Words we never imagined last December typing for this December's bowl preview story:
Thank goodness for San Diego State.
If not for the Aztecs, California would have no team south of Palo Alto in a bowl game. San Diego State has a better record than USC, UCLA and, currently, the Chargers — you talk about lightning bolts. The Aztecs (8-4) are playing host to Navy (9-3) in the Poinsettia Bowl and, if they win, may want to consider relocation to Los Angeles.
It just proves that predicting bowl games is easy compared to predicting everything else. Next you'll tell us snowballs the size of meteors recently crashed through the roof of the Metrodome.
Here are this year's worst-to-best bowl rankings, picks and comments — attached with the usual conditions, waiver consent forms and consumer warnings:
35. BBVA Compass (Jan. 8): Pittsburgh (7-5) vs. Kentucky (6-6) — Pittsburgh Coach Dave Wannstedt already has resigned and Kentucky's quarterback was suspended after a charge of public intoxication. Enjoy. Winner: Pittsburgh.
34. New Mexico (Dec. 18): Brigham Young (6-6) vs. Texas El Paso (6-6) — Two "activate flotation device" programs playing in home stadium of a 1-11 New Mexico team that would kill to get in a game this bad. Winner: Brigham Young.
33. Pinstripe (Dec. 30): Syracuse (7-5) vs. Kansas State (7-5) — Not a bowl game sponsored by Attica, rather it's a game at new Yankee Stadium that features one team from upstate New York and another from Manhattan (Kan.). Winner: Kansas State.
32. Texas (Dec. 29): Baylor (7-5) vs. Illinois (6-6) — Baylor is on a three-game losing streak and Illinois is coming off an inspired loss at Fresno State. Winner: Baylor.
31. Meineke Car Care (Dec.31): Clemson (6-6) vs. South Florida (7-5) — South Florida coach tries to make an appointment with ESPN's "Dr. Lou" but is told he's busy evaluating Mark May. Winner: Clemson.
30. Little Caesars (Dec. 26): Toledo (8-4) vs. Florida International (6-6) — Florida International used Toledo's nickname (Rockets) to propel back from an 0-4 launch. Winner: Florida International.
29. New Orleans (Dec. 18): Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5) — Strange that Ohio and Ohio State, which played each other this year, end up playing bowl games in the same city. Winner: Troy.
28. Beef 'O'Brady's (Dec. 21): Louisville (6-6) vs. Southern Mississippi (8-4) — Southern Mississippi recently had three-game winning streak ended by Tulsa — nothing compared to streak that ended for Brett Favre. Winner: Southern Mississippi.
27. Military (Dec. 29): East Carolina (6-6) vs. Maryland (8-4) — Maryland expected to be invited to a better bowl: "It is what it is," Coach Ralph Friedgen said. Let the festivities begin. Winner: Maryland.
26. Armed Services (Dec. 30): Southern Methodist (7-6) vs. Army (6-6) — Watch ESPN's "Pony Excess" film to learn just how far Southern Methodist has come from depths of a Death Penalty scandal. Winner: Southern Methodist.
25. Music City (Dec. 30): North Carolina (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6) — Tennessee fans celebrate glorious 6-6 first season without Lane Kiffin as coach. Winner: Tennessee.
24. Insight (Dec. 28): Missouri (10-2) vs. Iowa (7-5) — Any team from Iowa that doesn't want to play in a game like this probably needs to be drug tested. Winner: Missouri.
23. Holiday (Dec. 30): Nebraska (10-3) vs. Washington (6-6) — Nebraska returns to a bowl it doesn't want to be in to face a team it doesn't want to play again. Winner: Nebraska.
22. Liberty (Dec. 31): Central Florida (10-3) vs. Georgia (6-6) — Florida, Florida State and Miami will visit Orlando in off-season to learn the secrets of building a national program. Winner: Georgia.
21. Ticket City (Jan.1): Northwestern (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) — Member of Big Ten's "Legends" division faces team one year removed from legend of Mike Leach. Winner: Texas Tech.
20. Humanitarian (Dec. 18): Northern Illinois (10-3) vs. Fresno State (8-4) — Fresno State returns to Boise State's field hoping it can find the end zone this time. Winner: Northern Illinois.
19. Champs Sports (Dec. 28): North Carolina State (8-4) vs. West Virginia (9-3) — Experts still trying to figure out how a team that finished 9-3 couldn't win the Big East. Winner: West Virginia.
18. GoDaddy.com (Jan. 6): Middle Tennessee (6-6) vs. Miami (Ohio) (9-4) — Sun Belt and MAC pretty much own this coveted five-days-after-Jan. 1 bowl slot. Winner: Miami (Ohio).
17. Chick-fil-A (Dec. 31): Florida State (9-4) vs. South Carolina (9-4) — Cam-shy South Carolina defenders coaxed back to field where they were terrorized by Auburn quarterback. Winner: South Carolina.
16. Fight Hunger (Jan. 9): Boston College (7-5) vs. Nevada (12-1) — Players can tell their grandkids they fell only one day short of the BCS national title game. Winner: Nevada.