Morris: Bowl schedule highlights anchored by gutter balls

rmorris@thestate.comDecember 14, 2012 

— Let’s go bowling, using a highly scientific and indisputable formula for figuring which games are strikes, which ones are spares and which ones are gutter balls.

We’ll use the final BCS standings as our statistical gauge, since that has been the perfect recipe the past several years for figuring which two teams play for the national championship.

Let’s award 25 points to the team (Notre Dame) ranked No. 1 in the final BCS standings, 24 points to the No. 2 team (Alabama), and so forth all the way down to giving the 25th-ranked team (Kent State) one point.

Add the power points for the two teams meeting in a bowl and it is easy to determine which are the five best matchups (strikes), the next five best (spares) and the remaining 25 gutter balls that really are not worth watching.

Here goes, with power points in parenthesis:

Strikes

1. BCS National Championship (49): Unbeaten Notre Dame (25) and once-beaten Alabama (24) square off for the national title. It is the only must-see bowl in the bunch.

2. Fiesta (43): Could easily have been a national championship meeting between Oregon (22) and Kansas State (21).

3. Cotton (32): Bonus points should be added for having Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M (17) against Oklahoma (15).

4. Chick-fil-A (30): Clemson (12) gets another chance to prove it belongs among big boys like Louisiana State (18).

5. Capital One (29): SEC championship game loser Georgia (19) meets Big Ten championship game loser Nebraska (10).

Spares

1. Sugar (28): Florida (23) can make its case for being the national champion by running up big numbers against Louisville (5).

2. Orange (25): Who would not like to see upstart Northern Illinois (11) upset ACC champion Florida State (14)?

3. Outback (24): Up-and-coming South Carolina (16) takes on down-and-coming Michigan (8).

4. Rose (20): It is a good thing Stanford (20) defeated UCLA for the Pac-12 championship, otherwise this would be a pitiful matchup against a five-loss Wisconsin (0) club.

5. Alamo (16): Does not sound like much of a game with Oregon State (13) meeting Texas (3), but you cannot argue with the points system.

Gutter balls

Most of the remaining 25 bowls are staged primarily for TV programming.

Nevertheless, there are good gutter balls, and ones that bounce into the other lane.

The best of the remaining bunch includes:

1. Holiday (9): UCLA (9) won nine games and Baylor (0) could prove to be a formidable opponent.

2. MAACO (7): Perhaps by the end of this game between Boise State (7) and Washington (0), viewers can figure out what the acronym MAACO stands for.

3. Gator (6): Northwestern (6) seeks to end a nine-game bowl losing streak, dating to the 1949 Rose Bowl, against Mississippi State (0).

Finally, the worst of the remaining bunch:

1. Armed Forces (0): It does not get any lower than this matchup of 6-6 teams, Air Force and Rice, whose biggest wins came against Nevada and Kansas, respectively.

2. BBVA Compass (0): Another classic showdown of 6-6 teams, Pittsburgh and Mississippi.

3. Sun (0): Any bowl pairing a 6-7 team, Georgia Tech, against the nation’s most disappointing club, 7-5 Southern California, is one for the gutter.

Morris is a columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia. Email: rmorris@ thestate.com

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