Friday, December 18, 2009

34 Bowl Games - 34 Winners - Swampy's College Bowl Game Preview

It's that glorious time of year again where just about anyone with a stadium & a sponsor can host their own college bowl game. It wasn't always this way and once upon that time the bowl games actually meant something. Then cable television was born and so too were a countless number of craptastic games looking for any kind of an audience. This year there are actually 34 bowl games and it all kicks off on December 19th with the New Mexico Bowl and it all ends on January 7th when Alabama takes on Texas in the BCS National Championship game. Now I will admit that 34 games can be quite daunting for the non-football fan but that is why I am here to help. So without further ado, let's get to the plethora of pigskin that awaits us.

12/19 - New Mexico Bowl - Wyoming vs Fresno St.

One of Wyoming's wins the year was facilitated thanks to state snow plows & a police escort. That is how bad their opponent was and how much they needed to get to 6 wins to qualify for Bowl Season. Fresno St will win this game easily.

12/19 - St. Petersburg Bowl - Rutgers vs Central Florida

This basically a home game for UCF and Rutgers has done nothing but flop in big games this year. The Scarlet Knights start the season with a loss and end it with a loss too.

12/20 – New Orleans Bowl – Middle Tennessee vs Southern Miss

Middle Tennessee is probably the best 9 win team that no one has ever heard of and they will be the best 10 win team that no one has ever of after the game. And let’s face it, no one really loses when they get to go to New Orleans ?

12/22 – Maaco Las Vegas Bowl – Oregon St vs BYU

Nobody loses when they get to go to Las Vegas either and Las Vegas certainly loves the way the BYU fans travel. However, I just don’t see the Beavers taking a licking in this one.

12/23 – Poinsettia Bowl – Utah vs California

Utah certainly knows how to beat up & beat on BCS conference teams – just ask anyone in Alabama. Cal is more schizophrenic than a cougar I once dated back in the mid 80’s…..give me a moment please…..YIKES !

12/24 – Hawaii Bowl – Nevada vs SMU

Nevada runs the ball like they have a couple of Eric Dickerson’s & Craig James’ in their backfield. At least SMU gets a trip to Honolulu out of the deal.

12/26 – Little Caesars Bowl – Ohio University vs Marshall

Who cares who wins this game ? All that really matters is that once upon a time when I was a mascot for our local hockey team, I beat up the Little Caesars mascot. I hit him with a Domino’s box.

12/26 – Meineke Car Care Bowl – North Carolina vs Pitt

Pitt was just one kick & one catch away from playing in the Orange Bowl. This may be a relative home game for the Tar Heels but this ball isn’t round.

12/26 – Emerald Bowl – Boston College vs USC

A great matchup of two underachieving overhyped programs that looks great on paper. Not sure if they have ever even played each other before. You might think I am “nuts” but BC cracks open a win in this one.

12/27 – Music City Bowl – Kentucky vs Clemson

There is only two reasons to watch this game. The first is CJ Spiller of Clemson and the second is because it is the only game on that day. This game won’t even be close.

12/28 – Independence Bowl – Texas A&M vs Georgia

I lost interest in this game years ago when Poulan Weedeater dropped their sponsorship of the game. I lost even more interest when I saw the two teams playing this year. Just can’t ever pick the Aggies (unless they play Notre Dame) so the Bulldogs win this one.

12/29 – Eagle Bank Bowl – UCLA vs Temple

I think the last time Temple played in a bowl game they played in the now defunct Garden State Bowl and KC & the Sunshine ban were on the charts. This actually wouldn’t be a bad matchup if they were playing basketball. I just can’t see UCLA losing this one.

12/29 – Champs Sports Bowl – Miami vs Wisconsin

Wisco won’t be able to handle Miami’s speed and this game is going to be over early. Miami will be a team to be reckoned with 2010.

12/30 – Humanitarian Bowl – Idaho vs Bowling Green

The best thing about this game is that it is being played on the SMURF TURF ! Idaho started out winning 6 of the first 7 before they went 0 for November again. Despite the home field advantage, I am leaning towards Bowling Green.

