Like my well-esteemed colleague, burger23, I too, love bowl season. It is not necessarily a "more games" thing for me though. For me, it is all about the match-ups. There is virtually no scenario outside of bowl games where you will score a Virginia Tech - UCLA game or a Duke - Texas A&M match-up. The styles of offenses are also quite interesting and intriguing.
In the interest of this Part Two bowl preview, I will be previewing the bowl games through 2013, skipping our own Pinstripe Bowl preview for a more thorough analysis.
So, as you digest your Christmas ham and play with your Furbies and Tickle-Me Elmos, lets take a look at what the college football world has in store for us:
Saturday December 28th
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Notre Dame (8-4) vs. Rutgers (6-6) Noon ESPN
North Carolina (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3) 3:20pm ESPN
The Bearcats find themselves back in Charlotte for the second straight year and hope to make it back-to-back Belk Bowl (alliteration!) victories with this game against the home-state North Carolina Tar Heels. Cincinnati, under new coach Tommy Tuberville, will look to capitalize their 14th ranked passing offense against the Tar Heels' 52nd-ranked passing defense. Watch out for North Carolina though. They've won 6 of their last 7 games to close out the season, with their one loss being a squeaker to the ACC runner-up Duke Blue Devils.
Russell Athletic Bowl
Miami (9-3) vs. Louisville (11-1) 6:45pm ESPN
The Russell Athletic Bowl, formerly the Champs Sports Bowl and home to one of the best Bowl-twitter pages scores a high-profile match-up against two teams that at one point during the season were in BCS contention. Miami started off hot, winning their first 7 games and jumping into the BCS discussion before they were dismantled by Florida State. After losing their next two games, the Hurricanes rebounded to win their last two games. Louisville, probably one of the biggest disappointments of the season, was all but assumed to be playing in Glendale this year before a stunning Friday-night home loss to UCF ended those hopes. Watch for Louisville's stout defense against the Miami offense in this one, which promises to be entertaining. If that doesn't satisfy, be sure to check out the back-and-forth on twitter between Sebastian the Ibis and Louis the Cardinal. Pretty hilarious.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Kansas State (7-5) vs. Michigan (7-5) 10:15pm ESPN
The four-game marathon on ESPN closes out with....Michigan. Be honest, it's like going to a fancy restaurant, getting a fantastic first-course salad, some nice antipasto for your post-appetizer and the best steak you've ever eaten for the main entree. But for dessert, the restaurant gives you day-old Fried Ice Cream from Chi-Chi's. Yum. Alas, the B-Dubs Bowl gets the Michigan Wolverines, who might be without Devin Gardner, and Kansas State, who had an up-and-down season this year after a BCS run last season. Look for the Wildcats to put points on the board, as their lowest total all year was in their first game, a 24-21 upset loss to North Dakota State. Look for Michigan to...uh... Whatever. It's Michigan.
Monday December 30th
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
Middle Tennessee State (8-4) vs. Navy (8-4) 11:45am ESPN
The Midshipmen of Navy, no strangers to early football games, find themselves in the earliest game of the 2013-14 bowl season. The Blue Raiders of MTSU finished the season on a promising note, winning their final five games, including a victory over C-USA runner-up Marshall. MTSU brings their 25th ranked rushing offense and Navy brings their 2nd-ranked rushing offense to Fort Worth, in what might be the fastest played game of the bowl season.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Georgia Tech (7-5) vs. Ole Miss (7-5) 3:15pm ESPN
The Yellow Jackets and Runnin' Rebels meet in Nashville for a matchup that will pit Georgia Tech's 5th-ranked rushing option offense against Ole Miss' 53rd-ranked rushing defense. Both teams ended up losing their final games in overtime (Tech's was in 2OT) so it will be interesting to see how the teams have rebounded from those close losses in this bowl game.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oregon (10-2) vs. Texas (8-4) 6:45pm ESPN
The Mack Brown-era comes to an end in San Antonio, where his Longhorns will face one of the nation's top offenses. Oregon, outside of Louisville, might be the biggest disappointment of the 2013-14 college football season. The Ducks were considered a lock for the BCS National Championship before losing to Stanford and subsequently getting dismantled by Arizona. Nevertheless, they hope to capitalize on a Longhorn defense that gives up an average of 188 yards per game. It will be interesting to see the emotions at play in this game as the Texas players hope to win one last game for their retiring coach.
