Generic guy in pewter Buccaneers hat and long sleeves even though he's in Tampa, Florida: "Hey guys, it's bowl season!"
Way too excited guy rocking a Dexter Jackson Bucs jersey (commemorating his Super Bowl MVP honors forever, in spite of his, you know, not being on the team in years): "Football makes me pump my fist."
John Lynch jersey clad Tomboy chucking: "Football! HA HA!"
Bearded bro wearing an unauthorized Florida tee, despite it pretty clearly being an NFL Sunday: "How about them Gators, eh?! I predict big things in 2010. Urban Meyer, coach of the decade."
Woman that could be 17 or 47 wearing Green Bay Packers gear for reasons unknown: "Contrarianism ahoy!"
Guy completely smashed before noon about to spill (or intentionally pour?) a beer all over contrarian/ageless Packers girl/woman: "WOOOOOOOOO! TO LIFE, Y'ALL!"
Given the vivid landscape outlined above, how could you NOT want to go to a Beef O'Brady's?! Or even better yet the delectable Beef O'Brady's bowl?!?
The regular season's come and gone. So too has my magical, money grossing picking skills of yesteryear. After successfully calling the Navy game, I finished the regular season 55-56-2, just a hair underneath equilibrium. Bowl season will be my redemption (or utter embarrassment). For those playing along at home, the inconsequential/even more for the heck of it prop bets went as follows: Luck finished higher than James (miss), Luck over Moore (hit), Cecil Newton didn't attend (DERP; miss), Craig James folksy folksims: WAY over (hit), Narnia FTW (hit). 3-2; not bad, but eh, not exactly setting the gambling world on fire.
Saturday, December 18th
New Mexico Bowl: BYU vs. UTEP (+11.5) - 2:00 pm - ESPN (HD)
Come for the Georgia O'Keeffe; stay for the compelling Mountain West on Conference USA ACTION! (And did I mention there won't be beer? There won't be beer). Best bowl of the year or best bowl of all-time? Bronco Mendenhall leads his massively underachieving bunch of Mormon superheroes to Albuquerque to play tackle football in front of literally tens of people against Mike Price's Texas-El Paso Miners. I hear it's truly beautiful in that part of New Mexico this time of year. UTEP's coming off 5 losses in their last six, including a 15 point loss at the hands of UAB, yet Al Golden's Temple Owls weren't good enough for a bowl (Q.E.D.). I'm not sure 11.5 is enough, but hey, it's bowl season. Whacky things can sometimes be afoot. While I'm tempted to go with the zany out-of-nowhere victory/cover, UTEP's best win is against SMu. Seriously. BYU all-afternoon: Cougars 40 - Miners 21.
Humanitarian Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Fresno State (+1) - 5:30 pm - ESPN (HD)
Lordy, lordy, this early slate of bowls is rough. With man-gopher mutant Jerry Kill off to greener pastures, Northern Illinois will lean on interim head coach Tom Matukewicz, the consonant rich answer to Nathan Scheelhaase. Pat Hill continues to inexplicably dodge moving on up to deluxe coaching gigs in the sky, but can you blame him when your reward for a hard fought season is a trip to gorgeous Boise, Idaho in the beginning of Winter? Honestly a bit surprising that NIU remains favorites despite the curse of the departed coach; NIU had a fine season (MAC Championship aside), but I have a hard time dismissing even a down Fresno State team as having a slight edge in a matchup against a MAC-side. Given their momentum coming from beating Illinois for a second straight year, take the Bulldogs (MONEYLINE style if you may): Bulldogs 23 - NIU 17.
New Orleans Bowl: Troy vs. Ohio (+2.5) - 9:00 p.m. - ESPN (HD)
The magic electricity of the French Quarter sweeps through the air in one of college football's most storied bowls, the... New Orleans Bowl. Nevermind. Cool destination, but besides a few Alabama good ol' boys trucking on into the Big Easy, I have a hard time envisioning Ohio University loyalists making the trek in masse. None the less, the matchup is actually a quasi-interesting one (though it would've been far more so had Ohio not laid a ginormous egg against Kent State). Frank Solich's bunch come in as slight underdogs in what could turn into a high scoring affair. Larry Blakeney's bunch hung with Oklahoma State earlier in the year and absolutely waxed Schnelly's FAU Owls in the season finale. Given that the two teams appear to be headed in contrasting directions, go ahead and roll with the Trojans and their familiarity with the bowl: Troy 31 - Ohio U (embrace the name, Bobcats) 20.
Tuesday, December 21st
Beef O'Brady's Bowl: Louisville vs. Southern Mississippi (-3) - 8:00 p.m. - ESPN (HD)
An absolute sleeping giant on the up and up goes to battle in luxurious St. Petersburgh against... The Louisville Cardinals! ZING! Alas I jest; both of these programs are on the up and up as well as have the future coaches of high prestige programs in the years to come (sorry USM and L'ville). While the 6-6 Cardinals ended the season looking mighty impressive on both sides of the ball against Rutgers, Southern Miss. put up 50 in their final two games but split the contests going 1-1. Momentum would firmly seem to be on the side of the Cards and while USM are the slight favorites, expect the talent differential to rule the day: Cards 28 - USM 24.
Wednesday, December 22nd
Maaco Las Vegas Bowl: Utah vs. Boise State (-17) - 8:00 p.m. - ESPN (HD)
Finally! A quasi-compelling matchup with some real teeth. While Utah completely 'crapped the bed' down the stretch, Boise State was unable to handle business Thanksgiving weekend. However, both of these teams were unbeaten going late into the season and have essentially been the standard bearers for the non-automatic qualifiers during the last decade. Needless to say we should have a grea--Wait. You're telling me Boise's a 17 point favorite?! C'MON!. Given that Boise's defense has been fairly elite all season (you know, until the half whose name we do not speak) and Utah's Jordan Wynn a venerable powder keg, well... I can probably roll with that. Going from a near $14 million dollar pay day to, oh, sub-mil in two missed kicks is pretty wild. Consequently, it's well within the realm of possibilities to see Boise put a world of hurt on the Utes and take out their pent up frustrations in the process. Live dangerously and enjoy (or hate on, if that's your silly prerogative) the Broncos one last time in 2K10: Boise State 37 - Utah 17.