Monday, December 7, 2009

Bowl Breakdown

I am again taking on the daunting challenge of analyzing a whole bunch of football in one sitting (see here and here for previous daunting challenges). As everyone knows, the bowls were finalized yesterday, and there is so much college football out there, it's like a whole new season began today. With that in mind, here's a breakdown of the entire bowl season, with some analysis and selections:

Saturday, December 19:
New Mexico Bowl (4:30 PM ET): Fresno State vs. Wyoming - Look for Fresno, who isn't afraid of anyone, to show Wyoming that although you may be better than in years past, you're still Wyoming. Prediction: Fresno State 34, Wyoming 17. (Actual: Wyoming 35, Fresno State 28 (OT) - Record: 0-1)

St. Petersburg Bowl (8:00 PM ET): UCF vs. Rutgers - Both of these teams have been up and down this year, and this feels like a pretty even matchup. Most of UCF's losses have come to highly ranked teams, but they do have a pretty bad pass defense, and Rutgers likes to toss the ball. Rutgers lost to Syracuse, but I like them here. Prediction: Rutgers 27, UCF 24. (Actual: Rutgers 45, UCF 24 - Record: 1-1)

Sunday, December 20:
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee State - Sure, MTSU is 9-3, but if you look at their schedule, they lost to opponents in BCS conferences (except Maryland, who had a terrible season, and it was only a 1-point win). With the exception of a loss to UAB, Southern Miss's losses were by 7 points or less. Prediction: Southern Miss 31, MTSU 20. (Actual: MTSU 42, Southern Miss 32 - Record: 1-2)

Tuesday, December 22:
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas (8:00 PM ET): Oregon State vs. BYU - This feels like it should be a game later in the bowl season. Oregon State played Oregon down to the wire for the Pac-10 championship, and BYU's only losses were to Florida State early in the season and TCU, who should be playing for a national championship against Alabama. Prediction: BYU 31, Oregon State 30. (Actual: BYU 44, Oregon State 20 - Record: 2-2)

Wednesday, December 23:
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Utah vs. California - Um, which California team is going to show up - the one that lost to Washington, Oregon, and USC by 27-39 points or the one or the one that beat Stanford and Arizona by 7 or less? On the flipside, Utah's wins this year have been by just a little generally. Prediction: Utah 27, California 25. (Actual: Utah 37, California 27 - Record: 3-2)

Thursday, December 24:
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Nevada vs. SMU - All I'm going to say is SMU lost to Washington State, which was their only win. Oh yeah, Nevada's offense is really good (OK, that's two things). Prediction: Nevada 52, SMU 35. (Actual: SMU 45, Nevada 10 - Record: 3-3)

Saturday, December 26:
Little Caesar's Bowl (1:00 PM ET): Marshall vs. Ohio - I'm surprised Marshall even got a bowl game at 6-6. Solich's Ohio team has been very good this year, keeping games tight with Connecticut and Tennessee. Prediction: Ohio 31, Marshall 23. (Actual: Marshall 21, Ohio 17 - Record: 3-4)

Meineke Car Care Bowl (4:30 PM ET): Pittsburgh vs. North Carolina - It's a shame that Pitt isn't playing around Jan. 1, but at least they drew an ACC team, which means they will probably get the win. North Carolina beat Virginia Tech and Miami, but they lost to NC State, Virginia, and Florida State (which is because of the ACC default rule where the worse team wins). Prediction: Pittsburgh 41, North Carolina 27. (Actual: Pittsburgh 19, North Carolina 17 - Record: 4-4)

Emerald Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Boston College vs. USC - USC took a monumental tumble this year, and it shows by their game being on 12/26. I'm not sure Boston College was relevant this year, but then again, neither was USC. The differences between the two teams: USC is still ranked because of their media darling status and the bowl is in their home state. Prediction: USC 17, Boston College 13. (Actual: USC 24, Boston College 13 - Record: 5-4) (Note: The score was as I predicted until about 12 minutes left in the game when USC scored one more touchdown.)

