Pizza Pizza and Flowers: Little Caesar's and Poinsettia Bowls Open Thread

Duane Burleson

Christmas Day has come and gone but bowl season continues in full swing. Today, the elite from the Mid-American Conference take center stage.

Merry Day after Christmas! I hope you enjoyed the holiday.

But the holiday is not over -- at least for the college bowl season. Today there are two bowl games on tap, both of which feature teams from the Mid-America Conference. Here's the schedule:

Thursday, December 26th
Little Caesars Bowl: Bowling Green vs. Pittsburgh 3:00 p.m. PT ESPN (HD) / WatchESPN
Poinsettia Bowl: (23) Northern Illinois vs. Utah State 6:30 p.m. PT ESPN (HD) / WatchESPN

Bowling Green (10-3) earned the trip to Detroit for the Little Caesar's Bowl with a convincing 47-27 win over Northern Illinois in the MAC Championship Game, ruining NIU's hopes for a BCS bowl bid. Since winning the MAC championship, Bowling Green has lost its coach, Dave Clawson, who accepted the head coaching job at Wake Forest. Bowling Green recently hired Dino Babers away from Eastern Illinois as the Falcons' new head coach, but it will be interim coach Adam Scheier who will coach BGSU in the bowl game. Scheier served as the special teams coordinator and tight ends coach on Clawson's staff this season.

Opposing Bowling Green in the pizza bowl will be the Pittsburgh Panthers (6-6), which has wins over Duke and Notre Dame on its 2013 resume. Are the Panthers excited to be going to Detroit for a bowl game? Pitt's SB Nation blog, Cardiac Hill, did an entertaining point and counterpoint about whether to be excited about going to the Little Caesar's Bowl. The counterpoint piece won the argument, IMO, with this observation:

It could be a loss: In terms of perception, this is really a lose-lose situation. If Pitt loses to Bowling Green (again), it just looks like a very bad loss even though the Falcons are a good team. No one will remember that three years from now and it just looks like a loss to a MAC team. If Pitt wins, no one on a national level will really care and those those unfamiliar with Bowling Green (i.e. pretty much everybody), it won't really look like a great win. You never avoid a game just because it could be a loss, obviously. All I'm saying, though, is that it's a bit of a lose-lose proposition when it comes to how the Panthers will be perceived nationally.

When the Little Caesar's Bowl ends, attention turns to the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl. (Which we Cal fans remember as the WHY ARE YOU NOT GOING FOR TWO THERE COACH TEDFORD? BOWL.) One can't help but notice a bit of irony here. Northern Illinois (12-1) lost the MAC Championship Game to Bowling Green and gets a trip to San Diego, while BGSU gets a trip to Detroit. Does that seem incongruous to anyone else?

Anyhoo, the trip to San Diego might be a bit of a letdown for Northern Illinois. The Huskies had BCS bowl aspirations after finishing the regular season 12-0. The loss to Bowling Green ruined that dream, but Northern Illinois is still a good team that has had a fabulous season. The Huskies are led by all-everything quarterback Jordan Lynch, who finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting. Lynch needs 119 yards rushing in the bowl game to become the first player in NCAA history to rush and pass for 2,000 yards in a single season.

Northern Illinois faces a Utah State (8-5) team that regrouped nicely after losing starting quarterback Chuckie Keeton to injury in early October. Freshman quarterback Darrel Garretson led the Aggies to five straight wins, a winning streak that ended with a 24-17 loss to Fresno State in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game.

This is your open thread for today's MAC-laden bowl games. Share your thoughts in the comments.

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