Ahh, bowl season. Don’t you love it? A handful of quality bowl games leading up to the traditional New Year’s Day marathon feast of college football. Settle in with some black-eyed peas and cabbage, a few hair-of-the-dog frothy beverages, and watch your favorite teams cap off the college football season.
How we wish. I’m speaking, of course, of the lore of yesteryear. Nowadays bowl season runs for weeks and there are too many meaningless games to count. And those cherished New Year’s Day bowl games? We’ll have as many on Jan. 1 as Ole Miss has SEC titles since 1963. Zero.
But enough nostalgia. One great thing about modern-day bowl season is the ludicrous names of bowl games. It’s pure entertainment. The AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl? I don’t know what AdvoCare V100 is, but it certainly doesn’t pique my interest in the Independence Bowl.
Anyway, as a rule of thumb, the more asinine the bowl game’s name, the worse your team has fared this year.
Your team is in a toilet bowl if the game is named for a “cause” or an amorphous, intangible concept. The Fight Hunger Bowl comes to mind. Look, we’re all for fighting hunger, but do we need a bowl game named for it? The Independence Bowl is another example. Last year there was a Humanitarian Bowl, but it’s gone now. Are we supposed to be inspired by these bowl game names? To act in the spirit of their causes?
Almost as bad is any bowl sponsored by the auto industry. Car companies love affixing their logos to third-tier bowls. Meineke, Hyundai, AutoZone, and Maaco are all sponsoring bowl games this year. Does it boost sales? Will the poor souls who watch the AutoZone Liberty Bowl — that rare combination of a “cause” bowl and a car-service sponsor! — feel liberated and rush out to AutoZone for an air filter?
Rising up the bowl food chain, there are actually some solid restaurant-sponsored bowls. The Chick-fil-A Bowl. The Outback Bowl. The Houston’s Bowl. OK, there is no Houston’s Bowl, but there should be. Love that place.
The high end of the bowl spectrum is marked by bowls named for something that comes from the ground. If your team plays in a game named for a crop, it’s been a good year. The Orange Bowl. Sugar Bowl. Rose Bowl. Cotton Bowl. (Exception: the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. I like Idaho spuds but c’mon.)
Is your SEC team playing in a dreaded “cause” bowl this year? Maybe one sponsored by a car company? Here are my quick picks for bowls featuring teams from the undisputed best conference in college football. We’ll hold off on breaking down the all-SEC national championship game since it’s not played until March. Here we go:
I’ll take Mississippi State over Wake Forest in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl; Vanderbilt over Cincy in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl; Virginia over Auburn in the Chick-fil-A Bowl; Georgia in a close one over Michigan State in the Outback Bowl; South Carolina over Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl; Ohio State over Florida in the Urban Meyer Bowl (it’s actually the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, signaling the return of cheesy dot-com bowl names); and Arkansas over Kansas State in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Have a terrific holiday and bowl season. As for me, I am truly inspired by the names of these bowl games. I’m heading out to Chick-fil-A for a spicy chicken sandwich, dropping by Meineke for a new muffler, then I’m off to fight hunger.
Ben Prevost is a contributing columnist for The Times. Contact him at email@example.com.