Shutdown Fullback previews every bowl. All at once!
When you know something that matters to you is about to go away, you ride it for all it's worth, no matter what.
College football's 2012 season has only 35 games left. They'll be beholden to sponsors, often rigged financially against universities, and played after a month's worth of rust has built up. Also, 34 of them don't count toward any standings that actually matter. And together, they make up one of the most important sporting events on our calendar.
Here's the complete schedule for this year's bowl season, plus the advanced F/+ pick for each game (as compiled by Bill Connelly), our panel's (Spencer Hall, Bill Connelly, Steven Godfrey, Dan Rubenstein, Andy Hutchins and me) straight-up picks, spreads via our friends at OddsShark, and our 1-10 Watchability ratings for each game. I'll add everyone's individual picks and ratings in the comments.
That right there is a mess.
Northern Illinois making the Orange Bowl screwed everything up, since it also meant a Big East team that lost two of its last three games and beat no ranked teams got bumped up to one of the actual big BCS games and also knocked all the Big 12 teams down a peg. A good team gets a good trip, and some other good teams get slightly less good trips because of it.
NIU getting to shine is nowhere near the biggest injustice this year. Three actual candidates:
- 6-7 Georgia Tech gets to play preseason No. 1 USC, while 8-4 Middle Tennessee (which beat Georgia Tech, 49-28, in Atlanta) gets to play nobody.
- 9-3 Louisiana Tech's players are staying home because their athletic director scoffed at playing a former rival during backroom horse-tradin'.
- Unbeaten Ohio State isn't here, because players and coaches no longer associated with the school broke rules that don't matter.
It's easy to get mad about good teams getting nothing. It's hard to get mad about good teams getting something, especially when those good teams have never gotten anything before.
Give us more this:
Give us less this:
Of course Northern Illinois isn't one of the top 10 teams in the country or a team with one of the 10 best resumes. But if we're cool with five-loss Wisconsin being in, all grievances about one-loss NIU are instantly void.
The BCS is broken. We've known that for 14 years now, and in two years we'll have something else that's also broken. Acting as if NIU's inclusion lessens bowl season is a misrepresentation of bowl season. The aggrieved Oklahoma, which misses out on the BCS due to NIU's inclusion? It'll play in a bigger game than the Orange (bigger as in the number of people who will care about it, not bigger as in the amount of payout cash for money-spurting power conferences).
FOX televises one bowl game this year, and it'll get one of the best and biggest, due to the BCS sticking ESPN with Northern Illinois. This might explain a lot of things.
These games don't matter. They matter to millions of people. They matter to us, because they're all we have left, and because nightly football is never a thing to be complained about. We'll see amazing things, empty stadiums that schools are on the hook for, unbelievably bad defense, teams playing with substitute coaches, and the last college games ever played by Denard Robinson, Tavon Austin, Barrett Jones, Manti Te'o, Montee Ball and more.
It's perfect, it's bullshit, it's everything, it's bowl season.
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