12/30 – Holiday Bowl – Nebraska vs Arizona

I have no idea how to pronounce Ndamukong Suh’s first name but expect to hear it a lot as the Cornhuskers wear down the Wildcats out in San Diego.

12/31 - Armed Forces Bowl – Air Force vs Houston

I don’t think a platoon of F-16’s could help stop the bombing that Casey Keenum is going to lay down on Air Force. Houston is going to win this one in high scoring fashion.

12/31 – Sun Bowl – Stanford vs Oklahoma

How did such a crappy bowl game (El Paso – nuff said) get such a good game to watch. Should be fun to watch Heisman Almost Winner Toby Gerhart try to run on the Sooner D. Sorry Mom (she’s a Cal Grad) but I think the Cardinal win this one.

12/31 – Texas Bowl – Missouri vs Navy

Yawn – though it will be fun to see Navy try to avenge their loss to Mizzou from 1961. Look for Mizzou to throw, throw & throw and Navy to run, run & run.

12/31 – Insight Bowl – Minnesota vs Iowa State

I wonder how many people on the Insight Bowl Selection Committee killed themselves after they got stuck with this game ? The Big 12 is better than the Big 10 but I am picking Minnesota anyway because I got a speeding ticket in Iowa once.

12/31 – Chick Fil-A Bowl – Virginia Tech vs Tennessee

This game is a lot more interesting on paper than it will be on TV. I’ll take the Hokies because somebody has to win and I can’t see a former raiders coach doing that.

1/1 – Outback Bowl – Northwestern vs Auburn

A Big 10 surprise and a SEC disappointment for the first game of New year’s Day. Auburn shot it’s load in the Iron Bowl when they almost beat Bama. Northwestern should win this one.

1/1 – Capital One Bowl – Penn State vs LSU

2 teams that both had BCS Championship aspirations early on that just couldn’t close the deal when they needed to do it. I love LSU and have never picked against them.

1/1 – Gator Bowl – West Virginia vs Florida State

It kind of cracks me up that in Bobby Bowden’s farewell game as the Seminoles coach, he has to play in the “Gator” Bowl. West Virginia won’t roll over in awe of his career and the Mountaineers will kill them.

1/1 – Rose Bowl – Oregon vs Ohio State

Oregon was really one punch and one loss away from serious national title consideration. Ohio State is a team I have hated ever since I knew what football was. Go Ducks !

1/1 – Sugar Bowl – Cincinnati vs Florida

This could have been a much better game if Brian Kelly hadn’t run away to go coach Notre Dame. It does still have an interesting storyline in that you have Tim Tebow’s final game and you have a Cincinnati team that will either be out to prove that they don’t need their old turncoat coach or a you will have a Cincinnati team that rolls over from the controversy of it all. I think we will see the former since Mardy Gilyard is a real threat to score any & every time he touches the ball.

1/2 – International Bowl – South Florida vs Northern Illinois

This would be an interesting matchup in early September. It’s a reason to change the channel in January. I’m going with the underdogs from Northern Illinois.

1/2 – Bowl – Connecticut vs South Carolina

I hate all Steve Spurrier coached teams and Connecticut has played well all season losing it’s 5 games by a combined total of 15 points. The Huskies have an intangible to play for that the Gamecocks don’t. I like Connecticut by a slice or two.

1/2 – Cotton Bowl – Oklahoma State vs Mississippi

The Cotton Bowl used to be one of the Big 4 Bowl Games but now it has been relegated to 2nd tier status but it always gets a fun game to watch. I like both teams in this game so I really don’t care who wins but I will be putting my bowl picks pool money on OK State.

1/2 – Liberty Bowl – East Carolina vs Arkansas

I really liked the way that East Carolina handled Houston in the Conference USA Championship Game to get here. I don’t see them having any problems whatsoever handling the Razorbacks too.

1/2 – Alamo Bowl – Texas Tech vs Michigan State

I like the San Antonio Riverwalk. I like Texas Tech. Not much else to say about this game other than it finishes off an extremely long day of football.

