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Bowl Game Viewers’ Guide Part I- What Bowl Game Is This Again?

Between December 15th and January 7th a total of 35 Bowl Games will be played across the country and we here at One Foot Down feel morally obligated to try and watch every single one of them.

Will Chris Petersen lead Boise State to a 3rd consecutive Las Vegas Bowl victory?
Will Chris Petersen lead Boise State to a 3rd consecutive Las Vegas Bowl victory?

Okay maybe not every one of them, but what else are we going to do while waiting around for our Fighting Irish to play Alabama in the BCS Championship Game?

Over the course of the next couple of weeks I will break this viewer's guide down into three digestible chunks. As per usual these will be part viewer's guide, part prognostications, and part ramblings of a college football junkie. In other words, I will just throw thoughts at the keyboard as they come to me and see what happens.

For this first installment I will discuss the 11 games being played between 15 and 27 December. These games are riddled with some off the wall sponsors, and a bunch of small conference teams that you probably haven't seen much of this season. This of course makes these 11 games the most important block of games in your friendly bowl pool. Let's do this.

Rankings are per the BCS Standings

*All times listed below are EST.

Saturday 15 December

Gildan New Mexico Bowl

Nevada (7-5) vs Arizona (7-5)

1:00pm ESPN

Ahhhh yes, let's kick this party off with a trip to the Land of Enchantment where Mountain West #5 will mix it up with Pac-12 South #4 for the right to take home a nice piece of Native American pottery. The matchup this year features two teams that have high powered rushing attacks on offense and something resembling 11 guys made out of paper mache' on defense. If you like to watch guys run up and down the field scoring a lot of points then this game is for you. I like Rich Rod and the Cats in this one.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Toledo (9-3) vs. #22 Utah State (10-2)

4:30pm ESPN

Are they saying that Idaho Potatoes are famous or that the bowl game itself is famous? I don't suppose it really matters. Last year Utah State went bowling for the first time since 1997 and let the Ohio Bobcats sneak up and steal a win from them in this very game. Will the MAC get the Aggies again? I don't think so. Toledo has a pretty solid football team but I like the fact Utah State has only lost to Wisconsin and BYU by a combined total of 5 points. I think the Ags get it done this time on the Smurf Turf.

Thursday 20 December

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3)

8:00pm ESPN

See you at the Q. BYU travels to San Diego to take on the home town San Diego State Aztecs at their own borrowed stadium. As a general rule this should be a slam dunk for the home team but I'm not so sure that will be the case in this one. These teams are pretty evenly matched but the deciding factor will be how the Aztec rushing attack does against BYU's #2 ranked rushing defense. Good stuff. I'll take BYU in a toss up.

Friday 21 December

Beef ‘O' Brady's Bowl

UCF (9-4) vs. Ball State (9-3)

7:30pm ESPN

A classic CUSA vs. MAC matchup. Wait, is that an O'Leary sighting? You betcha. Ball State has never won a bowl game and despite all things MACtion I don't like their chances of winning one this year either. Deeeez Nights is sum affletes frum Flawrda y'all. UCF is actually pretty decent on both sides of the football and on the other side of the field Ball State brings a pretty solid ground game to the fight. The trouble with this game is a porous Ball State defense. The Fighting O'Leary's should cruise to victory at the Trop.

Saturday 22 December

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl

East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana Lafayette (8-4)

12:00pm ESPN

Pick against the Ragin' Cajuns in their own backyard? I flirted with that Voodoo last year and got burned when they bested SDSU with a wild finish in this same game. The Pirates haven't won a bowl game since Chris Johnson went off against Boise State in the 2007 Hawai'i Bowl and I'm not expecting Ruffin McNeill and Co. to snap that losing streak in an empty Superdome. Cajuns.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

Washington (7-5) vs. #19 Boise State (10-2)

3:30pm ESPN

Okay so Boise State should cruise in this one right? I mean they are Boise State after all. Did Washington get that defense of theirs back on track this season? Sort of. The Broncos had a bit of a down year but still managed to win 10 games and their only losses were to Michigan State and San Diego State by a total of 6 points. Boise State has won the last two Las Vegas Bowls comfortably and I expect them to extend that streak to three at the expense of the Huskies.

Monday 24 December

Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl

Fresno State (9-3) vs. SMU (6-6)

8:00pm ESPN

A few years ago Mack Brown bet the 40 Acres on Garrett Gilbert as the heir apparent to Colt McCoy. Remember Gilbert relieving McCoy after that bizarre injury against Alabama in the 2009 BCS Championship game? Gilbert has long since transferred and now slings the rock for none other than June Jones at SMU. The former Hawai'i Head Coach is more than familiar with the friendly confines of Aloha Stadium but I don't think that is going to help his cause. Fresno State has a pretty solid football team that is more than capable of taking care of business in this one.

Side note, Mack Brown not only missed on snagging Gilbert he also let Andrew Luck, RGIII, Johnny Manziel, Will Muschamp and now Brian Harsin get away. Hook Em' Mack!

Wednesday 26 December

Little Caesars Bowl

Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6)

7:30pm ESPN

Pan pan. The Hilltoppers not only have a creepy mascot they are also playing in their first bowl game ever. WKU made the jump from the FCS ranks in 2007 and they have come a long way these last few years under Head Coach and alum Willie Taggart. But that's also where trouble comes into Hiltopper paradise. Taggart got snatched up in the coaching carousel last week and bolted for greener pastures at South Florida. WKU Defensive Coordinator Lance Guidry will take the helm as the interim head coach for the bowl game. Will they still be able to knock off a .500 MAC team in Detroit? I'm going with it. Hilltoppers in a barn burner.

Thursday 27 December

Military Bowl

#24 San Jose State (10-2) vs. Bowling Green (8-4)

3:00pm ESPN

Mike Macintyre guided SJSU to a great season before he too jumped on the coaching carousel and took off for Boulder to take over as the front man for the Colorado Buffaloes. Not to worry Spartan fans interim Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Kent Baer has got this. Trust us we know.

Belk Bowl

Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Duke (6-6)

6:30pm ESPN

Cincinnati has been quite the launching pad for head coaches lately. Butch Jones is the latest to do well at Cincinnati prior to jumping ship last week to a bigger job at Tennessee. Poor successful small schools, you guys must dread December. Tommy Tuberville is inbound to replace Jones but Duke is so bad I don't think that any of this will really even matter. Cincy rolls.

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl

Baylor (7-5) vs. #17 UCLA (9-4)

9:45pm ESPN

I will be in attendance at this game and it should be good clean fun. Baylor finished the season on a hot streak and will bring a high octane offense that picks up yards in big chunks while putting plenty of points on the board. Just to keep it interesting the Bears don't care too much for playing defense which lends itself to some pretty entertaining shootouts. UCLA has a good football team that should be able to keep this one close but in the end I don't think they can put points on the board at the same pace that Baylor can. I like Briles and the Bears to pick up the W in a wild one.

Which of these games are you most looking forward to watching?