National University Holiday Bowl
Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Arizona State (10-3) 10:15pm ESPN
Do you like offense? Yes? Do you like touchdowns? You do? Well then look no further, as the Red Raiders (and their ridiculously good-looking coach) take on the PAC-12 runner-up Arizona State Sun Devils. The Sun Devils, after dropping the Shamrock Series game against the Irish, went on a tear, winning their final seven games to earn a spot against Stanford in the PAC-12 Championship Game. During that run, they averaged 44 points, which makes them an offense to watch. The Red Raiders of Texas Tech love to sling the football around, ranking 2nd in that category and given Arizona State's tendency to give up yards in the air, this one has promise to be a high-scoring shootout.
Tuesday December 31st
AdvoCare V100 Bowl
Arizona (7-5) vs. Boston College (7-5) 12:30pm ESPN
The final day of college football in 2013 starts us off with a contest pitting two of the nation's leading rushers against each other. Both Heisman-finalist Andre Williams and Arizona Running Back Ka'Deem Carey face defenses that like to give up yards on the ground. It will be interesting to see if Williams is completely recovered from an injury he suffered in their season-ending loss to Syracuse and if Carey is able to build on his 206-yard, 4 TD performance in their upset win over Oregon. Be sure to get up early and enjoy this one.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Virginia Tech (8-4) vs. UCLA (9-3) 2pm CBS
The first college football bowl game that isn't on ESPN gives us the Hokies of the ACC against a resurgent UCLA squad. As is tradition, Virginia Tech prides itself on its defense, which boasts an impressive 17.4 PPG. The Hokies problem this season has been its offense, which has struggled to put up points on the board. Consider this: in their 8 wins, the Hokies have scored an average of 26 points. In their four losses, they've scored only 18. Even in those wins, that is not a lot of points. On the other side of the ball, the Bruins have won 4 of their final 5 games, and held their own against Arizona State in their one loss. UCLA is led by Sophomore QB Brett Hundley, who will look to get the ball to former Irish WR Shaq Evans. Fun Fact: The Sun Bowl might have the oddest swag piece in their bowl package for the players: a Helen of Troy Hair Dryer.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Rice (10-3) vs. Mississippi State (6-6) 4pm ESPN
Shh....guys...it's ok to come back to ESPN now. We're back on the World Wide Leader to watch the C-USA champion take on the Bulldogs of Mississippi State, who scored a spot in Memphis by virtue of an Overtime win in the Egg Bowl over their rivals in Ole Miss. Irish fans will want to tune into this one as we face Rice in our first game next season. The Owls were one of the surprises of the season, winning 10 games behind the legs of RB Charles Ross. Also consider that Rice played Texas A&M relatively close for most of their season-opening contest. Make no mistake, Rice is a team to watch, both here and for next season.
Duke (10-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4) 8pm ESPN
The final college football game of 2013 features the surprise of the season in the Duke Blue Devils. Duke basically came out of nowhere. They were picked to finish last in the Coastal division in the ACC preseason poll and had the second-fewest votes. The Blue Devils ended up turning in a season that rivals as one of the best in the program's history. They are winners of 8 of their final 9 games after starting the season 2-2. They upset Miami and defeated Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. This is a team that likes to ride momentum. However, they were destroyed in the ACC championship game by Florida State, and their Chick-fil-A Bowl opponent is no easier. The Aggies bring their high-powered, high-scoring offense to Atlanta and behind the arm and legs of Johnny Manziel, they hope to blow this game wide-open early. While Duke's season has been impressive, it is hard to see how this game doesn't get ugly quickly. Still, this has the makings to be a very entertaining game.