Gildan New Mexico Bowl, Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
Suggested slogan: It's about time you had a favorite bowl
How Washington State got here: On a pirate ship, aargh. Mike Leach's team did what Mike Leach teams usually do -- passed, a lot, gaining 364.5 yards a game through the air to rank fourth in the nation in passing yardage. Connor Halliday attempted a record-breaking 89 passes against Oregon -- a game that the Cougars lost by 24 points. (Somehow, the fact that Washington State was still trying to win the game late did not sit well with the Ducks' defensive coordinator.) The defense is, um, problematic; four of the Cougars' 12 opponents have scored at least 50 points, and Washington State allowed 446.6 yards of total offense a game. But Wazzu had the great fortune of playing Southern Cal back when Lane Kiffin was setting himself ablaze in an act of protest against the rampant materialism of Western society, and the 10-7 victory there ended up being the difference between the postseason and staying home. It also doesn't hurt when you have Idaho and FCS teams like Southern Utah and Cal on the schedule.*
How Colorado State got here: By playing in the Mountain West. The six FBS teams that the Rams defeated were a combined 17-55. Four of them had three or fewer wins on the season. None of them finished with a winning record. And all but one of them -- UTEP -- came from Colorado State's conference. Remember when some of us (self included) thought the Mountain West should get an automatic berth in the BCS? In any case, Colorado State was at least prolific on the offensive side of the ball, generating 461.2 yards a game; Kapri Bibbs ran for 1,572 yards, including 312 against Nevada and 291 the next week at New Mexico, both wins. Their rushing defense is solid, but the passing efficiency defense is ranked 100th in the country and the passing yardage defense is ranked 109th. That shouldn't be a problem against Leach's team, right?
College football fans care because: You used to could say here that college football is back, but the Army-Navy game being moved to last weekend means college football was never really gone. Still, it is the first bowl game of the year.
SEC fans care because: Because we like POINTS after this year, right?
Watch this game if...: You don't weep at the loss of defensive prowess that we saw in the SEC this year.
Bottom line: Colorado State is a very bad football in a uniquely bad matchup. This will probably be fairly ugly, though Washington State's defense will keep it from getting too far out of hand. Washington State 65, Colorado State 40
Line: Washington State by 3.5
*Yes, I've heard the rumors that Cal is an FBS program. I just don't believe them.