If there are bowl games named after cities and small states being played by mediocre mid-major teams, it must be mid-December. And here we have the first three contests of the post season, played in beautiful Albuquerque, scenic St. Petersburg and almost sorta kinda rebuilt New Orleans.
These will get longer as we get to bowl games played by teams that you actually, you know, want to see play as opposed to teams you'll watch because it's college football and it's on television.
New Mexico Bowl, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Fresno State vs. Wyoming
Yes, Wyoming is in a bowl game this year. No, Tennessee fans, that doesn't make it look any better that you lost to them last year.
WHY YOU CARE / Football is back. You know good and well that if they put this game on television on a Tuesday night in the middle of the season, you wouldn't watch it. But you and I both will flock to it like moths to a flame, because football has returned to our lives for a few short weeks.
WYOMING (6-6) / Clinched bowl eligibility in the final game by defeating Colorado State by one point after also winning against such luminaries as San Diego State, UNLV and Weber State. Losses include one at Colorado, which really ought to eliminate anyone from the postseason.
FRESNO STATE (8-4) / Twin shellackings by Boise State and Nevada meant the Bulldogs ended the season third in the WAC. This is a team that defeated Illinois only because of one of the luckiest plays in the history of organized football. Otherwise, the only nonconference win would have been against UC Davis, which really should be offered membership in the WAC at this point.
WHO WILL WIN / FRESNO STATE, because they are okay as compared to bad.
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St. Petersburg Bowl presented by Beef 'O' Brady's, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
UCF vs. Rutgers
After beginning the season with a 32-point loss to Cincinnati, Rutgers is just happy to be in a bowl. The game will show up as the Orange Bowl on George O'Leary's resume.
WHY YOU CARE / Because Beef 'O' Brady's commercials are terrible, but might be better if they get some new revenue after the sponsorship deal.
UCF (8-4) / Aside from defeating the weak teams in Conference USA, the Golden Knights also won against Houston and -- well, that's really their only impressive win this season.
RUTGERS (8-4) / The Scarlet Knights never lost two games in a row this year. Sure, one of those losses was to Syracuse ... by 18 ... but there was never a losing streak in 2009 for Rutgers. And consider the four-game winning streak against Howard, FIU, at Maryland and vs. Texas Southern. A win against South Florida might have been the highlight.
WHO WILL WIN / RUTGERS, because the Big East is marginally a stronger league than C-USA. Marginally.
R+L Carriers New Orleans, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee
The purpose for this game is basically to make sure that the Superdome is in working order for the important bowl game to be played there in a couple of weeks. And to make sure that the presence of Saints football in the stadium hasn't made it uninhabitable.
WHY YOU CARE / Because it will give you an early preview of what the stadium will look like during the Sugar Bowl.
SOUTHERN MISS (7-5) / Rebounded from a three-game losing streak at Kansas, UAB and Louisville to get a winning record and prove that there are too many bowls when you can write "Rebounded from a three-game losing streak at Kansas, UAB and Louisville" about a bowl team. Basically UCF without the Houston win.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE (9-3) / The Blue Raiders defeated a BCS team (I guess) when they won at Maryland, 32-31, in September. They were the second best team in the Sun Belt, but again, we're talking about the Sun Belt. QB Dwight Dasher is actually a pretty good player.
WHO WILL WIN / MIDDLE TENNESSEE, because I refuse to believe that we live in a world where a team that lost to Kansas, UAB and Lousville can win a bowl game.