Tag:New Orleans Bowl
Posted on: January 12, 2012 1:29 am
Edited on: February 3, 2012 12:22 pm
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1-to-35: Ranking the 2011 bowl games



Posted by Jerry Hinnen


Each December, there's plenty of rankings out there as to how good each bowl should be. But if that's the "before," what about the "after"? Here's the Eye on CFB's (highly subjective) ranking of all 35 bowls from the 2011-2012 college football postseason, best game to worst.

1. Rose. Unlike certain other bowls we could name (who happen to rhyme with "Schmalamo"), the Rose's outburst of offense came despite the presence of legitimate championship-level defenses--making the punch and counter-punch between Russell Wilson and Montee Ball on one side and LaMichael James and De'Anthony Thomas on the other like haymakers in a heavyweight prizefight. Add in college football's greatest venue, a down-to-the-wire ending, and even the aesthetic battle between the Badgers' understated uniforms and the Ducks' glitter factory helmets, and you've got the best bowl-watching experience of the year.

2. Fiesta. Andrew Luck vs. Justin Blackmon at the top of their powers -- at the top of the powers of anyone at their positions in college football -- would be worth a top-five placement alone. Luck vs. Blackmon and 79 points and overtime drama? That's worth top-two.

3. Alamo Bowl. To call the defenses in this game abominably porous would be an insult to pores (and abominations). But the Alamo is a random weeknight bowl game--just as no one wants to watch an Oscar-baiting 17th-century literary adaptation on their Guys' Night Out, so no one tuned into the Alamo for rugged defense and awesome punting. Thankfully, what Baylor and Washington gave us was the college football equivalent of four hours of Jason Statham shooting explosions.

4. Outback. Come for Kirk Cousins leading the most unlikely comeback this side of the whooping crane, stay for Mark Richt nominating himself for the (dis)honor of "World's Fraidiest-Cat Football Coach." Oh, and triple overtime.

5. New Orleans. We'd ask if you could remember this thriller between Louisiana-Lafayette and San Diego State from the bowl season's opening night, but we don't think anyone who watched could forget Ragin' Cajun kicker Brett Baer deliriously celebrating his last-second game-winner if they tried.

6. Military. One word: #MACtion. And two numbers: 42-41. And, all right, eight more words to help do this game justice: last-minute do-or-die failed fake extra point holder-kicker option.

7. Sun. We're suckers for any game featuring the triple-option (see the Air Force game ranked one spot above), and Utah's 4th-and-14 touchdown conversion to send the game into OT was one of the more dramatic single plays of the entire bowl season. That 3-0 anti-classic between Pitt and Oregon State was a particularly distant memory in El Paso this year.

8. Belk. A matchup of Utterly Average ACC team vs. Utterly Average Big East team -- in a bowl sponsored by a department store that thinks Macy's is way too wild and edgy -- should have been one of the snoozers of the year. Instead, Mike Glennon caught fire, Louisville mounted a spirited comeback, and this wound up one of the better games of the postseason.

9. Little Caesars. The quality of play in this game at times was like ... well, have you ever actually eaten the pizza of the sponsor? But Western Michigan receiver Jordan White put on a spectacular show (13 catches, 249 yards), the teams combined for 69 points, and the Boilers special teams pulled off two onsides kicks and a kick return for TD. Tasty!

10. Famous Idaho Potato. OK, OK: we're giving this game (which was less-than-must-see-viewing for much of the first 55 minutes) a slight bonus for its killer logo. But we're giving it a much bigger bonus for the pulse-pounding final drive from quarterback Tyler Tettleton and the Bobcats for the first bowl win in program history.

11. Armed Forces. If you're going to be a sorta-dull game between two sorta-unmemorable teams, better come up with a memorable play and/or a big finish. Riley Nelson's game-winning fake spike touchdown to become college football's answer to Dan Marino just about did the trick.

12. Sugar. Another for the "ugly game, fascinating ending" file, but this was Michigan doing their damnedest to be Michigan again and Virginia Tech doing their damnedest to avoid the rabbit's feet and horseshoes and four-leaf clovers falling out of the Wolverines' pockets -- Danny Coale most especially -- and it was in New Orleans. You didn't quit watching, did you?

