2011-12 Bowl Schedule Is Set

2011-12 Bowl Schedule Is Set
  • Opening Intro -

    The bowl season will kick off on December 17 with three games scheduled. LSU and Alabama will conclude things on January 9, when the two SEC schools battle for the national championship in New Orleans.

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35 games scheduled over 24 days.

A total of 35 bowl games are on tap this season with the usual chorus of people calling for a playoff system again this year.

National Championship

Alabama barely edged out Oklahoma State to win a rematch against LSU and an opportunity to be crowned national champion with a win next month. There are a lot of other teams that have had to settle for lesser bowls in addition to quite a few 6-6 teams that are going bowling.

Perhaps one of the most surprising and disappointing bowl match ups is the Gator Bowl, a Jan. 2 contest in Jacksonville, Florida, pitting a pair of 6-6 teams: Ohio State and Florida. In any other season, both teams would be desirable participants, but this year each team finished with losing records in their respective conferences. Oh, how the once mighty Gator Bowl has fallen!

Minor Bowls, Big Names

Some of the “lesser” bowls will have greater appeal this year, as each has attracted one or more participants that will spice things up. The Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 21 has 10-2 TCU and the following day 11-1 Boise State will play in the Las Vegas Bowl. Both teams clearly are strong enough to play in higher tier bowls, but because each one hails from the Mountain West Conference, they must be content with the non-BCS games.

Southern Miss leveled Houston on Saturday to win the Conference USA championship, but will have to “settle” for a Christmas Eve engagement in Honolulu against Nevada. Houston, due to its higher year-end ranking and 12-1 record, gets to play 9-3 Penn State on Jan. 2 in the TicketCity Bowl up in Dallas. Not the best venue for either team, but at least the game is held on an extended holiday weekend day.

The Baylor Bears has one of the best players in the nation, QB Robert Griffin III, a Heisman hopeful. Griffin has passed for 3,998 yards and 36 touchdowns on the year and will showcase his talents on Dec. 29 at the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio against Washington. The Bears, once the doormat of the Big 8/12 conference have proven themselves to be one of the most interesting teams in the country. This game gets a Thursday evening audience, but should attract a solid following regardless of whether Griffin is awarded the Heisman.

Undeserved Teams

With USC not eligible for a bowl game, UCLA took the Pac 12 conference’s final spot and will play Illinois on New Year’s Eve in San Francisco for the “Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.” Illinois started the season at 6-0, but lost its last six games. UCLA finished at 6-7 and needed special permission from the NCAA to appear in the post season with a losing record. USC won the Pac 12 South championship because USC was deemed ineligible for the post season. That championship led the NCAA to rule on favor of the Bruins. Whoever said that the bowl system is not broken is cracked!

Besides these two schools which demonstrate how teams can back into a bowl game, there will be some other suspect teams playing in the post season. Ohio State and Florida are two others and a case could be made that Pittsburgh is another 6-6 team that hardly deserves a shot at another game. Some might question Iowa State’s appearance at the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium against Rutgers on Dec. 29, but the Cyclones did manage to mess up the season for Oklahoma State with its double overtime victory over the Cowboys on Nov. 18. Despite losing its next two games, the Cyclones are in and will head to New York City to face the Scarlet Knights.

Bowl Predictions

We said last week that we would offer our predictions for all of the bowl games, but have decided to amend that list to include only those games we think will matter most to football fans beyond the participating schools themselves.

To that end we see the following scenario unfolding:

  • Houston will rebound and knock off Penn State in the TicketCity Bowl.
  • Georgia will hold off Michigan State in the Outback Bowl.
  • South Carolina should beat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl.
  • Wisconsin and Oregon tangle in the Rose Bowl. We think the Badgers will edge the Ducks.
  • West Virginia will stay even with Clemson for three quarters, but the Tigers will pounce and win late.
  • Arkansas will easily handle Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl.
  • As for the national championship, this game is for LSU to lose. If the Tigers make mistakes, then the Crimson Tide will win. Look for more points than the 9 to 6 LSU win on November 5 too. In this contest, we’re going with the Tide in a minor upset.

Happy bowling!

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Categories: NCAA Football