18 December 2014

2014-15 Bowl Game Predictions

(AP)
It is that time of year my friends: bowl season. And for those that love all the myriad bowl contests, there are more than ever this year with 39 games including the debut of the College Football Playoff, and five brand new games in such locales as Boca Raton, Detroit, Miami, Montgomery and even Nassau. I will hold off on my Playoff picks until closer to New Year's Day but now I will pick every other bowl game from the New Orleans Bowl to GoDaddy Bowl and everything in between.

Announcers

Saturday, December 20th
Nevada (7-5) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (8-4) - ESPN, 11:00 am
The Rajin' Cajuns are in their fourth straight New Orleans Bowl and they have yet to lose in this game. This will be a fun matchup but I like the Cajuns to take out Nevada right here.
Pick: Louisiana-Lafayette

Utah State (9-4) vs. UTEP (7-5) - ESPN, 2:20
The Aggies have suffered through a great deal of injuries this year and even then they have won nine games. UTEP may have shown improvement from last year but they are definitely the lesser team here and they will fall.
Pick: Utah State

22 Utah (8-4) vs. Colorado State (10-2) - ABC, 3:30
Utah has a stout defensive unit and they generally play well in bowl games. The Rams do have a quality offense but without Jim McElwain running the show, will they be as potent? I like the Utes here in Vegas.
Pick: Utah

Western Michigan (8-4) vs. Air Force (9-3) - ESPN, 5:45
P.J. Fleck has done a tremendous job in Kalamazoo this year but I do think that the Falcons are a better club. Air Force will control the clock and keep Zach Terrell and excellent running back Jarvion Franklin off the field.
Pick: Air Force

South Alabama (6-6) vs. Bowling Green (7-6) - ESPN, 9:15
Who doesn't love Montgomery, Alabama? The Jaguars should enjoy it as they should have a favorable crowd and in hosting a Bowling Green club that has really struggled defensively and has lost three in a row. In their first ever bowl game, USA will get the win.
Pick: South Alabama

Monday, December 22nd
BYU (8-4) vs. Memphis (9-3) - ESPN, 2:00
These two clubs have ended their seasons with winning streaks (four games for BYU, six for Memphis). I think the Tigers are the superior club by a hare to the Cougars and I think they will get their first bowl victory in a decade.
Pick: Memphis

Tuesday, December 23rd
Marshall (12-1) vs. Northern Illinois (11-2) - ESPN, 6:00
Without question the best Group of Five matchup takes place in Boca. Both feature quality quarterbacks in Rakeem Cato for the Herd and Drew Hare for the Huskies. I think a solid pass rush for Marshall and the continued excellence of Cato will be the difference.
Pick: Marshall

Navy (7-5) vs. San Diego State (7-5) - ESPN, 9:30
A home game for the Aztecs and a home away from home game for the Middies. When the option attack is cranking for the Naval Academy, it is tough to stop but Rocky Long and San Diego State have the ideal scheme in their 3-3-5. They have already slowed down Air Force and I think they'll be able to do it again to Navy.
Pick: San Diego State

Wednesday, December 24th
Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Western Kentucky (7-5) - ESPN, 12:00
Popeyes and the Bahamas, what a combo. The Chippewas do a good job keeping teams out of the end zone but they can struggle against good quarterbacks. The Hilltoppers happen to feature a damn good one in Brandon Doughty. Look for Jeff Brohm to let him loose.
Pick: Western Kentucky

Fresno State (6-7) vs. Rice (7-5) - ESPN, 8:00
Fresno does have a losing record but since they won a division, the West division of the Mountain West to be exact, they got a bid. This should be a close contest but I think Rice's offense is slightly better and will power them to victory.
Pick: Rice

Friday, December 26th
Illinois (6-6) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5) - ESPN, 1:00
Tech improved by four games this year under second-year coach Skip Holtz and their defense has been solid this year while Cody Sokol is a solid quarterback. Illinois has somehow found themselves in a bowl game. They're not that good and their defense is a mess. Bulldogs win in Fair Park.
Pick: Louisiana Tech