13. Poinsettia. Not a classic, but three-and-a-half back-and-forth hours with a feisty Louisiana Tech team and an underrated TCU squad most definitely qualified as "serviceable." Think of this year's Poinsettia as the quality burger-and-fries plate from the local joint down the street--not mind-blowing, but spend a few weeks in Peru, where they don't have burgers or college football, and you'll crave a Poinsettia Bowl so badly you could scream.

14. Orange. In the space of about an hour, Dana Holgorsen's evisceration of Clemson went from thrilling to discomfiting to boring to morbidly fascinating to -- once we all realized the Mountaineers weren't going to hit triple digits -- back to boring again. Not every game that hits 100 points is one for the DVD vaults, as it turns out.

15. Liberty. Give me Cincinnati defeating Vanderbilt in surprisingly convincing, mildly entertaining fashion or give me death! (Actually, we've got that first thing already, so no need to worry about providing the second, thanks.)

16. Chick-Fil-A. For 2.5 quarters, this was a delightful shootout with all the requisite trickery you'd hope for from a game involving Gus Malzahn. Then Virginia remembered that it was not only Virginia, but proud ACC member Virginia, and the fun was over.

17. Meineke Car Care. Seriously, Texas A&M, we didn't tune in to see you only flirt with blowing a huge lead against a team that hasn't won a bowl game since approximately the Grover Cleveland administration.

18. Capital One. This game featured an abundance of must-watch plays -- Alshon Jeffery catching a  bomb, Alshon Jeffery hauling in a half-ending Hail Mary, Alshon Jeffery getting ejected for fighting -- but aside from, well, Alshon Jeffery, there wasn't much to it.

19. Cotton Bowl. The 15 seconds of Joe Adams' punt return, the 10 seconds of Jarius Wright's touchdown, and the 5 minutes when it looked like Kansas State might mount yet another smashing comeback were riveting stuff. The other 54:35? Not so much.

20. BCS National Championship. A great game, if you're the sort of fan who enjoys watching nature shows where a pride of lions tear a wildebeest to pieces because the wildebeest can't complete a downfield pass to save its life.

21. TicketCity. If he'd stuggled, he'd have been called a fraud; because he ripped Penn State's D into tiny shreds, no one paid attention. Which is why we're working on a sitcom pilot right now called Case Keenum Can't Win.

22. Gator. When one team's special teams scores just one fewer touchdown than the two offenses combined (as Florida's did), it's safe to say you're not watching a classic.

23. GoDaddy.com. Thanks to a 31-0 run from Northern Illinois, what was expected to be a nailbiting shootout ended up the biggest disappointment since that "unrated web content" we checked out.

24. Champs Sports. It wasn't pretty, but at least the Seminoles and Irish were trying their best ... to make us wish they'd just aired a repeat of the 1993 meeting instead.

25. Las Vegas. College football produces a lot of emotions, but from the neutral perspective, it's rare that one of them is outright legitimate anger. Seeing Kellen Moore forced to end his career slumming it against an Arizona State team that checked out in early November sure turned the trick, though.

26. Independence. The Tar Heels came out so flat, and were finished off so quickly, that we're pretty sure the only lovely parting gift they walked away with was "Independence Bowl: the Board Game."

27. Music City. Mississippi State turned the ball over four times, and Wake Forest averaged 2.9 yards per-play. If Hank Williams or some other old-time country artist had come to Nashville to write a sad song about a sad bowl game, this is the game they'd use for inspiration.

28. Insight. Sadly, the only "insight" we got from this game was that Vegas oddsmakers -- who had the Sooners installed as the biggest favorite of the entire bowl season -- know what they're talking about. And who didn't know that already?

29. Holiday. It wasn't that long ago when Jeff Tedford's Cal and Mack Brown's Texas squaring off would have been appointment television. This game was, too, though in the sense that it was the sort of game you made an appointment somewhere else to avoid viewing.

30. Hawaii. Nevada and Southern Mississippi were collectively as sharp as your average butter knife, but let's see you spend a week chilling in Hawaii and then play a quality football game. The best players the NFL has to offer try it every single year and haven't succeeded yet.

31. Pinstripe. The only thing we remember from this game was our wish to travel back to, say, 1998, and explain to a random college football fan that in 2011, Rutgers would win a bowl game in Yankee Stadium that would give them the nation's longest postseason winning streak. (We're still not sure it's actually happening.)