Sunday, December 27:
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Kentucky vs. Clemson - Clemson hung right in there against Georgia Tech, and Spiller, if he has a good game, will prove too much for Kentucky. Prediction: Clemson 31, Kentucky 21. (Actual: Clemson 21, Kentucky 13 - Record: 6-4)

Monday, December 28:
Advocare V100 Independence Bowl (5:00 PM ET): Texas A&M vs. Georgia - Two Jekyll & Hyde teams meet up for this one. Texas A&M has played better recently than earlier in the year, and Georgia is on the upswing after lulling in the middle of the season. This one also feels close. Prediction: Georgia 34, Texas A&M 31. (Actual: Georgia 44, Texas A&M 20 - Record: 7-4)

Tuesday, December 29:
Eaglebank Bowl (4:30 PM ET): UCLA vs. Temple - Temple ran off 9 wins in a row in the middle of their season, with the highlight in that stretch a win over Navy, 27-24. Meanwhile, UCLA started off 3-0 before imploding. Their 3-1 stretch over the last four games got them to 6-6. However, in Pac-10 vs. MAC, I'll have to go with the BCS team. Prediction: UCLA 24, Temple 20. (Actual: UCLA 30, Temple 21 - Record: 8-4)

Champs Sports Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Miami vs. Wisconsin - Miami looked solid in their last game against South Florida, and Wisconsin hasn't been a pushover this year, losing three to solid (at the time) Big Ten teams. Prediction: Miami 31, Wisconsin 28. (Actual: Wisconsin 20, Miami 14 - Record: 8-5)

Wednesday, December 30:
Roady's Humanitarian Bowl (4:30 PM ET): Bowling Green vs. Idaho - Bowling Green has the momentum here, winning its last four and six of its last seven. Idaho, who started out 6-1, dropped 4 of its last 5. But the game's in Idaho. Prediction: Idaho 45, Bowling Green 41. (Actual: Idaho 43, Bowling Green 42 - Record: 9-5)

Pacific Life Holiday Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Arizona vs. Nebraska - Thus far, this is the matchup to see. I thought Nebraska had pulled off the upset against Texas, and Arizona has played with the best of the Pac-10 this year. I wish I could call it a tie, but I think Arizona wins down the stretch. Prediction: Arizona 27, Nebraska 21. (Actual: Nebraska 33, Arizona 0 - Record: 9-6)

Thursday, December 31:
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (12:00 PM ET): Houston vs. Air Force - Houston comes in hobbling from their loss to ECU in the C-USA championship game. Air Force has won the games they should this season, but they have also lost the games they should. Houston's defense won't stop Air Force's run game, and Case Keenum will have a field day passing, say 550 yards. Prediction: Houston 48, Air Force 31. (Actual: Air Force 47, Houston 20 - Record: 9-7)

Brut Sun Bowl (2:00 PM ET): Oklahoma vs. Stanford - Toby Gerhart should win the Heisman, but he won't. Oklahoma shouldn't have blanked or beat Oklahoma State, but they did. Surprisingly close, I'll give this one to the Sooners. Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Stanford 30. (Actual: Oklahoma 31, Stanford 27 - Record: 10-7)

Texas Bowl (3:30 PM ET): Navy vs. Missouri - All of Navy's games, wins or losses, have been tight this year, and Missouri has won 4 of its last 5. I like the ground attack of Navy to take this one. Prediction: Navy 29, Missouri 27. (Actual: Navy 35, Missouri 13 - Record: 11-7)

Insight Bowl (6:00 PM ET): Minnesota vs. Iowa State - This feels like a snoozer. In the few games I saw Minnesota play this season, they looked stagnant. Iowa State's results look like a mixed bag. So who wins? The more important question is: Who cares? Prediction: Iowa State 9, Minnesota 7. (Actual: Iowa State 14, Minnesota 13 - Record: 12-7)

