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Let's Go Bowling: A Gambler's Look at the 2009/10 College Bowl Season

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Chasse Rehwinkel

I gamble, therefore I write...or I write, therefore I gamble...honestly, they're pretty similar professions…

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Well college football fans, it's that time of year once again, when Alabama fans catch themselves rooting for Auburn and some USC faithful have to pull for Oregon, just so their conference bets payoff.

A time when the once proud fan bases of West Virginia and Florida State get to figure out what kind of company Konica Minolta is come their match-up on New Year's Day--sounds like an exotic fish, but that can't be right--and Canadians get to see the very best American College Football has to offer in this year's International Bowl...South Florida vs. Northern Illinois--Shush! No one tell them how bad that is!

In honor of this deeply confusing time period, the Windy City Rounder is proud to present our official gambler's take on the 2010 college bowl season--and just in time for the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl!

Oh, and yes I realize three bowls have already been decided. I was traveling to Florida to be with family for the holiday season--that's right, Florida, you can be jealous--and was unable to write up something before the bowl season kicked off. So, congratulations to Wyoming, Rutgers and Middle Tennessee for your victories in bowls that I'm sure were only viewed by alumni and degenerate sports bettors.  

All Times Central

The Games You Care About

(Chicagoland Teams Playing)

The Outback Bowl - Northwestern VS Auburn - Jan. 1 at 10 a.m. on ESPN
TAKE: At times this year Northwestern has played like a team with purpose, snagging big wins late against Iowa and Wisconsin. However, the Wildcats' early struggles in bad losses against Syracuse and Minnesota puts a lot of doubt in mind that they can contend with a big boy team from the SEC. Auburn, on the other hand, is nursing its wounds after a tough home stretch that included Georgia, LSU and number one ranked Alabama. In spite of this, Auburn boasts a top 25 offense, while Northwestern owns the pitiful 98th best tackling defense in the country--worse than Duke and Louisiana-Lafayette. Unfortunately, it looks like Northwestern will be a bit outmatched in this one.
OUTRIGHT: Auburn
BY THE EARLY LINE: Auburn -7

The International Bowl - South Florida VS Northern Illinois - Jan. 2 at 11 a.m. on ESPN2
TAKE: The Huskies have fought the good fight all season, trying to become bowl eligible for a team record second straight year. Coach Jerry Kill--after Houston Nutt, the best coach's name in the game--will have his team ready to play come January 2, unfortunately; the South Florida Bulls are trying to salvage something after a disappointing season of unfulfilled expectations, and should smash the Huskies. There is good news for Northern Illinois, however, the game will be played on foreign soil--in Toronto--and televised on ESPN2; meaning most of America won't get to see the Huskies falter.
OUTRIGHT: South Florida
BY THE EARLY LINE: South Florida -7

Notre Dame
TAKE: Moving on...

Charlie Weis.jpg

Sore subject Irish fans?


The Games You Shouldn't Care About

(The Worst Non-BCS Bowl Match-ups)

The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl - SMU VS Nevada - Dec. 24 at 7 p.m. on ESPN
TAKE: It's nice that SMU is making its first bowl appearance since receiving the NCAA death penalty in 1987, and I'll admit Coach June Jones coming back to the Aloha State does carry with it a certain sense of drama, but come on! After playing a powder-puff Conference-USA schedule SMU managed a 7-5 record; this team is not good. Nevada, on the other hand, is an up-and-coming WAC powerhouse, who could be competing for BCS Bowl berths in the not to distant future. What makes matters worse for Chicagoans, the prime time game will put Hawaii's beautiful weather on full display while Second Citiers watch, cuddled together for warmth--of course, as I stated previously, I'll be in Florida and won't have such an issue, but I'll complain on behalf of my neighbors whose frozen lips will surely keep them from speaking out on their own.
OUTRIGHT: Nevada
BY THE EARLY LINE: Nevada -13 (That's right, -13)

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"Screw you Hawaii!"

The Emerald Bowl - Boston College VS USC - Dec. 26 at 7 p.m. on ESPN
TAKE: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. At first glance this looks like a solid, early bowl match-up, but to paraphrase basketball great Rick Pitino, "Matt Ryan is not walking through that door, fans. Carson Palmer is not walking through that door, and Reggie Bush is not walking through that door." What at the beginning of the season may have looked like a good result, has turned out to be far from it. Remember, this is a December bowl ladies and gentlemen. These two "powerhouses" have combined to lose to such college football doormats as Notre Dame, Arizona State and Washington; don't massage either of these programs' egos anymore by watching, please.
OUTRIGHT: USC
BY THE EARLY LINE: Boston College +9

The Insight Bowl - Minnesota VS Iowa State - Dec. 31 at 5 p.m. on The NFL Network
TAKE: Ugh...Thank you Insight and the NFL Network for setting up a game between two 6-6 teams, the worst record you can have and still be bowl eligible.* This is truly ridiculous, there isn't a single storyline worth commenting on for this game except possibly "which team will be more inept come gameday?" The teams aren't even natural rivals, with big fan bases who are traveling to an interesting neutral location. It's just a team from the coldest state not named Alaska versus the second most popular team from Iowa, the Tall Corn State, set to "battle" in Tempe, Arizona. Does anyone, alumni and degenerates included, seriously care about this one? I mean really, the loser will have a losing overall record for the year, a losing record!
OUTRIGHT: Iowa State (Because someone has to win, right?)
BY THE EARLY LINE: Iowa State -3

