’Tis this the season ... to not only be jolly, but if you’re a college football fan, to be downright ecstatic.
Especially if you’re favorite teams reside in Iowa.
Iowa and Iowa State are going bowling again, the Hawkeyes for the seventh year in a row and the Cyclones for the third straight year.
And Northern Iowa just wrapped a 10-5 season with a trip to the FCS quarterfinals on Friday.
Iowa will take a 9-3 record and a three-game winning streak to San Diego to take on USC in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27.
The Cyclones are 7-5 with four one-score losses — including a two-point loss to Baylor and a one-point loss to Oklahoma. You know, the two teams that met last week in the Big 12 championship game. They meet Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl on Dec. 28.
That’s a lot of good football in our state and doesn’t include the success of the NCAA III, NAIA or junior college teams.
Wartburg and Central both advanced of the second round of D-IIIs. Morningside, Grand View and Northwestern colleges all made the NAIA playoff field and Morningside plays Marian (Ind.) for the national championship on Saturday, after beating Grand View in the semifinals.
Iowa Western finished fourth in the final NJCAA poll and beat Hinds, 34-19, in the Graphics Edge Bowl in Cedar Falls last weekend to wrap up a 9-3 season on an eight-game winning streak.
That’s a lot of winning for a lot of teams.
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But for most, this season is about college football bowl games. And that season begins Friday with the Bahamas and Frisco bowls. There are seven more games on Saturday.
There are 39 bowl games between Friday and the national championship on Jan. 13.
Patrick Stevens of the Washington Post ranked all 39 games soon after the schedule was announced.
He picked the Fiesta Bowl between Clemson and Ohio State on Dec. 28 — the second of the two national semifinals — as the best bowl. “It’s the only game with two undefeated teams other than a possible national title game ...” he wrote.
The Peach Bowl between LSU and Oklahoma — the first semifinal, also on Dec. 28 — is the No. 2 game. The “re-imagined SEC champion Tigers rarely were slowed during the regular season,” he wrote.
The Rose Bowl between Wisconsin and Oregon on Jan. 1 is No. 3. “There’s something just right about the Pac-12 vs. Big Ten matchup in Pasadena on New Year’s Day.”
That does seem right, doesn’t it?
He picked the Holiday Bowl as the 11th best matchup.
“There’s nothing sneaky good about the matchup, just a solid pairing of teams that largely have played well during the back half of the season,” Stevens wrote. “Trojan freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis getting a shot at Iowa’s capable defense is a fine showcase.”
The Camping World Bowl isn’t far behind at No. 17.
“It’s hard for Iowa State to be disappointed in a 7-5 season, but four one-possession losses make it seem like the Cyclones were a close-but-not-quite team. Notre Dame chugs into Orlando with a 10-2 record but was a national afterthought after a late-October blowout loss at Michigan.”
The rest of his Top 10, in order, are the Cotton, Boca Raton, Sugar, Outback, Citrus, Cheez-It and Liberty bowls.
So sit back and enjoy the ride over the next month. There’ll be a lot of football — some good and some not-so-good.
’Tis the season.
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