It's December, and for those of you who like to avoid the holiday season, there's a conveniently-scheduled distraction just for you: college football bowl season.
As I write this, 70 of the nation's finest college football teams (ah, who am I kidding, there's plenty of mediocre ones in there, too) -- 70 of the nation's college football teams are preparing for a bowl game.
That leaves 54 other college teams without a place to play. Without those beneficial extra practices. Without the cool gift bags that bowl sponsors can give them without running afoul of the NCAA rule book (seriously, how is that legal?)
That's where I come in. For the fourth straight year, I give to you 25 fictional bowl games as part of my "No Team Left Behind" initiative. Because everyone should play in a bowl game.
The K-Tel Records 70s Mullet Rock Bowl
Kansas Jayhawks (1-11) vs. Boston College Eagles (2-10) - Face it, Kansas, Boston and the Eagles on the same bill would have your inner mullet-having, three-quarter sleeve t-shirt-wearing self totally psyched. This is more than a bowl game.
The 4th Annual Hooters Bowl
Temple Owls (4-7) vs. Florida Atlantic Owls (3-9) - Luckily, the Rice Owls made a real bowl (well, sort of) and avoided the first ever three-way Hooters Bowl.
The We Didn't Enjoy Our Trip To Tempe Bowl
Utah Utes (5-7) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (2-10) - The Utes and Illini lost 37-7 and 45-14, respectively to the Sun Devils in blistering, early season heat. Well, here's hoping they hit the drive-thru at the In-and-Out on Rural Road before heading back to the airport.
The Fedora Bowl
North Carolina Tar Heels (8-4) vs. Southern Mississippi (0-12) - Larry Fedora can coach his Tar Heels against the hapless Golden Eagles, and he can witness first-hand the mess he left in Hattiesburg when he bolted for Chapel Hill.
The Movies of the 80s Bowl
Indiana Hoosiers (4-8) vs. Tennessee Volunteers (5-7) - It's the seemingly overmatched kids from rural Indiana taking on Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson and John Candy. With Candy, the Volunteers have a huge size advantage up front.
The We Should Be on a Golf Course Bowl
California Golden Bears (3-9) vs. Memphis Tigers (4-8) - We'll never get the opportunity to see Nicklaus against Tiger on the links, so we'll have to settle for the Golden Bear and the Tiger tangling on the football field.
The Brad Pitt Character Bowl
Troy Trojans (5-7) vs. Wyoming Cowboys (4-8) - Pitt played a Trojan in 2004's Troy and a Cowboy in Legends of the Fall in 1994. This game will kick off at Se7en o'clock, of course.
The Tex Earnhardt 'This is, Indeed, a Bull' Bowl
South Florida Bulls (3-9) vs. Buffalo Bulls (4-8) - Make sure you wear your boots.
The Martin Lawrence Bowl
Army Black Knights (2-10) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (4-8) - Lawrence starred in Black Knight in 2001 and while he didn't star in a movie called "Razorbacks", he did appear in 2007's Wild Hogs.
The 'It'll Be Nice to Play Someone From Another Conference' Bowl
Akron Zips (1-11) vs. New Mexico State Aggies (1-11) - Akron went 0-8 in the MAC and NMSU went winless in the WAC -- even though there were two first-year FBS programs in the conference. Eesh.
The Recently Undefeated Bowl
Auburn Tigers (3-9) vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0) - It seems like yesterday when Auburn went 14-0 and won the BCS National Championship and the Buckeyes ran the table this year, but since they're naughty, they can't go to a real bowl. Hope the tattoos were worth it guys.
The Expect A Lot of Passing Bowl
Washington State Cougars (3-9) vs. Tulane Green Wave (2-10) - Why should you expect a lot of passing? Because quite simply these two teams suck at running the football. The Cougs and Wave combined for 824 rushing yards -- on the season! There were eighty individual players who had more yards on their own in 2012.
The Concentrate on the Punters Bowl
Hawaii Warriors (3-9) vs. Colorado State Rams (4-8) - These two teams didn't do much well in 2012, but hey, they've got good punters. Both CSU's Pete Kontodiakos and Hawaii's Alex Dunnachie ranked in the top five in the nation in gross punting average.
The 'Thank God It's Basketball Season' Bowl
Connecticut Huskies (5-7) vs. Kentucky Wildcats (2-10) - Maybe they're not saying that in Storrs or Lexington -- the hoops squads have combined for five losses and neither team is ranked (as of 12/13) -- gasp!!
