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Buffet: Guide to watching all 32 bowls

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I'd be lucky to pull a third of this off! :rolleyes:

Buffet: Guide to watching all 32 bowls

Peter Schrager - Special to FOXSports.com

I once broke up with a girlfriend because of the Peach Bowl.

That's not a joke.

It was late December 2005, she had a Christmas party she wanted me to come to and I opted to watch LSU blow out Miami in a rather meaningless bowl game on my couch instead. She ended up going to the party alone, I spent the evening with a bag of Doritos, Larry Coker and Matt Flynn, and the next morning we broke up. Something about "priorities".

Of course, in her defense, I hadn't left the house in a week. It was the third such party I'd skipped out on; the second in which I pulled the rug out at the last minute. I'd also spent the last few evenings explaining why Ryan Leaf's little brother nearly knocking off a veteran Oklahoma squad was so shocking, screaming in excitement over a DeAngelo Williams touchdown scamper, and marveling over just how different the Nebraska offense was in 2005 than the version from a decade earlier.

For the college football die-hard, though, the Peach Bowl, Brady Leaf's growth as a player, and the Bill Callahan era are all very important. Far more important than standing around a punch bowl, discussing the subprime mortgage market, and chatting about who was just kicked off "America's Next Top Model".

I realized that evening -- when I consciously chose a non-BCS Bowl game over a significant other -- just how special the next 19 days are for the college football die-hard. While the rest of the world puts on their dancing shoes and revels in eating, partying and watching "It's a Wonderful Life" -- we dance the dance of football, catching games one after another, night after night. They're played on blue fields, in domes and on distant islands. We take them in, regardless of the locale.

Starting with Thursday evening's Navy-Utah Poinsettia Bowl, we're about endure our annual "32 bowls in 19 days" college football binge.

What's ahead of us? Roughly 160 hours of football in just two and a half weeks, 64 different Division I-A college football teams, 64 different head coaches, an endless amount of bizarre sponsors and roughly 2,000 Jared jewelry store commercials.

Who could ask for anything more?

Are you game? Of course you are. You've waited all year for this. It's the true test of fan-hood. Those who complete the mission make up an elite fraternity.

If this is your first "all-you-can-eat" bowl season experience, you'll likely need a little help getting to the finish line. Let me play coach.

Here are 10 tips to getting the most out of this fabulous -- though potentially dangerous -- 19-day journey.

1. Pace Yourself: The perfect bowl season experience is a lot like eating at one of those trendy Brazilian steakhouses with the green and red cards and endless servings of meat on skewers. Show the green card -- get more meat. Show the red card -- and your night is over. If you load up on the salad bar in the beginning of the night, you'll be kicking yourself later in the evening when you're too full to enjoy the chicken wrapped in bacon. Huh? Basically, don't get too emotionally invested in the New Orleans Bowl. If you lose your voice on Dec. 21 screaming over a bad play call, you'll have nothing left for the BCS Championship Game two weeks later. Those first few bowl games are the salad bar. Enjoy them. Get lost in them. But whatever you do, be sure not to over-indulge. You'll spoil your appetite. You shouldn't be reaching for that red card before New Year's Day. And yes, I did just compare the Ohio State-LSU game to "chicken wrapped in bacon."

2. Establish a Routine: If you're going to be spending four to five hours a night on the couch or in a sports bar watching football, you need to ensure you do everything else you usually would at some point in the day. Go military style, chart out your day one hour at a time and make time for that hour of running on the treadmill and playing "Halo" you usually have built into your day. Refer to 7 PM as 1900 hours. Show some discipline. Prove to all those who have doubted you in the past that you can, in fact, be organized and committed to something over an extended period of time. Get to the gym early in the morning, get all your work done during the day, and be ready to sit and do nothing but absorb a football game between two second-tier mid-major programs at night. You're loved ones will be very proud of you if you stick to the plan. How could they not be?

3. Track the Future Pros: There will be a host of future first- and second-round draft picks playing in these games. Likely, a couple potential Pro Bowl caliber NFL players, too. If you want to see what they've got, know which players to track beforehand. The short list of future bona-fide NFL stars playing in these upcoming 32 games? Chris Long (Virginia), Jake Long (Michigan), Darren McFadden (Arkansas), Michael Crabtree (Texas Tech), Glenn Dorsey (LSU), Jerod Mayo (Tennessee), Kevin Smith (UCF), Sedrick Ellis (USC) and Dan Connor (Penn State). You'll love being able to say "I remember him back when ..." on Sundays for years to come.

