Today's Rootability index helps the uninvested fan decide who to pull for in a contest where they have no clear interest. The game: The Northrop Grumman Military Bowl (4:30 p.m., ESPN) featuring the Toledo Rockets and the Air Force Falcons. Both teams are named after things that fly, but only one of them can land safely and reliably. Is this an omen? Probably not!
ROOTABILITY FACTORS: Toledo is trying to out patriotize the Air Force Falcons, an impossible task since Air Force are the Air Force, and will have to go straight from playing this game to training in the mountains, flying huge flammable death machines over hostile territory, or studying calculus in the name of national security. It is futile to try to keep up with them, but it's a nice gesture nonetheless.
Toledo makes up for their inability to be as outrageously American as Air Force with another very American trait: uneven and spectacular entertainment. Toledo played in three of the most watchable and lunatic games this year: their near-upset of Ohio State, and the back-to-back Wednesday MACtion classics against Northern Illinois (a 63-60 loss) and Western Michigan (a 66-63 win over the Broncos.) Toledo only goes in one direction: all of them, scoring points and allowing them with equal flair. In defeat or victory, they do not bore.
Air Force doesn't bore those who know what's coming: the triple-option, run with respectable precision, accompanied on the defensive side by a pass defense that could not stop an attack that ran with the little EA Sports NCAA 2012 arrows drawn on the field. The Falcons also got to bowl eligibility by beating a truly wretched collection of teams, including New Mexico. (On a side note, bowl eligibility should not include one FBS team a year that we all agree simply did not count. New Mexico or Memphis would be this year's ineligible win.)
In summary: if you're picking by helmets, blind patriotism, and the team with a mascot that periodically tries to fly away from the Independence Bowl, then Air Force is your pick. If you like the team with slightly more excitement to offer and a bloodless interstate war to boast about, then Toledo is your pick. (The Rockets are also the wagerer's pick by a field goal, but you're certainly not letting your dollars speak for your heart, are you?)
LEAN: Toledo. We're slightly less American for doing that, but the TEAM AMERICA helmets help us feel a little better about that, Toledo.