LITTLE ROCK — Well connected in Washington, a source broached the idea that bipartisanship can and does work in the nation’s Capitol.
As evidenced, he cited the plethora of bowl games leading up to Jan. 1. Pressed, he explained that cramming a dozen games into three days was an elaborate plan hatched by Democrats and Republicans alike who want to distract Americans from the "fiscal cliff." Enunciated ominously, those two words are part of every national newscast.
Tongue in cheek, he said what better way to sidetrack taxpayers than to offer them a buffet of bowl games on which they can gorge and then sink into a stupor.
Kickoff times for the bowl games support his position, the man said. Instead of starting around noon and packaging five games into 10 hours or so, the first game on Dec. 29 begins in Dallas at 10:45 a.m. and the fifth game of the day kicks off at 9:15 that night in Tempe, Ariz. That way, shift workers, part-time employees and 8-to-5 folks have equal opportunity to immerse themselves.
Playing along, the response is that nobody can be so addicted to football that they would tune in for hours and hours of meaningless games offered under the name of various foodstuffs. Inevitable when 70 of the 120 FBS schools are involved, mediocrity describes the bowl season, but this lineup is worse than normal. I can count on one hand the games that I want to watch badly enough to plan ahead.
The boredom begins in earnest in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 28 and continues until close to midnight on New Year’s Eve, with a respite on Dec. 30 so all 32 NFL teams can finish the regular season.
Perusing the 12 games between Dec. 28-31, there is not a must-see among them. Clemson (10-2) vs. LSU (10-2) in Atlanta comes the closest and it’s the last game on New Year’s Eve. All told, the 24 teams involved have lost 111 games. In five of the bowls, both of the teams have lost at least five each.
Personally, fast forward to Jan. 1 and the Orange Bowl. Atlantic Coast Conference champion Florida State is one of those teams that often disappoints and Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch was good enough to be mentioned in some of the Heisman Trophy talk. He threw for 2,962 yards, ran for 1,771 and was involved in 43 touchdowns.
Northern Illinois is from the MAC, but the ACC flopped in late-season showdowns against the SEC and I suspect this will be competitive into the fourth quarter. If the Huskies win, will experts apologize to the BCS?
Although the Sugar Bowl is the only game on Jan. 2, I pass. Florida might have played the most difficult schedule in the country and the Gators’ defense will throttle Louisville.
The next day, Oregon’s speed vs. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and the discipline of the Wildcats’ defense is appealing in the Fiesta Bowl. Before November losses, both teams were headed for the BCS title game.
More than any other game, the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 4 benefited from the restrictions and rules of the BCS, winding up with Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma. The fact that the Aggies are a year removed from the Big 12 adds spice. So, too, the presence of Heisman Trophy finalist Johnny Manziel. Definitely, a must-see. Some recruits in Texas might even be swayed by the outcome.
Nationally, the Jan. 6 game in Mobile, Ala., is of little interest. But, folks in Arkansas should tune in to check out Arkansas State University quarterback Ryan Aplin and linebacker Nathan Herrold. Aplin is particularly adept at operating the option-laced offense.
The exclamation point on the five-pack of games is the Jan. 7 title game with tradition-rich programs and the SEC’s reputation on the line one more time.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is email@example.com.