Your New Year's Weekend Sports-Viewing Guide
The football bowl games get going this morning, but the only game worth watching won't be until tonight. But if you must, ESPN brings the first bowl game when the Outback Bowl kicks off from Tampa at 10:30 a.m. on ESPN. But unless you're a fan of Northwestern (8-4) or Auburn (7-5), or unless you've got money bet on this game, there's no real reason to waste time on this one.
The Gator Bowl kicks off at noon on CBS, but if ever there's a bowl that deserves to be put out of our misery, it's this one as it's a disgustingly non-inviting viewing match-up of West Virginia (9-3) playing Florida State (6-6). ABC has a much better game at the same time with Penn State (10-2) playing LSU (9-3). However, if you want some really fun New Year's Day watching, give NBC a try at noon as it presents the third annual NHL Winter Classic, this time with a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Boston Bruins. As with the past two classics, this has two iconic hockey teams playing outdoors on a winter day with the promise of lots of snow -- and for added fun, you get to see Bob Costas suffer in the cold and pretend to understand hockey.
At 4 p.m. is the Rose Bowl featuring Ohio State (10-2) and Oregon (10-2) on ABC. This game is worth watching only if need some live football because the only other live sporting event at this time is some college basketball on ESPN and Fox Sports Net. Personally, at this time, I'd recommend switching over to ESPN 2 where they'll be in the middle of a marathon of the 30 for 30 documentary series about even sporting events which have occurred during ESPN's existence. All of the documentaries that I have seen have been exceptional, so you can't go wrong watching whichever one is on the air at this time -- the 4 p.m. one is supposed to be the one about the Baltimore Colts marching band directed by Oscar-winner Barry Levinson.
The best event of the day -- besides the hockey -- will be at 7:30 p.m. when the Sugar Bowl kicks off. This game matches 12-0 Cincinnati, with an interim coach, playing 12-1 Florida. The big questions around this game will be how many more times Florida coach Urban Meyer has changed his mind about his job status, and whether or not Tim Tebow will cry (I vote that he will cry).
And for better or worse, the MLB Network, starting at 5 a.m., will be replaying the 2009 MLB Playoffs and World Series with this scheduled to end on Saturday night. And the NFL Network will be offering up a mix of studio shows, highlights of classic games, etc.
Saturday's offerings aren't as good. The International Bowl from that football hotbed of Toronto, Canada will get things started on ESPN 2 at 11 a.m. when 7-5 Northern Illinois and 7-5 South Florida meet. The Cotton Bowl kicks off on FOX at 1 p.m. with a promising game of Mississippi (8-4) against Oklahoma State (9-3). The Papajohns.com Bowl, featuring UConn (7-5) and South Carolina (7-5) will also kick off at 1 p.m. and will be on ESPN. If you're watching this game, I have to ask: why? There will also be college basketball on CBS, Fox Sports Net and ESPN 2.
The Liberty Bowl will be on ESPN at 4:30 p.m., and this will be the game that should have featured the Houston Cougars as the champion of C-USA. Instead, you'll see East Carolina (9-4) playing Arkansas (7-5). And at 8 p.m. ESPN will torture people with 6-6 Michigan State playing 8-4 Texas Tech in the Alamo Bowl. If you're considering watching this game, might I suggest getting out of the house and finding a Blockbuster or a Redbox and renting a movie instead.
The weekend ends on Sunday with the Houston Texans playing in the most important game in team history (16th edition of this season, as the PR flacks at the Houston Chronicle have labeled every game this year the most important in team history). The 8-7 Texans have to defeat the 10-5 New England Patriots if they hope to make the playoffs. They also need the New York Jets, the Baltimore Ravens, the Denver Broncos and seemingly every other team in the NFL to lose to make the playoffs happen.
So Happy New Year everybody. May 2010 be bright, happy, and prosperous to you all.