32. Beef 'O' Brady's. Newton's Second Law of Bowl Aesthetics: Whensoever a Game Produces Fewer Offensive Touchdowns Than the Game Has Apostrophes in its Title, That Game Shall Be, Verily, Entirely Terrible.

33. New Mexico. We'd waited so long to be able to sit down and watch a college bowl game, and by halftime we were sort of wishing we'd gotten to wait a little bit longer.

34. BBVA Compass. For two straight years, Pitt has been forced to play in Legion Field on a January weekday afternoon in front of no one under an interim coach against a nondescript opponent. Vs. SMU the Panthers looked like they'd much rather be off somewhere doing something much more fun, like peeling potatoes with their teeth--and we don't blame them a bit.

35. Kraft Fight Hunger. Comedian Patton Oswalt once called a certain famous KFC product a "failure pile in a sadness bowl." Capitalize that B, and we can't think of a better way to describe 2011 Illinois "battling" 2011 UCLA.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. View a preview. Like us? Tell our Facebook page.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 6:55 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 7:10 pm
 

Roundtable: Changes to the bowl schedule

Posted by Eye On College Football 


Occasionally the Eye on CFB team gathers, Voltron-style, to answer a pressing question from the world of college football. Today's question is:

What changes, if any, would you make to the current bowl schedule and/or bowl eligibility requirements?


Bryan Fischer: Any time you have a team like UCLA playing in a game at 6-7, I think it underscores that there needs to be a new rule that you not only be 6-6, but 7-5 at the very minimum. I get that the bowl games are a treat for the players but shouldn't we be rewarding winners and not the mediocre? The entire bowl system seems to have turned into the college football equivalent of a participation trophy. This, of course, ties-in with the line of reasoning that there are too many bowl games. At some point we'll get to the point where there's a good number of games for good teams but right now the excess causes mediocrity. For every crazy New Orleans Bowl finish we get, there's just as many Beef O'Brady Bowl duds it seems.

Tom Fornelli: I tend to agree with Bryan in that I'm not a big fan of 6-6 teams being rewarded for mediocrity, and I usually fall in line with the "there are too many bowl games" crowd, but then a funny thing happens every year. The games start, and they feature a couple of 6-6 teams, and I love them.

Yeah, there are some duds, but there are plenty of duds every Saturday during the regular season. So I think my personal criticisms from the current bowl system come from the fact that I'd like to see some type of playoff. A plus-one being the minimum of what I'd like to see.  So while I get extremely annoyed when I see that 6-6 Florida is playing 6-6 Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, I'm sorry, the TAXSLAYER.COM (bangs head, SIGN OF THE BEAST!!!) Gator Bowl, I'll probably still watch the game. I'm just a college football junkie, there's no way around it.

Jerry Hinnen: There's an easier fix for getting the UCLA-like riffraff out of the postseason than scuttling existing bowls: re-institute the discarded NCAA mandate that bowls must take teams with winning records ahead of teams with .500 (or sub-.500, in the Bruins' case) marks. "Too many bowls" is going to be a hard sell for the folks at places like Temple -- who unfairly sat at home after going 8-4 in Al Golden's final season last year -- or Western Kentucky, who should have gotten their first-ever FBS bowl bid after 2011's second-place Sun Belt finish and 7-5 record.

Cases like Temple's and WKU's are why, personally speaking, I'm fine-n'-dandy with the Participation Trophy Bowl circuit; not every game is going to be riveting theater (and matchups like UCLA-Illinois or Louisville-N.C. State promise to be quite the opposite), but it's not like anyone's required to watch. Should the seniors on that UL-Lafayette team we saw celebrating like they'd collectively won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes Saturday night have been denied that once-in-not-even-most-people's-lifetimes experience just because a few college football diehards don't want to risk being bored?

Is the long-since-antiquated notion that bowl berths are for no one but mid-major champions and the top handful of major-conference programs worth brilliant Hilltoppers' running back Bobby Rainey ending his career without a bowl appearance? Not if you ask me--if the players want to play them, the the local organizers want to host them, it's not my place (or any fan's) to say they shouldn't. The number of bowls is fine; the way the teams are selected could just use a little pro-winning-record tweaking. Besides, give it another month and there won't be any college football at all. I'll take whatever I can get at this stage, Belk Bowl included.

(That said, it would be outstanding if the NCAA also prohibited the exorbitant ticket guarantees that have turned bowl trips into a financial sinkhole for so many smaller schools, but that's a separate issue from the scheduling/eligibility question.)

