You ever get left off the invitation list for a really big party?
Pretty much everybody you know has been invited and they can’t stop talking about it, yet your invitation never arrived.
That’s the feeling 48 college football teams have right now. They’ve been left out of college football’s annual big soirée, and it’s just not right. There are teams with losing records preparing for actual bowl games as this is being written. So if Nebraska, San Jose State and Minnesota — who all finished 5-7 — and 12 other teams who finished with .500 records can go bowling, then I say EVERYONE CAN!
For the fifth straight year on ArizonaSports.com, here are my invented bowl games for those who didn’t receive a fancy invitation to the college football party, because, dang it, no child should be left behind. Where have I heard that before?
The Adam Sandler Cajun Man Bowl
In the early 90s, before he was churning out movies filled with his friends that get bashed by critics, Adam Sandler was a cast member on Saturday Night Live. A few times, he played a character called “Cajun Man” and the whole bit was that he’d only pronounce words that ended in an ‘on’ or ‘an’ sound. So why not a matchup between the (do a Sandler voice) “Ra-JON Ca-JONS” and the “Tro-JONS”. Yes, these two teams played in the regular season finale, with the “Tro-JONS” winning 41-17, making a rematch less-than-demanded. Go ahead critics, bash this one too!
In the gift bag: Autographed DVDs of Sandler’s 2011 hunk of dung Jack and Jill.
The Good Hands Bowl (sponsored by AllState)
Both of these teams were pretty terrible in 2015, but they did a good job of not losing fumbles. Both the Bulls and Rebels lost only four fumbles — tied for the second-fewest in the nation. By comparison, Middle Tennessee State (who is playing in a real bowl game … wait, the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl is real?) lost an astounding 18 fumbles this year, including four in the first two weeks of the season.
In the gift bag: 8×10 glossies of Dennis Haysbert.
The Catholic Church Heirarchy Bowl
Just on rank in the church, you’d favor Ball State, but Wake did have that stirring 3-0 win over Boston College in October, so they’re pretty tough.
In the gift bag: Ten Hail Marys, Five Our Fathers and an Act of Contrition.
The Designer Jeans Bowl
In the 1970s, back when the designer jeans craze first started, Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans were the ‘it’ thing. Now, they’re available at JCPenney and Kohl’s and Gloria herself is more well-known for being Anderson Cooper’s mom. Meanwhile Buffalo David Bitton was founded in 1985 and 51 percent of the company sold in 2012 for over $76 million. That forward momentum means we like CU in this game, but the fact that all players will actually take the field in jeans could be the great equalizer for Vandy.
In the gift bag: Jeans. Duh.
The Utter Disappointment Bowl
Both of these teams were in the AP Top 25 in the preseason. Missouri, fresh off of back-to-back SEC East titles, came in at no. 24, while Georgia Tech was ranked 16th and was a sexy pick to win the ACC.
Mizzou started 3-0 but stumbled (actually fell on their face) when SEC play started. The Tigers won just one conference game, beating South Carolina. Longtime coach Gary Pinkel resigned. Georgia Tech started 2-0, piling up 134 points in wins over Alcorn State and Tulane and then went 1-9 the rest of the way, finishing in last place in the ACC Coastal. Their coach didn’t resign, however.
In the gift bag: Raisins. Nothing is more disappointing than raisins, especially when you’re expecting chocolate chips.
The Paradise Bakery Turnover Bowl
The Cyclones had their moments in 2015. Heck, they shut out Texas and hung with highly-ranked Oklahoma State. Ultimately, they were undone by turnovers. Iowa State committed 24 turnovers this season, tied for 101st in the nation. Yet, they were downright careful with the ball compared to their bowl opponents. Maryland had 36 turnovers — easily the most in the country. Their quarterbacks combined to throw 29 interceptions…in 12 games!
In the gift bag: Broccoli cheese soup and a chocolate chip cookie. Yes, it’s messy.
