Alliteration has always held a special place in my heart. The 1980's are also near and dear to my soul. So without further adieu, I present Part I of my bowl preview. The theme, which I hope you will enjoy, is #1 pop hits from the 1980's.
New Orleans Bowl
Arkansas State Vs. Southern Mississippi
Theme Song: 'Satisfied' by Richard Marx
This Richard Marx classic from 1989 is a perfect set-up for the first game of the bowl season. Arkansas State is satisfied that some other team besides North Texas is playing in the New Orleans Bowl. Since the Sun Belt football conference formed in 2001, the Mean Green have run roughshod over their Sun Belt brethren to the tune of 4 straight conference titles and 4 New Orleans Bowl berths. That all changed this season as Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, and Louisiana-Lafayette all shared the conference crown. Southern Mississippi, which is located in Hattiesburg, is satisfied to be the only team from the great state of Mississippi to be bowling this season. In all seriousness, Jeff Bower has done a tremendous job since taking over the Golden Eagles in 1990. He has lead them to 8 bowl games in the last 9 years and has not had a losing season since 1993.
Winner: Southern Mississippi
Toldeo Vs. UTEP
Theme Song: 'One More Try' by George Michael
This George Michael classic is what UTEP fans must be saying to Mike Price every time they see him. After being fired and embarrassed before he ever coached a game at Alabama, Price, like Marty Robbins, landed on his feet in the West Texas town of El Paso. In the 2 years Mike Price has coached the team, the Miners have won 16 games. In the previous 5 years before Price's arrival, the Miners had won 19 games. Here's hoping Mike Price gives it at least one more try for the UTEP Miners. As far as the game is concerned, Toledo is no pushover. The Miners better dig in, or they might get the shaft.
Colorado State Vs. Navy
Theme Song: 'Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) by Phil Collins
Many people probably thought Paul Johnson had lost his mind when he became the head coach of the Naval Academy in 2002. Johnson was coming from division I-AA power Georgia Southern, where he had won 2 national titles in 5 seasons (and played for a 3rd). His first season at Navy went as most people had expected. That is to say a 2-10 season, and what looked like a nigh-impossible rebuilding job ahead. But in 2003, the Academy won 8 games and played in a bowl for the first time since 1997. In 2004, they did even better, winning 10 games. Included among those 10 wins was a bowl victory over New Mexico. This season, the Academy is 7-4 and stands a good chance to defeat Colorado State for its second consecutive bowl win. Paul Johnson won't win any national titles at Navy, but he should be included in any conversation about the best current football coaches.
Las Vegas Bowl
California Vs. Brigham Young
Theme Song: 'Could've Been' by Tiffany
The Bears had high hopes when the season began. Those dreams were shattered when quarterback Nathan Longshore was lost for the season in the first game against Sacramento State. Without him, the Bears struggled through a 7-4 season. If Longshore had not gotten hurt, who knows what could have been?
Fort Worth Bowl
Houston Vs. Kansas
Theme Song: 'Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run)' by Billy Ocean
This is a cop-out. I couldn't come up with a good 80's #1 hit for this game. The Jayhawks have a good rush defense, 3rd nationally in terms of yards allowed per game (88.1 yards per game), so they are showing no more love to the run.
Central Florida Vs. Nevada
Theme Song: 'Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Rupert Holmes
The Golden Knights from Central Florida lost their conference title game to Tulsa and were punished by being forced to take a trip to Hawaii. Sometimes life is not fair. I wish them the best in this tragic development. What better place to escape to than the islands?
Winner: Central Florida
Motor City Bowl
Akron Vs. Memphis
Theme Song: 'Like a Virgin' by Madonna
This is Akron's first bowl game. In celebration of this fact, here is some gratuitous footage of Madonna writhing around on stage at the MTV video awards in 1984. Enjoy.
I'll be back in a few days with Part II.