Because the bowl games are your last chance to watch college football (not counting bullshit all-star games and spring "games") until September (weep). While there's obviously one bowl you really care about, there are still 33 (!) other goddamn bowls out there -- so why should you care about them?
National Championship (thanks, Congress!) Title Game: Alabama (13-0) vs. Texas (13-0)
When/Where/Who: Thursday, January 7; 7pm CST; Pasadena, CA; Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit (ABC)
Why You Care: There's a prize on the line -- a crystal football or something, I think. Seems kind of important.
Why You Don't Care: If these teams play like they did last week, this is going to be the ugliest championship game since Florida pulled an Old Yeller on Ohio State and ushered in the era of "THE BIG TEN SUX!!!1!"
MASCOT FIGHT: Bulls are cool and all, but elephants would totally trample them. Also: Bevo always looks a little stoned.
(2) Rose Bowl: Oregon (10-2) vs. Ohio State (10-2)
When/Where/Who: Friday, January 1; 4pm CST; Pasadena, CA; Brent Musberger and Kirk Herbstreit (ABC)
Why You Care: It's the motherfucking Rose Bowl -- come on. Also an interesting tactical match-up between the sweatervested up conservatism of Tresselball and the all-out lunacy of Chip Kelly's spread offense. If you like running the football, you'll be in paradise.
Why You Don't Care: Tired of seeing Ohio State piss all over themselves in big games against nationally-ranked out-of-conference opponents. Also: concerned Oregon's unis will break your TV.
MASCOT FIGHT: Ducks are charmers, but never underestimate the insidious power of a poisonous nut.
(3) Capital One Bowl: Penn State (10-2) vs. LSU (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Friday, January 1; 1pm CST; Orlando, FL; Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge (ABC)
Why You Care: If you like watching NFL-caliber defenders, huzzah. Also: the end of LSU games this year are usually can't-miss affairs, if only to see how Les Miles will lose his mind each week.
Why You Don't Care: ...but the first 3/4 of the games are usually must-miss affairs. Plus, Penn State has turtled up against quality opponents this year and LSU has been offensively challenged all year, which sounds like a recipe for ugly football.
MASCOT FIGHT: The Nittany Lion looks like he's been on a hunger strike for a month; Mike the Tiger is a REAL FUCKING TIGER.
(4) Fiesta Bowl: TCU (12-0) vs. Boise State (13-0)
When/Where/Who: Monday, January 4; 7pm CST; Glendale, AZ; Sam Rosen and Tim Ryan (FOX)
Why You Care: Well, it's not like you see two teams with a combined twenty-five wins and zero losses square off everyday. Also, while the expression is a horrible cliche, TCU really is the "best team you've never seen," thanks to the Mountain West's absolutely abominable TV deals.
Why You Don't Care: Who really cares who's king of the mid-major mountain?
MASCOT FIGHT: Broncos are mighty creatures, but do you really want to fuck with a lizard that squirts blood from its eyes?
(5) Sugar Bowl: Cincinnati (12-0) vs. Florida (12-1)
When/Where/Who: Friday, January 1; 7pm CST; New Orleans, LA; Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick (ESPN)
Why You Care: Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard are stupid fun to watch. It's the last time you'll ever see that Tebow guy in college football. It's, um, a big game?
Why You Don't Care: High potential for a very listless effort out of Florida, given the deflating loss to Bama and the fact that a small army of guys are pondering a jump to the NFL. Also: who needs to hear a reprise of Brennaman's four-hour verbal blowjob of Tebow? It was insufferable enough last year.
MASCOT FIGHT: Bearcats are not as fearsome as their name would seem to imply; they would be nothing but an appetizer for an alligator.
The rematch of the 1998 Holiday Bowl we've all been dying for. FINALLY!
(6) Holiday Bowl: Nebraska (9-4) vs. Arizona (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Wednesday, December 30; 7pm CST; San Diego, CA; Chris Fowler, Craig James, Jesse Palmer (ESPN)
Why You Care: NDAMUKONG SUH. That is all.
Why You Don't Care: Nebraska's offense makes the 2007 Iowa offense look like The Greatest Show on Turf. It's just a fucking horrorshow.
MASCOT FIGHT: Wildcats are fiesty, but they're no match for a juiced-up farmer like Herbie Husker or the shuffling nightmare fuel that is Lil' Red.