Chip Patterson: I too would like to see limping 6-6 BCS conference team taken out of the bowl equation, particularly when there are dangerous Non-BCS teams that have been left out of postseason play in recent years. One way could be to change the requirements to 7-5, but this season I thought of another wrinkle.

Instead of changing the bowl eligibility record/win total, add a stipulation that requires a team to finish .500 or better in league play. Many times, the 6-6 team that fails to show up for a bowl game has struggled down the stretch and enters the postseason with little-to-no momentum. If schools are going to benefit from conference tie-ins, make them perform in conference play to earn that right. A 6-6 team with a 3-5 conference record likely is not playing their best football at the end of the season, and might be a part of one of the dud bowl games we have seen recently.

I would also prefer to move the "gutter" bowl games back before the BCS and traditional New Years Day games. That stretch of bowls leading up to the National Championship Game is one of the places where we find unattractive matchups and lose college football excitement after the blitz of New Years Day. If those games were moved back before the New Year and the title game was pushed back to Jan 4-5, it would arguably be a better spot for college football to capitalize on the nation's interest. Not only does the average fan have to wait, but they have to be teased with games that would be better consumed in pieces during a Dec. 28 doubleheader.

Adam Jacobi: It's important to keep in mind that most of these lowest-tier bowls are media-owned entities, which were created and staged every year because from a media perspective, live televised FBS college football is more lucrative than anything else that could be aired in the middle of a December week. As such, if you want to get rid of these bowls, you had better come up with something that produces higher ratings for that network instead, otherwise, no amount of hand-wringing about the quality of the teams playing in bowls is going to result in any meaningful change. This is not a scandal or anything that should not be, mind you, because it does not negatively affect fairness of play or anything else of vital importance. It's merely the entity that stands to gain most from lowest-tier bowls being played, making sure that the lowest-tier bowls get played by owning and organizing them. That's just good business.

Moreover, if by some chance these lowest-tier bowls happen to disappear, as much as we're tired of seeing a 6-6 (3-5) BCS-conference team get into the postseason, let's not pretend that that team's going to be the first against the wall. It's going to be the also-rans of the MAC, WAC, C-USA, and every other non-AQ conference, because 90% of the time, those non-AQ schools draw lower ratings than their BCS-level counterparts. The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl between UCLA and Illinois is going to suck, but if we're being honest about what bowl organizers really want out of a team that they invite, UCLA and Illinois are going to keep getting bowl invitations over even 8-win teams like Tulsa, Toledo, or Louisiana Tech.

So if you're asking me what I would change about the bowl system, I wouldn't possibly know where or how to begin. The bowl system is a product of media desires and inequality in FBS football, so if you want the bowl system to be any different, you'd better figure out a way to fix either the media landscape or the college football landscape first, and well... good luck with that.

Tom Fornelli: What if we replace the mid-week December games with gladiator like competitions? In which players from each school battle each other to the death. The loser, obviously, dies and frees up a scholarship for the school. The winner gets extra credit in any class of his choosing!

WHO WOULDN'T WATCH?

Adam Jacobi: Well, that would certainly be heartbreaking for everyone involved.

I wouldn't mind it if the sponsors (or bowl organizers or the stadium) had a little bit of leeway in ground rules for these games. These are silly games anyway (unless I'm supposed to take something called the Beef O'Brady's Bowl completely seriously all of a sudden), so why shouldn't the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl be played with literally a giant potato for a football? Field goals in the Holiday Bowl worth 4 points if they're from more than 45 yards out? Fine by me! Special uniforms in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl designed to look like boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese? OF COURSE we should be doing that.

So yeah, as long as we're going to have ultimately trivial exhibitions end the seasons of so many teams, we might as well make said trivial exhibitions unique in ways that go beyond mere branding.

Tom Fornelli: These ideas have my full support.  Can you imagine how much better the Orange Bowl would be if they were using an orange instead of a football?

Chip Patterson: Did they change tires on car at half time of the Meineke Car Care Bowl? If not they should.  Same goes for the Belk Bowl. I think instead of a coin toss there should be a Dockers shopping spree to determine who gets the ball first.

Adam Jacobi: And if Hooters got involved, there would be... lots of wings available for attending fans to eat. And that is all.

To chime in on the bowl schedule debate, or offer your own changes; "Like" us on Facebook and let us know what you think.

