Well, it's over. Time for us to crawl back into our hidey-holes and talk about the draft. recruiting, and depth charts while sadly watching the Military Bowl wondering what could've been. An undefeated season, tarnished by gold pants of the past and a dumb decision to put off a bowl ban one year for a tragic Gator Bowl loss last year. Welp. All we've got this week is the "entertainment" of a 7-5 team that Ohio State defeated, with its pudgy, sore-loser coach who despite two consecutive Rose Bowl appearances still can't seem to pull a four star recruit. On the opposing sideline will be a defense that was turned into a sniveling, mewling wreck in a 25-point loss in the 'Shoe and a madman of a former Buckeye whose ceiling seems to be 9-3. Two teams that Ohio State defeated are playing for the Big Ten "championship". It sort of makes you feel sick.
But FEAR NOT, fellow denizens of this thing they call Buckeye Nation. We still have our MACtion (wuddup, Darrell Hazell?). We still have reasons to enjoy bowl season. So without further ado, I present five things anyone can enjoy about bowl games this year, even without an undefeated, deserving, but ultimately ineligible Ohio State squad in the mix.
1) The possibility of Michigan playing an SEC team. We've been on both ends of this spectrum fairly recently, with Michigan defeating Tim Tebow a few years back and also getting crushed by Mississippi State (!) two years ago. Whether Michigan is defeated soundly or whether an SEC team stoops to their level and gets beaten, Buckeye fans can still find a target for scorn, for two separate fan bases that they really are fairly sick of. In this sort of reverse Alien vs. Predator situation, whoever loses, we win.
2) MACtion and Dri Archer. If you're not familiar with this phenomenon or you are a supporter of proverbial MANBALL, get on board this train, and quickly. The MAC championship game is guaranteed excitement every year, with at least one prolific offensive player per team and nothing that could remotely resemble "defense" on the field. This year, the matchup is Kent State's star running back Dri Archer (who returned this kickoff against Ball State where the announcers pretty much called it, and who is responsible for these two ridiculous highlights against Bowling Green) vs. Northern Illinois' extremely dark horse All-America candidate, Jordan Lynch. There will be points on points on points, and awesome mental mistakes, missed tackles, and hilarity all but guaranteed to ensue. The championship game is just the tip of the iceberg, as seven MAC teams are eligible to make bowls and even with Georgia Tech being granted a waiver to be bowl eligible at 6-7, at least six probably will.
3) National championship intrigue. Notre Dame is guaranteed to be there. The question is, who will they play and can they win? The two most likely options are Alabama and Georgia. The Bulldogs have a terrifying rush linebacker named Jarvis Jones who almost single-handedly defeated Florida and reduced SB Nation's own Spencer Hall to begging for Jones to declare early for the NFL Draft. As a team, Georgia tends to wait and wait and wait for your team to make a mistake, then capitalizes on it threefold and watches you unravel in the process. Alabama and Nick Saban, however, do not wait for your team to make a mistake. They simply do not make any. If you execute your plan perfectly, and they execute their plan perfectly, Alabama will win because there is always at least one matchup where the player they have is better than the one you have matched up with him. Nick Saban's team does not know how to execute a play to less than perfection.*
(*Not valid for opponents employing Johnny Manziel, Cam Newton, who are each masters of randomness and conjuring touchdowns out of negative plays, thereby almost rendering any on-field execution by either team useless.)
4) Could Ohio State beat ________ ? If you're like me, sometimes you watch BCS games (and other major bowl games not included in the cartel) with the intention of deciding whether or not Ohio State would lose to either team on a neutral field. Last year, the answer was overwhelmingly "yes" to most major-conference teams. This year ought to be a little different. I will enjoy watching Kansas State-Oregon from a Buckeye fan's perspective. Full disclosure - I think OSU would beat Kansas State, Notre Dame, Stanford and whoever wins the Big East or ACC. Oregon and Alabama would be the worst matchups for the Buckeyes. Georgia, Florida and Texas A&M? I have no idea who would win, but they'd probably be thoroughly entertaining (A&M – first one to 40 wins).
5) Mistakes! Derpitude! OH THE HILARITY! Because of the general nature of college sports, amplified by the long layoff for teams full of 18-22 year olds on holiday break, bowl games can sometimes involve some of the biggest gaffes. And the best part is, each one is amplified with the artificial pressure of for what is existentially a nationally televised exhibition game. There shouldn't be any pressure to win for any team not in a BCS bowl, but enough superficial pressure will be placed on the players and coaches that there are bound to be mistakes, and oh how glorious they will be. And with GIFs taking the country by storm, just think; you'll be able to see them in an endless animated loop.
So we've got that going for us, which is nice. Despite having to begin the end of this season by watching Louisville-Rutgers (B-1-G ) and then watch two teams that already lost to Ohio State play for the Big Ten Championship*, followed by being shut out of the BCS completely, you can still enjoy bowl season. And I say this with the utmost sincerity – I hope you all have a merry Bowlmas without the scarlet and gray being involved, and while some may feel otherwise, I hope every other Big Ten team gets crushed by 30.