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Bowl Mania: Previewing Every College Football Matchup

Montee Ball could break Barry Sanders' touchdown record. (AP Photo)

Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Albuquerque)
Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4)
This is a surprisingly strong game to open the bowl season. These are both legitimately “good” teams. I wish them well.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Boise)
Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5)
This game is best known for drawing the ire of a punter. As it should be.

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (umm…)
San Diego State (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
The Aztecs against the Ragin’ Cajuns! Deadliest Warrior, get on it.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl St. Petersburg (again, you know this)
Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)
I ate at a Beef ‘O’ Brady’s once. It was terrible. Fittingly, this game will be too.

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Well… just the city of San Diego)
No. 15 TCU (10-2) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4)
This is a surprisingly good bowl almost every year. The name is still worthy of all kinds of scorn, but at least the organizers can put on a good show.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (Seriously, stop putting the city in the bowl name)
No. 6 Boise State (11-1) vs. Arizona State (6-6)
Have I ever told you that I hate college football? Not always, just when stuff like this happens. Here we have Boise State, one of the best teams in the last decade whose only loss this season was to TCU, a ranked team and their perpetual life partner.

What does that get them?

A trip to a useless bowl against a miserable Pac-12 school that has no chance to even give them a game. Their scrimmages leading up to the game will be more competitive. I hope they win by 70.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Honolulu… we’re getting better)
Nevada (7-5) vs. No. 21 Southern Miss (11-2)
This is a game worth watching. USM was sneaky good all year, and Nevada is always a tough out. Looks like we’re making progress toward better games.

AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl (Shreveport)
Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5)
Oh, no, we’re not. The only people not directly affiliated with these schools who will watch are SEC fans preparing taunts for the Tigers. In fact, I don’t think anyone would notice if this game was cancelled.

Little Caesars Bowl (Detroit)
Western Michigan (7-5) vs. Purdue (6-6)
There are a few of these games every year – a mediocre BCS conference team against a decent non-AQ team. Winning will prove nothing, but it’s nice to think it does.

Belk Bowl (Charlotte)
Louisville (7-5) vs. N.C. State (7-5)
I went to Elon University for a year (two hours from Charlotte, but you knew that), and located in the middle of the campus was the Belk Library. That is the only analysis I have for this game.

Military Bowl Presented By Northrop Grumman (Washington D.C.)
Toledo (8-4) vs. Air Force (7-5)
This is the Military Bowl’s fourth year, but only the second time a service academy will appear. Go Air Force?

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl (San Diego)
California (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5)
This is a matchup between the flagship campuses of our two most populous states, and yet it is totally irrelevant. How does that happen?

Champs Sports Bowl (Orlando)
No. 25 Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4)
You cannot stage a good bowl based on past success.

Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio)
Washington (7-5) vs. No. 16 Baylor (9-3)
Baylor deserves a better opponent, but it will nice for RG3 to have what is essentially a home win to bask in the Heisman glory.

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (Dallas)
BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4)
Wait, there’s a Military Bowl AND an Armed Forces Bowl!?! The service academies only seem capable of playing in one of these games every year. It doesn’t seem like that focus is something that should be split. They are both fringe bowl games as it is.

New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Rutgers (8-4) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
Ugh. I know they want this to become a cool tradition, but no one is going to care about playing football in Yankee Stadium if they only bring in terrible teams. Don’t be fooled by Rutgers’ record, they would be 6-6 in any of the other BCS conferences.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Nashville)
Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6)
Here are two teams that definitely deserve the opportunity to play another game.

Insight Bowl (Tempe)
Iowa (7-5) vs. No. 19 Oklahoma (9-3)
My reaction to this matchup: “Wait, aren’t these two teams in the same conference…oh right. That’s Iowa State. What’s the difference? Eh, I don’t care.” Seriously though, Oklahoma should be playing someone better. They started the season as the No. 1 team in the country and are still pretty good. Why couldn’t they play a Boise State or TCU?

Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas (Houston)
Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
This is marginally better than the Music City Bowl because Texas A&M is always entertaining, but marginally worse because the name is so stupid.

