Bowl season is only three days away, as hard as that is to believe. There are some pretty sweet contests this year that I'll probably be missing, but oh well. There are also some clunkers that I'll also be missing, and that I won't mind as much (what the heck is the New Mexico Bowl?). And there is, as always, a colossal BCS snub... though it's not the one you're thinking of. Texas and Oklahoma are pretty much the same - the coin was flipped, OU came out on top. It's the best we could have done without a playoff (which, as a sort-of 'Horns fan, is little consolation).
Anyway. On to the games. As always, the picks are made by the seat of my pants, with minimal actual knowledge.
EagleBank: Wake Forest vs. Navy: Navy mugged Wake earlier this year. Don't expect it to happen again. Pick: Wake Forest
New Mexico: Colorado State vs. Fresno State: Boy, how far has Fresno State fallen? They used to be the darlings of the non-BCS crowd, and now they end up in New Mexico? College football's a wild world. Pick: Fresno State
St. Petersburg: Memphis vs. South Florida: A quick note - there are at least eight bowl games where a team doesn't have to leave their own metro area to play (I'm counting USF and Cal, who play across bays from their campuses, in this one). With the exception of USC, who as Pac-10 champion is automatically sent to the Rose Bowl, each of these teams could have gone to a different bowl game. Can something be done about this? It seems unfair for a bowl game to have a home team. Pick: South Florida
Las Vegas: BYU vs. Arizona: Hmmm, the #3 team from a solid conference against the #5 team from a bad conference? This looks like a blowout to me... as long as Max Hall remembers what color jerseys his guys wear. Pick: BYU
New Orleans: Southern Miss vs. Troy: I know nothing about either team, so I'll pick Troy because they almost beat LSU. Pick: Troy
Poinsettia: Boise State vs. TCU: I'm calling this the fifth BCS game, because really, shouldn't this be a BCS game instead of Virginia Tech-Cincinnati? The teams are a combined 22-2, with both losses coming to top-6 teams on the road, and they're both in the top 15. I'll rant more about BSU later, but I'm actually picking against them here. Why? Have you seen TCU's defense play? It's pretty awesome. Pick: TCU
Hawaii: Hawaii vs. Notre Dame: Probably the worst bowl game of the year. I'll go with Notre Dame because, hey, why not. Pick: Notre Dame
Motor City: Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan: Dan Lefevour being the only player in this game worth watching, I'll go with his team. Pick: Central Michigan
Meineke: West Virginia vs. North Carolina: Mediocre ACC team beats mediocre Big East team. Pick: UNC
Citrus: Wisconsin vs. Florida State: I've actually been impressed with Christian Ponder's development this year. He might be able to return the 'Noles to relevance in future years. Pick: Florida State
Emerald: Miami vs. California: I know nothing about either team, so I'll go with the home team. Pick: Cal
Independence: Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech: See above. Pick: Louisiana Tech
Papajohns.com: Russell Wilson turned it on in the second half of the season and made one hell of a push to bowl eligibility - making them the Bizarro Vanderbilt. Pick: NCSU
Alamo: Missouri vs. Northwestern: Dream season for Northwestern, but I don't see anyone in purple who can stop Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin. Pick: Missouri
Humanitarian: Maryland vs. Nevada: It really depends on what Maryland team shows up. I have a feeling they'll beat Nevada even if Mediocre Maryland shows up. As long as it's not the team that lost to MTSU. Pick: Maryland
Texas: Western Michigan vs. Rice: You know you have bowl inflation when more than one Directional Michigan school makes it to a bowl game. Pick: Rice
Holiday: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon: This looks interesting, but I think I'll have to go with the 'Pokes since they were the fourth wheel in an amazing division. Pick: Oklahoma State
Armed Forces: Houston vs. Air Force: Air Force flew under the radar (heh) this year because of the Mountain West's Big Three, but they're still pretty good. Houston has a nice offense, but they played in a conference that doesn't believe in defense. Pick: USAFA
Sun: Oregon State vs. Pittsburgh: Let's recap. Both of these teams were poised to win their conferences. Both choked in the final week. Now both are headed to the Sun Bowl. Anyway, as long as Jacquizz Rogers (easily the best first name in college football) is healthy, the Beavers win. Pick: Oregon State
Music City: Boston College vs. Vanderbilt: Reasons to pick Boston College:
1) BC is 9-4, Vandy is 6-6.
