Collier takes a look at the bowl season
by Andy Collier
Dec 09, 2012 | 2548 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s a fun time in the college football season as the bowl games are set to begin. Most everybody’s favorite college team will be on display with 70 teams competing in 35 different bowls. With the bowl season set to begin on Saturday, here are my predictions for the entire bowl season.

Dec. 15

New Mexico Bowl (12 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Nevada (7-5 Mountain West) vs. Arizona (7-5 Pac 12): This game will kick off the bowl season. Both teams are strong offensively as the Arizona Wildcats are averaging 37.3 points per game, while the Nevada Wolf Pack are averaging 37 points per game. This game has the makings of being a shootout. Nevada 51-45.

Idaho Potato Bowl (3:30 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Toledo (9-3) vs. No. 18 Utah State (10-2): This should be a solid Mid American vs. Western Athletic Conference match-up. The Utah State Aggies has the top defense in the WAC, giving up just 15.4 points per game while the offense has scored 34.4 points per game. The Rockets, of the Mid American Conference, have scored 32.9 points per game and have given up 27.3 points a game. Utah State should reign supreme. Utah State 41-27.

Dec. 20

Poinsettia Bowl (7 p.m. CST, ESPN)

San Diego State (9-3 Mountain West) vs. BYU (7-5 Independent): The San Diego Aztecs will be looking to build on an already successful football season. The Aztecs have relied a lot on the running back duo of Adam Muema (211 car., 1,355 yards, 16 TDs) and Walter Kazee (161 car., 822 yards, 8 TDs). The Aztecs will take on a Brigham Young University team that has had its ups and downs. Wide receiver Cody Hoffman (90 rec., 1,134 yards, 11 TDs) has spearheaded the Cougars’ offense. Defense has been a strength for the Cougars as they’ve yielded just 14.7 points per contest. The Aztecs have given up 24.5 points a game. The Cougars will have enough strength to win. BYU 21-14.

Dec. 21

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl (6:30 p.m., CST, ESPN)

Ball State (9-3 Mid-American) vs. UCF (9-4 C-USA): This should be a good one to watch early in the bowl season. The Ball State Cardinals have scored 35 points per game contest. The University of Central Florida Knights have the top scoring defense in their conference by giving up 22.5 points per game. Defensive backs Kemal Ishmael (116 tackles) and Clayton Geathers (107 tackles) and linebacker Terrance Plummer (102 tackles) all have over 100 tackles for the Knights. UCF should win big time. UCF 36-18.

Dec. 22

New Orleans Bowl (11 a.m. CST, ESPN)

East Carolina (8-4 C-USA) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4 Sun Belt): The East Carolina Pirates have been in some shootouts as they’ve scored an average of 31.3 points per game, while giving up 30.7 points a contest. Quarterback Shane Carden (248-of-371, 2,838 yards, 21 TDs, 9 Ints.) has led the Pirates’ offense. The Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns are scoring an average of 34.8 points per game and giving up an average of 27.6 points a contest. La.-Lafayette’s offense is anchored by quarterback Terra Broadway (185-of-284, 2,526 yards, 16 TDs, 8 Ints), while the defense is led by linebacker Justin Anderson. An offensive battle will be what’s in store for football fans. East Carolina 56-53.

Las Vegas Bowl (2:30 p.m. CST, ESPN)

No. 20 Boise State (10-2 Mountain West) vs. Washington (7-5 Pac 12): The Boise State Broncos have had a great season. Boise State’s defense has played well this season as the Broncos are sixth in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 14.9 points per game and ninth in total defense (304.7 YPG). The offense has scored 30.4 points per game with the offensive line giving up just nine sacks. The Washington Huskies has struggled at times, scoring 23.8 points per game, while giving up 23.8 points a game. Both teams are balanced on offense, but defense will win the day in this one. Boise State 10-7.

Dec. 24

Hawaii Bowl (7 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Fresno State (9-3 Mountain West) vs. SMU (6-6 C-USA): The Fresno State Bulldogs have one of the most prolific offenses in the country as they are tied for 12th in the nation in points per game (40.3). Derek Carr (311-of-457, 3,742 yards, 36 TDs, 5 Ints) has been phenomenal at quarterback for Fresno State, while Robbie Rouse (269 carries, 1,468 yards, 12 TDs) has been great at running back. The Southern Methodist University Mustangs have struggled at times. The Bulldogs will be too much to handle. Fresno State 49-21.

