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Let’s Go Bowling…2011-2012

Wow.  Most people in the area that I live in (big 12 country) wanted to see Oklahoma State vs. LSU in the national title game, but of course, it will be Bama vs. LSU.  While I was in favor of the Cowboys playing for the title, I was also worried that their high powered offense would get shut down by a great defense.  Here is a look at all of the bowls that will be happening this season, all the way from the New Mexico Bowl to the BCS Title game.

New Mexico Bowl- Temple vs. Wyoming
I admit, these early bowl games are a reach for my football “knowledge”.  Temple LOVES to pound the rock, while Wyoming preferes the pass.  Temple’s D is ranked 15th in the nation in total defense, while the Wyoming offense is ranked 48th.  Look for that to be a factor.
My Pick:  Temple 30  Wyoming 17 

Potato Bowl- Ohio vs. Utah State
An early favorite for my “great bowl name” competition.  I think we all remember Utah State taking Auburn down to the wire in the season opener, which at least gave the Aggies some early season pub.  True freshman Chuckie Keeton had a good season for a true frosh, but the team revolves around Ryan Turbin, the 10th leading rusher in the nation.  Ohio brings in the 21st ranked overall offense in the nation, and plays in a tougher conference than Utah State.  Should be a fun one to watch.
My Pick:  Ohio 38  Utah State 34 

New Orleans Bowl- San Diego State vs. Louisiana Lafayette
Aztecs’ RB Ronnie Hillman was one of the JWSB players to watch this season, and he didn’t disappoint.  Hillman is third in the nation with 138 rushing yards per game, while QB Ryan Lindley does a great job at protecting the ball.  LaLa’s QB Blaine Gautier (not a designer) brings in an impressive 20-5 TD to INT ratio against a mediocre SDSU defense.  While this may not be a ratings buster game, it would be worth it to see Hillman showcase his skills on live t.v.
My Pick:  SDSU 27  Louisiana Lafayette 23 

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl- Florida International vs. Marshall
Well , there you have it, Bowl game of the year…name wise.  I have to be honest, a 6-6 Marshall team vs. a 5-3 Sun Belt team hardly sounds exciting, but its always these kind of games that make for some interesting memories.  The 80th ranked offense (FIU) vs. the 101st ranked offense (Marshall) should be good, right?  Ok, maybe not.  The best thing about this is the name of the bowl.
My Pick:  FIU 24  Marshall 16 

Poinsettia Bowl- TCU  vs. Louisiana Tech
TCU felt like it could have been in a BCS bowl, while Louisiana Tech is coming off a great finish in the WAC, finishing 6-1.  One thing TCU has been known for recently has been their defense, which was down a bit this year.  Louisiana Tech has relied on two QB’s this season, Nick Isham and Colby Cameron who have thrown for more than 2,800 yards combined and 19 td’s.  I think this one will be all TCU, early and often.
My Pick:  TCU 40  Louisiana Tech 13 

Las Vegas Bowl- Boise State vs. Arizona State
Hmm…I like this matchup a lot.  I think.  While ASU is just 6-6 this season, they have beat some fairly good teams in USC and Missouri.  The four game losing streak is a bit confusing, especially looking at the opponents.  Boise State, is Boise State.  They are a good team that got knocked off by a competitive TCU team and were perhaps overlooked by the BCS.  If the Broncos can make plays against a very good Sun Devil defense, they should be able to claim victory in Vegas.  If for nothing else, tune in to see ASU LB Vontaze Burfict, guy is a literal beast.  Boise State QB Kellen Moore won’t be in New York for the Heisman ceremony, but his numbers are sick.  3507 yards, 41 tds, 7 ints.
My Pick:  Boise State 41  Arizona State 38

Hawaii Bowl- Nevada vs. Southern Miss
The last time we saw Southern Miss, they were beating up on previously unbeaten, and BCS bound Houston in the Conference USA Championship game.  They take that momentum to Hawaii to face a Nevada team that is a little bit different than Houston.  Nevada LOVE to run the ball (8th in nation with 251 ypg), but will mix in the pass to keep things interesting.  Southern Miss QB Austin Davis has had a great year, throwing for over 3300 yards and 28 td’s.  This one should be exciting, and high scoring.
My Pick:  Southern Miss 45  Nevada 37

