Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bowling Season

One of the wildest seasons of college football wrapped up Saturday (The Army Navy game was Saturday--neither will be bowling this season). Things got really interesting this year when LSU beat Alabama 9-6 in overtime. Then talk about who the second best team in the nation REALLY was. Oklahoma State? Stanford? Alabama? Oregon? It was suppose to take a miracle for the Tide to get back into the National Championship picture. And that is exactly what it got! Losses by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, and Stanford all helped the Crimson Tide slide into the #2 spot and wind up with a controversial rematch for the Crystal Ball.

But before we settle who the best of the best are, we must wade through the muck that is the mediocrity bowl-slate (13 teams have the potential to finish below .500). It wouldn't be fun to predict the good bowl games, so I going to break it down all 35 of em. Last years record was 20-15.

New Mexico Bowl-Temple vs. Wyoming
Temple has been an under-the-radar team the last few years. Back-to-back 8-win seasons has the people of Philadelphia thinking twice about the Eagles. Wyoming can't run the ball and they can't stop the run...advantage Owls. Who wins: Temple

Idaho Potato Bowl- Ohio vs. Utah St.
Utah St. had defending national champs Auburn on the ropes with under two minuets to play. Then they choked it away. The Aggies pulled it together and got into a bowl game with the 6th ranked rushing attack in the nation. Ohio is a perennial bowl competitor, but lack success. Who's turning potatoes into fries? Ohio

New Orleans Bowl- SDSU vs. LA-Lafayette
Both teams won 8 games. SDSU did it in a much tougher conference. The Ragin' Cajuns are in their first bowl in 41 years! Who's throwin' beads on Bourbon St? SDSU

Beef O' Brady's Bowl St. Petersburg- Florida International vs. Marshall
Marshall won their last two games to become bowl eligible. Both teams struggle in the offensive category. In a game named Beef O' Brady's, why wouldn't things be offensive? Game lies in the arm of Panthers QB Carrol and WR T.Y. Hilton. Who's got the beef? Florida International

S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl- TCU vs. Louisiana Tech
So, TCU wins the Mountain West (welcome to the conference, Boise) and still can't get into the automatic ranks. So they settle for LA Tech. This shouldn't be close. Who's got the better credit score? TCU

Las Vegas Bowl- Boise St. vs. Arizona St.
This one could get ugly. Did the Sun Devils even play a 2nd half of the season? Boise, ranked 7th, will be upset about being left out of the BCS. Who's the high roller? Boise State

Hawaii Bowl- Southern Miss vs. Nevada
Southern Miss cost Conference USA a boatload of cash by beating Houston in the conference championship game. They are a good looking team. Nevada runs the Pistol offense to the T. The Golden Eagles pack a great punch too. This will be a fun game to watch. Mele Kalikimaka to Southern Miss.

Independence Bowl- Missouri vs. UNC
Mizzou bids adieu to the Big 12. UNC put together a decent season under interim Head Coach Everett Withers. Who wins? Missouri

Little Caesars Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Purdue
One of least interesting match-ups this bowl season.  Purdue didn't win back to back games all season. The Broncos won two in a row to get into a bowl. They got a QB who has nearly 3,500 yards passing. Pizza! Pizza! Western Michigan

Belk Bowl- Louisville vs. N.C. State
Louisville competed in the Big East (but who didn't?) N.C. State looked impressive in a stunner over Clemson. The Cardinals were the more consistent of the two teams who both struggle offensively. I have no idea what Belk does...Louisville

Military Bowl- Toledo vs. Air Force
Air Force is the only military team to qualify for a bowl game. Good thing cause this game would be awkward if there wasn't a military school in it. The Falcons can run the ball and Toledo can score lots of different ways. Should be an interesting game. ATTENTION! Toledo

Holiday Bowl- California vs. Texas
The Longhorns struggled and I have no idea why Texas was ranked for most of the season. They weren't very competitive in any of their games against ranked opponents. Cal, Cal, Cal. Somehow, some way, they turned it around in the 2nd half of the season. Remember when Texas head man lobbied for a BCS bowl game over Cal a few years back? Holiday Cheer for Texas