1/4 – Fiesta Bowl – TCU vs Boise State

In some ways this battle of Non-BCS Conference undefeated teams is a cop out because both of these teams would have beaten any BCS Conference team that they faced but in other ways it isn’t because this is a football fan’s dream matchup. Both teams can & do score at will. Both teams are exciting. Everyone remembers what Boise State did to Oklahoma and everyone should remember Billy Clyde Puckett & Shake Tiller – 2 of TCU’s most famous football graduates. This game could actually inspire Dan Jenkins to even write another football book – at least I hope so. I bleed orange & blue on both a college & pro level so my heart and my head both tell me to take Boise State.

1/5 – Orange Bowl – Georgia Tech vs Iowa

A nice placeholder/palate cleanser game between the main course (Fiesta) and the dessert (BCS Championship). Neither team truly excites me but both will show up ready to play but like I said earlier, I once got a speeding ticket in Iowa (Marengo – 1981 to be exact) so I will cheering for the Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech.

1/6 – GMAC Bowl – Central Michigan vs Troy

Where is the outrage & outcry over the Central michigan’s coach taking the job in Cincinnati ? Exactly. Troy is a team on the rise but Central Michigan has a QB that has found the end zone more often than any other QB in FBS history. Look for him to find it a few more times in this game as CMU finishes the season off with their 12th win.

1/6 – BCS National Championship Game – Alabama vs Texas

Based on their conference championship games, this should be a blowout of snoozefest proportions with Heisman winner Mark Ingram rolling the Tide over Heisman also ran Colt McCoy & the Longhorns but I don’t like o use comparative scores when looking at a game like this. I think both conferences are overrated & over-hyped but these are indeed the best teams from both. The Longhorns are 5 point underdogs and I fully expect them to cover the spread. I also think that based on Bama’s performance against Auburn that Texas has more than a fighting chance of pulling off the upset. I’m liking the Longhorns pulling it out in their final drive as time expires.

So there you go. 34 games. 34 winners. Check back often to see why there is a reason that Las Vegas loves me as much as they do.

And that is the view for now from Behind The Shades and on the sidelines…..swampy abides….

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

2009 PNC Christmas Price Index - Swampy Style

Every year our friends down at PNC Bank take a couple of interns and assign them to update the Christmas Price Index. You all know what this is but just in case you don't, it is the present day cost of all of the items in the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas". This year, prices have for the most part gone up again and the total cost of what amounts to pretty much a bunch of useless presents comes in at a grand total $21,465.56 (+1.8%). Now if you were so inclined to order on the internet, you would also incur some extra shipping charges in order to keep your 23 different birds alive so you would be paying $31,434.85. Surprise, surprise - that is actually down 1.6% from a year ago but still just under $10,000 more than obtaining the gifts locally. Obtaining the gifts locally also means that you are being green (at least according to the emails I read from the "scientists" at East Anglia University) and that you are trying to be sustainable. If I could have worked in the word "umami" then I would have hit on just about every buzzword I have come to loathe hearing and could pass go and collect my $200.

But seriously, who has $21,465.56 to spend on Christmas nowadays ? (and if you do, please email me so I can send you my wish list) In this day & age it is better to conserve what little cash we all have so I have some suggestions on how to make "The Twelve Days of Christmas" a little more affordable.

One Partridge in a Pear Tree ($159.99 - $10 for the Partridge & $149.99 for the tree) - Now I don't know about you but I live out in the country and I have a lot of birds that fly around in my backyard and I have yet to see a partridge amongst them. In fact, I don't think I have ever seen a partridge in it's natural habitat. On "The Hills" you can see Audrina Partridge in her natural habitat (a bar) for free. Since we used Audrina last year, I decided this year to put a beer & an empty bindle of coke up in the White Pear tree in my yard as lure to catch a Danny Partridge. If I add a TV camera, I might actually get them both and have 2 for the price of 1.

