Many will look at the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl played at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas as a contest between two maligned teams with 6-6 records who just squeaked by with bowl eligibility to play in a postseason game.
For one team, the Northwestern Wildcats, a 6-6 record this year while injuries took down their blossoming quarterback (Dan Persa) and other significant players while still achieving bowl eligibility for a fourth consecutive year is nothing short of phenomenal for a program who has been widely known as mediocre for many a generation. Its a testament to Pat Fitzgerald and his coaching staff for continually putting his kids in a position to try and win games every single Saturday.
For the other team, a 6-6 record could represent a hint of uncertainty. This team was supposed to contend for a conference title, if not be a dark horse national title contender. While the dealings of conference negotiations to leave one for the other lurked like a stormy cloud, the football team continually found ways to lose games in the waning moments of each game. Their record and bowl eligibility serves as a reminder that more could've been achieved, and now without a head coach (Tim DeRuyter is leading the team on an interim basis after Mike Sherman was fired Thursday) in place and a new conference home, who knows what's next for them.
Bowl games have a way of putting your demons of the past season behind you and looking forward to what great things can happen in 2012. A win by the Wildcats could push a young team into giant killers, as the talent at the skill positions have gradually become on par with the rest of the conference. For the Aggies, their up and down season will be completely washed away as the moving vans proverbially take them over to the SEC. Good luck being inconsistent over there.
For more insights and analysis on the Texas A&M Aggies, be sure to check out SB Nation blog I Am The 12th Man. For more on the Northwestern Wildcats, check out SB Nation blog Sippin' On Purple. For more on all things college football, check out the SB Nation hub page.