It’s been a long wait for the bowl games to start, but they finally get going on Saturday afternoon. It’s been so long that I’m getting hyped thinking about it. There are a lot of fun matchups, so let’s get to it.
National Championship. The two most explosive teams in the country are going to light up the scoreboard. LaMichael James v Cam Newton. That will be played up for the next 3 weeks until the game is played. I tried to come up with some really great insight, but it always ended up like this… Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton. Auburn 45 Oregon 35.
Rose Bowl. The Granddaddy of Them All is going to be the best of the meaningless bowl games this season. Wisconsin was the best team in the Big Ten all season, and TCU is hungry to show that they deserved to be playing for all the marbles. You’ll have one of the best running teams in the country against one of the best defenses in the country, and it’ll be a knockout, drag out affair. Wisconsin has won these types of games all season long, and TCU hasn’t played a team this physical all year. Bucky gets the spoils. Wisconsin 23 TCU 17.
Orange Bowl. Two blazing hot teams come together in South Florida. The Hokies haven’t lost since James Madison trampled on them. Stanford’s only setback was to the Ducks, and at last check, no one had beaten them. It’s an interesting contrast of quarterbacks as well. Tyrod Taylor can throw and pass, while Andrew Luck is the best pocket passer in the land. Virginia Tech’s athleticism against the power of Stanford. I’m a big dude, so I’m going with the power, plus the better QB. Stanford 28 Virginia Tech 23.
Capital One Bowl. My self-proclaimed “Saban Bowl”. Saban left the Spartans for his first SEC job at LSU. Then after burning the Dolphins, he came back to college and led the Crimson Tide to last year’s national title. The Spartans have been the biggest surprise of the year, going 11-1 despite not having their head coach for 2 games due to health issues. Whose running game will be more consistent? It’s got to be Richardson and Ingram. Alabama 24 Michigan St 21.
Sugar Bowl. Arkansas doesn’t win many big games, but they have been hot over the last month or so. The Sweater Vest hasn’t been much better in big games, but he does have the jewelry. We get to watch 2 good QBs in Pryor and Mallett, but Mallet’s offense is more diverse. The Buckeyes’ secondary is one of the best in the country, so it will be fun to see if the Hogs can get Greg Childs free for some big plays. I like Arkansas to win because they have shown more of an ability to score from anywhere on the field. Arkansas 34 Ohio St 28.
Cotton Bowl. The Aggies have been explosive all year, and the Mad Hatters have been confusing all year. I do know that LSU has already played a bunch of huge games so far this season, and Les Miles wins bowl games, so that’s enough for me. Another last second weird LSU finish.. LSU 24 Texas A&M 21.
Alamo Bowl. Get your popcorn ready! Oklahoma State and Arizona want nothing more than to light up the scoreboard. Nick Foles and Brandon Weeden are two of the best quarterbacks in their conferences. Juron Criner and Justin Blackmon are two of the best receivers in the country. This should be an up and down battle, but the Cowboys are just too strong for the Wildcats to stop. Oklahoma St 45 Arizona 31.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Both teams just got handled in their conference championship games. South Carolina is returning to the site of the SEC Championship, where they were brow abused but the Auburn Tigers. Florida State just got handled in the ACC title game by red hot Virginia Tech, so expect both these teams to be hungry. I’ve been singing the praises of Lattimore and Jeffery all season, so I’ll do it again. They will have big games and lead the Gamecocks to victory. South Carolina 28 FSU 24.
Fiesta Bowl. Connecticut and Oklahoma will get it on in Glendale in the first game of the Final Four. Blake Griffin v Emeka Okafor, what a battle. Unfortunately, that was just a dream, but there are some major players in this game. The Huskies have Jordan Todman, the 2nd leading rusher in the country. In the Sooner’s last trip to the Fiesta Bowl, they lost to Boise State. I hope they’re ready to put their best foot forward in this one. This Husky team is not to be taken lightly. Oklahoma 30 UCONN 20.
Gator Bowl. Dan Mullen used to be an assistant coach for the Gators and turned down an offer to return to be their head coach this season. He has now led the Mississippi State Bulldogs to their first bowl appearance since they won the 2007 Liberty Bowl. Michigan is playing out the death march for Rich Rodriguez. I fully expect this to be his last game as the Wolverine’s head coach. I love Denard Robinson, but Michigan has no defense, so… Miss St 34 Michigan 24.