It's all about The U, baby. (H/T The 7th Floor)
(7) Champs Sports Bowl: Miami (9-3) vs. Wisconsin (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Tuesday, December 29; 7pm CST; Orlando, FL; Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge (ESPN)
Why You Care: An unusually quality match-up for the Champs Sports Bowl, thanks to both teams getting (surprisingly) jumped in the bowl pecking order by conference foes. A great contrast in styles match-up between Wisco's B10-bred power running and Miami's (might-as-well-be) ESS EEE SEE speed and passing smoothness.
Why You Don't Care: The last time Wisco played an ACC team from Florida loaded with speedy athletes, they got murderized.
MASCOT FIGHT: Badgers fight like furry little ninjas: luring you into the dark and then biting your face off. The ibis is just a big, awkward-looking bird.
Toby Gerhart: not so easy to tackle.
(8) Sun Bowl: Stanford (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (7-5)
When/Where/Who: Thursday, December 31; 1pm CST; El Paso, TX; Craig Bolerjack and Steve Beuerlein (CBS)
Why You Care: One last chance to watch the Albino Rhino bulldoze his way through college defenses, before settling into an ignominious NFL career as a fullback. And while we love an old alum like Stoops, it's at least a little schadenfreude-y to watch Oklahoma stumble to a 7-5 season. It's like watching the Homecoming queen get crabs.
Why You Don't Care: If Oklahoma's defense is feeling frisky, this could be ugly; the Sooner offense has been dreadful most of the year, but Stanford's defense hasn't been able to stop a brisk wind for the past few months.
MASCOT FIGHT: Cheating settlers versus a tree? Hello, firewood.
(9) Independence Bowl: Georgia (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (6-6)
When/Where/Who: Monday, December 28; 7pm CST; Shreveport, LA; Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham (ESPN)
Why You Care: If you like point orgies, this is the game for you. Good defenses (i.e., Texas) have had difficulty slowing down Jerrod Johnson (arguably the best QB in the Big 12 this season) and the A&M offense... and Georgia just pink slipped their entire defensive staff. Meanwhile, A&M's own defense has been best described as "indifferent," which should suit Joe Cox & Co. just fine. Also: one of your last chances to listen to the dulcet tones of Ron Franklin on ESPN.
Why You Don't Care: Shreveport just isn't the same without the plaintive whines of ISU fans.
MASCOT FIGHT: What the fuck is an Aggie anyway? Not as cool as a live bulldog, I bet.
(10) Emerald Bowl: USC (8-4) vs. Boston College (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, December 26; 7pm CST; San Francisco, CA; Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore (ESPN)
Why You Care: It's a whole lot schadenfreude-y to watch USC bumble to 8-4 with a below-average offense and a defense that's been ripped for 47+ points on two occasions. Losing to Boston College in a middling bowl would be the icing on their failcake of a season.
Why You Don't Care: If Carroll gets them motivated, USC could rout BC.
MASCOT FIGHT: Eagles are noble birds, but Trojans have swords and spears. Sorry, eagle.
(11) Insight Bowl: Iowa State (6-6) vs. Minnesota (6-6)
When/Where/Who: Thursday, December 31; 5pm CST; Tempe, AZ; Paul Burmeister and Mike Mayock (NFL Network)
Why You Care: It's HATE BOWL, motherfucker. No matter who loses, we win.
Why You Don't Care: Unfortunately, someone also has to win the game. Sonofabitch. Also, these teams can (and often do) play some hellaciously ugly football.
MASCOT FIGHT: Bird-in-a-blender vs. annoying rodent pest? PUSH!
(12) Alamo Bowl: Texas Tech (8-4) vs. Michigan State (6-6)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, January 2; 8pm CST; San Antonio, TX; Mike Patrick and Craig James (ESPN)
Why You Care: The Dread Pirate Cap'n Leach is almost always entertaining and this has shootout potential, given the potency of both teams' passing offenses.
Why You Don't Care: The Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Spartans were a middling outfit before suspensions ripped their team up and any shootout potential could be dashed if Texas Tech just double covers Blair White.
MASCOT FIGHT: Tricky. Spartans have armor, shields, and a sword (plus, in Sparty's case, tons of
juice supplements), but Red Raiders have guns and horses. Unless roid rage can stop bullets, though, we have to side with modern tools.
