College Football Bowl Season! My Non-BCS Predictions Part 1
All the schools are bowling…well the ones that finished with at least 6-7 wins. Heck, even my favorite Maryland Terps team finally made it out of the injury gods’ doghouse to qualify for a bowl! Here are my picks (thanks to ESPN.com’s bowl schedule):
- Gildan New Mexico (Dec. 21 at 2 PM on ESPN)
Washington State will beat Colorado State in a lopsided shootout, with Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense tearing apart the Colorado State Rams. Colorado State has not impressed this season.
(Correction: Somehow I said that “Leach’s Cougars beat the vaunted, preseason favorite Oregon Ducks this year in one of the most shocking upsets in the PAC-12” when it should’ve been Arizona beating the Ducks. Sorry for the error Dustin!).
- Royal Purple Las Vegas (Dec. 21 at 3:30 PM on ABC)
Fresno State will run into a tough USC (Southern California) team that was resurgent and had a good late-season run under former interim coach Ed Orgeron. Fresno State lost a heartbreaker to San Jose State to lose out on a BCS bid and sunk their QB Derek Carr’s (see pic above) hope of getting a shot at the Heisman Trophy. USC is too deep, even with scholarship reductions, and will blow out the Fresno State Bulldogs in the air and on the ground. All Hail Troy!
- Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (Dec. 21 at 5:30 PM on ESPN)
Buffalo Bulls, a so-so team, will face a San Diego State team that no one knows about. I’ll pick San Diego State just because Buffalo did not surprise me as far as their schedule goes.
- R+L Carrier New Orleans (Dec. 21 at 9 PM on ESPN)
Tulane and Lousiana-Lafayette face each other in their home state in the Superdome. Tulane has shocked a couple people as they qualified for a bowl and competed in most of their games. Louisiana-Lafayette will try to make it close, but Tulane should win out.
- Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg (Dec. 23 at 2 PM on ESPN)
East Carolina vs. Ohio. I’ll pick East Carolina, but Frank Solich’s Ohio Bobcats never back down in the tiny MAC. Solich coached at Nebraska before, so don’t count him out.
- Sheraton Hawaii (Dec. 24 at 8 PM on ESPN)
Boise State faces a tough PAC-12 opponent in the Oregon State Beavers. The Beavers hung tough with Oregon in their Civil War rivalry game until losing late, and the Boise State Broncos just lost their longtime head coach Chris Peterson (who went to Washington to replace Steve Sarkisian, who went to USC). I expect Oregon State to grind it out on the ground but also chuck the ball in the air to expose the Broncos as a has-been mid-major team.
- Little Caesars Pizza (Dec. 26 at 6 PM on ESPN)
Pittsburgh, which got blasted by Florida State and Famous Jameis Winston to start the season, rebounded to make this bowl game in Detroit. Bowling Green, fresh off of its upset in the MAC title game over heavily-favored Northern Illinois, will be a tough out. I’m actually going to root for Bowling Green, who will have incentive to beat a bigger school like Pitt, though Pitt is not a football power by any stretch of the imagination. Pitt’s QB play has been far too inconsistent for my liking.
- San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia (Dec. 26 at 9:30 PM on ESPN)
Utah State is going to a bowl game, especially after losing their head coach to Wisconsin this pasty year. Northern Illinois suffered a huge setback and letdown when they had a shot at a BCS bowl game, but lost in convincing fashion to Bowling Green last Thursday. I expect Utah State to put up a fight, with its starting QB Chuck Keaton out until next year, but Northern Illinois’ dual-threat QB Jordan Lynch will dominate this game. Then he’ll go the way of this guy in the NFL, if he makes it there…
- Military Bowl (Dec. 27 at 2:30 PM on ESPN)
I actually might go to this bowl game, which is close to my stomping grounds in Maryland. There’s always an excuse to go to the Naval Academy to watch a bowl game, isn’t it? Maryland has had another injury-ridden year, but toughed it out to become bowl-eligible, beat rival Virginia and several ACC opponents for the last time before moving to the B1G Ten next year. Marshall Thundering Herd has been an offensive powerhouse in the MAC, but it is the MAC. I expect Maryland’s defense to bend, but not break, and will beat Marshall in a close, mid-scoring game in the 30s.
