After over a full week without football, the long national nightmare is finally, almost over. That’s right, after one full Saturday with no football to flip on our TV’s, it’s back baby, as bowl season kicks off with five games this weekend.
While gorging on 40-something bowls sounds like a great idea in theory, it’s a lot like going back for that second piece of apple pie on Christmas Eve. It’s probably not a good idea. Frankly, some of these bowl games are, umm, a little forgettable.
So let’s skip over the good games – the Michigan-Florida State, USC-Penn State and the College Football Playoff type matchups – and ask one simple question: Which bowls do we need to avoid this holiday season? Here are seven.
Getty ImagesJim Rogash
Cactus Bowl: Boise State vs. Baylor (December 27th, 10:30 p.m. ET)
Doesn’t the “Cactus Bowl” just sound depressing? Like the type of game where tumbleweeds will be rolling across the 50-yard line, as two uninspired teams play listlessly in front of a couple thousand of their closest friends and family?
The answer is “yes.” That’s exactly what it sounds like.
Boise’s presence makes this game semi-salvageable, but then again any positive joy in this game will evaporate courtesy of Baylor, a team that is really hard for the average fan to root for.
The 2016 Baylor season was one, long nightmare. It only seems appropriate for it to end in a game few will watch.
Quick Lane Bowl: Maryland vs. Boston College (December 26th, 2:30 p.m. ET)
“Quick Lane Bowl” definitely sounds like the place I had my eighth grade birthday party and “Maryland vs. Boston College” sounds like a great matchup… if this were basketball. And it were 1997. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel all that inspiring as a game played the day after Christmas, in the cavernous – and likely very empty – Ford Field.
Admittedly, it’s a credit to both these teams (who each finished 3-9 last year) to even be in this game. But at 2:30 p.m. on the day after Christmas, if there was ever a time to run to the mall and return that sweater your grandma got you, this is it.
St. Petersburg Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Miami (OH) (December 26th, 11:00 a.m. ET)
The only thing worse than a mid-afternoon game the day after Christmas featuring Maryland and BC in an empty football stadium? How about a 5-7 team taking on a 6-6 team the day after Christmas? That’s what we’ve got here with Mississippi State and Miami (OH).
Dan Mullen’s club had to rally to get here, beating both Texas A&M and Ole Miss in the final month just to get to 5-7. At the same time, it’s hard to get excited for a bowl game that I would have never in a million years watched if it were played during the regular season.
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Arizona Bowl: South Alabama vs. Air Force (December 30th, 2:30 p.m. ET)
How bad is this game? It isn’t actually being broadcast on TV and instead will only be streamed online. With roughly 4,000 channels on our cable packages, how bad does a game have to be for a bunch of TV execs to say “Nah, we’re good. We’ll just re-air old episodes of ‘King of Queens’ instead.”
Sure, Air Force’s triple-option is fun. But that’s all this game really has going for it.
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Liberty Bowl: Georgia vs. TCU (December 30th, 12:00 p.m. ET)
This game wins the annual award for “Bowl that looks good on paper, until you actually sit down to watch it, and realize ‘Oh my God, these teams are awful.’” To which I ask: what is your favorite memory of TCU or Georgia this season? The Bulldogs' thrilling 13-7 win over Auburn? TCU officially providing the knockout blow to Charlie Strong’s time in Austin, in front of a half-empty, Darrell Royal Stadium the day after Thanksgiving? Point being, the pickings are slim.
If you want some statistical data on how bad these teams were, no worries, I’ve got that too. Georgia ranked 89th in total offense, which doesn’t feel so bad… until you realize that the ‘Dawgs actually ranked behind Purdue in that category. Purdue!! How is that possible? Oh, and TCU? They scored six points or fewer in two of their three final games.
New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Louisiana Lafayette
I’m not sure I have one, coherent thought on the unwatchability (is that a word?) level of this game, as much as a lot of little ones. For example, can anyone name a single player on either team outside of Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens? Has Louisiana-Lafayette played in this bowl game 14 straight years or is that just my imagination? And finally, why the heck do they continue to play a bowl game that draws 8,000 people a year in a stadium that holds 70,000?
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY SportsChuck Cook
Outback Bowl: Iowa vs. Florida
Has a game between a pair of eight-win teams ever felt less interesting? Heck, has a game between a pair of eight-win teams ever actually been this uninteresting?
Just to make sure I wasn’t short-changing these two teams, I decided to look up one stat that generally tells how exciting a football team is, and that’s “big plays.” I basically wanted to see if these offenses are as lifeless as I thought. The answer is an unequivocal “Yes. Yes, they are as bad as you thought.”
The Gators rank 115th nationally in plays of 10+ yards, which sounds pretty bad and even worse when you consider that they were tied with Fresno State in that category. The same Fresno State team which fired their coach midway through the season. As for Iowa, they rank 124th in that same category, trailing virtually every team in the country, including… Kansas. KANSAS! A team that won one FBS game all year.