(13) Texas Bowl: Missouri (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4)
When/Where/Who: Thursday, December 31; 230pm CST; Houston TX; Mark Jones and Bob Davie (ESPN)
Why You Care: More offensive gluttony: elite rushing attack (Navy) vs. elite passing attack (Missouri). Plus, watch Navy and pretend that you're scouting Georgia Tech's offense -- just imagine it being run by guys that are 10x more athletic. (Gulp.)
Why You Don't Care: Cuts into prep time for New Year's Eve.
MASCOT FIGHT: Rams are powerful beasts, but the tiger is difficult to top.
(14) Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Virginia Tech (9-3) vs. Tennessee (7-5)
When/Where/Who: Thursday, December 31; 630pm CST; Atlanta, GA; Sean McDonough and Matt Millen (ESPN)
Why You Care: Two teams saddled with brilliant defensive minds (Bud Foster for the Hokies and Monte Kiffin for the Vols) and two miserably inconsistent quarterbacks (Tyrod Taylor, the homeless man's Mike Vick, for Tech and Jonathan Crompton, the catish that passed like a man, for Tennessee) collide.
Why You Don't Care: New Year's Eve is for drinkin' and romancin' -- and Frank Beamer's mug isn't gonna help with that.. High potential for an ugly game if the defenses and quarterbacks play to expectations, too.
MASCOT FIGHT: Little-known fact -- "Vols" is short for "crazypants volunteer militiamen." That turkey doesn't stand a fucking chance.
(15) Armed Forces Bowl: Houston (10-3) vs. Air Force (8-4)
When/Where/Who: Thursday, December 31; 11am CST; Ft. Worth, TX; Dave Lamont and J.C. Pearson (ESPN)
Why You Care: It's the poor man's Missouri-Navy, with Houston as the elite passing offense and Air Force as the elite rushing offense.
Why You Don't Care: It's the poor man's Missouri-Navy, which is on the same day.
MASCOT FIGHT: Cougars in a landslide, although if the Falcons would switch from a big blue bird to an F-16 Falcon, they would be UNSTOPPABLE in this category.
(16) Gator Bowl: West Virginia (9-3) vs. Florida State (6-6)
When/Where/Who: Friday, January 1; 12pm CST; Jacksonville, FL; TBD (CBS)
Why You Care: College football will be an emptier place without Bobby Bowden around. Always a chance Bill Stewart will treat the recent end-of-game clock management disasters by Les Miles and Mack Brown as a dare. Also: Noel Devine could run for 500 yards against the SeminLOLe defense.
Why You Don't Care: Florida State is the drizzling shits without Christian Ponder and West Virginia can be sleep-inducing if Bill Stewart doesn't get reminded to hand the ball off to Noel Devine.
MASCOT FIGHT: Flaming spear vs. musket. It's pretty much a one-shot fight, and it seems easier to dodge a flaming spear than a bullet.
(17) Music City Bowl: Kentucky (7-5) vs. Clemson (8-5)
When/Where/Who: Sunday, December 27; 715pm CST; Nashville, KY; Sean McDonough and Matt Millen (ESPN)
Why You Care: CJ Spiller is a superfreak and this is your last chance to watch him in college before he tries to become the next Chris Johnson in the NFL.
Why You Don't Care: From the Orange Bowl to the Music City Bowl? Life's a bitch if you're Clemson... let's just say motivation could be an issue.
MASCOT FIGHT: Christ, did every "Wildcat" or "Tiger" team make a goddamn bowl? (Tigers FTW, as always.)
(18) GMAC Bowl: Central Michigan (11-2) vs. Troy (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Wednesday, January 6; 7pm CST; Mobile, AL; Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore (ESPN)
Why You Care: It's your last chance to watch Dan LeFevour, the Tebow of the Great Lakes (although at this point do we need to start calling Tebow "the LeFevour of the Swamp"?), before he leaves the cozy confines of the MAC for some shitty NFL team in dire need of a QB. It's also the second-to-last real CFB game until September (sigh).
Why You Don't Care: It's still the MAC vs. the Sun Belt.
MASCOT FIGHT: The Trojans conquered part of Asia; the Chippewas conquered... Michigan? Advantage Trojans, unless the Chippewas disguise themselves in a giant horse.
