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GBH BOWL WATCHLIST PART 3: Football in Paradise

Cozy up to the TV and imagine yourself in heavenly places like Nassau or Hawaii or El Paso or St. Petersburg.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. That's because Christmas is tomorrow. Bowl season has now reached BOWLCON 3 status, and this is no longer a drill. You will likely be forced to choose between a bowl and spending time with loved ones over the next few days, so it's only fair that the bowls get a chance to state their case (as if they needed one).

Christmas Eve and Boxing Day

Thursday, December 24th
Bahamas Bowl: Middle Tennessee vs. Western Michigan 11:00 am ESPN / WatchESPN
Hawaii Bowl : Cincinnati vs. San Diego State 7:00 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Saturday, December 26th
St. Petersburg Bowl : Marshall vs. UConn 10:00 am ESPN / WatchESPN
Sun Bowl : Miami vs. Washington State 1:00 pm CBS / CBS Video
Heart of Dallas Bowl: Southern Miss vs. Washington 1:20 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
Pinstripe Bowl : Duke vs. Indiana 2:30 pm ABC / espn3
Independence Bowl : Tulsa vs. Virginia Tech 4:45 pm ESPN / WatchESPN
San Francisco Bowl : Nebraska vs. UCLA 8:15 pm ESPN / WatchESPN

Let's unwrap these presents a bit early. Having two bowl games on Christmas Eve that take place in tropical paradises is a masterful tease by the cruel college football gods. For those of us here in Texas, it's not that it's cold or dreary or anything, it's just that if it's gonna be 80 degrees in December it would be a lot nicer if there were a pristine beach around to sit on. Y'all have a great Christmas and Boxing Day, enjoy the games, and we'll see you back to kick of next week when we get into the meat of the bowls that feature P5 teams.

Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

by Shooter Flatch
Western Michigan vs  Middle Tennessee
December 24 | 11:00 am CST | ESPN

This features two pretty fun teams from Conference USA and the MAC.  This game starts mid day on Christmas Eve so if you're lounging around the house, avoiding family, and sipping on a beverage to get the day started, this game is perfect for you.

You want to know how a college football team from Kalamazoo, Michigan gets to the Bahamas?  THEY ROW THE DAMN BOAT!! I've never been to the Bahamas but I have to assume its pretty damn awesome.  Every screensaver from 2002 featured a beach from the Bahamas.  I've never met someone that came back from the Bahamas and said "Well that fucking sucked!"

I just assume every day in the Bahamas is like the middle part of the movie Cocktail where Tom Cruise makes awesome drinks and then I get to swim around naked in a waterfall with 1988 Elisabeth Shue.  I mean, did Ralph Macchio get pissed that he wasn't cast in that movie instead of Cruise?  Had to be right?  He and Shue had amazing chemistry in The Karate Kid.  They could have renamed it Karate Cocktails.  Mr. Miyagi could have run a sushi bar in Manhattan.  Billy Zabka could have been a bartender at a competing restaurant, The Kobra Thai.

What's that?  Oh really?  So...the middle part of Cocktail was in Jamaica, not the Bahamas.  Son of a bitch.

Well if you need to kill some time and relax before Christmas watch this game and maybe also watch Cocktail because its a pretty good movie even though its not set in the Bahamas.

Hawaii Bowl

by oscarwildecat
Cincinnati vs. San Diego St.
December 247:00pm | ESPN

Friends, Christmas Eve means different things to different people. For some, it might be the joy of watching young children dance around the home in matching holiday sweaters, perhaps singing an earnestly off-tune rendition of 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'. For others, maybe giving that perfect gift to a family member, and seeing their eyes light up in amazement that you actually remembered that conversation back in August, and they will treasure this moment for the rest of their lives.

Or, perhaps you're like me, and no, you don't want another piece of pecan pie that appears to be baked in embalming fluid - holy shit, your kid just vomited in the corner again - and maybe bringing the dog AND the cat down from Kansas was a really bad idea, but I'm just over here whiteboarding where there really are no wrong answers and I think I'll just grab this bottle of Buffalo Trace and retreat to the back room and am I locking the door - haha, maybe, let's not ask questions while I settle in with my one real friend:

The Hawaii Bowl.

For those of us who view Christmas Eve with the sort of existential dread reserved for visits to the proctologist, the trash-swept vistas of Aloha Stadium have been whispering sweet nothings for over a decade, along with the several hundred fans that are wise enough to leave family behind and grab a Hawaiian vacation opportunity as it presents itself.

