Ready to bowl

After 347 long and meaningless days, bowl season is back. No longer must you limit yourself to dumb water cooler conversation about "cabinet appointments" when all you want to talk about is the magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl. No longer will you find yourself searching for a reason to crack open a case of Coors Light on a Tuesday afternoon. No longer will N.C. State simply be the ACC's 10th best team.

It's quite an adjustment, but fortunately SIOC is here to make sure you're fully armed heading into college football's increasingly bloated postseason.

EagleBank Bowl, Washington D.C., Dec. 20th Navy (8-4) vs. Wake Forest (7-5) Everybody will be talking about how this game illustrates our banking industry's careless money managment. Who says it's a bad idea to have an obscure bowl game in an old, inconvenient stadium in an NFL-only town? Pick: Wake Forest

New Mexico Bowl, Albuquerque, N.M., Dec. 20th Colorado State (6-6) vs. Fresno State (7-5) And this game clearly illustrates the state of New Mexico's careless money management. Pick: Fresno State

magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl, St. Petersburg, Fla., Dec 20th South Florida (7-5) vs. Memphis (6-6) It's the only new bowl game. That's how you really know the economy is in bad shape. We're adding completely unnecessary bowl games at a rate of only one per year. Pick: South Florida

Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl, Las Vegas, Nev., Dec. 20th Arizona (7-5) vs. BYU (10-2) The game will be played in Sam Boyd Stadium, the only stadium CFL and XFL teams once called home. It's not the same as playing in a BCS bowl, but I'm sure the players will appreciate the history. Pick: BYU

R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, New Orleans, La., Dec. 21st Troy (8-4) vs. Southern Miss (6-6) R+L Carriers also sponsors Matt Kenseth's car, so if you're a Kenseth fan, you'll definitely love this game. Pick: Troy

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego Calif., Dec. 23rd TCU (10-2) vs. Boise State (12-0) I'm hoping for a Boise State victory. That way, we'll get to hear that one Boise journalist who makes it his life's mission to convince people the Broncos should be national champs. He'll preach his case from coast to coast, refusing to rest until everyone sees the BCS's flaws. Then one day the NCAA will have him killed. Pick: Boise State

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, Honolulu, HI, Dec. 24th Hawaii (7-6) vs. Notre Dame (6-6) You know what would be ironic? If Charlie Weiss wanted to switch from AT&T to Verizon, but couldn't because it would be too expensive to break his contract with AT&T. Pick: Hawaii

Motor City Bowl, Detroit, Mich., Dec. 26th Central Michigan (8-4) vs. Florida Atlantic (6-6) Soon to be the "T. Boone Pickens Renewable Energy Electric Motor City Bowl." Pick: Central Michigan

Meineke Car Care Bowl, Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 27th North Carolina (8-4) vs. West Virginia (8-4) Let's all shed a tear in honor of Pat White's final college football game. He will be missed. If White can't latch on with an NFL team, he needs to become a professional flag football ringer. He'll be available to clubs or offices that desperately want to win their flag football league. Of course he'll need an alias to keep from arousing suspicion. Something like "Leopold Steinberger." Pick: West Virginia

Champs Sports Bowl, Orlando, Fla., Dec. 27th Florida State (8-4) vs. Wisconsin (7-5) I don't know if Florida State is prepared to play a bowl game without any suspended players. Will it have space in the locker room? Will there be enough food? Pick: Florida State

Emerald Bowl, San Francisco, Calif., Dec. 27th Miami (7-5) vs. California (8-4) Because the game is being played at AT&T Park (an odd shaped baseball stadium) both teams have to stand on the same sideline. Still, a brawl is unlikely. It's the last thing you would expect a team like Miami to -- uh, oh. (On another note, I'm a big fan of the Emerald Bowl logo. It seems to be saying, "Killer Football Attacks Golden Gate bridge!") Pick: Cal

