10 December 2012

2012-13 Bowl Game Predictions

Well, this is awkward
Everybody is looking forward to the BCS National Championship Game in Miami Gardens on the seventh of January but hey, we got 34 bowl games before that! With that in mind, here are my predictions for each and every bowl game this winter.

Announcers

Saturday, December 15
Arizona (7-5)vs. Nevada (7-5) - ESPN, 1:00
This is the first of many all-offense, no defense matchups that should excite the few people that will actually watch these games, you know, schmucks like me. These teams really do not have much separation, in my opinion, but since Nevada did not close out the season very well, give me the Wildcats.
Pick: Arizona

Toledo (9-3) vs. Utah State (10-2) - ESPN, 4:30
How about what Gary Andersen has done in Logan this year? The Aggies had a memorable season on both sides of the ball with quarterback Chuckie Keeton throwing it and Kerwynn Williams running it and their defense was awesome as well as they finished 18th in the rankings. Toledo, under their very young new coach Matt Campbell, was brilliant on offense again all season long. There should be some fun here in Boise but I think the Aggies' defense will slow down the Rockets just enough.
Pick: Utah State

Thursday, December 20
BYU (7-5) vs. San Diego State (9-3) - ESPN, 8:00
The only thing I have liked about BYU this year is their defense, which is very underrated, but that's about it. Meanwhile, San Diego State has been much better all around all year, plus they are playing a home game, literally.
Pick: San Diego State

Friday, December 21
Ball State (9-3) vs. Central Florida (9-4) - ESPN, 7:30
This is yet another matchup of two very strong offenses with the Cardinals and the Knights. The difference between the two is that UCF actually plays defense, while Letterman's alma mater does not and is one of the worst in the country. I like the Knights.
Pick: Central Florida

Saturday, December 22
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) - ESPN, 12:00
Two very strong passing games will put up numbers at the Superdome in this one as both the Pirates and the Rajin' Cajuns average over 30 points-per-game and both defenses are garbage. I do like the Cajuns because they will have a strong crowd in what is almost a home game for them and I still cannot get over that 30 point loss to Navy for ECU.
Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette

Washington (7-5) vs. Boise State (10-2) - ESPN, 3:30
This Boise State team is certainly a step down from where they have been in recent years but their only two losses came by a combined six points, showing how close they were to getting back to the BCS. Washington upset Stanford early but somehow just lost to Wazzu. Both of these clubs love to pound the rock on the ground as both have 1,000 rushers in Bishop Sankey for U-Dub and D.J. Harper for Boise but Boise also has the advantage of the much stronger defense.
Pick: Boise State

Monday, December 24
SMU (6-6) vs. Fresno State (9-3) - ESPN, 8:00
The Mustangs took a step back this season and their offense was not as good as it has been of late. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs had an awesome offense featuring Derek Carr under center and Robbie Rouse in the backfield. Plus they also feature a strong defense, thanks to new head coach Tim DeRuyter.
Pick: Fresno State

Wednesday, December 26
Western Kentucky (7-5) vs. Central Michigan (6-6) - ESPN, 7:30
I'm not feeling this Central Michigan club as they really have not been that impressive this year. Western Kentucky doesn't have a great offense but they have themselves a solid defense which has stifled many an offense this year. In the Hilltoppers' first bowl game ever, I think they will win.
Pick: Western Kentucky

Thursday, December 27
Bowling Green (8-4) vs. San Jose State (10-2) - ESPN, 3:00
This is really going to be a low-scoring affair at RFK in front of the five people who will show up to this game because this is a matchup of two excellent defensive teams. While the Falcons do not have much of an offense, the Spartans are actually very solid on offense with a good quarterback in David Fales and a good back in De'Leon Eskridge so they should be able to move the ball enough.
Pick: San Jose State

Duke (6-6) vs. Cincinnati (9-3) - ESPN, 6:30
How about Duke making a bowl for the first time in what feels to be forever (1995, to be exact) but they come to Charlotte losing four games in a row. I love David Cutcliffe and Sean Renfree is a good quarterback but the Bearcats have the talent edge on both sides of the ball.
Pick: Cincinnati