To be honest, we don't really care that Gunner Kiel isn't playing, or that Rocky Long's Aztecs have won 9 straight, or that Tommy Tuberville may or may not be on the chopping block. We embrace the awful Hawaii logo. The ridiculous scoring. Warm memories of June Jones teasing us with SMU respectability. Confusion as to who, exactly, makes up the Mountain West this year. The lack of noise in this back room.

Silent night. All is calm. May this game go into six overtimes.

St. Petersburg Bowl

by Jimmy
Marshall vs. Connecticut
December 2610 AM | ESPN

The scene: Russia. November, 1917. Winter is looming. The Bolsheviks under the leadership of Coach Lenin are ironing out what would later become what we now know as the "Air Raid Offense". There is unrest in Petrograd. A breadline would be a welcome beach vacation at this point. Your only friend? Sergei - a Finebaumian ancestor, who makes homemade Stoli in an olde shitting bucket.

The Bolsheviks would go on to win what was then known as the very first St. Petersburg Bowl. Communism. So quaint in those days.

The game has since moved from Russia to St. Petersburg, Florida. I'll let you decide which is the more favorable location in December and which locale has the more sane locals. Not as obvious as you may think. This year's installment features the Marshall Thundering Herd and their fans who were too dumb to get into West Virginia against the UConn Huskies and their fans who were too dumb to get into an Ivy league school. Both sets of fanbases wear Timberland boots for entirely different functions. The Herd, for plunging a coal mine outhouse. UConn, for dressing nice for a trip into Manhattan.

Gang, I've been to the St. Petersburg Bowl. It's played in what has to be the worst professional sports venue in North America. That's right - they play this sumbitch at Tropicana Field which is basically a condemned Rainforest Cafe with worse food. I saw Rutgers and Central Florida play something they claimed was "football" on a baseball diamond. You can imagine the mouthy Vinnies from Jersey wanting a scrape with the pervy Chads of Orlando. SUCH PAGEANTRY. I saw a drunk dude shit in a urinal that night.

MARSHALL VS. CONN. If this is heaven, I hope St. Peter sends my ass to hell. Happy watching.

Sun Bowl

by Rush

Miami vs. Washington State
Dec. 26th  |  1:00 PM  |  CBS

Only about 7% of the bowls at this point in history are not aired on ESPN, so the Sun is always a special treat because we get to see Verne and Gary exposed to harsh mountain sunlight for several hours. They will doggedly maintain their longstanding charade of not being vampires by cackling awkwardly at inopportune moments and pretending to know about things west of I-35. Gary will ultimately be broken by Mike Leach's offense midway through the second quarter and the remainder of the broadcast will just be rosy Verne soliloquies and random Danielson stock quotes fed in from the studio.

Miami fans will feel right at home in El Paso as it is the only other U.S. city where bricks of Schedule I narcotics are available at any corner store. And Mike Leach has maintained a sweat lodge in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains where he meets with his attorney Monte P. Flagman to discuss various civil cases against rabid Texas Tech boosters. Weather is also a push: Washington State will face a new hurdle called "sunlight" while Miami will struggle to play in an atmosphere with less than 80% humidity.

This game juxtaposes a Ferrari being driven by a series of ADD-riddled salesmen with basic coordination problems against a survivalist mechanic who has coaxed his 1987 Tercell into a street racing phenomenon that can somehow keep up with anything. Mike Leach descends from his foggy mountain and returns to West Texas to leave an indelible mark on the college football landscape and give Mark Richt some early coaching points for next year.

Heart of Dallas Bowl

by Shooter Flatch
Washington vs Southern Mississippi
December 261:20 pm CST | ESPN

Here are a few facts about this bowl game.  You will be surprised at how much of this is actually true.  Probably.

  • The Heart of Dallas is a statue in downtown Dallas that is actually a replica of Jerry Jones liver.  It is made of lava rock, measures 10 feet across, and features a waterfall of Johnny Walker Black cascading over it.
  • Previous Heart of Dallas bowl teams include North Texas, Purdue, Illinois, UNLV, and Alabama.
  • This bowl game is sponsored by Zaxby's, which is an online retailer of sleep apnea masks and bedpans.
  • Player gift bags include a leased 2004 BMW, unlimited appetizers at Chili's, and the two little red Monopoly hotels from Park Place and Broadway.
  • This game has produced MVP's that include former Heisman trophy winners Taylor Potts, Clint Chelf, and Jason White.
  • This bowl game took the place of the Cotton Bowl once it moved to JerryWorld in 2011 after the Colorado mascot, Ralphie the Buffalo, contracted the "Booty Flu" in 2010.
  • The two honorary captains for this game are Brett Favre and Kelly from Plano, a twice divorced cougar that reeks of gin.  (Spoiler Alert: Kelly already received a dick pic from #4.)
  • Tradition dictates that the losing team is forced to spend the remainder of the holiday season in Houston.


by Rush
Duke vs. Indiana
Dec. 26, 2:30 PM  |  ABC

One of the coolest things about bowl season is that it draws together by happenstance schools that share a strong and rich bond in other areas and allows for a convenient union on the football field. None is more obvious than this year's pairing in New York City between Duke University and Indiana University and the familial commonality they share between them.

