One of the best parts about bowl season is watching the schools that haven't made the postseason cut in years finally return to the holiday tradition. While detractors point to the meaninglessness of some of the bowl game calendar, the programs that haven't had the luxury of playing one more game in December show just how special the season is.
Here’s a look at schools ending bowl droughts in 2013, including two matchups that will feature teams that are all ending long droughts.
UNLV (12 Years) vs. North Texas (Eight Years)
Playing on New Year’s Day, UNLV and North Texas will both be ending two of the longest bowl droughts in the NCAA when they square off in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Both schools got over the six-win requirement, with UNLV hitting a 7-5 record and North Texas having a strong year with an 8-4 record in the C-USA.
There isn’t much between these schools, who both managed to be just good enough in mid-major conferences to squeak into bowl season, but the Mean Green's 9-3 ATS record is slightly better than the Runnin' Rebels 8-4 mark.
Playing in its home state, North Texas is a deserved favorite, but at 6.5 points the number is high. If that number hits over a touchdown by New Year’s, bettors may want to go with UNLV.
Washington State (Nine Years) vs. Colorado State (Four Years)
With Mike Leach restoring Washington State to respectability after a falling out at Texas Tech, the Cougars will be grabbing all of the headlines heading into Saturday's Advocare V100 Bowl. Washington State will be returning to a bowl game for the first time in nearly a decade.
Colorado State should not be ignored either, after ending its bowl drought after nearly half a decade - something that will give them bragging rights over rival Colorado, which continued its bowl drought this season.
The Rams will be in extremely tough against a Pac-12 team that has hung with some top-notch opponents and appears to be on the rise under Leach. Washington State is a 4.5-point favorite.
Buffalo (Four Years)
The Buffalo Bulls will be ending their bowl streak in 2013 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl when they take on San Diego State Saturday. Buffalo has star linebacker Khalil Mack, who will be a likely first-round pick, and hold a fourth-best turnover rate in the nation at +15.
San Diego State has an overtime win against Boise State on its resume, but has played teams close in 2013 with four overtime games - three of which were won by the Aztecs. Playing on the "Smurf Turf" in Boise at the Famous Idaho Bowl, the Aztecs will have the advantage of travel distance on their side, which could be why this line has moved from Buffalo -3.5 to SDSU -1.