Playing in a bowl sounds awesome, but not all bowl games are created equal. Sometimes, players don’t have the same drive to play in a bowl a day after Christmas against a team with a losing record that they would if they were in the semifinals.
Capping motivation levels during bowl season is tricky. It relies heavily on assumptions and hypotheticals, but motivation is an often overlooked factor during the slog that is the college football bowl season.
I took a look at every bowl game and picked out a few teams that may simply not care that much. The reasons for this lack of motivation range from higher expectations to player suspension. But, here are three teams that you may want to avoid or fade during the bowl season.
Florida State Seminoles
FSU entered the season ranked third in the nation. Then almost every single thing that could have gone wrong did. The Seminoles rounded out the season 6-6 and had an anemic offense that seemed ranked outside the top 80 in the nation in pretty much every way possible.
And right when things might have started looking up – the team won four of its final five games – Jimbo Fisher bolted in a messy divorce to coach Texas A&M. Now that the head coach is gone and the bowl game streak is still alive, it’s fair to wonder if the team cares about the bowl game itself.
What happens when you take a preseason national championship contender and put it in a midweek bowl game against a C-USA team two days after Christmas? A whole lot of indifference from a group of players who likely just want to put this season behind them.
West Virginia Mountaineers
It was not that long ago that West Virginia was in the conversation to win the Big 12 title. Then the Mountaineers lost three of their final five games and instead find themselves in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against the 6-6 Utah Utes.
In addition, WVU is without their leader in Will Grier, who damaged his finger against Texas two games ago. Instead, the team will be trying to regain its confidence behind sophomore QB Chris Chugunov, who is – quite frankly – not ready to handle the big stage. Chugunov knows this is his chance to prove he deserves to be the QB moving forward but after a season of building around Grier, will the Mountaineers be that anxious to work for the young gun?
As well, West Virginia is playing a team that always gets up for bowl games – no matter the situation. Coach Kyle Whittingham has led Utah to bowl victories in each of the past three seasons, with the Utes outscoring their opponents 106-62.
Imagine you enter the season with the eyes of every NFL team on you. Imagine that this was your time to shine and punch a ticket to the big leagues. Now imagine that your entire team stunk out loud and the prime reason people were even looking your way was injured. That is the position Wyoming players find themselves in.
Quarterback Josh Allen – who has missed the past two games – flamed out big time this season, the offense has completely fallen apart and the team has shown little if any drive to fix it. If the Cowboys offense is even slightly apathetic, the high-scoring Central Michigan team will blow them out.
Hell, even if Allen plays, can he single-handedly fix this offense? He was the definition of “meh” all season long and the constant strain on his injured shoulder that will be needed to keep up with the Chippewas won’t be good.