Baylor (7-5) vs. UCLA (9-4) - ESPN, 9:45
The Holiday Bowl has a tradition of being a high-scoring spectacle and this should be no different with two awesome offensive attacks going at it in San Diego. I could really go with either team in this one but Baylor's defense is just so horrendously bad while UCLA's is decent. Plus, it is essentially a home game for the Bruins.
Pick: UCLA

Friday, December 28
Louisiana-Monroe (8-4) vs. Ohio (8-4) - ESPN, 2:00
The Warhawks got a lot of attention early on this season, and deservedly so, by upsetting Arkansas in Little Rock and taking Auburn to overtime. They had a rough patch when they lost two in a row in blowouts to Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkansas State but finished strong by winning their last two. And remember when Ohio was the MAC team that was going to possibly crash the BCS, especially after beating Penn State? Well Ohio four of their last five and looked awful in their last three. With what will be a decisively Monroe crowd at Chateau Brando, I like ULM.
Pick: Louisiana-Monroe

Virginia Tech (6-6) vs. Rutgers (9-3) - ESPN, 5:30
What happened to the Hokies this year? I thought they were overrated coming into the season but I had no idea they would crash to 6-6. Logan Thomas is very good at throwing to the other team, which you know Rutgers star defensive back Khaseem Greene and a very good secondary will really appreciate.
Pick: Rutgers 

Minnesota (6-6) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) - ESPN, 9:00
Nice to see the Golden Gophers in their first bowl game since 2009 under the great Tim Brewster but they really are not that good, considering they sucked in conference play and built up their record in non-conference play. Texas Tech really faded down the stretch but I think they will close their season in good fashion.
Pick: Texas Tech

Saturday, December 29
Rice (6-6) vs. Air Force (6-6) - ESPN, 11:45
I really think this just may be the worst bowl game this year as neither team really brings that much to the table. That said, I really like how the Owls closed out this season, winning four in a row and five of six, and I was disappointed with how Air Force closed, losing three of four, including losing to Army by 20. Give me the Owls.
Pick: Rice

Syracuse (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5) - ESPN, 3:15
This should be a fun one with two great passing games and a pair of really good quarterbacks in Ryan Nassib of Syracuse and Geno Smith of West Virginia. And it was nice to see West Virginia get their crap together late in the season and finished on a high note while Syracuse stormed into a bowl with three strong wins down the stretch. This may be a Syracuse strong crowd but I think that the Mountaineers have gotten their stuff together and will win a wild one.
Pick: West Virginia

Arizona State (7-5) vs. Navy (8-4) - ESPN2, 4:00
The Sun Devils love to air it out in Todd Graham's spread offense and QB Taylor Kelly has had a very strong season as a sophomore. The Midshipmen love to air it...I can't even finish that sentence with a straight face. We know what the drill (no pun intended) is with Navy, they love to pound the ground with their vaunted option attack. And fortunately for them, it's an offense that an awful ASU defense has not played this season.
Pick: Navy


Texas (8-4) vs. Oregon State (9-3) - ESPN, 6:45
Unfortunately for the Beavers, there are no In-N-Outs near the Alamodome but all kidding aside, how surprising were the Beavers this year? They got as high as 15 in the rankings before slowing down a bit down the stretch, although they really did play Oregon tough before the Ducks pulled away. Texas has had a good season but everyone remembers that blowout loss to Oklahoma in Fair Park and they come in losing two in a row. I like OSU to finish off a great season strong.
Pick: Oregon State

Michigan State (6-6) vs. TCU (7-5) - ESPN, 10:15
Sparty didn't have huge expectations coming into 2012 but I bet they did not think they would not be bowl eligible until the final game against Minnesota. They rely heavily on running back Le'Veon Bell because their quarterback Andrew Maxwell never materialized. TCU has a great defense as always, do you expect anything less from a Gary Patterson club, but their offense has been inconsistent, although Trevone Boykin has stepped up under center after the dismissal of Casey Pachall. The one-dimensional Spartans attack will hold them back in Tempe.
Pick: TCU

