Sifting through the 28 days of bowls

The college football bowl season kicks off Saturday afternoon

with a showdown between 6-6 teams in the New Mexico Bowl.

Forgot about that one already? That’s OK, with 35 bowls in 28

days, it’s hard to keep track of them all.

This guide to the bowl-a-rama, filled with the clunkers, the

handful of must-watchers and a few tidbits sprinkled in, should

(hopefully) make it a little easier.


Auburn’s Cam Newton has one big trophy in his hand and is now

trying to join an elite list.

This year’s Heisman Trophy winner gets a shot at becoming the

14th player to win college football’s most prestigious individual

award and a national championship in the same season against Oregon

on Jan. 10.

It’s happened five times since 1993, including Alabama’s Mark

Ingram last season, but just once – Pitt’s Tony Dorsett in 1976 –

in the previous 54 years.


San Diego State earned a berth in the Poinsettia Bowl and Hawaii

is in the Hawaii Bowl, giving those teams a nice home-field


SMU got an unexpected one; the Mustangs will face Army in the

Armed Forces Bowl in their own stadium because TCU’s is being


For long distances, Tulsa gets the nod for playing in Hawaii,

close to 4,000 miles away.

The longest road trip actually on the road? Boston College in

the San Francisco Bowl and Stanford in the Orange Bowl in Miami,

both close to 3,100 miles. That’s about 46 hours in the car for

anyone who’s up for it.


In the ever-changing tilt-a-whirl of bowl sponsorships, four

bowls have switched names this season: (formerly GMAC),

uDrove (Roady’s) Humanitarian, Kraft Fight Hunger (Emerald) and

Bridgepoint (Pacific Life) Holiday.

The Holiday Bowl is making its sixth title sponsor change, but

is still short of the name-switching champ, the Champs Sports Bowl

in Orlando. Since 1990, it’s been the Blockbuster Bowl, Carquest

Bowl, MicronPC Bowl, Bowl, Visit Florida Tangerine

Bowl, Mazda Tangerine Bowl and became the Champs Sports Bowl in


The Meineke Bowl will switch names in 2011, becoming the Belk

Bowl after the department store chain, and the Gator Bowl has

hooked up with Progressive insurance for next year.


The New Year’s Day Outback Bowl will feature a 46-year-old coach

on his way out, an 84-year-old who’s coming back for another


Florida’s Urban Meyer will be coaching his last game, walking

away from the Gators to spend more time with his family and because

of health concerns.

Across the field will be Penn State’s Joe Paterno, who’s decided

to come back after making a record 37th postseason appearance in

his 45th season of coaching, another major-college record.


-$18 million. Payout for BCS bowls, highest among the 35


-$500,000. Payout for New Orleans Bowl, believed to be (not all

the bowls are so forthcoming with money info) lowest among the


-645. Combined yards rushing per game between Georgia Tech and

Air Force, the nation’s top two running teams. They meet in the

Dec. 27 Independence Bowl.

-100. Years since Missouri and Iowa, teams that are 250 miles

apart, have played each other. The rematch comes in the Insight

Bowl on Dec. 28.

-24. Bowl wins by Penn State’s Joe Paterno, a record.

-16. Years since Baylor, which faces Illinois in the Texas Bowl,

last played in a bowl.

-14. Years since Army’s last bowl appearance. The Knights face

SMU in the Dec. 30 Armed Forces Bowl.

-Five. Straight BCS bowls Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops has


-Three. Number of teams from the Sun Belt Conference to reach a

bowl, a first: Troy (New Orleans), Florida International (Little

Caesars Pizza), and Middle Tennessee (

-Two. Straight years TCU has finished the regular season

unbeaten and not been invited to the national championship game.

The Horned Frogs get Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl instead.


When it comes to bowl sponsors, food-related companies rule this

season with six as title sponsors: Tostitos, Chick-fil-A, Outback

Steakhouse, Little Caesars, Kraft Fight Hunger and Beef


Financial companies and the automotive industry aren’t far

behind with five each.

There’s also sponsors from weight loss, cap manufacturing,

educational services, even helicopters and aerospace and defense



Teams that will have key players or coaches who will be out for

their bowl games.

-Iowa, Insight Bowl vs. Missouri. WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos

and leading rusher Adam Robinson (both suspended) and RB Jewel

Hampton (transfer)

-Kentucky, BBVA Compass Bowl vs. Pittsburgh. QB Mike Hartline


-Utah, MAACO Bowl vs. Boise State. QB Jordan Wynn (shoulder


-Northern Illinois, Humanitarian Bowl vs. Fresno State. Coach

Jerry Kill (hired at Minnesota). Linebackers coach Tom Matukewicz

fills in as interim.

-North Carolina, Music City vs. Tennessee. LB Bruce Carter

(knee) and OL Alan Pelc (shoulder).

-Washington, Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska. DT Semisi Tokolahi

(broken ankle) and WR/KR Cody Bruns (collarbone).

-Miami, Sun Bowl vs. Notre Dame. Coach Randy Shannon (fired).

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is the interim.


Looking for the biggest odds among the bowl games? It’s a tie,

at least as of (Wednesday): Boise State over Utah in the Las Vegas

Bowl and Oklahoma over Connecticut, both at 17 points.

On the low end, Syracuse and Kansas State (Pinstripe) are a

pick’em, while Northern Illinois over Fresno State (Humanitarian)

and LSU over Texas A&M (Cotton) have 1-point spreads.


New Mexico Bowl, Dec. 18, UTEP vs. BYU. two 6-6 teams in the

first game of the first day of bowls doesn’t exactly inspire

gatherings around the TV, at least outside of West Texas and


Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Dec. 26, Toledo vs. Florida

International. Two middling mid-majors in Detroit in the middle of

winter? What’s not to like?

Military Bowl, Dec. 29, East Carolina vs. Maryland. A bowl

sponsored by the military without a military academy featuring a

6-6 team (East Carolina) and one (Maryland) that’s having a hard

time persuading fans to drive to a game just down the road.


Sun Bowl, Dec. 31, Notre Dame vs. Miami. Normally, two 7-5 teams

don’t garner a whole lot of excitement. When it’s two storied

programs fighting their way back to respectability – with one that

fired its coach – it definitely adds to the intrigue.

Cotton Bowl, Jan. 7, Texas A&M vs. LSU. Only game of the day

pits up-and-coming Aggies against the former national champion

Tigers. Going to be hard to get off the couch.

Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1, Michigan State vs. Alabama. OK, so

maybe both teams had their national-title hopes go up in smoke.

They’re still good, physical teams and it’ll be fun to watch them

beat up on each other.


BCS National Championship, Jan. 10, Auburn vs. Oregon. Uh,


Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, TCU vs. Wisconsin. The Horned Frogs are

undefeated (again) and would like to make an argument they should

have been national champs against the overpowering Badgers, who

could be the nation’s best one-loss team.

Orange Bowl, Jan. 3, Stanford vs. Virginia Tech. The Cardinal

only lost to Oregon and has Heisman Trophy runner-up Andrew Luck.

The Hokies have won 11 straight games and have dynamic Tyrod

Taylor. There could be plenty of fireworks on the field.