There are roughly a quarter of a million bowl games this bowl season, and you can't be expected to know the names of all the bowls, who's playing, and why you should watch. Fortunately, I have nothing better to do (at least until I find a shiny object distraction) and am here to give you all the general bowl game information you'll need to identify the names and teams, plus a reason to watch and what each bowl game could do to spruce up the place.
(When I set out to write this, I knew it was going to take a long time, and not that you do or should care, but HOLY CRAP did this take forever. Gutenberg could have printed Bibles for all of Europe in the time it took me to do this.)
Gildan New Mexico Bowl
Temple (8-4) vs Wyoming (8-4)
Why you should watch: Besides being the first game in the final month of college football for this season, you can see with your own eyes the ugliest uniforms in college football when Wyoming takes the field in their best brown/yellow/mustard vomit wear. Also, you can confirm that Steve Addazio, yes, THE Steve Addazio, is an employed college head coach, and won eight games at Temple, which seems impossible.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Force the bowl director, or whoever gives the winning team the trophy, to call himself Gil Dan Jellymittens during the trophy presentation.
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Ohio (9-4) vs Utah State (7-5)
Why you should watch: To catch a glimpse of Utah State head coach Gary Andersen's tattoo he got after making a bet with his team in which he said he would get tatted up if they made a bowl game. Sadly though, it's only a tattoo of the Utah State logo and a bowl message, and not an Aggie dragon eating the heads of the mascots of the seven teams Utah State beat.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Encourage all fans to build potato guns and bring them to the game so that they may shoot them at fans of the opposing team. Hairspray for launching fuel and potatoes for ammo should be provided to all fans as well.
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
San Diego State (8-4) vs Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4)
Why you should watch: An 8 PM kickoff in New Orleans greatly increases the chances the announcers have been doing some boozing, EVERYONE in the crowd is boozing, and someone runs out on the field. And most likely the security people have been in the drink and won't really care about the field runner, but just wait until the runner's lack of exercise takes over and has them fall to their knees wheezing for air.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Give potato guns to those who have been swilling hand grenades all day.
Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg
Florida International (8-4) vs Marshall (6-6)
Why you should watch: Do you really want to miss the commercial in which The Dubliner is prominently featured? 920 calories and 52 grams of fatty fatty GOODNESS.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: A game within the game: Both teams eat pregame meal 45 minutes before kickoff at Beef 'O' Brady's, and the team with the first player to throw up loses a possession.
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
TCU (10-2) vs Louisiana Tech (8-4)
Why you should watch: If you're in North America on December 21st, odds are the weather is less than ideal wherever you are. Watching this game in the perfect conditions of San Diego will make you question why you have chosen to live in a place where the temperature gets below 60 degrees, thus potentially leading to a life improvement.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Bring Houston Nutt into the booth to discuss just how bad of a coach you have to be to lose to Louisiana Tech at home by 20 points.
MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
Arizona State (6-6) vs Boise State (11-1)
Why you should watch: Wait, what? Boise is in the Las Vegas Bowl? SUCKS TO BE YOU. Also, it's Dennis Erickson's final game as the head coach of Arizona State. You may recall that Erickson was the first choice of Robert Khayat and Pete Boone to replace David Cutcliffe before Ed Orgeron showed up with a PowerPoint presentation that wowed and dazzled the mind. IT REALLY SUCKS TO BE AN OLE MISS FAN.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Slot machines determine every play call.
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl
Nevada (7-5) vs Southern Mississippi (11-2)
Why you should watch: Whatever I said about San Diego times a hundred. It should be noted that Southern ruined Houston's perfect season and cost its conference a big chunk of BCS cash money, yet will spend Christmas in Hawaii rather than New Year's in Memphis, where it will be soul-numbingly cold. C-USA leadership, seriously, get it together.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Increase the debris on the field by at least 450% so we can find out what it would be like if a game was ever played at a landfill.
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Missouri (7-5) vs North Carolina (7-5)
Why you should watch: Will Missouri fans start the S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C! chant if they win? Ha, of course not. That would mean Missouri fans actually went to this game.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: I've said this before, but I'm gonna keep saying it until it actually happens (note: it will never happen unless I'm put in charge of everything). One team should represent Shreveport, the other Bossier City, and whichever team wins, the area is called the Shreveport/Bossier City or the Bossier City/Shreveport metroplex for the next year. This all stems from an angry gas station attendant who once told a friend that he was not in Shreveport, but that "this is Bossier City!" Noted.