*Sarcasm
      

The Games You Should Care About

(The Best Non-BCS Bowl Match-ups)

The Champs Sports Bowl - Miami (FL) VS Wisconsin - Dec. 29 at 7 p.m. on ESPN
TAKE: Miami was one of the darlings of the early part of the 2009/10 season, showing glimpses of possible future greatness with wins against Georgia Tech, Oklahoma, and Florida State. And while the Hurricanes' season didn't yield a BCS bowl like they may have wanted, Miami fans have to be excited about what Coach Randy Shannon is starting. Wisconsin, on the other hand, remained very much under the radar most of the season until fans started to realize that the Badgers had a chance at winning the Big Ten. That didn't happen, but, like with Miami, the Madison faithful must feel pretty good about the future.
OUTRIGHT: Miami (Only because this is basically a home game for the Hurricanes in the Citrus Bowl)
BY THE EARLY LINE: Wisconsin +3

The Pacific Life Holiday Bowl - Arizona VS Nebraska - Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. on ESPN
TAKE: Okay, I'll admit this isn't exactly a dream match-up. Even though Nebraska came within seconds of winning the Big 12, Arizona isn't exactly a premier team. They're good, but certainly not great. The real draw is all-American defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the best college football player I've seen in awhile. Check him out in his college swan song before he heads to a, hopefully, distinguished NFL career.
OUTRIGHT: Nebraska
BY THE EARLY LINE: Nebraska +1.5

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Who says a big man can't score points? Be frightened Arizona


The Capital One Bowl - Penn State VS LSU - Jan. 1 at Noon on ABC
TAKE: Easily either of these teams, if things break right, could be playing in a BCS bowl next year. This is a dream match-up for real college football fans, who are trying to size up next year's elite teams. I, personally, am an SEC guy and although I respect Penn State, I can't really see them hanging with the Tigers in the end. Should be a fun one to watch though.
OUTRIGHT: LSU
BY THE EARLY LINE: LSU +3

The Big Boys

(The BCS Bowls)

The Rose Bowl - Ohio State VS Oregon - Jan. 1 at 3:30 p.m. on ABC
TAKE: You just had to ruin it Iowa, didn't you? You just had to fall apart at the end, ensuring Ohio State made it to yet another undeserved BCS bowl. I'm glad to see there's some parity in the Pac 10 at least, with Oregon passing USC for the conference crown, but ultimately this is a match-up of the two most overrated conferences in collegiate athletics.
OUTRIGHT: Oregon
BY THE EARLY LINE: Oregon -3.5

The Sugar Bowl - Cincinnati VS Florida - Jan. 1 at 7:30 p.m. on Fox
TAKE: Unless you're a Gators fan, you really have to feel sorry for Cincinnati. Head coach Brian Kelly, the college coach-of-the-year, has already left for what he thinks are greener pastures in Notre Dame and their interim coach for the bowl game, Jeff Quinn, has just been hired by the University of Buffalo to be their new head coach. Quinn will still coach the Bearcats in the bowl game, but now that he has one foot already out the door, so we'll see how well he does in that situation. Added to this, they face Florida, who is arguably the best fifth ranked team in history and hoping to end future college football hall of famer, Tim Tebow's collegiate career on a high note. Good luck, Cincy.
OUTRIGHT: Florida
BY THE EARLY LINE: Florida -11 (-11? Ouch Cincy, ouch)

The Fiesta Bowl - TCU VS Boise State - Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. on Fox
TAKE: Boise State returns to the site of the miracle, where three years ago the Broncos shocked the world by beating heavily favored Oklahoma in one of the greatest games of all-time. However, in this match-up between BCS busters, TCU is the far superior team and probably deserves a shot at playing for all the marbles against Alabama. Some experts may point to last year's Poinsettia Bowl, where an undefeated Boise State was upset by TCU, 17-16. These are different teams now; TCU should handle the Broncos much more easily. But if the 2007 Fiesta Bowl taught us anything, we should never count Boise State out.
OUTRIGHT: TCU
BY THE EARLY LINE: TCU -7

The Orange Bowl - Iowa VS Georgia Tech - Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. on Fox
TAKE: In probably the least exciting game of the five main ones, a disappointed Iowa meets a surprising Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Tech has topped some pretty tough teams on their way to an 11-2 record, including Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech. Conversely, Iowa won a string of close games within a down Big Ten this year and probably is the least deserving of all the BCS bowl teams for the 2009/10 season. Still it's not like the ACC is a Goliath conference in college football nowadays, so I guess an upset wouldn't be entirely shocking.
OUTRIGHT: Georgia Tech
BY THE EARLY LINE: Iowa +4

The Main Event

(The BCS National Championship)

BCS Trophy.jpg

Let's see who can take home the big crystal garage sale trinket



The BCS Championship - Alabama VS Texas - Jan. 7 at 7 p.m. on ABC

TAKE: Although TCU, Cincinnati and even Boise State have legitimate reasons to complain about being left out of this game, in the end it looks like we have the two best remaining undefeated teams playing for the championship. Texas QB Colt McCoy was frustrated all night long by a stingy Nebraska defense in the Big 12 championship game, but was able to pull off the win in the end. Let's see how McCoy fairs against an even stingier Alabama defense, a defense that shut down one of the top ranked offenses in the country in Florida at the end of the season. I'm not sure Texas has enough weapons on offense to get by Alabama in this one.
OUTRIGHT: Alabama
BY THE EARLY LINE: Alabama -4.5  


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