(19) Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Ole Miss (8-4)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, January 2; 1pm CST; Dallas, TX; Pat Summerall and TBD (FOX)
Why You Care: Dexter McCluster is almost impossibly slight (5'8", 165 lbs), but a ferocious talent: see the 282 rushing yards and four touchdowns he busted off against Tennessee.
Why You Don't Care: It's the Letdown Bowl: not only did both teams fail to live up to preseason expectations, they're both also coming off demoralizing losses to hated in-state rivals.
MASCOT FIGHT: Two wily remnants from the 19th century who are both fond of gunplay, but you gotta go with the one who's not drenched in bourbon. Not to mention Pistol Pete's freakishly massive head.
(20) Las Vegas Bowl: Oregon State (8-4) vs. BYU (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Tuesday, December 22; 7pm CST; Las Vegas, NV; Rece Davis, Lou Holtz, and Mark May (ESPN)
Why You Care: DR. LOU IN SIN CITY. Oh, and the Rodgers Bros. are really fun to watch.
Why You Don't Care: BYU is here like every year -- are they bored of it? Oregon State was a couple plays away from being in the Rose Bowl, which has to sting a bit.
MASCOT FIGHT: A beaver is a nice mid-day snack for a cougar.
(21) Liberty Bowl: East Carolina (9-4) vs. Arkansas (7-5)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, January 2; 430pm CST; Memphis, TN; Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham (ESPN)
Why You Care: Ryan Mallet may be quarterbacking an NFL team near you very shortly; alternatively, he may be one of those annoying "names to know" guys in CFB next year. Which is to say: he's a very talented dude.
Why You Don't Care: ECU was 0-3 against BCS foes this year and lost all three games by an average of 14ppg -- and Arkansas has a way better offense than any of those teams (Virginia Tech, North Carolina, West Virginia).
MASCOT FIGHT: Razorbacks are mean damn pigs, but pirates have guns, cutlasses, and rum. Advantage: scalawags.
Why You Care: It's a chance to see jNWU's bowl futility streak (continue to) reach absurdly futile lengths. Also: football for breakfast is a time-tested hangover cure.
Why You Don't Care: Both teams looked hopelessly inept at various times this year, which doesn't bode well for the potential quality of this humdinger.
MASCOT FIGHT: Another fucking wildcat vs. tiger fight. Goddammit. Again: tiger FTW. (Don't fuck with tigers.)
Yeah, that really happened, Dave.
(23) Meineke Car Care Bowl: Pittsburgh (9-3) vs. North Carolina (8-4)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, December 26; 330pm CST; Charlotte, NC; Bob Wischusen, Bob Griese, and Chris Spielman (ESPN)
Why You Care: To wring more delicious schadenfreude from the Wannstache's failures (although it will be tough to top the staggering collapse against Cincinnati).
Why You Don't Care: Those Christmas gift cards will be burning a hole in your pocket and both of these teams are coming off deflating losses.
MASCOT FIGHT: Rams are tough, but no match for a panther.
(24) Hawaii Bowl: Nevada (8-4) vs. SMU (7-5)
When/Where/Who: Thursday, December 24; 7pm CST; Honolulu, HI; Terry Gannon and David Norrise (ESPN)
Why You Care: You're a sucker for storylines like "June Jones returns to Hawaii" or "SMU makes their first bowl game in almost thirty years." Or you just like watching Nevada run over, through, and around people (not one, not two, but three players with over 1000 yards rushing).
Why You Don't Care: It's Christmas Eve... just how antisocial are you?
MASCOT FIGHT:It's not just a lone wolf... it's a pack of wolves. Sorry, ponies.
(25) Poinsettia Bowl: Utah (9-3) vs. Cal (8-4)
When/Where/Who: Wednesday, December 23; 7pm CST; San Diego, CA; Mike Patrick and Craig James (ESPN)
Why You Care: When motivated, Cal can be a fun team to watch; the Utes have won eight straight bowl games -- in fact, they haven't lost a bowl game in the '00s.
Why You Don't Care: Few teams are as prone to mailing in games as Cal; no Jahvid Best to OOH and AHH over.
MASCOT FIGHT: Bears are godless killing machines and are not to be trifled with, even by gun-toting, polygamist secessionists like people from Utah.