Dec. 26

Little Caesar’s Bowl (6:30 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Central Michigan (6-6 Mid-American) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5 Sun Belt): Both teams are looking to turn up the heat to close out the year. The Central Michigan Chippewas are looking to avoid a losing record as they are led by quarterback Ryan Radcliff (223-of-378, 2,905 yards, 20 TDs, 9 Ints) and linebacker Justin Cherocci (124 tackles), while the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are spearheaded by running back Antonio Andrews (277 carries, 1,609 yards 11 TDs) and linebacker Andrew Jackson (116 tackles, 17.5 tackles-for-loss). Despite the .500 record, the Chippewas have won their last three games. Central Michigan will finish above the .500 mark. Central Michigan 31-24.

Dec. 27

Military Bowl (2 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Bowling Green (8-4 Mid-American) vs. No. 24 San Jose State (10-2 Western Athletic): This should be a very appealing match-up. The Bowling Green Falcons have won seven of its last eight after starting the year 1-3. The San Jose State Spartans have won their last six games, scoring 42 or more points four times during that span. San Jose State quarterback David Fales (294-of-408, 3,798 yards, 31 TDs, 9 Ints) has been one of the best in the nation Bowling Green’s defense ranks high with the best in the country as the team is ninth in the nation in scoring defense (15.8 ppg.). Senior defensive tackle Chris Jones (41 tackles, 19 tackles-for-loss, 12.5 sacks) has led the Falcons. The Spartans are in for a rude awakening. Bowling Green 28-23.

Belk Bowl (5:30 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Cincinnati (9-3 Big East) vs. Duke (6-6 ACC): The Duke University Blue Devils are in their first bowl game since 1995 as they are under the direction of head coach David Cutcliffe, who had an impressive record of 44-29 in six seasons as Ole Miss head football coach from 1998-2004. A win for the Blue Devils would end a string of 17 consecutive losing seasons. For the Blue Devils to win, they have to beat a Cincinnati Bearcats’ team that has won its last five games and is scoring an average of 31 points a contest. The Bearcats’ defense isn’t bad either as they’ve yielded 17.2 points a contest, which puts them 12th in the nation in scoring defense. The Bearcats are the favorites, but I’m going to go with the underdogs in this one. Duke 20-19.

Holiday Bowl (8:45 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Baylor (7-5 Big 12) vs. No. 17 UCLA (9-4 Pac 12): This showdown between the Baylor Bears, and the UCLA Bruins should be a terrific contest. The Bears have won their last three games with those wins coming against Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The Bears have scored an average of 44.1 points per game, which puts them fifth in the nation in scoring offense. The Bruins, scoring 35.1 points per game, have a solid offense as well. Both teams are good, but the Bears are peaking at the right time. Baylor 63-56.

Dec. 28

Independence Bowl (1 p.m., CST, ESPN)

Ohio (8-4 Mid-American) vs. LA-Monroe (8-4 Sun Belt): The Ohio Bobcats and the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks are both looking to end their seasons on the winning note. The eight wins the Warhawks have are the most they’ve had in a season since 1993, while the Bobcats are out to right their ship after losing three of their last four games. This game could be decided on the last play. The Bobcats will secure win No. 9. Ohio 24-21.

Russell Athletic Bowl (4:30 p.m., CST, ESPN)

Rutgers (9-3 Big East) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6 ACC): The Rutgers Scarlett Knights are looking to close the season out with a 10-win campaign. The Scarlett Knights are ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, giving up 14.2 points per game. The Virginia Tech Hokies have been playing better as of late by winning their last two games. Virginia Tech was second in the ACC in scoring defense. (23.9 ppg.). This has the makings of being a tight contest, but Rutgers will come out on top. Rutgers 14-7.

Meineke Car Care Bowl (8 p.m., CST, ESPN)

Minnesota (6-6 Big 10) vs. Texas Tech (7-5 Big 12): The Texas Tech Red Raiders are well known for their offense. The Red Raiders have scored 37.8 points a game, which puts them 16th nationally in scoring offense. The Minnesota Gophers have been struggling as of late heading into the bowl game as they’ve lost six of their last eight games. The Gophers will be in for a long night. Texas Tech 42-14.

Dec. 29

Armed Forces Bowl (10:45 a.m. CST, ESPN)

Air Force (6-6 Mountain West) vs. Rice (6-6 C-USA): The Air Force Falcons love to run the football as they’ve rushed for an average of 328.8 yards a game, which puts the second in the nation. The Rice Owls have been on a hot streak by winning their last four games. This is another bowl game that could go either way, but Air Force will finish the year above the .500 mark. Air Force 32-26.

