Here we go kids. Are you ready for this? All times central.
- Outback Bowl, Penn State vs. Tennessee (10:00am, ESPN): I hesitate to call this heavy-weight. Neither team is really in the top tier of their conference this year, but I see UTenn as a more solid team that should pull out a victory.
- Cotton Bowl, Nebraska vs. Auburn (10:30am, FOX): Name programs, to the rescue! The Big 12 North still sucks, though, and if Auburn’s offense shows up to this game they should prevail.
- Capital One Bowl, Arkansas vs. Wisconsin (Noon, ABC): Don’t look, but Wisconsin’s only loss all year was to Michigan. The only reason they’re not in a BCS bowl is because OSU and UMich are. While I like the SEC in the Outback Bowl, I have go with the Big Ten this time around.
- Gator Bowl, Georgia Tech vs. West Virginia (Noon, CBS): I honestly can’t believe we’re playing in a New Year’s Day Bowl. This hasn’t happened since I’ve been there, and indeed, not since the last time Tech was a Gator Bowl (I’d guess, too tired to look it up).
Obviously, WVU worries me. And Tech has had a lot going on behind the scenes. Of course, you’d think Tech would be at a disadvantage without their starting quarterback, but our starting QB has, for lack of a better word, sucked in his last two and now he can’t play. Taylor Bennett, you best be stepping up.
WVU’s backfield worries me. There’s a ton of speed back there, and I watched those guys run all over Maryland. Tech’s defense blitzes hard and often, and the question is whether or not we can stay with the ball no matter where it goes. The soft spot of our defense – the secondary – is not as big of a concern here because WVU does not pass very well. (A sort of Arkansas of the Big East, perhaps?) Corners and safeties blitz a lot in our defense, and I expect to see 8 guys in the box a lot.
On offense, Tech need to use the best damn WR in the country to exploit WVU’s dreadful secondary. Expect, however, to see a healthy dose of #22 from the backfield. That’s not really a bad thing, though.
Overall, this game will be very tough for the Jackets. I’m not one, however, to predict my team to lose. Bowl games present a quandry – unless you’re playing in Glendale for the crystal football, none of these games really matter. But the intangible factors do matter. Everyone at Tech remembers the bad taste of the Emerald Bowl last year and absolutely rotten offense in the past two games. WVU can score in bunches, the question is, will Tech’s offense show up? We need at least two touchdowns, something we only accomplished once in our last four games, and that was against Duke. The Jackets really need this to show that this season wasn’t a fluke.
- The Rose Bowl Game, Michigan vs. Southern Cal (4:00, ABC): Man, this is weird. This is ABC’s 2nd and last bowl broadcast – the rest of the BCS games are on FOX. As much as I hate Musburuger, I dislike FOX announcers on the whole and I’m not that optimistic. Anyway, I always like watching the Rose Bowl, but we have two very disappointed teams here. I fell Michigan is the better team here, and should win as long as they are not overcome by bitterness.
- Fiesta Bowl, Oklahoma vs. Boise State (7:30, FOX): I like rooting for the little guy as much as anyone else, and will probably take a rooting interesting the boys from the blue turf. But, seriously, I don’t see how they can beat Oklahoma. This is BSU teams is not nearly as good as that Utah team that last busted the BCS. Look for scoring, but look for OU to win by at least two scores.
- Orange Bowl, Wake Forest vs. Louisville (Jan. 2, 7:00, FOX): So, uh, Wake is a pretty decent team. They execute well and take their time on offense. Louisville does the same thing, except they can throw the ball and put up some points in a hurry. I like rooting for the ACC and teams like Wake, but I don’t know how they can prevail over Louisville. They will really need to take the Cardinals out of there game to do so…
- Sugar Bowl, LSU vs. Notre Dame (Jan. 3, 7:00, FOX): Notre Dame is here for one reason – to sell more tickets. I’m not sure they need the help, though – LSU should have well more than a simple majority of the fans. ND has failed to beat any major oppenent they’ve played this year. Their best win remains – you guessed it – the opening weekend victory against Georgia Tech. Look for LSU to win a rout.
- International Bowl, Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati (Jan. 6, 11:00am, ESPN2): This is sort of anticlimactic, you might say. I say it helps re-whet your appetite for college football leading up to the title game. The scheduling quirk is probably a result of the 31st being a Sunday, which means NFL games rule the roost. And I like Cincy here.
- GMAC Bowl, Ohio vs. Southern Miss (Jan. 7, 7:00, ESPN): C-USA isn’t exactly a power conference, but Mobile is 100 miles from Hattiesburg so this should pretty much be a home game for USM. I like them to win.
I’ll do a separate preview for the title game. For the time being, though, can we scratch “it’d take too long” off the list of reasons not to have a playoff since the bowls now go into the second week of January. Just sayin’.