College football’s bowl season is almost upon us…let us all stand by the Festivus Pole and have an Airing of Grievances. Or, like Frank Costanza has also done, we could scream “Serenity Now!”
I’ve expressed my feelings about the bowl system and how a playoff might generate more interest (check the December 2008 blog archives), but while I remain optimisitic that such a plan might be implemented in my lifetime, I’m also a realist: it’s not happening this year.
That’s why, in our household, my fiancee Susan and I have done our part to generate interest in the 34 college football games that’ll be played from December 19 through January 7…normally, we’d only care about 3-4 of these matchups, but now there’s something on the line.
This is not gambling, mind you, merely a friendly wager (I’ve stated my case about gambling before: find a good growth mutual fund and stick your money in that, instead of giving it to Rocco the bookie). The loser cooks dinner for the winner. If I lose, I’m making my specialty: stuffed pork chops. If Susan loses, than we dine on her delicious Swedish meatballs.
While Susan is a football fan, she admits to making the majority of her picks based on the location of the college or university and whether it’s a place she’d like to visit. With two sons in the U.S. military, she’s also partial to picking the service academies.
I, on the other hand, am a television sportscaster (a good way for a guy to rationalize the many hours spent in front of a TV set or computer screen following sports). Therefore, I will use my knowledge of players, teams, conferences, bowl history, psychology, coaching changes, and whether or not I like the uniforms and/or fight songs.
New Mexico Bowl, December 19: Fresno State vs. Wyoming
Both of us are going with Fresno State in this one. Neither of us have actually been to Fresno, but I wouldn’t mind visiting, since a couple of television colleagues now live there. However, I have been to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and it’s an underrated college town, in my opinion. I’ve only seen each team once: the Bulldogs took Wisconsin down to the wire, while the Cowboys got worked at home by Texas. Beyond that, I’m neutral on each team’s uniforms and I don’t know either school’s fight song. Therefore, Fresno State is the pick.
St. Petersburg Bowl, December 19: UCF vs. Rutgers
Again, there is harmony in the Bradovich-Babcock househould, as we are both picking Rutgers. I’m a little surprised that Susan would go with New Brunswick, NJ as a vacation destination over Orlando, FL, but so be it. Personally, I’d be more interested in this bowl if it were to be played in St. Petersburg, Russia. If you’re a college football player, however, you may not be as interested in taking that trip. I recall the words of former basketball player Charles Shackleford, who, after being selected to play on a U.S.A. collegiate All-Star team set to tour the Soviet Union, was quoted as saying: “I ain’t going to no Russia.”
R & L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, December 20: Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee
We’re both taking Southern Miss in this game. Susan believes Hattiesburg, MS, trumps Murfreesboro, TN, as a vacation destination. Bob thinks USM is has a far better football program (for a directional school) than MTU. How both teams handle the distraction factor of being in New Orleans for the better part of the week leading up to the game will be interesting.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, December 22: Oregon State vs. BYU
Dissension alert: I’m taking OSU, Susan picks BYU. Again, I’m a little perplexed by the pick of Provo, UT as a vacation destination over Corvallis, OR, but so be it. I like the classic look of BYU’s uniforms (thankfully, they ditched the “new” look a few years back) far more than whatever OSU is trying to accomplish (at least they’ve gone away from the “sports bra” orange trim), but the Beavers are the better team, hands down.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, December 23: Utah vs. Cal
Bob picks the Utes, Susan selects the Golden Bears. Having been to both Salt Lake City, UT, and Berkeley, CA, before, I’d go back to either. I think Cal is the better team, but this is one of those bowl matchups where one team has something to prove after a sub-par season (Utah), and the other is lamenting a sub-par season (Cal) and won’t have its best player (Jahvid Best, still dealing with the effects of a concussion and back injuries suffered in a terrifying fall to the turf in a game against Oregon State). My question about this bowl: does the swag bag that goes to each player contain either a credit union pen or a floral bouquet?
