Monday, December 05, 2005
SMQ'S DECEMBER BOWL GUIDE
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Everybody knows the teams, the players, the history and the pageantry of the traditional big money New Year's Day affairs, but it takes a true fan to comment knowingly to suitably impressed spouses and buddies about Conference USA's fourth place team while munching Christmas dinner leftovers in the middle of a weekday afternoon.
That's where SMQ comes in, to inform you, the hardcore fan, with all you need to know about the amalgam of indstinguishable December bowls filled with schools you weren't certain fielded football teams.
In descending order, from best game to least:
Who's Playing: Two top ten, dare SMQ say, BCS-worthy teams: Miami (9-2) vs. LSU (10-2).
Who's Happy: Football geeks without a date Friday, Dec. 30, which is, let's face it, pretty much all of us.
Who's Disappointed: Both participants. LSU just got creamed in Atlanta last week; Miami slummed it pre-NYD last year. Florida and Alabama, both defeated by the Tigers, are in supposedly more prestigious NYD affairs, as is Virginia Tech, 20-point loser to Miami last month.
Who Cares: Any respectable football fan. Quite possibly the best December bowl match-up since, well, Louisville-Boise State. But you'd have to go back decades before that.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
The, uh, the what? Football? Whassat?
Who's Playing: Oklahoma (7-4) vs. Oregon (10-1)
Who's Happy: The Holiday Bowl, which landed another top ten, BCS-snubbed PAC Ten point factory.
Who's Disappointed: Again, both teams, for very different reasons: Oregon, as a one-loss major conference success, feels it deserved a big money berth; at the start of the year, Oklahoma expected to be playing a week later up the road.
Who Cares: If it knows what's good for it, Oregon, which should learn from Cal's lackluster, post-snub letdown in San Diego last year.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: The rerun of Seinfeld where Kramer finds the set of The Merv Griffin Show in the trash and sets his apartment up like a talk show ("Where do you sleep?" "Backstage.")
Who's Playing: Traditional powerhouses turned middle-of-the-pack spoilers: Nebraska (7-4) vs. Michigan (7-4).
Who's Happy: San Antonio, which gets to feed and house two monstrous, loyal fan bases and, ironically, Nebraska, which fired its coach after finishing a ten-win season here two years ago but is ecstatic to be anywhere just weeks after getting waxed by Kansas.
Who's Disappointed: Michigan. Top ten in the preseason expects better (especially when you beat the team with the same record - Iowa - playing in the Outback Bowl...).
Who Cares: Magical eight-win barrier is on the line, which means both teams. Eight wins is way, way better than seven.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: The cute red-headed girl on Myth Busters try to blow her intestines out of her body with Coke and pop rocks.
Who's Playing: Northwestern (7-4) and UCLA (9-2).
Who's Happy: The apparently legions of people who love offense and passing and points, baby, and a lot of it!
Who's Disappointed: Traditionalists; Sun Bowl scoreboard operator, prepping already for Carpel-tunnel symptoms.
Who Cares: CBS.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Making of the 1998 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL
Who's Playing: Clemson (7-4) and Colorado (7-5).
Who's Happy: Fans of alliteration; the remnants of what was once Colorado's team, just for the chance to show the nation they're still alive.
Who's Disappointed: Nobody. Come on, who doesn't love the holiday tradition that is the Champs Sports Bowl!
Who Cares: Tommy Bowden; Champs Sports.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Reruns of Blind Date.
Colorado drops the ball in 3...2...
MPC COMPUTERS BOWL
Who's Playing: Boise State (9-3) and Boston College (9-3).
Who's Happy: Again, the alliterative types, enjoying a super seasonal smorgasboard; color-blind fans.
Who's Disappointed: Boston College, who went to the ACC and won more games than any team in its division to go to...Boise?
Who Cares: Blue turf aficionados.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Super Bowl Memories - Super Bowl III, the one edited by then-NFL (as opposed to the rogue AFL) partisan Steve Sabol to make Johnny Unitas' meaningless fourth quarter touchdown drive for the defeated Colts look like the dramatic forerunner of Bills-Oilers in the 1992 playoffs.
Who's Playing: Tulsa (8-4) and Fresno State (8-4)
Who's Happy: Tulsa, conference champions for the first time in God knows how long. Trust SMQ, the Liberty Bowl is not a big deal nationally, but is major for small-time Conference USA types, especially the ones who haven't been there - or anywhere after November - before.
Who's Disappointed: The Liberty Bowl, whose representative screwed its plans to spurn the unattractive Hurricane for hometown Memphis by reluctantly committing under pressure from an ESPN reporter during Saturday's C-USA Championship Game to pick that game's winner.
Who Cares: Tulsa.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: A band SMQ thought sucked, then decided was worth a chance, but then really did suck on Austin City Limits.
Who's Playing: Iowa State (7-4) and, according to every poll, the best non-BCS team in the country, TCU (10-1).
Who's Happy: TCU fans, who, if the school was still in Conference USA, would have to drive, like, all the way to Memphis.
Who's Disappointed: TCU fans, whose school won ten games - including one over Oklahoma, remember? - and still couldn't do any better than the Houston Bowl.
Who Cares: TCU fans, who, if they think the school deserved better, need the Frogs to at least win the Houston Bowl.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: The Heisman Trophy Award Show, presented by Wendy's.
Who's Playing: UTEP (8-3) and Toledo (8-3)
Who's Happy: GMAC: Two eight-win teams! That's a windfall.
Who's Disappointed: Northern Illinois, which beat Toledo and won the MAC's Western Division, yet is stuck at home for the holidays again; Mike Price, who'd rather just leave the whole state of Alabama in his past.
