PLACES TO GO. GAMES TO SEE. I GUESS.
Once we get through the mind-numbing spectacle that is the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia The Name Can't Possibly Get Any Longer Bowl, we get into the "place name bowls," a staggering run of four straight bowls that are named after cities or states.
From the ironic (Division I-A's only Mormon school in the Las Vegas Bowl) to the shocking (New Mexico is in the New Mexico Bowl!), these bowls range from intriguing exhibitions to arguments against having more bowls than Bama has coaching candidates.
A look at the first two place name bowls:
Bowl: The Las Vegas Bowl. Or, actually, the Pioneer Purevision Las Vegas Bowl.
When: December 21, 8 p.m. ET
Purported reason for existence: To match the Mountain West Conference winner with the No. 4 team from the Pac-10.
Real reason for existence: To prove that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Particularly if no one witnesses or remembers it.
Teams: BYU vs. Oregon
Interest level: Deal or No Deal. You know you shouldn't watch it, but you will anyway.
Okay. He says you can have 3 points now or go for 7. Deal -- or no deal?
Key Player For BYU: John Beck. As usual for the Cougars, it comes down to the QB, in this case one who has hit 70 percent of his passes for 3,510 yards and 30 TDs.
Key Player For Oregon: The Pac-10 officiating crew in the Oklahoma game.
The Oregon MVP
Winner: BYU. Part of you wants to say that this would be the perfect set-up for BYU to lose after their once-shielded players go out for a wild night on the town, drinking themselves under the table and joining a visiting Mike Price on a tour of gentlemen's clubs. But they'll probably be well-behaved, and after overcoming the shock of the neon lights of Vegas and the neon uniforms of the Ducks, they will triumph. Unless there's an on-sides kick to decide it all. Then, all bets are off.
Bowl: The New Orleans Bowl. Or the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl. Which sounds really shady. But I digress.
When: December 22, 8 p.m. ET
Purported reason for existence: To match the Sun Belt Conference winner with a Conference USA team.
Real reason for existence: To show that New Orleans does still exist, despite the Bush Administration's best efforts to the contrary.
Teams: Rice vs. Troy. No, you didn't read that wrong.
Interest level: An American version of a British sitcom. As long as you know it's a bad knockoff, you should be okay.
Key Player For Rice: Jarrett Dillard. He's tied the record for most consecutive games with a TD catch in a season, and has a shot to break it in this game. Overall, he's hauled in 20 receptions in the end zone and caught more than 1,100 yards worth of passes.
Like Ted Ginn Jr. without the accompanying shoe-kissing Musberger.
Key Player For Troy: Boris Lee, a freshman LB with 58 tackles, five tackles for loss, two sacks, a pair of interceptions and a forced fumble.
Winner: Rice. They've got the talent and the momentum, having won seven of their last eight games after dropping their first four. (Though that's only slightly better than the Trojans winning six of their last seven.) Besides, it's the Owls' first bowl game in 45 years, which is longer than Troy has been around. Since then, their program has arguably been the CFB equivalent of New Orleans. They deserve it more.