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.
HEISMAN, NATIONAL CHAMP
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: GoDaddy.com (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, MicronPC.com 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 (GoDaddy.com).
-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
-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.