- Texas (Dec. 27 at 6 PM on ESPN)
Syracuse finished bowl eligible with a so-so year in the ACC. Minnesota surprised everyone to fall short of the B1G Ten title game, even with their coach on the sidelines due to health concerns. I like Minnesota, which has had its most successful season in years, in this one. Sorry Orange!
- Fight Hunger (Dec. 27 at 9:30 on ESPN)
My alma mater Brigham Young University will face the Washington Huskies, which will conflict several UW/BYU fans. But it should be a good one. Pitting BYU’s top-notch defense against a very physical running game of Washington should be a must-watch matchup. Keith Price and Bishop Sankey will keep NFL prospect and linebacker Kyle Van Noy very busy during this bowl game. I like Washington, but only because BYU QB Taysom Hill has been inconsistent in throwing the ball. It should be close, maybe high 20s in scoring.
- New Era Pinstripe (Dec. 28 at noon on ESPN)
I love this venue. Yankee Stadium football game? It’d be great to go there. Rutgers, which just fired three of its coaches because of abuse allegations by a player who will transfer, will be stumbling into this game. They’ll face a Notre Dame team that was not very good this year and fell flat on its face with a bad, turnover-prone offense. I pick Notre Dame in a close game, and Tommy Rees will throw 2 picks as usual. I just don’t see Rutgers’ offense of generating much scoring.
- Belk (Dec. 28 at 3:20 PM on ESPN)
Cincinatti will face North Carolina, which was lucky to be bowl-eligible with a so-so team. But, they had a really good college QB in Bryn Renner to help them. Cincinatti should win this one, as UNC has never been a powerful football team.
- Russell Athletic (Dec. 28 at 6:45 PM on ESPN)
Miami will face Louisville, the latter will join the ACC next year to replace Maryland leaving for the B1G Ten. Louisville should beat down Miami in this one, as Miami struggled to win down the stretch and Louisville has phenomenal QB and top draft prospect Teddy Bridgewater (pictured above). Louisville in a blow-out as Miami “The U” licks its wounds, again.
- Buffalo Wild Wings
Do they get free BWW wings?! Please say yes! That’d be great! But Blue (aka Michigan) will face Kansas State, which had a subpar season compared to last year. Kansas State got bowl-eligible in a so-so Big 12 conference and lost at home to FCS foe North Dakota State early in the season (Note: North Dakota State’s head coach just took the head coaching job at Wyoming). I pick Michigan because they’re talent-wise much better than Kansas State, who is in rebuilding mode. But, Michigan QB Devin Gardner will throw at least 1 pick during this game, but rush for 200 yards.
- Bell Helicopter Armed Forces (Dec. 30 at 11:45 AM on ESPN)
Middle Tennessee against Navy, such a great matchup, right? Actually, Middle Tennessee has been known to put up a good fight, and Navy fought back to become bowl-eligible. Navy’s triple option will be troublesome for Middle Tennessee and I’ll pick Navy.
- Franklin American Mortgage Music City (Dec. 30 at 3:15 PM on ESPN)
Ole Miss and Georgia Tech, a regressing offense under coach Hugh Freeze against a tough triple-option attack of the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech gave ACC opponents all it could this year and got to a bowl game, and whose triple-option offense is just tough news. Ole Miss of the celebrated SEC will play, but I was not impressed by their offense. Georgia Tech in a nail-biter in the low 20s.
- Valero Alamo (Dec. 30 at 6:45 PM on ESPN)
Arizona State faces a reeling Texas Tech team who could not win their bigger rivalry games this year. Arizona State was blasted by Stanford in the PAC-12 title game and got the Holiday Bowl and not the Rose Bowl. I feel ASU coach Todd Graham will coach up his Sun Devils to beat the Red Raiders, where first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury is still learning the ropes.
