Saturday, December 18, 2010

Thoughts on Bowl Season

I'll get to the SEC Bowl games this week, but I wanted to take a quick look at all of the games since Bowl season starts today.

New Mexico Bowl
BYU (6-6) vs. UTEP (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 18, 2 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Albuquerque
Hey, you have 30+ bowls so you end up with two 6-6 teams playing each other in exotic locales.  Used to be that locale was Honolulu and those teams were SEC and ACC teams.  Now we get a former WAC rivals rematch.  Either way, BYU puts it on the Miners. 

Humanitarian Bowl
Fresno State (8-4) vs. Northern Illinois (10-3)
WHEN: Dec. 18, 5:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Boise, Idaho
Now that the ACC isn't going to Boise, this game has lost some Schunudegruben excitement for me.   Still, this promises to be a pretty good game.  Fresno State beat Illinois to end the season, and NIU was upset in the fog for the MAC title, then have coach Jerry Kill become the next answer at Minnesota.  I like the Bulldogs here, because they have the right mascot and general color scheme. Plus, they are a better team.

New Orleans Bowl
Ohio (8-4) vs. Troy (7-5)
WHEN: Dec. 18, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: New Orleans
Yawn.  The two teams have combined for 60 turnovers (30 each, T112th nationally).  Take the over on turnovers and Troy to win on a recovered fumble for a TD. 

Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl
Louisville (6-6) vs. Southern Miss (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 21, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: St. Petersburg, Fla.
For the longest time. I thought Beef O'Brady was an underground Irish porn star.  Charlie Strong is back in Florida for bowl season.  Southern Miss is quietly racking up a decade of consecutive bowl appearances.  I like Southern Miss in this one.

MAACO Las Vegas Bowl
Boise State (11-1) vs. Utah (10-2)
WHEN: Dec. 22, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Las Vegas
Ah oh. Better get MAACO!  I guess Earl Schieb isn't in the bowl business.
This game is last year's Fiesta Bowl.  Boise State and Utah fans absolutely hate each other.  Boise State because Utah got so much love for knocking off Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl a few years ago.  Utah because Boise State fans are insufferable.  This has the potential to be one of the best games of Bowl season.  It also has the potential to be a four TD blow out.  I'm going with a four TD blowout win for Boise State.

Poinsettia Bowl
Navy (9-3) at San Diego State (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 23, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Diego
A home game for San Diego State and Navy's inability to stop the pass equals a win for the Aztecs.

Hawaii Bowl
Tulsa (9-3) at Hawaii (10-3)
WHEN: Dec. 24, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Honolulu
See the above for a prediction, substituting Hawaii for San Diego State.  This one should be more entertaining and high scoring, though.  

Little Caesars Pizza Bowl
Florida International (6-6) vs. Toledo (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 26, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Detroit
FIU is playing for its first ever winning season. Toledo is playing pretty close to a home game (Detroit is only 60 miles up I-75 by snowplow).  Neither will matter in front of  the 17,000 people that will show up at Ford Field.  FIU winning on a last second field goal sounds about right.

Independence Bowl
Air Force (8-4) vs. Georgia Tech (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 27, 5 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Shreveport, La.
For the second year in a row, Georgia fans have a rooting interest in Shreveport.  Georgia Tech and Air Force combined for over 640 ypg rushing this season.  Both teams are terrible at run defense.  If you want to see football as Jim Delany wishes it were still played, tune in.  This one could be over in two hours, so pay attention.  I'll take the line and say the Falcons win a close one.  

Champs Sports Bowl
NC State (8-4) vs. West Virginia (9-3)
WHEN: Dec. 28, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Orlando
Take WVU and the under.  The Mountaineers will win big thanks to their defense.

Insight Bowl
Iowa (7-5) vs. Missouri (10-2)
WHEN: Dec. 28, 10 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Tempe, Ariz.
Not a good December for Iowa, with those pesky cocaine trafficking charges and  team rules violations have their top wide receiver and RB out for the game.  They are a team in ditharay.  Missouri is looking to show the Cotton Bowl they deserved that game over the Aggies.  The Tigers roll big over the Hawkeyes. 

