Orlando is in the middle of the landlocked side of a state surrounded by a sea and an ocean, but you could not tell it from the reaction of some of their fans.
They are in the middle of the saltiest part of the state after hearing that they get to play Marshall and Temple gets to play the more “sexy” bowl matchup. Pizzazz is defined as “an attractive combination of vitality and glamour” and, if anything lacks pizzazz, it is the AAC bowl matchups.
Temple has an interesting matchup. The others fall short.
In fact, an argument can be made that the Owls might have won the AAC post-season if they can beat UNC because even if Memphis is getting the sexiest bowl opponent, Penn State, we all know the chances of interim G5 team head coaches are a lot slimmer than Ed Foley.
Plenty of complaints on the UCF message board that Temple is getting a P5 opponent while UCF–which both finished ahead of Temple in the AAC East and throttled the Owls on the road–gets the Rosey O’Donnell Bowl against Marshall.
To me, it’s more of a result of life in the Group of Five. If you get an NY6 game, you lose your head coach. If you don’t get an NY6 game, you either get a 6-6 P5 team or a team from a lesser conference.
Temple, the AAC turns its lonely eyes to you because I don’t see a chance of the AAC advancing its brand in many of these bowls that the conference should win:
Boca Raton Bowl, Dec. 21 (3:30, ABC) _ SMU, a 10-2 team that played and beat a TCU team (that extended Baylor into overtime), gets to go on the road and play FAU in its home stadium. A Mustangs’ win hardly advances the brand of the conference and SMU, despite being unbeaten at the time, drew only 23,189 fans to a home game against Temple. One trend in SMU’s favor: It gets to play a team with an interim head coach. Prediction: SMU, 24-17.
Gasparilla Bowl, Dec. 23 (2:30, ESPN) _ This is the same bowl Temple beat FIU, 28-3, by in a different stadium this time. UCF should draw better at Raymond James Stadium than even the home USF team usually draws but Marshall is a blah opponent that got blown out at home by Cincinnati, 52-14. Prediction: UCF, 34-17.
Cotton Bowl, Dec. 28 (noon, ESPN) _ Hate to say this because I’m an AAC guy, but I think Appalachian State deserved this bowl more than Memphis and probably would have had a much better chance to beat Penn State given the coaching circumstances. No G5 team other than App State has P5 wins like South Carolina and North Carolina. Memphis tried to avoid an Ed Foley-like fate by naming its “interim” head coach the permanent one. Memphis will come of this bowl losing to two Pennsylvania teams and beating everyone else. Prediction: Penn State, 35-14.
Liberty Bowl, Dec. 31 (3:45, ESPN) _ Probably the second-most interesting game to the Temple game as Navy should hold serve as the only ranked team in this matchup (No. 23). Kansas State is pretty good, though, and should keep this one close. Prediction: Navy, 24-20.
Birmingham Bowl, Jan. 2 (3, ESPN) _ No. 21 Cincinnati draws an ACC opponent for the second-straight year, this time in warmer weather. Boston College is an ACC opponent in name only and, despite the fact that Steve Addazio is no longer its coach, Luke Fickell gives Cincy the edge in coaching.
Armed Forces Bowl, Jan. 4 (11:30 a.m., ESPN) _ If the Tulane-Southern Mississippi matchup sounds familiar, it should. It’s a renewal of an old CUSA rivalry called the “Battle for the Bell” and the Green Wave should have enough to win this game comfortably, I’d say, around 31-21.
Wednesday: The Newest Dirty Word