Independence Bowl- Missouri vs. North Carolina
One of the first “big name” matchups of the bowl season.  Kind of.  It is the Big 12 vs. ACC with two of those conferences fairly good teams.  Missouri went 5-4 in a competitive 10 team Big 12, and will want to win their last game in the conference before heading off to the SEC.  They are led by QB James Franklin and RB Henry Josey.  As those two go, so go the Tigers.  North Carolina has a great QB-RB tandem as well with Bryn Renner and Giovani Bernard, but they also throw in top flight receiver Dwight Jones who finished the season with 1119 yards receiving and 11 td’s.  This should be a great game.
My Pick:   North Carolina 27  Missouri 23

Little Caesars Bowl- Western Michigan vs. Purdue
$5 pizzas for EVERYONE!  This game will be much like the sponsors pizza, cheap, fast, but better tasting than you remembered.  Ok, that may not be true.  Western Michigan brings in the 18th scoring offense in the nation (35.5 ppg) against a Big 10 defense that ranks 65th in the nation, giving up 26 ppg.  Look for this one to be an “upset”.
My Pick:  Western Michigan 23  Purdue 20 

The Belk Bowl- Louisville vs. NC State
Wait, no seriously.  The name of the bowl game is the Belk bowl.  Pretty soon we will see The WalMart Bowl or The Weiners Bowl.  Just dumb.  ANYWAY, Louisville brings in an atrocious offense and a pretty good defense against a NC State team that isn’t great at putting up points, but young QB Mike Glennon does make good decisions.  I just can’t get over that this is named The Belk Bowl.
My Pick:  NC State 23  Louisville 20 

Military Bowl- Toledo vs. Air Force
Not to be confused with the Armed Forces Bowl, Toledo and Air Force promises to be a high scoring, no defense at all showdown in the nation’s capital.  Both teams move the ball well, and can score with the best teams in the country (both ranked in top 25).  Toledo’s WR Eric Page is one of the best players you have never heard of, hauling in 112 catches for over 11oo yards and 10 tds.  This one will go awhile.
My Pick:  Toledo 50  Air Force 39 

Holiday Bowl- Texas vs. California
Remember that one time California complained about Texas getting into a BCS bowl game over them a few years ago?  Well, now is the time to settle it.  haha.  Texas FINALLY makes it back into a bowl game, after missing out last year.  The Horns’ problem though is that they have no legit quarterback to run the show.  The Horns have weapons, true freshman Malcolm Brown is expected to be 100% for the game, while WR Jaxon Shipley will also be ready to go.  California has a sneaky good defense that likes to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which could cause a problem for the Horns.  Look for a low scoring defensive battle.
My Pick:  Texas 20  California 16 

Champs Sports Bowl- Notre Dame vs. Florida State
I had a lot of hopes for Florida State this season, but they didn’t exactly impress all season.  Notre Dame was a turnover machine that always seemed to shoot themselves in the foot.  Both teams have excellent talent, but they need to get rid of the obvious mental mistakes. Florida State has the fourth ranked scoring defense in the country, one thing that has excelled for them this year.  Look for the Seminole D to take advantage of some Irish miscues in a close close game.
My Pick:   Florida State 27  Notre Dame 23

Alamo Bowl- Washington vs. Baylor
This will be a fun one to watch.  Robert Griffin III might be going into the game as the Heisman winner, while Washington brings in one of the best running backs the Bears will have faced in Chris Polk.  Both teams can score points, and will in the Alamo city.  Look for the offenses to take the stage in this one.
My Pick:  Baylor 45  Washington 35 

Armed Forces Bowl- Tulsa vs. BYU
Interesting fact about Tulsa:  While four losses looks pretty mediocre, all four have been against top 10 teams when the Golden Hurricane have faced them (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston).  Tulsa is led by Texas transfer GJ Kinne who loves to throw the ball.  BYU has a top 20 defense and a ball control offense that loves to take time off the clock.  This one should be an interesting mix of two different styles.
My Pick:  Tulsa 34  BYU 24

