It all starts with the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday. The bowl madness will end, finally, on Jan. 7, when Notre Dame and Alabama meet for the national title.
Headline in your Seattle Times, April 15, 2004: “Seattle Bowl revival may be delayed.”
Yeah, for a decade or two, or perhaps perpetuity.
We’re on the doorstep of another 35-game college-football bowl season, bringing us everything from the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl to the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Seattle was part of this, you know. It’s the 10-year anniversary of the last Seattle Bowl, which seems to warrant an abridged history of its highlights (which are by definition abridged, because it lasted but two years).
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Tyrone Willingham, coaching Stanford, lost the first one in 2001 to Georgia Tech, preparing Washington fans nicely for what was to come here in 2005 through 2008.
Oregon fell to Wake Forest in a 2002 game that almost wasn’t played. The bowl, operated by a Hawaii promoter, missed several 11th-hour deadlines to post the necessary letter of credit, or as then-Oregon athletic director Bill Moos explains it now, “The real problem was, they weren’t certified by the NCAA.”
The NCAA cut bait with the bowl in 2003. Not to worry: A southern California promoter named Paul Feller surfaced late that year, announcing his group was going to save the event.
Among the hitches was the fact he wanted to change the name to the Emerald City Bowl — except San Francisco already had the Emerald Bowl.
Whatever gravitas Feller had, he lost a lot of at the news of unpaid bills after he operated the 2000 Long Beach (Calif.) Marathon. At a city council meeting there, a police escort had to protect Feller from angry vendors who marched to a microphone and told stories of money owed.
Money kept getting in the way of a good time. The Times quoted an NCAA official in April 2004 saying that the bowl-certification folks there had gotten a letter saying the $2 million letter of credit was on the way for a revived game, but the letter of credit itself, well, it must have gotten lost in the mail.
Anyway, the notion died a quiet death. As you tune in for the Belk Bowl later this month, you’ll have to decide whether that’s a good or bad thing.
Right here, a deep breath would be a good idea.
New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, Saturday, Arizona (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5) — If there simply has to be a New Mexico Bowl, it might as well have the nation’s 1-2 rushers, ‘Zona’s Ka’Deem Carey (1,757 yards) and Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson (1,703).
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, Boise, Saturday, Utah State (10-2) vs. Toledo (9-3) — The Aggies, under ex-Utah aide Gary Andersen, have outscored foes 131-6 in the first quarter — not bad when you’ve played Wisconsin, Utah, BYU and Louisiana Tech.
Poinsettia, San Diego, Dec. 20, BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3) — Nifty matchup of programs with historical mutual enmity dating to WAC days. Oregon State transfer QB Ryan Katz is on the SDSU shelf with a broken ankle.
Beef O’Brady’s, St. Petersburg, Fla., Dec. 21, Central Florida (9-4) vs. Ball State (9-3) — Evidence that the apocalypse might be near: The MAC has seven bowl teams.
New Orleans, Dec. 22, Louisiana (Lafayette) (8-4) vs. East Carolina (8-4) — What could be better for UL than winning its first bowl berth at this site a year ago? Why, a return invitation.
Las Vegas, Dec. 22, Washington (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-2) — Huskies are the epitome of symmetry: 286 points scored, 286 points allowed. And Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas, out in the desert nothingness far from town, is the epitome of soulless.
Hawaii, Honolulu, Dec. 24, Fresno State (9-3) vs. SMU (6-6) — June Jones returns again to the Islands as a big underdog. Last two times that’s happened in bowls, including this one in ’09, his team won convincingly.
Little Caesars, Detroit, Dec. 26, Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6) — WKU coach Willie Taggart split for South Florida, so defensive coordinator Lance Guidry is interim before giving way to ethical/moral colossus Bobby Petrino.
Military Bowl, Washington, D.C., Dec. 27, San Jose State (10-2) vs. Bowling Green (8-4) — Points will be scarce. San Jose State recorded 40 sacks, while BGSU, led by MAC defensive player of the year Chris Jones, a lineman, allowed 15.8 points a game.
Belk, Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 27, Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6) — Duke’s first bowl since 1994. Flaunting his loyalty to UC, coach Butch Jones said on Dec. 3, “I’m still head football coach here. I think that speaks volumes.” Or paragraphs, since he bolted 72 hours later for Tennessee.
Holiday, San Diego, Dec. 27, UCLA (9-4) vs. Baylor (7-5) — Baylor might be the perfect bowl team — No. 1 nationally in total offense, No. 119 in total defense. Blase UCLA fans will descend on San Diego by the SmartCar-load.
Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La., Dec. 28, Ohio (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) — It’s ULM’s first bowl game. For Ohio U., it’s old hat; Bobcats broke a 43-year, five-bowl drought with their first win in 2011.
Russell Athletic, Orlando, Fla., Dec. 28, Rutgers (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6) — This could be Tech’s first losing season since 1992, when Frank Beamer went 2-8-1. Could Beamer have survived in today’s climate? After six years there, he was 24-40-2.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Houston, Dec. 28, Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) — Gophers tied for last in their division of a bad Big Ten at 2-6 and were outscored, outrushed and outpassed. After Tommy Tuberville left, Tech seeks a new coach, probably not Mike Leach.
Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, Texas, Dec. 29, Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6) — Apropos of nothing, there have been only 117 yards in punt returns by Rice and its opponents, and Air Force has lost 19 fumbles.
Pinstripe Bowl, New York, Dec. 29, West Virginia (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5) — If Baylor isn’t the consummate bowl team, then West Virginia is. Against Oklahoma, Stedman Bailey had four TD receptions, but coach Dana Holgorsen said receiver Tavon Austin (344 yards rushing) had the “greatest single performance I’ve seen.”
Fight Hunger, San Francisco, Dec. 29, Navy (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5) — Todd Graham, who had his team 20th, was one of two coaches (among 59) to vote the Sun Devils into the final top 25. He must have forgotten that four-game losing streak when ASU surrendered 162 points.
Alamo, San Antonio, Dec. 29, Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3) — OSU is 6-2 lately in bowls, Texas 8-2. Mack Brown is 21-16 since the ‘Horns played for the BCS title three years ago. Can he get them revved up to play the Beavers?
Buffalo Wild Wings, Dec. 29, Tempe, Ariz., TCU (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6) — Wild MSU stat: Dating to their blowout loss to Washington in the 1997 Aloha Bowl, the Spartans are underdogs in a bowl for the 10th straight time. TCU has intercepted 23 passes.
Music City, Nashville, Dec. 31, N.C. State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4) — Vandy’s on a six-game win streak and can win nine for the first time since 1915. Tom O’Brien is probably wearing a T-shirt that says, “I coached N.C. State to a bowl game and all I got was fired.”
Sun, El Paso, Texas, Dec. 31, USC (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7) — When I see USC in the Sun Bowl, all I can think of is ex-UW safety Tony Parrish recalling the Huskies’ 1995 trip there, and “waking up on Christmas morning and going across the street to Jack in the Box for breakfast.”
Liberty, Memphis, Dec. 31, Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3) — ISU’s resume includes a 3-6 Big 12 record, a leading rusher with 504 yards and its top receiver with 430. Rematch of a season opener won by ISU, 38-23.
Chick Fil’A, Atlanta, Dec. 31, Clemson (10-2) vs. LSU (10-2) — Attraction here is Clemson QB Tajh Boyd, ACC player of the year, against LSU’s No. 8-rated defense. That, and the fact both schools call their home Death Valley.
Gator, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 1, Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3) — It says here Northwestern finally gets that elusive first bowl win since the 1949 Rose. State has won five straight bowls but went 1-4 down the stretch.
Heart of Dallas, Jan. 1, Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5) — How to get to a New Year’s Day bowl: The Boilers beat Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Marshall and three Big Ten tomato cans. No wonder this is the biggest point spread (16) of the bowl season.
Capital One, Orlando, Fla., Jan. 1, Georgia (11-2) vs. Nebraska (10-3) — A Huskers defense that allowed 36, 63 and 70 points in its losses figures to have its hands full with QB Aaron Murray and an offense that averaged 37.
Outback, Tampa, Jan. 1, South Carolina (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4) — It’s Denard Robinson’s college swan song in the state where he grew up. Michigan (20-21) tries to square its all-time bowl record, while Steve Spurrier (8-10 in bowls) attempts to improve his.
Rose, Pasadena, Jan. 1, Wisconsin (8-5) vs. Stanford (11-2) — The return of Barry Alvarez (3-0 in Rose Bowls) to the Wisconsin sideline lends an intriguing note. He’s just the second person to coach in the game after being enshrined in the Rose Bowl hall of fame. The first? Rick Neuheisel.
Orange, Miami, Jan. 1, Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2) — Check out NIU QB Jordan Lynch (6-0, 216), national leader in rushing (1,771 yards) and total offense (4,753). His two-line bio on the NIU website says he “admires Steve Prefontaine.”
Sugar, New Orleans, Jan. 2, Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1) — This hinges on defensively ferocious Florida’s focus against ‘Ville’s standout QB, Teddy Bridgewater, and his 161.6 pass efficiency.
Fiesta, Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 3, Oregon (11-1) vs. Kansas State (11-1) — It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Chip Kelly drives a Maserati and Bill Snyder a Packard. In their four straight BCS bowls, the Ducks have had to face QBs Terrelle Pryor, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and now Collin Klein.
Cotton, Arlington, Texas, Jan. 4, Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2) — A shootout looms between Johnny Football and Landry Jones, as neither team has a top-40 defense. The Aggies try to stop a six-game Cotton Bowl losing streak.
BBVA Compass, Birmingham, Ala., Jan. 5, Pitt (6-6) vs. Mississippi (6-6) — Pitt is here for the third straight year, which prompts the question: Does it really take three trips to show players the sights of Birmingham?
GoDaddy.com, Mobile, Ala., Jan. 6, Kent State (11-2) vs. Arkansas State (9-3) — Both coaches, Darrell Hazell and Gus Malzahn, are moving on, but Hazell stays to work this game. Kent’s Dri Archer (5-8, 175) is rushing/receiving/returning dynamite.
BCS national title, Miami, Jan. 7, Alabama (12-1) vs. Notre Dame (12-0) — Finally. The two defenses will spend the night mauling the other side. Big stage for KeiVarae Russell, the Irish’s true-freshman starting cornerback from Mariner High. In the next-to-last BCS title game, let’s call it ‘Bama, about 17-13.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org