Chick-Fil-A Bowl (7:30 PM ET): Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee - Now we're talking. On paper Virginia Tech takes this one easily. In reality, this could be a tight one. Tennessee has played well of late, but I still say that Virginia Tech had an outside shot at a BCS game. Prediction: Virginia Tech 26, Tennessee 24. (Actual: Virginia Tech 37, Tennessee 14 - Record: 13-7)

Friday, January 1:
Outback Bowl (11:00 AM ET): Northwestern vs. Auburn - For some reason, people like my brother think Northwestern is a pushover. Au contraire, mon frere (literally). Northwestern beat Iowa and Wisconsin despite being heavy underdogs. Auburn has shown signs of life, and hopefully they will continue in this way, playing for more than the 1st quarter. Prediction: Auburn 24, Northwestern 23. (Actual: Auburn 38, Northwestern 35 (OT) - Record: 14-7)

Konica Minolta Gator Bowl (1:00 PM ET): West Virginia vs. Florida State - Do you think the Florida State team will be up to win Bobby Bowden's last game at the helm? You better believe it! Florida State pulls the upset. Prediction: Florida State 28, West Virginia 24. (Actual: Florida State 33, West Virginia 21 - Record: 15-7)

Capital One Bowl (1:00 PM ET): Penn State vs. LSU - This seems like a decent matchup for this game. Penn State got snubbed for Iowa (yes, I know Iowa beat them, but Stanzi is out, and Iowa is a different team with Vandenburg in at QB). LSU barely survived against Arkansas after losing with a bone-headed decision by Les Miles. This game will be dominated by defense. Prediction: Penn State 20, LSU 17. (Actual: Penn State 19, LSU 17 - Record: 16-7)

Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi (4:30 PM ET): Ohio State vs. Oregon - As much as I'd like to say Ohio State loses again, I'm not sure this one is so cut and dry. Oregon has played sub-par lately despite winning. Ohio State hasn't looked great either, despite winning. Two somewhat mediocre teams playing in the Rose Bowl. Prediction: Oregon 31, Ohio State 24. (Actual: Ohio State 26, Oregon 17 - Record: 16-8)

Allstate Sugar Bowl (8:30 PM ET): Florida vs. Cincinnati - This one looks like a good matchup also. Cincinnati has been winning by the skin of their teeth lately, especially in the final regular season game against Pittsburgh. Florida doesn't look so dominant after being humbled by Alabama. I think the Gators will have their hands full with a Cincinnati team with a legitimate claim to playing in the national championship game, but I think they'll prevail, only slightly. Prediction: Florida 35, Cincinnati 34. (Actual: Florida 51, Cincinnati 24 - Record: 17-8)

Saturday, January 2:
International Bowl (12:00 PM ET): South Florida vs. Northern Illinois - Northern Illinois hasn't played anyone, and South Florida has skidded since losing Matt Grothe at QB. You can sleep through this one. Prediction: South Florida 24, Northern Illinois 10. (Actual: South Florida 27, Northern Illinois 3 - Record: 18-8) Bowl (2:00 PM ET): South Carolina vs. Connecticut - High expectations were had for both of these teams at the beginning of the season. South Carolina imploded for the second half, salvaging the season with a win over rival Clemson. Connecticut played through adversity with the shooting death of Jasper Howard right after their homecoming game. With the game in Birmingham, South Carolina has an advantage and wins. Prediction: South Carolina 24, Connecticut 22. (Actual: Connecticut 20, South Carolina 7 - Record: 18-9)

AT&T Cotton Bowl (2:00 PM ET): Oklahoma State vs. Ole Miss - This one also seems like an easy call for Oklahoma State. Both teams lost to their rivals during rivalry week, and both look like they have played better. Oklahoma State has desperately needed Dez Bryant, and Ole Miss has desperately needed Jevan Snead, although he has actually been playing. I think I'll go with the SEC on this one. Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Oklahoma State 25. (Actual: Ole Miss 21, Oklahoma State 7 - Record: 19-9)

