Can you believe it? It’s almost here! The
final phase of this accursed disaster of a football season of which we never will speak again after January 1 bowl games begin tomorrow! That being the case, I had better get on with the business of making my postseason picks, all under the omnipresent aegis of my routine disclaimer: Don’t Bet On It!
Texas Bowl: Rice v. Western Michigan (December 30): If John F. Kennedy had asked instead, "Why does Rice play Western Michigan?" the space program wouldn’t have made it past the troposphere. The most intriguing aspect of this game is the fact that it pits a head coach whose surname is the title of a court official (David Bailiff of the Owls) against a counterpart whose surname is a Biblical unit of measurement (Bill Cubit of the Broncos). Oh, by the way, I don’t know what the travel distance is from Kalamazoo to Houston, but I do know Rice will be playing in its home town and I like the Owls to swoop in for the kill against W.M.U.
Holiday Bowl: Oklahoma State v. Oregon (December 30): If Mike Bellotti knows what he’s doing, he’ll have all his players’ eyes dilated just before the game. That way, the Ducks will look across the field, see only an orange-clad football team with the initials "O.S.U.," and come out fired up because they think they’re getting a bowl rematch with their in-state rival. Failing that, though, the better team will win, which means the Pokes will prevail. Ordinarily, watching the Cowboys rope the Ducks would make for some truly lame rodeo, but, in this case, I look for Oklahoma State to win 42-35 . . . which qualifies as a defensive struggle by Holiday Bowl standards.
Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force v. Houston (December 31): I really don’t want to predict the outcome of this game, because I’m going to pick against the Falcons, and it just feels unpatriotic to forecast that a service academy will lose the Armed Forces Bowl. I worry that, by declaring the game a lost cause for Air Force, I’ll get myself served with a subpoena from the House Committee on Un-American Activities or something. Let me, therefore, preface my prognostication with a declaration: I am not now and I have never been a member of the Communist Party. Having said which, Houston will have no problem.
Sun Bowl: Oregon State v. Pittsburgh (December 31): O.K., seriously, what the heck is up with this matchup? What dufus said, "I know! Let’s pair a Pac-10 team with a Big East team in El Paso!"? Here’s a good rule to follow: if Marty Robbins sang a song about it, it isn’t a suitable site for a game between a Pac-10 team and a Big East team. Putting these two teams together was the dumbest idea had by anyone associated with the Sun Bowl since some nimrod decided in the mid-‘80s to drop the "Sun" from the historic tilt’s nomenclature and (thankfully, only briefly) call it the John Hancock Bowl, apparently on the cockamamie theory that fans would accept it because, after all, John Hancock was a Founding Father, so of course he deserved to have a bowl game named after him, on account of how he signed his name so big at the bottom of the Declaration of Poulan/Weed-Eater Independence! This is an odd marriage of mismatched conferences in which I expect the Beavers to beat the Panthers.
Expect to see a lot of this at the Sun Bowl. (Photograph from Associated Press by Keith Srakocic.)
Music City Bowl: Boston College v. Vanderbilt (December 31): On the one hand, you’re a heartless cretin if you don’t feel good for the Commodores. Vandy hasn’t won a bowl game since 1955, or even made it into postseason play since 1982, yet here they are with a team that was expected to regress from its previous status as a scrappy upstart. On the other hand, you’re not being honest with yourself if you don’t feel just a little bit badly for the ‘Dores, who’ve waited more than a quarter-century to earn a bowl trip. When one finally came their way, they got to travel all the way to beautiful exotic . . . Nashville. For crying out loud, these guys can sleep in their own dorm rooms and take a taxi to the bowl game. As if that weren’t awful enough, when they get to LP Field (named, presumably, after a full-length record album), the Commies are going to lose to the country’s most reliable postseason squad, the Eagles.
That puts 20 bowl predictions in our rear view mirror, so we’re almost halfway home! Next up will be the last of the New Year’s Eve clashes and the initial January 1 contests, so stay tuned, and, whatever you do . . . Don’t Bet On It!