Military Bowl
East Carolina (6-6) vs. Maryland (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 29, 2:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Washington, D.C.
Eastern Carolina's defense is attrocious, which is good news for Maryland, since their offense isn't very good.  This one will come down to how well Maryland's defense can stop ECU's speed press offense.  I like the Terps here, but it could be very close.

Texas Bowl
Baylor (7-5) vs. Illinois (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 29, 6 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Houston
Another match up of surprises.  Baylor is in their first bowl since 1994. Illinois is prepping an extension for the Zooker, since that is what they do.   Illinois hasn't faced a QB as good as Griffin, but looked completely inept against Missouri's Blane Gabert and Fresno State's Ryan Colburn.  I like the Bears to pull away with a win.

Alamo Bowl
Arizona (7-5) vs. Oklahoma State (10-2)
WHEN: Dec. 29, 9:15 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Antonio
No way this game is interesting after half time.  The Cowboys will roll over the Wildcats.  

Armed Forces Bowl
Army (6-6) at SMU (7-6)
WHEN: Dec. 30, noon, ESPN
WHERE: Dallas
They blew up TCU's stadium, really. So they moved the game to SMU's Gerald J. Ford stadium.  Army's best defense is ball control on offense.  SMU's Kyle Padron laughs at that since he can throw the football about 150 yards.  SMU in a rout.

Pinstripe Bowl
Kansas State (7-5) vs. Syracuse (7-5)
WHEN: Dec. 30, 3:15 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: New York
*This should be good.*  I hope it snows about a foot and they play the game in freezing rain.  There is nothing rewarding about playing a bowl game in New York City, unless you play it in Madison Square with arena rules.  K-State gets Bill Snyder his 7th bowl win.

Music City Bowl
North Carolina (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Nashville
Home game for Tennessee won't matter.  Tarheels cover the two point spread.

Holiday Bowl
Nebraska (10-3) vs. Washington (6-6)
WHEN: Dec. 30, 10 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Diego
As good as the Pac-10 was at the top of the conference, it was that terrible after the first two.  Nebraska will make an example of the Huskies and send a statement to the Big Ten.  I predict they will be the recipient of the Ole Miss bump, where a big bowl win over an outmatched opponent equals Nebraska being a trendy pick for greatness in 2011.

Meineke Car Care Bowl
Clemson (6-6) vs. USF (8-4)
WHEN: Dec. 31, noon, ESPN
WHERE: Charlotte
This game could be won in overtime, with a safety for 2-0 win.  Both offenses are offensive.  Both defenses are stout.  I'm going with the Tigers in this one, but don't expect a high scoring affair.

Sun Bowl
Miami (7-5) vs. Notre Dame (7-5)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 2 p.m., CBS
WHERE: El Paso, Texas
How is this a compelling game? Because of 1989?  The Irish are on a three game winning streak, all against decent teams (Utah, USC and Army).  Miami has an interim coach.   I'm going with the Convicts here, winning one for their fired coach.

Liberty Bowl
Georgia (6-6) vs. UCF (10-3)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Memphis
I'll be talking about this one more, but this is a chance for the Dawgs to get a win over a team with a winning record.  I think they will.

Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl
Florida State (9-3) vs. South Carolina (9-4)
WHEN: Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Atlanta
Always a good match up and this one doesn't disappoint.  Both teams beat Clemson and Florida, both play defense well enough and move the ball.  I'm holding my nose and going with Spurrier catching Holtz as the winningest Carolina coach in bowl games with his second bowl win for the Gamecocks.

TicketCity Bowl
Northwestern (7-5) vs. Texas Tech (7-5)
WHEN: Jan. 1, noon, ESPNU
WHERE: Dallas
Cotton Bowl stadium won't have the Cotton Bowl.  With Dan Persa gone, the Wildcats are in a world of hurt.  This isn't your older brother's Red Raider squad with Tommy Tuberville at the helm, but they'll score enough points to beat Northwestern.