Pinstripe Bowl (2:15 p.m., CST, ESPN)

Syracuse (7-5 Big East) vs. West Virginia (7-5 Big 12): The Syracuse Orange have a solid offense as they’ve scored 31 or more points over their last three games which all have resulted in wins to qualify them for the bowl. The West Virginia Mountaineers also have a superb offense by scoring an average of 41.6 points per game, ranking them seventh nationally in scoring offense. Mountaineers’ quarterback Geno Smith (350-of-490, 4,004 yards 40 TDs, 6 Ints) has been one of the best in the country. West Virginia has struggled on defense, but the team’s offense will be enough. West Virginia 44-30.

Fight Hunger Bowl (2:15 p.m., CST, ESPN 2)

Navy (8-4 Ind.) vs. Arizona State (7-5 Pac 12): The Navy Midshipmen have played good football from the middle of September on as they’ve won seven of their last eight games. Navy relies on a solid ground game as the Midshipmen have rushed for an average of 285.5 yards per game. The Midshipmen will face an Arizona State University team that has won its last two games, scoring 87 points during that stretch. The Sun Devils will be hard to handle. Arizona State 33-21.

Alamo Bowl (5:45 p.m. CST, ESPN)

No. 15 Oregon State (9-3 Pac 12) vs. Texas (8-4 Big 12): This Pac-12 vs. Big 12 match-up will football fans could very well be a point in the bowl season. The Oregon State University Beavers’ offense is led by the receiving corps of Markus Wheaton (88 catches, 1,207 yards, 11 TDs) and Brandin Cooks (64 catches, 1,120 yards, 5 TDs), while the defense is anchored by defensive end Scott Crichton (42 tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss, 9 sacks) and cornerback Jordan Poyer (46 tackles, 7 Ints). The Texas Longhorns are led on offense by quarterback David Ash (193-of-285, 2,458 yards, 17 TDs, 7 Ints) while the defense is spearheaded by defensive end Alex Okafor (60 tackles, 12 tackles-for-loss, 8 sacks). The Longhorns’ offense will have to be solid as the Beavers are giving up 19 points per game, which puts them 22nd in the nation. The Longhorns, who have lost their last two games, will come out of it. Texas 22-21.

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (9:15 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Michigan State (6-6 Big 10) vs. TCU (7-5 Big 12): The Texas Christian University Horned Frogs held their own in the Big 12. TCU’s defense was second in the Big 12 in scoring defense (23.1 ppg.). Three of the Horned Frogs five losses were by seven points or less. The Michigan State Spartans are looking to end their season on a good note as they’ve lost five of their last eight games. The Spartans have given up 16.3 points a game, which puts them 10th in the nation in scoring defense. The Horned Frogs will own the night. TCU 10-7.

Dec. 31

Music City Bowl (11 a.m. CST, ESPN)

N.C. State (7-5 ACC) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4 SEC): The Vanderbilt Commodores have looked strong in the always-tough Southeastern Conference. The yielded 18.3 points per game, which put them 15th in the nation. The eight wins the Commodores have are the most they’ve had in a season since 1982. Linebacker Chase Garnham (77 tackles, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, 6 Ints) has led Vanderbilt’s defense, while quarterback Jordan Rodgers (175-of-294, 2,431 yards, 13 TDs, 5 Ints) has led the offense. The North Carolina State Wolfpack are spearheaded by quarterback Mike Glennon (295-of-511, 3,648 yards, 30 TDs, 14 Ints). The Wolfpack will have some tough times on New Year’s Eve. Vanderbilt 37-17.

Sun Bowl (1 p.m. CST, CBS)

USC (7-5 Pac 12) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7 ACC): The University of Southern California Trojans, have lost four of their last five games. The appearance in the Sun Bowl for USC is disappointing, especially since the team was preseason ranked No. 1. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have lost their last two games and are looking to finish the year at the .500 mark. The Trojans will finish the night on top. USC 28-21.

Liberty Bowl (2:30 p.m. CST, ESPN)

Iowa State (6-6 Big 12) vs. Tulsa (10-3 C-USA): The Tulsa Golden Hurricane, champions of Conference USA, have had a monster season. The Golden Hurricane are averaging 240.1 rushing yards a game. Tulsa has played well on defense as the team is led by linebacker DeAundre Brown (125 tackles, 17 tackles-for-loss, 9 sacks). The Iowa State Cyclones have lost five of their last seven games and are looking to end their year on a good note. The Cyclones will have a hard time trying to get the best of the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa 32-20.