Little Caesars Bowl
Western Michigan (7-5) vs Purdue (6-6)
Why you should watch: Though the game may cause you to wish blindness upon yourself, it will at least inspire you to get a $5 Hot-n-Ready pizza which you will eat in one sitting because, not surprisingly, $5 pizzas don't keep very well.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: With Detroit and Purdue in the same night? IMPOSSIBLE.
Louisville (7-5) vs North Carolina State (7-5)
Why you should watch: You might get to see one of the great moments of pure joy happen again:
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Have a "Tom O'Brien heart beats per minute" graphic on the screen throughout the game. If it gets above 41, $15 Belk gift certificates for everyone.
Toledo (8-4) vs Air Force (7-5)
Why you should watch: Who doesn't need a little flexbone in their life in the middle of Wednesday afternoon? Sorry, Toledo, I have no idea what you do. But, I found this to be an enjoyable read about a fairly simple concept to come out of the flexbone and how it could be added to other offenses.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Fighter jet flyovers after every change of possession.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
California (7-5) vs Texas (7-5)
Why you should watch: So you can wonder aloud just how in the hell Texas, with literally every resource imaginable at its fingertips, is 7-5 and in the Holiday Bowl (and very lucky to even be there).
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: A bet between the schools in which California will take control of programming for The Longhorn Network for three months if it wins, and Texas will see to it that no vegetarian meals are available in Berkeley for three months if it wins.
Champ Sports Bowl
Florida State (8-4) vs Notre Dame (8-4)
Why you should watch: When the Irish do something dumb, and they will do something dumb, you will have the opportunity to see Brian Kelly's face turn a shade of purple that you previously did not know existed in the color spectrum. There's also a good chance one of his eyeballs will pop out, which is fun for the whole family.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Build a time machine and travel back to the early '90s when this game would have meant something.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Washington (7-5) vs Baylor (9-3)
Why you should watch: Robert Griffin III playing against a Washington defense that ranks 99th in scoring defense and 94th in passing defense. I want ALL THE STATS for this game.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Instead of the ESPN announcing crew, have Paul Finebaum do his radio show from the broadcast booth. "PAAAAAAWWWWLLLLLL, ain't no way R2D2 or whoever he is could play in the SEC. Also, I-man, I'm a gonna whoop your ass, boy. ROOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLL TAAAAAHHHHHHHHDDDDDD!!!"
/ruptures spleen at the idea of all of this happening
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl
BYU (9-3) vs Tulsa (8-4)
Why you should watch: Tulsa'a losses on the season came against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State, and Houston. Combined record: 43-6. Granted, they were blown out in all of those games, but Tulsa may very well be a pretty good team. They're fun to watch on offense and use defense as a time to get their offense some rest. I saw BYU play two or three times this year and they are none of the things I just mentioned, which means the Tulsa offense could dominate and destroy.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Nic Cage's Top Gun for helicopters, or more commonly known as the great Firebirds, airs on the jumbotron throughout the game.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Rutgers (8-4) vs Iowa State (6-6)
Why you should watch: If you're not working that Friday, it will be the perfect accompaniment to a two-hour post-lunch nap.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: The Yankees take batting practice while the game is being played, putting everyone on full alert, while offering the chance that some Yankees get injured.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Mississippi State (6-6) vs Wake Forest (6-6)
Why you should watch: It's tough because there's no championship at stake, other than the worthless Music City Bowl championship (someone be sure to let Wake Forest know this), but there is some enjoyment out of watching two teams slap at each other to avoid going to a bowl and finishing the season with a losing record.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Snow, ice, and record-breaking low temperatures. And lots and lots of snow and ice with a 25-mph wind.
Iowa (7-5) vs Oklahoma (9-3)
Why you should watch: Since it's not a big/BCS game, Oklahoma should put on a show on offense.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: A pre-taped segment in which Landry Jones is placed on a beach, told that he's playing against Oklahoma State, and must throw the ball into the ocean once of out 15 times to win $25,000. 2:1 odds says he can't do it.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Texas A&M (6-6) vs Northwestern (6-6)
Why you should watch: Well, now that Mike Sherman is not there to lead A&M aimlessly, then fall into a fourth quarter disaster, I'm not sure there really is any reason to watch. Dammit, Mike, you couldn't beat Texas and give everyone else in the SEC what they wanted, which was one year of you in the SEC.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Mike Sherman is allowed to coach both teams, setting an NCAA record for most overtimes with fewest amount of points scored.
