It’s confession time.
We love college football as much as any sports fan. And with the job we have, you’d think we’d be watching all the bowl games that begin Dec. 18 and run through Jan. 9.
But we won’t.
Truthfully, we’ll probably watch fewer games this year than ever before, and that’s despite the fact there’s more games than ever -- 35 of ‘em, in all.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem. Starting with the always illuminating New Mexico Bowl and including such bowls as the Beef O’ Brady, Fight the Hunger and Chick-fill-A bowls, there’s just an endless parade of watered-down games that capture nobody’s imagination except maybe the fans of those schools.
Our top priority is the national championship game, which is an absolute must-see, in fact it’s one of the most fascinating games we can remember in recent years. Auburn and Oregon have proven themselves over and over they’re worthy of being in the championship game, despite the bellowings of supporters from TCU.
It’s the kind of flashy game the public wants to see, Auburn with Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton operating a high-octane attack, while Oregon is known as much for its wild combinations of uniforms provided by Nike’s Phil Knight as it is its breathtaking spread offense that operates at breakneck speed. We’ll be disappointed if this isn’t a 41-38 type of game, much like Texas and USC a few years back.
Other than that, what is really there to catch your eye? Of course, being in Big 12 country, our loyalties lie with those teams.
So here’s a look at games involving those teams:
Missouri vs. Iowa -- The Tigers should be able to get the Big 12 off on the right foot. Iowa has been hit with injuries, including its star running back. Missouri was 10-2 this year, probably better than it expected. And it could be even better next year.
Baylor vs. Illinois -- Good for Baylor. We can remember when it was the slug of the Big 12, almost an eyesore. But Art Briles brought his dynamic offense from Houston and the Bears have quality athletes in the skill positions. Illinois is a typical, boring Big 12 team. On paper, there doesn’t appear to be much difference in the overall talent level.
Oklahoma State vs. Arizona -- Arizona was only 7-5, but the consensus is that it underachieved. O-State is another team with a lot of quality in the skill positions, but not a lot of defense. Its 10-2 record was a big surprise, as some pollsters had the Pokes fifth or sixth in the Big 12 South in the preseason.
Kansas State vs. Syracuse -- A football game at Yankee Stadium. Go figure. Syracuse gives hope to Kansas fans, as the Orangemen have been where the Jayhawks fell to this year. But after some moribund years, Syracuse turned it around this year. Kansas State is good, but not great, but the Wildcats should be able to win this one to give it a springboard to 2011.
Nebraska vs. Washington -- If the Huskers are in the right frame of mind, this should be a blowout. They are still kicking themselves for giving up a 17-0 lead to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and hopefully are not still in a funk.
Washington is a .500 team (6-6) and fell woefully short of expectations.
Ticket City Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Northwestern -- We’ll say it right now. We miss former Tech coach Mike Leach. He was outlandish, strange and paranoid, but the guy could put a fun team on the field. His successor, Tommy Tuberville, who was courted by KU, somehow seems like an odd fit at Tech. Northwestern doesn’t have its quarterback, so it probably won’t be able to keep up with the Red Raiders.
Oklahoma vs. UConn -- “Big Game Bob” Stoops has been a flop in recent bowl games. But this one looks like a gimme. If OU doesn’t win by at least 21, it should be ashamed of itself. What’s this world coming to when the UConns of the world are in a BCS game, just for winning the Big East, a hole of a football conference? Hopefully we only need to watch a half of this one.
Texas A & M vs. LSU -- Aggie coach Mike Sherman is getting the last laugh. He was widely panned early on at A & M, but a 9-3 season should quiet the critics. But the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7? That’s just sneering in the face of history, as the Cotton Bowl should be on New Year’s Day like the old days.
As for the other bowls, we can take ‘em or leave ‘em. If we had to pick a couple, though, the Rose Bowl with TCU against Wisconsin is a probable for us, just because we want to see what TCU can do against a big-time school. Michigan State and Alabama in the Capital One Bowl is another we’ll view, just because for whatever reason, we still think Alabama is a top-five team.
Not every bowl a must-see
It’s confession time.