Chick-fil-A Bowl (6:30 p.m. CST, ESPN)

No. 9 LSU (10-2, SEC) vs. No. 14 Clemson (10-2, ACC): This game has the potential to be one to remember. The Louisiana State University Tigers, like a lot of teams from the SEC, has a stout defense as the team has given up just 16.9 points per game, which puts the Tigers 11th in the nation in scoring defense. The Clemson Tigers will be looking rebound from a 27-17 loss last month to South Carolina. Prior to the loss, Clemson had won seven games in a row. Clemson has scored an average of 42.3 points per game, which puts the team sixth nationally in scoring offense. As good as Clemson’s offense is, LSU’s defense will be too much in the end. LSU 23-20.

Jan. 1

Heart of Dallas Bowl (11 a.m. CST., ESPNU)

Purdue (6-6 Big 10) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5 Big 12): The Oklahoma State Cowboys have one of the deadliest offenses in the nation as they are fourth in scoring offense, scoring 44.7 points per game. The Purdue Boilermakers have been playing better football as of late, winning their last three games. The Cowboys will put an end to the Boilermakers’ run. Oklahoma State 44-27.

Gator Bowl (11 a.m. CST., ESPN 2)

Mississippi State (8-4, SEC) vs. No. 21 Northwestern (9-3, Big 10): The Mississippi State University Bulldogs are looking to end their season with a big win. The Bulldogs, led by quarterback Tyler Russell (219-of-366, 2,791 yards, 22 TDs, 8 Ints) and defensive back Johnathan Banks (59 tackles, 4 Ints), are 2-0 in bowl games under current head coach Dan Mullen. The Northwestern Wildcats will be playing in a New Year’s Day Bowl for the third time in four seasons. Despite MSU’s recent struggles, Mullen will have the Bulldogs ready come bowl time. MSU 28-24.

Capitol One Bowl (12 p.m., CST., ABC)

No. 6 Georgia (11-2 SEC) vs. No. 23 Nebraska (10-3, Big Ten): The Georgia Bulldogs are looking to end their season on winning note after suffering a heartbreaking 32-28 loss to Alabama in the SEC Title game. The Bulldogs, who have given up just 18.8 points per game, are 17th in the nation in scoring defense. Their offense has been great as well as they’ve scored 37.2 points per game, which puts them 18th nationally. The Nebraska Cornhuskers have had a great year but will be looking to rebound from a 70-31 loss they suffered at the hands of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title game. The Cornhuskers may be overwhelmed, however, when they take on the Bulldogs. Georgia 35-21.

Outback Bowl (12 p.m. CST., ESPN)

No. 19 Michigan (8-4 Big Ten) vs. No. 11 South Carolina (10-2 SEC): The South Carolina Gamecocks have had another super year. South Carolina has given up just 17.4 points per game, which puts the team 13th in the nation in scoring defense. The Michigan Wolverines have played great defense as well as they’re 16th in the nation in scoring defense (18.8 ppg.). This game will be close, but it will be another big win for the Gamecocks. South Carolina 21-14.

Rose Bowl (4 p.m. CST., ESPN)

No. 8 Stanford (11-2 Pac 12) vs. Wisconsin (8-5 Big Ten): The Stanford Cardinals, the Pac-12 Champions, and the Wisconsin Badgers, the Big Ten Champions, are looking to add one more big win to their record. The Cardinals have a solid defense as they’ve yielded just 17.5 points per game, which puts them 14th in the nation. Linebackers Chase Thomas (68 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks) and Trent Murphy (55 tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss, 10 sacks), along with free safety Ed Reynolds (43 tackles, 6 Ints), have spearheaded the Cardinals. The Badgers are led by running back Montee Ball (332 carries, 1,730 yards, 21 TDs) and linebacker Mike Taylor (120 tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss). Wisconsin will have a tough time against Stanford. Stanford 29-16.

Orange Bowl (7:30 p.m., CST., ESPN)

No. 13 Florida State (11-2 ACC) vs. No. 16 Northern Illinois (12-1, Mid American): The Florida State Seminoles, this year’s ACC Champs, have returned to glory as they are back to their old ways playing in the Orange Bowl. The Northern Illinois Huskies have also been impressive as they’ve won their last 12 games. Florida State should be able to hold on for the victory. Florida State 32-24.

Jan. 2

Sugar Bowl 7:30 p.m., CST., ESPN)

No. 4 Florida (11-1, SEC) vs. No. 22 Louisville (10-2 Big East): The Florida Gators are hungry. After losing to Georgia 17-9, Florida has won its last four games. The Gators’ defense has been tough as they are ranked third in the nation in scoring defense (12.9 ppg.). The Cardinals, this year’s Big East Champs, are out to prove that they can beat anybody. Louisville will have a tough battle. Florida 35-14.