Rutgers (7-5) vs. North Carolina (6-6) - ESPN, 4:30
Far from the most exciting bowl matchup considering neither team is all that good, but I like the Tar Heels. Sure their defense is a trainwreck, but does anybody have faith in Gary Nova to be able to take advantage?
Pick: North Carolina

NC State (7-5) vs. UCF (9-3) - ESPN, 8:00
Although we all love Bitcoin, if only this was sponsored by Dogecoin. The Knights come in on a four-game winning streak and I think their stout defensive unit will keep the Wolfpack in check.
Pick: UCF

Saturday, December 27th
Cincinnati (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6) - ESPN, 1:00
The Hokies did in fact beat Ohio State in Columbus, but they have also lost to Wake Forest. Quite frankly, they aren't good. The Bearcats have won seven games in a row and their explosive passing game will lead the way to victory in Annapolis.
Pick: Cincinnati

15 Arizona State (9-3) vs. Duke (9-3) - CBS, 2:00
A battle of devils here, one of the sun variety and one of the blue variety. Arizona State has stumbled a little down the stretch but they are better on all sides of the ball than their counterparts here. It would be a vintage ASU belly-flop to lose here but they will get it done in El Paso.
Pick: Arizona State

Miami (FL) (6-6) vs. South Carolina (6-6) - ABC, 3:30
We love Shreveport! Both teams are struggling coming into this game and likely would much rather be elsewhere. I do think that the Hurricanes are a better club than an SC club that I actually had in the playoff at the start of the year.
Pick: Miami (FL)

Boston College (7-5) vs. Penn State (6-6) - ESPN, 4:30
This game is poised for something like a 9-7 final. I like Penn State here even with their fiasco of an offensive line because Boston College is so focused on running the ball and the Nittany Lions excel against the run.
Pick: Penn State

Nebraska (9-3) vs. 24 USC (8-4) - ESPN, 8:00
The Holiday Bowl is always a fun one but the Trojans should have this one in the bag. They are better on both sides of the ball and with the Bo Pelini firing, the Huskers may just be a mess.
Pick: USC

Monday, December 29th
Texas A&M (7-5) vs. West Virginia (7-5) - ESPN, 2:00
If Clint Trickett is unable to go for the Mountaineers, it will be a tough contest for them. But even then, I think their high-powered offensive attack will be able to torch a mediocre A&M defense and put up enough points to get the win.
Pick: West Virginia

Oklahoma (8-4) vs. 17 Clemson (9-3) - ESPN, 5:30
The Tigers will be without their offensive coordinator Chad Morris who left for SMU but will their offense be up to their usual standard? I say yes and I am down on the Sooners after their stunning loss to Oklahoma State in Bedlam.
Pick: Clemson

Arkansas (6-6) vs. Texas (6-6) - ESPN, 9:00
Both of these clubs got their acts together late in the season to get to a bowl game with the magical sixth victory. And both have solid defenses and love the pound the rock with the ground game. I think Arkansas has been playing better than the Longhorns of late and will win this game in Houston.
Pick: Arkansas

Tuesday, December 30th
Notre Dame (7-5) vs. 23 LSU (8-4) - ESPN, 3:00
Notre Dame has been so dreadful down the stretch as their defense has been a mess and quarterback Everett Golson has been turning the ball over like a fiend. LSU wins big.
Pick: LSU

13 Georgia (9-3) vs. 21 Louisville (9-3) - ESPN, 6:30
A lot of folks are going with UGA but I like Louisville in an upset here in Charlotte. Their defense is very good and should be able to keep Nick Chubb and the Bulldogs' offense in check to get the win.
Pick: Louisville

Maryland (7-5) vs. Stanford (7-5) - ESPN, 10:00
This is virtually a home game for the Cardinal and with how they closed the season plus with how strong their defense is, I consider this to be as close of a lock as you could get. The Terps are underrated but coming across the country will be too much for them.
Pick: Stanford

