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Rating the conference bowl games

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It's bowl season again and once more most Mountain West teams are stuck with crappy bowl games and opponents. Luckily, unlike last year, the bowl season won't wrap up before Christmas. However, when the two best BCS teams the conference will face are UCLA and Cal, you know you have problems. Both UCLA and Cal have a combined record of 12-12, even though both started high in the polls and looked poised for a great season (UCLA at 11th, before losing to Utah and Cal at #2 before losing to Oregon State and tumbling after). Outside of those two BCS match-ups, Utah plays Navy, TCU plays Houston and New Mexico plays a woefully bad Nevada team. Not what you call edge of your seat entertainment.

The fact that not one opponent is ranked in the top-25, or a conference champion, speaks volumes for how bad this bowl situation is for the Mountain West. It was only a few years ago that Utah took on So. Miss, the champion of the Conference USA, in a pretty solid Liberty Bowl and ow look where we are at. There were talks of pitting BYU against Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, but that appeared to never leave the early discussion phase. So the Cougars are stuck playing a mediocre opponent they already played this season and it isn't like other Mountain West teams have it much better.

Looking at the bowl picture, which is pretty abysmal, this is how I would rank the game.

  • 1. Poinsettia Bowl: This is not a homer pick, because I truly believe that on paper this is the best bowl game in the conference. With the fact Navy has a superb offense and no defense, it will most likely be a high scoring affair. The only downer, though, will be the fact Paul Johnson won't be coaching the Midshipmen. He obviously has been the face of this program over the years and his lost presence will hurt.
  • 2. Texas Bowl: This is actually a fairly intriguing match-up, if only because the two are former conference rivals. Houston has had a fairly decent season, winning 8-games, while TCU has stumbled a bit. Had the Frogs won 10-games again, like last year, this would undoubtedly be the best bowl game the conference has to offer. But as it is, it's just ok.
  • 3. Armed Forces Bowl: If in the middle of the season you would have told me Cal would be a bowl opponent, I would have thought this would be the best bowl of the conference slate. However, Cal has stumbled badly and limp into their game against Air Force with a 6-6 record and losers of 6 of their last 7. Ouch.
  • 4. Las Vegas Bowl: I actually feel bad for BYU, getting an opponent they've already played this season. In fact, the Cougars open up against UCLA next year, so they will have played them 3 times in only a year and a half. That sucks. But if you're trying to find the positive in all of this, well I guess the Cougars could look for a bit of revenge. And with UCLA still without a coach, BYU should easily win this game.
  • 5. New Mexico Bowl: New Mexico is a good team and deserves better than a 6-6 Nevada squad. Playing a 6-6 team is bad enough, playing one from the WAC, though, is even worse. Pathetic.

That's the bowl picture and it's a very sorry one. So if you're keeping track, not only does the Mountain West have a crappy TV deal, they also have one of the worst bowl situations in the country. It can't get any worse, can it?