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Bowl destinations gone wrong

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia's football team has some terrific company in attempting to embrace a bowl that almost no one associated with the team wanted to go to.

Oh, sure, the Mountaineers should be grateful for what they did get, which was a date with Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. Teams that lose five straight games are lucky to get even that.

And yes, it's odd that WVU spent most of this season playing new opponents in order to earn a bowl trip to play an old one. It's likely to be no picnic playing it in the Bronx in late December, either (average temperature in New York City on Dec. 29: 39 degrees).

Toss in the irony of being sent to what amounts to a Big East bowl game after spending $20 million to leave the league behind (call it the Old Era Pinstripe Bowl, if you wish) and this is certainly the least attractive postseason date the Mountaineers have had since the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham in 1983.

But join the crowd in lamenting how so many of these bowl games worked out.

  • Georgia came within 5 yards of playing for the national championship and instead will face a Nebraska team that just gave up 70 points in the Capital One Bowl.
  • Pitt should know what BBVA Compass is by now, even if you don't. The Panthers are going to Birmingham for the third year in a row.
  • Louisiana Tech gambled that someone else would want it, turned down the Independence Bowl against Louisiana-Monroe and now will stay at home with the nation's No. 1 scoring offense.
  • Purdue fired its coach, Danny Hope, and will face an Oklahoma State team trying to hang on to its coach, Mike Gundy.
  • Stop me if you've heard this one: Iowa State and Tulsa play. They played on Sept. 1, too. This time it's in the Liberty Bowl.
  • Kent State lost an ironclad BCS berth by losing to Northern Illinois in overtime Friday night. The consolation prize is Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl.
  • In Wisconsin, the Rose Bowl gets not only the first five-loss team in its history, but one making its third straight appearance in Pasadena.
  • And the Orange Bowl gets a Northern Illinois team that lost to Iowa and a Florida State team that barely beat 6-7 Georgia Tech to get there.
  • Of course, last year the Orange Bowl was forced to take a Big East team that had lost to Syracuse and Louisville and paired it with high-powered Clemson. How'd that work out?

    Sure, there are some games that are must-see, starting with (or actually ending with) Alabama-Notre Dame. I'd still rather see Oregon against either of those defensive-minded teams just for curiosity, but if Stanford can shut down the Ducks, well, maybe that wouldn't have been all that interesting either.

    You've got to love any game that involves a Baylor team that finished first in the country in total offense and thisclose to last in total defense. Not many teams can score 63 and lose, but the Bears did. They get UCLA in the Holiday Bowl that West Virginia wanted so badly, but wouldn't it have been great to pair Baylor with Louisiana Tech somewhere, anywhere? In one order or another those two finished first and second in the country in total offense and last and next-to-last in total defense.

    These bowl guys have no sense of humor, do they? Or maybe they just couldn't find the six-hour TV window necessary to fit that game.

    Oh, and while South Carolina-Michigan in the Outback Bowl could be a snoozer, who isn't interested to see if Jadeveon Clowney can catch Denard Robinson?

    All things considered, though, in a season in which so few bowl games carry much of an appeal, West Virginia might have done worse. There is certainly the intrigue of returning to its roots (if only briefly) in the Big East, as well as facing an opponent for the 58th consecutive year. It doesn't really mess with your Christmas or New Year's if you decide to go, and hey, there's even the perhaps 50-50 chance it might not snow.

    Yeah, at this point you take what you can get.

    Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickman1@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.

     


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