No less than 37 bowl games will stretch to Jan. 19, something for every football fan in the land. Once again some of the names reflect the demand of sponsors to be recognized no matter how strange the results.
First up is the Gildan New Mexico Bowl in Albuquerque on Dec. 15, featuring two teams with less than overwhelming records: Nevada and Arizona, both 7-5 for the season. You ask who or what is Gildan? It is a clothing manufacturer that became the sponsor last year. But ironically perhaps, the trophy the winner takes home is a piece of Zia Pueblo pottery with a Zia Pueblo symbol featured in the New Mexico state flag. Isn’t it amazing how educational a bowl game can be?
A few hours later on Dec. 15 is one of my favorites so far as the name is concerned. It’s the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in Boise, Idaho, and the opposing teams have strong records: Toledo (9-3) versus Utah State (10-2). It makes you think of a delicious sour-cream-garnished baked potato with your Christmas prime rib.
The bowl with the prettiest name, the Poinsettia Bowl, is set for Dec. 20 in San Diego. But the full name is the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, which loses the charm of the short version. The combatants are San Diego State (9-3) and BYU (7-5).
Next up on Dec. 21 is the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl in St. Petersburg, Fla., featuring Ball State (9-3) versus UCF (9-4). Of course, the bowl’s name comes from its sponsor, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Family Sports Pubs, which to some folks might seem like an oxymoron. But you ask: Where is Ball State? It’s located in Muncie, Ind. For the record, UCF is the University of Central Florida.
There’s the usual lineup with the usual commercialized names including the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit on Dec. 26, the Russell Athletic Bowl — now that has a gridiron ring to it — in Orlando featuring Virginia Tech (6-6) versus Rutgers (9-3).
On Dec. 27, you can enjoy the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl in San Diego featuring Baylor (7-5) and UCLA (9-4), then the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., with Ohio (8-4) battling Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) on Dec. 28.
And so on until the games we’re really interested in are played: Georgia Tech versus Southern California in the Sun Bowl in on New Year’s Eve in El Paso. The Yellow Jackets are 6-7 and the Trojans are 7-5, but let’s expect both teams to play better than their records — and that Tech comes home with the trophy. Georgia with its 11-2 record — after scaring the daylights out of Alabama for a shot at the national championship — should handle Nebraska (10-3) in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando on New Year’s Day.
There so much more — from the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, to the TaxSlayer.com Gator, and the GoDaddy Bowl. It climaxes with Alabama and Notre Dame battling for the national title on Jan. 7 in Miami.