December 3, 2007

Bowl Gluttony: What to watch, what to miss

In our quest to help you manage your time during this hectic holiday season, here are our rankings of the "attractiveness" of the bowl matchups.

(An aside: If some of these matchups don't convince you there are about five or six too many bowls, we bet you're related to a conference commissioner or a coach.)

MIke Huguenin ranks the bowls
32. New Orleans Bowl, Dec. 21, Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis.
We'd rather spend time with our mother-in-law than watch this.
31. New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 22, Nevada at New Mexico.
We'd rather shop for our mother-in-law than watch this.
30. Independence Bowl, Dec. 30, Alabama vs. Colorado.
For the second season in a row, this bowl matches two 6-6 teams. The Tide will be traveling to Shreveport, La., for the second season in a row.
29. International Bowl, Jan. 5, Ball State vs. Rutgers.
Ball State has a good quarterback (Nate Davis). Rutgers has a good tailback (Ray Rice). Other than that …
28. Humanitarian Bowl, Dec. 31, Fresno State vs. Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are looking for a new coach, and we're sure the players will be real psyched to play in Boise on New Year's Eve on that blue field.
27. Bowl, Dec. 22, Cincinnati vs. Southern Miss.
Cincy had a really nice season. The reward? A trip to Birmingham, Ala., to play in a stadium that should be destroyed.
26. Emerald Bowl, Dec. 28, Maryland vs. Oregon State.
Poor Oregon State. The Beavers finish 8-4, yet still get sent to this bowl.
25. Motor City Bowl, Dec. 26, Central Michigan vs. Purdue.
These teams played Sept. 15, and the Boilermakers won by 23. Why the rematch?
24. Armed Forces, Dec. 31, Air Force vs. California.
Air Force is fun to watch. Cal was, too, until it … well … hmm, how do we say this nicely? Bottom line: The Golden Bears come in having lost six of their past seven.
23. Texas Bowl, Dec. 28, Houston vs. TCU.
If we lived in Texas, we'd care. We don't live in Texas.
22. Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 22, BYU vs. UCLA.
Another rematch. (Arrrggghhh.) The Bruins won by 10 on Sept. 8. But BYU has improved tremendously during the season. The Bruins have not.
21. Sun Bowl, Dec. 31, Oregon vs. USF.
Oregon enters with a three-game losing streak, and its coaches have to be worried about how the Bulls' quick, aggressive defense is going to treat the Ducks' quarterbacks.
20. Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29, Penn State vs. Texas A&M.
Hey, we can't wait to see how the Aggies play for Gary Darnell. And we're looking forward to the news conferences with Joe Paterno now that his salary is public record.
19. GMAC Bowl, Jan. 6, Bowling Green vs. Tulsa.
Our rule of thumb: As long as there is the possibility of a ton of offense, it's worth watching. These teams average a combined 959.4 yards of offense per game.
18. Hawaii Bowl, Dec. 23, Boise State vs. East Carolina.
See above. These teams average a combined 853.6 yards of offense per games. Plus, Boise State is a top-25 team. And what else is there to do two days before Christmas – spend time with the family?
17. Music City Bowl, Dec. 31, Florida State vs. Kentucky.
Two veteran coaches (FSU's Bobby Bowden and Kentucky's Rich Brooks) match wits. Plus, can Wildcats QB Andre' Woodson have success against Florida State's defense?
16. Champs Sports Bowl, Dec. 28, Boston College vs. Michigan State.
It jumps a few spots because it'll be the final game for BC QB Matt Ryan, who played at an extremely high level for most of the season.
15. Poinsettia Bowl, Dec. 20, Navy vs. Utah.
It gets bonus points for being the first bowl of the season. Plus, it'll be interesting to see whether Navy's powerful rushing attack can make much headway against the Utes' stout defense.
14. Meineke Car Care Bowl, Dec. 29, Connecticut vs. Wake Forest.
A nice game-within-a-game between UConn's defense and Wake's motion-happy offense. Plus, it matches two good coaches (UConn's Randy Edsall and Wake's Jim Grobe), both of whom at least informally talked with schools seeking to fill positions.
13. Liberty Bowl, Dec. 29, Mississippi State vs. UCF.
Mississippi State, the SEC's biggest surprise, gets to go against the nation's top rusher in UCF running back Kevin Smith. The junior could set the Division I-A single-season rushing record if he picks up 181 yards. His average is 188.3 ypg.
12. Insight Bowl, Dec. 31, Indiana vs. Oklahoma State.
Indiana is one of the best feel-good stories of the season because of how the Hoosiers rallied in the wake of the offseason death of coach Terry Hoeppner. Plus, both offenses are good and both defenses are mediocre – which means there should be a lot of points.
11. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, Illinois vs. USC.
Yes, the Illini have had a nice season. But on the face of it, this doesn't look as if it'll be a close game. Still, Ron Zook in the Rose Bowl is a cool thing.
10. Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, Tennessee vs. Wisconsin.
The Vols make their second consecutive trip to Tampa, Fla., for the postseason. The Outback is one of those intriguing Big Ten-SEC matchups.
9. Orange Bowl, Jan. 3, Kansas vs. Virginia Tech.
Last season's Orange Bowl matching Louisville and Wake Forest was close, but not all that entertaining. Why do we think this will be like that?
8. Gator Bowl, Jan. 1, Texas Tech vs. Virginia.
Texas Tech wings it all over the place; UVa. plays it close to the vest. Plus, the personality difference between Tech coach Mike Leach and Cavs counterpart Al Groh is as wide as the Pacific Ocean, which could make for some interesting news conferences.
7. Chick-fil-A Bowl, Dec. 31, Auburn vs. Clemson.
Talk about a tough ticket. While it has been a decade, the Bowden family still harbors some ill will about how Terry was treated by Auburn officials.
6. Cotton Bowl, Jan. 1, Arkansas vs. Missouri.
In all likelihood, Darren McFadden's last college game. You have to feel for Mizzou; the Tigers were one win from playing for the national title but ended up here.
5. Capital One, Jan. 1, Florida vs. Michigan.
Two of the nation's premier programs play in what essentially will be a home game for the Gators.
4. Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, Oklahoma vs. West Virginia.
If WVU is over its post-Pitt hangover (how in the world did the Mountaineers lose to Pitt – at home?), this could be interesting.
3. Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, Georgia vs. Hawaii.
Big-time curiosity  factor at work in this one. Hawaii's offense gives the Warriors a puncher's chance. But can the Warriors' defense stymie the Bulldogs?
2. Holiday Bowl, Dec. 27, Arizona State vs. Texas.
The Sun Devils can make a case that they belong in the BCS. And if not for a loss to Texas A&M in the regular-season finale, Texas may have been in the BCS.
1. BCS National Championship Game, Jan. 7, LSU vs. Ohio State.
Hey, it's for the national title. It doesn't get any better than that.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for He can be reached at

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