Chin up, Hooter -- you're goin' bowlin'!
(26) EagleBank Bowl: UCLA vs. Temple (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Tuesday, December 29; 330pm CST; Washington DC; Bob Wischusen and Bob Griese (ESPN)
Why You Care: What else are you doing at 3:30 on a Tuesday? Working? And it's not like Temple makes a bowl game every year.
Why You Don't Care: When's the last time you gave Temple football a second thought?
MASCOT FIGHT: Bears totally trump owls.
(27) New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State (8-4) vs. Wyoming (6-6)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, December 19; 330pm CST; Albuquerque, NM; Terry Gannon and David Norrise (ESPN)
Why You Care: For the chance to see more FAT GUY TOUCHDOWNS, naturally.
Why You Don't Care: That late Christmas shopping isn't going to get done by itself.
MASCOT FIGHT: Cowboys have, like, guns and horses and shit. Sorry, bulldog.
(28) Papajohns.com Bowl: South Carolina (7-5) vs. UConn (7-5)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, January 2; 1pm CST; Birmingham AL; Dave Neal and Andre Ware (ESPN)
Why You Care: You like defense? You enjoy watching Spurrier throw his visor?
Why You Don't Care: You don't get a free pizza for watching the game.
MASCOT FIGHT:Huskies are way cooler than smelly cocks.
"I'll take things that are far more interesting than this bowl for $200, please."
(29) International Bowl: South Florida (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (7-5)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, January 2; 11am CST; Toronto, CA; Mike Gleason and John Congemi (ESPN2)
Why You Care: Jim Leavitt may finally snap and have a complete mental breakdown -- you never know.
Why You Don't Care: They aren't playing by Canadian rules ("when in Rome..."), so fuck 'em.
MASCOT FIGHT:Huskies are great dogs, but they're no match for a bull.
St. Petersburg Beef O' Brady's Bowl: UCF (8-4) vs. Rutgers (8-4)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, December 19; 7pm CST; St. Petersburg, FL; Mark Jones and Bob Davie (ESPN)
Why You Care: Where's the beef? It's right here, motherfuckers: BEEF O'BRADY'S BOWL!
Why You Don't Care: You'd much rather watch the Saints try and make it to 14-0 and further throw dirt on the grave of the Cowboys' playoff aspirations.
MASCOT FIGHT: Two knights enter, but only one can emerge victorious. Gotta favor the more badass-looking Scarlet Knight.
(31) New Orleans Bowl: Southern Miss (7-5) vs. Middle Tennessee State (9-3)
When/Where/Who: Sunday, December 20; 730pm CST; New Orleans, LA; Dave Lamont and JC Pearson (ESPN)
Why You Care: C-USA VS. SUN BELT: FEEL THE EXCITEMENT
Why You Don't Care: C-USA VS. SUN BELT: FEEL THE EXCITEMENT
MASCOT FIGHT: Fuck those tigerhawk-copying bitches. Blue Raiders all the way.
(32) Humanitarian Bowl: Bowling Green (7-5) vs. Idaho (7-5)
When/Where/Who: Wednesday, December 30; 330pm CST; Boise, ID; Eric Collins and Brock Huard (ESPN)
Why You Care: The 4th-best team in the MAC vs. the 4th-best team in the WAC will really go a long way in settling that heated "WAC or MAC" debate.
Why You Don't Care: Bowling Green has ugly uniforms. Idaho has ugly uniforms. Boise has ugly turf. If you must follow this game, spare your TV and listen to it on radio.
MASCOT FIGHT: Falcons are birds of prey, but Joe Vandal has a sweet helmet and a killer beard. WIN.
(33) Pizza! Pizza! Bowl: Ohio (9-4) vs. Marshall (6-6)
When/Where/Who: Saturday, December 26; 12pm CST; Detroit, MI; Pam Ward and Ray Bentley (ESPN)
Why You Care: You're a degenerate gambler.
Why You Don't Care: Who wants to shake off a post-Christmas hangover with Pam Ward? Things that are more fun than this game: waiting in line three hours to return Christmas gifts, driving through western Nebraska, and self-trepanation.
MASCOT FIGHT: A bobcat might have a shot against a lone buffalo, but against an entire herd? Mmm... bobcat pancakes.