PetroSun Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La., Dec. 28th Louisiana Tech (7-5) vs. Northern Illinois (6-6) ESPN's ad campaign: "Watch Northern Illinois. NFL star Michael Turner once went there." The game might get better ratings than Around the Horn, but it will not beat trick shot pool. Pick: Louisiana Tech Bowl, Birmingham, Ala., Dec. 29th NC State (6-6) vs. Rutgers (7-5) Papa Johns' slogan is "Better ingredients, Better Pizza." Unfortunately its bowl game could only get the 10th best ingredient in the ACC and the fourth best in the Big East. (I've made this joke before, but I'm going to keep making it until the game gives me a reason not to.) Pick: Rutgers

Valero Alamo Bowl, San Antonio, TX, Dec. 29th Northwestern (9-3) vs. Missouri (9-4) Missouri's last trip to the Alamodome (the 2007 Big 12 championship game) ended with the No.1 Tigers losing, 62-21. I'm sure players will love returning to the stadium where they had their most crushing, painful, humiliating loss as high-profile athletes. Kudos to the Missouri athletic department for sending the team to San Antonio. Pick: Missouri

Roady's Humanitarian Bowl, Boise, ID, Dec. 30th Nevada (7-5) vs. Maryland (7-5) The Humanitarian Bowl is one of the few games which always picks an MVP from both teams. In 2004, Tulsa lost 52-10, which led to Cort Moffitt becoming the only punter to ever be named MVP of anything. Now that's humane. Pick: Maryland

Texas Bowl, Houston, TX, Dec. 30th Western Michigan (9-3) vs. Rice (9-3) Look at this photo of the game's two coaches. They're making the same face John McCain makes when he talks about Sarah Palin. The look on Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit's face says "Well, you were right, David. The Texas Bowl is a real game. I owe you a coke." Pick: Western Michigan

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl, San Diego, Calif., Dec. 30th Oregon (9-3) vs. Oklahoma State (9-3) One of the many festivities associated with the Holiday Bowl is the "Weiner Nationals" (also known as the U.S. National Dachshund Racing Championships.) I demand to know why this magnificent event is not televised. Giving more exposure to the Holiday Bowl weiner dog race has officially replaced creating a playoff system as my top college football concern. Pick: Oklahoma State

Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, Fort Worth, TX, Dec. 31st Air Force (8-4) vs. Houston (7-5) When these two teams met back in September, Air Force won 31-28 despite not completing a pass. Clearly, Air Force coach Troy Calhoun is the right man to run the Oakland Raiders. Pick: Air Force

Brut Sun Bowl, El Paso, TX, Dec. 31st Oregon State (8-4) vs. Pittsburgh (9-3) Pitt running back LeSean McCoy surprised many by saying he'll return for his junior year. The school needs to create a new advertising slogan around this. "Pitt: Better than Being in the NFL." Every ad will show a smiling McCoy eating Primanti Brothers sandwiches with two Pitt cheerleaders. Pick: Pittsburgh

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl, Nashville, Tenn., Dec. 31st Vanderbilt (6-6) vs. Boston College (9-4) Vanderbilt should hang the following banner in its stadium: 2008 SEC Standings 6. Vanderbilt 7. LSU 8. Tennessee Pick: Boston College

Insight Bowl, Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 31st Minnesota (7-5) vs. Kansas (7-5) How could anybody in Minnesota focus on this game with the Al Franken-Norm Coleman senatorial race just years away from being resolved? WHO COULD WATCH FOOTBALL AT A TIME LIKE THIS? Pick: Kansas

Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta, Ga., Dec. 31st LSU (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (9-3) In hindsight, it might have been a bad idea for Les Miles to save his best motivational material for the SEC and BCS championship games. Pick: Georgia Tech

Outback Bowl, Tampa, Fla., Jan. 1st Iowa (8-4) vs. South Carolina (7-5) Nothing says "Outback" like Tampa Bay. Meanwhile, Steve Spurrier is livid. He assumed the Gamecocks would play in a less prestigious bowl and he'd be on the golf course by Christmas. Pick: Iowa

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl, Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 1st Clemson (7-5) vs. Nebraska (8-4) A little known detail from the Rod Blagojevich FBI wiretaps: Blago was attempting to sell a berth in the Gator Bowl to the University of Illinois. Why he thought he had the power to secure a Gator Bowl spot is beyond me. They guy is more delusional than Texas fans who think they'll be co-national champions. Pick: Nebraska

