Sunday, December 14

Should I Really Watch This Shit? (or, I Can't Believe This Shitty-Ass Team Got to Play in a Bowl) - Your Guide to the 2008-09 Bowl Season

It's that wonderful time of year when BCS apologists get to remind us of how the bowls preserve the meaningfulness of the regular season, which a playoff would undoubtedly ruin. Every game matters, unless you're two of the top three teams in the country playing head-to-head, in which case it's just an exhibition. Finish 2-5 in your last seven games, failing to crack 100 yards in your final outing against your archrival? That's totally cool. Go 4-4 in the Mountain West, but tack on two big 3-point wins over Sacramento State and Houston? Welcome to the party. Heck, we'll take you if you're 4-4 in the ACC but can add a 10-point blowout of William & Mary to that thick resume. (not WMU mind you; some kid named Will and his sister, Mary) Finish 2-5 in the Big East and own such stellar out-of-conference wins like UT-Martin, UCF, and FIU? Come on down! Skid into 7th place in the Big 10 after going 0-4 in your last four games? Shit, that's good enough for a New Year's Eve bowl.

Thirty-four bowl games presents a dilemma - how much pure awesome can you personally handle? If you're like me and answered "not quite that much" then never fear - we're here to help you decide when to glue your eyes to the screen versus when to... um... get going on those 2009 taxes! Yeah! 1040-EZ, here we come! (We'd be getting 1099s, but we're not paid for this; the effort here is obvious.)

Dec 20
EagleBank: Navy vs. Wake Forest

Better than: Bungee-jumping without a cord.

Not as good as: Breathing, which is slated to make a comeback sometime around mid-season 2010.

Comments: Unfortunately for the fans, I see this game being controlled mostly by Wake Forest. By that I mean - Navy's option ground game should have difficulties against the WF defense, but as long as Navy's defense is able to get properly lined up with the correct number of men on the field, Wake's also going to be going nowhere -- it's what they do. These teams met in late September for a game which featured seven scoring drives, ten punts, and eight turnovers.

NEW MEXICO: Fresno State at Colorado State

Better than: Drinking acetate from a freshly-heated Bunsen burner "because you had nothing better to do." We don't believe you, son, and there's an honor board meeting in your future; besides, meth is much easier, and it's the Fresno way.

Not as good as: Grocery shopping on Black Friday.

Comments: Fresno State is 3 FGs away from being a 10-2 team, which may say just as much about their inability to close out a close game as how close they were to looking like a decent team. Fortunately, Colorado State offers no such illusions as four of their six losses were by 21 points or more. Mind you, one of those four teams finished ranked, and three are bowl-eligible... so hey.


Better than: Being Isiah Thomas' PR rep.

Not as good as: The other St. Petersburg Bowl - the one in Russia, but that's related to soccer.

Comments: Seriously, nobody ever says they want to go to St. Petersburg. I'm floored this bowl even happened.


Better than: Tailgating for a pee-wee football game.

Not as good as: Tailgating for a high school football state championship game.

Comments: We can't be the only people amused that the two Mormon schools got sent to Las Vegas and New Orleans, right? Assuming at least some of BYU's secondary returns from injury, this should be a safe win. Then again, Arizona lost to New Mexico and Stanford, so it might not even matter.

Dec 21
R+L Carriers New Orleans: Southern Miss vs. Troy

Better than: Texting pictures of guns to your ex-girlfriends because the bitch ain't gonna pay up on her own, and she needs to know her place.

Not as good as: Having a team that beat LSU playing in New Orleans; I'm sure the locals would love that.

Comments: Once again, the bowl system's gift for my birthday is a giant "fuck you." I'll be returning this box unopened.

Dec 23
TCU vs. Boise State

Better than: Allowing two of those uppity non-BCS schools into the BCS.

Not as good as: The hilarity that would have ensued if Boise had been chosen over Ohio State.

Comments: So, how exactly does it work out that arguably the two best non-BCS teams end up facing each other? And why is this game before Christmas, of all things? I mean, leave it to a bowl with a payout of something like three used condoms to get it right, but still.

