Here are my thoughts and picks on the bowl games themselves. I’ll hit all the December games in this post and follow up with a post on the January games in the next couple of days. As the games are going I will most likely Tweet my thoughts and you can either find those HERE or in the upper portion of the right side bar. Here is another link to a full schedule of all the games if you so desire. Enjoy the start of bowl season tomorrow and best of luck to your teams and to you in your respective bowl pools.
Fresno State vs. Wyoming
Fresno State burned me in this same game last year when they let that Gartrell Johnson dude from Colorado State run for like 500 yards and 10 TD’s. Regardless I’m going back to the well this year and jumping back on the Bulldog train. Wyoming has an abysmal defense and an offense that is almost equally bad. If there is a lock em’ up pick this year it has to be this one which means that I will likely get burned again and end up witnessing the Cowboys win by 3TDs. If that happens I’ll have to start sending shake down letters to Pat Hill.
St Petersburg presented by Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
UCF vs. Rutgers
What the hell is Beef ‘O’ Brady’s? Isn’t that a restaurant in the Southeast? I haven’t been down there in a while. Regardless these sponsorships are out of control. As for the game the Scarlet Knights will head into Tropicana Field to take on the plain old Knights. That almost sounds like one of those events where thirty something dudes that played too much D&D; show up in Braveheart getups to do battle with Styrofoam swords. But it isn’t dammit it’s a bowl game! I’m in about five different bowl pools at this point which gives me the proper incentive to watch these games and I actually like the early December versions no matter how ghetto they might be. It’s the cruddy ones in January that I tend to have a hard time making myself watch but more on that later. This game is actually a tough call. These two teams are actually pretty evenly matched. Both teams play pretty good run defense and the only real difference statistically is that UCF is abysmal against the pass. Neither offense is anything to write home about but I’ll go with Schiano as his boys finished the season playing pretty well against decent competition. If they handled up on South Florida they should be able to squeak out a W against UCF right?
Sunday 20 December
Southern Miss vs. Middle Tennessee
Southern Miss has a pretty decent offense and Middle Tennessee plays in the Sun Belt. Sold. I’m on larry Fedora, Damion Fletcher and the Golden Eagles who upset a pretty good Troy squad in this same game last year. Picking Sun Belt teams is just too risky, even if it is the one that gets SEC scraps in recruiting. Golden Eagles pull it off again.
Tuesday 22 December
Oregon State vs. BYU
BYU is playing in the Las Vegas Bowl against a Pac-10 opponent for the 5th straight season. Every year I catch myself going through the deductive reasoning that the BYU players are way less likely to be distracted by the liquor and those escort service pamphlets on the Strip but it really hasn’t mattered. The Cougars are 2-2 in this game and despite Max Hall getting too much love I think Mike Riley will continue his streak of winning Bowl Games at Oregon State and lead the Beavers to their sixth consecutive post season victory. This is likely to be a high scoring affair but I think Beaver QB Sean Canfield and the Rodgers Brothers will outscore Hall & BYU running back Harvey Unga before it is all over. This will likely be the first really good game of the bowl season.
Wednesday 23 December
Utah vs. Cal
Check out the Poinsettia Bowl landing a pretty decent matchup. I went to the inaugural version a few years back and watched Navy hang serious points on Colorado State. This version features two teams that entered the season with a lot of expectations. Utah always shows up for their bowl games and Cal has a 50% chance of showing up on any given week. Cal either looks great or terrible, there is no middle for Tedford’s teams. Utah plays decent defense and Cal is horrendous against the pass. Jahvid Best is not going to play for Cal due to his concussion issues which seal the deal for me. I like Utah to run away with this one despite being an underdog.
