Just like the Holidays we've established a grand tradition here at TNL; over the past three bowl seasons we always bring out the Matchup Comparison Rating or MCR to rate the bowls before they start. Think of it as a public service to all our readers. An extremely scientific** way for you to gauge the two teams matched up in each bowl so that if you must miss a game you can pick the right one. Thank us later. In past years we rated games from 1 to 5 and I got to thinking, there are games out there that are so bad that they shouldn't even be rated so this season I've adjusted. This year the rating system goes from 0 to 5 and of course 0 is as bad as it gets. Without further ado let's bring on the rating system and the weekend games!
Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Navy (8-4)
Dec. 20, 11 AM - ESPN
A word from our sponsor: EagleBank? Really!? WTF is that? EagleBank is a local community business bank with fifteen offices in Montgomery County, MD, Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. Yes this is a "reward" for Wake and Navy – a game in RFK stadium on December 20th with an ice storm bearing down on the Northeast. Somehow doesn't seem like the major reward that everyone categorizes the bowls as.
On the field: Not only is it a craptastic bowl but it's a matchup of two teams that already played. Navy used a strong defensive effort and forced four Riley Skinner interceptions to beat a then ranked and 3-0 Wake Forest team 24-17 back on Sept. 27. Navy boasts the nation's best rushing attack running for 298.3 yards per game. The Midshipmen have a running back tandem of Shun White and Eric Kettani who both have 2,000 yard career rushing records at the same time thanks in no small part to the Wishbone offense Navy runs. Not only should you tune in for the wishbone but you have to check it out for nothing more than their quarterback's name: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. Suck on that ESPN announcers. Wake Forest had much bigger goals then their 7-5 record but the Demon Deacons' offense has sputtered ranking 103rd nationally in total offense, 101st in rushing yards and 97th in scoring offense.
+1 nation's best rushing offense
+1 awesome QB name impossible to pronounce by a mere mortal TV announcer
+1 service academy (if you don't watch the terrorists win)
MCR 2 (Microwave Dinner)
Colorado St (6-6) vs. Fresno St (7-5)
Dec. 20, 2:30 PM - ESPN
A word from our sponsor: It's the third annual New Mexico bowl (who knew?). I believe the winner actually gets to own New Mexico for a week in August. The corporate sponsors are a bunch of New Mexican based business like the Pecan Growers of New Mexico and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (what the hell grows there anyway… besides pecans). Oh, and McDonalds.
On the field: If you like defense don't turn this game on. Colorado State has nine sacks on the year (9!) and Fresno has a 4 INT's (4!), both FBS lows. After a 3-9 season last year Colorado State first-year coach Steve Fairchild has guided the Rams to a 6-6 record and bowl berth. Both teams have senior quarterbacks who threw around 2500 yards and 17 touchdowns but both have double digit interceptions, not that that matters with these two defenses. Fresno is giving up 30.3 points per game while Colorado is giving up 29.8. The first one to 75 wins. On the bright side, Fresno's best wide receiver is Seyi Ajirotutu, all together now: Suck it ESPN announcers!
-1 two horrible defenses
+1 possible offensive explosion
-1 .500 team
+1 two statistically even matched teams
+1 awesome WR name impossible to pronounce by a mere mortal TV announcer
MCR 1 (Woman's Heart)
magicJack St. Petersburg
Memphis (6-6) vs. South Florida (7-5)
Dec. 20, 4:30 PM – ESPN2
A word from our sponsor: Although it sounds like a weapon a ninja would use magicJack is nothing more than a VOIP device in direct competition with Vonage and Skype. It's a USB device that allows you to plug your phone into your computer and use your High-Speed internet service as a phone line. It claims to be so simple "your grandmother could use it." That is if your grandmother knew how to use a computer.
