For the first time in 13 years, Ohio State football fans will not be able to follow their favorite team to a postseason bowl game. Because of NCAA sanctions, the 12-0 Buckeyes were not allowed to accept a bowl invitation this year. Next year promises great things, but this year's season is over. But five other Ohio universities - one more than last year, even when Ohio State was in the mix - will be taking bowl trips. Here's a look at the teams that usually don't get the spotlight.
For the first time in 13 years, Ohio State football fans will not be able to follow their favorite team to a postseason bowl game.
Because of NCAA sanctions, the 12-0 Buckeyes were not allowed to accept a bowl invitation this year. Next year promises great things, but this year's season is over.
But five other Ohio universities - one more than last year, even when Ohio State was in the mix - will be taking bowl trips. Here's a look at the teams that usually don't get the spotlight.University of Toledo vs. Utah State
Famous Idaho Potato BowlBoise, Idaho, Saturday
• Average game-day temperatures: high 37, low 24 The northernmost of all bowl games - and the only one named for an edible tuber - the Potato Bowl is the reward for the Rockets finishing in a tie for second place in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference, which seems about right.
This is also the coldest bowl game, with temperatures almost guaranteed to be hovering at or below the freezing point. So, no, visitors wouldn't be spending much time at the beach - even if there were a beach.
But for winter sports enthusiasts, Boise offers the perfect opportunity to pack that dusty snowboard alongside the giant foam fingers, beer hats and other fan accouterments, as the Potato Bowl is the only bowl game played in ski country.
Boise is located on a broad plain surrounded by outcrops of the Rocky Mountains. And nearby Bogus Basin Mountain Recreation Area offers some terrific skiing and snowboarding opportunities in season. (Bogus Basin had yet to receive any snow as of Dec. 6 this year, so check snow conditions before bringing your gear.)
And as the state's largest city, Boise also offers a variety of big-city amenities, such as hotels and restaurants. So, no. You won't have to subsist on potatoes. • For more information on the bowl, visit www.famousidaho potatobowl.com. • For more information on Boise, contact the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-635-5240 or visit www.boise.org.University of Cincinnati vs. Duke University
Charlotte, N.C. , Thursday, Dec. 27
• Average game-day temperatures: high 51, low 30
North Carolina's largest city doesn't seem like the kind of tourist destination that would help lure fans to a lower-tier bowl game.
Surprisingly, however, Charlotte claims to be the Tar Heel State's No. 1 travel destination. Perhaps that's because it's also the site of busy Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the ninth busiest in the country. Charlotte Motor Speedway, the home of the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 race each year, also adds to the visitor totals.
In any case, Charlotte offers many attractions for fans who follow the Bearcats to this year's bowl, including the variety of restaurants and night life one would expect in a city of almost 1 million people.
And perhaps Bearcat fans will feel a certain royal affinity. Like Cincinnati, Charlotte is known as "The Queen City."
The city's Lynx light rail line gives visitors a convenient way to travel from the city center to the arts, antiques and dining of the Historic South End. Visitors can also see the forerunners to the Lynx cars at the Charlotte Trolley Museum.
Although late December temperatures in Charlotte will make it too nippy to run the rapids at the world's largest man-made white-water river, the U.S. National Whitewater Center also offers activities such as wall climbing, mountain biking and zip lining for adventure-seeking visitors.
• For information on the bowl, visit www.belkbowl.com. • For more information on Charlotte, call 1-800-722-1994 or visit www.charlottesgota lot.com.Bowling Green State University vs. San Jose State University
Washington, Dec. 27
• Average game-day temperature: high 44, low 30
The U.S. Capitol.
The White House.
The monuments of the National Mall.
Oh, and there's a football game, too.
Fans of the Falcons certainly won't lack for things to see and do when they're not watching their team play the Spartans (the ones from California, not Michigan).
One thing they won't have that most other bowl fans enjoy, though, is short-sleeve weather. The Military Bowl is the third-most northerly outdoor bowl game, after the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and - of course - the Famous Potato Bowl in Boise.
So pack warm. And don't expect any sympathy from Toledo Rockets fans. • For information on the game, visit www.militarybowl.org.
• For information on Washington, call Destination DC at 202-789-7000 or visit www.washington.org.Ohio University vs. University of Louisiana at Monroe
AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl
Shreveport, LA., Friday, Dec. 28
• Average game-day temperature: high 57, low 36
Don't be surprised if Bobcat fans start speaking with a bit of a Cajun accent.
This will be the Ohio University football team's second recent trip to Louisiana. The team also played in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl.
But Shreveport, the state's third largest city, is in the northwestern corner of Louisiana, about as far away from New Orleans as you can get and still be in the Pelican State.
Visitors can experience the alligator wrestling, casinos and zydeco music found throughout Louisiana, but they'll also hear plenty of good ol' Southern twang due to the city's proximity to Texas and Arkansas. That influence even sneaks into the food. There's plenty of authentic Creole- and Cajun-style cooking, complemented, deliciously, by Texas-style barbecue and home-style favorites such as fried chicken.
Unique Shreveport attractions include the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum, an art deco jewel box of an exhibition hall built as a public works project in 1939; and the Water Works Museum, which is both a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
(And no, we don't know what an "AdvoCare V100" is, either.)
• For more information on the bowl, visit www.independence bowl.org. • For more information on Shreveport, call the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau at 1-888-458-4748 or visit www.shreveport-bossier.org.Kent State University vs. Arkansas State University
Mobile, Ala., Sunday, Jan. 6
• Average game-day temperatures: high 61, low 40
One little overtime loss to Northern Illinois determined that the Golden Flashes would play in the GoDaddy.com Bowl and not in the Orange Bowl in Miami.
But as consolation prizes go, Mobile, founded in 1702 as the original capital of the Louisiana Territory, isn't bad.
The weather should be the warmest for any Ohio bowl team this year. And Mobile is a fun city for visitors, with great seafood, fascinating antebellum architecture and attractions such as the Battleship USS Alabama, now permanently moored as a museum in Mobile Bay.
For beachcombers or beach walkers, the sugar-white sands of the Gulf of Mexico are just a short drive away. The Mobile area is also a hotbed of golf, so consider bringing along those clubs.
And this will be one of the last chances for big college football fans to watch their favorite sport. The GoDaddy.com Bowl is the penultimate game of the college football season. (The last game, the BCS National Championship, is the next day.) • For information on the bowl, visit www.godaddybowl.com. • For information on the Mobile area, call the Alabama Tourism Department at 334-242-4169 or visit www.alabama.travel. email@example.com@SteveStephens