Las Vegas Bowl. This is the first bowl game of the season to matchup two ranked teams. Utah is looking for a big win, while Boise State is looking for a bit of redemption. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Utah is going to hope that’s true. If you give Chris Petersen that much time to prepare for an opponent, watch out. Just ask VTech. BSU 44 Utah 31.
Champs Sports Bowl. West Virginia is going to lose their head coach for the second time in 3 years. Bill Stewart has already announced his intention to step down after the bowl game. North Carolina State has been a pleasant surprise in the ACC, I mean at least they won more games than they lost. The Mountaineers force turnovers galore, and Wolfpack QB Russell Wilson hasn’t been turnover free since September. WVU 28 NC St 24.
Holiday Bowl. This is traditionally one of my favorite bowl games every year because it always provides an exciting game. The Washington Huskies barely became bowl eligible with a late comeback in the Apple Cup. Nebraska collapsed a bit at the end of the year losing 2 of its last 3 games. This shouldn’t be as bad a beat down as the early season matchup in Seattle, but Nebraska is still the WAY better team. Nebraska 40 Washington 21.
Hawaii Bowl. I need some more connections, because I need to be in paradise right now. Hawaii had an outstanding season finishing tied with Boise and Nevada at the top of the WAC. The Warriors lost only one game at home and that was the season opener to the Trojans. Both teams like to wing it, but Tulsa won’t hold up. They’re facing the best passing team in the country. When they played Oklahoma State, they gave up 574 yards through the air. Expect Bryant Moniz, to have a field day. Hawaii 51 Tulsa 41.
Sickness Level- Fair
Compass Bowl. Pittsburgh and Kentucky is another game that should be played in the Final Four. The Stache is stepping down, so we’ll see what the Panthers bring to the table. Lately the 1-2 punch of Ray Graham and Dion Lewis has led to some effective running, but Tino Sunseri has been their downfall. Kentucky has the better offense and has played in the much better conference, but they won’t have their starting quarterback, Mike Hartline. He wasn’t able to handle his liquor, so he’s suspended. Pittsburgh 24 Kentucky 17.
Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl. Southern Miss and Louisville are playing for the trophy which I’m sure includes some onion rings, chicken wings, and a slab of ribs. Coach Strong has done an awesome job with the Cardinals in his first year. Southern Miss is no doubt broken up by the end of, alumni, Brett Favre’s streak and that’ll prove too hard to recover from so quickly. Louisville 24 So Miss 17
Insight Bowl. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz must wish he had more insight into his program. How else could you miss your best receiver running a drug house off campus? The Hawkeyes were setup to get blown out anyway, based on the way they ended their season, but all these distractions make it worse. The Tigers are lying in wait. Cats love to eat birds, right? Mizzou 35 Iowa 14.
Texas Bowl. Illinois travels to Houston to play the Baylor Bears. Baylor comes in on a 3 game losing streak, having faced the 3 top teams in the Big 12. This should feel like a vacation playing Illinois. Baylor has been below average stopping the run which is what the Illini do best. Their saving grace is Bear QB Robert Griffin III. He is a great dual threat, and the difference in this game. Baylor 38 Illinois 30.
New Mexico Bowl. BYU and UTEP will get it on down in Albuquerque. Not the best matchup in the world, but a good game to get the festivities started. UTEP is a mess with Coach Mike Price not knowing if he’ll be back or not. I’m taking the Cougars. BYU 34 UTEP 21.
Pinstripe Bowl. A bowl game in the New Yankee Stadium. I wonder if they knew that Yankee fans would need something to get their minds off of Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford. A matchup of Kansas State and Syracuse should do the trick, right? Daniel Thomas leads the Wildcats against the Orange and their 5th ranked defense. But D hasn’t been Syracuse’s problem. The offense can’t score, averaging a paltry 21 points a game. They will keep it close, but Thomas will wear them down. Kansas St 24 Syracuse 17.
Music City Bowl. So as if the season hasn’t been hard enough for the Tarheels, their reward is a bowl game against Tennessee in, of all places, Tennessee. Who says sports is fair? UNC has lost all kinds of players to injury and suspensions this season. The Vols are playing their best ball, having won 4 in a row. They just beat Vandy in Nashville a month ago, so why not pick them again. Tennessee 23 UNC 20.
Meineke Car Care Bowl. South Florida surprised this year under first year head coach Skip Holtz. They have lived off their defense and I expect them to do it again. Clemson does the same and is giving the starting QB job back to Kyle Parker who was in the doghouse earlier in the year. This should be a physical, evenly matched game, and I’ll give the edge to Clemson, grudgingly. Clemson 24 USF 20.
