Our weekly college football shame index previews the bowls through New Year's Eve.
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl: Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6), Saturday
Air Force losing to Rice would be our country's most shameful military defeat, but could it happen? Unfortunately, yes. The Falcons have a kicking game that is, shall we say, total ass. Senior kicker Parker Herrington went 15-for-18 last season, including 12-for-15 on kicks from the 30 and beyond, but this year he's converted only four tries out of 10 and is one for six outside the 30-yard line. Even more disturbing: All of Herrington's misses have gone to the EAST side of the goalpost, the surest sign he is a sleeper North Korean agent.
I will not live in a country whose fighting forces lose to a grain. Why shouldn't I just emigrate now? Only three bowl teams allowed more than five yards a carry this year. Rice is one of those three. Air Force is second in the country in rushing plays per game, averaging 63 per contest. Math! It's fun! (Unless you're Rice. Then it's not fun and your teachers lied to you.)
Is a military helicopter cooler than a jet fighter? That's a good question, and a tough one, so we went to noted military historian Prof. Nicolas Cage and asked for his expert opinion.
I'd like to know which player the Rice offense runs through, for definitely not kidnapping purposes. Your best best is Taylor McHargue, one of 13 players in FBS this year to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 500. Also, don't kidnap a Rice player. You'll have to listen to hours of bullshit about Rice and the U.S. News and World Report rankings. This is the same reason you should not kidnap anyone who went to Michigan.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: West Virginia (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5), Saturday
Just how bad is West Virginia's defense? In an ideal world, your secondary would not yield any completions at all, but most coaches (not you, Rick Neuheisel), recognize that we live in a world that is far from ideal and thus must try to limit and contain an opponent's passing attack. Sometimes that means forcing the other team to make shorter, safer throws. Other times, you are West Virginia, and you allow teams to throw for 9.6 yards per passing ATTEMPT.
So what does Syracuse have to do to win this game? Let me just reach into my box of Clichéd Answers and … a ha! "Avoid Turnovers." Syracuse is plus-nine in turnover margin in wins this year and minus-10 in losses (and in each of the latter the Orange turned the ball over at least twice).
And where does West Virginia's high-powered offense fit into this? The key for the Mountaineers on offense seems to be completion percentage. When they hit on 69 percent or better of their throws, they win. When that percentage drops below 69, they lose. Does this double as a convenient and easy Dana Holgorsen joke? It does. It very much does.
I still don't understand—why didn't Pitt get Syracuse's slot here to give us a Backyard Brawl rematch? Because this game is played in Yankee Stadium, and George Steinbrenner's ghost does not care about your happiness.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl: Navy (8-4) vs. Arizona State (7-5), Saturday
Todd Graham's reputation could use a little polishing. Anything positive you can offer? In 2011, Arizona State was a penalty machine, getting flagged 94 times in the regular season. The 2012 Sun Devils, however, drew only 54 penalties this year, tied for 12th fewest overall. Also, to my knowledge Todd Graham has never been accused of trafficking in illegal weapons.
How exactly is Kraft fighting hunger with a bowl game? At halftime, a giant pinata shaped like a box of macaroni is dangled above midfield, and hundreds of local underprivileged children are given baseball bats. The pinata is a decoy, however, and instead the children must use the bats to defeat an angry elephant with "HUNGER" clumsily spray-painted on its side.
Would you like to make a terrible joke about Navy and national defense? I did, but now you've ruined it. Instead I'll just say that the Midshipmen are 123rd in the nation in opponent's passing completion percentage at 68.2 percent. This will be especially interesting given that the top four receivers for Arizona State include two running backs and a tight end.
Which player in this game would make the easiest final puzzle answer on Wheel of Fortune? Navy's Gee Gee Greene.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3), Saturday
What is a family-friendly adjective you can use for the Texas defense? Confusing. For example: When opponents reached the red zone this season, the Longhorns stopped them from scoring only five times … but they largely limited those scores to field goals, finishing 54th in red zone touchdown percentage allowed.
Is that something Oregon State can take advantage of? Potentially—the Beavers offense was 10th in the nation in scoring percentage inside the 20, at 91 percent. Texas will be forced to defend an 80-yard field, in effect, which is just one more cruel twist of fate visited upon Mack Brown, History's Richest Martyr.
My religion doesn't recognize the validity of red zone statistics as a metric. What else can you offer me? Alternatively, this game may turn on Texas's third-down play. The Longhorns are eighth in the nation with a conversion rate of 50.31 percent, but Oregon State is sixth overall in third-down defense, allowing opponents to convert only four times a game on average.
Which team is going to be hungriest to win this game? An impossible question to answer, for all men are equally hungry to capture the Alamo Bowl trophy, which is made from delicious sopapilla.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: TCU (7-5) vs. Michigan State (6-6), Saturday
What is Buffalo Wild Wings doing about Avian influenza? This is a real question-and-answer posted on the Buffalo Wild Wings website, to which the company does not offer these perfectly reasonable responses: 1. You are eating at Buffalo Wild Wings and therefore have no interest in public health issues 2. Buffalo Wild Wings should not be anyone's primary source on matters epidemiological.
