With the ever-expanding glut of bowl games every year, dedicated football fans face a cornucopia of options each holiday season. But like the smorgasbord laid out on the table, there are almost too many options available to you, the viewer. In order to save you from stuffing yourself and going into a gridiron-coma, WRNL presents five bowl games you can't miss this year, and five that you can skip to help your aunt go shopping for sweaters for her cats or something. I don't know, it's your time; use it however you want.
Obviously, the Liberty Bowl is the first concern for Iowa State fans, and the most important upcoming game. That said, WRNL will be previewing the game in depth in the upcoming weeks. Let's take a look at some of the other bowls on the schedule, shall we?
***FIVE TO WATCH***
1) Holiday Bowl: Baylor vs UCLA
Time: December 27th, 8:45 PM Central
Reason to Watch: OFFENSEOFFENSEOFFENSEOFFENSEOFFENSE... Baylor comes into this game averaging 578.8 yards/game, while UCLA averages a slightly more reasonable 474.5 yards per game. Both teams also play very little defense, with Baylor having the 123rd ranked defense in the country and UCLA owning the 74th ranked defense. And because it's Baylor, the game will be insane and exciting and resemble not football so much as a bastardized version of basketball on grass (see: 2011 Alamo Bowl - 67-56; 2012 WVU-BU - 70-63; 2012 TT-BU - 52-45 OT).
Also, the dynamic between the stoic preacher Art Briles leading his morally uptight troops against dickish Hollywood huckster Jim Mora will be fun to watch. Briles will say a prayer for Mora's soul before the game, and Mora will respond by trying to recruit three Baylor wide receivers from the sidelines.
2) Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State vs Oregon
Time: January 3rd, 7:30 PM Central
Reason to Watch: Watching Chip Kelly's Oregon team play Bill Snyder's Kansas State team is like watching the modern American army take on Sun Tzu's ancient Chinese forces. One guy was a pioneer who wrote the book on the strategy of the game; the other guy absorbed all the knowledge from that book, took it to its logical conclusion and souped it up with rocket power for the 21st century.
On paper, there is no way that Kansas State wins this game. Of course, before 2012 no one expected a team comprised mainly of JUCO transfers led by a glorified running back at quarterback to make a serious run at the national title, either. Bill Snyder is a goddamn wizard, and he will put a hex on Oregon's Nike-loving asses that turns all of their space-age gear into depression-era Spalding apparel. Let's see how fast Kenjon Barner is when he's lugging 50 pounds of canvas, burlap and leather padding up and down the field.
3) Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma vs Texas A&M
Time: January 4th, 7:00 PM Central
Reason to Watch: Look at you, Texas A&M! All grown up after stepping out of the shadow of big brother Longhorn into the welcoming arms of the SEC. Bet it feels pretty good to have the first freshman Heisman winner in history too, huh?
Well, January 4th is most likely the date when your dream season meets its grisly end. Oklahoma will most likely be out for blood because A) They were spurned by the BCS and had to make do with the Cotton Bowl, AKA the sixth BCS game and B) There's that whole SECede movement you engaged in last year. Watch this game to point and laugh as Texas A&M gets ground into a pulp by a better, more experienced Oklahoma squad. Watch this game out of spite, basically. Spite and revenge.
4) New Mexico Bowl: Arizona vs Nevada
Time: December 15th, 12:00 PM Central
Reason to Watch: Rich Rodriguez's spread option attack versus Chris Ault's pistol offense. Two incredibly prolific, run-based offenses based on misdirection and speed, meeting head to head. There is nothing not to like about this matchup, including the time. First bowl game of the year! What else are you doing at noon this Saturday, anyway? The only thing that would make this game better is if ESPN handed you the XBox controller and let you play this game yourself.
5) Rose Bowl: Stanford vs Wisconsin
Time: January 1st, 4:00 PM Central
Reason to Watch: BAM! KEEERRRAAACCKKK! BAMBAMBAM! CONCUSSION! This is the sound of two identical teams running straight at each other for three straight hours. Bowling ball running backs line up behind mammoth lineman and run out of the I-Formation 50 times a game. Play-action passes will also figure prominently into both teams' game plans. Good god, even their uniforms are identical.
