Your guide to bowl season
December 20, 2013
BCS era comes to an end with bowl season starting Saturday
The bowl season and finally the end of the BCS begins this weekend as more than half of the country's college teams vow to end the year on a high note.
Nevada will be nowhere to be found this winter as the Wolf Pack stumbled to a 4-8 finish under first-year coach Brian Polian. But UNLV saved its coach this season by finishing with a winning record and bowl berth, making the Rebels the only team from the Silver State alive in the postseason.
UNLV could have an exciting game against North Texas on New Year's Day in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
With money still controlling the college football landscape, nearly half of the bowl games this season are a waste with a handful worth watching. If anything, some of the games could provide good background filler or a chance to escape the in-laws when they visit next week for the holidays.
Instead of examining every bowl game, listed are games worth watching, will provide the appropriate background noise and those that shouldn't even be heard on the radio.
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IS IT BASEBALL SEASON YET?
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg
East Carolina vs. Ohio
Which game will have a bigger turnout? This bowl game or the Tampa Rays' home opener in four months?
Arkansas State vs. Ball State
Jan. 5 (6 p.m.)
Danica Patrick commercials are more exciting to watch then these two teams.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh
At least Detroit will get to host a postseason football game if the Lions choke again in the NFL.
Marshall vs. Maryland
Will there be an RG3 sighting in the house?
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
Tulane vs. UL-Lafayette
The cleanup crew shouldn't have many problems getting ready for Sunday's Saints-Panthers game.
WATCH DURING COMMERCIALS
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Buffalo vs. San Diego State
You get to see a fellow conference foe compete on the SmurfTurf.
BBVA Compass Bowl
Houston vs. Vanderbilt
Vandy surprised a lot of people by beating Florida. But Nevada probably could have beaten Florida.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Notre Dame vs. Rutgers
Dec. 28 (9 a.m.)
The Irish go from playing for a national championship to playing in a baseball stadium. My how things have fallen hard for Notre Dame.
Cincinnati vs. North Carolina
Cincy's trying to get back stardom after Brian Kelly bolted for Notre Dame.
Minnesota vs. Syracuse
Dec. 27 (3 p.m.)
Fallon, do you remember Luke Arciniega from the Cal Ripken days? He now plays linebacker for Syracuse. What a small world.
WHEN YOU GET TIRED OF WAR STORIES
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Colorado State vs. Washington State
This is a key game to scout because Nevada faces Washington State and two former Pack assistants in 2014. The game shouldn't fall short in points like last year's bowl with Nevada and Arizona.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Boise State vs. Oregon State
For the first time in more than a decade, Boise State will not have Chris Peterson either guiding the team or as an assistant. The future of Bronco football will be tested against a Pac-12 foe that gave Oregon a run for its money last month.
Northern Illinois vs. Utah State
Where the heck did Utah State come from? The Aggies used to be the punchline in the WAC and then come into the Mountain West and contend for a title. Wow.
Fight Hunger Bowl
BYU vs. Washington
BYU continues to improve each season and could break into the rankings next season while the Huskies will give incoming coach Chris Peterson some ideas to work on during the offseason.
Iowa vs. LSU
Jan. 1 (10 a.m.)
It's not in the top half of good bowl games on New Year's Day but it kicks off the beginning of the year.
DON'T LEAVE YOUR SEAT
Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl
Fresno State vs. USC
Remember back in 2005 when Fresno State almost upset No. 1 USC at the Coliseum before being upset by Nevada the week after? The Bulldogs missed out on a BCS berth thanks to San Jose State while USC is finding its groove again now that Lane Kiffin is gone. USC could be in the discussion as a top-10 team next season.
AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic
Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
Jan. 3 (4:30 p.m.)
The Tigers lost a slugfest to Auburn in the SEC title game but surprised everyone by making it that far. Oklahoma State was in the dirver's seat for a BCS bowl before rival Oklahoma knocked the Cowboys off.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon vs. Texas
Several Ducks players said they didn't want to compete in the Rose Bowl, which goes to the Pac-12 champ. Your wish came true: you get the Longhorns in Mack Brown's finale.
Capital One Bowl
South Carolina vs. Wisconsin
Jan. 1 (10 a.m.)
Wisconsin hasn't lost a step since its coach departed last season and could become a major contender for the conference title next year. South Carolina gave Missouri its only loss of the season before the SEC title game.
Duke vs. Texas A&M
Who would have thought that Duke's football team would still be playing in December along with Coach K's hoops team? The books have this game set with the most points of any bowl this season.
BEST OF THE BCS
1. Rose Bowl
Michigan State vs. Stanford
The Rose Bowl — not the championship game — will be this year's best game. It's a classic grind-and-pound match-up between two of the country's best defenses.
2. BCS National Championship Game
Florida State vs. Auburn
We all knew that an SEC team would be in the title game before the season began? Alabama, Texas A&M and even LSU were the leading candidates but Auburn's surprised us all? Florida State, though, has to be one of the most overrated ranked teams in the country.
3. Allstate Sugar Bowl
Alabama vs. Oklahoma
A couple of slipups prevented this contest from being played in Pasadena but Crimson Tide and Sooners are storied programs and will not disappoint in putting on a great show.
4. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Baylor vs. Central Florida
UCF gets to go bowling because of an automatic berth. It's about time the BCS is going away from good after rewarding mediocre teams with high-money bowls.
5. Discover Orange Bowl
Clemson vs. Ohio State
Jan. 3 (5:30 p.m.)
Everyone but Ohio State knew the Buckeyes were overrated. Soft schedule and no defense finally got tested against Michigan State and the Buckeyes failed miserably.
The BCS comes to close after the champion is crowned on Jan. 6. While there have been good match-ups in the system, overall the committee and its selection process have been a disappointment, controlled by the money hogs that run college football.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.