Monday, December 31
N.C. State (7-5) vs. Vanderbilt (8-4) - ESPN, 12:00
There are many reasons to like the Commodores to win this game. First, they are across the board stronger than the Wolfpack. Second, N.C. State is playing without its coach, who got the axe. Third, Vandy is playing a home game.
Pick: Vanderbilt

Georgia Tech (6-6) vs. USC (7-5) - CBS, 2:00
I think it's a joke and disgraceful that Georgia Tech is going to a bowl game at 6-7. I don't care that they were pressed in the ACC Championship but rules are rules. Unfortunately, the NCAA caters to the big schools and thus we have the excellent predicament with the Yellow Jackets in a bowl with a losing record and an eight-win Middle Tennessee team that beat them by 21 is not in a bowl. Pisses me off.
Give me the Trojans because while Tech can do some damage with their option attack, their defense is awful.
Pick: USC

Iowa State (6-6) vs. Tulsa (10-3) - ESPN, 3:30
Who doesn't love a bowl game that is a rematch of a matchup that already occurred in the regular season? The Cyclones won the initial matchup of the two by 15 in Ames but I don't think history will repeat itself in Memphis. Iowa State has been inconsistent on defense all year and are atrocious against the pass so I think this wide-open Tulsa offense will take advantage.
Pick: Tulsa

Clemson (10-2) vs. LSU (10-2) - ESPN, 7:30
This should be a good one on New Year's Eve, with one of the elite offenses in football with the Tigers of Clemson and one of the elite defenses in football with the Tigers of Louisiana State. LSU also has a decent offense with a very good running game thanks to a deep stable of backs plus quarterback Zach Mettenberger played better down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Clemson defense is not too bad either, 47th overall in the country. I'm feeling an upset here with Clemson because if this game gets blown open, I'm not confident enough in Mettenberger's arm if they are forced to throw more than they would like.
Pick: Clemson

Tuesday, January 1
Purdue (6-6) vs. Oklahoma State (7-5) - ESPNU, 12:00
Both of these clubs have been pretty inconsistent this year after coming in with high hopes. Purdue playing with an interim coach does hurt but they closed strong once they finally put Robert Marve under center as they won their final three. Oklahoma State plays almost anybody at quarterback but somehow it works. I think the Boilermakers will have something to prove and pull off an upset.
Pick: Purdue

Mississippi State (8-4) vs. Northwestern (9-3) - ESPN2, 12:00
A couple plays here, a couple plays there and the Wildcats could have been playing for a Rose Bowl berth as they lost their last two games to the teams directly above them in the divisional standings by 9. Mississippi State built up their wins against feeble competition  and all of their losses since late October have not been close, with the closest margin being the November 24 loss in the Egg Bowl by 17 points. The Bulldogs' last season slide has me concerned and thus I like Northwestern.
Pick: Northwestern

Nebraska (10-3) vs. Georgia (11-2) - ABC, 1:00
What the hell happened to the Huskers in Indianapolis? They completely gave up and fell apart against a second-rate Wisconsin club. If they can't get up for a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, what should we expect from them against a Georgia team that came damn close to taking out Alabama and playing for the championship? Bulldogs by 20.
Pick: Georgia


Michigan (8-4) vs. South Carolina (10-2) - ESPN, 1:00
This should be a good one in Tampa but if Marcus Lattimore had not seriously hurt his knee against Tennessee earlier in the year, this could have been really good. The Gamecocks did close out the season with four wins in a row but really struggled to run the ball thereafter and were forced to rely more on the passing game than they would normally have liked. I think a very good Michigan defense will force Connor Shaw into mistakes and the Wolverines, with their dual quarterback approach with Devin Gardner and Denard Robinson will crank out enough offense for the win.
Pick: Michigan