On the field: Another team with high expectations, South Florida started out 5-0 and ranked 10th but then lost five of its last seven. In their wins the Bulls averaged 34.9 points but in their losses they managed only 14.8. Quarterback Matt Grothe leads the team in both rushing and passing setting career-high numbers in passing yards (2,675) and tying career-highs in touchdowns (15). Unfortunately he threw 14 interceptions with 11 coming in the last five games. Basically when South Florida wins they play great and when they lose they play horrible, there's no gray area here. South Florida ranks 9th against the run while Memphis has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. Not one of Memphis' six wins came against an opponent with a winning record.
-1 .500 team
-1 possible blowout
+1 two statistically even matched teams
+1 dual threat quarterback running a powerful offense
MCR 0 (Rosie O'Donnell Talk Show)
Pioneer Las Vegas
(16) Brigham Young (10-2) vs. Arizona (7-5)
Dec. 20 8:00 PM - ESPN
A word from our sponsor: What a hodgepodge of sponsors this bowl has. Everything from casinos to cable companies to lazy-boy to gas companies to Xbox 360. It seems everyone wants a piece of Vegas, and why not it's a great place, unless you're a Mormon.
On the field: BYU is making its fourth straight appearance in this bowl which is quite ironic considering it a religious based school. Arizona, on the other hand, is just playing in its fourth bowl in the last decade. Both teams have potent offenses with accurate quarterbacks but the Wildcats like to get it done on the ground while the Cougars like to air it out. BYU quarterback Max Hall led the Mountain West in passing yards (3,629), touchdowns (34) and passer rating (160.3), but the Wildcat's are 14th in the FBS in pass defense (169.8). Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama is no slouch either, he finished second in the Pac-10 in passing yards (2,763), touchdowns (21) and QB rating (143.0). Both teams have running backs over the century mark.
+1 two good offenses
+1 good quarterback vs. good passing D
+1 top 10 passing offense (BYU is 9th in Passing Yards)
-1 record disparity
MCR 2 (Microwave Dinner)
R+L Carriers New Orleans
Southern Miss (6-6) vs. Troy (8-4)
Dec. 21, 8:15 PM ESPN
A word from our sponsor: R+L Carriers ship stuff. Like 99% of the other people watching this bowl I didn't know they existed and will never use their service, but someone in their marketing department thought it was a good idea to sponsor a bowl. By the way, it's the geeky engineer coming out in me because it's actually R&L. R+L looks like half of a function and not a name. That bugs me for some odd reason.
On the field: Southern Miss was 2-6 at one point in the season losing 5 in a row but thanks to a 4 game win streak to end the season they made it to the R & L Carriers bowl. Troy won its first outright Sun Belt Conference title and is looking for its first 9 win season since joining the FBS. Both teams have prolific offenses ranking 38th or higher in all the major offensive statistical categories. The Trojans have one of the best run defenses in the nation (26th) and are holding opponents to just 3.5 yards per rush. Southern Miss freshman Austin Davis threw for 2,852 yards with 21 touchdowns with only 8 INTs. Troy quarterback Levin Brown wasn't the teams starter at the beginning of the season but stepped in the seventh game when starter Jamie Hampton was lost for the season. Brown has done an excellent job throwing 14 TD's and only 3 interceptions. Both quarterbacks take care of the ball. Both teams have 1,000 yard backs that average 5.4 yards per carry or better. You'll remember Troy from such games as Ohio State where they walked into Columbus and out-gained the Buckeyes and LSU where they jumped out to a 31-3 lead only to lose 40-31.
+1 two great offenses
+1 two statistically even teams (I mean look at how close these two offenses are)
+1 Sunday Night football! Kiss our ass NFL!
+1 two solid quaterbacks
-1 possible blowout – Troy's record should better and Southern Miss barely made it to a bowl
MCR 3 (Jessica Simpson Sex Tape)
*Ha! I know better it's more like "honey may I watch some football today? I'll clean the bathroom tomorrow." You disgust me whipped boy.
** if by "scientific" you mean completely arbitrary and extremely biased then yes it's very "scientific".