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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Let’s Go Bowling.

Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl - Michigan v Florida Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Here we are, in the final weeks of the college football season. So much time spent for its arrival and it’s gone faster than a Michigan State player can spell disrespect correctly.

Michigan’s season will be viewed by many as a disappointment purely on the grounds of missing out on the playoff. But I offer up an alternate view: never forget where this program was two years ago. It’s a gargantuan first-world problem to be playing in only the Orange Bowl, against one of the sport’s other perennial powers.

Jim Harbaugh has reclaimed a recruiting foothold on home turf, shown that he can develop talent at quarterback and elsewhere, and isn’t beholden to jive turkeys. Depending on which sports talking head you listen to, he’s either never leaving Michigan until the end of time, or already on his way to coach the LA Rams.

Nevertheless, preparation for Florida State has gone forward unabated, and Michigan can have a second consecutive 10-win season with a victory.

Seasons can be viewed through homer goggles, but a program isn’t built in a day or with one golden recruiting class. Deep down, the rest of college football knows Michigan is coming for them. Harbaugh would say it’s just the next phase that consists of taking any lingering frustration or disappointment out on the poor Seminoles.

The season is still successful. The Wolverines were in the playoff discussion until the final weekend of the regular season. Had a few things fallen their way, they’re staring mighty Alabama in the face on New Year’s Eve. Remember how Michigan beat three top ten teams this season? Raise your hand if you saw that coming. And only two teams can say they’re spending part of the holiday season on South Beach and playing in the Orange Bowl.

Bowl season is a mash-up of exotic locations, unusual matchups, half-empty stadiums, and SWAG. My kingdom for an inflatable “big lazy” couch or the mysterious “gift suite.” There have already been a few interesting ones. Around 20 people watched Tulsa and Central Michigan play in the Miami Beach Bowl. Grambling won on a blocked PAT in the final seconds of the game.

It only gets better from here.

Tonight, Brigham Young and Wyoming go at it with two of the top running backs in the country. Eastern Michigan (!) plays Friday afternoon in the Bahamas, cementing their status in the Everyone But Michigan State In the State of Michigan Made a Bowl Game Club. Well done, Eagles!

Friday night there’s a battle of Ohio mid-majors, as Troy and Ohio clash to see which team will continue to be Ohio State’s cupcake of choice for future non-conference scheduling.

Next week in the lead-up to the premiere bowls, some fun weeknight entertainment. Mike Leach’s Washington State team gets a crack at a Minnesota team that almost chose to bail on the game. Leach was ready to just hold a four-hour press conference in place of the game where he could wax poetic about the Boer War or the best kind of sushi.

Indiana finally dumped Kevin Wilson and takes an interim coach into a buzzsaw in the form of Utah next Wednesday. Ahead of the Orange Bowl, Tennessee, fresh off their Championship of Life, will have to play football against a very good Nebraska team that has won several actual championships. On New Year’s Eve before the playoff games, Kentucky is bowling for the first time in six seasons, and they get Georgia Tech.

The batch of January 2nd bowls that don’t fall on New Year’s Day this year because of the NFL is the real deal.

Western Michigan gets their stage to go for 14-0, but, surprise! Wisconsin has done this before, and it might be over quick. Row the boat...down the Trinity River back to the airport with your heads held high, Broncos. No one thought you’d make it this far, and maybe WMU should get ‘Bama.

Iowa probably didn’t want Florida, and Auburn probably didn’t want Oklahoma, but they still gotta play the game, right? I secretly hope the Rose Bowl is the most bonkers of all after last year’s dud — Penn State is currently wearing the cinderella slipper, but they’ve gotta take it into the land where Cinderella lives and works, in the sun-soaked shadow of the Magic Kingdom.

The Maize n Brew staff will be dueling each other in picking the winners of all the bowls. Safe to say we all think Michigan will win their game, but stay tuned for some results and general tomfoolery once they’ve all been played and a winner has been declared.

Merry Bowl Season, college football enthusiasts.