Several years ago, I began doing the Screw Bowl and the Shaft Bowl as a way to recognize the handful of deserving college football teams that, in spite of their good seasons, were left spending the holidays at home. Last year, there was fortunately no need for either the Enron Screw Bowl nor the Astroglide Shaft Bowl, as only three teams within winning records (all of whom ended the season at 6-5) stayed home, and two of those teams - South Carolina and Clemson - brought their misfortune upon themselves by engaging in an embarrassing brawl following their annual rivalry game.
However, in spite of the fact that 56 teams made it to bowls following the 2005 season, no less than eight teams with winning records were forced to stay home for the holidays. All eight of them are from non-BCS conferences; five are from the Mid-American Conference alone. Here are the 2005 Screw Bowl and Shaft Bowl matchups:
The AstroGlide Shaft Bowl: for two deserving teams that got shafted by the postseason bowl selection process, Northern Illinois vs New Mexico.
The Northern Illinois Huskies (7-5) make their third consecutive Shaft Bowl appearance. They came up on the short end of an exciting MAC Championship game, losing in the final seconds to Akron. The loss, combined with the MAC's lack of bowl berths, meant that the Huskies must spend the holidays at home, even though their season included wins over bowl-bound Toledo as well as Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Miami of Ohio, all of whom ended the season with winning records. The Huskies' offensive attack features explosive RB Garrett Wolfe as well as reliable WR Sam Hurd.
The New Mexico Lobos (6-5) started the season strong, defeating their first three opponents including BCS school Missouri. The Lobos, however, lost their next three games and never quite regained momentum (although they did beat bowl-bound Utah). The NIU defense will have to watch out for RB Dontrell Moore, who led the MWC witth almost 1,300 rushing yards.
The 2005 Astroglide Shaft Bowl will be played Monday, December 26, 2005 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.
The Enron Screw Bowl: for two worthy teams that are no strangers to being screwed over by bowl selection committees, we present a rematch of the 1997 Shaft Bowl: Miami of Ohio vs Louisiana Tech.
The Miami of Ohio Redhawks (7-4) ended the season in a three-way tie for the MAC East but, along with Bowling Green State, lost the tiebreaker to Akron despite beating the Zips on the field. The RedHawks also beat rival (and new BCS school) Cincinnati. Miami's senior-laden team includes WR Martin Nance, who could be playing on Sundays next year.
The Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (7-4) ended the 2005 season on a high note, beating a ranked Fresno State team on the road. Unfortunately, their winning record - the Bulldogs' first since 2001 - wasn't good enough as losses to Nevada and Boise State hurt and no bowl seemed willing to recognize or reward the generousity and hospitality Louisiana Tech showed by allowing the Tulane Green Wave football team - rendered homeless by Hurricane Katrina - to seek refuge in Ruston and use their facilities for the season. Bulldog linebackers Barry Robertson and Byron Santiago might make NFL rosters.
The 2005 Enron Screw Bowl will be played Saturday, January 7, 2006 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri.
Other schools that managed winning records in 2005 but were passed over by the bowl system include Central Michigan (6-5), Western Michigan (6-5), Bowling Green (6-5) and Louisiana-Lafayette (6-5). Better luck to all these teams next year!
The Astroglide Shaft Bowl*
Year Stadium City Date
1996 Wyoming (10-2) East Carolina (8-3) TWA Dome St. Louis, MO Jan 4 97
1997 LA Tech (9-2) Miami, OH (8-3) Vanderbilt Nashville, TN Jan 3 98
1998 Wyoming (8-3) Miami, OH (10-1) Arrowhead Kansas City, MO Jan 3 99
1999 W. Michigan (7-5) Houston (7-4) War Memorial Little Rock, AR Dec 23 99
2000 W. Michigan (9-3) UA-Birmingham (7-4) Papa John’s Louisville, KY Dec 26 00
2001 Ole Miss (7-4) Hawai’i (9-3) Estadio Azteca Mexico City Dec 26 01
2002 N. Illinois (8-4) South Florida (9-2) Neyland Knoxville. TN Jan 4 03
2003 N. Illinois (10-2) Connecticut (9-3) Browns Stadium Cleveland, OH Dec 17 03
2005 N. Illinois (7-5) New Mexico (6-5) Arrowhead Kansas City, MO Dec 26 05
The Screw Bowl presented by Enron*
Year Stadium City Date
1996 Rice (7-4) Southern Miss (8-3) Tiger Stadium Baton Rouge, LA Dec 28 96
1997 Rice (7-4) Toledo (9-3) RCA Dome Indianapolis, IN Dec 24 97
1998 UCF (9-2) Colorado St (8-4) Skelly Stadium Tulsa, OK Dec 24 98
1999 LA Tech (8-3) Akron (7-4) Legion Field Birmingham, AL Dec 21 99
2000 Toledo (10-1) San Jose State (7-5) TWA Dome St. Louis, MO Dec 22 00
2001 Boise St (8-4) Bowling Green (8-3) Invesco Field Denver, CO Dec 28 01
2002 NM State (7-5) Bowling Green (9-3) Owen Field Norman, OK Dec 24 02
2003 Toledo (8-4) Air Force (7-5) Memorial Stadium Lincoln, NE Jan 3 04
2005 Miami, OH (7-4) LA Tech (7-4) Edward Jones DomeSt. Louis, MO Jan 7 06
*The Screw Bowl was "sponsored" by Stanley Tools from 1996 to 1998 and by Ace Hardware in 1999 and 2000. DISCLAIMER FOR DUMBASSES: The Screw Bowl and the Shaft Bowl aren't really sponsored by Enron, Astroglide, Stanley Tools or Ace Hardware. In fact, the Screw Bowl and the Shaft Bowl don't really exist! I just used these names because they seemed like fitting "title sponsors" for the fictitious Screw Bowl and Shaft Bowl (especially Enron, since they did such a good job of screwing their employees, their investors, the entire City of Houston, etc.). I do not endorse any of these companies or products (okay, that's not really true; I like to shop at Ace Hardware because I hate Home Depot for their lousy customer service and their predatory corporate tactics, and some of my Aggie friends tell me that Astroglide is the best lubricant for their shee... Oops, I better not go there. Anyway, you get the idea.).
(Retroblogged August 23, 2015. The number of actual bowl games has continued to grow since 2005, meaning that virctually every team with a winning record [and even a handful of teams without one] get to go go bowling these days, so I don't do this tongue-in-cheek commemoration anymore.)