Two Turtle Doves ($55.98) - another bird I have never seen in the wild. Do they live anywhere but in a birdcage anyway ? If we wait until February we could probably borrow a few from the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics but that kind of defeats the purpose of it being a Christmas present so I guess we will have to fall back on our old reliable plan and catch us a couple of pigeons from my window sill and coat them in white out. Let's just hope they don't try to fly afterward or it will be reminiscent of Les Nessman tossing turkey out of a helicopter on WKRP.

Three French Hens ($45.00) - I am sorry but I am not paying $45 for anything french. I will head over to ShopRite where I can get a much better deal on 3 oven roasted chickens for $5.99 a piece. They will certainly be less pretentious, won't smoke gauloise cigarettes and will be mighty tasty too.

Four Calling Birds ($599.96) - what the hell is a Calling Bird anyway ? Again, it's not by my bird feeder and if it had been, something probably would have eaten them by now anyway. So instead of Calling Birds, I suggest stopping by your local Cabela's and picking up some bird calls - preferably turkey at this time of year so you can get a good meal out of the deal as well.

Five Gold Rings ($499.95) - $100 for a gold ring ? Get real. I can do much better than that by talking to any number of the west african street vendors that crowd the sidewalks of NYC. No guarantee that the rings won't turn your fingers green but green fingers should help get you in a festive holiday mood.

Six Geese-A-Laying ($150) - the price of geese is dropping like a rock. Kind of like the rocks I throw at the Canadian Geese that desecrate my lawn. You want six geese a laying, I suggest you go to any golf course or park with a pond and you will find plenty of geese that you could layout with a golf club or a stick.

Seven Swans a Swimming ($5,250) I got nothing new for this one this year so here is last year's entry - "they are nothing more than big nasty birds with an attitude problem but I will admit that they are graceful to watch - Seven swans is overkill though unless of course you hit the discount rack at Dress Barn for the leftovers from the Bjork Collection".

Eight Maids a Milking ($58) nobody hand milks cows these days unless of course you are Amish. In order to update this one, I bet you could get eight breast feeding mom's to fill in if you just promise them a private spot away from prying & judgmental eyes.

Nine Ladies Dancing ($5,473.07) At a little over $600 a pop, these dancing ladies are a relative deal compared to the cost of the 9 ladies dancing between the sheets with Tiger Woods but none of us have that kind of money so I suggest heading over to your local strip club where for nine singles, you can get nine ladies to give you a quick dance on your side of the stage.

Ten Lords a Leaping ($4,413.61) Okay, I liked mine from last year so much that I am going to paraphrase it again this year - I am in manhattan and I probably have a much better chance of finding 10 queens a leaping around the Village than I do finding any lords a leaping but I am sure that you could find more than few rejected male dancers at a Broadway Cattle Call audition who would be willing to leap around for a couple of bucks.

Eleven Pipers Piping ($2,284.80) Last year I suggested rounding up the kids from the elementary school holiday concert that were going to assault us with their recorder playing but this year my suggestion is to get eleven cake decorators for free since they do "pipe" the frosting and they are all looking for that big break so they can be the next Ace of Cakes or Cake Boss.

Twelve Drummers Drumming ($2,475.20) It's too easy. Walk into any preschool or Kindergarten class with 12 drums and you will have 12 kids wailing away like it's the space jam drum solo at a Grateful Dead concert. You may need to pay for a bottle of Excedrin for the teacher but that is a lot cheaper than $2,475.20 even if you do shop at Duane Reade here in NYC.

So there we are - my suggestions for how you can creatively substitute cheaper alternatives for "The Twelve Days of Christmas". I know that my suggestions may not appeal to every one's taste but that is the great thing about this holiday, almost everything can be returned. Unless of course you got it from a street vendor because odds are he will be long gone by the time you come back to look for him.

If you have some other ideas, why not share them with me and my 2 or 3 spam bots that actually "read" this stuff.. You never know what you will find stuffed in your stocking or under your tree on Christmas morning.

And that is the view for now, from Behind the Shades.......come back next time when we discuss something totally unrelated to what you just read because I can never keep a logical train of thought going in my head or on paper....swampy abides....