The Going Green Bowl
There are only two teams in FBS competition with ‘green’ in their mascot — and they’ll meet up in the first-ever Going Green Bowl in (where else?) Portland, Oregon.
In the gift bag: Composting kits.
The Hawks’ Nest Bowl
C’mon, just naming your team the “Hawks” is boring. You need a color or other qualifier to spruce that name up a little bit. It’s interesting to note that both of these schools formerly had Native American mascots. No, Daniel Snyder is not the president of either of these universities.
In the gift bag: 8×10 glossies of Dennis Haysbert (The Good Hands Bowl printed too many).
The Reminiscing Coaches Bowl
Please forgive the seemingly absent-minded play calling in this game — both coaches are likely going to be daydreaming about better days. Texas State’s Dennis Franchione will be fondly recalling when he was a hot coaching commodity (doesn’t it seem like 50 years ago that he was at Alabama?) and UTSA’s Larry Coker will have visions of winning the 2001 BCS championship he captured at Miami.
In the gift bag: Autographed CDs of Barbra Streisand’s “The Way We Were”.
The Hooters Bowl
Congratulations to the Temple Owls for graduating from this three-headed monster of mediocrity. As long as there are at least two teams named the Owls eligible for these fictional bowl games, there will be a Hooters Bowl.
In the gift bag: 2016 Hooters Calendar.
The Hotel California Bowl
Expect a defensive struggle (or more to the point, offensive struggle) in this first-ever matchup. Both offenses ranked 91st or worst in points per game this season. And fans, think twice before you buy tickets to this game, because once you check in, you can never leave.
In the gift bag: Pink champagne on ice.
The Just Punt It Bowl
Some teams like to go for it on fourth down. Heck, some teams — like Navy (92 percent) are really good at converting those fourth-down opportunities. These teams aren’t. Fresno State converted only 31 percent (9-of-29) of its chances while Old Dominion was a tick better at 32 percent (8-for-25). Just bring in the punter and get it out of there.
In the gift bag: Ping lob wedges, for laying up.
The Medieval Times Bowl
Is Medieval Times still around? Anyway, are you prepared for a night of feasting and sport the likes of which you will never forget? Army should be favored in this one following their close-but-no-cigar loss to Navy, and considering the way Rutgers’ season has gone, well … “down, down, down, red Knight going down.”
And yes, I did find out that Medieval Times is still around with nine locations in North America. And, they feature a King’s vegetarian meal now, because they want their customers to have a true historic experience.
In the gift bag: Turkey legs.
The Defense Is Optional Bowl
These two teams give up points in bunches. SMU yielded an average of 45.7 points per contest and gave up 50 or more five times (and 60 twice!). The only defense worse was Kansas’, which gave up 46.1 points per game, had a 50-burger dropped on them four times and also gave up 60 or more twice.
In the gift bag: A certificate for a year-long membership LifeLock. If these teams are as good at defending their identities as they are at defending their end zones, they’ll need it.
The Still Kinda New At This Bowl
Since I’ve been putting these bowls together, a lot of the same teams get invitations. Looking at you, Colorado and New Mexico State. But I can’t be too harsh on these two programs, who haven’t been doing the whole FBS thing too long. South Alabama just completed its fourth season of “real” football while UMass did the same. Baby steps, guys.
In the gift bag: NCAA welcome mats.
The Thank Goodness This Isn’t a Conference Game Bowl
Conference play was not kind to either team in 2015. The Beavers, under new coach Gary Andersen, went winless in the Pac-12/Pac-10 for the first time since 1997. And it wasn’t like OSU lost a bunch of heartbreakers — they were pounded by an average of 24.6 points per game by conference foes. Charlotte, in its first year in Conference USA, also got shut out of the win column, and were “welcomed” by Middle Tennessee State, who put a 73-14 hurting on them in September.
In the gift bag: Ice packs.