Talking of course about some Mellencamp.

THE COUG is one of Indiana's most iconic figures: a champion of middle-class, normal Americans trying to make their way in this big ol' world. And perhaps the perfect embodiment of this is John's son Hud, the scrappy walk-on who chose Duke to pursue a football career. It's pretty great that two schools like this that have absolutely nothing else in common whatsoever can come together like Jack & Diane in a Little Pink House in a Small Town for one Wild Night.

Ain't That America.


by Lucas Jackson
DEC. 26TH, 4:45 PM CST - ESPN

The late 70s are not a fondly remembered time. Nonetheless, the age of disco did give us the Independence Bowl, which was founded in 1976 and named because thus because its creation coincided with the bicentennial.

The Independence Bowl, like Shreveport, endures. You deny it now, but your team has been to the Independence Bowl and you were thankful that the Independence took them.  You can sneer at it now LSU, but in 1995 you were overjoyed to travel to Shreveport.  The same goes for you, 2001 and 2007 Alabama (Nick Saban has coached in 2 Independence Bowls - ROLL TIDE).  So cherish the holidays, and cherish your loved ones. But don’t forget to cherish the Independence Bowl and college football because deep down in places you won’t talk about, you know you need Shreveport and the Independence Bowl. You never know when your college football team might end up there needing to preserve its bowl streak.

This year we have Frank Beamer and Virginia Tech in the legendary coach’s swan song versus the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in their first year under new head man, Phillip Montgomery. The 1993 Independence Bowl was Virginia Tech’s first bowl under up and coming Frank Beamer.  This year’s version is proof that college football is a flat circle.  From the Independence Bowl Beamer came, and to the Independence Bowl he returns.

It’s Saturday afternoon and there is college football on tv, so tune in to watch Frank Beamer’s eulogy.  To quote the bard and erstwhile Shreveport fan Mick Jagger: "I know... its the Independence Bowl, but I like it."


by Chuck
DEC. 26TH, 9:15 PM - ESPN

BYU: Listen Nebraska, it's been a rough few years. My wives are beginning to complain that there aren't enough steaks in the freezer. Could you be a friend and just let us squeak by? We can do it on a Hail Mary so it at least looks like an act of god, if that makes you feel better.

Nebraska: Well gosh, BYU. I just wouldn't feel right depriving your children of magic underwear. Go on then, don't you worry about us we'll be fine.


Miami: Hey Nebraska. I know we had our scraps in the past, and it kills me to ask, but I got no other play here. Things are bad - real bad. They even evicted me from the Orange Bowl cuz I couldn't make the payments and that whole nutria infestation...

Nebraska: Now now, Miami, don't you say another word. Tell you what, it's overtime but we're late for supper anyway. Here, you just take this ball and get yourself back on your feet.

(much later)

Purdue: Nebraska! Gosh how've you been? You look great, have you lost weight? See, I told you food tastes good even without mayonnaise!

Nebraska: Now Purdue, I know where you're going with this. I have been quite generous this season, but gosh darnit I am just gonna have to put my foot down here-

Purdue: - C'mon man, I'm dying here. I blew all that Brees good will on FCS coaches and bass drums. I don't know what I might do next - Christ, the other day I was thinking about a home and home with LSU. Didn't Martin Luther say "Give of thyself and help out a brother when he's in a jam"?

Nebraska: Well I don't think that's accurate at all but I'll have to check with my pastor. Alright Purdue, I can't believe I'm gonna do this, but it just wouldn't be neighborly to say no. We'll let you have just this one.

(seems like months later)

Foster Farms Bowl: Nebraska we know you only went 5-7 this season, but you were so generous with your defense and so studious that we have decided to offer you a bowl berth.

Nebraska: And the meek shall inherit the earth! Well sir I am just tickled pink and pleased as punch. This sure means a lot to me. Who will I be playing?

Foster Farms Bowl: UCLA.

Nebraska: Fuck you.