Let’s check out the games…
Thursday, the 29th:
4:30 PM – Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State (-3) vs. Notre Dame (ESPN) – The first legit bowl matchup of the season (Finally!). These are two of the biggest powers in college football going at it. Florida State has had a disappointing season after high hopes in the preseason – mainly due to injuries. Notre Dame also had BCS hopes to start the season – mainly because of their easy schedule though (not because of their talent). Florida State’s defense will shut down the Irish. Notre Dame has not come close to seeing speed like this on defense all year. Notre Dame’s offense is already prone to mistakes, and I think they make several to the athletes on the Noles’ defense. FSU 26-17.
8:00 – Alamo Bowl: Washington vs. Baylor (-9) (ESPN) – We’ve talked about Robert Griffin for two years on the blog. He finally came through for us this year putting up phenomenal numbers. He has the highest season passer efficiency rating in NCAA history before the bowl game. On the other hand, excluding Washington’s final game versus Washington State, the Huskies’ defense gave up 65, 31, 34, 40, and 38 in the last five games. Baylor will want to send Robert Griffin out right, which will also give Baylor a possible top 10 finish. That doesn’t happen too often in Waco! Da Bears 54-34.
Friday, the 30th:
11:00 – Armed Forces Bowl: BYU vs. Tulsa (Over 55 Total Points) (ESPN) – This is a tough game to call. It’s gonna be so close, especially when you consider both teams beat the only common opponent they have (Central Florida) 24-17. I do see this game being a high scoring affair though. Tulsa can’t stop the pass, and BYU has not played many explosive offenses comparable to Tulsa’s all year. Give me Tulsa but take the over instead. Tulsa 37-33.
2:20 – Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers vs. Iowa State (Under 44.5 Total Points) (ESPN) – This one is gonna be an ugly game with no offense. It is is Rutgers’ backyard though at Yankee Stadium. Watch it just because of that. Rutgers 17-14.
5:40 – Music City Bowl: Mississippi State (-7) vs. Wake Forest (ESPN) – Not very exciting at all. Mississippi State has not lived up to Dan Mullen’s expectations (yes, he mentioned they could win the SEC West this year – hilarious!). Wake Forest was dominated by Vanderbilt to end the season but beat Florida State earlier in the season. I don’t get them. When in doubt when you have to pick between an SEC and ACC team, ALWAYS go with the SEC. Bulldogs 30-20.
9:00 – Insight Bowl: Iowa (+14) vs. Oklahoma (ESPN) – There is no way Oklahoma is excited about the Insight Bowl after being ranked #1 in the preseason. On a side note, why do pollsters ever decide to rank a team #1 from a conference other than the SEC? OU did have several key injuries throughout the year that did not help them out. However, I can’t get Landry Jones’ pitiful performance against Oklahoma State out of my mind. Kirk Ferentz always has his team ready for bowl games. I was high on Iowa in the preseason, and they let me down. I’ll give them one more shot…against the spread. Uninspired Oklahoma 27-17.
Saturday, the 31st:
11:00 – Texas Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Northwestern (+10) (ESPN) – The Aggies have had a disappointing season and Sherman got fired because of it. Northwestern is always dangerous when Dan Persa actually plays. Well, Persa is playing. I’m calling for the upset. Northwestern 40-35.
1:00 – Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech (-2.5) vs. Utah (CBS) – Utah lost to Colorado at home to end the season. I like the Ramblin’ Wreck’s option attack. Enough said. Yellow Jackets 24-13.
2:30 – Liberty Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt (-1.5) (ABC) – Cincinnati QB Zach Collaros may be back to start this game. He broke his ankle against West Virginia, and the Bearcats narrowly lost and then they lost again to lose their shot at a conference title and BCS berth. Well, if Collaros plays here, this will be a close game. He is a dynamic playmaker. But he will unlikely be full speed. Vanderbilt is really pumped about their 5th bowl game ever. James Franklin has sold all the used cars he can on campus for one season, and the team has bought in…for now. I’ll take Vandy but won’t be surprised if Cincinnati’s offense is explosive again with (if) Collaros back. Vandy 33-28.
Fight Hunger Bowl: Illinois vs. UCLA (+2.5) (ESPN) – Another sign there are way too many bowl games…two teams that played so poorly this year that the schools fired their head coaches are playing one another on New Year’s Eve. Go stock up for the night instead of watch this one. As Charles Barkley would say – “Turrible!” UCLA 6-4.
6:30 – Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Virginia (+3) vs. Auburn (ESPN) – Okay, somebody spill the beans. What is going on at Auburn? The DC goes to Central Florida to take the same position, the OC goes to Arkansas State to be head coach, and Michael Dyer is suspended for the game (and rumored to be kicked off the team). How does the genius that is Gene Chizik get his team ready for this bowl game, especially after downgrading from last year’s national title bowl game? On the other hand, you have a Virginia team that played way over its head this year. I think Auburn gets outhustled and outplayed in this one. Cavaliers 17-16.
Week Three blog, including all BCS games, coming January 1!
Happy New Year!-Ernie