Thirty-five bowl games means that seventy football teams have "qualified" to play in this year's post season. I'm old enough to remember the evolutionary process of being bowl eligible processing from needing a winning record, to just being .500 to now just being marketable despite a losing record.
The bowl season begins on December 17th with three matchups and typically the "lesser" bowls are among the first to be played but just because they're lacking in sponsorship dollars doesn't necessarily mean they're lacking in entertainment quality. Here are my rankings of the 35 bowl games.
35. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, December 31st - Illinois (6-6) vs. UCLA (6-7): There are several factors that scream to stay away from this game, starting with the name of the bowl. I'm all for fighting hunger but come on. Also there's the fact that neither team has a head coach or a winning record for that matter and UCLA is 6-7.
34. Beef O'Brady's Bowl, December 20th - Florida International (8-4) vs. Marshall (6-6): Again, reference the name to the quality of the bowl. FIU actually has an 8-4 record and one of the best players you've never heard of (WR T.Y. Hilton) but that's no reason to waste a good Tuesday night on this game.
33. Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, December 17th - Ohio (9-4) vs. Utah State (7-5): Ummm...this game features smurf turf and a giant potato to be unveiled during the pregame. We seriously can't make this stuff up if we tried.
32. New Orleans Bowl, December 17th - Louisiana-Lafayette (9-3) vs. San Diego State (8-4): This is actually one that looks to be a pretty good game. Both teams can score in bunches.
31. Little Caesar's Pizza Bowl, December 27th - Purdue (6-6) vs. Western Michigan (7-5): Purdue has the ninth best scoring defense in the Big 10 and WMU is averaging 35.6 points per game. Yeah, that should be fun.
30. BBVA Compass Bowl, January 7th - Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. SMU (7-5): I'm a huge fan of June Jones. He won at Hawaii and now he's turning around an SMU program that's been dead for a long, long time.
29. Las Vegas Bowl, December 22nd - Arizona State (6-6) vs. Boise State (11-1): Talk about a fall. One missed field goal takes Boise from the BCS to Las Vegas. They're either going to be looking to make a statement here or be completely disinterested.
28. Liberty Bowl, December 31st - Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Vanderbilt (6-6): It seems like half of the Big East tied for the conference championship and Cincinnati is one of those teams. Vandy on the other hand finished their their season 3-9 after starting 3-0.
27. Belk Bowl, December 27th - Louisville (7-5) vs. North Carolina State (7-5): Louisville also tied for the Big East championship and takes on a NC State team that was 4-4 in the ACC.
26. GoDaddy.Com Bowl, January 8th - Arkansas State (10-2) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3): I honestly have no idea how this bowl gets placed the night before the BCS championship.
25. Armed Forces Bowl, December 30th - BYU (9-3) vs. Tulsa (8-4): If you like offense this will be a fun game to watch. There is legitimate potential here to set bowl records for offensive performances.
24. Music City Bowl, December 30th - Mississippi State (6-6) vs. Wake Forest (6-6): The last time Wake Forest played an SEC school it was a 34-point blowout at the hands of Vanderbilt. That was just two weeks ago.
23. Pinstripe Bowl, December 30th - Iowa State (6-6) vs. Rutgers (8-4): The Big XII was robbed in this game last year on a bogus celebration penalty. This would could come down to the wire once again. Definitely should put this game on the must watch list.
22. New Mexico Bowl, December 17th - Temple (8-4) vs. Wyoming (8-4): One of the top rushing attacks in the MAC takes on one of the worst rushing defenses in the Mountain West.
21. Poinsettia Bowl, December 21st - Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs. TCU (10-2): I bet the frogs are anxiously awaiting the Big XII bowl options available to them next year.
20. Hawaii Bowl, December 24th - Nevada (7-4) vs. Southern Mississippi (11-2): Not a bad week for the Eagles. They handed Houston their only loss of the season, won a conference championship and earned a trip to spend Christmas break in Hawaii.
19. Texas Bowl, December 31st - Northwestern (6-6) vs. Texas A&M (6-6): I'd be shocked if you could find someone from either team to be really excited about playing in this game.
18. Military Bowl, December 28th - Air Force (7-5) vs. Toledo (8-4): Lots of offense and no defense in this one. What else are you going to do on a Wednesday afternoon though?
17. Sun Bowl, December 31st - Georgia Tech (8-4) vs. Utah (7-5): Georgia Tech is great at rushing the ball and led the ACC in scoring offense. Utah isn't really great at anything offensively.
16. Holiday Bowl, December 28th - California (7-5) vs. Texas (7-5): After taking a year off from bowling the Longhorns have to be ecstatic about being back into the post season. They're going to have to find some offense though if they don't want to be 0-2 in their last two post season appearances.
15. Chick-fil-A Bowl, December 31st - Auburn (7-5) vs. Virginia (8-4): Auburn's mediocre offense and bad defense meet's Virginia's bad offense and mediocre defense. This could get fun!
14. Gator Bowl, January 2nd - Florida (6-6) vs. Ohio State (6-6): How can this bowl not be all about Urban Meyer?
13. Cotton Bowl, January 6th - Arkansas (10-2) vs. Kansas State (10-2): I have some major respect for what Bill Snyder has done at KSU the last two seasons but I just don't see any way the Wildcats can stop the Arkansas passing attack.
12. Independence Bowl, December 26th - Missouri (7-5) vs. North Carolina (7-5): Final game for the Tigers as members of the Big XII conference.
11. Insight Bowl, December 30th - Iowa (7-5) vs. Oklahoma (9-3): Oklahoma has the opportunity to extend their bowl winning streak to three in a row by beating the Hawkeyes but they'll have to rediscover their offense in order to do so.
10. Sugar Bowl, January 3rd - Michigan (10-2) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2): Almost as big of a travesty as a rematch in the BCS championship game is Virginia Tech making it to the Sugar Bowl.
9. Capital One Bowl, January 2nd - South Carolina (10-2) vs. Nebraska (9-3): If you like smash mouth, ground and pound offensive games then this one will be a lot of fun to watch.
8. Outback Bowl, January 2nd - Georgia (10-3) vs. Michigan State (10-3): Georgia offense vs. MSU defense, sign me up!
7. BCS Championship Game, January 9th - Alabama (11-1) vs. LSU (13-0): I don't like it but I do believe that these are the two best teams in the country. Doesn't mean I'll watch it though.
6. Champs Sports Bowl, December 29th - Florida State (8-4) vs. Notre Dame (8-4): Both of these teams are building for a strong run in 2012.
5. Alamo Bowl, December 29th - Baylor (9-3) vs. Washington (7-5): With the firepower these two offenses posses this could be the biggest shootout San Antonio has seen since the Alamo itself.
4. Orange Bowl, January 4th - Clemson (10-3) vs. West Virginia (9-3): The offensive display put on by these two teams will only be rivaled in the BCS bowls by Oklahoma State and Stanford.
3. TicketCity Bowl, January 2nd - Penn State (9-3) vs. Houston (11-1): How can you not be excited to see the Cougar offense against the Penn State defense?
2. Fiesta Bowl, January 2nd - Oklahoma State (11-1) vs. Stanford (11-2): Both teams have great offenses led by great quarterbacks and suspect defenses. Could be the most entertaining bowl match up this year.
1. Rose Bowl, January 2nd - Oregon (11-2) vs. Wisconsin (11-2): What an amazing day of football January 2nd is going to be. The Rose Bowl is dubbed as, "The Granddaddy of them All" and this game certainly fits the billing. Oregon's speed against Wisconsin's power.