Posted: Monday December 19, 2005 1:51PM; Updated: Tuesday December 27, 2005 2:34PM
In 1986, the rock band Boston released its third album, Third Stage, which was the musical equivalent to Colorado's effort in the Big 12 Championship game a few weeks back. The '70s air-guitar heroes had released one of the greatest all-time debut albums in 1976 (Boston) and then followed it up two years later with a sophomore effort (Don't Look Back) that hadn't been equaled until Dwayne Jarrett's 4th-down catch in South Bend.
But then the self-proclaimed "just another band out of Boston" took eight years off. And look what happened. Bowl teams can be like that. After taking as many as five weeks off, they suit up in an unfamiliar city, on unfamiliar turf (unless they're Boise State) against an unfamiliar opponent -- and who can know how they will perform.
Then again, Kate Bush just released her first album in 12 years last month (Aerial) and critics have fawned over it so much that you'd think it was a gay cowboy movie. The point is, after a long layoff, you never can tell. Whether it's college football or music. That is, unless a Bush is involved. You can always count on a Bush.
Finally, as a public service to anyone not personally invested in these teams, I'm offering a pair of holiday specials: first, a mention of any player who's a first or second-team Associated Press All-American and, second, a viewing alternative for the pre-Christmas Day bowl games.
Remember how Vince Vaughn pulled the "earmuffs" routine on his young son every time someone uttered a profanity in Old School? Show someone you love them by pulling a "blindfolds" stunt if they tune in to this contest. The Indians lost by four touchdowns to Army last month.
You Could be Watching:Holiday Inn, on AMC
A pair of mobile offenses rendezvous in Mobile, Ala. The Miners, led by QB Jordan Palmer (yes, Carson's little bro) and tailback Tyler Ebell (yes, the former UCLA back), are plumbing for the program's first bowl win since 1967. The Rockets, with senior QB Bruce Gradkowski and his 68 percent career completion mark, won't make it easy.
You Could be Watching:High Fidelity, on Oxygen
San Diego may as well be Annapolis West with all the sailors and Marines stationed nearby. The Middies have the nation's top rushing offense, while the Rams' rush defense is brutal (104th), but don't expect Navy coach Paul Johnson to preemptively unfurl the "Mission Accomplished" banner. You Could be Watching:A Christmas Story ("You'll shoot your eye out!"), on TCM
Golden Bear QB Steve Levy has this annoying habit. Whenever there's an injury timeout on the field, Levy approaches the downed gridder and says, "He's tough; he's a hockey player." Totally inappropriate. Gimme a break, people. We've got 28 games to go through. Cal RB Marshawn Lynch was the Pac-10's fourth-leading rusher. Not bad when you consider the first two are first-team All-Americans.
Does a team whose offense cannot crack the nation's top 100 deserve an invite to a bowl game? That question will be answered Dec. 23 as the Jayhawks and their bottom-20 offense (but top-20 defense, led by linebacker Nick Reid) challenge the Cougars and quarterback Kevin Kolb.
You Could be Watching:Killer Jellyfish, on Discovery
The Golden Knights have come a long way, and I don't mean the 4,765 miles from Orlando to Honolulu. Props to Golden Knight coach George O'Leary for taking last year's 0-11 program to its first bowl. In terms an Orlandoan could understand, they've gone from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland.
You Could be Watching:It's A Wonderful Life, NBC
Just how good is Tiger tailback DeAngelo Williams? The senior, 3rd in the nation in rushing, had four 200-yard games this fall, but none against a defense ranked higher than 71st against the run (of course, he had something to do with that ranking). The Zips surrendered 270 yards to the nation's leading rusher, Garrett Wolfe of Northern Illinois, in the MAC Championship game -- but they won.
Tigers: DeAngelo Williams, RB
Oddity: After his defense allowed 70 points in their last outing, Buff defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz was named interim head coach following Gary Barnett's dismissal. Well, whom would you promote? The offense has not scored a touchdown in ten quarters. Cue Tom Petty's Free Fallin' as the Buffs' 2005 theme song. Tigers: Tye Hill, DB, Buffs: Mason Crosby, K
The sad part is, I actually watched the 1978 Garden State Bowl in which the Sun Devils beat the Scarlet Knights 34-18. I was a Mark Malone fan. So sue me. This matchup is Rutgers' first bowl appearance since then, and it could get ugly. The Scarlet Knights surrendered 56 points at Louisville last month. What will they allow on Dec. 27, against the nation's third-best passing offense, in what is essentially a home game for the Sun Devils?