A disclaimer: I love bowl games. Love them. I want more of them. If college football passed a ruling saying 5-7 teams were eligible for bowls, I would watch 5-7 Syracuse play 5-7 UTEP. I am very much for an expanded college football playoff, be it four teams or 16, but said playoff will not get my support if bowls are eliminated. In an oligarchy like college football, I love the socialist twinges of bowls. Only the ruling class can win the titles, but anybody can get to 6-6.
I am not bragging about this, mind you. Half-empty bowl stadiums should be seen only as half-depressing, and I am pretty sure that if I ever met a member of a bowl committee (especially for, say, the Sugar or Orange Bowls), I would want to swear off of college football entirely. I hate that 6-7 UCLA was granted a bowl waiver in this case (simply because they stole a spot from a Western Kentucky team that is a much better story), and I hate that we don't use the BCS standings to select the ten teams that will go to BCS bowls (instead of giving the committee a larger pool with which they can screw over teams like Boise State and Kansas State). I am not showing strength of character in loving bowls. But I love them anyway. I can't help it.
I love that UL-Lafayette had something to play for and celebrate.
I love that Western Michigan is (indirectly) representing Little Caesar's Pizza! Pizza!
I love, love, that Northern Illinois and Arkansas State are playing each other (even if ASU coach Hugh Freeze may be gone, and even if I have to wait until the day before the national championship to watch it).
I love Stanford-Oklahoma State. I love Baylor-Washington. I love Penn State-Houston. I love Florida State-Notre Dame.
I love that there are still over 100 hours of football to watch in the 2011 season. I love that, according to my picks below, I think almost every game will be tight and competitive, even though there's no way in hell that's actually the case.
With that in mind, here are some early bowl picks, both from the F/+ ratings and my own brain. The numbers will remain the same moving forward, but I reserve the right to change my own mind at least 15 or 16 times.
|17-Dec||New Mexico||2:00 PM||ESPN||Wyoming||Temple||Temple by 3||Temple by 19.2|
|17-Dec||Idaho Potato||5:30 PM||ESPN||Ohio||Utah State||Utah State by 3||Ohio by 4.5|
|17-Dec||New Orleans||9:00 PM||ESPN||San Diego State||UL-Lafayette||SDSU by 10||SDSU by 3.3|
|20-Dec||Beef 'O' Brady's||8:00 PM||ESPN||Florida International||Marshall||FIU by 7||FIU by 10.7|
|21-Dec||Poinsettia||8:00 PM||ESPN||TCU||Louisiana Tech||TCU by 14||TCU by 7.9|
|22-Dec||Las Vegas||8:00 PM||ESPN||Boise State||Arizona State||BSU by 13||BSU by 16.6|
|24-Dec||Hawai'i||8:00 PM||ESPN||Southern Miss||Nevada||USM by 6||USM by 11.4|
|26-Dec||Independence||5:00 PM||ESPN||North Carolina||Missouri||Mizzou by 3||Mizzou by 1.4|
|27-Dec||Little Caesars Pizza||4:30 PM||ESPN||Purdue||Western Michigan||Purdue by 1||WMU by 8.6|
|27-Dec||Belk||8:00 PM||ESPN||N.C. State||Louisville||Louisville by 10||Louisville by 6.8|
|28-Dec||Military||4:30 PM||ESPN||Toledo||Air Force||Toledo by 10||Toledo by 12.8|
|28-Dec||Holiday||8:00 PM||ESPN||California||Texas||Texas by 14||Texas by 5.3|
|29-Dec||Champs Sports||5:30 PM||ESPN||Florida State||Notre Dame||FSU by 7||FSU by 3.1|
|29-Dec||Alamo||9:00 PM||ESPN||Baylor||Washington||Baylor by 10||Baylor by 6.9|
|30-Dec||Armed Forces||12:00 PM||ESPN||BYU||Tulsa||BYU by 6||Tulsa by 1.4|
|30-Dec||Pinstripe||3:20 PM||ESPN||Iowa State||Rutgers||Rutgers by 1||Rutgers by 10.6|
|30-Dec||Music City||6:40 PM||ESPN||Wake Forest||Mississippi State||MSU by 14||MSU by 4.2|
|30-Dec||Insight||10:00 PM||ESPN||Iowa||Oklahoma||OU by 3||OU by 10.1|
|31-Dec||Meineke of Texas||12:00 PM||ESPN||Northwestern||Texas A&M||A&M by 4||A&M by 9.6|
|31-Dec||Sun||2:00 PM||CBS||Georgia Tech||Utah||GT by 3||GT by 3.7|
|31-Dec||Liberty||3:30 PM||ABC||Cincinnati||Vanderbilt||Vandy by 3||Cincy by 4.3|
|31-Dec||Hunger||3:30 PM||ESPN||Illinois||UCLA||UCLA by 3||Illinois by 6.9|
|31-Dec||Chick-fil-A||7:30 PM||ESPN||Virginia||Auburn||Auburn by 7||Virginia by 0.6|
|2-Jan||TicketCity||12:00 PM||ESPNU||Penn State||Houston||PSU by 7||Houston by 0.7|
|2-Jan||Outback||1:00 PM||ABC||Michigan State||Georgia||UGa by 6||State by 2.8|
|2-Jan||Capital One||1:00 PM||ESPN||Nebraska||S. Carolina||S.C. by 2||Nebraska by 3.7|
|2-Jan||Gator||1:00 PM||ESPN2||Ohio State||Florida||Ohio St. by 6||Ohio St. by 0.7|
|6-Jan||Cotton||8:00 PM||Fox||Kansas State||Arkansas||Hogs by 3||Hogs by 4.7|
|7-Jan||BBVA Compass||1:00 PM||ESPN||Pittsburgh||SMU||SMU by 3||Pitt by 7.8|
|8-Jan||GoDaddy.com||9:00 PM||ESPN||Northern Illinois||Arkansas State||NIU by 7||NIU by 0.1|
|2-Jan||Rose||5:00 PM||ESPN||Wisconsin||Oregon||Oregon by 3||Wiscy by 0.5|
|2-Jan||Fiesta||8:30 PM||ESPN||Oklahoma State||Stanford||OSU by 10||OSU by 7.4|
|3-Jan||Sugar||8:30 PM||ESPN||Michigan||Virginia Tech||Va. Tech by 7||Michigan by 3.6|
|4-Jan||Orange||8:30 PM||ESPN||Clemson||West Virginia||WVU by 3||Clemson by 0.6|
|9-Jan||BCS Championship||8:30 PM||ESPN||LSU||Alabama||Bama by 7||LSU by 6.4|