Champ Sports Bowl- Notre Dame vs. Florida State
A classic match-up. Florida State was ranked number five at one point, but lost to Oklahoma, Clemson and Wake Forest in consecutive weeks to put em out of contention. The Irish used two 4-game win streaks to get to a bowl game. Hardly call them a Champ winner Florida State

Valero Alamo Bowl- Washington vs. Baylor
This is the first year in the Alamo Bowl for the Pac-12. Washington played well early under QB Price (who will no doubt be more successful than Jake Locker) but slept walked through the rest of the season. Baylor finished off one of their best seasons and have the best player in college football Robert Griffin III. Who Remembers the Alamo? Baylor

Armed Forces Bowl- BYU vs. Tulsa
This is a sleeper game. BYU had 9 wins this season but was under the radar because they were an Independent. Tulsa's only conference loss was to Houston. Tulsa can score and should keep this one competitive. Up in Arms Tulsa

New Era Pinstripe Bowl- Rutgers vs. Iowa State
Rutgers is the bigger, stronger team here. Iowa State pulled the huge upset against #2 Oklahoma State to throw the college football world into a spiral only to lose their final two games of the season. Expect Rutgers to pass all over the Cyclones. Now Batting for the Yankees Rutgers

Music City Bowl- Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest
Mississippi State has the misfortune of playing in the SEC West division. You know, with teams like LSU, Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn. Tough to get in a rhythm playing those teams. Wake Forest had a better than expected year, and happy to be back in a bowl game. If the Bulldogs can get the running game going, they can win it. Who's hearing Sweet Music? Mississippi State

Insight Bowl- Iowa vs. Oklahoma
The Sooners are a stranger to non-BCS bowl games. This is only their third non-BCS bowl game in the last 10 years. Iowa won games they shouldn't have and lost games they shouldn't have. Even without standout wide receiver Ryan Broyles, the Sooners should roll. Who wins? Oklahoma

Meineke Car Care Bowl- Texas A&M vs. Northwestern
For some reason, it's always a shock to see NW in a bowl game. But they fought and scrapped this season. Was there a bigger disappointment in college football this season than Texas A&M? Back to back blown leads against Oklahoma St. and Arkansas began the implosion. If Wildcat QB Dan Persa can play the entire game, NW has a shot. The George Foreman goes to Texas A&M

Sun Bowl- Georgia Tech vs. Utah
A pretty good match up in El Paso. Pac-12 newcomers Utah pulled together a strong 2nd half of the season with a stout defense. Georgia Tech can run the ball, they rank 3rd in the NCAA in rushing. A classic game of which will win out. The Sun is shining for Georgia Tech

AutoZone Liberty Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt
Vandy put together one of the more surprising seasons this year, in the SEC no less. This is only their 5th bowl appearance ever. Cincy has a tough streak to them. Give them Liberty Cincy

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl- Illinois vs. UCLA
Do we HAVE to play this game?? Neither team has a head coach. Illinois won their first 6 games, only to lose their last 6. UCLA actually has a losing record going into this one. The Bruins would have been bowl eligible had USC been able to qualify for the Pac-12 championship game so a bowl game seems fair. Still, most will be fighting boredom watching this one. Serve up some Mac&Cheese to Illinois

Chick-fil-A Bowl- Virginia vs. Auburn
Auburn struggled to find consistency at QB but no one is Cam Newton. Virginia was more successful on the road than the Tigers. But is Virginia ready for this stage? Auburn will be playing in familiar territory in the Georgia Dome. Eat Mor Chikin Auburn

TicketCity Bowl- Penn St. vs. Houston
No doubt Houston had other thoughts than the TicketCity Bowl. Their Conference USA championship loss cost them a BCS game in which they very well could have been the favorite. They settle for a game in Dallas against Penn St. who has a stout defense. I think Keenum is a way better QB than Penn St. has seen all year. Punchin' their Ticket Houston

Outback Bowl- Michigan St. vs. Georgia
A match-up of two conference championship losers. Georgia came on strong to end the season after starting 0-2, winning 10 straight before the SEC championship loss to LSU. Michigan St. couldn't pull another miracle in the Big 10 game. Two great defenses and equal offenses. Who's Going Down Under? Michigan State

