Bowls must tune into quality, not quantity

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:03 AM ET

Item: The University of Colorado is set to spend $36,000 on iPods to reward its football team for reaching the Champs Sports Bowl.

Yes, the Champs Sports Bowl.

The bowl the Buffaloes 'earned' after getting whacked 70-3 by Texas in the Big 12 championship game (one week after they got throttled 30-3 in Boulder by a middling Nebraska team, we might add).

And you, Colorado, say this is worth free iPods for the boys? Try a used eight-track player or two.

Okay, maybe that's a tad harsh. But all of this brings us back to last week's rant: Namely, the glut of bowls that has to be stopped, and stopped now.

How to do it? Start by changing the criteria for becoming bowl eligible. As it now stands, six wins will get it done. Considering, in 13 cases this year, those six wins are accompanied by five losses, this is clearly not acceptable. Not even close.

Especially with schools allowed to schedule 12 games per season in the years ahead.

So it's time to get tougher. Make the qualifying number based on winning percentage -- 65% minimum -- and go from there. Meaning 8-4 gets you in, 7-5 keeps you home.

How, you wonder, will 56 bowl spots get filled with such 'stringent' requirements? That's easy: Kill off 8-10 of the lamest bowls. Really, they won't be missed.

Then the rest of the 'minor' bowls might mean something again. And those iPods, too.

A look at another batch of bowls:

MPC COMPUTERS BOWL

(at Boise, Idaho)

No. 19 Boston College (-11/2) vs. Boise State (Dec. 28, 4:30 p.m., The Score) -- Broncos haven't lost in 31 games on their blue 'Smurf Turf' in Boise. But Eagles own five straight Bowl wins. Choose your streak. PICK: BOSTON COLLEGE.

ALAMO BOWL

(at San Antonio)

No. 20 Michigan (-111/2) vs. Nebraska (Dec. 28, 8 p.m., The Score) -- Once upon a time, this would have been a dream matchup. On New Year's Day. Another oddity: Both teams have struggled to run the ball this season. 'Huskers will keep it close. PICK: NEBRASKA.

EMERALD BOWL

(at San Francisco)

No. 24 Georgia Tech (-81/2) vs. Utah (Dec. 29, 4:30 p.m. The Score) -- One year after posting a perfect season, Utes (6-5) are trying to stay above .500. No easy chore against blitz-happy Yellow Jackets. PICK: GEORGIA TECH.

HOLIDAY BOWL

(at San Diego)

Oregon (-3) vs. Oklahoma (Dec. 29, 8 p.m. Rogers NCAA) -- Ducks (10-1) were biggest losers in BCS chase. But Oregon must be wary of Sooners and RB Adrian Peterson, who ended season on a 4-1 roll. Similarly snubbed California got shocked by Texas Tech in this game a year ago. Still ... PICK: OREGON.

MUSIC CITY BOWL

(at Nashville)

Minnesota (-31/2) vs. Virginia (Dec. 30, Noon, TSN) -- Watch Laurence Maroney-led Gophers run and run ... and run some more. For the third time in four years, they'll make sweet music in this game. PICK: MINNESOTA.

SUN BOWL

(at El Paso, Tex.)

No.17 UCLA (-3) vs. Northwestern (Dec. 30, CBS, 2 p.m.) -- Bruins are ranked 117th and last in the nation in yards allowed; Wildcats rate 111th. And both teams know how to rack up the points. Pity the poor scoreboard operator. PICK: NORTHWESTERN.

INDEPENDENCE BOWL

(at Shreveport, La.)

South Carolina (-4) vs. Missouri (Dec. 30, 3:30 p.m., TSN) -- The 'ol ball coach, Steve Spurrier, has already done wonders in steering Gamecocks to a bowl game. Despite QB Brad Smith's record-setting season, Tigers staggered down the stretch. PICK: SOUTH CAROLINA.

PEACH BOWL

(at Atlanta)

No. 9 Miami (Fla). (NL) vs. No. 10 LSU (Dec. 30, 7:30 p.m., Rogers NCAA) -- Perhaps the best matchup you'll see before Jan. 1. Unless, of course, you're a fan of offence. Two of the nation's premier defences take centre stage in one of only three bowls pairing two ranked teams. Because their QB is healthy ... PICK: MIAMI.

MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL

(at Charlotte, N.C.)

N.C. State (-51/2) vs. South Florida (Dec. 31, 11 a.m., The Score) -- Wolfpack needed a 4-1 run, including upset of Florida State, to get to a bowl. See which Andre is hotter -- Bulls' Hall and N.C. State freshman Brown. PICK: N.C. STATE.

LIBERTY BOWL

(at Memphis)

Fresno State (-7) vs. Tulsa (Dec. 31, 1 p.m., TSN) -- Bulldogs collapsed down the stretch, going 0-2 after nearly shocking USC. Golden Hurricane, meanwhile, rode a 6-1 finish to Conference USA title. PICK: TULSA.

HOUSTON BOWL

(at Houston)

No. 14 TCU (-31/2) vs. Iowa State (Dec. 31, 2:30 p.m., The Score) -- Horned Frogs and their ball-hawking defence used early upset of Oklahoma as springboard for 10-1 season. Cyclones blew shot at Big 12 title game for second straight year. Then again, they avoided Texas. PICK: TCU.

Bowl record -- 2-0 straight up; 1-1 ATS.


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