Dec 24
Notre Dame vs. Hawaii

Better than: Watching this exact same game, except played in Boise, Idaho.

Not as good as: Going to Hawaii for some reason other than watching Jimmy Claussen try to play quarterback.

Comments: The schadenfreude train that is Notre Dame gets to play in a theoretical bowl game that's more of a cross-country road trip to Hawaii. On one hand, this is almost the definition of a meaningless bowl game, and since it's held late on Christmas Eve, it's not like anyone but the most diehard of fans will watch it. But on the other hand, Notre Dame alumni now have a reason to travel to Hawaii - well, another reason. Here's hoping the Rainbow Warriors can ruin the trip - or, failing that, just start a giant melee, which has been the only reason to watch this bowl the last few years.

Dec 26
Florida Atlantic vs. Central Michigan

Better than: Flying to DC and asking for money because you're flat broke and about to go out of business.

Not as good as: Not having to fly back to Detroit after you're done having the Senate rip you a new asshole.

Comments: This is almost exactly like the Independence Bowl; two shitty teams nobody's heard of facing each other in a place you'd never want to go to, even if you got really, really drunk. The difference is that there's one guy here (Dan LeFevour) that's worth watching.

Dec 27
North Carolina vs. West Virginia

Better than: Having to pay a lot for a muffler.

Not as good as: Losing your All-Conference starting quarterback, and having him replaced by a guy nicknamed "Sex" or "the Sexton Cannon." (I'm going to assume that UNC players read this blog and pick up on our inside jokes.)

Comments: This is the first "hey, I wonder if this game might actually be worth watching" game of the bowl season (Poinsettia not included). Of course, unlike the Poinsettia both these teams have turned it on only in spurts this season, so realistically there's only about a 25% chance of a good game. That's the second best we've seen so far - if that doesn't scare the hell out of you, I don't know what will.

Florida State vs. Wisconsin

Better than: Seeing two semi-traditional powerhouse schools fight it out in a who-cares bowl that neither fan base is excited about. Wait...

Not as good as: Champs Sports. The last game I watched there, Oklahoma played in an Orange Bowl national championship they shouldn't have gone to and lost by 5 touchdowns. Good times.

Comments: If this game was Minnesota-North Carolina, would you care? No? Well, those teams had the same record this season that these two teams had, but Florida State and Wisconsin will get the credit since they're, well, Florida State and Wisconsin. It could be worse, though; at least FSU didn't get here on their two wins against 1-AA competition.

Miami vs. California

Better than: Beating a hyped Big Ten team in your season opener only to plummet from the rankings by losing to a mediocre ACC team (ie, an ACC team).

Not as good as: Sure we lost to Florida and FSU, but we beat UCF!

Comments: This is a gem of a matchup in a completely different way than the Holiday Bowl. Anyone who doesn't follow college football closely is going to think this should be an awesome game, based on team name and history. Both of these teams have the talent to be way better than they are. Both not only flagrantly underperform, but vary wildly in consistency. (beating Oregon but losing to Maryland?)

Dec 28
INDEPENDENCE: Northern Illinois vs. Louisiana Tech

Better than: Systematically plucking all the hair from your legs, one by one, with a pair of tweezers that haven't been used in 17 years.

Not as good as: Really, the possibilities are limitless here; these are two non-BCS teams playing before New Year's in Shreveport. You don't need us to figure out something here.

Comments: This is a shithole of a bowl. No getting around it, but you'll watch if you have nothing better to do. You'll then hate yourself for not having anything better to do, so you've been warned.

Dec 29
Rutgers vs. N.C. State

Better than: The bowl.

Not as good as: Papa John's pizza. IGOTTHEFUCKINMUNCHIES!

Comments: All the press on this game is about two teams getting hot at the right time; here at LFB, we prefer to focus on the fact that both teams sucked donkey nuts for the first half of the year. Why do people think they don't suck balls now? All they did was beat up on pretty bad conference competition.

Northwestern vs. Missouri

Better than: Losing half of your 5000-man army to scarcely two hundred random outdoorsmen holed up in a missionary.

Not as good as: Winning the battle.