Thursday 24 December
Nevada vs. SMU
June Jones is going back to Aloha Stadium to try and pick up the first bowl win in 25 years for the hapless Mustangs. I wonder if the locals will come out in force just to boo Jones for bolting out of Hawaii for a bigger payday in Dallas? More than likely the place will only have a handful of locals and a smattering of Marines and Soldiers that got free tickets in attendance. Even if the Rainbow fans did show up in force to harass June do it won’t matter. Colin Kaepernick and Nevada will run for about 500 yards while June tries to throw it all over the yard with substandard personnel. Meanwhile rich SMU boosters will sit at home wearing tweed sport coats, sipping scotch and lamenting that they can’t just buy another kick ass team like they had back in the days of the "Pony Express." The Mustangs will likely score some points too but not as many as Nevada.
Saturday 26 December
Marshall vs. Ohio
One of the last holdouts the Motor City Bowl finally sold out to a pizza joint that specializes in peddling pairs of ghetto pizzas that taste like cardboard for a bargain price. Strong. As for the game Marshall will feature an interim coach in the form of Defensive Coordinator Rick Minter who was fired by Charlie Weis at Notre Dame following the 2006 season. Minter was also previously a head coach at Cincinnati so he isn’t totally foreign to being in charge. The Herd also just hired West Virginia’s Doc Holliday as their next front man and limp into this one sporting a 6-6 record, a bad offense and an equally bad defense. I’m not sure how they won six to be honest. Ohio lost out in the MAC championship game and have a solid head coach in Frank Solich. I’ll take the Bobcats in a snooze fest.
Meineke Car Care
Pitt vs. North Carolina
This one is pretty interesting. Both Wannastache and Butch Davis are former Jimmy Johnson cronies and both have solid defenses. Don’t expect a lot of points in this one. I’m taking Pitt for the sole reason that they have a pretty solid rushing attack which is the only form of offense that appears to exist between these two teams. I also had Pitt season tickets this year solely because that was cheaper than just buying tickets to the Notre Dame game against the Panthers off of Stub Hub. I donated the rest
to charity so it worked out okay except for those cheesy emails I keep getting from Pitt AD Steve Pederson about Panther spirit and stuff. Anyway, Pitt owes me one, I wasted a lot of time going up there to witness their contribution to the Notre Dame flameout!
Boston College vs. USC
If Pete Carroll can convince his team to take this game pseudo seriously it should be a rout. That might be hard to do though. This relatively new classic is played in a baseball stadium where both teams stand on the same sidelines. I still haven’t quite figured that out but what gives. I would pay to get the audio of the smack getting spewed back and forth around the 50 though. I’m guessing the USC kids bring it "U" style when it comes to jaw jacking. As a general rule I don’t pick against BC in bowl games because they are the jinx but I’m going to have to make an exception this year. They have no business trying to trade punches with the Trojans so I have to go with USC despite my feelings for them.
Sunday 27 December
Kentucky vs. Clemson
Kentucky has the 100th rated run defense in the country so if Dabo Swinney doesn’t have C.J. Spiller touching the ball at least every other play he should be fired. This one is easy. C.J. right, left and up the middle all night should take care of it. He’ll probably take a kick to the house too. Clemson rolls.
Monday 28 December
Texas A&M; vs. Georgia
This is actually a tough pick. My initial reaction was to go with Georgia and I have to say that it was tough not to go back and change it. I wavered long and hard. TAMU runs a great spread offense with Jerrod Johnson at QB but their defense is as bad as their offense is good. Georgia underachieved all year but did beat a handful of good teams. TAMU’s claim to fame is that they beat Texas Tech and scared Texas. I think Mark Richt even without a DC figures out a way to win this one. It is a toss up though. Maybe we’ll get lucky and this will turn into a crazy snow bowl like it did back after the 2000 season when the Aggies lost this game to Mississippi State and Wayne Madkin in overtime. That was awesome.
Tuesday 29 December
UCLA vs. Temple
I can’t pick a MAC team to beat UCLA regardless of how great a story it might be. Slick Rick gets it done.