Pinstripe Bowl- Rutgers vs. Iowa State
Gritty gutty styles go to work at these two teams face off in New York City.  Rutgers doesn’t have a scary offense, but WR Mohamed Sanu does stand out, raking in 109 catches for 7 td’s.  Iowa State had some impressive wins this season, including the one that kept Oklahoma State out of the BCS title game.  The Cyclones do it with a tough nosed offense, who better keep the ball awhile because the defense is not very good.  Look for a low scoring, not so exciting affair in the Big Apple.
My Pick:  Rutgers 23  Iowa State 17 

Music City Bowl- Wake Forest vs. Mississippi State
Hmm..first glance at this bowl says “We won’t score any points”, but maybe I am wrong.  The Bulldogs will try to control the ground using Vick Ballard, anything to keep it away from their struggling QB’s.  Wake Forest prefers to throw the ball, but they aren’t THAT great at doing that.  This actually might be a pretty crappy game.  Sorry, just doesn’t do it for me.
My Pick:  Wake Forest 13  Mississippi State 10

Insight Bowl- Oklahoma vs. Iowa
Two big name programs go at it in the desert.  Oklahoma had national title inspirations at the beginning of the season, but three losses later they find themselves in a pre January bowl game.  The loss of WR Ryan Broyles was a huge hit, but the defense has been to blame for most of their losses.  Iowa brings in a trio of talented playmakers that COULD give the Sooners trouble, QB James Vandenburg loves targeting WR Marvin McNutt (12 tds) and RB Marcus Coker brings in over 1300 yards and 15 td’s into the matchup.  Iowa has been under the radar most of the year, thanks to a .500 record in the Big 10, but watch out in this one.
My Pick:  Oklahoma 39  Iowa 34 

Car Care Bowl of Texas- Texas A&M vs. Northwestern
This game has GOT to scare the Aggies.  A known giant-killer in Northwestern who loves to throw the ball and can put up big numbers. Sounds a lot like A&M.  The pre-season top 10 Aggies have been a pretty big disappointment this season, finding a way to lose in a myriad of ways.  Dan Persa has come back this season to have a solid year, but nothing like we expect from the team leader.  Both teams are looking for their first bowl win in awhile, 10 years for the Aggies and like 60 for the Wildcats.  Look for a lot of points, with Texas A&M just edging out the Wildcats in front of the Texan crowd.
My Pick:  Texas A&M 42  Northwestern 37 

Sun Bowl- Georgia Tech vs. Utah
I love watching Georgia Tech play.  The ol option attack is alive and well at a large school, that plays in a pretty big conference.  The key to their attack, are the athletes they have at the key positions.  Obviously, the Yellowjackets love to run the ball with five players with more than 400 yards rushing.  Utah has been a BCS worthy team over the past few years, but fell back just a bit in their first year in the Pac-12.  It was a good move for them, and they will be looking to win their first bowl in their new conference.  The problem with this matchup, is Georgia Tech’s ability to keep the ball, and Utah’s inability to move the ball (ranked 110th in total offense).  Should be low scoring, but the Yellowjackets have the advantage.
My Pick:  Georgia Tech 30  Utah 20 

Liberty Bowl- Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt
Another ho hum game.   A good indication that the SEC is a little overrated, Vanderbilt won two games in conference (lost six), and did not look great doing it.  The Commodores did get a push by beating bowl-bound Wake Forest in the last game of the season.  Vandy struggles throwing the ball, but does have a fairly good back in Zac Stacy.  Cincinnati is led by Zach Callaros, who has literally been there for 8 years it seems.  In all honesty, I just want to see Munchie Legaux get in the game.  Not sure what will happen during this one, but it will be one of the few I may forget to watch.  Ugly.
My Pick:  Cincinnati 31  Vanderbilt  23 

Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl- UCLA vs. Illinois
Illinois literally stumbled, fell, died there way into this one.  After winning their first six games of the season and being ranked in the top 25, Illinois promptly LOST six straight and is now sitting at .500 for the season.  Unbelievable.  UCLA played in the Pac-12 championship (yeah, I know) because of USC’s inability to stay out of trouble.  This one promises to be an ugly game, hard hitting, and maybe, just maybe Illinois will pull it off.
My Pick:  UCLA 26  Illinois 20 

