After a five day hiatus, the college football bowl schedule returned with the Poinsettia Bowl. While the NFL returns to action on Saturday, presumably occupying a lot of television viewers that are happy that Thursday night NFL action has phased out, college football will be featuring bowl games played almost daily through the rest of the season. This feature will keep you to date on what’s happening, and how you can program your dinners and evenings around it.
Here’s what’s on.
- Brigham Young v. San Diego State [Poinsettia Bowl] (ESPN, 8:00pm ET). For a bowl game that’s seldom enjoyable to watch, the Poinsettia Bowl seems to have carved out a niche as one of the signature early bowl games on the viewing schedule. This game also happened to be the first of, from what I can count, three bowl games on the schedule that feature two teams that were conference members just two short years ago (others: Pinstripe Bowl, Cotton Bowl). Former Mountain West members Brigham Young, now indie, and Big East West-bound San Diego State locked horns in San Diego. In a game where Bronco Mendenhall looked like he was going to lose his temple recommend through the third quarter, Brigham Young turned on the jets to overwhelm the Aztecs by a final score of 23-6. Star of the game, and maybe run-away performer for the entire bowl schedule, was Kyle Van Noy. The linebacker for Brigham Young finished with eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble and recovery for a touchdown, and an interception for a touchdown. He was, for all intents and purposes, the BYU offense, as a linebacker. I haven’t seen a defender dominate a game like that since Ndamukong Suh was still playing for Bo Nebrasky.
- Ball State v. Central Florida [Beef 'O' Brady Bowl St. Petersburg] (ESPN, 7:30pm ET). I normally try to eschew corporate sponsorship in these previews, but I really don’t know what to make of this game. This bowl game might be a microcosm for everything that’s wrong with the litany of bowl games we currently have. The corporate sponsor for this game, which used to be magicJack (remember that?), is a restaurant that either A) no one has heard of or B) for which no one has anything good to say. Further, the bowl game is played in a place no one wants to be (St. Petersburg, Florida) and in one of the worst venues for football, or baseball for that matter (Tropicana Field). The game itself pits 9-3 MAC West runners-up Ball State against the Central Florida
Citronauts. Central Florida, which lost the Conference-USA Championship Game in a rematch at Tulsa, is currently on probation. It appealed that accompanying bowl ban, looking ahead to a favorable schedule with a veteran squad that had only tests at Ohio State and at home versus Missouri, thinking it could be a BCS team. Nope. Beef ‘O’Brady Bowl St. Petersburg. Swing and a miss.
- Eastern Carolina v. UL-Lafayette [R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl] (ESPN, 12:00pm ET). This is usually the bowl game most devoid of any atmosphere, pitting a Sun Belt runner-up vs. a C-USA runner-up. These teams usually have small fan bases who care not that the bowl game in question is in New Orleans. As it is, the Sun Belt #2 is playing the Conference USA East #2. UL-Lafayette has some bragging rights, in that it almost beat Florida in Gainesville. Of course, Florida played that dud of a game into a nicer trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl. Sorry but not sorry, BCS have-not.
- Washington v. Boise State [Las Vegas Bowl] (ESPN, 3:30pm ET). The Pac-12 tends to have some uninteresting bowl destinations. Not that Las Vegas doesn’t have its charm if you like gambling and/or prostitutes, just that this bowl game is usually boring. Boise State and Washington play for the first time since 2007, when Washington beat the then-undefeated defending Fiesta Bowl champion Broncos, 24-10. Washington won three other games that entire season. Yes, Chris Petersen got Willingham’d. What to make of a 7-5 Washington team, for which only the 24-14 loss at home to Southern California seems presentable? Other losses include: 41-3 at Louisiana State, 52-21 at Oregon, 52-17 at Arizona, and 31-28 at 3-9 Washington State in overtime. Boise State, meanwhile, lost to Sparty and still wasn’t out of the running for a BCS at-large before a home loss to San Diego State seemed to do the trick.