Early Bowl Games Produce Thrills, Chills…and Predictability

With the first week’s worth of college bowl games in the books, the games themselves may not have been all that prestigious (and no, calling yourselves the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl champions is not particularly prestigious, even if it is your first-ever bowl win — but don’t tell that to the kids from Ohio University, who are always looking for an excuse to party at “Harvard on the Hocking”), but they have produced some thrilling outcomes, with both the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl and the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (won by Louisiana-Lafayette’s Ragin’ Cajuns) featuring last-minute come from behind rallies by the eventual victors.

However, the first bowl games featuring ranked teams, the Poinsettia Bowl, and the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, settled down into predictability, as TCU held on for a win in San Diego against a gritty Louisiana Tech squad; and Boise State may have possibly used their bowl appearance to once again make the statement that they were much more deserving of a Bowl Championship Series at-large berth, as the Broncos blasted a fading Arizona State in Las Vegas.  Missouri left the Big XII in style with a decisive Independence Bowl win over North Carolina.

Of course, as the days progress towards New Year’s Day (actually January 2 since New Year’s Day 2012 falls on a Sunday, and thus will be full of NFL Week 17 action) and beyond, the bowl games and matchups grow progressively better.  With 13 bowls over the next four days, it’s a virtual bowl-a-palooza with some great, classic matchups, such as Florida State taking on Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl on Thursday evening; or Iowa and Oklahoma meeting in Friday night’s Insight Bowl.  (However, if you find yourself tuned into the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Saturday afternoon, featuring 6-7 UCLA and 6-6 Illinois, you’re either an Illini or Bruin alum, or a true masochist.  The Rose Bowl, this is not!)

Speaking of which, the January 2 bowls kick off with a great matchup, with Houston’s pass-happy offense squaring off against Penn State, who may still be reeling from their recent troubles.  After that comes three Florida bowls, all of which feature Big Ten-SEC pairings — newcomers Nebraska against the Ole Ball Coach and South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl; Michigan State takes on Georgia in the Outback Bowl; and Ohio State, a rather dubious choice at 6-6 (full disclosure:  I am Buckeye born and an Ohio State fan) matched up against Florida in the Urban Meyer Gator Bowl.  After that trio comes the Rose Bowl, with a classic Big Ten-Pac 12 matchup of Wisconsin and Oregon; and finally the Fiesta Bowl, which could also be called the NFL Quarterback Audition Bowl, with Stanford’s Andrew Luck going up against Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden.

Later this week, we’ll take a look at the remaining bowl games in the 2011-12 bowl season!

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