2) BC won four of its last five; Vandy lost six of its last seven.
3) BC scores 25 points a game; Vandy scores 19, and struggled a lot down the stretch.
4) BC got to its conference title game. Vandy was nowhere close.
Reasons to pick Vanderbilt:
1) I'm a massive homer.
I think you know how this will end. Pick: Vanderbilt
Insight: Kansas vs. Minnesota: Kinda disappointing for Kansas this year. It would be a disappointing season for Minnesota too, except no one actually expected them to win more than two games this year, so bully for them. I'll still go with Todd Reesing though. Pick: Kansas
Peach: LSU vs. Georgia Tech: LSU has been horrible down the stretch, and Paul Johnson's throwback option offense is really tough to defend, especially for teams used to a more conventional approach. Oh yeah, and it's a home game for the Jackets. Pick: Georgia Tech
Outback: South Carolina vs. Iowa: One team lost to Vanderbilt. The other beat Penn State. Any questions? Pick: Iowa
Capital One: Georgia vs. Michigan State: Don't pick against Knowshon Moreno. Just don't do it. Pick: Georgia
Gator: Nebraska vs. Clemson: The Perennially Hyperinflated Expectations Bowl should be won by the team that went 8-4 in a halfway decent conference, as opposed to the team that went 7-5 against a conference with no really good teams. Pick: Nebraska
Cotton: Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech: Sure, Ole Miss beat Florida, but... see the Outback Bowl for further explanation. Plus, Texas Tech is damn good. Pick: Texas Tech
Liberty: Kentucky vs. East Carolina: Again, see above. Pick: ECU
International: Buffalo vs. Connecticut: If either Turner Gill or Utah's Kyle Whittingham isn't coach of the year, something's horribly, horribly wrong. Pick: Buffalo
GMAC: Ball State vs. Tulsa: The Coulda-Shoulda-Woulda Bowl goes to the team that choked away a chance at an undefeated season. Barely, because Tulsa can play. Pick: Ball State
Orange: Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech: This really, really should be switched with the Poinsettia. It's not too late, BCS... you can exile the ACC and Big East if you want... Pick: Cincinnati
Rose: Penn State vs. Southern Cal: Usually I think USC is overrated, but not this year. When not playing in Corvallis, they look pretty impressive. And they'll be at home. Penn State is good, but the Prophylactics are better. Pick: USC
Sugar: Utah vs. Alabama: This matchup between two solid defensive teams could end 3-0. Or it could end with both teams in the 40s. Since it'll probably be a close game, I'll go with who I trust more in the clutch. That would be the arm of Brian Johnson, the hands of Freddie Brown, and the leg of Louie Sakoda, all of which are better than whatever the Tide has to offer. Pick: Utah
Fiesta: Texas vs. Ohio State: OK, Fiesta Bowl, what the hell were you thinking? You had a choice between Boise State and Ohio State here. One team has already given your bowl the most exciting bowl game in recent memory, is undefeated, can keep pace with Texas stride-for-stride on offense, and might give the 'Horns a game. The other is perennially overrated, has an unremarkable offense and defense, and has gotten blown out by opponents similar in stature to the 'Horns in both of its past two BCS appearances. And you picked the latter? Congratulations, your reward is a boring blowout that no one but 'Horns fans will want to see. Pick: Texas
Championship: Florida vs. Oklahoma: Sure, the Gators lost to Ole Miss, but they've been stomping everyone in sight the past few weeks. Of course, so has Oklahoma. But Florida has actually had to face some defenses worthy of the name... unlike Oklahoma, who played in a conference that - ahem - is not exactly known for its defensive prowess. If the scoreboard doesn't explode, I'm thinking Florida has the edge on this one. Also: when in doubt, always pick the SEC. Pick: Florida