Chik-Fil-A Bowl- Virginia vs. Auburn
This has to be my favorite bowl.  I hope every player gets free chicken nuggets and ChikFilA sauce.  Yum.  Auburn won it all last year, and as expected, fell off this season.   One BIG/HUGE reason?  No more Cam Newton.  The Tigers are ranked 104th in total offense, and the once vaunted defense is ranked 78th overall.  Hardly impressive.  Virginia struggled scoring points this season, but did have some impressive wins against the likes of Florida State, Georgia Tech and Southern Miss.  Look for a slug fest in this one, with the team making the fewer amount of turnovers taking the win.
My Pick:  Virginia 23  Auburn 20 

TicketCity Bowl- Houston vs. Penn State
One of the feel good stories of the year versus the most horrific stories the NCAA has ever seen.  Sounds great.  Case Keenum and Houston had a chance to play in a BIG TIME BCS bowl this season, but were unable to beat S. Miss in the Conference USA championship.  They will try and take out their aggression on a great defensive Penn State team.  If  the all out passing attack from the Cougs can get going, they should win, but we have seen great defenses stop great offenses time and time again in bowl matchups.  Sidenote, Case Keenum has over 5,000 yards passing and two receivers have over 1,000 yards.  Don’t forget though, the Cougs feature two RB’s with over 700 yards rushing.  We shall see what happens.
My Pick:  Houston 33  Penn State 31 

Outback Bowl- Georgia vs. Michigan State
The last time we saw these two teams, they were losing in their respective conference championship games.  Michigan State is a good team, led by all-conference QB Kirk Cousins and a stellar defense.  Georgia has a lot of young talent and loves to play physical on the defensive side of the ball as well.  Both teams rank in the top 20 in scoring defense, top 5 in total defense, and top 11 in passing defense.  Needless to say, this one will be a bull fight.
My Pick:  Michigan State 24  Georgia 17 

Capital One Bowl- Nebraska vs. South Carolina
South Carolina was a lot of peoples pick to sneak out of the SEC and play for the national title, a lot like Auburn did last year.  Well, didn’t happen.  A promising schedule turned tricky with losses to Auburn and Arkansas.  The Gamecocks still have big time playmakers though, with Alshon Jeffrey standing out with the absence of stud RB Marcus Lattimore.  Nebraska features a run first philosophy with athletic QB Taylor Martinez still running the show.  This will be another slugfest on the field, with both teams playing a physical style of football.
My Pick:  South Carolina 31  Nebraska 27

Gator Bowl- Florida vs. Ohio State
Matchup of big name programs that are on some downward slides recently.  The main thing to look at is the quarterback play, Ohio State has a young star in the making while Florida has one that doesn’t do much at all.  That could be the difference in this one.  Anyone remember the last time these two played, I am sure it wasn’t that great.
My Pick:  Ohio State 30  Florida 21

The Rose Bowl- Wisconsin vs. Oregon
The grandaddy of them all.  And I mean the bowl, not this matchup.  Although, it should be a good one.  Both teams LOVE to run the ball, even though they do it in completely different styles.  Wisconsin likes to line it up, pound it straight ahead with Heisman contender Montee Ball (1759 yards, 32 tds, 20 recs 6 tds).  When he isn’t getting the rock, Russell Wilson is throwing it around the field to a number of different weapons.  We all saw Oregon lose the national title last year to Auburn, and then promptly lose to LSU to begin the season this year.  Oregon is playing well now though, and hopes RB Lamichael James can match Ball in everything he does.  Don’t miss this game.
My Pick:  Wisconsin 38  Oregon 33

The Fiesta Bowl- Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Most pundits who have a voice on t.v. or newspaper thought that Oklahoma State was not deserving of the #2 ranking in the BCS, and no shot at the national title.  That is unfortunate.  While I didn’t really believe in this team most of the year, they proved to be a very good team who had a chance at BCS glory.  We all know about the offense, led by Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden, but don’t overlook guys like Josh Cooper and Joseph Randle, who will need to make plays in this big showdown.  Stanford also only had one loss this season, a tough one to Oregon.  Andrew Luck seems to be next years #1 overall pick in the draft, and for good reason.  Luck makes quick decisions and doesn’t make too many mistakes.  The Oklahoma State pass defense is ranked 102nd in the nation, going against one of the best QB’s there is.  How will it turn out?
My Pick:  Stanford 35  Oklahoma State 31