Hyundai Sun Bowl
Georgia Tech (8-4) vs Utah (7-5)
Why you should watch: Paul Johnson's glares of hate-disgust have always had a place to rest in my heart. I encourage you to invite them into yours.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Demolition derby with a fleet of Hyundais. Though, I'm not sure a Hyundai can do damage to another Hyundai, so it might take a long time to declare a winner. But, hey, this is El Paso, I think they've got some time.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Illinois (6-6) vs UCLA (6-7)
Why you should watch: I made no attempt to research this, but, after the firing of Rick Neuheisel and Ron Zook, this could be the first game in which interim coaches lead both teams. Now, if only both teams had a handful of interim players, things might be a little more interesting.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Zook is given the keys to UCLA and Neuheisel calls the shots for Illinois. Also, Neuheisel plays an acoustic set during halftime, and Zook performs a series of water skiing stunts in which rings of fire are featured. File that under NEVER ERASE on your DVR.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Cincinnati (9-3) vs Vanderbilt (6-6)
Why you should watch: To see if the field (I'm talking about the actual turf) physically smiles when it realizes that the Memphis Tigers are not bumbling and farting their way through another game on the Liberty Bowl surface.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: When I was in my senior year at Ole Miss, we had a recruiter or an HR person from AutoZone come and talk to one of our classes about the joys of working for AutoZone, whose, for the uninformed, corporate headquarters are in Memphis.
It seemed like a decent enough place until he mentioned that in your first year of employment there, you would get ZERO vacation days, and after year one, you would get five. Right after that, I remember telling my brain to disengage all forms of attention being paid. This has nothing to do with the bowl game, but should serve as a pointer for future AutoZone recruiters to stop talking after they mention the vacation thing because no one is listening anymore.
Virginia (8-4) vs Auburn (7-5)
Why you should watch: Because Chick-fil-A is so incredibly delicious and awesome at everything they do, we owe them for providing us with said deliciousness and awesomeness. If it were up to me, I'd put Truett Cathy's face on Mount Rushmore.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Offer viewers a chance to win chicken biscuits, even if it's a microscopic chance of winning. People would be crowded around the television like the president is addressing the nation to tell us we're invading a country.
Houston (12-1) vs Penn State (9-3)
Why you should watch: If Houston shows up, which is probably pretty iffy now that they're without their coach and are in the TicketCity Bowl instead of a BCS game, it would be a great test of an Airraid-ish offense against one of the better defenses in college football. Penn State ranks fifth in scoring defense, fifth in pass defense, and 10th in total defense, while Houston ranks first in scoring, passing, and total offense.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Ticket "handling/processing fees" are crucified and burned at halftime.
TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl
Ohio State (6-6) vs Florida (6-6)
Why you should watch: Who can pass up the chance to see if Will Muschamp's carotid artery explodes through his neck? And you know the TaxSlayer.com commercials are just going to be the best, with a production value of 1/1,000 X 1089 of the Pitbull Dr. Pepper commercial, but eleventy to the eleventy gazillionth power times more entertaining. Slay ALL THE TAXES.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Medieval Times-like fights at halftime between the knights of TaxSlayer. Or, just Slayer playing at halftime because, remember:
Michigan State (10-3) vs Georgia (10-3)
Why you should watch: Just to remind yourself that Mark Richt will be at Georgia at least another year, which is another year Georgia won't become the LSU or Alabama of the SEC East. New Year's toasts and congratulations to everyone!
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: At halftime, Todd Grantham tries to eat all of the shrimp from one of the local Outback restaurants.
Capital One Bowl
Nebraska (9-3) vs South Carolina (10-2)
Why you should watch: If only South Carolina's offense was a well-oiled machine of points and yards, because the thought of Steve Spurrier toying with Bo Pelini by throwin' it around a little bit and running up the score, which would result in Pelini rage-stomping on the sideline and rage-smacking his gum, has me cackling with delight. It could still happen, but we've all seen Connor Shaw play this season.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Smallpox is introduced to the Vikings of the Capitol One commercials, thus ending their reign of highly annoying, on-all-the-time during December spots.