- AdvoCare V100 (Dec. 31 at 12:30 PM on ESPN)
Arizona, which lost its rivalry game to Arizona State, will face Boston College. Boston College was Linebacker U with Luke Kuechly being one of their more noticeable graduates in the NFL. I swear Boston College wins almost every game in the 20s. If it’s that low, Boston College wins. If Arizona makes it a shootout, as coach Rich Rodriguez can and has done at Arizona, then the Wildcats win. But, be careful of BC’s running back Andre Williams (pictured above), who hit the 2,000 yard rushing mark this season. I’ll pick Arizona in this one.
- Hyundai Sun (Dec. 31 at 2 PM on ESPN)
Virginia Tech, in a letdown season (yet again), will face UCLA in El Paso, Texas. VaTech saw its once-heralded QB Logan Thomas just flop on the stage with turnovers galore. One of his coaches blamed his receivers. Okay then. But UCLA is roaring after trouncing archrival USC and whose QB Brett Hundley will dominate VaTech’s defense (which is a very good one). UCLA in a blowout.
- AutoZone Liberty (Dec. 31 at 4 PM on ESPN)
Rice versus Mississippi State, not the most enthralling game. But, Mississippi State won their rivalry game, the Egg Bowl, and is hyped for this bowl game. Rice made their bowl game, ending a long drought, and they can score. But, Mississippi State is too deep for Rice and will win in a laugher of a game.
- Chick-fil-A (Dec. 31 at 8 PM on ESPN)
Duke, the surprise of the ACC, won 10 games for the first time EVER in Duke football history. They got blasted by Florida State in the ACC title game, but will prove a tough out against Texas A&M and their star QB Johnny “Football” Manziel. Manziel can throw, just as Duke can, and it will be a shootout and fun to watch. I’ll pick Duke because I trust their defense just a little bit more. However, if Manziel throws for 300+ yards, limits turnovers and his target Mike Evans gets 100+ yards receiving, I’ll take the Aggies.
- TaxSlayer.com Gator
Nebraska, whose coach Bo Pelini dared his administration to fire him, is reeling. Georgia, who lost their starting QB Aaron Murray to a knee injury, will be looking to end the season on a high note. I’m a big Mark Richt fan (Georgia’s coach) and I feel he’ll coach his boys to beat the Huskers. This won’t be close.
- Heart of Dallas (Jan. 1 at noon on ESPNU)
UNLV, which just extended the contract of their coach, made a bowl game. I never thought I’d ever see that this year. They face another small school in North Texas. Just because UNLV surprised me by being bowl-eligible, I’ll pick the Rebels in this one.
- Capital One (Jan. 1 at 1 PM on ABC)
Wisconsin faces South Carolina (or as Carolinians say, USC). I pick Wisconsin to win this bruising battle, even if South Carolina’s defense can keep up with the Badgers’ jet sweeps. The two-headed rushing attack of Wisconsin won’t be stopped by South Carolina and South Carolina’s QB Connor Shaw doesn’t scare defenses with his deep ball. Wisconsin in a grinder of a game.
- Outback (Jan. 1 at 1 PM on ESPN)
Iowa qualified even as Iowa fans wanted coach Kirk Ferentz long gone. LSU, coached by the Mad Hatter Les Miles, will bring Iowa to its knees in this game. LSU played tough this year in a bad SEC, but their talent is far better and faster than Iowa’s. LSU in a blowout and dominating win.
- AT&T Cotton (Jan. 3 at 7:30 PM on FOX)
Oklahoma State and Missouri will clash. The Pokes of Oklahoma State will be coming off a tough, last minute defeat to archrival Oklahoma and Missouri was knocked out by Auburn’s punches in the SEC title game. I like both teams, but Missouri will win because Oklahoma State’s spread offense can’t punch it in when the game is on the line.
- BBVA Compass (Jan. 4 at 1 PM on ESPN)
Vanderbilt, the SEC upstart under coach James Franklin, is facing a Houston Cougars team that did well this season. But, Vandy in this one as Franklin rebuilds this team into a SEC powerhouse. Oh, and Vandy plays good defense while Houston doesn’t.
- GoDaddy (Jan. 5 at 9 PM on ESPN)
What? They have a GoDaddy bowl game? Ew. Arkansas State vs. Ball State…who really cares? But I’ll pick Arkansas State because Auburn coach Gus Malzahn coached there before returning to Auburn.
So, what’d you think? Any disagreements? Questions?