What is a mostly meaningless fact I can cite if pressed to say something about this game? Michigan State, winner of last year's Outback Bowl, has not won a bowl game in back-to-back years since 1989-1990. Conversely, there are only three active coaches with more bowl wins than Gary Patterson's seven.
This is the part where you talk about how terrible the Spartan offense is, right? So, so terrible—Michigan State has scored only 25 touchdowns, 120th overall in FBS, and its 20.3 points per game is the lowest output of any team that made a bowl game. Fortunately, TCU is only third in the nation with 21 interceptions, so technically it could be worse!
Can the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl provide me with a source of alternative currency? Apparently, yes. Please note that these coins are not legal tender and leaving one as a tip is likely to get you blackballed from any restaurant, including a Buffalo Wild Wings.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: NC State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4), Monday
Could this game be any more tailor-made for Vanderbilt? Considering they are coached by James FRANKLIN, a real AMERICAN who probably has a MORTGAGE on a house in the MUSIC CITY of Nashville, no, no it could not. This will become abundantly clear when Jordan Rodgers becomes the first quarterback allowed to call his own fouls.
I think the running game is antiquated and should be abandoned. Which team should I support? North Carolina State has heard your cry and is working in secret to undermine the entire concept of a rushing attack. That's why they put up the fewest yards per carry (3.15) of any bowl team. Keep to the shadows, fellow believer, and look for the signal to strike!
What does Vanderbilt need to do to win this game? Force a turnover. In the six games where they didn't force a turnover, the Commodores went 3-3, which is actually more like 1-3 because two of those wins were against Auburn and Kentucky.
I miss Tom O'Brien—what will he be doing while this is on? The same thing he does every Monday: shell a pound of walnuts, then throw them all out because shellin' is its own treat.
Hyundai Sun Bowl: USC (7-5) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7), Monday
That Georgia Tech triple option has to be a bear for non-conference opponents to prep for, yeah? Definitely, if you're FCS basement-dweller Presbyterian, the only non-ACC team the Yellow Jackets beat this year. Every other out-of-conference game Georgia Tech played resulted in a loss by at least three touchdowns.
Who needs to step up for the Trojans? Let's randomly pick freshman Leonard Williams, who's second on the team in tackles for loss with 13 but who made only 2.5 of those in USC's five losses.
I read something about the Sun Court. Is that the secret judicial body that controls the weather that my uncle was talking about at Thanksgiving? No, you're thinking of the Brotherhood of Fūjin. The Sun Court is just the name of a pageant associated with this game. (Don't worry, Lane Kiffin. You're still the prettiest.)
Which team should I root for here? Trojans, because Georgia Tech's seven-game bowl losing streak is an important part of the American hilarity industry.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3), Monday
What is a Golden Hurricane? The weather phenomenon that occurs when Iowa State's defense, which collected only 15 sacks all year, goes up against Tulsa's offense, fourth-stingiest in the nation, having allowed only eight sacks.
Football in Memphis has to be a waste of time and energy, yes? Don't be so quick to judge. The last seven Liberty Bowls have all been decided by one score or less and have given us classics like "UCF Stimulates Georgia's Plaquemaking Economy." It's not football in Memphis that's useless; it's football played by Memphis. Big difference.
What will spell doom for Iowa State? If possible, please give me an unreliable statistical category with a small sample size. Fumbles. The Cyclones don't do it often, as they're tied for fourth fewest with only 10 fumbles all year, but when they do, it ends badly, as the defense has recovered eight of those 10.
What is the Liberty that we are celebrating with this game? Yours and mine, because we are all free to refuse to watch this bowl until Paul Rhoads brings that rugged-as-hell beard of his back to life.
Chick-fil-A Bowl: LSU (10-2) vs. Clemson (10-2), Monday
Does this coaching matchup have the highest sum of crazy ever? Close, but Les Miles-Dabo Swinney still falls slightly behind the 1973 Bluebonnet Bowl, when Hobo Pete the Circus Bear led Houston to a win over a Tulane team coached by an Oldsmobile with a body in the trunk.
But LSU will probably just run all over Clemson, right? Don't be so sure. The LSU running game took a slight dip this year, especially toward the end of the season, averaging under four yards a carry in the last four games. Meanwhile, Clemson finally seemed to get its run defense in order down the stretch, holding all of its last five opponents under 150 yards.
OK, what about Tajh Boyd? He'll still screw this one up, right? Boyd's third in the nation, averaging 9.4 yards per pass attempt, and until the loss to South Carolina he didn't have a single game this season in which he threw more interceptions than touchdowns. So I guess what I'm saying is ...
Clemson might win this game??? Oh, hell no. They're Clemson as shit, after all.
Celebrity Hot Tub is a college football fan who lost the ability to truly love thanks to three years of Florida head coach Ron Zook. He writes for Every Day Should Be Saturday. Follow him on Twitter @celebrityhottub. Top photo via the Columbia Missourian.