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually you're wrong. The Sun Belt has several high-profile players... Let's see, Jake Delhomme, DeMarcus Ware, etc... The Sun Belt is a defensive oriented league, while the MAC is more offensive minded.

7:14 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I can't believe I'm arguing about MAC vs. Sun Belt. I honestly don't care, but I can't deal with statements that aren't backed up by facts. So...

2006 NFL Draft. Players drafted:
MAC = 6. Sun Belt = 0.

2005 NFL Draft. Players drafted:
MAC = 11. Sun Belt = 3.

2004 NFL Draft. Players drafted:
MAC = 7 (including 2 first-rounders and 1 second-rounder). Sun Belt = 4 (highest pick was a third-rounder).

2003 NFL Draft. Players drafted:
MAC = 9. Sun Belt = 4.

Look up NFL rosters, and you'll find similar ratios between the 2 conferences.

It doesn't matter if the Sun Belt is "defensive" and the MAC is "offensive." I was just saying, there is more talent in the MAC, period. As I stated before, "NFL scouts are much more likely to watch a CMU game than a Middle Tennessee game, on average." So, I'm not wrong, but I appreciate your enthusiasm for (what appears to be) your favorite conference.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just so you know, this isn't one individual posting as "Anonymous". Your blog entry was posted on Middle Tennessee Blue Raider messageboards. If you really want to talk facts. Here's a fact for you. Michigan isn't going to the natinal title game.

12:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And one more little fact to share with you. Middle Tennessee had a larger home attendance average this season than every single member of the Mid-American Conference. That's right, more people watched Middle Tennessee this season than Central Michigan, Ohio, Western Michigan, or Northern Illinois.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Middle Tennessee fans unite! Who knew? I’ll repeat, for the third time:

“NFL scouts are much more likely to watch a CMU game than a Middle Tennessee game, on average.”

That was my original point – which you guys seem to have missed… twice. And I think it’s a pretty valid point. If you have good attendance, good for you! But, again, the NFL scouts are watching more MAC than Sun Belt games.

And to clarify the attendance thing, Middle Tennessee was actually behind CMU, Northern Illinois, and Toledo in average home attendance this year. You see, Middle Tennessee played Louisville in Nashville (not their home stadium in Murfreesboro). Since it’s only 2.5 hours from Louisville to Nashville, I’m sure plenty of Cardinals fans were there. You can’t juke the stats by including a game that certainly had tons of Louisville fans in the stands, and wasn’t even in your home stadium. Just want to get the facts straight… again. Here is the link:

And to branch off of the quote, “more people watched Middle Tennessee this season than Central Michigan, Ohio, Western Michigan, or Northern Illinois.” I understand you were talking about attendance, but if you’re talking overall, then it’s no contest. The MAC has a TV contract with a little company called ESPN, which shows its games weekly. Forget attendance, the MAC has nationwide exposure. The Sun Belt is best known for its terrible referees in the 2005 Alamo Bowl… seriously. [OK, go ahead and rip Michigan for losing that game.]

“Here's a fact for you. Michigan isn't going to the natinal title game.” Darn right! We aren’t going to the national (with an “o”) title game, either. I love the “my team clearly isn’t as good as your team, so I’ll make fun of your team for not being the best team in the country” trash talk. That stuff was great in 3rd grade.

I have nothing against Middle Tennessee. I’m actually very impressed by your school and conference pride. But if you want to talk smack, go to a Tennessee Vols board or something. Us “Yankees” prefer to be civil (pun intended?), do our research, and back up points with evidence. Thanks for visiting, and good luck in the Motor City Bowl. Go eat in Greek Town – it’s cool.

8:17 PM  
Blogger Jered said...

Yankees are dum - and you talk funny. Michigan sucks. Go Buckeyes.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Game in Nashville was at a "nuetral site" and counted as a home game...It's also 30 mintues from the MTSU campus. As far as avoiding a bowl game...Uh, I don't know about you, but we have 8 months of no football after January and I'm going to watch every friggin bowl game that I can. My father-in=law is a Yankee from Michigan, but I forgive him.

"I hope Niel Young will remember: A Southern man don't need him around any how!"


11:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, who cares what an NFL scout is watching, unless your a player or you are a family member of a player? These bowl games are for fans of the teams playing...Don't watch, I could care less.


11:25 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

BRF - I think you mean you couldn't care less. Sorry, it's a pet peeve of mine.

But you're right - I should watch as many games as possible, because I will be hating life with no college football until late August. Enjoy the games...

10:57 AM  

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