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, December 24: Nevada vs. SMU
I’m picking Nevada, Susan’s going with SMU…again, she’s thinking Dallas, TX over Reno, NV, and I can’t argue that. What I can argue is that Nevada is the better team, especially after how the Wolfpack regrouped after starting the season with three demoralizing losses to Notre Dame, Colorado State, and Missouri–none of those three even made it to a bowl. Meanwhile, SMU’s 7-5 record includes an overtime losses to woeful Washington State as well as Navy. However, I must point out that this is a good matchup of logos.
Little Caesars Bowl, December 26: Marshall vs. Ohio
We’re both taking Marshall, but if we never get to Huntington, WV, or Athens, OH, in our future travels, I think we’ll survive. The good news for these teams is that they’ll be playing in a great facility: Ford Field. The bad news: Ford Field is located in downtown Detroit. I wonder if the teams would be more motivated if the bowl sponsor decided the winner gets to eat pizza while the loser gets only breadsticks.
Meineke Car Car Bowl, December 26: Pitt vs. North Carolina
Bob: Pitt. Susan: UNC (Chapel Hill, NC, in her mind, a much, much better vacation destination). Plus, as a Chicago Bears fan, she does not think Dave Wannstedt could coach himself out of a paper bag. While I concur on both topics, as a Duke fan, I cannot and will not ever back a Tar Heels team in any sport. And another thing: what’s with those dark blue uniform pants? Your fan base goes on ad nauseum about how God made the sky Carolina Blue, but then you bust out those pants? Give me a break…ooh, we’re so intimidated by that dark color. How about I bust out a t-shirt made popular by the Duke faithful: GO TO H***, CAROLINA!
Emerald Bowl, December 26: Boston College vs. Southern California
Both of us are going with USC, but I think we’re not 100% down with this pick. For one, Susan would rather see Boston than Los Angeles, and so would I. Besides, the boredom factor has to be off the charts for USC players not from NoCal (the game is being played in San Francisco), and all the guys who’ve now changed their focus to getting ready for the NFL.
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, December 27: Kentucky vs. Clemson
We’re both backing the Tigers in this one…although I refuse to watch if Clemson comes out wearing that purple/orange color combo, a rare instance in which high-definition TV makes something look worse.
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl, December 28: Texas A & M vs. Georgia
I guess they settled on this name for this bowl, figuring that WhyWouldAnyoneCare Independence Bowl wouldn’t sell as many tickets. What about our picks? Susan: A & M. Bob: Georgia. If we ever wind up selecting College Station, TX, over Athens, GA, as a vacation destination, there will be more disagreements…trust me. As long as the Bulldogs are playing anyone other than Wisconsin, I’ll back Georgia, mainly because former News 18 meteorologist Megan Salois is a rabid (not literally, mind you) fan of her beloved Dawgs. I’ll make one other prediction on this game: during A & M coach Mike Sherman’s postgame news conference, he’ll clear his throat at least once.
EagleBank Bowl, December 29: UCLA vs. Temple
Bob: UCLA, Susan: Temple. My lovely fiancee originally picked Army (see above reasons) but alas, the Cadets lost to Navy, allowing the Bruins to travel cross-country for what is sure to be an educational trip to our nation’s capital. I cannot pick Temple, in good conscience, having once seen an Owls team get obliterated by the Badgers at Camp Randall. In fact, I was at the game with Susan’s son Jim, and we both agreed that on that day, Temple would not have beaten UW-Whitewater. Besides, the UCLA uniforms are among the tops in college football, and “Sons of Westwood” is one of the best fight songs around, even though the band plays it after every Bruins first down (which meant I heard it a few times during the 1999 Rose Bowl).
Champs Sports Bowl, December 29: Miami vs. Wisconsin
Do you even have to ask who we’re picking in this one? The preponderance of the color red in our respective casual wardrobes should be a hint….here’s another: we love the U-Dub, and we dislike The U.
Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, December 30: Bowling Green vs. Idaho
Bob: BGSU, Susan: Idaho. Pity these poor teams, whose holiday destination is Boise, ID, to play on blue synthetic turf in a bowl named for a chain of truck stops…ohh, the humanity….
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, December 30: Arizona vs. Nebraska
Bob & Susan: Nebraska, even if we’d rather visit Tuscon, AZ than Lincoln, NE (apologies to my college roommate Scott Keene and his family). The Cornhuskers have something to prove after letting the Big 12 Championship game slip away, so they may keep the Wildcats from scoring a single point or getting one first down.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, December 31: Houston vs. Air Force
Bob: Houston, Susan: Air Force. What’s intriguing about this matchup is that Air Force is almost exclusively a running team, while Houston will chuck it in the air non-stop.
Brut Sun Bowl, December 31: Oklahoma vs. Stanford
Susan’s taking the Sooners, Bob is backing the Cardinal. I’ll go to Norman, OK, over Palo Alto, CA, but only during storm-chasing season. Besides, with Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck, Stanford has some future NFL talent worth watching. However, that university’s highest-profile alum (a Mr. Eldrick Woods) will probably not be seen on the sidelines.
Texas Bowl, December 31: Navy vs. Missouri
We are both backing the Midshipmen. I consider “Anchors Aweigh” a very underrated college fight song.
Insight Bowl, December 31: Minnesota vs. Iowa State
Bob: Gophers, Susan: Cyclones. They could save a lot of travel money and play this game in Mason City, IA, or Albert Lea, MN, rather than in Tempe, AZ. If Minnesota QB Adam Weber can discern the difference between the Gophers colors and those of ISU, then the Gophers should get a win.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl, December 31: Virginia Tech vs. Tenneesee
Bob: VT, Susan UT. Random reasons to root against Tennessee: I don’t like their shade of orange, I’m not a Lane Kiffin fan (even if he’s getting name-dropped in a rap song), and as my college baseball coach, Bob Sullivan once said, as we were traveling from Jackson, through Chattanooga, all the way to Johnson City: “I didn’t realize Tennessee was such a long state!”
Outback Bowl, January 1: Northwestern vs. Auburn
Bob’s being a Big Ten homer and going with the Wildcats, while Susan is taking the Tigers. Northwestern looked good against the Badgers, so that’s good enough for me (with apologies to my college friend Pete Albrecht’s wife, Julie, an Auburn alum). Speaking of Albrecht, he did his graduate work at Northwestern, so this is a dissension special in their household.
Capital One Bowl, January 1: Penn State vs. LSU
Both of us are being Big Ten homers and backing the Nittany Lions. Seriously, how can you root against those classic uniforms and coach-for-life Joe Paterno? You can’t. Besides, there are few things in life I enjoy more than watching the teams (Indiana, LSU) of former UW grad school colleague David Kurpius (now a journalism prof at LSU) lose…decisively.
Konica Minolta Gator Bowl, January 1: West Virginia vs. Florida State
Bob: West Virginia, Susan: FSU. I don’t plan to watch this bowl, but if someone takes a snapshot (with a Konica Minolta camera), I may take a glance at that.
Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi, January 1: Ohio State vs. Oregon
Bob: Ducks, Susan: Buckeyes. This matchup I will watch start to finish. No shortage of story lines here: Big Ten vs. Pac Ten, Midwest vs. West Coast, old money vs. nouveau riche, Nike vs. Nike, classic uniforms vs. the 80 different possible Oregon combinations (http://www.goducks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=500&ATCLID=3755462), Terrelle Pryor vs. Jeremiah Masoli, the buttoned-down, vest-wearing Jim Tressel vs. the blunt-speaking, visor-wearing Chip Kelly. Plus, is there any better visual in all of college bowl season than the sun setting over the San Gabriel Mountains?
Allstate Sugar Bowl, January 1: Florida vs. Cincinnati
Bob: Gators, Susan: Bearcats. However, let the record show that we made these picks before Florida got worked by Alabama, and before Brian Kelly bolted for Notre Dame. Will anyone score? Will anyone care? For you gamblers out there, here’s an over/under on number of eye black patches worn by Tim Tebow: 1 1/2. Take the over.