The Sugar Bowl- Michigan vs. Virginia Tech
This is the controversy bowl.  While these big name schools had great seasons, teams like Boise State, Michigan State and TCU all thought they should have gotten a spot somewhere in the BCS.  Even so, this game will probably be entertaining.  Everyone knows about Denard Robinson at Michigan, something the Hokies defense is getting ready for.  Both teams have top 20 defenses, but that may be a little misleading in this one.  David Wilson, the Hokies running back has over 1600 yards rushing and 9 td’s, while QB Logan Thomas had a great breakout season for Va Tech.  Look for both QB’s to shine in this one.
My Pick:  Michigan 33  Virginia Tech 24

The Orange Bowl- West Virginia vs. Clemson
Orange you glad this is not a bad matchup?  That was bad.  Clemson had a great season under Dabo Swinney, led by a bunch of youngsters who surprised a lot of teams, but faltered in some winnable games.  Tajh Boyd, sophomore QB from Clemson had a near Heisman worthy campaign, an award he may considered for in the next few years.  His favorite target was freshman standout Sammy Watkins.  Watkins showed he great speed and talent from day one, and helped Clemson to their best season in a long time.  West Virginia wasn’t featured too many times in big name games this season, and when they were, they lost to LSU.  This team is good though, and they love to throw the ball.  Geno Smith has finally emerged as a stud, throwing for nearly 4000 yards and 25 td’s.  Look for a high scoring, back and forth game.
My Pick:  Clemson 44  West Virginia 38 

The Cotton Bowl- Kansas State vs. Arkansas
Talk about a surprise, the old man in Manhattan had his Wildcats competing for a Big 12 championship, and gained respect all over the nation.  Kansas State features dual threat QB Collin Klein, kind of, he almost ran for more yards than he threw for.  He is still a dangerous threat though out of the backfield.  The Wildcats are led on defense by all Big 12er Arthur Brown.  They will need all the help they can get against a very good Arkansas team.  Arkansas flirted with a national title berth, but couldn’t get past LSU.  The offense is one of the best in the nation, while the defense gives up a modest 23 points a game.  If Klein can find running lanes, the Wildcats will keep this one close, if he is shut down, this one could get ugly.
My Pick:  Arkansas 30  Kansas State 20 

BBVA Compass Bowl- SMU vs. Pitt
Why do we play crappy bowls after all of the good bowls?  It USED to be that all “so so” bowls were in December, all the “good” ones were in January.  Come on!  Anyway, this one will be alright, but again, we just watched Oklahoma State vs Stanford people.  I have no idea what will happen, will I care?  I will say this, both QB’s in this one have a 1-1 TD to INT ratio.  Let’s say this, whoever makes the fewest mistakes, thats who wins.
My Pick:  SMU 23  Pitt 17

Godaddy.com Bowl- Northern Illinois vs. Arkansas State
I’ll give you ONE reason to watch this stellar matchup (catch the sarcasm?).  Chandler Harnish.  The Northern Illinois QB is the BEST player you have NEVER heard of.  Harnish has 2,942 yards passing, 26 tds, 5 ints and 1382 yards rushing with 11 td’s.  He’s this years Cam Newton, and I am not even kidding.  He SAVES this game from being the “game nobody cares about”.
My Pick:  Chandler Harnish 40  Arkansas State 22 

The BCS Title Game- LSU vs. Alabama
Doesn’t it seem weird that all Alabama has to do is win and they are national champs?  I mean, I know this is the way we have set it up, but LSU has already beaten them once, Alabama didn’t have to play in the SEC championship game, didn’t win their conference.  Just doesn’t seem fair.  They sound like the Florida Marlins, never won a conference championship (I know Bama has) and has won two world series titles.  Just wanted to throw that out there.  Anyway, the first matchup was either really UGLY or really GREAT, depending on what kind of football you like.  As “bitter” as I am about watching a rematch, between two SEC teams that I DON’T like, this game will be good.  These two teams have NFL talent all OVER their defensive units, and it showed the first time they played.  The key this time around will be offense.  If either one can put points on the board, that will take a lot of pressure off of their respective defenses.  I hate to say it, but I think LSU has the advantage again in this one.
My Pick:  LSU 20  Alabama 17 


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