Sun Bowl. The Catholics v The Convicts, but Tim Brown and Jesse Armstead aren’t walking through that door. Who would’ve thought that both Notre Dame and Miami would be playing a bowl game in El Paso? Brian Kelly survived year one, and even beat USC. The U is a program in flux. They fired Randy Shannon and hired a new coach, Al Golden, who did a great job at Temple. Did I just say that? Anyway, the Canes have no idea who their starting QB is, which can’t be good. Notre Dame has gone through a bunch of injuries, but has stayed the course. I’m taking the coach that I know. ND 27 Miami 21.
Liberty Bowl. Georgia’s midseason turnaround coincided with AJ Green coming back into the fold. That might not be enough to save Mark Richt’s job, though. Central Florida has been consistent all year long, and finished ranked 25th in the country. They have the 12th best defense in all the land, and Georgia is starting a redshirt freshman at QB. The two of those factors add up to a Black Knight victory. UCF 28 Georgia 17.
TicketCity Bowl. Where did this bowl game come from? Texas Tech and Northwestern are two fun stories from this past season. The Wildcats even got to play a game under pickup rules in Wrigley. I like Tech to outscore the Wildcats down in the Big D. Texas Tech 35 Northwestern 31.
Outback Bowl. Florida and Penn State have had seasons that are mirror images of each other. Both teams broke in new quarterbacks and lost 5 games. Funny though, the 84 year old coach is coming back for a 46th year, while the 46 year old coach called it quits after his 5th year. I’ve got to believe that Florida will want to send Urban Meyer out on a good note. That’s the only reason that I can pick against JoePa. Florida 28 Penn State 27.
And the rest…
Humanitarian Bowl. It’s going to be hard to watch the blue turf and not see Boise running up the score on some hapless team. I’ll deal with Fresno and Northern Illinois. Most teams play bowl games in a stadium they’ve never been to. No dice with Fresno. They were just in Boise a few weeks back. They will erase those bad memories with a win here. Fresno St 24 UNI 21
New Orleans Bowl. Sorry. I have nothing for you here. They have to play because the schedule says so. Give me Troy’s offense over Frank Solich’s weak defense. Troy 45 Ohio 20.
Poinsettia Bowl. It should be a home game for San Diego State, except for the huge military presence in San Diego. Expect the Midshipmen to be ecstatic that they can get away from the cold weather of the east coast. The Aztecs are going to be a bit distracted since their coach, Brady Hoke, would rather be coaching at Michigan instead. That option rushing attack is a bitch to deal with. Navy runs to a victory. Navy 27 SDSU 21.
Little Caesar’s Bowl. Pizza Pizza! What’s that? I don’t get free pizza for watching this game? Rip off! Florida International is making their first bowl appearance ever. Toledo is coming into this game with a backup QB. Toledo is tied with Hawaii, having forced the most turnovers in the country. Expect some more, otherwise FIU will make this a game. Toledo 33 FIU 23.
Independence Bowl. This game could have been played 50 years ago and it would still look the same. Both these teams run a triple option, so they rank 1 and 2 in the country running the ball. But only Army is worse than these two teams at throwing the ball among all FBS schools. The good thing is that with all the running, the clock won’t stop. Georgia Tech was my ACC preseason champ, and I’m holding a grudge, but Air Force is terrible against the run. Georgia Tech 31 Air Force 17.
Military Bowl. Eastern Carolina and Maryland. Pirates and Terps. Conference USA and the ACC. The Pirates were okay this year, but their conference was nothing special. Maryland bounced back this year with a solid year in their conference. I like them to win what is basically a home game in the Nation’s Capital. Maryland 27 ECU 17.
Armed Forces Bowl. Army and SMU play in this bowl game. I’m glad the Army made a bowl game, but they haven’t played anyone this season. Or should I say, they haven’t beaten anyone this year. SMU has had a little bit better schedule, so they are my pick. SMU in a close one. SMU 24 Army 20.
GoDaddy.Com Bowl. Middle Tennessee v Miami(OH) is one of the bridge games between the BCS bowls and the title game. Going with the Red Hawks. Miami 32 MTSU 24.
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. 15 Nevada plays Boston College. No one cares outside of Reno and Boston, except the respective families. Nevada 45 Boston College 19.
Who will hoist it? Find out January 10.