15 December 2015

2015-16 Bowl Game Predictions

(Getty)
Hey, it is bowl season! And now with even more bowls than ever! That is right, including the College Football Playoff Semifinals and Championship, there are 41 bowls in total. More of a good thing can't be a bad thing, right? Right?

Here are my predictions for all bowl games (sans the Playoff). Enjoy.

Announcers

Saturday, December 19th
Arizona Wildcats (2013 - Pres)New Mexico Lobos (2009 - Pres)
Arizona (6-6) vs. New Mexico (7-5) - ESPN, 2:00
It is a home game for the Lobos, but it's not like it's an arduous road trip for the Wildcats either. New Mexico definitely has more to play for as opposed to a disappointing Arizona team and they'll snag the win. 
Pick: Arizona
Brigham Young Cougars (2005 - Pres)Utah Utes (2001 - Pres)
BYU (9-3) vs. 22 Utah (9-3) - ABC, 3:30
The Holy War in a bowl game in Las Vegas may just be one of the greatest things ever. It is a good matchup too and with Bronco Mendenhall coaching his final game with the Cougars before heading east, there is that juicy storyline too. But even with that point, I think that Utah is the better club and will win here.
Pick: Utah
Appalachian State Mountaineers (1970 - 2003)Ohio Bobcats (1999 - Pres)
Appalachian State (10-2) vs. Ohio (8-4) - ESPN, 5:30
Ohio is a solid bowl team as they have always been under Frank Solich, but the Mountaineers have been very good thus far and very fun to watch. They will have the crowd on their side too and Taylor Lamb is a very good quarterback.
Pick: Appalachian State
Georgia State Panthers (2014 - Pres)San Jose State Spartans (2000 - 2012)
Georgia State (6-6) vs. San Jose State (5-7) - CBSSN, 7:00
Talking about an exciting bowl game, it actually may be one of the worst bowl matchups ever. San Jose State really isn't that good at all and while the Panthers aren't hot stuff either, they at least have been on a crazy run in order to get to a bowl game.
Pick: Georgia State
Arkansas State Red Wolves (2008 - Pres)Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2008 - Pres)
Arkansas State (9-3) vs. Louisiana Tech (8-4) - ESPN, 9:00
It has been a while since the Rajin Cajuns were not in this game, but here we are. Both teams have exciting offenses and can both run and pass the football, so expect plenty of yardage here. Louisiana Tech is a slight favorite but I'm feeling the Red Wolves here.
Pick: Arkansas State

Monday, December 21st
South Florida Bulls (1997 - 2002)Western Kentucky Hilltoppers (1999 - Pres)
USF (8-4) vs. Western Kentucky (11-2) - ESPN, 2:30
The Willie Taggert showdown. Taggert has done a great job this season with the Bulls but Western Kentucky is simply the superior club.
Pick: Western Kentucky

Tuesday, December 22nd
Akron Zips (2014 - Pres)Utah State Aggies (2012 - Pres)
Akron (7-5) vs. Utah State (6-6) - ESPN, 3:30
Not exactly a thriller of a matchup but it's a bowl so you (probably) will watch. Utah State has been a disappointment this season but I just don't have a lot of confidence in Akron considering they didn't beat anybody this season. 
Pick: Utah State
Temple Owls (1996 - Pres)
24 Temple (10-3) vs. Toledo (9-2) - ESPN, 7:00
A fun offense-defense matchup with the excellent Temple defense going up against a fun Toledo offense. Toledo's offense may not be the same without Matt Campbell and the Owls are just so good on the D that I like them here.
Pick: Temple

