Like many area college football fans, we are having a tough time getting too excited about this year's bowl season.
A large part of that is because our region's major college football programs have, as a group, experienced disappointing seasons.
West Virginia University, for example, found the competition in its new home, the Big 12, to be a little tougher than expected and carried a 7-5 record into Saturday's Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium. The Mountaineers saw their frustrations continue with a 38-14 loss to former Big East-rival Syracuse.
Fans of the University of Pittsburgh will have to wait until this Saturday to see their team in action when the Panthers carry a 6-6 record into the BBVA Compass Bowl against 6-6 Mississippi. It will be Pitt's third straight trip to the bowl in Birmingham, Ala. A win will give the Panthers a winning season under first-year coach Paul Chryst and could provide some momentum as Pitt heads to its new home in the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.
Ohio University, meanwhile, may have missed out on winning this year's Mid-American Conference title, but at least was able to finish its season at 9-4 with a 45-14 win over Louisiana-Monroe in Friday's Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
There will be no bowl games for Penn State for at lest three more years, as the school continues to serve its probation as a result of sanctions stemming from the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
And, Ohio State fans are left to wonder what might have been if the Buckeyes had not had to serve a year of probation as a result as the tattoo-for-merchandise scandal. Ohio State finished the season at 12-0, which would have put the team in the mix for the BCS National Championship Game.
Just imagine the conversation that would have followed when either the Buckeyes, Notre Dame or Alabama did not earn a spot in the Jan. 7 game in Miami. And, as a ripple effect, there would have been no discussion about whether Northern Illinois of the MAC was really worthy of earning a spot in Tuesday's Orange Bowl against Florida State.
The large contingent of Notre Dame fans in our area, and around the country for that matter, will have plenty to cheer about when the Fighting Irish (12-0) meet the Crimson Tide (12-1) for the BCS title.
That certainly gives area fans a reason to get excited.
Keep that in mind as you sit back and try to enjoy the games.