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 18, 2011 1:16 am
Edited on: December 18, 2011 1:17 am
 

QUICK HITS: La. Lafayette 32 San Diego State 30

Posted by Tom Fornelli

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. Wow, what a great way to end the first day of bowl season. After the Ragin' Cajuns jumped out to a 19-3 lead early in the third quarter, this game was looking as though it wouldn't provide much drama, but I guess it just wanted to wait as long as possible. San Diego State battled back in the fourth quarter and finally took the lead with 35 seconds left on a touchdown pass from Ryan Lindley to Colin Lockett.

Louisiana-Lafayette then got the ball back down 30-29 with no timeouts, but it didn't matter. The Cajuns marched down the field to set up a 50-yard field goal attempt, and Brett Baer picked a great time to kick the longest field goal of his life, sending Louisiana-Lafayette to a win.

WHY LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. Well, you could say that the Cajuns won this game because they had the ball last, and while it would be partly true, it wouldn't be entirely fair either. You see, while San Diego State played strong in the second half, for the first 30 minutes of this game the Aztecs were a lethargic bunch. Whether it was because they didn't want to be there or was just another typical first half -- the Aztecs won 5 games this season in which they trailed during the first half -- for San Diego State, I'm not sure. But if the Aztecs played the first 30 minutes like they played the last 30, well, Louisiana-Lafayette may have never been in position to win this game.

WHEN LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. As Brett Baer's 50-yard field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired.

WHAT LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WON. When you haven't been to a bowl game in 41 years, and you start the season widely considered to be one of, if not the worst team on the FBS level, you're going to want to win your bowl game. That was evident in the way the Cajuns played on Saturday night, and their effort resulted in the school's first ever bowl victory. A pretty nice thing to be a part of if you're a Ragin' Cajun.

WHAT SAN DIEGO STATE LOST. A chance to win its second consecutive bowl game, even after Brady Hoke left for Michigan. Still, an 8-5 season is nothing to be ashamed of for the Aztecs, so while the loss stings, I don't think it hurts too much.

THAT WAS CRAZY. This is Louisiana-Lafayette's strength coach. That's a bleeding wound on his head he suffered after apparently head-butting one of his own players. No, he felt no need to wipe the blood off. In fact, it was still there, all dried and caked on his face, in the fourth quarter.



GRADE: A. When it comes to these early bowl games featuring teams you're not used to watching on a regular basis, you can only ask for one thing: a close, entertaining game. And this one provided everything you wanted, including the lead changing hands twice in the final 35 seconds. What more could you want?
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:22 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:25 pm
 

New Orleans Bowl Key Matchup



Posted by Tom Fornelli


A look at the key matchup that could decide the New Orleans Bowl

Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State vs. Lance Kelley, LB, Louisiana-Lafayette

This should be the biggest matchup in this game, as Hillman is one of the nation's leading rushers, finishing third in the country with 1,656 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Hillman also picked up another 221 yards on 20 receptions during the season, as he is the key component of the San Diego State offense which finished 28th in the country in rushing yards. Then there's the Louisiana-Lafayette defense which allowed 3.8 yards per carry and 144.5 yards rushing per game this season. More importantly, the Cajuns allowed 25 touchdowns on the ground this season.

So you can expect the Aztecs to try and take advantage of that, which means the matchup between Hillman and linebacker Lance Kelley will be huge in this game. Obviously, Kelley has ten teammates on defense who will have to help out, but he was the team's leading tackler in 2011 with 107 tackles. Nearly 30 more than his closest teammate.

How successful Kelley is in stopping Hillman, or at the very least keeping him in check, will go a long way in determining which way this game goes. If Hillman has a typical day of 138 yards and a touchdown or two, then San Diego State is going to win. If Kelley can slow him down and force San Diego State's offense into being more one-dimensional, then the Cajuns' chances only improve.

You can check out our extensive New Orleans Bowl Pregame preview here
Posted on: December 12, 2011 3:32 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 3:35 pm
 

Bowl Game Picks: Who Do You Like?

Posted by Chip Patterson

Every week the CBSSports.com college football staff offers our picks straight up and against the spread in the Expert Picks. But we aren't the only ones who get to offer our opinions on the outcome of the weekend's best games. In our weekly "Who Do You Like" Picks, we give you - the readers - a chance to weigh in on how you think the upcoming slate of games will play out.

