Bowl season is all about happiness. After all, it’s fucking Christmastime.

Happiness needs to be accounted for in the college game. Young players can get down. Down on the team, on the situation, on a bad basket-weaving final. You hear the phrase, “any given Sunday” and it’s true. Any NFL team probably does have a slim chance to win any given game. That is what they are paid to do. And they lose games all the time. They’ll bounce back. Some of these college guys lose once a year. In Ohio State and Alabama’s case, some of their players had never lost. And they are not paid. They just sit around and stew on their tragic losses (that delight millions). They all live together. A few bad attitudes can spoil the month of practice leading up to their ultimately meaningless game.

Many factors can contribute to a team’s overall well-being. Did a team take a late tumble in the polls and get shipped off to a lesser bowl? Did a team’s coach leave for greener pastures? Is a warm weather team stuck going to play in fucking Boise in January? Do you want to send Mack Brown out a winner?

We’ll need to keep this intangible quality of happiness on the front burner as we run down this bowl season.

December 21, 2013

The New Mexico Bowl: Colorado State (+4.5) v. Washington State

Albuquerque – 45 degrees, possible rain

Bowl season starts with two teams that are somewhat mirror images of each other. Neither team likes to be bothered much with a defense. Defense only slows down the typical “Offensive Genius” coach. Both teams seem to be relatively happy with their new coaches and seem to be headed in the right direction. Mike Leach won most of his bowl games at Texas Tech before he started banishing kids to a dark room, and the PAC-12 is a much more difficult conference, but the Cougs can’t stop the run. And Kapri Bibbs (RB- CSU) can bring it. This is coin flip. Line moved slightly toward the Cougs, but I’ll take the points.

Verdict: CSU Rams, if you must.

The Las Vegas Bowl: USC (-7) v. Fresno St.

Las Vegas – 60 degrees

The best bowl game on paper before Christmas is this one. Fresno lost out on a possible BCS game by giving up 62 points to San Jose St. Impressive! USC righted the ship but head coach Ed Orgeron quit once Steve Sarkisian was extended the permanent job. Coach Eddy O had the Trojans playing inspired ball, and had the Trojans poised to win six straight Pac-12 games, until a loss to their inter-city rival UCLA to finish up the Trojan’s season. Normally this game would be a let-down for either team in their predicaments, but USC seems to be a completely different team without Lane Kiffin (who isn’t, frankly?), and Derek Carr is on a mission to prove he’s the first QB that should be off the board in next year’s NFL draft. This game to me comes down to whether the Trojans can slow down Carr’s passing attack. I love points and can’t ever remember wagering on USC and winning but I think that Fresno might get thumped here. 62 points to San Jose? State? University?

Verdict: USC, but I know I’ll regret it. A team on its third coach giving points! Yikes.

The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Buffalo (+1.5) v. San Diego St.

Boise – 36 degrees, freezing rain

Bad weather alert! Really well known potato alert! Both teams had trouble early with their non-conference foes, including both getting blown out by Ohio State, but settled into their soft conferences and rattled off the wins. Buffalo can play a bit of defense, and SDSU’s passing game is their plus. Since there is a possible storm coming I’m going to lean defensive here, and it happens to be the cold weather team as well. The only problem is Buffalo has never–repeat–never won a bowl game.

Verdict – Buffalo. What happens in Boise, stays in Boise.

The New Orleans Bowl: UL Lafayette (+1.5) v. Tulane

New Orleans – Indoors

Louisiana in the hizzy. Both teams struggled down the stretch. ULL bookended its season with back to back losses and Tulane dropped three of its last four. ULL has won this bowl the last two years, and Joe Montana’s kid quarterbacks the Green Wave. Tidbits galore. Most of the guys that fill out these rosters grew up together so the intensity will be there. Tulane’s offense is atrocious, so I’m giving the nod to the Ragin’ Cajuns to three-peat even though Tulane is playing a home game.

Verdict – UL Lafayette, my favorite play of day one.

December 23, 2013

The Beef O’Brady’s Bowl: Ohio (+14) v. East Carolina

Fort Lauderdale – Indoors

Happy Beef O’Brady’s Day, everyone! Today is the day you put your shoes outside your front door and St. Beef pours nachos in them! So much beautiful here. The sponsor. The game is at the Trop. One of the biggest spreads on the board. A day game during a work day. There will be over 400 people in the stands. This is exactly the bridge to get us from Week 16 NFL to the Monday Nighter. In these type of shit games, I almost always take the points. But my god, look at Ohio’s last four games. They beat Miami Ohio (everyone does), but before that they lost three in a row by the combined score of 123 – 16. In the MAC! Hard to do. ECU can score. And score. And score. And Ohio may be the worst team in a bowl game. Check that, they are the worst team in a bowl.

Verdict – ECU, St. Pete’s Massacre.

December 24, 2013

The Sheraton Hawaii Bowl: Oregon State (-3) v. Boise St.

Honolulu – Dudes, you know what the weather will be like.

Oregon State has lost five straight games and is favored. Hard to do. Boise lost their all-world coach Chris Peterson from the USC trickle down to Washington. Balance is the name of the game for the Broncos, while the Beavs are heavily reliant on the aerial attack. The Broncos defense on paper is much better than OSU’s but that very well could be the product of the conferences each reside in. With a month to gear up to defend the Mannion to Cooks connection for OSU (1670 yards, 15 TDs), I think Boise can keep it close. Dare I say, win.

Verdict – Boise State, Mele Kalikimaka, errabody.

December 26, 2013

The Little Caesars Bowl: Pittsburgh (+6) v. Bowling Green

Detroit – Indoors

Pittsburgh is one of those infuriating teams to bet on. They keep things close, beat teams you wouldn’t think possible, and lay eggs against trash heaps like the Cadbury Bunny. This is a bizzaro Pitt team that can’t run the ball and get decent play out of QB Tom Savage (porno name). Bowling Green is on a roll. They’ve won their last five (by a combined score of 223 to 44) including three against fellow MAC bowlers NIU, Ohio, and Buffalo. The balance of the BG Falcons is led by super soph Matt Johnson, who has combined for 28 TDs via air and land. I think this BG team makes a late push for the top 25. Six points is rich against a BCS conference team that has seen nine bowl teams on its slate. But I’ve got a serious man crush on the Falcons, so let’s get crazy.

Verdict – BG. Pizza, pizza.

The Poinsettia Bowl: Utah State (+1.5) v. Northern Illinois

San Diego – I’m not even going to look it up

As soon as NIU dropped the game against Bowling Green, I couldn’t wait to bet against them in a bowl game. NIU was a paper tiger that defeated a good Iowa team opening day and then rolled through a slew of garbage and directional schools. To later find out that their foe was the staunch defensive squad of Utah State only made the decision that much easier to make. Utah State prides itself on the defensive side of the ball and has the seventh best scoring defense in the country. I like the Aggies here. Jordan Lynch has had a fine career, but it now time to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Eric Crouch and take his considerable skills to the NFL.

Verdict – USU Aggies, Whale’s Vagina.

Book II coming Thursday.