Wisconsin (11-2) vs Oregon (11-2)
Why you should watch: I'm interested to see if Wisconsin becomes the fourth straight team (Boise State, Auburn, and LSU) that has over a month to get ready for Oregon's speed-up offense and keeps the Ducks under control. During the season, it's impossible to get your defense in the kind of shape they need to be in to run with Oregon's offense for four quarters, especially if you're not getting much help from your offense.
That's why you see so many teams play with Oregon for a half, then collapse in the third quarter under the weight of Oregon's superior physical conditioning on offense. Wisconsin is big enough on offense that they'll be able to push Oregon around, giving their defense extended rest, but they still have to deal with Oregon's speed, both of the players and pace, on offense.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Already qualifies as appointment TV, but I'd still like to have Musburger tell us at the top of the broadcast which team he has on the moneyline, against the spread, any over/unders, and all prop bets.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Stanford (11-1) vs Oklahoma State (11-1)
Why you should watch: (SMASHING OF CHUNKS OF METAL TOGETHER) (LOUD VOICE CRIES: "CONTRAST OF STYLES") (EXPLOSIONS EVERYWHERE)
Stanford's defense won't be able to handle the speed of Oklahoma State's players, nor the fast pace of the Cowboy offense. Oklahoma State's defense won't be able to handle Stanford slamming away into them, nor the way the run will set up the pass for Stanford. And, as we've seen this year, unless Oklahoma State's defense is creating a turnover, they're not stopping anyone. SOMETHING WILL HAVE TO GIVE (MORE EXPLOSIONS).
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Already qualifies.
Allstate Sugar Bowl
Michigan (10-2) vs Virginia Tech (11-2)
Why you should watch: If Denard Robinson goes into vidya game mode and you miss it, you will want to kick yourself in the eye socket.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Not have invited a team that lost twice to the same team by the combined score of 61-13, and played a non-conference schedule that everyone should always schedule if they want to go to BCS games (Appalachian State, East Carolina, Arkansas State, and Marshall).
Discover Orange Bowl
West Virginia (9-3) vs Clemson (10-3)
Why you should watch: You should always watch any game in which Dana Holgorsen is involved, but you certainly don't want to miss a primetime Clemsoning by Clemson.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Already qualifies, but if someone were to write a song called "Holgo and Dabo" set to the tune of the "Dukes of Hazzard" theme, that would be pretty sweet as well.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Kansas State (10-2) vs Arkansas (10-2)
Why you should watch: Bill Snyder strikes me as the person who will be least impressed by the bells and whistles of Jerrah Jones World. I would love to see video of Snyder walk out on the field for the Wildcats' first practice or walk-through, glance at the jumbotron that's the size of a nuclear submarine, look back out at the field, adjust his jacket, and gently cough. In contrast, Bobby Petrino has a PowerPoint presentation at the ready to show Jerry Jones how he can put a stop to the Cowboys' bed-shitting ways.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Houston Nutt gives the pregame prayer and mentions Ole Miss' back-to-back Cotton Bowls for the first time in 50 years at least seven times during his 45-second invocation.
BBVA Compass Bowl
SMU (7-5) vs Pittsburgh (6-6)
Why you should watch: To laugh at all the poor bastards who are at this game.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Publicly unveil former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's plan to lure the 2020 Summer Olympics to the Magic City. Langford could even walk everyone through the bid via satellite from his jail cell in Kentucky.
Arkansas State (10-2) vs Northern Illinois (10-3)
Why you should watch: Whenever the Sun Belt and the MAC get together, THERE WILL BE BLOOD*.
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Arkansas State announces before the game that Houston Nutt will be named its next head coach and will be interviewed at halftime.
*No idea if this is true
Allstate BCS National Championship
Alabama (11-1) vs LSU (13-0)
Why you should watch: If you pay close attention, you'll be able to come away with a pretty good evaluation of both teams' kickers and punters, which is interesting never. But, you'll also get to see how the season ends, Les Miles, and hoards of very drunk fans who have spent the previous three or four days working themselves into a frenzy for this game (I'm willing to bet there will be more LSU and Alabama fans on Bourbon Street in the days before the Michigan/Virginia Tech game than fans of those schools).
Way the bowl game could make itself appointment television: Of course it already qualifies, but if we could get one more classic Les Miles clock disaster to remember the more chaotic times, I might shed tears of joy.
If you read all of this, give yourself $20 and a gold star for lack of productivity.