San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, December 23, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
What it is: The sporting event with the longest name in recorded human history, one that dares endorsement-conscious broadcasters to forget the "Credit Union" or mispronounce "Poinsettia."
The teams: Navy and San Diego State
How Navy got here: Through one of the most inconsistent performances of the year. Navy lost to Maryland and narrowly beat Georgia Southern of the FCS and would lose three weeks after that to Air Force. Then, the 2-2 Midshipmen reeled off three straight wins before losing to ... Duke. At home. Navy then scored 76 points in a victory at East Carolina and won its last three games. Of course, all of that happened with Navy's much-noticed triple-option offense, which rang up almost 289 yards a game on the ground. The pass defense wasn't great, which we will soon see could be a factor in the bowl.
How San Diego State got here: By being the best mid-major team no one wanted to give any credit. When the Aztecs lost by five to TCU, a lot of Boise State supporters used it as a rallying cry for the Broncos to pass the Horned Frogs. What they didn't notice (or didn't want to notice) was that San Diego State's two earlier losses were by three at Missouri and by three at BYU. The only other loss on the season would be a four-point defeat to Utah. San Diego State edged Air Force and clobbered nearly everyone else on the schedule -- none of them Pac-10 expansion targets, to be sure. The Aztecs have a great passing offense -- 297 yards a game -- and an average run defense, which also could be important in this one.
College football fans care because: For once, they can give San Diego State its due as a good football team. And it's always fun to watch Navy's offense.
SEC fans care because: South Carolina, for reasons passing understanding, has decided to challenge both the team's troubles with option teams and its own history against Navy (ranked No. 2 in 1984, the Gamecocks lost to Navy to end their national title hopes) to schedule Navy as the third game of a possibly historic 2011 campaign -- right behind the always draining game against Georgia.
Watch this game if...: You like good mid-major football or you like unique offenses..
The result: San Diego State 34, Navy 31