After getitng your opinion on the BCS bowls last week, we move our attention to some of the high-profile non-BCS bowls in the weeks ahead.  Let us know how you think these cross-conference showdowns will play out in the days leading up to the National Championship Game.       

You can see the results of the voting every Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on Inside College Football, airing on the CBS Sports Network.



Come debate your picks for the week with other college football fans at the new Eye On College Football Facebook page. 

Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: December 12, 2011 1:22 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Keys to the Game: New Orleans Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

SAN DIEGO STATE WILL WIN IF: The Aztecs are appearing in back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1966-67 seasons, and they'd like to make it two consecutive bowl victories as well. To do this the Aztecs should look to exploit a Louisiana-Lafayette defense that isn't exactly top-notch. The Cajuns allowed nearly 30 points a game this season, and allowed 25 rushing touchdowns. Which means that Ronnie Hillman should find some space to run for San Diego State. Not that Ryan Lindley won't have chances of his own, as the Cajuns allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete over 63% of their passes for an average of 7 yards a pop on defense. As for San Diego State's defense, the biggest test will be slowing Blaine Gautier. The majority of the damage the Cajuns do on offense is threw the air, so getting pressure on Gautier to disrupt his rhythmn will make life a lot easier.

LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE WILL WIN IF: The biggest challenge for the Cajuns in this one will be the fact that they're strength (passing offense) is going against a strength of San Diego State (passing defense). Blaine Gautier finished the season with 2,488 yards and 20 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions, but the San Diego State defense is in the top 50 nationally and second in the Mountain West in defensive pass efficiency. While the Aztecs gave up 15 touchdowns through the air this season, they also picked off 14 passes. The Aztecs also led the MWC with 28 sacks this season. Which means the Cajuns would be helped quite a bit if freshman running back Alonzo Harris can find some success on the ground and not let the Aztecs defense key on the passing game.

X-FACTOR: Ronnie Hillman. Though he's only a sophomore, Hillman managed to finish the 2011 regular season third nationally with 1,656 rushing touchdowns, and he was also sixth in touchdowns with 19. He is the key component of the San Diego State offense, and unless a Cajuns defense that's allowing 144.5 yards per game on the ground can figure out a way to stop him, then this game may not be all that close.
Posted on: December 6, 2011 3:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Big East additions: what do they bring?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Big East will go a long way towards remaining a solvent football league this week when, as reported by CBSSports.com's Brett McMurphythey announce the additions of Boise State, San Diego State, Houston, UCF and SMU.

The additions will bring the conference's total number of football-playing members to 10, with Nos. 11 and 12 possibly soon to follow. But just as importantly, the expansion also gives the league a bona fide headliner--Boise brings their impeccable record at the non-AQ level, national recognition, and their attention-grabbing status as the No. 1 lightning rod for the FBS's ongoing haves-vs.-have-nots discussion.

But what do we know about the other four teams joining up? What do they bring to the table? What issues might they have to deal with? We've broken it down team-by-team:

HOUSTON

PROS: The Cougars are riding a Case Keenum-led high, having won 22 games in their star QB's last two healthy seasons, including the program's first bowl win since 1980 in 2009. But Houston has plenty going for it off the field, too; their location smack dab in the middle of one of the country's largest television markets (this is going to be a repeating theme) and most fertile recruiting grounds should pay the Big East dividends both in their TV negotiations and on the recruiting trail. If the Cougars themselves can capitalize on their new BCS status on the trails in Houston and nearby Louisiana, they could be a power for years to come.

CONS: What happens when Keenum and head coach Kevin Sumlin --as seems increasingly likely -- both depart for greener pastures? This is still a program that, as mentioned, has just one bowl win in the past 31 years and was in truly sorry shape when Art Briles (with Sumlin in tow) arrived in 2003. The wrong hire in the wake of Sumlin's exit could return the Cougars to their doormat days in a hurry. And as nice as the Houston market is, the Cougars still need to make more inroads into it; fulfilling a promise to expand or replace 32,000-seat Robertson Stadium would be a plus.