Capital One Bowl, Orlando, Fla., Jan. 1st Michigan State (9-3) vs. Georgia (9-3) It's been a disappointing year for Georgia, but the team can take comfort in next year's low expectations. Matthew Stafford must decide whose NFL career he wants to emulate. David Carr's, or Akili Smith's. I'm kidding, of course. Stafford will do fine in the NFL. Unless another team drafts every member of Florida's defense. Pick: Georgia

Rose Bowl presented by Citi, Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 1st Penn State (11-1) vs. USC (11-1) Another Rose Bowl for USC. Ho-hum. I think Pete Carroll has a mid-life crisis coming on. Where's the challenge in making the Rose Bowl when star recruits constantly appear on your doorstep and the Pac-10 can't muster one legitimate rival? Don't be surprised if you hear Carroll broke a leg drag racing his new Ferrari in South Central L.A. Pick: USC

FedEx Orange Bowl, Miami, Fla., Jan. 1st Cincinnati (11-2) vs. Virginia Tech (9-4) The Orange Bowl's current slogan is "Home of the ACC Champion." Great. A more enticing slogan would be "Once Every Four Years We're Not Contractually Obligated to Be the Home of the ACC Champion." Pick: Cincinnati

Cotton Bowl Classic, Dallas, TX, Jan. 2nd Texas Tech (11-1) vs. Mississippi (8-4) After Graham Harrell's snubbing, Mike Leach announced they should "quit giving" out the Heisman. I couldn't agree more. You give a guy the trophy and boom, 39 years later he's so in love with his memorabilia he tries stealing it at gunpoint from a Vegas hotel room. Pick: Texas Tech

AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 2nd East Carolina (9-4) vs. Kentucky (6-6) It's the dreaded January 2nd bowl. For over a decade these bowls have callously forced players to be in bed by nine o'clock on New Year's Eve even though they don't have a game the next day. How many players must fall victim to the seductive Memphis nightlife, break curfew, and get suspended before there's change? By the way, no team won fewer SEC games than Kentucky. You know what that means? Bowl time! Pick: East Carolina

Allstate Sugar Bowl, New Orleans, La., Jan. 2nd Alabama (12-1) vs. Utah (12-0) Utah has the hopes and dreams of all mid-majors riding on its shoulders. Fortunately, the team has a foolproof plan. It'll open the game by running 12 consecutive Statue of Liberty plays. Pick: Alabama

International Bowl, Toronto, Canada, Jan. 3rd UConn (7-5) vs. Buffalo (8-5) Not getting the Auburn job was a big letdown for Buffalo coach Turner Gill. On the other hand, if I could get the job offer of a lifetime, or have everybody know Charles Barkley thinks I'm awesome, I might choose the second one. Pick: UConn

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz., Jan. 5th Ohio State (10-2) vs. Texas (11-1) Here's the game-night itinerary for Fiesta Bowl executives: 5:30: Eat complimentary Tostitos 6:00: Write thank you notes to Colt McCoy's and Terrelle Pryor's moms 6:30: Eat more complimentary Tostitos 7:00: Call Orange Bowl executive to make fun of their inferior game 7:30: Write "Stink" under "Arizona Cardinals" insignia in fancy press box 8:00: Watch game from fancy press box while eating complimentary Tostitos Pick: Texas

GMAC Bowl, Mobile, Ala., Jan 6th Tulsa (10-3) vs. Ball State (12-1) This bowl will have less defense than a Washington Wizards pickup game. Pick: Tulsa

BCS National Championship Game, Miami, Fla., Jan 8th Florida (12-1) vs. Oklahoma (12-1) Oklahoma is No. 1 in all five computer polls. In those same polls, Florida is ranked second, third, fourth, fourth and fifth. Conversely, Florida is No. 1 in the Harris Poll and trails Oklahoma by a single point in the USA Today Poll. Why is this important? Because the BCS title game is shaping up as the ultimate showdown of man vs. machine. If Oklahoma wins in convincing fashion we might as well give up and surrender to the superior intelligence of our computer overlords. Personally, I think the machines are right. Pick: Oklahoma 42, Florida 24

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