Wisconsin (8-5) vs. Stanford (11-2) - ESPN, 5:00
You know, I was all set to go with the Cardinal because I loved how well they played down the stretch with Kevin Hogan at quarterback en route to the conference title, especially as Wisconsin was a disappointment all season and I felt that their performance in the Circle City was a fluke. With Bret Bielema, I felt even more confident. But then Wisconsin athletic director and coaching legend Barry Alvarez was announced as the interim coach and I think his presence will be enough to get Wisconsin an upset. A lame reason, I know, but sue me.
Pick: Wisconsin

Northern Illinois (12-1) vs. Florida State (11-2) ESPN, 8:30
I'm not buying the nonsense that Florida State is going to win this game in a blowout. First off, this FSU team has been a disappointment once again. Second, the Seminoles have played to their competition all season long, as proven by losing to a second-rate N.C. State team and nearly blowing the ACC title game to an atrocious Georgia Tech team. That said, I do think FSU will win in a squeaker. I love Jordan Lynch but I don't think he has enough support to overcome the talent disadvantage.
Pick: Florida State

Wednesday, January 2
Louisville (10-2) vs. Florida (11-1) - ESPN, 8:30
I love Teddy Bridgewater and the Cardinals are extremely fortunate that Charlie Strong decided to stay in Louisville long-term. But this club will have a real tough go at it against the Gators, who impressed me when they finished strong against Florida State. Florida by two touchdowns.
Pick: Florida

Thursday, January 3
Kansas State (11-1) vs. Oregon (11-1) - ESPN, 8:30
Remember how this was supposed to be the National Championship Game matchup just a few weeks ago. Well unfortunately for both, they fell within hours of each other but at least they get the courtesy of providing us by far the best non-championship BCS bowl. Very differing styles between these two clubs but the Wildcats' style has shown to be troublesome for the Ducks, as a physical ground game led to Oregon's lone loss to Stanford. Plus, Kansas State has itself an underrated defense that forces turnovers. Give my Collin Klein and co.
Pick: Kansas State

Friday, January 4
Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Texas A&M (10-2) - FOX, 8:00
This may very well be the top non-BCS matchup and what's ironic is that only one season ago, this was a conference matchup in the Big XII. I think the Sooners are a good football team but they have lost to the two best teams they played and their only impressive victory was agianst Texas, and the Longhorns couldn't tackle a chair that day. Plus, I doubt that Oklahoma's defense can slow down the Heisman Trophy recipient, Johnny Manziel.
Pick: Texas A&M

Saturday, January 5
Pittsburgh (6-6) vs. Ole Miss (6-6) - ESPN, 1:00
You think Pittsburgh is excited about going to Birmingham for the third straight year? In fact, is anybody ever excited to go to Birmingham? Exactly. This Pittsburgh team has been really inconsistent this year so it has been hard to get a read on them. Meanwhile, I have really liked what this Ole Miss squad has done this year and came very close to getting some big upsets. I think they will have more to play for in this game anyways.
Pick: Ole Miss

Sunday, January 6
Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Kent State (11-2) - ESPN, 9:00
Every body loves a matchup of interim coaches as both the Red Wolves (Gus Malzahn) and the Rockets (Darrell Hazell) have seen their coaches leave for greener pastures. I have watched both teams a decent amount this year and judging them head to head, I really think the Rockets are superior. Plus I'm not sure how ASU will slow down the excellent Kent State defensive tackle Roosevelt Nix.
Pick: Kent State

Monday, January 7

Notre Dame (12-0) vs. Alabama (12-1) - ESPN, 8:30
And then, the matchup we were all waiting for. I have noticed a lot of people that think that Alabama is going to win this going away and by a big margin but I think those people are insane discounting an elite Fighting Irish defense, starring the brilliant linebacker and Heisman runner-up Manti Te'o, who will look to put the finishing touches on a brilliant career and an awesome season. Plus, the Crimson Tide did not look that impressive against the best defense they have played all year in that of the LSU Tigers. All that said, I have real questions about how Everett Golson and the Irish offense are going to move the ball because that offense has been inconsistent at times this year. It begrudges me to say this, but the Tide will win.
Pick: Alabama

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