Miami vs. Wisconsin
In the last three years the Big Ten is 6-16 in Bowl Games and 0-6 in BCS Bowl Games. It takes an exceptional set of circumstances for me to pick a Big Ten team to buck that trend and I don’t see any such circumstances in this game. The Badgers got blown out in this same game last year by Florida State and so long as Jacory Harris doesn’t throw a handful of picks this year will probably be more of the same.
Wednesday 30 December
Bowling Green vs. Idaho
The Vandals will get on the bus and head over to Boise to play the Falcons on the Smurf Turf. Both of these teams throw it all over the place but I’ll go with Bowling Green only because they have a better defense. The Vandals rank 114th in the country in defending the pass. That isn’t going to get it done in this one.
Pacific Life Holiday
Arizona vs. Nebraska
The Holiday Bowl has long been one of my favorite bowl games, not only because I have had the chance to attend it a few times but it just always seems to end up being a really great game. That has been especially true with the Big 12 versus Pac 10 tie in. This year should be no exception. Both teams come in with 4 losses and interesting resumes. Arizona has a pretty mediocre offense and a decent defense especially against the run. Nebraska had a pretty bad offense and an outstanding defense. This one sets up to be a 7-3 type game and I’ll take the team that Ndamukong Suh plays for. I’m going to miss watching him play college football.
Thursday 31 December
Houston vs. Air Force
This is another one of those off the radar games that has the potential to be highly entertaining. I also had a hell of a time picking it. Houston has the #1 passing offense in the country and Air Force has the #1 passing defense. Air Force has the #4 rushing offense in the country and Houston has the #112th rushing defense. Suddenly what at a glance looked like a Houston blowout might actually be a barn burner. These two teams played each other twice last season with Air Force winning by 3 in the regular season and Houston winning by 7 in this exact same game. There is plenty of evidence to warrant picking an Air Force upset here but I’m going to bet that the #2 scoring offense in the country with Case Keenum at the helm will find a way to put enough points on the board to pull it off.
Oklahoma vs. Stanford
I am kind of partial to the Sun Bowl too. I actually went to this game a few years ago and thought the little old stadium built into the mountains had a lot of character. The Mexican food they sell on the concourse crushes any concessions you might find elsewhere too. I think I ate ten burritos that day watching Kyle Orton bring Purdue back to upset Washington. As for this matchup Toby Gerhart has been a beast but Oklahoma has the best defense he will have faced all season and Stanford QB Andrew Luck is not expected to play due to an injury suffered against Notre Dame. On the other side of the coin Oklahoma throws the ball well and Stanford has the #105 pass defense in the country. I think the Sooners run away with this one. Stoops and Venables aren’t taking any static off of Harbaugh.
Navy vs. Missouri
This one is interesting. Mizzu should be able to throw all over Navy who does not defend the pass well. Conversely teams that haven’t played Navy in the recent past generally have serious issues trying to shut down their option attack. The mids are very effective, always show up to play and shorten the game considerably which puts additional pressure on the opposition. This game comes down to Mizzu QB Blaine Gabbert. If he can muster 30+ points in his 9-10 possessions the Tigers will be fine. If he starts throwing picks the Mids could pull the upset. I’ll take Mizzu in a close one.
Minnesota vs. Iowa State
6:00pm NFL Network
Both of these teams are 6-6 and both look like it on paper. With the game being broadcast on the NFL Network few will watch it and Sun Devil Stadium will be half empty. Neither team has much offense but the Iowa State defense is flat terrible. I’ll take Minnesota for that reason alone.
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee
These two teams look very similar on paper. Both are very solid on defense and a little bit suspect on offense. The Hokies have a much better rushing attack which is the only real edge here. That said I’ll be at a New Year’s party full of Hokie fans when this one is on so it will be entertaining regardless. Such are the fringe benefits of spending the holidays with the wife’s family in Blacksburg. The Deer Hunter will be out of his mind if Team Kiffin stymies Beamer’s boys. I’ll take the Hokies due to the rushing attack and the fact that the Vols are preoccupied trying
to round up all the coeds they have out on the road recruiting right now.