4. Enjoy Lou Holtz: This may be the most rewarding part of the bowl season. Nineteen straights of the best guy on television -- ESPN studio show mainstay, Lou Holtz. The former Notre Dame, South Carolina, Arkansas and New York Jets coach is a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual blabbering talking heads. He's the wacky uncle who's respected by all. ESPN found the perfect way to use Holtz this year, maximizing his motivational speaking skills in a series of "Pep Talk" locker-room setting speeches held during halftime of their Thursday night games. My favorite of the year? This one he did for Notre Dame before the Duke game. He also did one for the Knicks the night after they lost by 45 to the Celtics. Yes, Holtz was wearing a Marbury jersey that went down to his knees. If you're lucky, Holtz may also break out his dancing moves this bowl season, too. Either way, enjoy the guy. He's the best part of any of those broadcasts. And that includes the cheerleaders.

5. Follow the Big 10: This is going to be my favorite sub-plot of the bowl season. The Big 10's caught a lot of flack this year. And rightfully so. After all, when Iowa loses to both Iowa State and Western Michigan, Northwestern loses to Duke, Michigan falls to Appalachian State ... (take a breath, we're not done) ... Wisconsin nearly loses to both UNLV and the Citadel, and Minnesota can't get past Florida Atlantic, Bowling Green, or North Dakota State in the same season, there's going to be critics. That said, despite what appeared to be a sub-par campaign for the conference, there are a Big Ten record eight teams participating in bowl games over the next two and a half weeks. The conference went 2-5 in bowl games last year, and got beaten up by the media and bloggers throughout 2007. What happens this time around?

6. Get to Know the Up-and-Comers: While everyone's spent the last few weeks throwing out big names for the open Arkansas, Michigan and UCLA head-coaching gigs, several lesser known, up-and-coming coaches have been focused on preparing their teams for bowl games. Many of these guys will eventually be the very names mentioned in conversations for open big-time jobs in the near future. Watch them work their magic this week. Five great ones with innovative styles and boundless charisma worth digesting this bowl season: Tulsa head coach Todd Graham, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio, Cincinnati's Brian Kelly, Boston College's Jeff Jagodzinski, and Boise State's Chris Petersen.

7. Utilize Your DVRs and TiVos: No one said you need to watch all of these games live. I get it -- you work. And when you work, it's not easy to catch a game starting at 12:30 on a weekday. That's okay. Set up the DVR. Zip through the commercials and get in that Friday afternoon Boston College-Michigan State match-up in half the time. This is not cheating! If you didn't work, you couldn't afford the DVR. It's like some sick version of the chicken and the egg. Just be sure to avoid any bottom line tickers, text messages from friends, or careless Internet clicking while at work. The games aren't any fun when you already know the outcomes beforehand.

8. Make Friends With Someone Who Has the NFL Network: All those random Thursday and Saturday night NFL games you haven't seen the past few weeks because your cable provider doesn't have the NFL Network? You're about to be burned during bowl season, too. The Dec. 28 Texas Bowl and New Years Eve Insight Bowl are being carried on the network. One of your friends -- and perhaps this is your local barkeeper -- has the DirecTV dish. If you really want to get the most out of this experience, you need to watch every game (and that includes a New Year's Eve Indiana-Oklahoma State game). Anything less is asterisk worthy. And you don't want to be this club's version of Barry Bonds.

9. Incorporate Friends and Family ... as Shadily as Possible: Be crafty. Schedule holiday gatherings and vacation plans around the bowl games! Set your New Year's Eve plans somewhere with a flat-screen TV; teach your kids the wonder of music by having them watch and track each marching band's halftime show; get Grandpa Max to tell the little ones about each team's rich history. Find a way to balance family and football. These 19 days can be fun for everyone. Dare I say, festive, even!

10. Prep Your Significant Other: Tell her (or him) that you plan on going through with this. And, obviously, make sure they know just how vital watching the entire Peach Bowl really is.

It all starts Thursday night. Good luck.

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GBN has write-ups for all the bowls as they get played. For tonights games, here is the guide: http://www.gbnreport.com/bowlwatch.htm


Who to watch in today's college bowl game

(Ed. note: Over the course of this year's bowl season right through the BCS Bowl on Januray 7th we take a look at the players to watch in each game with an eye toward the 2008 draft).