Wednesday, December 23rd
Boise State Broncos (2013 - Pres)Northern Illinois Huskies (2001 - Pres)
Boise State (8-4) vs. Northern Illinois (8-5) - ESPN, 4:30
I'm neither here nor there with either team and frankly, I could go with either team in this matchup in San Diego. However, Boise State has both a better offense and a better defense and that will carry them to victory.
Pick: Boise State
Bowling Green Falcons (1980 - 2005)Georgia Southern Eagles (2004 - Pres)
Bowling Green (10-3) vs. Georgia Southern (8-4) - ESPN, 8:00
Will Bowling Green lose some of their offensive edge without Dino Babers? What about Georgia Southern and being without Willie Fritz? This Bowling Green offense is just so good, they could be coached by Stan Parrish and I would still pick them.
Pick: Bowling Green

Christmas Eve - Thursday, December 24th
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (1998 - Pres)Western Michigan Broncos (1998 - Pres)
Middle Tennessee (7-5) vs. Western Michigan (7-5) - ESPN, 12:00
This may not be as bonkers of a game as last year's Bahamas Bowl but it's Christmas Eve so literally, anything can happen. Both teams are good offensively, have solid quarterbacks and neither plays much if any defense. Western Michigan closed relatively well and color me a fan of P.J. Fleck, so I got them.
Pick: Western Michigan
Cincinnati Bearcats (2006 - Pres)San Diego State Aztecs (2013 - Pres)
Cincinnati (7-5) vs. San Diego State (10-3) - ESPN, 8:00
The Bearcats had a disappointing year as they finished in the middle of the pack of the AAC, while San Diego State broke through and won the Mountain West. This seems like an easy one.
Pick: San Diego State

Saturday, December 26th
Marshall Thundering Herd (2001 - Pres)UConn Huskies (2013 - Pres)
Marshall (9-3) vs. UConn (6-6) - ESPN, 11:00 am
Connecticut closed well to get to their first bowl in several years, but they actually averaged less points than they scored (and their defense was very good this year). Even a down Marshall should win this going away. 
Pick: Marshall
Miami Hurricanes (2000 - Pres)Washington State Cougars (2003 - Pres)
Miami (FL) (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4) - CBS, 2:00
The Hurricanes have actually played some decent football after firing Al Golden, but I have no confidence in their pass defense against the mad theatrics of our friend Mike Leach.
Pick: Washington State
Southern Miss Golden Eagles (2003 - Pres)Washington Huskies (2001 - 2006)
Southern Miss (9-4) vs. Washington (6-6) - ESPN, 2:20
This Southern Miss club has taken some major strides this season and their offense is really fun to watch. Washington has been the definition of meh this season so give the me the C-USA runner-up. 
Pick: Southern Miss
Duke Blue Devils (1978 - Pres)Indiana Hoosiers (1997 - 2001)
Duke (7-5) vs. Indiana (6-6) - ABC, 3:30
Indiana has been a little all over the place this season but I am happy to see them in a bowl game. Duke basically fell apart down the stretch after the Miami fiasco and so they are in tough shape. Give me the Hoosiers and my guy Nate Sudfeld.
Pick: Indiana
Tulsa Golden Hurricane (1982 - Pres)Virginia Tech Hokies (1983 - Pres)
Tulsa (6-6) vs. Virginia Tech (6-6) - ESPN, 5:45
The Golden Hurricane did get to six wins but this team, by the numbers, really is not all that good. Neither is Virginia Tech for what it's worth but they are also aiming to put Frank Beamer out as a winner.
Pick: Virginia Tech
Nebraska Cornhuskers (2004 - 2011)UCLA Bruins (1996 - Pres)
Nebraska (5-7) vs. UCLA (8-4) - ESPN, 9:15
If UCLA doesn't win this game, they may never change. Nebraska had a lot of bad luck this season but benefited from a gift against Michigan State and still lost to Purdue. Purdue! The Bruins are clearly the better team.
Pick: UCLA