Outback Bowl
Florida (7-5) vs. Penn State (7-5)
WHEN: Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC
WHERE: Tampa
Urban Meyer retired at 46.  Joe Paterno thinks he is a quitter.  In a shocker, Steve Addazio will be awarded the game ball after UF piles up the points on Penn State.

Capital One Bowl
Alabama (9-3) vs. Michigan State (11-1)
WHEN: Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Orlando
In what should be a very good game, both teams had much higher aspirations.  Michigan State is the odd man out of the Big Ten tri-champions. 'Bama is pissed those farmers from Opelika are in the BCS Championship game.  'Bama is picked by 10, but it'll be closer than that.

Gator Bowl
Michigan (7-5) vs. Mississippi State (8-4)
WHEN: Jan. 1, 1:30 p.m., ESPN2
WHERE: Jacksonville
The Bizzaro Dawgs win big.  They held Cam Newton mostly in check, losing 17-14, so facing Denard Robinson is not something they are worried about.  

Rose Bowl
TCU (12-0) vs. Wisconsin (11-1)
WHEN: Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Pasadena, Calif.
Dude.  This is the best match-up of the bowl season.  TCUs defense has been lights out (a solid 35ypg better than the next closest team).  They can play offense, too.  Wisconsin has rolled up points, but against suspect teams.  I like TCU in this one.

Fiesta Bowl
Connecticut (8-4) vs. Oklahoma (11-2)
WHEN: Jan. 1, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Glendale, Ariz.
Oklahoma wins big.  Next.

Orange Bowl
Stanford (11-1) vs. Virginia Tech (11-2)
WHEN: Jan. 3, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Miami
Stanford wins big. Next.

Sugar Bowl
Arkansas (10-2) vs. Ohio State (11-1)
WHEN: Jan. 4, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: New Orleans
Terrell Prior might get all the pub, but Ohio State's defense is the reason they are 11-1.  No QB has gone for more than 235 yards against them.  Of course, they haven't played a QB as good as Mallet.  I don't think the SEC loss streak matters much, but to the extent it does, it helps Ohio State.  I am torn about this one, but think Ohio State wins. Or not. Bowl
Miami of Ohio (9-4) vs. Middle Tennessee (6-6)
WHEN: Jan. 6, 8 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: Mobile, Ala.
If Danika Patrick showed up in a dominatrix getup, this game might be interesting.  Since she won't, though you know she rolls that way, I'll pick Miami and move on.

Cotton Bowl
LSU (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (9-3)
WHEN: Jan. 7, 8 p.m., Fox
WHERE: Arlington, Texas
You know LSU will win, the question is what wild way they will do it.  My only concern is that they is only field turf at the stadium, so Lesticles can't taste the grass to decide. 

BBVA Compass Bowl
Kentucky (6-6) vs. Pittsburgh (7-5)
WHEN: Jan. 8, noon, ESPN
WHERE: Birmingham, Ala.
Thank goodness I don't have more interest in this one.  My gut says Pitt, but honestly, that Joker could pull it out.

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Boston College (7-5) vs. Nevada (12-1)
WHEN: Jan. 9, 9 p.m., ESPN
WHERE: San Francisco
Nevada's pistol offense against BCs defense.  BC has the best rushing D in the nation, but that is against traditional rushing schemes.  Yes, they will slow Nevada down, but in a game like this, you need offense to keep the opposing team's offense off the field.  BC doesn't have that.  Wolfpack wins and covers the spread.

BCS national championship game
Auburn (13-0) vs. Oregon (12-0)
WHEN: Jan. 10, 8 p.m., ESPN
I'm not making a pick here since I'll post about it later, but his is a dream match up for ESPN.  Two undefeated teams. Two Heisman finalist.  Two prolific offenses. Two terrible color schemes.  Unless something comes out that'll make the NCAA look like the bumbling doubletalking technocrats they are, this has the potential to outdo the Super Bowl.  

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