Comments: Imagine that the Alamo defenders also had an equal number of people as the Mexican army. That's pretty much this game. Have fun, Northwestern.

Dec 30
HUMANITARIAN: Maryland vs. Nevada
Better than: Playing in a who-the-fuck-cares bowl game before Christmas.

Not as good as: Playing in a who-the-fuck-cares bowl game that's not in Boise in December.

Comments: The Maryland Black Hole Theory doesn't even apply here, because both teams are pretty much equally shitty. The humanitarian thing to do would be to cancel this game. In addition, Black Hole Theory doesn't apply because Nevada has nobody talented. Fear the turtle!

HOLIDAY: Oklahoma State vs. Oregon
Better than: Each of these teams is better than a hypothetical all-star team composed of the other teams playing Dec 30.

Not as good as: Having this bowl played in January, because really it should be.

Comments: This is a gem of a matchup between two high-powered offenses. In the past, teams like Texas, Cal, and Oregon have flopped in the Holiday Bowl partly due to the letdown of being screwed by the BCS selection process. These are two strong teams who should actually be happy to be here, so hopefully they give us a good one.

TEXAS: Rice vs. Western Michigan
Better than: The Oklahoma Bowl.

Not as good as: Playing defense every once in a while.

Comments: This game is on the NFL Network; take advantage of that by not even thinking about watching this.

Dec 31
Houston vs. Air Force

Better than: I keep on wanting to say "the Armless Forces Bowl", but that's a completely terrible joke and I apologize in advance. However, you try thinking of something better than this.

Not as good as: Blatantly phoning it in on a bowl preview for a bowl you had no idea even existed before you read this. Admit it.

Comments: At least Air Force playing in the Armed Forces Bowl is somehow appropriate, and Houston is crazy-militia nuts enough.

Pittsburgh vs. Oregon State

Better than: Starting off preseason top 25 and conference favorites, then immediately losing to Bowling Green.

Not as good as: Beating USC because their defense literally can't find your pint-sized RB.

Comments: Despite the overall quality of the teams involved, this game features an excellent pair of running backs. It's probably the 2nd-best game on New Year's Eve, which is damning with faint praise but it's all we have.

MUSIC CITY: Boston College vs. Vanderbilt
Better than: Allowing Vandy to actually travel somewhere for a bowl game - although since their choices were going to be Nashville or Memphis, I guess we can't fault them too much.

Not as good as: Holding this game in fackin Beantown. GO SAWX!

Comments: This will be a "defensive struggle" between two teams that combined have half a running back. Did someone say "short bus"? Because that sounds an awful like defensive struggle.

INSIGHT: Kansas vs. Minnesota

Better than: Losing your two best defensive players, facing a crazy schedule, and having the entire nation call out your previous season as a complete fluke.

Not as good as: Blowing the largest lead in bowl history on this very same field, in all fairness against a team that's a lot better than you to begin with, then firing your coach and going 1-11 the following season.

Comments: Minnesota backed into a bowl game so hard they left skid marks, but they should look at it this way - because Northwestern won their game on a TINT, they get to play Missouri. Minnesota gets at least a semi-winnable game - good job, guys.

Georgia Tech vs. LSU

Better than: Following your national championship season by going 7-5.

Not as good as: Chick-Fil-A chicken nuggets. Secret ingredient? CRACK.

Comments: Want a great New Years' Eve drinking game? Take a drink every time the announcers misread the triple option plays. You'll be dead by morning!

Jan 1
Iowa vs. South Carolina

Better than: Living in either of these states.

Not as good as: Phil Steele's predictions for South Carolina, who didn't figure tUSC finishing fourth in the conference behind freaking Vandy, of all things.

Comments: Remember the shit we were talking about Clemson? (And by "remember", I mean "read ahead to that first".) Yeah, same thing applies to both teams here, although Iowa's win over Penn State is the only win that either team has that even kind of acts like quality.

Clemson vs. Nebraska

Better than: Calling a fake field goal that your former team ran the previous season en route to a national title. Only this time, the other team scores a defensive touchdown.