The This Doesn’t Feel Right Bowl
It was a rough season in Columbia. Steve Spurrier quit midseason. The Gamecocks won one SEC game and missed out on a real bowl game for the first time since 2007. East Carolina, who had been to bowl games in three straight seasons and eight of the last nine, also stumbled in 2015, going 5-7 overall and 3-5 in the AAC.
In the gift bag: 2016 calendars. Things can only get better.
The This Is Still Better Than A Real Bowl Game in Detroit Bowl
What, you really thought I was going to get all the way through this thing without one solid Detroit joke? Each of these teams’ last real bowl win happened in the Motor City. Purdue beat Western Michigan, 37-32, in the 2011 Little Caesars Bowl while FIU earned their one and only postseason win in Detroit the year before against Toledo.
In the gift bag: Kid Rock’s entire catalog, including the very rare 1990 release Grits Sandwiches for Breakfast, which Rolling Stone magazine called ‘terrible.’ Wait, like his other stuff wasn’t?
The Triple Goose Egg Bowl
There were only 25 shutouts in games between two FBS teams in 2015, yet these two schools combined to be the victim in nearly a quarter of them. Hawaii got blanked by Ohio State, Wisconsin and Boise State while Kent State got the zero treatment from Bowling Green, Ohio and Akron. Advantage (if there is such a thing) to Hawaii. At least they got hammered by perennial powerhouses.
In the gift bag: $25 gift cards to The Good Egg.
The We Got Rolled By Bad Teams Bowl
The teams mentioned in these 24 created bowl games aren’t exactly a who’s who of college football. They’re here for a reason — they lost a lot of football games. But this bowl “honors” teams that got dominated by other bad teams. UTEP went on the road to Miami in October and were handed a humbling 52-12 defeat by Florida International in a game they trailed 42-3 at the half. Meanwhile, Wyoming lost at home to Eastern Michigan 48-29 in September. The same Eastern Michigan team that had gone 27 years without a non-conference road win against an FBS team. Yuck.
In the gift bag: Extra-strength Advil.
The Maybe We Should Rethink This Whole Football Thing Bowl
I can’t sugarcoat it. These two programs have been flat-out terrible. Since elevating to I-A status in 1996, the Vandals have gone to two bowl games — both in their home state of Idaho. Since their last postseason appearance in 2009, they’ve gone 15-57. The Aggies haven’t gone to a bowl game since 1960. Let that sink in…EVERYBODY goes to a bowl game. It’s been 55 years since the Aggies have. The next-longest drought in FBS for a team that has been a consistent member is Eastern Michigan’s 28-year mark. These two teams played each other on Halloween, with NMSU winning, 55-48. Idaho blew a 30-7 lead in that contest. Let’s face it, they deserve to play each other every week from here on out.
In the gift bag: Nothing.
The What the Heck Happened Bowl
Once-promising seasons went south for both of these schools and had fans longing for the start of basketball season (again). Kentucky stormed out to a 4-1 start and then went 1-6 the rest of the way with their only win coming against Charlotte in November. The Orange started 3-0, then played LSU tough in Week 4 before falling, 34-24. That started an eight-game losing streak.
In the gift bag: Autographed copies of Jim Boeheim’s book “Bleeding Orange” and John Calipari’s book “Coaching & Inspiring Today’s Athlete.”
The Things Got So Bad, We Needed New Athletic Directors Bowl
Everything’s bigger in Texas — including the expectations placed on the UT football program. So when the Longhorns limped out to a 1-4 start that featured a blowout loss to Notre Dame, it was time for a change. Steve Patterson was ousted after spending only 18 months on the job heading the Longhorns athletic program. UCF, who won the Fiesta Bowl just two seasons ago, went 0-12. George O’Leary, who had assumed AD duties after Todd Stansbury bolted for Oregon State, quit as coach and AD.
In the gift bag: A bottle of Maker’s Mark … make that a case. They need it.
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- ASU’s N’Keal Harry, UA’s Khalil Tate among players to watch in 2018