Monday, December 28th
Navy Midshipmen (2012 - Pres)Pittsburgh Panthers (1997 - Pres)
21 Navy (10-2) vs. Pittsburgh (8-4) - ESPN, 2:30
The Middies came close to giving one away to Army on Saturday but they still won. Pittsburgh plays solid defense and have had a nice season under Pat Narduzzi but the power of the triple option will get the victory here.
Pick: Navy
Central Michigan Chippewas (1997 - Pres)Minnesota Golden Gophers (1986 - Pres)
Central Michigan (7-5) vs. Minnesota (5-7) - ESPN2, 5:00
Am I actually going to pick a 5-7 team here. Yes I am! Central Michigan is a solid team but they aren't that spectacular so Minnesota's conservative offensive approach should suffice.
Pick: Minnesota

Tuesday, December 29th
Air Force Falcons (2004 - Pres)California Golden Bears (2004 - 2012)
Air Force (8-5) vs. California (7-5) - ESPN, 2:00
It appears as if the Sonny Dykes contract drama will be wrapping up soon so that will take away that distraction. I like Jared Goff a lot and I think he could go off against the Falcons. Give me the Golden Bears. 
Pick: California
Baylor Bears (2005 - Pres)North Carolina Tar Heels (2015 - Pres)
17 Baylor (9-3) vs. 10 North Carolina (11-2) - ESPN, 5:30
Baylor did just lose to Texas, their defense has been a mess and they are banged up. They should still be able to put up points but I think the Tar Heels will win this one going away.
Pick: North Carolina
Colorado State Rams (2015 - Pres)Nevada Wolf Pack (2008 - Pres)
Colorado State (7-5) vs. Nevada (6-6) - ASN, 7:30
An intra-conference bowl game! In syndication! What's not to love? In terms of the game itself, Colorado State's slightly superior offensive unit will prove to be the difference over the run-heavy Wolf Pack.
Pick: Colorado State
LSU Tigers (2014 - Pres)Texas Tech Red Raiders (2000 - Pres)
20 LSU (8-3) vs. Texas Tech (7-5) - ESPN, 9:00
Look for a massive performance from Leonard Fournette here because the Red Raiders couldn't stop my ex-wife defensively.
Pick: LSU

Wednesday, December 30th
Auburn Tigers (1998 - Pres)Memphis Tigers (1994 - Pres)
Auburn (6-6) vs. Memphis (9-3) - ESPN, 12:00
The Tigers have already taken down one SEC program, can they do another (albeit without Justin Fuente)? I think they can and I see nothing from the Auburn Tigers that can slow down the excellent Memphis Tigers quarterback, Paxton Lynch. 
Pick: Memphis
Mississippi State Bulldogs (2009 - Pres)North Carolina State Wolfpack (2000 - Pres)
Mississippi State (8-4) vs. NC State (7-5) - ESPN, 3:30
The Wolfpack are a fun offensive team but the Aggies are certainly a superior club overall, plus Dak Prescott is still pretty darn good.
Pick: Mississippi State
Louisville Cardinals (2013 - Pres)Texas A&M Aggies (2001 - Pres)
Louisville (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (8-4) - ESPN, 7:00
It took a while for Louisville to find a quarterback but even then, they were largely a disappointment this season. A&M is simply the superior club and their much-improved defense is a key reason why.
Pick: Texas A&M
Southern California Trojans (1993 - Pres)Wisconsin Badgers (1970 - 2001)
25 USC (8-5) vs. Wisconsin (9-3) - ESPN, 10:30
USC's hiring of Clay Helton to the full coaching job was a less-than-inspiring move in my opinion but it's been working for the Trojans thus far. With how well they closed the season (even if they did lose in the Pac-12 title game), I like them to finish it strong in San Diego over the Badgers.
Pick: USC

New Year's Eve - Thursday, December 31st
NOTE: My Playoff Semifinals picks will come closer to New Year's.
Florida State Seminoles (1992 - Pres)Houston Cougars (2012 - Pres)
Florida State (10-2) vs. 18 Houston (12-1) - ESPN, 12:00
Houston is spectacular offensively and I would love to see them winning this game. That said, save for the Georgia Tech stunner and the Clemson loss, the Seminoles have looked really good. Watch out for FSU running back Dalton Cook here. 
Pick: Florida State