International Bowl, January 2: South Florida vs. Northern Illinois
Both of us are picking the Bulls to beat the Huskies. If, on a vacation, we find ourselves in DeKalb, IL, versus Tampa, FL, it’s a sure indication that we’ve had car trouble.
Papajohns.com Bowl, January 2: South Carolina vs. UConn
We were pretty ambivalent about this pick until our dogs, labrador retrievers Buddy & Otis, suggested that we keep it in the canine family and go with the UConn Huskies.
AT&T Cotton Bowl, January 2: Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss
OSU is the choice for both of us. They’re playing this game at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, which means fans of the OSU Cowboys have a very easy commute, compared to the fine folks from Oxford, MS.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl, January 2: Arkansas vs. East Carolina
Both of us are down with the Razorbacks. Both of us are also wondering what in the world AutoZone has to do with Liberty.
Valero Alamo Bowl, January 2: MIchigan State vs. Texas Tech
We’re both picking against the Big Ten in this one. If the Badgers were playing in this game, we wouldn’t pick against the Big Ten. Besides, with Susan’s brother Ed (a UW alum) living in Austin, TX, we’d probably be traveling there. But, they’re not, so we’re not. Remember when the Badgers beat Colorado in the Alamo Bowl on a last-second kick by Prescott H.S. alum Mike Allen? Those were good times…
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, January 4: Boise State vs. TCU
Bob: TCU, Susan: Boise State. I’m scheduled to work that day, which means we will not be sitting on our couch, eating Tostitos and watching the game, which is too bad, because it should be one of the better bowl matchups.
FedEx Orange Bowl, January 5: Iowa vs. Georgia Tech
Neither of us really care for the Hawkeyes…and if we’re in Iowa City, IA, instead of Atlanta, GA, then we’ve been on a flight with two pilots who weren’t paying attention and overshot their airport destination. But we’re both picking Iowa. I don’t like to admit it, but the Hawkeyes color scheme, logo, and uniform design are approaching “classic” status in the realm of college football.
GMAC Bowl, January 6: Central Michigan vs. Troy
We both back the MAC in this one, so excuse me while I do a Google search for CMU’s fight song. Okay, I’ve found it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_Hh4DLuSeQ Not bad, but it’s no “On Wisconsin,” “Hail To The Victors,” or “Sons Of Westwood.” My apologies to CMU alum David Bossick of the Chippewa Herald, as well as CMU freshman basketball player and Eau Claire North H.S. grad Tyler Brown. Further apologies go to my aforementioned college friend and current Mobile, AL, resident Pete Albrecht, if he’s actually at Ladd-Peebles Stadium for this matchup…unless he takes his kids, in which case, then it’s okay.
Citi BCS National Championship Game, January 7: Texas vs. Alabama
Bob: Bama, Susan: UT. Will Colt McCoy channel his Heisman disappointment into a stellar final performance in a Longhorns uniform vs. a suffocating Crimson Tide defense? Will Heisman winner Mark Ingram defy history and actually have a big-time performance in the bowl game that follows after receiving the award? Will Bama coach Nick Saban smile either before, during, or after the game? Will UT coach Mack Brown spend a majority of his time talking before the game about how nice it is to actually play for a national title after getting “jobbed” last season? Will the game live up to the hype? Will the sun still look as good setting over the San Gabriel Mountains compared to how it looked six days earlier during the Rose Bowl Game presented by Citi?
These are all questions to be answered as we joyously await Bowl Season 2009-10. In the meantime, we have actual holiday travel planning to do: Hatfield, WI, and Chisholm, MN. At the risk of sounding incredibly sappy, when there’s family involved, those are great travel destinations for us.
With that, we both wish you all the best this holiday season.
-BOB BRADOVICH & SUSAN BABCOCK
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on December 17, 2009