Who Cares: Bookies.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: The Big East-C-USA Maui Invitational Shootout Challenge from Alaska presented by AT&T.
Who's Playing: Central Florida (8-4) and Nevada (8-3).
Who's Happy: Central Florida and Nevada fans. Aloha, baby!
Who's Disappointed: All the crappy teams playing in Boise and Lafayette instead of Hawaii.
Who Cares: Nobody, as long as there's the obligatory beach trip and mai tais.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Office Space for the 457th time on Comedy Central.
MUSIC CITY BOWL
Who's Playing: Minnesota (7-4) and Virginia (6-5).
Who's Happy: Nashville, which welcomes back its old holiday friends, the Golden Gophers, for the third time in four seasons.
Who's Disappointed: Minnesota, for obvious reasons.
Who Cares: Virginia, seeking to avoid the dreaded 6-6 albatross for the next seven months.
Who's Playing: Georgia Tech (7-4) and Utah (6-5).
Who's Happy: Utah, which can at least say it qualified for a bowl after blowing, post-Meyer, the assumed third straight Mountain West title.
Who's Disappointed: Georgia Tech, which beat Auburn, Clemson and Miami and is jetting off to quite possibly the most anonymous bowl game inexistence.
Who Cares: Anyone who actually knows in which city the Emerald Bowl is played.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Cheap Seats, on Eric Embry's 1989 defense of the MidSouth Wrestling championship belt.
Who's Playing: South Carolina (7-4) and Missouri (6-5).
Who's Happy: The Big XII, for filling that seventh spot any way it could.
Who's Disappointed: The Founding Fathers, who definitely did not have a middling ball game in Shreveport on their minds when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They didn't even know where Shreveport was!
Who Cares: Fans of terrific athletes on mediocre teams: Brad Smith and Sidney Rice can put on a show.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: 1950s stop-motion version of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer starring Burl Ives.
MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL
Who's Playing: South Florida (6-5) and NC State (6-5)
Who's Happy: USF, finally in its first bowl game after snubs in prior deserving seasons.
Who's Disappointed: Anti-corporate football fans, for the millionth time. Did they even try to come up with something even a little respectable, like the "Pear Bowl" or something?
Who Cares: Meineke spokesman George Foreman.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Old newsreel footage from Turner Classic Movies' "One Reel Wonders."
Who's Playing: Arizona State (6-5) and Rutgers (7-4)
Who's Happy: Rutgers, in a bowl for the second time ever and the first time in decades, and a warm one at that; Arizona State, which won't have to travel far to put in a lackluster effort.
Who's Disappointed: Arizona State, ranked by most in the mid-teens for the season's first month.
Who Cares: Rutgers.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: My Super Sweet Sixteen.
LAS VEGAS BOWL
Who's Playing: BYU (6-5) and California (7-4).
Who's Happy: Marshawn Lynch, who should average 26 yards per carry on the Cougar defense.
Who's Disappointed: BYU, in our morally bankrupt society. Vegas? Gambling? Showgirls? Tsk tsk. Cover your Mormon eyes, latter day soldiers.
Who Cares: What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, because nobdy's going to be paying the slightest attention.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: A bunch of random, post modern, dadaist nonsense on Adult Swim.
FORT WORTH BOWL
Who's Playing: Kansas (6-5) and Houston (6-5).
Who's Happy: Both teams. You're 6-5 and still in a bowl? Let's party.
Who's Disappointed: David Klingler and Andre Ware - Kevin Kolb is throwing for a paltry 275.8 yards per game, and actually hands off sometimes? Pfft.
Who Cares: The groundskeeper at Amon Carter Stadium, who could do without a bunch of punk kids tearing up his grass for no good reason.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: The second quarter of the Milwaukee Bucks vs. the Atlanta Hawks.
MOTOR CITY BOWL
Who's Playing: Akron (7-5) and Memphis (6-5).
Who's Happy: Akron, MAC Champion for the first time.
Who's Disappointed: DeAngelo Williams, who deserves a better going-away party.
Who Cares: Three-quarters of the city of Akron.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: The 100 Greatest TV Weddings.
Who's Playing: Colorado State (6-5) and Navy (6-4).
Who's Happy: White supremacists, who don't have to watch any damn coloreds running the ball for a change.
Who's Disappointed: Any non-fan or alumni of either of these schools who watches this game, in life generally.
Who Cares: Florists, but only until they find out it's a really terrible football game.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Around the Horn.
NEW ORLEANS BOWL
Who's Playing: Southern Miss (6-5) and Arkansas State (6-5).
Who's Happy: The Indians, playing in their first bowl game ever; Lafayette, for hosting its first bowl game ever.
Who's Disappointed: The NCAA, in the New Orleans Bowl's and Arkansas State's flagrant disregard for its ban on Native American mascots in the postseason. Whatever happened to that?
Who Cares: Sadly, SMQ. But only in the obligatory sense.
SMQ Would Rather Watch: Nothing. Help him.
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I have a question, though: does the fact that the United States acquired Shreveport as part of the Louisiana Purchase at all affect your estimation of the Founding Fathers' approval of the Independence Bowl?
I'm just asking.
At any rate, South Carolina and Missouri fall far below the standards of American exceptionalism.
I would note that Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, also was the architect of the Louisiana Purchase, which he hoped would become home to the self-sufficient yeoman farmers upon whose virtues he believed a republican form of government was reliant, but, since the Sage of Monticello was in Europe at the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, he technically isn't a Founding Father.
Also, you nailed me on the point about South Carolina and Missouri being well below American standards. I concede the point and, hence, the argument. Nice job.