SMU

PROS: As with the Cougars, Dallas-based SMU has the advantage of being located in one of the nation's biggest metro markets, a major plus for the television bean counters. But the Mustangs also have an administration that hasn't been shy about throwing its financial support behind its formerly woebegone program, and that's not a "Pony Express" joke; the school opened Gerald J. Ford Stadium just 11 years ago and four seasons back ponied up the cash (that pun's intended) to lure June Jones from Hawaii. Result: three straight bowl bids after a 25-year drought, some of the best recruiting classes in Conference USA, and noticeably increased fan interest and attendance.

CONS: If the Mustangs can hang onto Jones, or replace him with another smart (and duly expensive) hire, they have more than enough potential to be a respectable member of the Big East for some time to come. (The league's higher-ups have to appreciate that the Mustangs defeated Big East deserters TCU this past season.) But the Dallas market and surrounding recruiting grounds are so ultra-competitive, turning SMU's resources and location into a legitimate BCS contender may take quite a few years and even more support from the SMU fanbase, which was called out by an SMU player this season for its lack of enthusiasm.

UCF

PROS: If there's any school that's put its money where its mouth is when it comes to supporting athletics, it's UCF, which opened the $55 million, 45,00-seat on-campus Bright House Networks Stadium four years ago amongst multiple other major facilities upgrades. Though a 5-7 2011 season has been a major disappointment for George O'Leary's program, this is still a team that's won two C-USA titles and earned three bowl bids in the past five years. As the second-largest school in the country in terms of enrollment and the only major college football program in the sizable Orlando market, a move to the Big East and a few years of consistent winning could give the Knights the push on the recruiting trail needed to become a legit BCS contender.

CONS: Of course, that's all assuming the NCAA Committee on Infractions doesn't give the program the USC treatment in the wake of the recent allegations against exiled athletic director Keith TribbleThough the Orlando market is an obvious TV positive, the Knight's central Florida location is both a blessing and a curse; while there's plenty of athletes available around which O'Leary (or his successor) can build a successful program, there's also few (if any) areas of the country where the competition for those athletes is more cutthroat. A few NCAA-hamstrung poor seasons could deal the program a blow that could take it years to recover from.

SAN DIEGO STATE

PROS: Long regarded as the "sleeping giant" of the Mountain West, the Aztecs finally went some way towards waking up with a 9-4 2010 season and just their second bowl berth in 19 years--a campaign that resulted in an attendance surge that ranked amongst the nation's best. Despite the loss of head coach Brady Hoke and multiple NFL talents, an 8-4 year and New Orleans Bowl berth wasn't a bad follow-up. Thanks to their access to California's bountiful recruiting grounds and the TV-friendly San Diego market, another good year or two for Rocky Long should lay the foundation for success for years to come.

CONS: As much potential as SDSU has on paper, this is still a program with just four bowl appearances and one win since 1969; just because it looks like it should be easy to win here doesn't mean it is. More than any of the other addditions save Boise, SDSU will add a sizable chunk to opponent's travel bills. And Long, already 61 years old, may not be the long-term answer at head coach; if he's not, will the Aztec brass be shrewd enough (or spend enough) to find another Hoke?

Posted on: November 21, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 12:46 pm
 

Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette going bowling

Posted by Chip Patterson

Louisiana-Lafayette is expected to announce an invitation to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in a pep rally on Monday, according local reports.

University officials announced a "bowl invitation pep rally" for Monday, where the school is expected to announce the acceptance to participate in one of the Sun Belt Conference's two bowl games. The game, played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Dec. 17, will be the first bowl game for Louisiana-Lafayette since 1970. It is also the first time in the 11-year history of the New Orleans Bowl that a team from Louisiana will be participating.

The Ragin Cajuns (8-3) were off in Week 12, but likely figured out their destination after Sun Belt Conference champion Arkansas State accepted an invitation to the GoDaddy.com Bowl - the only other bowl guaranteed to the Sun Belt. The Red Wolves locked up the conference after a 45-19 road victory over Middle Tennessee on Saturday.

"Arkansas State is 9-2 with the potential of being 10-2 and having a real good record when they arrive in Mobile for the game," GoDaddy.com president Jerry Silverstein told the Mobile Press-Register. "Not being in a bowl game in a while, being in a game the night before the (BCS) national championship game, it gives their fans a chance to come to town for a good weekend."

Arkansas State will face the to-be-determined MAC champion in Mobile, while Louisiana-Lafayette is slated to face a team from Conference USA. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm actually has Syracuse slotted for the New Orleans Bowl, in the event that Conference USA will not be able to fill all their bids with bowl eligible teams.

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