By: Dooley’s Cane
What do Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Belk and TaxSlayer.com all have in common? No, it’s not the beginning of some horribly family reunion conversation, sparked by your 35-year old bearded brother-in-law trying to get that big promotion at WalMart. It’s the start of the equally fantastic and horrible time of the year known as bowl season. Fantastic because occasionally you get some truly awesome matchups that make you appreciate this time of the year, but for the majority of this three-week span, it turns into a sad reminder that neither team achieved its primary goal, so they both half-ass for 60 minutes and one team wins a garbage trophy that it doesn’t deserve. But this post isn’t about the oversaturated state of consumerism in America, it’s about keeping you from wasting time on duds. Which ones to watch, which to avoid. And now that no one’s read this, it’s onto the list!
Bowl Games: Ranked
35-33. Most bowl games with an interim HC
There’s nothing worse than a bowl game played with an interim head coach. The team typically does one of two things: plays inspired football to keep a largely useless figurehead installed as head of the program (see: Bill Stewart) or just completely lays down and dies (see: the majority of them) because the result is inconsequential. That means avoid:
Little Caesars Bowl (Dec. 26, 6 PM ET)
Pittsburgh vs Bowling Green
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (Dec. 24, 8 PM ET)
Boise St vs Oregon St
GoDaddy Bowl (Jan. 5, 9 PM ET)
Arkansas St vs Ball St
32. R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Dec. 21, 9 PM ET)
Tulane vs Louisiana-Lafayette
Does this sound interesting to anyone outside of the Louisiana borders? Next.
31. Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1, Noon ET)
UNLV vs North Texas
Two teams that haven’t been in a bowl since last decade. Sweet.
30. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 21, 5:30 PM ET)
Buffalo vs San Diego St
Turner Gill leads his Buffalo into… wait… Turner Gill’s not there anymore? Well, hell, at least you have the Aztecs. They like to give the ball away (28 TOs). If you don’t like a competent offense, this is the game for you.
29. Military Bowl (Dec. 27, 2:30 PM ET)
Marshall vs Maryland
I hate the entire damn state of Maryland. Rock on, Thundering Herd.
28. Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (Dec. 23, 2 PM ET)
East Carolina vs Ohio
The Pirates come in averaging over 40 points per game. Both teams have decent quarterbacks in Shane Carden (ECU) and Tyler Tettleton (Ohio).
27. Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (11:45 AM ET)
MTSU vs Navy
I’m all for the Blue Raiders, and if you live in Tennessee, you owe it to yourself to at least give them a chance. They play some pretty entertaining ball. Navy also averages 320 rushing yards a game, so if you enjoyed watching Auburn run right through Missouri all day, you should find a little enjoyment in this.
26. New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28, Noon ET)
Rutgers vs Notre Dame
The game with no defense. Rutgers HC Kyle Flood fired his defensive coordinator and Notre Dame DC Bob Diaco was hired by UConn. Points for everyone!
25. Gildan New Mexico Bowl (Dec. 21, 2 PM ET)
Washington St vs Colorado St
Mike Leach is slowly improving the Cougs and Jim McElwain got the Rams into a bowl in his second year. I’d watch just for the potential Leach sideline explosion and halftime questions.
24. Texas Bowl (Dec. 27, 6 PM ET)
Syracuse vs Minnesota
The Golden Gophers finished 8-4 after being picked to finish last in the Big 10 Legends, plus there’s the Jerry Kill factor.
23. Advocare V100 Bowl (Dec. 31, 2:30 PM ET)
Arizona vs Boston College
This game features two of the most prolific running backs in college football. Had their teams performed better, they’d both be in Heisman contention. Instead, it’s just Andre Williams. Williams has had some utterly dominant performances, while also managing to have a couple sub-50 yard games. Wildcats’ Kadeem Carey is just as explosive, rushing for around 1,700 yards.
22. Autozone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 31, 4 PM ET)
Rice vs Mississippi St
In all honesty, I’m surprised Dan Mullen made a bowl. He was staring 5-7 straight in the face before an improbable Egg Bowl win over Ole Miss. Your reward? MEMPHIS! Woo! Let’s see if the Bulldogs can carry the SEC banner against mighty Conference USA…
21. Belk Bowl (Dec. 28, 3:20 PM ET)
Cincinnati vs North Carolina
A year after beating the Blue Devils in Duke’s first bowl appearance since man crawled out of the primordial ooze, the Bearcats return to Charlotte to face the Tar Heels. UNC looked absolutely putrid most of the year, but at least they get to stay in state.
20. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl (Dec. 30, 3:15 PM ET)
Ole Miss vs Georgia Tech
If Sandra Bullock shows up at this game, I’m there. In all seriousness, Robert Nkemdiche is probably enough reason to watch this game. He’s been stellar when healthy. Middle Tennessee will appreciate seeing former Blackman RB I’Tavius Mathers in the backfield for the Rebs.
19. San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (Dec. 26, 9:30 PM ET)
Northern Illinois vs Utah
Heisman candidate Jordan Lynch came up one game short in making a BCS bowl. San Diego isn’t Pasadena, but it’s an admirable consolation. He’s enough to make me tune in for a few minutes.
18. BBVA Compass Bowl (Jan. 4, 1 PM ET)
Houston vs Vanderbilt
Vandy’s not nearly as good as its 8-4 record appears, but the Commodores would still be in a better bowl game if not for atrocious fan support. James Franklin the coach deserves better. James Franklin the person deserves worse.
17. Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28, 10:15 PM ET)
Michigan vs Kansas St
Devin Gardner underachieved, Brady Hoke looks like he may be losing the team, but he put up a valiant effort against the Buckeyes. For some fans, that’s good enough. And that’s sad.
16. Fight Hunger Bowl (Dec. 27, 9:30 PM ET)
BYU vs Washington
This is the reason I wrote not to watch MOST games with an interim. The Huskies are just waiting for Chris Petersen to take over, but Bishop Sankey is electrifying.
15. Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl (Dec. 21, 3:30 PM ET)
Fresno St vs Southern California
Some poor NFL team is going to fall in love with Derek Carr during the NFL Combine. Here’s your chance to watch him and be the guy that tells your friends, “I knew he wasn’t a franchise quarterback!” as he’ll probably get metaphorically abused by the Trojans. Which is better than being actually abused, which was a certainty if Ed Orgeron were still on staff.
14. Russell Athletic Bowl (Dec. 28, 6:45 PM ET)
Louisville vs Miami
This was supposed to be the year of the Cardinal: Rick Pitino led the team to a basketball title and Charlie Strong had the gridiron version in prime position with Heisman favorite Teddy Bridgewater returning for his senior season. Then reality struck in the form of a Golden Knight. Bye bye Heisman. Bye bye title shot. Miami is on its way up, and did beat rival Florida, but got throttled Florida State and did lose to Duke. Duke had a good season… but it’s still weird to say Miami lost to Duke.
13. National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30, 10:15 PM)
Arizona St vs Texas Tech
Todd Graham vs Kliff Kingsbury. Bro hard, bro. The Red Raiders fell back to earth after a hot start, and the Sun Devils are a daunting challenge. But only for those not in Kingsbury’s shades.
12. Hyundai Sun Bowl (Dec. 31, 2 PM ET)
UCLA vs Virginia Tech
Bruins QB Brett Hundley is going to be an NFL stud. Watch him in college while you still have the chance.
11. TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl (Jan. 1, Noon ET)
Georgia vs Nebraska
No Aaron Murray, no chance for Georgia. Even though Bo Pelini stands a realistic chance of getting tossed for impaling a ref with a first down marker, there’s still no way the Bulldogs pull off a win. All the more reason to watch.
10. Outback Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM ET)
LSU vs Iowa
LSU will be without Zach Mettenberger, but they really shouldn’t have a problem with the Hawkeyes. Just get Odell Beckham the ball and let him win the game for you.
9. Chick-Fil-A Bowl (Dec. 31, 8 PM ET)
Texas A&M vs Duke
If there’s one game I could go to in person, it’d be this one, for two reasons. 1. Johnny Manziel in his last college game. He may just break Amanda Bynes out of rehab just to smoke weed with her midfield before giving the NCAA a double-finger salute and hightailing it to the NFL. 2. IT’S DUKE IN A REAL LIFE BOWL. How many times are we going to be able to see this before the Rapture?
8. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1, 8:30 PM ET)
Baylor vs Central Florida
Bryce Petty vs Blake Bortles. Man that’s gonna be wild.
7. Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 PM ET)
South Carolina vs Wisconsin
Can Jadeveon Clowney top last year’s earth-shattering bowl game destruction? Who knows, but with it being his last amateur game, I’m down to find out.
6. Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30, 6:45 PM ET)
Oregon vs Texas
The Ducks may have sputtered down the stretch, but the offense is still fun to watch, and Texas isn’t necessarily the fastest team on defense. Is Mack Brown still going to be there for the bowl? Will he be a lame duck? Will Texas choose to stun everyone and keep him? Ahhh, the drama.
5. Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2, 8:30 PM ET)
Alabama vs Oklahoma
I’m not entirely sure if Alabama will be motivated enough to blow out Oklahoma, but it could easily play a “C” game and beat Oklahoma. As long as Nick Saban is still there, of course.
4. Discover Orange Bowl (Jan. 3, 8:30 PM ET)
Ohio State vs Clemson
If there’s any better feeling in the world than watching Urban Meyer get his dreams crushed and stomped, I haven’t found it. He may come out trying to inflict his pain on Clemson, but we all win here, because he didn’t make it to a national championship.
3. AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3, 7:30 PM ET)
Missouri vs Oklahoma State
James Franklin and the Tigers hung with Auburn for three quarters, point for point. The defense is led by SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Michael Sam. Oklahoma State came up one game short of the BCS. A shootout’s comin’.
2. Rose Bowl (Jan. 1, 5 PM ET)
Michigan St vs Stanford
Two of my favorite teams: hard-nosed defense, headbusters, power running game. This would be my number one game most years. If I had a 17-year old son, I’d let him play for Mark Dantonio or David Shaw in a heartbeat.
1. Vizio BCS National Championship (Jan. 6, 8:30 PM ET)
Florida St vs Auburn
Jameis Winston will probably win the Heisman, and I’m hoping the Heisman Curse follows. I’m not an SEC homer, but who did Florida St beat to really impress anyone? A Clemson team that we learned wasn’t all that good? An overmatched Duke squad? Florida St is damn good, but they’re not unbeatable. Will Winston know how to play in the fourth quarter in a close game? The Seminole defense is better than Auburn’s, but we see how these “overpowering” defenses have performed against the Tigers: Tre Mason and Nick Marshall have left every so-called dominant defense with hurt feelings, pouting in the corner.