The Offensive Generosity Bowl
Houston Cougars (5-7) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (1-11) - Houston (35) and Colorado (34) combined for 69 turnovers on the season.
The 'At Least We Beat New Mexico State' Bowl
Idaho Vandals (1-11) vs. New Mexico Lobos (4-9) - These two teams couldn't beat a drum -- but they both beat the Aggies!
The 'We Turned Down Real Invitations' Bowl
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (9-3) vs. Miami Hurricanes (7-5) - Miami turning down a bowl was kind of the right thing to do -- it's part of a self-imposed penalty for their part in receiving illegal benefits from super-booster Nevin Shapiro. But what was Louisiana Tech thinking? The Bulldogs, who enjoyed a solid season, told the Independence Bowl to hang on while they waited for a better offer. The Independence Bowl moved down their list and invited Ohio and Louisiana-Monroe. Oops.
The 'We Can't Believe We Lost to Duke' Bowl
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-7) vs. Florida International (3-9) - I guess we shouldn't make fun of Duke as they're actually playing in a real bowl game for the first time since 1994. Wow, 18 years! I guess we should make fun of them.
The 3rd Annual Discontinued Chevy Models Bowl
Virginia Cavaliers (4-8) vs. UAB Blazers (3-9) - Unfortunately, there aren't any college teams named 'Luminas' or 'Celebrities' -- otherwise, we'd have a cool four-team tourney on our hands.
The Coach on A Hot Seat Bowl
Iowa Hawkeyes (4-8) vs. Missouri Tigers (5-7) - Iowa missed a bowl game for the first time since 2007 and suffered their first losing, non-bowl season since 2000. Meanwhile, Missouri's trek into the SEC didn't go so smoothly -- the Tigers missed a bowl for the first time since 2004. These are programs that don't like losing...
The 'We Were Excited When We Hired Our Coaches' Bowl
Maryland Terrapins (4-8) vs. UNLV Rebels (2-11) - Randy Edsall's last game at Connecticut was a BCS Bowl -- the Terps haven't sniffed a bowl game in his two years in College Park. Bobby Hauck went 80-17 in seven years at Montana and appeared in the FCS Championship Game twice. In Vegas, he's 6-32 in three years and the Rebels have lost to an FCS team in each of the last two seasons.
The 'This Would Have Been a Great Coaching Matchup in 2001' Bowl
UTSA Roadrunners (8-4) vs. UTEP Miners (3-9) - The 'Runners are coached by Larry Coker, who won a BCS Championship following the 2001 sesaon at Miami. Meanwhile, UTEP head coach Mike Price was basking in glory in Pullman (if there is such a thing) as Washington State posting the first of two consecutive ten-win seasons.
The 'This Looks Like an Intrasquad Game' Bowl
Marshall Thundering Herd (5-7) vs. North Texas Mean Green (4-8) - Don't adjust your televisions, there is actually that much green in these uniforms. Marshall wears these, while North Texas rocks these.
The 'We Both Lost to Ohio' Bowl
Penn State Nittany Lions (8-4) vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-10) - Penn State started their first post-Paterno season with a loss at home to the Ohio University Bobcats in early September, while Eastern Michigan lost to Ohio 45-14 in early November.
The 'I Bet You Didn't Know These Schools Were in the FBS' Bowl
South Alabama Jaguars (2-11) vs. Texas State Bobcats (4-8) - South Alabama just started a football program in 2009 and moved into the Sun Belt Conference this year. (We know what you're thinking -- the Sun Belt is barely FBS) while Texas State (no, not the Armadillos) moved into the WAC this season.
The 'We Had Flashbacks While Watching the Michigan-Ohio State Game' Bowl
UMass Minutemen (2-10) vs. Miami, OH Red Hawks (4-8) - UMass got squashed by Michigan 63-13 in Ann Arbor while Miami took one on the chin (and other body parts) against Ohio State 56-10.
The 'This is About as Close as We Get To a Bowl' Bowl
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-4) vs. Western Michigan Broncos (4-8) - The Broncos have played in four bowl games since 1962 (two of which are now defunct) and Middle Tennessee has played in three since 1999. Heck, even when they win eight games, like they did this year, they get left out in the cold.