Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Bowled over: Unlucky 51 left home for the holidays
It's almost hard to do in college football these days -- not make it to a bowl.
From Shreveport to Boise, there's a place for almost everyone. Of the 119 teams eligible in the top division, 68 are going to a game somewhere, somehow.
So that leaves 51 teams back on campus, home for the holidays. Tennessee vs. Temple in the No-Go Bowl? Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan in the Missed-Out Classic?
"It's definitely odd," Tennessee wide receiver Josh Briscoe said recently.
Michigan made it to 33 straight bowls before this year's collapse. Auburn was a regular until this season's slide.
Washington and Washington State never had a chance. Neither did Mare Island -- the Naval shipyard's team from near San Francisco won the 1918 Rose Bowl, and stopped playing football long ago.
The festivities begin Dec. 20 with four games, including a pair of newcomers: Navy and Wake Forest meet in the EagleBank Bowl at RFK Stadium in Washington, then South Florida and Memphis play in the St. Petersburg Bowl at Tropicana Field.
Even with so many spots, four bowl-eligible teams were left out. Arkansas State, Bowling Green, Louisiana-Lafayette and San Jose State all went 6-6 and got passed over. Bring back the Bacardi Bowl and the Raisin Bowl, and there would be a place for them, too.
And for those woebegone teams in need of one more chance, consider Bowling Green's postseason history. In 1961, the school ended in a most appropriate place: the Mercy Bowl, which they lost.
The unlucky 51, in alphabetical order: Akron, Arizona State, Arkansas, Arkansas State, Army, Auburn, Baylor, Bowling Green, Colorado, Duke, Eastern Michigan, Florida International, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kansas State, Kent State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisville, Marshall, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Middle Tennessee, Mississippi State, New Mexico, New Mexico State, North Texas, Ohio, Purdue, SMU, San Diego State, San Jose State, Stanford, Syracuse, Temple, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Toledo, Tulane, UAB, UCF, UCLA, UNLV, UTEP, Utah State, Virginia, Washington, Washington State and Wyoming.