Time to get bowl blitz under control

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 6:52 AM ET

Tis the season for a bowl bonanza. One that seems to grow with each passing year.

The not-so-magic number is now at 28, with the Poinsettia Bowl now on board.

And the question has to be asked: When will this madness stop?

Don't get me wrong. I like the bowls (well, some of them). They add spice to the holiday season, and several of these post-season tilts will be worth your viewing time.

And we're not talking about just the big ones after the calendar turns into 2006.

Michigan-Nebraska, Oregon-Oklahoma, Miami-LSU ... all compelling matchups that should be fun to see. Nothing wrong there.

But here's the other side. Thirteen (count 'em) schools enter the bowls with 6-5 records. A baker's dozen that could call it a successful season with a .500 record.

Sixteen others could wind up with five losses. Akron and Colorado might each finish 7-6.

The point is this. Bowl season is supposed to be a time to reward teams for a job well done.

Scan through the wreckage above, and you see another kind of thing being rewarded.

It's called mediocrity. And it's dragging down what should be a time of fun and celebration.

How to fix the problem? Tune in next week.

A quick look at the early bowls:

NEW ORLEANS BOWL

(at Lafayette, La).

Southern Mississippi (-17) vs. Arkansas State (Tuesday, 8 p.m., The Score) -- Four of Golden Eagles' five losses came by nine points or less. Indians lost by 38 to Middle Tennessee. PICK: SOUTHERN MISS.

GMAC BOWL

(at Mobile, Ala.)

Toledo (-21/2) vs. Texas-El Paso (Dec. 21, 8 p.m., The Score) -- A tale of two QBs: Rockets' Bruce Gradkowski and the Miners' Jordan Palmer (Carson's little brother), though Toledo shows much more balance. UTEP dropped last two after entering Top 25 rankings. MAC teams are 4-0 in this game. PICK: TOLEDO.

LAS VEGAS BOWL

(at Las Vegas)

California (-7) vs. Brigham Young (Dec. 22, 8 p.m., Rogers NCAA) -- Rabid Cougar fans have turned this one into a virtual home game for BYU. On talent alone, Golden Bears are clearly better. But this isn't where a season that began with Pac 10 title aspirations was supposed to end. Cal in a squeaker. PICK: BYU.

POINSETTIA BOWL

(at San Diego)

Navy (-21/2) vs. Colorado State (Dec. 22, 10:30 p.m., Rogers NCAA) -- Middies, ironically, do it by ground, with a wishbone attack that's a true anomaly in today's wide-open game. That should be a handful for the more-balanced Rams. PICK: NAVY.

FORT WORTH BOWL

(at Fort Worth, Tex.)

Kansas (-3) vs. Houston (Dec. 23, 8 p.m., TSN) -- Jayhawks upset three bowl-bound teams to get here, while Cougars rode the arm of QB Kevin Kolb. Kansas went 0-5 on the road this season. And Fort Worth isn't Lawrence. PICK: HOUSTON.

HAWAII BOWL

(at Honolulu)

Nevada (-2) vs. Central Florida (Dec. 24, 8:30 p.m., TSN) -- Golden Knights one of the season's nice stories, going from 0-11 in 2004 to a bowl game. WolfPack shocked Fresno State a week after Bulldogs nearly beat USC. We'll ride that momentum. PICK: NEVADA.

MOTOR CITY BOWL

(at Detroit)

Memphis (-51/2) vs. Akron (Dec. 26, 4 p.m., The Score) -- Watch Tigers' RB DeAngelo Williams, a future top NFL pick, show Detroit fans what a running game looks like. But Zips can score, too. Just not enough. PICK: MEMPHIS.

CHAMPS SPORTS BOWL

(at Orlando, Fla.)

Clemson (NL) vs. Colorado (Dec. 27, 5 p.m., The Score) -- Buffaloes lost their last two games 100-6, and coach Gary Barnett was forced out. Take the Tigers and QB Charlie Whitehurst over a program that's in disarray. PICK: CLEMSON.

INSIGHT BOWL

(at Phoenix)

Arizona State (-11) vs. Rutgers (Dec. 27, 8:30 p.m., TSN) -- Call this a home game for high-powered Sun Devils. But Scarlet Knights, in their first bowl in 27 years, will keep it interesting. PICK: RUTGERS.

Season record -- 178-56 straight up; 109-120-5 ATS.


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