Not as good as: Being a preseason favorite to win your conference, getting destroyed on national television your first week in the top 15, finishing with 7 wins, but still playing in a quality bowl game because your conference is that bad. Note that although this clearly describes Clemson, it's not specific to 2008 by any means.

Comments: Sure, you can be pissed that Clemson played on New Year's, but ...hey, you try picking an ACC team that actually deserves to play past, oh, December 27th. Yeah, that's what I thought.

Michigan State vs. Georgia

Better than: The day's first Big Ten-SEC matchup.

Not as good as: The entertainment factor of Jawja fans.


ROSE: USC vs. Penn State

Better than: USC vs Illinois. Seriously wtf? Yes the selection was made a year ago, and no I'm not letting it go. Stupid Rose Bowl.

Not as good as: USC-Ohio State rematch, in which OSU fans claim that Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor would have changed the outcome of their week 3 game. (projected result: 41-10)

Comments: We're looking forward to this game; in a worse year (read: 2007) these teams could've been playing for the title, so there's a couple quality teams here. With that being said, USC looks to be a small slice above Penn State on both offense and defense, but the question is if they have the braaaaaaaaains to survive.

Virginia Tech vs. Cincinnati

Better than: The rest of the ACC, apparently. Although we still call bullshit on that.

Not as good as: The other eight teams in the BCS, plus Texas Tech, Oregon, Boise State, and Oklahoma State. Maybe Jawja.

Comments: On the plus side, at least the game's perfectly winnable for either team. Shame on the Orange Bowl selection committee for thinking Virginia Tech could handle Kansas last season!

Jan 2
Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech

Better than: Last year's Cotton Bowl? Or maybe not...

Not as good as: Being a pirate. (Mike Leach only)

Comments:Someone on the Cotton Bowl selection committee there really has it in for the SEC. Fun fact: these were the only teams to defeat the two teams who should be playing for the national championship.

LIBERTY: Kentucky vs. East Carolina

Better than: Not having two other bowl games to watch on Jan 2.

Not as good as: Starting out 2-0 against preseason top 25 teams and springboarding into the rankings before losing three of your next four against completely sub-par opposition. (ECU only) Or starting out 4-0 before winding up 6-6. (Kentucky only)

Comments: At this point, we should clarify that "Liberty or Death" has nothing to do with the bowl game -- lest thousands of people start committing seppuku with their frisbees upon reading this matchup.

SUGAR: Utah vs. Alabama

Better than: Going against the real sAviOr in a PvZ pre-2007.

Not as good as: Back in 2004, when Utah not only had a chance but really a guaranteed win in their BCS game.

Comments: Utah's going to get shafted in the press leading up to the game, but they have a shot here. Of course, I mean have a shot in the sense of there's two-for-one drink specials in the Superdome; they're gonna get wrecked.

Jan 3
Buffalo vs. Connecticut

Better than: Living in Canada.

Not as good as: Closing the border at halftime and never allowing these teams to return.

Comments: Our comments on this game got deposed at the border.

Jan 5
Ohio State vs. Texas
Better than: Allowing Boise State to get another BCS shot. Hell no, we can't allow that; isn't that right, Mr. Delany? Comparing each team's performance the last time they set foot on a field in Tempe, I'm sure the Buckeyes were the obvious choice.

Not as good as: Texas Longhorns, 2009 National Champions. Fucking BCS computers.

Comments: Don't Cryyyy Ooooouuuut Looooooouuuud.... Buckeye.

Jan 6
Tulsa vs. Ball State

Better than: Working for GMAC and realizing that there's a 1 in 3 chance that you'll be laid off at halftime. (also ran: The matchup this bowl would have gotten had both the MAC and CUSA conference championships not been upsets.)

Not as good as: Playing this bowl around Dec 19.

Comments: Any comments we'd have on this game we'd likely have to defend, and Tulsa thinks defense is bullshit. In deference to them, we're withholding comment.

Jan 8
BCS Title Game:
Florida vs. Oklahoma

Better than: Allowing Texas to have a title shot.

Not as good as: Allowing Texas to have a title shot.

Comments: Sam Bradford's sure to turn that Heisman into a title, just like Jason White did! (and Eric Crouch, and Troy Smith....)