Hyundai Sun Bowl (El Paso)
Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5)
Besides my undying hatred of the triple option, I have nothing snarky to say about this game. It’s what a bowl should be – two successful teams from disparate parts of the country who would not normally play each other.

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis)
No. 24 Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6)
Here’s whom Oklahoma should be playing. Would anyone object if we flipped the Liberty Bowl and Insight Bowl so the matchups were Vanderbilt-Iowa (useless) and Cincinnati-Oklahoma (very intriguing)?

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl (San Francisco)
Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7)
These teams are a combined 12-13. No other bowl has ever pitted teams who have combined to be under .500. UCLA “earned” a berth in the Pac 12 Championship game despite losing its last regular season game 50-0.

Illinois has lost its last six games, and with this game on Dec. 31, will at that point have gone almost three months since its last win. For most teams with six game losing streaks, the season isn’t even three months long.

Chick-fil-A Bowl (Atlanta)
Virginia (8-4) vs. Auburn (7-5)
This is the most Southern of all the bowls. For that reason, it makes sense that it pits two Southern schools against each other in the Capital of The South.

TicketCity Bowl (Dallas)
No. 17 Houston (12-1) vs. No. 23 Penn State (9-3)
This is the only bowl game that’s actually in the Cotton Bowl.

Outback Bowl (Tampa)
No. 13 Michigan State (10-3) vs. No. 18 Georgia (10-3)
Nice! Well done, mysterious cabal of bowl organizers, this is just the kind of game I want to see. The losers of the Big Ten and SEC Championships should make for quite a game.

Capital One Bowl (Orlando)
No. 20 Nebraska (9-3) vs. No. 9 South Carolina (10-2)
See above, except South Carolina is the best of this quartet. How do I apply for admission into the cabal? Does the NCAA force me to take a vow in which I make primarily illogical and irrational decisions? Gator Bowl (Jacksonville)
Ohio State (6-6) vs. Florida (6-6)
This game feels important, because of their recent history. It is not though.

BBVA Compass Bowl (Birmingham)
SMU (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6)
Every year I am flummoxed by these last subpar bowl games. This game and the bowl are actually the last two games before the BCS Championship, I just couldn’t bear to list them after the BCS bowls. While the latter at least matches up some pretty decent teams, this game is just terrible. Bowl (Mobile)
Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3)
Look at those records!

AT&T Cotton Bowl (Cowboys Stadium, actually)
No. 10 Kansas State (10-2) vs. No. 7 Arkansas (10-2)
I conceptualize this game as a BCS game, even if it is not. These two teams are both ranked higher than the Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl participants, so it might as well be.

Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio
No. 8 Wisconsin (11-2) vs. No. 5 Oregon (11-2)
Wisconsin strikes me as being the exact opposite of Oregon. They are methodical and slow, while Oregon is a quick strike offense. Even so, the Badgers have Montee Ball, the most exciting player in this game. He has a good chance to break Barry Sanders’ record for touchdowns, which is reason enough to watch.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
No. 4 Stanford (11-1) vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State (11-1)
Another one the cabal got right! I don’t just want to see No. 1 versus No. 2, I went to see each pairing after that until we’ve exhausted ranked teams (and that lucky one unranked team). That is not remotely feasible, but it would be clean. This offers a de facto third place game, which is more than just about any bowl can offer this year.

Allstate Sugar Bowl
No. 12 Michigan (10-2) vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech (11-2)
Michigan doesn’t really feel like they belong this year, but that’s ok. Their ability to travel will shore up their mild shortcomings. That’s why college football is awesome terrible.

Discover Orange Bowl
No. 22 West Virginia (9-3) vs. No. 14 Clemson (10-3)
It’s so silly that the Big East and ACC are matched up in the Orange Bowl every year. They are the worst BCS conferences, and every single year they devalue this game’s history.

Allstate BCS National Championship Game
No. 1 LSU (13-0) vs. No. 2 Alabama (11-1)
Hey, remember that LSU-Alabama preview I did? Expect that, again. But with more time to prepare. And both teams healthier. And with LSU’s quarterback situation more settled.

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