Yes, the economy is bad. People are not traveling. Heck, I run a bed and breakfast and we haven't sold out the Georgia-Florida weekend - which was usually a given in my six years in Jacksonville (Good rooms are still available! Pardon the shameless advertising!)
But chances are, you still might harbor dreams of spending New Years somewhere nice, like in California, Arizona, or South Florida. Maybe the stock market will rebound. Maybe oil will hit 20 bucks a barrel. Maybe the Chinese will buy out all of our bad debts and write them off.
We can only dream.
But if you really do want to hit one of those BCS bowls and would like to plan early, I'm here to help. With one hand on the crystal ball and the other working a dart board, I now present you with this season's first fearless Bowl Cast:
BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: January 8, Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Matchup: Texas vs. Penn State (Odds: Texas 70%, Penn State 80%)
Outlook: The No. 1-ranked Longhorns will have their toughest remaining game this week at Texas Tech. A victory should send Texas smooth sailing into Key Biscayne. Penn State has an even easier slate, but it still needs Alabama to lose one game.
Other potential suitors: Alabama (20%), Florida (10%), Georgia (10%), Texas Tech (5%), USC (3%), Oklahoma (2%).
ROSE BOWL: January 1, Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif.
Matchup: USC vs. Ohio State (Odds: USC 90%, Ohio State 50%)
Outlook: The Tournament of Roses red coats don't want this rematch - it would be the third time these two teams meet in 12 months - but it will have to really think outside of the box to avoid it. If Penn State somehow doesn't make it to the BCS title game, fine. If USC somehow doesn't win the Pac-10 outright, fine. But would the Rose Bowl dare to invite an SEC team to finally matchup with the Trojans in a bowl game? That would be nice, but that would also risk ticking off the Big Ten. Just remember, these guys invited Illinois last year. The track record isn't good.
Other potential suitors: Oregon State (20%),California (15%), Penn State (10%), Michigan State (5%), Minnesota (3%), Oregon (2%), Alabama (2%), Florida (2%), Georgia (1%).
FIESTA BOWL: January 5, University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Matchup: Alabama vs. Utah (Odds: Alabama 20%, Utah 60%)
Outlook: Say what? You ask. Well, this is going on the assumption that Oklahoma would be the obvious second choice from the Big 12 and the Fiesta Bowl doesn't want a third consecutive appearance by the Sooners. The quandary here is that although the Fiesta would get the first pick if it loses Texas to the BCS title game, it pretty much has no way of avoid taking a non-BCS automatic qualifier, be it Utah, TCU, Boise State or even Tulsa.
Other potential suitors: Boise State (50%), Texas Christian (20%), Texas (10%), Ball State (5%), Tulsa (5%), Brigham Young (5%), Oklahoma (5%), Oklahoma State (5%), Texas Tech (5%), Florida (5%), Georgia (3%), Missouri (2%).
SUGAR BOWL: January, 2, Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans
Matchup: Florida vs. Oklahoma (Odds: Florida 40%, Oklahoma 50%)
Outlook: If the Fiesta does pass on Oklahoma, then the Sooners land here to play the SEC champion. If Oklahoma is gone, then the Sugar will be forced to take the Big East champion, leaving the second SEC team for the Orange Bowl. If the SEC champion somehow ends up in the BCS title game, then the Sugar will take the Big 12's second team.
Other potential suitors: Alabama (30%), Georgia (25%), Big East champion (25%), Oklahoma State (15%), Texas Tech (10%), Texas (4%), Missouri (1%).
ORANGE BOWL: January 1, Dolphin Stadium, Miami
Matchup: ACC Champion vs. Big East Champion (Odds: ACC 100%, Big East 80%)
Outlook: The price you pay for hosting the BCS title game is that your bowl game would suffer. And there's just about no way the Orange Bowl can avoid this stinker involving two teams maybe ranked in the 20s. The only hope to avoid this is for the Sugar to take the Big 12's second team, leaving a second team from the SEC available.
Other potential suitors: Alabama (10%), Florida (5%), Georgia (3%), Ohio State (2%).