December 21

Florida Atlantic versus Memphis; New Orleans Bowl; 8 PM ET; ESPN2

No one is going to confuse the New Orleans Bowl match-up between Sun Belt champion Florida Atlantic and Memphis of CUSA with any of this year’s premier bowl match-ups. It also won’t be a major stop for pro scouts, however, there are some interesting prospects, although more likely for some future draft. Surprising Florida Atlantic, for example, is led by emerging sophomore QB Rusty Smith (#11, 6-5, 212), while junior LB Frantz Joseph (#56, 6-0, 230) anchors the defense. FAU, though, has never had a player drafted and likely won’t end that drought this year, but athletic, albeit undersized WLB Cergile Sincere (#45, 6-0, 215), along with safeties Kris Bartels (#27, 5-10, 200) and Taheem Acevedo (#9, 6-0, 220) might get some free agent interest.

Like Florida Atlantic, Memphis is very young, although the Tigers have something of an intriguing second-tier QB prospect in QB Martin Hankins (#13, 6-3, 210) who was solid enough in two years at the Division 1-A level after posting some off-the-charts numbers at D1AA Southeastern Louisiana. The Tigers also have a couple of potential free agent offensive line prospects in OG Andy Smith (#69, 6-3, 315) and athletic LT Abraham Holloway (#65, 6-4, 300), while veteran Joe Doss (#5, 5-9, 200) is a solid back. The Tigers best overall prospect, though, may be sophomore WR Duke Calhoun (#22, 6-3, 185). On the other side of the ball, LBs Jake Kasser (#47, 5-10, 205) and Heath Grant (37, 6-0, 230) can both run, although Grant isn’t all that big.

Utah vs Navy; Poinsetta Bowl, San Diego, December 20, 9 PM ET; ESPN: The 2007-8 bowl season gets off to a pretty good start with a potential offensive outburst with Utah playing Navy in San Diego’s Poinsetta Bowl. Unfortunately, while both teams feature explosive offenses, there aren’t a lot of legitimate prospects for the upcoming draft. Utah, though, does feature a number of solid second-tier prospects on the other side of the ball including DB Steve Tate (#28, 5-10, 195), LB Joe Jiannonni (#44, 5-11, 235) and DTs Martail Burnett (#93, 6-2, 262) and NT Gabe Long (#94, 6-2, 300). Meanwhile, veteran WRs Derrek Richards (#26, 5-10, 175) and Brian Hernandez (#16, 5-11, 185) are a pair of steady enough possession receivers with Richards doubling as one of the better punt returners in college football. In fact, the Utes best players are juniors including QB Brian Johnson (#3, 6-1, 200), RB Darryl Mack (#6, 5-11, 220, OG Robert Conley (#66, 6-1, 320) and all-America K Louie Sakoda (#35, 5-10, 180). On the other hand, Navy isn’t likely going to have anyone drafted anytime soon, but are fun to watch nonetheless with college football’s most efficient ground game featuring junior QB Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada (#10, 5-11, 195), FB Adam Ballard (#22, 6-0, 236), and speedy HB Reggie Campbell (#7, 5-6, 170).

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....won’t be a major stop for pro scouts...never had a player drafted and likely won’t end that drought this year....there aren’t a lot of legitimate prospects for the upcoming draft... isn’t likely going to have anyone drafted anytime soon...

I sure hope the Bengals didn't bother sending any scouts to either of those games. :lmao:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I haven't seen any where near 32 of the games, but USC, GA and WVU look like the cream so far. I don't know if LSU or OSU could have beaten any of the three. (yes I think the BCS is stoopid. and I hate the nfl network.) At first I was surprised by WVU's success, but after about five minutes I realized why they had a shot at the title game and wished I had taken the line. USC just looked dominant. How about Michigan? Florida looked a little over rated and it has me thinking the buckeyes might win their bowl game too.

I'd love to have Owen Schmitt in stripes. I doubt he'll be there in round 2.

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Well, actually no suprises out of USC or even Michigan for that matter. Both were right at the top to start the season and had some unfortunate losses. I still wish they would have gone the route of skipping on tradition and had a Rose Bowl looking like USC vs. Georgia. Now that would have been a good game !!! Anyway, hoping for the best for the Buckeyes !!!


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