Capital One Bowl- Nebraska vs. South Carolina
If Cornhuskers QB Martinez and RB Burkhead click, Nebraska can take this one. But they are so hit-and-miss all season long. South Carolina has a stingy defense with a beast defensive line. Connor Shaw took over nicely at the QB spot for a disappointing Stephen Garcia. Should the Huskers QB/RB tandem fail, the Gamecocks will take over. What's in Your Wallet? South Carolina

Gator Bowl- Ohio St. vs. Florida
I have a tough time with this game. Do two 6-6 teams really deserve a "New Years Day" bowl game? Both had disappointing seasons but Florida may come with a bit more motivation in an attempt to beat the soon-to-be-coached Urban Meyer Buckeyes. This is almost a toss-up. Urban Bowl Winner? Ohio State

Rose Bowl Game- Wisconsin vs. Oregon
This is one of the top 3 match-ups this bowl season. The first BCS game this year features a power offense (Wisky) versus a speed offense (Ducks). If Oregon's surprising D can get a few stops and run around the slower Wisconsin defensive line, Ducks take it. If not, Wisconsin dominates possession and can pull it out. Who's Rosy? Oregon

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma St. vs. Stanford
In my eyes, this is the best match-up of the season. Oklahoma St. was this close to the National Championship and Stanford could have been in the mix too had they beat Oregon. But with QB's Brandon Weeden and Andrew Luck this one has plenty of points in the offering. I think Justin Blackmon is the difference. The Cardinal don't have that deep threat with Owusu out. Chips n' Dip Oklahoma State

Allstate Sugar Bowl- Michigan vs. Virginia Tech
The most disappointing BCS match-up. Shame on the Sugar Bowl for this selection. Michigan was just good enough to qualify for a spot and Virginia Tech got pounded in the ACC championship game. This should have been Boise St. and Kansas St. But it is all about the money, you know that! Virginia Tech has more talent in this one. Who's In Good Hands? Virginia Tech

Discover Orange Bowl- Clemson vs. West Virginia
How good did Clemson look early in the year? And how quickly that success dropped. But they rebounded to win the ACC bid. West Virginia won the muddled Big East with plenty of help. Clemson definitely has the better team. But if Geno Smith has success passing, the Mountaineers have a shot. Who wins? Clemson

AT&T Cotton Bowl- Arkansas vs. Kansas St.
This is going to be a great game. Kansas State has a hard-nosed offense and coach Snyder always seems to get this team motivated to play. Arkansas was over-shadowed by LSU and Alabama this season. QB Tyler Wilson is playing better than Ryan Mallett had last year. Look for the Razorbacks to pull away late in this one. Who wins? Arkansas

BBVA Compass Bowl- SMU vs. Pittsburgh
Why this game is played so late in the bowl season is beyond me (money, probably). SMU is being rejuvenated by coach June Jones. But unlike the Pony Express, this Mustangs team does it through the air. Pitt never won back-to-back conference games and lost a few games it probably shouldn't have. Compass is Pointing to SMU Bowl- Arkansas St. vs. Northern Illinois
An intriguing game to prep you for the National Championship, this bowl features two 10-win teams. Frustrating to know that winning your conference only gets you to the website bowl. Northern Ill. is no stranger to bowl games, but Arkansas St is a 10-win team for the first time in school history. Who gets to Meet Danica Patrick? Northern Illinois

BCS National Championship- LSU vs. Alabama
An SEC team will lose in the title game, you can count on it. Here is my beef with this match-up: This game proves nothing. If LSU wins, they beat Alabama...again. We already knew they could beat Bama (see: Nov. 5th, 9-6 OT). People will cry that Oklahoma State should have had a shot. If Alabama wins, then the series is tied 1-1 and we will never get a 3rd game to see who takes the cake. Nothing is solved in the big picture with this match-up. It just gives the SEC another bragging point. Nonetheless, the game must be played. I expect this game to be different than the first meeting. More points, less defense the second go around. With the game being played in New Orleans, that has to give the edge to LSU. They seem to win one ever five years anyways...

There you have it, all 35 games predicted. Thoughts? See how you do and I'll be back to wrap it all up on January 10th. 


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