College football's bowl days are here, those glorious excuses to sit on your ass in front of the tube and drink beer through game after game after game. But since you're in the Valley of the Sun, you can get off your duff and go catch a bowl game firsthand. The Insight.com Bowl, pitching the Kansas State Wildcats against Syracuse's Orangemen, hits Bank One Ballpark on Saturday, and (duh . . .) the Fiesta Bowl, with its much-ballyhooed Oregon Ducks-versus-Colorado Buffaloes match-up, is at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe on New Year's Day.
Granted, the Bowl Championship Series' number-crunching droids spit out a Rose Bowl championship game (No. 4-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. No. 1 Miami Hurricanes) that absolutely no one believes is accurate, but that gives local Fiesta Bowl backers reason to cheer. We have the Big 12 champion Colorado Buffaloes, who by all rights should be competing against Miami for the championship, playing the No. 2-ranked Pac-10 champs from Oregon. Still, instead of a definitive championship bout, fans get two bowl games that look like playoff semi-finals; if only the victor of the Fiesta Bowl played the victor of the Rose Bowl, all would be right in the world of college football.
No one's questioning the undefeated Miami Hurricanes' right to vie for the title in the Rose Bowl -- the Cornhuskers are the controversy. Though Nebraska lost only one game this season and Colorado lost two, the Buffaloes are pissed because in Nebraska's final game of the season (barely over a month ago), Colorado reamed Nebraska 62-36, a record loss for the Huskers. It's widely believed that Colorado has been playing the best football of any team in the country down the stretch this year, with losses only to Fresno State (in the first game of the season) and Texas, who the Buffaloes wreaked vengeance on in their final regular-season game.
Oregon will be attempting to prove its worth as well; a Fiesta Bowl win would stick an exclamation point on the Ducks' first ever 10-win season. Additionally, thanks to the BCS' convoluted championship formula, if the Ducks win here and Miami loses in the Rose Bowl, the Ducks could earn a share of their first national championship. To do that, though, Oregon will have to stave off Colorado's fantastic running game and the Buffs' Chris Brown, who scored nine touchdowns in Colorado's final two games.
If you're venturing toward the Fiesta Bowl, bring your Christmas bonus. You'll likely need it to wrangle a ticket off the scalpers. Insight.com Bowl fans have it a bit easier; ticket prices start as low as $10.