Barry Alvarez also selflessly stepped out of retirement to coach Wisconsin on the sideline, an act he heroically paid himself $118,500 to perform. Watch to see a football legend attempt to give himself a blowjob on the sidelines as a reward for a job well done.
***FIVE TO IGNORE***
1) Orange Bowl: Florida State vs Northern Illinois
Time: January 1st, 7:30 PM Central
Reason to Ignore: If Dave Doeren hadn't taken the first available train out of DeKalb, this game could have had the potential to be interesting. Sure, the Huskies are overmatched at every possible position, but upsets in college football happen all the time. It's part of the reason people watch.
But Doeren didn't even wait for the MAC trophy to be delivered to Huskie Stadium, bailing for NC State the day after his team beat Kent State in the championship game. So now Northern Illinois has to face Florida State with a head coach (former O-Line coach and run-game coordinator Rod Carey) who'll have held the position for a little over a month. You should only watch this game if you're into ritual executions, but be warned: This won't be some kind of immediate, painless execution. No, the Orange Bowl this year will feature the Seminoles disemboweling the Huskies as soon as they step on the field, then using the innards to strangle the remaining life out of Northern Illinois live on national television.
2) Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl: Minnesota vs Texas Tech
Time: December 28th, 8:00 PM Central
Reason to Ignore: Poor Minnesota. A team that hasn't been able to get much of anything right over the past years finally hires a good coach, only to have him sidelined by potentially dangerous seizures. Poor, poor Minnesota.
Poor Texas Tech. A team that fired its winningest coach at the behest of a certified TV moron hired a slimeball who left at the first available opportunity for a Big East team. Poor, poor Texas Tech.
Do both these teams a favor and ignore the Meineke Car Care of Texas Bowl. Give them a little time to wallow in their misery in peace, then take them out for a drink and try to get them laid or something.
3) Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Michigan State vs TCU
Time: December 29th, 9:15 PM Central
Reason to Ignore: Wow, things just really went to shit for Michigan State this year, didn't they? Come into the season with designs on the Big 10 trophy only to stumble to a 6-6 finish, including a loss at home to Iowa. That is... that is just embarrassing. Maybe Kirk Cousins was a bigger part of your success than you thought, Spartan fans.
Meanwhile, TCU just wrapped up a decent, if unspectacular, first season in the Big 12. A middle of the pack Big 12 team facing a middle of the pack Big 10 team? This game will be over by halftime, which means the few interested fans can turn the game off early and finish planning their New Years Eve party.
4) Heart of Dallas Bowl: Oklahoma State vs Purdue
Time: January 1st, 11:00 AM Central
Reason to Ignore: Mike Gundy's light-speed brigade running wild over the Hope-less Boilermakers. The Heart of Dallas hosts one of the most innovative and prolific offenses in the country versus a mediocre Big 10 team that just fired its coach for being too mediocre for even Purdue fans to handle. Let that sink in for a minute.
This game won't be as lopsided as Oklahoma State's 84-0 thrashing of Savannah State, but it will seem like it is.
5) GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas State vs Kent State
Time: January 6th, 8:00 PM Central
Reason to Ignore: AKA the annual sadness bowl, the GoDaddy.com Bowl features two teams whose coaches have moved on to greener, higher-paying pastures. If this was Gus Malzahn's Red Wolves vs. Darrell Hazell's Golden Flashes, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, both teams will be led by by interim head coaches, which means both teams will be lacking the engineers of their success. Pass.
And christ, just the amount of terrible, terrible, almost-softcore-but-not-quite GoDaddy.com ads that viewers will be subjected to in this game make it one to avoid. GoDaddy.com, you are aware that real pornography is EVERYWHERE on the internet, right? Why have you based your advertising model on driving traffic to your website to watch fake porn featuring Danica Patrick? Who are you trying to fool, and what are you even trying to sell? Websites? Servers? It's been ten years and nobody knows what service you provide or what you do. Besides sponsor low-rent bowl games and make awful commercials, that is.