New Year's Day - Friday, January 1st
Northwestern Wildcats (1981 - Pres)Tennessee Volunteers (2015 - Pres)
13 Northwestern (10-2) vs. 23 Tennessee (8-4) - ESPN2, 12:00
Tennessee is a big favorite in this game but I attribute that mostly to SEC bias and people being ignorant of the fact that Northwestern is a pretty good team this year. The Wildcats are lights-out defensively and that will drive them to victory here.
Pick: Northwestern
Florida Gators (1995 - 2012)Michigan Wolverines (1996 - 2011)
19 Florida (10-3) vs. 14 Michigan (9-3) - ABC, 1:00
How can I expect the Gators to move the ball when their offense has looked disgrace for almost two months now? And better yet, trying to do that against one of the top defenses in the nation in the Wolverines? Michigan wins this one big.
Pick: Michigan
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1963 - 1983)Fiesta Bowl (1971 - 1995)Ohio State Buckeyes (1987 - 2012)
Notre Dame (10-2) vs. 7 Ohio State (11-1) - ESPN, 1:00
The Buckeyes were basically a fraud elite team until the Michigan State loss, and then they looked terrific in Ann Arbor in the finale. If they play on New Year's like they did in that game, they'll knock out the Irish going away.
Pick: Notre Dame
Iowa Hawkeyes (1979 - Pres)Stanford Cardinal (2014 - Pres)
Iowa (12-1) vs. 6 Stanford (11-2) - ESPN, 5:00
For me, this is one of the tougher bowl games to pick. Stanford has been pretty good all season long and feature a player that probably should have been the Heisman winner in Christian McCaffery. Iowa, meanwhile, showed that they were a strong team with an impressive performance in the Big Ten Championship, albeit in defeat. I like the Hawkeyes to come out and continue to show that they are for real in Pasadena.
Pick: Iowa
Oklahoma State Cowboys (2001 - Pres)Mississippi Rebels (1996 - Pres)
16 Oklahoma State (10-2) vs. 12 Ole Miss (9-3) - ESPN, 8:30
A fluky play against Arkansas basically killed the Rebels' chance to get to the Playoff but they have shown all season long that they are a quality club. The Cowboys' defense completely fell apart in their season concluding losses to Baylor and Oklahoma and it will sink them here.
Pick: Ole Miss

Saturday, January 2nd
Georgia Bulldogs (1964 - Pres)Penn State Nittany Lions (2001 - 2004)
Georgia (9-3) vs. Penn State (7-5) - ESPN, 12:00
We all know that Georgia should not have fired Mark Richt but that is neither here nor there. What we do know that Georgia is trending upward while Penn State is trending downward. That usually means something. 
Pick: Georgia
Arkansas Razorbacks (1955 - 1973)Kansas State Wildcats (1989 - Pres)
Arkansas (7-5) vs. Kansas State (6-6) - ESPN, 3:20
Bret Bielema's Arkansas teams have been all over the place but when they are on, they are really on. I think you will see some of that here in Memphis considering that K-State has been very mediocre all season long.
Pick: Arkansas
Oregon Ducks (2013 - Pres)TCU Horned Frogs (2001 - Pres)
15 Oregon (9-3) vs. 11 TCU (10-2) - ESPN, 6:45
Both teams have been excellent on offense and dreadful on defense all season long but while Oregon surged down the stretch, TCU struggled with two losses and two escape jobs. Give me the Ducks.
Pick: Oregon
Arizona State Sun Devils (1980 - Pres)West Virginia Mountaineers (1980 - Pres)
Arizona State (6-6) vs. West Virginia (7-5) - ESPN, 10:15
Yet another all offense, no defense matchup to conclude the non-playoff bowl contests. I do like the Aztecs here because West Virginia has largely struggled to beat good teams this season.
Pick: Arizona State

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