Trying to make sense of 35 bowl games in 24 days is a task too big for mere mortals, so we asked Mike Hlas, the award-winning Cedar Rapids Gazette columnist and force behind The Hlog, to review each of the games. Here is his third installment of Bowl Game Confidential.
Little Caesars Pizza Bowl: Florida International 34, Toledo 32. Announced attendance: 32,431. ... It was the second-lowest crowd in the bowl's 14-year history. ... Toledo won on a last-second field goal after a hook-and-lateral barely got a first-down to keep the final drive going ... "What these men have achieved is historical," said FIU coach Mario Cristobal, whose program was playing in its first bowl.
Fun stat: It was the third consecutive year the Big Ten didn't have enough bowl-eligible teams to send a squad to the bowl. Nonetheless, the conference has extended its agreement with the bowl through 2013.
Tweet: @XavierWestside: I think Little Caesars should invent a literal Pizza Bowl. That's what I think they should do!
Independence Bowl: Air Force 14, Georgia Tech 7. Announced attendance: 39,362. ... A Georgia Tech press release said this: “Georgia Tech's special ticket offer to the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl — priced at $14 in honor of the Yellow Jackets' 14th consecutive bowl appearance — has been extended through Christmas." Face value for the tickets was $42 and $37. ... Air Force's live falcon mascot normally flies into the stadium at the start of games, but he flew out of the stadium and wandered around Shreveport. It was found later.
Fun stat: It was Georgia Tech's sixth consecutive bowl loss.
Tweet: @Pnbuker: Dept. of who can blame him? Air Force Falcon flies away before Independence Bowl in Shreveport.
Champs Sports Bowl: North Carolina State 23, West Virginia 7. Announced attendance: 48,962. ... West Virginia, traditionally one of the best-traveling bowl teams in the country, had almost 7,000 unsold tickets of its allotment of 12,500. ... Bowl officials supposedly chose West Virginia over Notre Dame because of WVU's potential fan support.
Fun stat: Four of West Virginia's offensive assistant coaches have been fired, two of them after the bowl.
Tweet: @bearcatsblog: Who saw West Virginia being the Big East team to tank their bowl game?
Insight Bowl: Iowa 27, Missouri 24. Announced attendance: 53,453 (bowl record). ... Missouri lost despite gaining 512 yards, 434 on Blaine Gabbert passes. But Gabbert got burned by a 72-yard interception return for a TD by Iowa's Micah Hyde for the game's final, deciding score. "I got greedy," Gabbert said.
Fun stat: It was the first meeting between the two teams since 1910. Iowa and Missouri border each other.
Tweet: @lolafalana7: #stupidbowlgamenames ~ Insight Bowl, Poinsettia Bowl, I Slept w/ Your Mom Bowl…
Military Bowl: Maryland 51, East Carolina 20. Announced attendance: 38,062. ... Fired ACC coach of the year Ralph Friedgen closed his 10-year Maryland career with a 75-50 record. Maryland was 9-4 this year after going 2-10 a year ago. ... There were pro-Friedgen chants during and after the game. ... "It's been real surreal," Friedgen said. "To be honest with you, I'm a little bit overwhelmed by it. I really had no idea that people even thought that much of me." He added, "I leave the job a lot better than when I got it, so if someone else can come in and do better, my hat's off to them."
Fun stat: East Carolina entered the game ranked 120th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense and 118th in scoring defense.
Tweet: @claycamp: I continue to watch Military bowl only to see if MD players will try to carry Ralph off the field.
Texas Bowl: Illinois 38, Baylor 14. Announced attendance: 68,211. ... Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase completed his first 13 passes. ... The Illini rushed for 291 yards. ... "It's a bad feeling to have your face turned red," Baylor Coach Art Briles said. "We now have to remember how it feels like not to be able to hoist that trophy."
Fun stat: It was Baylor's first bowl appearance since 1994.
Tweet: @mvanacker: Just remembered I got called a "sore winner" by a middle-aged woman at Texas Bowl. Sweetheart, Illini Nation will take that as a compliment.
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State 36, Arizona 10. Announced attendance: 57,593. Oklahoma State may have had 10 times more fans than the Wildcats. "We have to re-evaluate all aspects of our program," Arizona Coach Mike Stoops said. "Coaching, personnel. … We should've played better than we did."
Fun stat: Arizona lost its last five games of the season.
Tweet: @PeteTibsTiberio: (UA) Football player on my flight wearing an Alamo bowl sweat shirt. Why would you wear that 2 days after u just got embarrassed on national tv?
Armed Forces Bowl: Army 16, Southern Methodist 14. Announced attendance: 36,742. ... Army won its first bowl since 1985. ... Army Spc. Hugo L. Gonzalez was surprised with a mortgage-free, custom-built home at halftime. In 2004, Gonzalez was the gunner on a Humvee in Iraq when a bomb exploded. The attack left him blind in his right eye. He has limited vision in his left eye.
Fun stat: The victory gave Army its first winning season since 1996.
Tweet: @shoeler: why does army get to play in the armed forces bowl? that's like letting SMU play in the spoiled-rich-kids bowl.
Pinstripe Bowl: Syracuse 36, Kansas State 34. Announced attendance: 38,274. ... Adrian Hilburn, who caught a 30-yard pass to pull K-State within 36-34, was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct because he saluted the crowd after his score. That put his team at the 18-yard line instead of the three for a two-point conversion try to tie the score. The attempt failed.
Fun stat: The average attendance for a 2010 baseball game at Yankee Stadium was 46,491.
Tweets: @slmandel Would the salute be ok in the Armed Forces or Military Bowl?? @TeddyGreenstein: Big Ten refs responsible for excessive celebration flag on KSU. Worst BT call since Legends and Leaders.
Music City Bowl: North Carolina 30, Tennessee 27 (2 OT). Announced attendance: a bowl-record 69,143. ... Casey Barth kicked a 39-yard field goal for UNC after officials reviewed what had been the final play of the game and penalized North Carolina for having "more than 11 men" on the field. The officials also said Heels quarterback T.J. Yates had spiked the ball with one second left. ... "This is going to have to be one of those games that I think ESPN Classic will probably be showing this 100 years from now," UNC Coach Butch Davis said. ... Angry Tennessee fans, who helped make the game a sellout, threw plastic beer bottles and garbage on the field.
Fun stat: Tennessee had 27 yards rushing in 29 attempts.
Tweet: @ZacEllis: Every story I've read about the Music City Bowl cites officials as "Big Ten officiating crew." Totally unnecessary, yet hilarious.