It wouldn’t be the holidays without an orgy of college bowl games — 35 in all. In acknowledgement of the season for both of them, we compare each bowl to a Christmas gift.
Nevada vs. Arizona (Dec. 15)
These two teams, both of whom average 37 points and 500 yards per game, will deliver a sugar rush to viewers and fans – most of whom will feel kind of sick for gorging themselves on such a low-tier game. Folks who eat too much white chocolate in too small a period of time often feel similarly queasy.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Pair of Gloves
Toledo vs. Utah State (Dec. 15)
As a present, gloves aren’t very impressive in the shock value department. But the recipient slowly but surely realizes how handy they are after using them all the time (in cold weather anyway). It’ll take time, but most fans will realize that this bowl game is relatively high caliber (9–3 Toledo vs. 10–2 Utah State).
Poinsettia Bowl: $25 Amazon Gift Card
BYU vs. San Diego State (Dec. 20)
Gift cards are perfect for someone you haven’t seen in a long time but used to know closely. As former Mountain West rivals, BYU and San Diego State used to have a similar relationship.
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl: Old Version of “Call of Duty”
Ball State vs. UCF (Dec. 21)
If the newest version of a video game isn’t available, its predecessors can somewhat replicate it. For having nearly beaten high-profile teams this season, both Ball State and UCF are the equivalent of those old, formerly bestselling video games.
New Orleans Bowl: “Emeril’s New Orleans Cooking”
East Carolina vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (Dec. 22)
One can be initially averse to a cookbook on account of the effort needed to crack it open. But when you do, it yields some gems, like Emeril’s recipe for jambalaya. Similarly, the New Orleans Bowl features a future Big East team in ECU and a budding star QB for the Ragin’ Cajuns in Terrance Broadway.
Las Vegas Bowl: Neck Tie
Washington vs. Boise State (Dec. 22)
Ties can be very nice, in the same vein that this is a nice duel between Pac-12 and a Mountain West teams. But getting a tie for a present every single year gets tiresome. One can imagine the Broncos feel that way about their third straight Las Vegas Bowl.
Hawaii Bowl: Savings Bond
Fresno State vs. SMU (Dec. 24)
You grudgingly accept boring savings bonds as a gift, the same way college football fans accept the Hawaii Bowl as the only game on during Christmas Eve afternoon. That said, savings bonds can yield financial dividends down the road, while this year’s Hawaii Bowl has the makings of a high-scoring game.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Socks
Western Kentucky vs. Central Michigan (Dec. 26)
It’s amazing how quickly expectant present-receivers can come down from their Christmas high when they get socks instead of something they really want. And when Christmas is over and you just want to watch football, is there anything worse than a less-than-thrilling matchup between 7–5 and 6–6 teams?
Neither a McCullough book nor the Military Bowl is gleaming on the outside, but on the inside they contain valuable bits of history. The historical implications of the Military Bowl: SJSU is coming off its first 10-win season since 1987, while Bowling Green is one of a MAC-record seven bowl-bound teams.
Belk Bowl is … Candlelit Dinner
Cincinnati vs. Duke (Dec. 27)
A romantic dinner is a nice gesture/present but a better fit for Valentine’s Day. Just as a Cincy-Duke matchup is a better matchup for the hardwood rather than the gridiron.
Holiday Bowl: DVD of The Dark Knight Rises
Baylor vs. UCLA (Dec. 27)
Getting a DVD for someone for Christmas is pretty fail safe, just as the Holiday Bowl consistently results in an exciting game. The high-scoring offenses at work in this game are akin to a cinematic blockbuster along the lines of the recently released (on DVD) The Dark Knight Rises.
Independence Bowl: Wrong Doll House
Ohio vs. Louisiana-Monroe (Dec. 28)
If you’ve ever seen a young girl’s reaction to when she gets “the wrong doll house,” you’re familiar with how disappointed/upset they look. So imagine how Independence Bowl fans (few and far between as they may be) feel when they got a MAC-Sun Belt matchup instead of the typical ACC-Mountain West duel.
Russell Athletic Bowl: Coal
Rutgers vs. Virginia Tech (Dec. 28)
Both teams head to Orlando on the heels of disappointing seasons. Rutgers missed out on the Big East’s automatic BCS berth with a loss in its final game, while the Hokies endured their worst season in 20 years. Adding to the coal analogy is that neither team is particularly fun to watch.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas: Ugly Sweater
Minnesota vs. Texas Tech (Dec. 28)
An ugly bowl name for an ugly gift. You accept the ugly sweater with open arms because it was painstakingly knit by your mom or grandmother. Bowls like this one accept mediocre teams from AQ conferences because of their big-conference origins.
Armed Forces Bowl: Fruitcake
Rice vs. Air Force (Dec. 29)
Besides coal, fruit cake might be the most notorious Christmas gift that no one likes to receive. What better gift to sum up a bowl game pitting two 6–6 teams against one another?
Pinstripe Bowl: Christmas Card
West Virginia vs. Syracuse (Dec. 29)
These former Big East rivals have played so often (every year since 1955) that they don’t have anything more to exchange with one another. With conference realignment pushing them in different directions, best wishes are the most logical thing they can give.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Hunger Games Trilogy
Navy vs. Arizona State (Dec. 29)
Think of the Midshipmen as the Katniss Everdeen of this game: A sleeper from a non-AQ conference (CFB’s District 12) with special, triple option-based talents. Their opponent: An AQ conference team whose outward beauty is what you’re accustomed to finding in District 1 or 2.
Alamo Bowl: Mini Book Light
Texas vs. Oregon State (Dec. 29)
A nice, functional gift befitting a nice, functional bowl between two Top 25 teams. Nonetheless it’s an underwhelming present, along the lines of how Alamo Bowl participants often enter the game wishing or thinking they were once capable of more.
Everyone wanted an Elmo a few years ago, just as everyone wanted a piece of TCU and Michigan State when they started threatening the Top 10 on a consistent basis. Neither Elmo nor those two teams (6–6 MSU and 7–5 TCU) are as hot as they used to be.
Music City Bowl: Johnny Cash’s “American VI”
NC State vs. Vanderbilt (Dec. 31)
With all due respect to the Wolfpack, this game is all about celebrating Vandy’s unprecedented football success (second straight bowl berth). And as this game takes place in Nashville, the “Man in Black” provides the perfect soundtrack for it.
Sun Bowl: Chip-N-Dip
USC vs. Georgia Tech (Dec. 31)
Plenty of folks will be going to New Year’s parties with one on these set up. Often times you see them filled with either salsa or guacamole, two sauces that had their origins just over the border from El Paso (site of the Sun Bowl) in Mexico. Alas, the gift itself is pretty underwhelming.
Liberty Bowl: New Car Tires
Iowa State vs. Tulsa (Dec. 31)
While tires aren’t a traditional choice of present, it’s an appropriate one to compare to a game whose presenting sponsor is Autozone. It’s also an apt metaphor for Tulsa’s two ground-pounding RBs, Trey Watts and Ja’Terian Douglas.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: WWF “Adopt a Tiger” Kit
LSU vs. Clemson (Dec. 31)
Both schools’ teams are nicknamed for nature’s largest cat species. The WWF gift is pretty cool, as it comes with a plush tiger and a certificate with the adopted tiger’s photo and other pertinent information. This Chick-fil-A Bowl matchup between two highly ranked teams is similarly impressive.
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