The Wiz Of Odds: Five teams who won't show for bowls

A year ago, Alabama was dismembered by Florida, 31-20, in the Southeastern Conference title game. It was a crushing blow to the Crimson Tide and despite having a month to recover, Alabama lost to Utah, 31-17, in the Sugar Bowl.

What happened? In essence, Florida beat Alabama twice — once in the SEC title game and again in the Sugar Bowl.

It was another example of a team playing in a bowl game that didn’t want to be there.

There are a few ways to pick bowl game winners. One involves digging through a pile of statistics and conducting research until sunrise. Often, it’s a big waste of time.

An easier way is to find the teams that want to be there. Better yet, find the teams that would rather be spending the holidays at home, like Alabama last season.

Here is a look at five games involving teams that wish their season were over:

Pittsburgh Panthers

The Panthers have lost two consecutively, with last Saturday’s setback to Cincinnati being the crusher. Had the Panthers beat the Bearcats, they would have been playing in a Bowl Championship Series game. Instead, they are going to the Meineke Car Care Bowl. It’s played in Charlotte, and that’s bad news because the opponent is North Carolina, whose fans will fill the joint. Pittsburgh is already a loser in North Carolina. It played North Carolina State in Raleigh and lost, 38-31, and there’s nothing to suggest that Pittsburgh’s next trip to the state will be any better.

Bowling Green Falcons
 
The Falcons were 1-4 at one point and rattled off victories in six of their last seven to qualify for a bowl game. The reward was a trip to Boise to play Idaho in the Humanitarian Bowl in the dead of winter. That’s a real kick in the teeth. Even hometown Boise State, which used to be a regular in this game, abandoned the Humanitarian after discovering postseason destinations like San Diego and Glendale, Ariz. The bottom line is that more than any other game, the Humanitarian comes down to which teams wants to be there most and Idaho, which hasn’t played in the postseason since 1999, would be grateful to travel to Barrow, Alaska, by dogsled to play in a bowl.

Oklahoma Sooners

Big things were expected of the Sooners, who were No. 3 in the Associated Press preseason poll. Then came a tsunami of injuries that included the loss of Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Sam Bradford. It has been one disaster after another for Oklahoma, which muddled its way to a 7-5 regular season after participating in the BCS title game last season. Sunday’s announcement that the Sooners were selected to play in the Sun Bowl was greeted like a trip to the dentist for a root canal. The opponent in El Paso is up and coming Stanford. This game is often decided by which team is able to keep its players out of the 24-7 scene in Ciudad Juárez. Our money is on the disciplined and motivated Cardinal.

Ohio State Buckeyes
 
OK, the Buckeyes have to be excited about playing in Pasadena on New Year’s Day. That’s not the problem. It’s this age-old Big Ten-Pacific 10 deal, where the big, slow team from the Midwest that likes to run the ball suddenly finds itself disoriented in Hollywood. It’s not clear what turns these big meanies into softies. Perhaps it’s the teacups ride at Disneyland. Maybe they devour too much prime rib at Lawry’s. Whatever, come Jan. 1, the Big Ten team is ready for slaughter. Last year, Penn State trailed USC, 31-7, at halftime. The year before, Illinois was in a 21-3 hole against USC at the break. Ohio State can’t afford to get behind against Oregon, but given the way the Ducks move the ball, the Buckeyes’ heads will be spinning like a teacup.

Michigan State Spartans

The fun started after the Spartans were drilled at home by Penn State, 42-14, to finish the regular season 6-6. Later that night, several players reportedly got into a fight at a dormitory, and two players have already been kicked off the team. Another eight were suspended and won’t make the trip to the Alamo Bowl, where the Spartans play Texas Tech. There could be more repercussions and Alamo officials thought long and hard about inviting the Spartans to San Antonio. But with most of the bad guys left behind in East Lansing, there should be little threat to the community, so the Spartans got the bid. Given that Michigan State has a leaky pass defense and Mike Leach has a desire to pour it on when he can, this doesn’t look like a good spot for the Spartans.

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Posted by onelastlock
4 years ago

Oregon rolls Ohio St is about the only thing old Jay got right.
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Posted by bmcneill
4 years ago

I agree With Clemson not giving garbage... I also say Pitt, Mich St, and Florida have let downs.. Isn't Stanford's QB out? I would say OU or lay off..
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Posted by bucknutsfla
4 years ago

I stand corrected with Bowling Green. I do agree with mtrain, Idaho has terrible pass d. The games I watched Idaho, offenses went up and down the field. BG for the cover and take the over. Anyone agree with my opinion on Clemson-Kentucky?
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Posted by Captfyre98
4 years ago

If the author really believes this to be true, why isnt Florida on the list? Since they are now this years edition of Alabama. Lose the game that really mattered and end up playing a high flying Cincy team like Utah last year. Would seem the same scenario. Take Cincy and the generous points!
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Posted by mtrain354
4 years ago

Not so sure about Bowling Green. They worked their butt off just to get bowl eligible. Tyler Sheehan and Freddie Barnes will tear up the Vandals' terrible pass D. Idaho's limped in with 3 losses, whereas the Falcons rattled off 4 victories.
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Posted by bucknutsfla
4 years ago

I agree with your take on pitt, mich st, and BGreen. On the other hand, if ohio st were to play oregon next week, yeah, oregon by a few td's. OSU has a month to prepare and will be 100% motivated to play. Oregon is not playing in Eugene, they do not play the same elsewhere. It has the potential to be another classic, a la OSU-Arizona St. Remember BG when they faced Tulsa? Embarrassment. Oklahoma seems to rise to the occasion when most think they're down and out. I expect that to be close with Oklahoma possibly winning. One game not mentioned, Clemson-Kentucky. Clemson will not show up after coming within minutes of ACC champ. then being relegated to the Music City Bowl. They got screwed and should be in Florida State's spot, Florida State in this bowl. That's a bunch of BS because it's Bowden's last game. Kentucky wins outright.
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Posted by nc1capper
4 years ago

valid point on pitt, understand tho the tar heels will not be super thrilled to be in charlotte as they had much bigger dreams dashed with a season ending loss to arch rival NCSU- I expect to see a fairly uninspired bunch of hogs hit the field in the matchup with ECU as well
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Posted by mightiestmojo
4 years ago

Love the comment on OK-Stan. Yeah, I think you're safe on who'll be getting their rest.
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Top Response

Posted by mightiestmojo
4 years ago

"Love the comment on OK-Stan. Yeah, I think you're safe on who'll be getting their rest."