Jan. 3

Fiesta Bowl (7:30 p.m., CST., ESPN)

No. 5 Oregon (11-1 Pac 12) vs. No. 7 Kansas State (11-1 Big 12): These two teams barely missed out on the national championship game. The Oregon Ducks, the Pac 12 Champions, suffered their only loss against Stanford by the score of 17-14, while the Kansas State Wildcats, the Big 12 Champions, suffered their only loss to Baylor 52-24. Both teams can put the points on the board as Oregon is second in the nation in scoring offense (50.8 ppg.), while Kansas State is 10th (40.7 ppg.). This game should be a fun one. Oregon 49-42.

Jan. 4

Cotton Bowl (7 p.m., CST, FOX)

No. 12 Oklahoma (10-2, Big 12) vs. No. 10 Texas A&M (10-2, SEC): This game will be a battle of the quarterbacks with Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel (3,419 passing yards, 24 TDs, 1,181 rushing yards, 19 TDs) and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones (332-of-507, 3,989 yards, 29 TDs, 10 Ints). The Texas A&M Aggies have played well in the SEC this year, and will come out on top in this game. Texas A&M 35-24.

Jan. 5

BBVA Compass Bowl (12 p.m., CST, ESPN)

Ole Miss (6-6 SEC) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6 Big East): Both teams are looking to finish with winning records. The Pittsburgh Panthers have won their last two games, while the Rebels are looking to build on their 41-24 win over Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl last month. Pittsburg quarterback Tino Sunseri (240-of-361, 3,103 yards, 19 TDs, 2 Ints) and Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace (213-of-336, 2,843 yards, 19 TDs, 15 Ints) will be looking to lead their teams to victory. Rebels wide receiver Donte Moncrief (60 catches, 948 yards, 10 TDs) could be Ole Miss’ X-factor. Ole Miss 45-35.

Jan. 6

GoDaddy.com Bowl (8 p.m., CST, ESPN)

Arkansas State (9-3 Sun Belt) vs. No. 25 Kent State (11-2, Mid-American): The Arkansas State University Red Wolves, this year’s Sun Belt Conference Champions, will be looking for a 10-win season. Quarterback Ryan Aplin (255-of-376, 3,129 yards, 23 TDs, 4 Ints) has had the Red Wolves on the right track. The Kent State Golden Flashes are led by running backs Dri Archer (150 carries, 1,352 yards, 15 TDs) and Trayion Durham (256 carries, 1,248 yards, 14 TDs). The Red Wolves are solid, but the Flashes will have enough power to win the game. Kent State 24-17.

Jan. 7

BCS National Championship (7:30 p.m., CST, ESPN)

No. 2 Alabama (12-1 SEC) vs. No. 1 Notre Dame (Independent): This is the match-up everyone in the college football world has been waiting for. The Notre Fighting Irish and the Alabama Crimson Tide, the SEC Champions, have the top two scoring defenses in the country. Notre Dame is first (10.3 ppg.), while Alabama is second (10.7 ppg.). Alabama’s offense has been terrific. The Crimson Tide are ranked 15th in the nation in scoring offense (38.5 ppg.). Out of Alabama’s 12 victories, 10 of them have been by 19 or more points. The Fighting Irish have had to battle hard in most of their games as six of their 12 games have been decided by nine points or less with two overtime games. The Fighting Irish are led by linebackers Manti Te’o (103 tackles, 7 Ints) and Prince Shembo (48 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks) on defense and quarterback Everett Golson (166-of-282, 2,135 yards, 11 TDs, 5 Ints) on offense. The Crimson Tide are led offense by running backs Eddie Lacy (184 carries, 1,182 yards, 16 TDs) and T.J. Yeldon (154 carries, 1,000 yards, 11 TDs) and quarterback AJ McCarron (191-of-286, 2,669 yards, 26 TDs, 3 Ints). The defense is led linebackers C.J. Mosley (99 tackles, 7 tackles-for-loss) and Adrian Hubbard (39 tackles, 10 tackles-for-loss, 6 sacks). The numbers favor the Crimson Tide, but the Fighting Irish will pull off the upset. Notre Dame 24-21.

Andy Collier is sports editor at the Bolivar Commercial. He can be reached at (662)-843-4241 or by e-mail at andy.collier@bolivarcommercial.com.