AutoZone Liberty Bowl (5:30 PM ET): Arkansas vs. East Carolina - I underestimated East Carolina. They beat Houston bad in a game that few saw happening. Arkansas ran up a string of wins until Alex Tejada's missed field goal in OT game LSU the win. C-USA doesn't have the depth of even a mid-range SEC team. Prediction: Arkansas 38, East Carolina 31. (Actual: Arkansas 20, East Carolina 17 (OT) - Record: 20-9)

Valero Alamo Bowl (9:00 PM ET): Michigan State vs. Texas Tech - Michigan State has played OK, with an almost win over Iowa when Iowa was good. Texas Tech was edged out by Oklahoma State and Houston and has played like a much better team than their record reflects. Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Michigan State 27. (Actual: Texas Tech 41, Michigan State 31 - Record: 21-9)

Monday, January 4:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Boise State vs. TCU - As much as I'm looking forward to watching this game, I think the BCS committee took the easy way out by making these two non-BCS conference teams play each other. I would much rather watch Boise State beat Oklahoma (2006-7) and Utah beat Alabama (2008-9) than watch those types of teams play each other. TCU, I think, has a legitimate claim to the title game, and I think if Boise State picked up some quality opponents, they'd have a better argument for themselves. The problem is, though, that no BCS teams want to play Boise State. I think this is another evenly matched game, and I don't really know who to go with. If I had to pick one, I think I'd take TCU. Prediction: TCU 45, Boise State 44. (Actual: Boise State 17, TCU 10 - Record: 21-10)

Tuesday, January 5:
FedEx Orange Bowl (8:00 PM ET): Iowa vs. Georgia Tech - Snore. Prediction: Georgia Tech 45, Iowa 17. (Actual: Iowa 24, Georgia Tech 14 - Record: 21-11)

Wednesday, January 6:
GMAC Bowl (7:00 PM ET): Central Michigan vs. Troy - This is virtually a home game for Troy, and they'll need it. Dan LeFevour is now the all-time I-A leader in touchdowns throwing, rushing, and receiving combined with 148. Yes, he caught a touchdown on a reverse against Northern Illinois in 2007. Troy can hang with teams from lesser conferences, but I think Central Michigan has the talent to win this one in Troy's backyard. Prediction: Central Michigan 27, Troy 23. (Actual: Central Michigan 44, Troy 41 (OT) - Record: 22-11)

Thursday, January 7:
Citi BCS National Championship Game (8:00 PM ET): Texas vs. Alabama - As much as it pains me to say, I think Alabama has the most well-rounded team in the nation. I though Greg McElroy was a question mark coming into the season, but he has proven to be the leader that Alabama needed. Texas, on the other hand, comes into the game limping but not defeated after a nailbiter victory over Nebraska. Texas doesn't have the running game, and making them one-dimensional is the key to an Alabama victory. However, you can't deny the McCoy-Shipley connection. Since 2002, the team ranked #2 has won the game every year except for after the 2004 season in which USC defeated Oklahoma. On the flipside, the SEC is 5-0 in BCS national championship games. This will be one of the tightest national championship games since the Ohio State double overtime win over Miami after the 2001 season. Prediction: Alabama 24, Texas 21. (Actual: Alabama 37, Texas 21 - Record: 23-11) (Note: This was the score with about 2 minutes left. Alabama scored one more touchdown, then piled on another when it was unneccesary.)


  1. "people like my brother"... you mean people who are looking for more to life than being really, really ridiculously good looking?

  2. Exactly! I bet you didn't think I knew what a eugoogly was.

  3. 3 bowl games sponsored by 2 different companies who received "exceptional assistance" from the government under TARP.

    I remember when Poulan Weedeater was the redheaded stepchild of bowl sponsors.

  4. I wondered about that. But I guess if you're getting free money hand over fist, you might as well spend some of that money on sponsoring a college football bowl game.

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