Wednesday, December 31st
9 Ole Miss (9-3) vs. 6 TCU (11-1) - ESPN, 12:30
Now we have moved into the New Year's Six contests but this one will be rather easy as I think the Fighting Bob Schieffers are a stronger club than the Fighting Shepard Smiths. Unless Bo Wallace gets his turnovers under control, Trevone Boykin will lead the way for TCU.
Pick: TCU

20 Boise State (11-2) vs. 10 Arizona (10-3) - ESPN, 4:00
The Broncos are not as good as some as their teams from the past but they have got some offensive weapons to push the action. The problem is that Arizona, who will have the crowd on their side, has a better offense and I think they'll pull it out.
Pick: Arizona

7 Mississippi State (10-2) vs. 12 Georgia Tech (10-3) - ESPN, 8:00
Seriously, I may have to pick Clanga on this video alone. Tech's option attack is always tough to stop when it is rolling but Mississippi State is stout on the defensive side of the ball, and Tech also has no answer for Dak Prescott.
Pick: Mississippi State

Thursday, January 1st
19 Auburn (8-4) vs. 18 Wisconsin (10-3) - ESPN2, 12:00
Even with the sensational Melvin Gordon in the backfield, it is tough to go with Wisconsin after they not only got slaughtered in the B1G Championship by 59 to Ohio State but also saw their coach leave for Oregon State of all programs. Auburn is the superior club and will win. Also, I need to go to Outback one of these days.
Pick: Auburn

8 Michigan State (10-2) vs. 5 Baylor (11-1) - ESPN, 12:30
The question here is will Baylor be so upset about the Playoff snub that they won't be up for this one. I don't see it happening in what may be a de facto home contest. We saw Ohio State tear up Sparty offensively and I see Baylor doing the same.
Pick: Baylor

16 Missouri (10-3) vs. 25 Minnesota (8-4) - ABC, 1:00
The Golden Gophers have been the selection committee's favorite team all season long just about but they really are not that good. Missouri is a stronger club and if they do not turn over the football, they'll win this one going away.
Pick: Missouri

Friday, January 2nd
Houston (7-5) vs. Pittsburgh (6-6) - ESPN, 12:00
Both of these clubs will be lead by interim coaches as Houston fired Tony Levine and Pitt's Paul Chryst is headed back to Madison. I'm not that high on the Cougars and James Conner will lead the way for the Panthers.
Pick: Pittsburgh

Iowa (7-5) vs. Tennessee (6-6) - ESPN, 3:20
A lovely contest in a city we all love. Neither team is all that impressive but I like a talented Volunteer team that has fought through the SEC over an Iowa club that really is not that good. 
Pick: Tennessee

11 Kansas State (9-3) vs. 14 UCLA (9-3) - ESPN, 6:45
This should be one of the better non-New Year's games. Kansas State is more technically sound but I think the UCLA talent will bounce back from the disappointing performance they had in the loss to Stanford in their finale.
Pick: UCLA
Washington (8-5) vs. Oklahoma State (6-6) - ESPN, 10:15
Okie State had to pull off a major stunner to upset Oklahoma in Bedlam to get to a bowl game but even then you can't deny how awful their defensive corps is. Plus they do a terrible job taking care of the football while Washington is the exact opposite. The Huskies win big.
Pick: Washington

Saturday, January 3rd
East Carolina (8-4) vs. Florida (6-5) - ESPN, 1:00
Even as many will pick the Gators because they're an SEC team taking on an AAC team, Florida simply hasn't been good this year and now with an interim coach they could be a mess. East Carolina is a fine team and they will get the win in Birmingham.
Pick: East Carolina

Sunday, January 4th
Toledo (8-4) vs. Arkansas State (7-5) - ESPN, 9:00
Arkansas State is in Mobile once again in this game, their fourth appearance in a row, and they have won it twice in a row. However, I'm feeling the Rockets. They are just a little better offensively and that will be the difference.
Pick: Toledo

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